Friday, March 30, 2012

Deck dreaming

It's been a while since we've talked about mi casa.  (It's been a while since I've done much around here.)  How am I doing on my 2012 home goals?  Well, let's just say that so far, the list is in the crapper.  (Actually, that's what I thought, but I just actually looked at the list and I'm not doing so bad.  More on that in the coming weeks.)

In typical fashion, instead of completing projects that are within reach, I am, instead, dreaming up new ones.  Big ones.  The kind that require power tools and the help of my reluctant husband.

Here's the deal.

Our house in Boulder had a great deck with a big sliding door (as you might expect in such an outdoorsy place), and we ate many a meal out there (despite the bees.)

Even in NYC, where outdoor space is the holy grail, we were lucky enough to have a sort of little enchanted garden in our Brooklyn backyard.

Doesn't that look lovely?

But here in Minneapolis, we just don't got the set up.  Yet.

Here's the house from the back.

With a narrow little deck, not really big enough for a full-scale table set-up, and a sloped and tiny lawn.

I think this question has been percolating for going on 2 years, and as we enjoy an unseasonably warm and early spring, I realize that my summer happiness is predicated on having a place to eat out of doors.  (Apart from Sea Salt, the fabulous seafood eatery which is walking distance from our house but which also becomes an expensive habit.  And which, incidentally, opens for the season tomorrow night!)

I'm good under pressure, did you know that?  And so a solution has come to me when I need it the most.  A built-in corner bench seat, round table or pair of small squares.  Our little family of four can sit snugly on the benches, and if we have company, well, bring out the ghost chairs.  They're just gathering dust in the basement, after all.

Something like this.

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Or, okay, realistically something more like this. (Plus table)

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

The design decisions may come down to budget (small) and skill level (meager). This might be one of those things where it is really ALL about the function, and then dressing it up with good outdoor pillows and a cute tablecloth.

What about you: do you have good outdoor living solutions? I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vintage, Lately

A couple of weeks ago, I got a new phone.  I've never been much of a cell phone gal, but it was becoming increasingly clear that I could not come home every time I needed to check my email.  So I joined the smartphone revolution.

My husband is a bit of a tech nerd to my luddite, so he (gleefully) did the research.  He kept asking me questions about 3G versus 4G and I kept asking him "does it have a camera?  Can I email the pictures to my clients?"  Yes, I know that all smartphones have this capability, but seriously that was my major requirement.

Unlike my last phone, I also know how to upload the pictures from this one, and it's fun after a day around town to see what I snapped.

Here's a glimpse at some vintage finds I scouted for various projects last week.

I would love to do a whole wall of these amateur anatomy drawings (plant and animal), either in thin black frames or just tacked up.  I love that they are graded--and in red pen!

Funny poster

Gorgeous low boy

Cute desk chairs. (I would recover the seats)

Love the spindle arms.  Only $40

Surely this is a cool DIY installation just waiting to happen.

Awesome chandelier--almost a go for a client's dining room.

Crazy pendant made out of wire mesh and a shade frame.

Maybe verdigris will come back with neon and other 80s fodder?  Great shape on these sconces.

Amazing little table

Beautiful crystal lamps--so cute in a little girls' room.

Beautiful, unique, and big chinoiserie panel

(all from various shops in the 50th and xerxes area, for any locals.)

My husband keeps trying to teach me how to play angry birds (sorry, not interested.)  And I have never used an app.  Phones are just not my thing.  But I am trying to use this expensive tool and get my money's worth, so tell me: what are your favorite apps?  (The phone is an android something or other, if that matters to answer this question.)

Inching onto the bandwagon....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Parsons is a classic style of furniture generally classified by its simple shape and straight legs.  So classic, in fact, that these pieces have been interpreted a million ways.  West Elm even created a series on its blog (and in catalogs) to showcase what designers and bloggers have done with their West Elm parsons tables.

Sarah's Vanity: Parsons Metal Desk + Martini Table Stool

I was delighted to see a new parsons collection at Home Decorators, comprised of a coffee tables, console, side table and media stand, in bright orange, pale blue, black and white.

Parsons Coffee Table

Unlike the classic, these tables have a base that sits on the floor.  As I notice my predilection for leggy upholstery, (there is more and more of it with the love for all things mid-century modern these days), having pieces like these can ground a space without making it too heavy.

Feels a bit like Ikea lack for grownup spaces.

