Saturday, August 31, 2013

Small Measures

via Ikea

Take a classic paper lantern. dip it in dye.  doesn't get easier than that!  (Matching tablecloth optional.)

Friday, August 30, 2013


More transformation pictures sent from afar!

I have a client who inherited a ton of antique furniture when moving in to a family home.  Slowly but surely we are recovering everything with the intention of lightening up, but retaining the traditional vibe.

How about this for a transformation:



SO pretty, right?  Seriously, Schumacher can do no wrong.

Progress from another space in this house, with some fabulous wallpaper:

I love working on this house.  I have a much more casual/ eclectic thing happening in my own home, but I LOVE getting to play with traditional fabrics and papers and to live vicariously with silks and florals and all the trimmings.  How about you: do you ever wish you had a second home to represent a second style?

Happy weekend, friends!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Two Ways

I haven't done a two ways post in a while, and they really are some of my favorites to create.

So when a friend form one of the design showrooms here told me she just bought some bedding, and that her color palette was coming together, and I showed her a headboard she loved that came in chartreuse and purple--her colors, along with black and white--well, a post was born.

I totally love this.  Feels a little Vivian Westwood with the plaid blanket, anglophile portrait pillow, and graphic black and white.  Also kind of makes me think of another blogger with a very distinctive style.

And this one feels more "me," like if I was taking the existing shams and those little footstools and making them work for me.  It appears I am obsesses with those Ikea sconces, too, which keep making their way into my boards!

Want to take a closer look?  First look here, second look here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Don't know where to start? How about the palette

Sometimes I find a blank slate the hardest.

Where to begin?

If there is no piece to inspire the space (like the painting in this room or the rug that set the palette here), I like to choose a textile and then determine an overall color palette.

Take a fabric (or rug, bedding, artwork) with multiple colors and pull out your favorites.

Two schemes here, each read in a column.  Go for a mix of warm and cool, and throw in a neutral somewhere along the way.

This works with a two-tone fabric, too.

Again with the two schemes.  Repeat one of the tones (here, the aqua), ground it (the brown or grey), add a contrast (warm coral or pink to the cool blue),  and again with the neutral.

Easy peasy.

These are process excerpts from a new girls' room project where we are starting with the curtains.  It's going to be super cute!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Teensy Nursery: The final plan

Yup, we have a plan.  And none too soon, as baby is due September 5!  (These were earlier versions.)
I have been receiving dispatches from New Jersey, including a shot of the perfect dresser in the little niche (where once I dreamed of a built-in crib), and the paint treatment with that fabulous orange racing stripe!

I hit up the new(ish) FLOR store here in Minneapolis on Friday to find the perfect grey and white tiles to create the offset stripe rug, and I am psyched to use both the bookworm shelf and Debbie Carlos's kick-ass fireworks print in the same project.

The upholstered screen is an idea-in-progress to kill two birds with one stone: this tiny nursery was never meant to house a wee one, and the whole-house sound system is taking up one corner.  There is also no door, as this once-office is just off the second floor landing.  The idea is to create a hinged screen that swings to cover the sound system when anyone is in the room, and swings the other way to close off the space when baby boy is sleeping.  We'll see how it comes together....

Friday, August 23, 2013


Many of you told me, in comments here or off-line, that you found this post "refreshing."  I'm so glad!  I always like to know that I'm not alone, no matter what it is that's getting me down.  I guess it's just human to want to know there are others out there having similar experiences, whether it is serious business or, oh, just decorating.

I'll try not to make you regret it by sharing some of my other "decision making" from last week.  Like so:

Should the girls room just have solid orange headboards?  Does the orange need a little black edge?

Also, okay, leopard.  But which one?

(This is a particularly stupid exercise, because this choice is all about the color and the density of the pattern, both of which can be WAY wrong based on on-line images.  I am calling in samples, but I am impatient.)

(Also, I do not own a Donald Baechler artwork as seen above, but I would like to.  I have this crazy notion that I will do something similar with my TV-covering artwork, but I will refer you back to my recent fail.)

As an aside, there are all kinds of ways to mock up your ideas.  Today I cut up a bunch of post it notes to figure out if my FLOR plan was going to work for this nursery.  This is what I sent my client:

with a note that read:  offset stripe mocked up in neon post its.  But it would be grey and cream.

By the way, the folder that these mock ups reside in is called "crazytown planning."  So yes, I do know.

Anyway.  Do you have any half-made decisions you would like to share?



Thursday, August 22, 2013

On-trend bedroom

I am working with a new client in Jersey City, getting in at the beginning as they renovate a lovely old townhouse.  They will be living in the top floor guest room and den while construction happens in the lower levels, so we are tricking out those spaces first.

Since this will ultimately be a guest room, the clients wanted to have some fun.  They also wanted everything to be retail and readily available, and nothing to break the bank.

I gave them three looks, all based on prints from the online shop cozamia, some of which the client had pinned.  These are the two looks they did not choose:

A little bit hollywood regency, with that rug!  and those nightstands!  And those awesome vintage-inspired lamps and modern chinoiserie toile throw pillow.  I used blocks of navy on the bedding and curtains to calm it down.

Very bohemian, with the rustic wood nightstands, mid-century lamps, and wild mix of textiles.  The palette is more navy and coral, though there's still a bit of the pink in that  one-of-a-kind rug.

Can't wait to implement the top choice!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Last week, my kids were away and I had this glorious notion that I would cross everything off my home decorating list.  I have been working on my own house for three years, and since I have been doing so much of the work myself (making all the curtain and headboards, painting, searching for cheaper options, etc.) and on a fairly tight budget, it has been a slow labor of love.  And the love is running out.

