Thursday, January 31, 2013

Quick Change

The Kantha quilts are on sale at West Elm.

Is it weird that I want to buy them all?  That I want to find homes for them all?


I started with this little guy.

Doesn't it do such a nice job of dressing up this Danish chair?

I almost think I won't need to do this!  (Or maybe I will use the quilt for the upholstery?)

Anyway.  These things are more versatile than you might think. (Remember my other one?)  Go out and get yourself a kantha quilt before they're gone.  (Only in stores, not online.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fireplace monstrosity

I am off to a meeting to get started transforming this:

Into something more like this:

The house is an AMAZING mid-century gem, and some previous owner made some strange changes, including this deco marble monstrosity of a fireplace.  Can't wait to honor the midcentury roots but also make it thoroughly modern.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Adorable girls' room

You know who are my favorite clients?

Nine-year-old girls.

I met with a super cutie pattootie 9-year-old on Saturday and was so excited about her charming little room I sent 4 boards off on Sunday.  (Thanks to an accidental 7 pm nap, I was up late late late on Sunday.  In addition to these four boards, I also dug in to Million Dollar Decorators and discovered ALL that I had been missing!)

Anyway.  My client has a hot pink shag rug that she wants to keep, but everything else was fair game.  We decided on aqua walls and bright yellow accents, and it came together like so:

Lots of great work this week, I am hitting the (snowy, snowy) ground running!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Small Measures

You don't have to have an amazing plank ceiling for this to work: any wood will do. Just paint it up in a series of complementary colors.  Leave the rest of the space bright and simple.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pattern Play

Lets' wrap up with project Bohemian Modern, shall we? (bedroom, living room, dining room.)

Final selections: kitchen upholstery.
The kitchen is nice.  And, well, that's it.  It's "nice."  The cabinets are fine.  The granite is fine.  It just doesn't make me jump for joy.

There is an L-shaped banquette in a big corner, with a huge window and tons of natural light, and that's where we will be doing a nice french ticking stripe on the cushions and a mix of patterns on the throw pillows.  I immediately thought of this:

fabric mix on banquette
Pretty sure this is Hank Azaria's house in...probably Elle Decor.

Keeping the palette simple (to let the patterns pop), I gave her three options.

Blue and white with a side order of red and khaki

Grey and chartruesey-yellow

And red and khaki (the winner.)

Sometimes it feels random when I am pulling fabrics and whe I start to group them, I see things are missing.  Not this time: I laid 'em out, and made my husband give me a high five.

The client agreed: we had such fun playing around with these.

Ordering fabrics now.  can't wait to see these come to life!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Merchandizing the new spring catalogs

I'm loving many of the new looks I'm seeing in catalogs for spring.

Just for fun, I did a little virtual merchandizing, grouping items into vignettes that suggest (but do not necessarily function as) spaces for the home.

How about an entryway or two?

What about a fun and bright game table for two.  Or is it a kitchen dining nook?  Who knows what that screen could be hiding.

How about a full-fledged dining room?

Loving all the variations on a sunburst or crosshatch pattern there.  (On the chairs, too, though it's tough to see here.)

A brand new living room, perhaps?

Particularly loving that slipcovered ottoman--very John Robshaw, but from Crate and Barrel.

Well.  It was fun to pull favorites from the new catalogs and to see the ongoing trends.  Mid-century modern, kilims, bird art, chartreuse, bright/saturated colors, wood as a material (rattan, bentwood, etc), and strong graphic patterns are still popping up everywhere.  I love many of these trends, so it works for me.

Any new items you are lusting after these days?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bohemian Dining Room, two ways


Happy to share some design boards today!

This client actually had a baby on Saturday night and emailed me today to move forward with some fabric choices for her kitchen.  Amazing.  This is the house with the slightly bohemian-modern vibe (see her living room looks and her bedroom looks.)  The dining room will probably wait for a while, but I threw together some ideas to get her thinking about direction.

She wanted bohemian farmhouse with a smidge of beach, and we wanted to carry in the metal finishes from the living room as well as the bleached-out wood.  The first look has a table with an amazing hammered-steel top on a driftwood-colored farm table base.  (the table itself encapsulates the whole look!)  Bohemian rug and drapes, beachy chandelier and head chairs, and farmhouse side chairs in a modern color: bam.