What do you think: have you had a love affair with parsons style?  Did you know you can submit your own "Home Run" to West Elm?  They showcase images featuring any of their products used to express your sense of style--not just the Parsons.  Submission form here.  fun, right?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Schoolhouse Electric

You know those perfect vintage items that you see in magazines, and when you look for the source it was always found "on the side of the road" or in "the sweetest little general store in Maine"?  Those perfect, classic items that YOUR local thrift store never seems to come by?

There's a little shop that can help.

Schoolhouse Electric makes the camp blanket that looks like it might actually come from a camp.  The stoneware cannister that might have been a cookie jar in your friend's grandmother's lake house when you were a kid.  And the light fixtures that might have once graced, yes, a quaint schoolhouse.

Here's the thing, though.  None of this stuff feels "reproduction," though the hardware and lighting, in particular, hearkens back.  Somehow this stuff manages to be "vintagey" and authentic all at once.  Perhaps it has something to do with every glass shade being hand blown in Oregon.

It's funny, this sort of classic American look is not really my thing, but I just suggested the lighting, hardware, or linens to not one but three different clients.

You can check out the board here for shopping info, or just had over to Schoolhouse Electric and browse it all.  They have furniture, too, but it's just a little pricey for me.

Oh, and this company has no idea that I am writing this post, so yes, these opinions are mine and mine alone.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I have to say, I love pelmets.  Or cornices.  Same thing, really.  For the uninitiated, they are those decorative upholstered "boxes" over the top of a traditional window treatment which originated to cover the drapery hardware.  I suppose it is the traditionalist in me that falls hard for these treatments, the girl that likes thing to look finished.

These days, there is tons of nice drapery hardware out there, and more and more people go for the casual look of leaving the rods exposed.  But pelmets are being employed to solve other kinds of design issues.

This one, from Katie Rosenfeld, makes the most of the sloped ceiling and really highlights this potentially awkward accent wall.

This one makes the most of a narrow window that doesn't require a shade, and brings a welcome hit of pattern to a lovely white kitchen.

(Come to think of it, that one might be a valance--basically the non-upholstered equivalent of a cornice or pelmet.)

This next one creates a sense of architecture at the top of the window seat, framing it out and making the spot feel cozier.

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Cornices can also create a sense of architecture to create a shower enclosure.

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Blogger Naomi just made the cutest one for a client, using one of blogger Caitlin's new fabrics. Check out the entire bathroom transformation, "Project girly glam."

In baby Lucy's room, we are using pelmet boxes to bring some color to the windows, where there is no room for a pair of panels (both windows are only an inch from the wall on one side) and where my clients have decided to use soft shades in all the windows throughout the house. It's not a big room, and it could use some drama. I'm working on the design today. While looking at inspiration, I came across a couple of one-page guides to pelmet shapes (in addition to the more extensive ones in my drapery bible, The Curtain Design Directory.)

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Any favorites?  If you want to try your hand at it, check out blogger Jenny's tutorial here, and some of her reader results, here.  Personally, I prefer a plywood construction, but her method is perfect for renters, folks without power tools, and anyone looking for a more temporary fixture.

Have fun!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Simple Measures: Stair Treads

Left over contact paper, or vintage wallpaper (get some at Mish Mash), maybe even stencils.  Each step a different story.

(Small Measures are weekly posts.  One image, 25 words or less, projects you could do in a day.  See the whole series here.)

Friday, March 23, 2012


The other day, I asked you if you would go yay or nay on these tufted wool ball poufs, which I spotted on Overstock.

Felted Beige/ Taupe/ Grey Wool Poufs

Jury was out, but I love that my aunt just sent me a link to this piece in the New York Times home section about the house that Houzz built.  (Or actually, the house that built Houzz.)

There they are, in orange.  See more photos from this home, here.

The orange is also available on overstock, here.

I had a crazy busy week, and the weekend is no different.  Hoping to have fun projects and progress to share soon!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

winner winner chicken dinner

I stayed up until midnight just to pick a winner of the Kirkland's giveaway!

Just kidding.

My dad came over and "babysat" my sleeping children so my husband and I could catch a second-run screening of Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol.  I have to say, I forgot how much I LOVE over-the-top, ridiculous-stunt-filled, bite-your-nails-to-the-quick action thrillers.  (Only a few of you already knew that about me).  This one did not disappoint.

