Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cheap Trick: Fireplace Before and After

I did a staging job back  in February, and I haven't shared one tiny little piece of interesting advice or dramatic before and after just yet.  And you wouldn't think I would have fireplaces on the brain, but I've actually been using ours: it has been mid-50s, rainy, and grey.

Fireplace surrounds can be pricey, and I wanted to share this inexpensive fix.

My client had a surround that was really a family heirloom, and they planned to take it with them.  We needed to install a replacement but didn't want to spring for wood to match the trim--which would have been a natural choice.



Instead, we bought one from and painted it a color three steps down the paint card from the wall color.  

Yes, you read that right:!  I chose the profile that went best with the style of the moldings (The Yosemite, if you're curious) and customized it to fit my size requirements.  (The tile was existing and we weren't  messing with it.)  A few weeks and less than $400 later, the mantel arrived, primed MDF, in nearly one piece.  (I could have had them paint it for me, but since my painter was already knocking out the whole house, it made more sense to have him do it.)

I have to say, in a pinch this tonal paint solution really worked.  The same mantel in solid wood would have run us at least times as much--not smart when you are staging, and not always possible even when you are staying put.

What do you think?  I'm really into painted trim these days.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What I Got

Not long ago, I wrote, partially joking, about what I would like to inherit from my mother.  (Hint: she didn't own it yet.)  In all seriousness, I have been very lucky in the items that have been passed down to me.  The list is very long and very wonderful, and I am thrilled to have such personal items as my grandmother's gold leaf sconces and my husband's grandmother's quilts and cedar chest, not to mention a veritable treasure trove of my mother's castoffs.

There was one item I always adored as a child that actually went to my brother--the nerve!  It was a sweet little desk that was my mom's growing up.  I always loved it because of the small scale and eight little drawers atop the desk surface--perfect for stashing tiny treasures of all kinds.

Turns out, there were at least three of these desks, with the other two belonging to my mom's sister and cousin, and one just came home to roost.  I had been looking for a desk to put between the beds in my girl's room, (see the small-scale desk round up here).  and after almost buying two different options off craigslist, I am so much happier with this little heirloom!

The finish is pretty banged up so of course the question is, what to do?  The headboard need to be re-done, so I am thinking white desk and chair (chalk paint for that Swedish, not a glossy finish), with more orange and pink on the headboards.  OR neutral headboards and a limed finish, using this.  

And sure enough: the girls love those little drawers as much as I did at their age.  The 6 year old is stashing her glasses in one overnight, and the others are already stashed full of untold treasures.

Tell me: do you have pieces that have been handed down to you?
And more importantly: what would you do with this little desk?

Of course, it is STILL too cold here for painting and stripping and all those good projects, so I have some time to think on it.....

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Look for less

If you love the Samarkand prints from Schumacher and Brunchwig & Fils as much as I do....

Peter Dunham uses Brunschwig, via House Beautiful

Brunschwig, via The Designer's Attic

Schumacher in Traditional Home

Schumacher in (an earlier iteration of) my girls' room

You're going to LOVE this!

24" pillow cover, just $39

It's definitely closer to the Brunschwig pattern, but definitely soothes that colorful global craving at a (much) better price point.

Have you found any worthy knock offs lately?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rustic Modern Bedroom

Remember I mentioned the possibility of grasscloth on a client's ceiling.

It's happening.  In a medium brown to match the wood trim on the windows, with tons of texture and variation.  The walls, which are paneled, were just painted a warm white with a tiny bit of taupe.  And the rest of the room will look something like this:

No, there won't be his-and-hers chaises.  I often like to offer a choice.

You know I love a canopy.  In this case, it will cover some of the paneling, and soften the room.  They have a terrific vintage portrait from a family member to hang inside.  And I just love a pair of bachelor's chests as nightstands!

Happy hump day, friends.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fall 2013 looks hot for blu dot

I jut got my new catalog from local modern funriture maker blu dot, and I am loving the designs debuting this fall!