I share this because blogs have a way of making it all look easy, and pushing us to strive for a level or perfection that is probably silly.  I loved reading this post last week about letting it go.  For me, my house is THIS close, and it is really pretty good, and I WILL finish.  The problem for me is not in letting go, but in not letting it do me in.

In my business, I make a million decisions, big and small, every day.  They are decisions that affect people's homes and their wallets, and I take that very seriously.  Sometimes it feels like there is little energy left to make decisions for my own place.

I'm going to make an analogy.  It is probably a bad one, but I expect you will forgive me.

When I was pregnant with my older daughter, I worked right up to my due date.  In fact, I was in the office until midnight trying to wrap everything up, and then took the subway home, and waddled slowly the 6 blocks from my stop to my front door carrying a box of my stuff.  The next morning I woke, expecting to go in to labor.  My body had other ideas and I waited for 11 more days.

With many creative endeavors, we enlist the gestation analogy.  Author's books are "born."  In fact, the gestation/ birth analogy is so embedded in our language around creativity, I didn't even notice that in the first paragraph of this post I refereed to my home design as "a labor of love."  Design has gestation, too.  Ideas percolate.  This is not news.  What I bumped up against last week is the realization that there is a transition from idea to execution that requires its own work.  (After 9 or so months of gestating, their is a phase in labor that is actually called "transition," a phase to go through between laboring and birth.)

I raced in to last week knowing what I wanted to do.  The ideas had gestated.  And I woke up expecting to do some labor and birth my hallway art installation.  But even after you have decided that you will install a group of frames like this:

Breaking up one large abstract work,something  like this:

Artist Angela Brennan

There are still a bunch of decisions to make.  What color frame?  How wide a profile?  Matted or not?  What kind of wall spacing?  Acrylic, water color, or collage?  What weight of water color paper?  And other, compositional things to think about: does the piece "read" from downstairs?  From each vantage point?  Should it "point" down the hall?  Does it matter that you can't see the whole thing from any vantage point?

A lot of the decisions I make in design are made instinctively and without stress about them BEING decisions, but they are decisions nonetheless.  And when you go to buy the materials--to execute an idea-- it raises each and every one of the questions above, and then some.  Which is how you end up getting to the mock-up phase, using supplies on hand, and then lose focus and energy.

Here's something to keep it in perspective, though, in keeping with this post:  When my kids came home, my 7-year-old went up stairs, saw the mock up, and shouted for all to hear:


Which is great, because a week later, that's still the state of the hall.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Small Measures

Not sure that the scallop-paint wall treatment would have been a project you could do in a day before.  Enter:

Noe I bet it is a project you could do in an hour!

Happy weekend.....

Friday, August 16, 2013

New to Me: Babyletto

Have you seen the adorable nursery collection Babyletto at Target?
Like Oeuf or other modern nursery lines, only affordable.
I came across these while working on this nursery, and thought I would let you in on it.  (Also couldn't seem to resist making a quick board with the Madison collection.)

3 drawer dresser $299

Crib $299


"See low price in cart"--don't you hate that?

dresser/ changer $399



Again, low price in cart.  I didn't take that step for you.

SO cute, right?

All available at Target.  Please note: I haven't seen these in person and can't cop to the quality.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bedskirts that do "make the room"

Better Homes and Gardens


Waterleaf Interiors

Southern Living

Pretty great, right?  Yes, I am contradicting yesterday's post.  Sometimes a bedskirt CAN lift a heavy load of the design work in a bedroom. But one thing hasn't changed since yesterday: they can cost a lot.  If you think about it, they take quite a bit of fabric and are kind of a pain to make, so it shouldn't be all that surprising.

Some good ones "off the rack":

And an etsy shop that makes them custom for you.

Of course, now I won't be satisfied with plain old white skirts on my girls' beds.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is there a clever title for a post about bedskirts?

I will admit: a bedskirt is generally not going to make or break a room.

That said, if you need to buy one, you might as well have options.  They can get super pricey, and since they often feel like the afterthought in the whole bedding scenario, it can be tough to sink the cash.

I am in the process of raising my girls' beds off the floor, which puts me in the market for ye olde dust ruffles.  (That's what we called them back in the old days when I was growing up.)  In truth, I would have just bought some straight-up white ones for $12.99 a piece at Target and called it a day, except after I did that I discovered that I needed an 18" drop, not the 14 or 15" drop that is more standard these days.  Research first, people.  This is the difference between client work and my own sad state of decor.

Anyway.  I found two online sources with bed skirts in many colors and, more importantly, many styles, none of which particularly break the bank.  Going with a solid neutral (white, ivory, or natural) gives you lots of options when you change up your bedding down the road.  Going with an upgrade in the type of skirt can give you tons more "look" while remaining versatile. has 37 styles to choose from.  37!  My favorites, for an upgrade from the standard pleat at the corner, include:

Box pleat


Voile has most of the same options, but they count the colors separately to get to 74.  In truth, they have most of the same options at shopbedding, plus these, which I love:

Box pleat with button


Don't you love online stores that just say what they are?  You want to shop for bedding, hit up  I bought a mantel direct from  It's really kind of brilliant.

If all else fails, DO buy the Target special, then add some trim, like I did here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Decisions, decisions

I made a decision.  A good one.  About my own house.  And if you have been along for the ride, you may be relieved that I will now stop talking about it.

It has to do with the living room rug.  And it goes a little something like this:


Architectural Digest

Ken Fulk



Miles Redd

I'm not sure if the clarity came from being away for a weekend, or having the kids away and the opportunity to focus on the house, but I am sure of this.  And when I called to tell my mom, she said "YES."

You know leopard is a neutral, right?

Maybe I should read my own blog more often.


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