Anyway, according to, the winner of the little giveaway is SALLIE, comment number 7.  My favorite part is that she won for her entry to not follow me on pinterest.  Sweet validation.  (Sallie, email me your address and the gift card will be on its way to you.)

In the meantime, I will get back to some actual design blogging someday soon.  Maybe even today.  Readers of this blog, please know how very, very much I appreciate your visits and your comments and your faithful following.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yay or nay?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

So Shakespeare would have us believe.

And I'll tell you, working in advertising a million years ago, I learned that these things are truly subjective.  I mean, it takes a lot of people to sign off on an ad before it gets made (and even still while the durn thing is getting made), and there are a lot of bad ads out there, wouldn't you agree?

The fun part is that we likely don't agree on which ads are bad.

Anyway.  You will be shocked to know that I find myself looking for pouf alternatives yet again.  There is just such a short supply of attractive, reasonably priced ottomans out there that a pair of poufs (or pouf-like objects) becomes a very enticing option.  Except, not every house can rock the global and/or bohemian vibe that traditional poufs impart.  Right?  And most modern poufs are basically unforgiving cubes.

I was trolling overstock looking for an ottoman for a client, when I stumbled upon this.

Felted Beige/ Taupe/ Grey Wool Poufs

This...monstrosity?  Thing of beauty?  Genius pile of felted wool balls?  (I am a fan of most things felted wool that do not come from Talbots.)

Some items walk the line.  Belle-laide, the french call it.  So ugly it's beautiful, or the other way around.

I don't know, I can't make a call here.

I'm being serious.  What do you think?  Ugly?  Fabulous?

Oh, and psst.  I may have forgotten to mention that CURRENT FOLLOWERS can enter the giveaway going on now.  Go do it, win a gift card.  But if you are not current, become my 100th follower and you might get your own special surprise prize.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Sit your butt down and enjoy this weather


Top row, left to right: 1, 2, 3 
Bottom row, left to right: 1, 2, 3

Normally, there's no way I would be thinking about outdoor seating in March in Minnesota.  Last year at this time we were buried under several feet of snow and hadn't seen the grass in about 5 months.

But that was then.

This weekend, we ate meals outside.  We walked to the Falls and collected supplies to build a fairy house.  We aired out our own house and padded barefoot on wood floors.  We enjoyed the breezes, and the playgrounds, and the ice cream dessert my 5 year old orchestrated for Saint Patrick's day.  (As an aside I would like to mention that my mother, married to a true Irish lad, dressed the table with an Irish flag tablecloth.)

Right about now, the sales cycle that puts outdoor furniture on the floor in February and Christmas decorations out right after Halloween doesn't seem so out of whack.

Perhaps it is the weather that's broken.

I will just shut my mouth and enjoy.

Oh, and if you enter and win the Kirkland's giveaway for free money, this guy could be yours.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Small Measures

Not the most revelatory DIY, but on this unexpectedly summery day, I say go bright on your front door!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The whole world in your hands (a giveaway)

Okay, I promised you a board today, and I gotta tell you, this one is all kinds of shocking to me.  Where is the color?  Where are the layers?  But I have to say, I kind of want to move right in.  And I would do my best to resist the addition of throw pillows.  I mean, with a bed like that...

You may be more surprised to find that this room was inspired by this globe.

The people at Kirklands offered to send it to me to check it out in close up, but I politely declined.  No gifts, for me, thanks.  But they've got one for you, and that I can get behind.

How about a $50 gift card for one of you to check out the goods.  That's right, it's time for a little GIVEAWAY!

Entry is simple.  I swear and I promise.

1. Follow this blog!  See in the sidebar, on the right over there, where it says "followers"?  And underneath it says "join this site"?  Click that and follow the directions.  Then leave me a comment here letting me know you did.  (Plus, people, I've been hovering around the 100 mark for months.  Let's just blow past it, shall we?)

2.  Follow Love Your Space on facebook and leave me a comment here telling me all about it.

3.  Follow me on twitter.  actually, scratch that, I'm a terrible tweeter.  I can't say anything in 144 characters or less.

4.  Don't follow me on pinterest.  Seriously, people.  I have way more pinterest followers than blog followers, and the former is really just fodder for the latter.  So follow the blog, peeps.  And let me know about it.

5. For an additional entry, let me know the greatest thing one can get for $50 from Kirklands.  Or the most ridiculous, if you are feeling saucy.

Also, read the giveaway fine print here.