Upholstery top to bottom: Chip chair, grotto sofa, clutch dining chairs

Case goods top to bottom: Shale dresser, Dang console, modu-licious low dresser

Etc: Laika Pendant lamps, Turn Side Table, and Hitch Bookcase

Love these pieces!  Do you have a favorite?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Trad Home Mag dot com

Good morning!

Generally, I don't post pages from new issues of magazines.  But when the most recent issue of Traditional Home just came, with an advertisement for their online publication, I was surprised that it went live May 12 and I have not read a peep about it in the blogosphere.

I dove in, and it's good!

You might remember that Traditional Home made its first foray into on-line publishing last year in a partnership with Lonny, here.  This year they appear to be working solo, but the results are similar.  The market pages have sources that were actually new to me (and at a price point that is workable), like this and this.  Like last year, the well stories feature a bunch of "new traditionals": up and coming designers working on a traditional backbone, but infusing their own interpretation.  Here are some of my favorite spaces from the issue.

(I love color, but there are lovely spaces on the neutral end of the spectrum as well!)

Julie Goldman

Julie Goldman

Frances Merrill

Frances Merrill

Andrew Maier

Kristin Rocke

Heather Garrett

I have to say, I also actually READ most of the articles, and learned a thing or two.  The only thing I found a little strange is that the magazine still LOOKS like Lonny--especially the way page captions are done.  I would have thought a redesign would be in order.  But maybe next time?

All in all, well done!

Check it out, here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I'm looking for a....

To be honest, I have been feeling pretty stumped for content lately (not to mention pressed for time and energy).  But I love this forum and love connecting with you as close to daily as possible.

I've been thinking a bit about more ways to share content that I am producing anyway.  I realized I really like it when other bloggers share their finds in a certain category, so I'm giving it a go, too.

We have made tons of progress over at this house, taking it in a different color direction with teal, raspberry, and grey.  We are looking for a tall, leggy grey armchair--something without a huge footprint but with a lot of presence from it's height.  While rounding up options, I thought I would turn it into a high/low thing.

So.  I'm looking for a tall grey armchair!


Wing, high to low: Crate and Barrel, Lulu and Georgia, Home Decorators Collection, Overstock
Leather, high to Low: Crate and Barrel, Room and Board, West Elm, Home Decorators Collection
Button Back, high to Low: Room and Board, West Elm, Overstock, Ikea

Only some of these were actually recommended for the project.  Curious to see what they choose!

What do you think: do you like this sort of post?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Living Vicariously

I have to say, there are so many different design ideas I have always wanted to use.  Too many--and sometimes too conflicting--to put them all in my own home.  So I love living vicariously through clients!

It looks like I will be getting to try out a long-time favorite with a new client.

Emily A. Clark

Marianne Simon

The Parker Palm Springs

That's right: grasscloth on the ceiling.  Love it!  The master bedroom was an addition and has a terrible acoustic tile-style ceiling.  Fingers crossed that we can mask it with texture.

The walls are paneled, too, and I like the effect of mixing paneling in a light neutral with a warmer/richer color grass.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Fun Summer Bedding

There are so many great bedding collections out there nowadays, it's tempting to switch things up on a regular basis.

While I tend towards white bedding that can be layered with textiles (a more economical way to cater to variety), lately I am drawn to bright, patterned beds as well.

Bed Bath and Beyond has some terrific design collaborations (Barbara Barry!  Diane von Furstenberg!  Orla Kiely!)  Yet they often seem to be overlooked.  Last time I was there (picking up a curtain rod for this project), I was taken with the Trina Turk spring line.

So fun and bright.  And the patterns bear a striking resemblance to some of her designs for Schumacher, like this peacock for BBB:

Which is like this peacock for Schumacher.

What do you think: do you go bold on the bed?

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I love this room a surprising amount.  (Okay, I love nothing that is happening on the table top or in that back corner.)  But the table, rugs, chairs, lighting, and oh, those doors?