I actually changed this next board from what I showed her--just keeping it fresh around here!  You know I love a frenchy cross-back chair, and these are METAL.  Love them.  They also act as the perfect foil to the beachy modern vibe of the plank dining table. Throw in a bohemian trellis print in beachy denim and loads of texture on the drapes and rug, and I'll move right in, thank you very much.  (Because you know I love jute rugs, big ball chandeliers, and, surprisingly, red and blue together.)

What do you think: do you prefer one to the other?  Want me to design your dining room now?  You know you do.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Small Measures

If you are going to paint a dresser, why not push the envelope and have a little fun? Favorite song lyrics, a poem, or the funniest thing your kid ever said.  (Skip the graffiti, though: pretty hard to pull off at home, and if you have kids, they might get the wrong idea and apply elsewhere in the house!)

Friday, January 18, 2013

The problem with "temporary"

At the bottom of the stairs in the lower level of my parents house, there is a piece of glass sitting on top of two plaster columns spray-painted faux-stone (the cutting edge of DIY in 1990).  This was a cheap and temporary solution to the need for a console table some twenty-three years ago.  The problem?  It is still there.

I have a tendency to fill holes.  Perhaps it is because I am impatient.  Perhaps it is because I have a need to see things "finished."  Whatever the reason, I have spent too much time and money on temporary or "good enough" rather than "just right" over the years.  The biggest problem with temporary?  Almost inevitably, it becomes permanent.  Once you spend a small amount of money on something for the short term, you are less likely to invest in something you really like for the long term.  And once a space is occupied, it can be very difficult to move the "almost" item to make way for something you truly love.

(an old chair stands in for new night tables, here.  This is temporary done right!)

While the rise of blogs and access to all manner of affordable design has meant, in part, that many spaces look alike these days, there is a parallel celebration afoot of undecorated spaces, perhaps "unfinished" but also unique, quirky, and filled with meaningful items.  It's a good time to be patient and wait for the right things!

(who needs a headboard or nightstands? This room comes to life with a unique afghan and original art.)

I have recently been inspired by clients who moved from a tiny apartment in San Francisco to a large house here.  Unlike me, they are not racing around to fill and finish.  We created an overall design plan and style guide to keep them on track, and they are investing in one "right" piece at a time.  When I went to check on the install of a runner the other day, there was no couch in the living room.  Eventually there will be a lovely couch (and maybe someday a console table and lamps and so on), but for now, my client just shrugs and says, more space for the kids to run.

At this point, my house is pretty well "filled."  But moving forward, I hope I will remember this, and resist the urge for the quick fix.

What about you: are you patient, living with less while you wait for the right things?  Or are you more of a space-filler, like me?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Preserving the 70s

Last night while working on a dining room, up popped the little g-chat window, with this link from my husband (who was sitting four feet to my left).

What did I find?  This amazing 1972 office building with exuberant interiors.  For the past 40 years, instead of being updated, the spaces have been maintained, with worn out carpet replaced with more of the original carpet, etc.

Obviously, these are commercial interiors, but I was still struck by the motifs that are showing up as new these days.  The chairs and desk above, not the mention the Hicks-like flooring;  The swath of almost-neon, low-slung couches, and simple wall panels below;

And don't these walls look like something Kelly Wearstler just did?

See additional spaces here.  The building was recently sold to a college.  Seems a shame to renovate this time capsule after all this time, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Living room: the final piece?

We all know that design, especially in our own homes, is an evolution, right?  And because all of the elements in a room are part of a larger composition, changing one changes, well, everything.

In my living room, bringing in a big painting is going to firm up my desire to change out the rug.  (It will go to my girls' bedroom, currently rugless, and start another evolution up there).  With a natural rug on the floor in the living room, I'm going to miss the strong hit of the orange, and the strong trellis pattern.

Enter the green Danish chair.

My husband purchased this off craigslist for our house in Brooklyn, and while I actually like the green color of the upholstery, I've always wanted to reupholster it in something with a more sophisticated finish.  To bring back the orange and some pattern, I've been looking at fabrics like these.

Okay, that last one is green again.  But I love the sort of floral stripe enough to consider staying in the existing color family.