And check out the goods, here.

And next week, let's say, oh, Wednesday at midnight, I'll pick a winner at random.

Get your entries in--you don't want my mother in law to win another giveaway, do you?  (Actually, her birthday is on Monday, so let's all pull for her.  Happy Birthday Barb!)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Feeling the love!

All of a sudden I'm feeling well loved here in blogland.

First up, you can check me out over at Be@Home.  I'm happy to be part of their current "best of the web" round up.  Go take a looksee--you may stumble upon some new-to-you blogs.  Always a good thing.

Kerry at Design du Monde was nice enough to grant me the Liebster award a while back.  Thanks Kerry!  You can read 7 random things about me here, and check out Kerry's here.

Pink original 16 x 20 acrylic abstract painting on canvas titled "Pink" 

(P.S. Kerry also happens to be an artist.  That's a painting of hers, above.  You can check out her portfolio here or, what the heck, go shopping in her etsy store.)

Danika at Gorgeous Shiny Things tagged me in that blogger chain letter that ran rampant recently ("11 questions" or "Project About me", depending on who you asked).  I had already done one, here.  I have to say, Danika's questions were so fun, I almost did it again, but in the end I refrained.  But you must read what she has to say.  It's a multi-media phantasmagoria.  Or something.  Here.

See all the nice stuff that happens when you are too busy working to really relish the blogs for a couple of weeks?

So, thanks for the mentions, peeps.

And come on back tomorrow for a double whammy:

A giveaway and a new just-for-fun design board.  Heck, maybe it will even be a new "two ways."  (To check out the series, go on over here.)


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't you know, we're talking about an evolution. It sounds like a whisper

I scrolled through about a year and a half's worth of photos in my picasa last night, looking for a picture for a little web mention coming this week.  (On the list of organizational to-dos: create files of photo selects).  I was struck by just how much the rooms in my home have evolved, in big and in small ways.  It was funny that my reaction to earlier iterations of spaces was the same: amateur!  Really, though, I think I mean unfinished.

One of the things that surprises people most about decorating is how long it can take.  Even if you manage a fairly major transformation fairly quickly, the tweaking can go on forever: moving an artwork here, swapping pillows there.  While I do believe that good designers can envision the whole picture and execute it all at once, I think the very best, personal spaces come from a place of percolating ideas and evolution.  Collections grow, details are added, new furniture gradually gets the patina of life.

I'm thinking about sharing some of these evolutions in my own home to demonstrate what a big difference small changes can make.  I'm just trying not to hear the advice from bloggers saying to never put a "before" on the internet!

In the meantime, I'm curious.  Do you continue to tweak things in your home?  Or when you're done, are you just done?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Yellow and Lavender

Sometimes when I am sourcing items for a new design, I pull a few too many options and find it difficult to choose.  Working on a room for two girls in the under-ten set, I decided to throw it out to them to choose.

Molly's girls major purple and yellow round up

The walls will be palest purple.  The bunkbed is maple.  The dresser and new built-ins will be white.  The goal was to intermix the purple and white with fresh yellow.  The elements that could bring these colors together included curtains, bedding, floor seating, and a bedside table.

Let's call them (left to right) kiddie global, fresh cuntry, girly romantic, global mod, and modern cottage, shall we?

You know what amazed me (and the girls' mom)?  Their choice was unanimous.

Which would you pick?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Own it

I love working in design.  I'm having a lot of fun.  And yet, when someone asks me what I do, I laugh, and then I say, "well, I'm a decorator."  I say it in an apologetic way.  Sheepishly.  I don't own it.  

This weekend, I was inspired by two creative lives who, I think, are helping me make peace with that.

First, I read the article in Lonny Magazine about Amanda Nisbet, a big designer who came to design almost reluctantly and as a second career.  In the magazine, she says "Many of us have a tendency to believe that if a talent or skill comes naturally, it 'doesn't really count.'  We believe that if something comes easily, it isn't 'worthy.'"

Guilty.  Now, I'm no Amanda Nisbet, but I can take her words to heart and accept that it's okay (in fact, it is a great idea) to make a career of something that you are naturally good at.  For me, this applies to the design work I am doing, but also to writing (the blog) and editing (book projects.)  The fact that I am somehow building a new career based on not one but two natural talents is not only something to own, it is something to sing from the hilltops.  If, you know, I could sing it from the hilltops in an inspired yet humble kind of a way.

