Friday, December 12, 2014

The Tree!

As much as I don't love milestone birthdays (oh, the pressure!)  I DO love special gifts that mark a milestone.  I spotted this C. Jere tree at Retro wanderlust some time ago, and what a surprise to walk, bleary eyed, into my kitchen on my birthday morning and to see it in the dining room topped with a mylar bow!  My husband had been hiding it in the garage, and apparently my older daughter, accidentally in on it, has been giving him knowing and meaningful looks every time I talk about my birthday, or anything remotely related.

There are a couple of spots where this tree could ultimately land, but for now I love it right where it is: visible when I walk in the front door, when I am standing at the kitchen island, and every time I come down the stairs.

I love that this will be part of my girls home memories: remember that golden tree with the birds nest and three tiny eggs?  Eleri is already promising to polish the brass leaves.  All of this is just further proof that decorating can be magic.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This is 40

Well, it came.  My 40th birthday.  I woke up, just the same.  Don't feel any different.  Except maybe relieved that it is no longer in front of me.

I will linger on this no longer, only to say that I decided that I wanted a couple of specific gifts, and that I would selectively treat myself to them.

1. Artwork

One of the things that has been so great about getting all the furniture and big statement items done around here is hanging artwork.  We don't "need" anything more, but I love that there are little spots here and there to fill over the years.  For now, I wanted something small and colorful and not too pricey.

Mequitta Ahuja, "Dream Sequence: Winged" 8x10

Just discovered Grove and Ceremony through Joslyn, who I believe also has a birthday today!

2. A rug for the kitchen

This is one of the last pieces for the house.  I often take up the kitchen rug in the summer, but it is decidedly winter around here.

These are all vintage persian rugs from eSale rugs, which is where I got my entry rug.  The top one one here is my favorite but its dimensions are not as good--it is several inches wider than the others.

3. a Serious, grown-up bag

I haul a lot of stuff around, almost all the time.  And my bags are shot.  The thing is, I'm not much of a handbag girl, so doing the research is a snore.  But the idea is to invest in something that I cancarry all the time for the next 5 years (or more!)

These are some that caught my eye.  Top row: Ellington handbags.  Bottom row: Madewell.

4. A really good design book

I bought this for myself, and then my favorite design-loving Aunt sent it to me, too.  Great minds!  I read it cover to cover this weekend.  It features the homes of a collection of the designers influencers, and it is totally fascinating to see how she has indeed drawn inspiration from varied sources to create her own totally distinctive style.

5. Surprise!

And then my husband surprised me with an AMAZING vintage C. Jere tree sculpture from my favorite vintage emporium, retro wanderlust.  It reminds me of the delicate bronze min-statues my grandmother had when I was growing up, only, you know, 5 feet tall.

Photo coming soon!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tweaking a Girls Room

Wow, it's December!
Where has this year gone?

Just popping in to share some updates to my niece's room plan.
Originally, my brother and sister-in-law were feeling inspired by a page from the Land of Nod catalog.  See the inspired boards we came up with, here.

Flash forward some months and they decided to hand their own mattress down to Lael, and it is a Queen, while the wicker headboard we selected only comes in a Full.  After thinking it over, we agreed that an upholstered headboard would be more practical anyway.  I sent over a number of tweaks, but we all agree this is the most "Lael,"

Can't wait to put it all together!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Styling--Liz Caan Kitchen three ways

The other day I shared my obsession with heart art, and used an awesome kitchen by Liz Caan as an illustration.  When I was writing the post, I could not initially remember in which magazine I had seen the kitchen, so, naturally, I googled it.

Though various internet machinations, I ended up finding several versions of this kitchen--each with different art.  Amazing how one painting can change the feel of a room, no?

And what looks to be an earlier iteration of the space:

Here she uses a mirror in place of the art and a bell jar lantern in place of the visual comfort star flushmount.  The floors are much more traditional, a little bit "country," and a cheeky framed poster hangs where there is now a wooden island.

Don't you just love seeing the way spaces evolve?  Which is your favorite?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Art you can afford: Heart Art for you, Heart Art for me

As it turns out, plenty of retailers are in on the heart art trend.  I found pieces in many colors, sizes, and price points.  shall we?

Shown in relative scale.  Clockwise(ish) from left:

Multi-heart print (I love that this is a play on Damien Hirst's dot paintings): Saatchi Gallery online, both original and prints available (scale here is the large print.  Prints are reasonable, original is expensive.)

Neon pink heart poster, with write-in box: ElasticCo, through Domino
I worked with this poster's maker on projects long ago.  She is awesome and deserves her own post.

Chartreuse, pink, and ted (you know I love this color combo): Saatchi gallery online, both original and prints available at this scale (prints are reasonable, original is expensive)

Cartier Heart Strings, gold leaf: Natural Curiosities, to the trade.  Contact me for pricing

Love Letters Collection, Blue: Natural Curiosities, to the trade.  Contact me for pricing

Big heart (I used this print in this little girl's room): Minted, available in many sizes and frame options

Tiny black heart: Natural Curiosities, to the trade.  Contact me for pricing

Gold heart: Serena and Lily,  love the sparkle!

What do you think: would you go for the heart?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Heart Heart Art

For some time now, I have been obsessed with the graphic punch of very simple heart art.

