picks from the new ballard catalog

great sepia tones

swell colors

anything twiggy or bamboo-y makes me swoon

looks like a seagrass rug made into a basket

yeah, there're everywhere. but this shape is different

sophisticated mix

image found on cote de texas
I'm always after a good mix of styles. But it's so hard to get right.
I thought this one was terrific - probably because I'm crazy for a library/dining area combo.
Grisaille wall mural, chippy old chairs, cream hide rug and tulip-style table...and books, books, books!

Christmas Surprise

I didn't even know these Pantone Christmas Ornaments even existed....
my Christmas tree
...until I was surprised with one from a friend on Christmas!
I hope your Christmas was filled with fun surprises, too.

wishing you all the best...


during the holidays and the new year.


sara ruffin costello's holiday decor

photos by Paul Costello for
the Wall Street Journal

Sometimes simple is best. Like the holiday decor of Sara Ruffin Costello in her New Orleans home featured in the Wall Street Journal. For a holiday home tour, she hung cedar swags over every doorway and lined the mantel with poinsettias in simple white pots. The tree ornaments? Squares of heavy art paper with mini watercolor paintings done by family and friends.

And, geez. Check out that mirror. Love the holiday greeting written in red lipstick! 

And the winner is...

image from
The Allure of French and Italian Decor

Congratulations to Patricia Van Essche, winner of Betty Lou Phillips' new books:
Patricia, I know you will enjoy these books.
what would we do without the
 random number generator?
A big thanks to all who entered!

wallpapered bookcase backs...


a little project for after the holidays...?


while I'm at it...

I'm still on a blueprint kick...

Christmas Giveaway! The Allure of French & Italian Decor

I'm a firm believer in spending time with family, friends, and a good decor book for the holidays.
So I am super excited to be able to offer a copy of Betty Lou Phillips' book
"The Allure of French and Italian Decor"
as a Christmas giveaway to one lucky reader!
Acclaimed interior designer and author Betty Lou Phillips has brought together hundreds of beautiful design images in this large, coffee table book.  
I'm sure you'll spend lots of time pouring over the inspiring images, just as I did.
The pair of settees in this space made me drool. The silk velvet bolsters are to die for.
These french oil paintings on canvas kinda/sorta remind me of the antique french wallpaper panels that hang in my living room.
This giveaway also includes Betty Lou's  holiday book,
 "The Night Before Christmas in Paris"! 
This delightful little book, featuring charming illustrations, tells a fun story
of Mrs. Claus in Paris at Christmastime.
You'll love it!
For a chance to win both books leave a comment to this post.
It's that easy.
Anonymous comments are welcome; just make sure to leave your e-mail address in the comment.
Comments will close on Friday, December 21 at noon EST and a winner will be drawn shortly thereafter.
Good luck! And as always, thanks for visiting a perfect gray. 
You guys are the best!

vintage christmas ornaments



My husband wasn't exactly thrilled when I lugged home a vintage 1950s tinsel Christmas tree a few years ago, but I fell in love with it. I've been collecting old glass ornaments for it ever since. 
It really makes my holidays.
I keep threatening to make it our ONLY tree.
But I haven't won that one.

a jumping-off point - framed blueprints

(excuse me, is that a gray wall behind those blueprints??)

My husband will begin renovations soon in his 'new' office space - the original US post office, built in 1923, in our small town. He has asked me to help a little with the interior decor. I was a little overwhelmed, to say the least, until we found the original blueprints for the building, drawn up between 1915 and 1918.
The blueprints were just the jumping-off point we needed. After flipping through page after page of the beautiful indigo sheets, we both knew that a few choice prints needed to be framed and featured in his offices.
Hope to have some photos to show you soon.
Have a wonderful weekend!

crazy 'bout wood

wood photo print pillow 

black and white photo art
silver overlay napkin rings cast from wood 

grain patterned silk rug 


tree trunk pot
Winter has me craving the chunky textures of barks and wood.

our word for today: 'girandole'

I saw a great pair of tall antique candlesticks in an antique shop that are kinda like this one.
I've since learned that these are called 'girandole' candlesticks: French or Italian ornamental, branched candle holders.
I've never had just the right thing for my mantel and I thought a pair of these would look terrific flanking a super-sized piece of abstract art - in black and white, of course.
So, maybe I'll save my pennies and get a pair. Lemme know if you see any bargains out there.