Second, I watched the documentary Bill Cunningham New York last night and literally did not stop smiling the whole time.  Talk about an inspiration.  There are so many lessons to be taken from this film, and I highly recommend it to any creative person.  (Check out the trailer below for a taste.)

Bill is 80 years old, and for the past 4 or 5 decades, he has been riding his bicycle all over NYC snapping street fashion by day, and attending dozens of parties taking society photos by night.   He works almost literally 24-7, yet he calls it play.  He does it because he loves it.  In his days as photographer to the original Details magazine, Bill never took a paycheck.  I could write another entire post on the notions of "selling out" and the inverse relationship between creativity and money, but for my purposes here, the takeaway is this: I would decorate even without a paycheck.  In fact, I have, I do, and I will continue to do so as time allows.  I make design boards for fun.  I write this blog for fun, and for a sense of community with like-minded others.  If I was independently wealthy, I would probably still help people with their homes, for free.

For now, I am so blessed that anyone will pay me to do it.

Next time someone asks me what I do, I will try my best to remember these inspirations, and when I say that I am a decorator, I will own it.

Not bad for a weekend!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Too much DIY?

A while back, Elle Decor asked a number of designers what trends they thought were on their way out.  Two of the designers referred to DIY projects and painted furniture--the bread and butter of many blogs.  Perhaps it is not surprising that bloggers threw up their hands at these predictions.

I have to say, though: I get it.

While I am all for a good DIY, and feel incredibly inspired by all the creativity that bloggers share with the world, I also believe that doing it yourself should add to the look and feel of your home.  One thing I have noticed is the number of projects that look okay in a styled photograph, but that I absolutely can't imagine living with in my home.

When I opened the most recent Midwest home magazine, I saw an article that really hit this home for me.

This room is darling: the fresh palette, furniture with fun lines, natural rug, and fun fabrics.

In my opinion, the DIY is bringing it way down.  Pine shims as a valance?  Rolls of twine on the wall?  PVC pipe planters?  A washtub filled with birch logs as a coffee table?  I suppose you could say these are clever ideas, and the twine looks kind of fun in the photo, but would you actually want to sit and look at it in your house?  (This was always the big problem with Trading Spaces, too.  Straw on the walls might be fun for the camera, but what a nightmare for homeowners.  I'm talking to you, Hildy.)

The one project that is working for me here is the lamp.  This is a great example of what the most creative bloggers bring to the party: a common item (fence post tops) reimagined into a piece that looks great on its own, like something you might actually covet if you saw it on the shelf in a store. 

If we had more of that, and less of the "random objects tacked to the wall", DIY wouldn't get such a bad rap, and it might just be here to stay. 

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to balance really low dining chairs

I love the look of sleek, low-back dining room chairs.  You know, the ones that barely kiss the table top.  Without any height around the table, though, a room needs some balance.  I love the way these spaces fill the void with overscale light fixtures and/or big, big art.

A more traditional take, with wood captains chairs and an overscale lantern:

If you can't go for a large-scale pendant, curtains can help, or flowers, too. It's all about the volume of space and filling the void from table top to ceiling.

What do you think: would you go low?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

DIY wallpaper

Sometimes I need to let things percolate for a long time.  Especially in my own house: I am here all the time, and sometimes one needs to step away for perspective.

Just this morning, I was sitting in my girls' room singing wake up songs and looking absent mindedly into their bathroom, and my mind wandered to the stripes I have been planning to paint in there, and for the first time maybe ever, I thought to myself, Stripes?  Stripes?  I don't know.

(As an aside, we went to a dinner Friday night with three families.  Out of the 6 grown ups and 6 children, only 3 people were NOT wearing stripes.  My family of four had at least 5 striped items--my 3 year old likes to layer stripe on stripe.)

I would like pattern in there.  I can't afford wallpaper.  I already used the block-printing on a different project in their room.  Trolling my own pinterest pages, I was reminded of this.

Isn't that rose wall just the cutest thing?  From a designsponge sneak peek.  These guys took a cell phone picture of a rose covered wallpaper at a Kate Spade store, printed it out a bunch of times, used a plain old glue stick to put them on the walls in a random pattern, and basically decoupaged over it with a diluted glue solution.

People are geniuses, I tell you.  Geniuses.

(Don't hold your breath that I'm doing this any time soon.  I'm just feeling inspired in the moment!)

Happy Tuesday.


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