Another alternative?  Kantha quilts are on sale at West Elm for $60.  I think the big ones offer enough fabric to cover two cushions like these.....I am a big fan of this look, though my gut tells me it will feel oh-so-2012 before I am ready to reupholster again.

For a long time I didn't understand why Domino Magazine was called that.  Now, every time I witness one of these domino effects in my planning, I get it!  Lonny, on the other hand, I don't really get.

Any evolutions afoot at your home?  Oh, and have you seen the "evolve" T-shirt, part of Meg Biram's new limited edition collection, Manifesto?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reader Design Dilemma: Follow up

Quite some time ago, I posted some ideas for Amy for her boys' shared room.

After the post, we took the conversation off line, and somewhere along the line I showed her images of Cole And Sons Woods wallpaper.

Being an amazing artist, Amy went ahead and found a stencil in a similar vein to completely transform the space.



(Don't you love her little "bats"?)

They moved one of the twin beds inside the closet to open up the floor plan.  I love this as an example of breaking rules to make your space work for you.  They needed the floor space more than the hanging space, so why not?

Amy also stripped and refinished the painted dresser (seen in the closet in the "before")

Much better, right?  IT also works especially well with one painted finish in the room (those blue beds) to have a stained wood finish as well.  Loving the make-unders these days!

This is one busy mama.  doesn't the space look like it is coming along nicely?

(If you have a design dilemma and want some friendly advice published here, email me!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hiding the TV with large-scale art

I'm on a push to "finish" things up around here.  I came back from my work-and-blog break with a ton of new ideas, plus renewed energy to tackle some of the plans that have long been on my list.

Since lucking in to a new coffee table and painting the fireplace wall (plus new throw pillows from fabulous vintage fabric, which I have yet to blog about), the living room is getting close.  There is one glaring problem: the TV wall.

Our new construction house is wired in a way that is a dream (no cords!), but it means that the TV placement was out of my control.  With the componenet wired in to a cabinet next to the fireplace, the TV just sort of floats on the wall.

My solution?  A giant painting in a nice, deep frame, that can be propped on the wall-mount TV when we are not watching (or, perhaps more realistically, when company's coming.)  The idea is that the room will look more finished, and, perhaps, I will watch a little less TV.

I taped out the frame size on the wall and my husband built a frame the very next day.

This one gives you a better sense of scale: at 52" x 76", this thing is HUGE.

I bought some inexpensive artist's canvas at my favorite local discount warehouse for about $15.  With two painted portraits from the 1960s and a very geometric lithograph from the 70s, both incorporating some bright color, I'm picturing black, white, and gold, and most likely an abstract.  Here are my main inspirations:

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

(It is VERY difficult to make splatter look actually effortless, so something like this last one is probably out.)

Mostly these are black and white, but black graphic shapes work on a strong hue, too.

Of course, I have also long loved giant botanical silhouettes, but again, hard to pull off an amateur version without looking, well, super amateur.

Another possibility: more of a two-color geometric, inspired by textiles, like the one over the fireplace here.

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

It was fun to round these images up. Some are from my "art" board on pinterest, but many more were images I had pinned along the way for other reasons.

What do you think: any favorites? do you think I can pull it off?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Small Measures

One photo, 25 words or less, projects you could do in a day.

Elevate old pegboard!

Spotted on, this idea offers endless variety: love it as a headboard, but works as straight-up art, too.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Trend Reversal

Oh, the ubiquitous painted Furniture.  For the past few years, DIY painted furniture has been everywhere.  It makes perfect sense: new casegoods are expensive, vintage ones are often dingy, and painting them is much easier than stripping, sanding, staining and generally restoring the wood to full glory.

In Apartment Therapy's round up of best makeovers of the year, many of them were actually make-unders, where wood pieces were stripped of all embellishments and returned to their natural state.  Like this one.

Also this and this.

I have to admit, I think this is going in the right direction.

It has been interesting to watch all that trendy painted furniture turn up on craigslist.  Have you noticed?  Some people clearly understand that a bad paint job devalues a piece of furniture, but others are actually charging up for the time and materials, even using the makeover as a selling point.  "Annie Sloan Chalk Paint" now shows up in search terms and headlines.

While I think there is still (and always will be) a place for some painted furniture, I've been glad to see the natural warmth of wood return.

I'm curious: would you buy painted second hand furniture if the paint job was decent?  Or is that something you would only do yourself?


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