I'll take 'em.

Here's the thing: this image is from a pottery barn catalog.


I was.

I want those light fixtures bad. 

I really should live in California, style-wise.  And weather-wise, says the girl who chose to RETURN to Minnesota, the land of 7-month winters.

But it's spring now, and I love the summer feel of this dining room.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tall headboard plus netting canopy equals bliss

In my (over-documented) girlie's room, I vascillate about going back to tall headboards with the existing "bed curtains."

Sometimes you see an image that sways you.  Hard.


Of course, it doesn't hurt that I love almost every little thing in this fabulous room.  I'll take it!  Hold the small round rug and stark black and white photo, please.

On a side note, don't you love the restraint of just one perfect accent pillow?  Unfussy perfection.

Also.  (You know I can't write such a short post, right?)  Looking back at posts of the girls room, I am having this moment where I go "what are you THINKING?  It was basically FINISHED.  TWICE."  And then I sigh, and understand my husband's point of view a little bit better.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What I would like to inherit


In my parents house, there is a double height living room with floor to ceiling windows, Baker furniture, Chinese antiques, a dramatic fireplace wallpapered in black wood diamonds (trust me, gorgeous), enormous Christmas wreath over the mantel All.  Year.  Round.

Julian Chichester in Elle Decor, via Tokyo Jinja

In my mother's defense, the wreath is heavy, and unwieldy, and there really isn't a great place to store it the eleven non-Christmas months of the year.  Plus, she has never found just the right piece to hang above the fireplace.

Until now.

Lonny via Chinoiserie Chic

I found the most gorgeous pair of Chinese ancestral portraits at a local antique shop.  They are perfect and I love them so much I told her we should buy them together and each take one.  I was convinced of the genius of this plan and had decided who gets which and where they go and then I came to my senses around the whole price tag thing and realized I can absolutely not afford even one corner of one and will just have to convince her to buy them both and to gift them to me in her will so I can inherit them in 40 years.

Michael Smith in House Beautiful, via Chinoiserie Chic

Right?  A flawless plan.

And so I went and dug up some amazing designer rooms featuring said portraits.  

Miles Redd in Elle Decor via Tokyo Jinja

(Mom, are you reading this?)

Barrie Benson via Tokyo Jinja

Also, I think it should go without saying that if you find something awesome for a close family member, even if they pay for it, you should get first dibs should they ever want to give it up.  Don't you think?

I'll say no more.

But if you would like to know more about these portraits, I found a great deal of information on the blog Tokyo Jinja (several of these photos were found on her site.)  check it out here.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ideas for an allergen-free boys room

A little while back, I worked on a room design for a boy with severe allergies.  They had a great, basic, solid wood furniture set, but with the outing of the cute "softs" (rug, windows, throw pillows), mom was struggling to bring in the life, color, and personality.

I did three complete designs, including desk, storage, lighting, and seating, but each had a dramatic "moment" as its starting point, in lieu of all those soft and patterned items that are oh-so-bad for allergies.

1.  Wallpaper the ceiling

The milky way draws the eye up; pops of red paired with architectural elements put the emphasis on shape over pattern. 

2.  Paint stripes

The room was already green.  Why not add broad white stripes to the walls?  Keep additional furnishings streamlines and add whimsy with a marquee arrow and numbered bins.

3.  How about a mural?

I've done it before (and before, and before) and I'll do it again: wallpaper one wall in an interesting and personally significant image, like the map of your hometown or a blow-up of your kids drawings.  To play nice with the vintage street map, I included a french-flea-market inspired hamper for rolling lego storage, a vintage printers tray to display treasured objects, and a locker-desk and wheel-lamp.  Nothing says whimsy like one thing used as another.

Sadly, none of these rooms are to be, as the family is likely moving.  But it was fun to get creative without relying on some of the usual tricks of the trade to make a space sing.


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