Blog created by interior decorator Peggy Clarke to help create homes that reflect the people who live there and how they (want to) live. Blending spirituality with the art of interior design, Clarke aims to help people who want to create harmonious spaces for balanced living.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Autumn Redesign

Yesterday I woke up feeling the need for a change. If my interior life is feeling stale, one of the best ways I know to shake things up is to transform something in my exterior world. I live in a contemporary house in the country and since interior design is most effective when it's in harmony with both the style of the house and its setting, modern country is the best style for my home. Most rooms in the house have been finished, but the living room and dining room as the least used, are also the least finished. So yesterday morning I was inspired and started on the living room.

Country design in some ways is really easy in that it’s all about things that are time worn or hand made, and all interior design, regardless of the style employed, is most effective when it’s personal. So, I moved all the furniture in my living room, removed some pieces that were too formal, covered some pillows, and filled tables and empty spaces with plants and pieces from my travels that were located around the house. Then I brought in some pinecones and a few branches for the mantle to reflect the season. I think I’ll do a little painting or cover a wall in beadboard over the next few weeks. The whole thing cost less than $200 for a few pillow covers. Here’s a picture of the finished room.

While you’re rethinking a stale room in your house, may I suggest you also do a little extra cooking? One of the most wonderful things about fall is the scent of the season and the most authentic way to get that is cooking. (Some people like candles but it feels a little forced to me. I prefer a more natural approach.) My husband’s favorite breakfast during the work week is granola, which when bought in a store can be deceptively high in fat and often a little tasteless. Try this simple recipe to usher in the season. It’s my own, but change whatever you like to make it yours.

2 TB butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1 TB vanilla
½ cup flaked unsweetened coconut
¼ cup ground nuts- whatever type or types you have in the house
1 TB cinnamon
6-8 cups rolled oats
2 or 3 cups dried fruit- whatever you like most

Preheat oven to 325. Melt the butter, sugar honey and vanilla in a saucepan. Pour it over the rolled oats in a baking pan. Mix it up so most of the oats are sticky. (Add honey if needed.) Add the coconut, cinnamon and nuts and mix well. Put it in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, mix well and put it back in for another 20 minutes. You’ll repeat this several times until it’s a golden brown. This could take anywhere from one to two hours depending on the size of the pan you’re using and how good your oven is. When it’s done, mix in the dried fruit.

I use pecans and walnuts and sometimes I throw in a handful of vanilla pumpkin seeds. Grinding the nuts gives plenty of nutty flavor without all the fat. I use a good assortment of fruit that I keep in the house all the time. Usually I have sour cherries, currants, figs, apricots, whole cranberries (not “craisons”) and sometimes raisons. The best place for granola ingredients is Whole Foods. Once it's made, it can keep for up to 2 weeks in a sealed glass jar.

Not only is this a fabulous snack to have on hand, it makes your house smell delicious for the rest of the day.

If you’re interested in country decorating, may I suggest attending a tag sale this weekend? Tag sale/flea market/crafts fair finds are perfect for the country home. This weekend the Somers Women’s Club is sponsoring a sale at Reis Park, St. Luke’s in Somers is having a tag sale/harvest fair, there’s a crafts fair in the village of Pawling, there’s a Home Show at Westchester County Center and a Colonial Festival at the Redding Congregational Church in Redding, CT.

Favorite Sale Item This Week:

This quilt was $315 and is now between $85 & $99, which is a great price for a quilt. It’s available at Sundance

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