I already have one version in my office gallery wall--the sweet valentine my older daughter made me at school when she was maybe 2 or 3.  (I love that it has the letters to spell "Hug me," but that it is all jumbled up.)

This art wall was the first thing I did when we moved into this house.  Four years later, I've barely changed a thing--updating some old collages of my daughter's to her Warhol-inspired soup cans, here.  See my original post about hanging this gallery wall, here.

Now what I am really craving is the super-simple heart.

Liz Caan, HGTV Magazine

I was thinking I needed a red heart like this more the girls' bathroom, but then, when the brown and white stripes went up in the laundry room, I REALLY wanted the bold simplicity of it in there.

Tomorrow I'll round up some options that are currently available!

Just for fun, some other excellent heart art.

So versatile.  Trendy?  A bit.  But really, what could be more classic than the symbol for love?

Friday, November 7, 2014

All I want for my 40th Birthday is a Missoni stair runner

Is that so wrong?

(sneak peek of the happy hallway)

I love that either of these striped runners (in the photo above and in the design board, below) pretty much encapsulates the whole palette of the house, and plays well with all the rugs it touches.

Here is the "rug story" for the main floor of the house.  

The runner (middle, below), can be seen most directly next to the moroccan jute sisal dining room rug and the afghani wool entry rug (bottom right and bottom left, respectively).  The beni ourain is in the living room and the green concentric diamond in the master.

Those stripes.  Super fun, right?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Quick Tip for twin beds

Sometimes it's the little things that trip you up.

My girls' room has been basically done for quite a while (after the initial design, the floorplan change, the redesign plan, the re-redesign plan, and the rug switch), but for some reason I could never pin down the pillows on their beds.  I bought several new options when I was getting things ready for the photo shoot, but ultimately I went with something I had, and remembered a good lesson in the process.

The best pillows for Twin beds are King pillows.

Why?  Because a king pillow is almost the full width of a twin bed, making for a seamless look.

In fact, when you don't have an upholstered headboard, layer a king pillow in a sham (not a pillowcase) behind a standard pillow for a finished look, like we did here:

The purple shams = king, the white pillowcases with green ric rac = standard.

With a headboard, I like a king pillowcase and a small accent pillow.  That's what I finally did in the kids' room, and I love it!

The king pillows are vintage Laura Ashley with pink ticking stripes and a ruffle on the other end.  The accent pillows I made with fabric leftover from this sweet space.  They are basically these.   I made them at midnight before the shoot and haven't actuallys ewed them closed at the bottom.

 Now the only problem is that my change-loathing 8 year old is not on board, so I have to switch this out with her "old" pillows every day.  Fingers crossed that someday she'll get on board....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Next Up (aka, my husband's nightmare)

Now that I am "done" with my house, I am ready to be done done.  It's kind of like when I first had my house cleaned by someone who doesn't live here, and after she left I was like, hey, this lampshade is DUSTY.  Compared to everything that was sparkly and clean, I noticed the things that were not.  Now that things are substantially finished, decor wise, the bits that aren't really stick out.

sneak peek of the girls room, above, and the guest room, below 
from photographer Melissa Oholendt's Instagram

Don't get me wrong: I LOVE being in my house now.  I LOVE walking into a room and being delighted by not only how it looks and feels, but by all the things I don't need to think about doing because they are done.

But at the same time, the itch.  (ALREADY?)

So here is the list for the next phase.  I am trying to argue that we should just do it and be done once and for all, kinda like pulling off a band aid.  We'll see if my husband agrees.  Posts coming on each of these.

- Runner on the stairs
- Flushmount lighting and ceiling fans upstairs
- Re-upholster my Nonny's chairs
- Replace master bedroom dressers
- Art in the laundry room
- Switch out the mirror in the powder room
- upgrade the art in the entry

Oh, and a whole-house sound system.  THAT, my husband can agree too.

I'd like to think that when I finish, I will leave things alone for a good long while, until we are ready to redo the guest room for one of the girls, or when we save up the dough to do up our basement, which is currently cement floors and drywall.

I'm ready to just really, truly enjoy it all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Scandinavian style for a 6 year old

Especially loving the unusual combo of red, yellow, and mint, and the strong graphics of the black and white.

Cute, no?

Monday, October 20, 2014


We are just back from a gorgeous wedding in Connecticut, and my list is a mile long, but I wanted to pop in and say hello.

I have always been deadline-driven, and last week, with a photographer coming to my house, I had a doozy of a deadline.  The goal, in a nutshell, was to finish.  Yup, finish.  Like, everything.

I remembered that I made a list of home goals, way back in the beginning of 2012.  It was funny to look at it and see the things I checked off, 2.5 years later, that I didn't even realize I had planned for, like "amazing modern adirondack chair for the front yard," which my husband designed and built, by the way, or "indoor tree in dining room window," which is done, courtesy of Ikea.  Lots of other specific little things changed all together.

I'm holding off on sharing much in pictures, but here's just a quick list of what we have recently accomplished, and why I haven't been too available lately:

- Exterior paint
- Wallpaper powder room
- Wallpaper laundry room
- Wallpaper upstairs hall and frame and hang gallery of (105!) family photos
- Paint girls bathroom
- Paint inside of office bookshelves
- Re-organize and style office bookshelves
- Redo front entry
- Sew accent pillows for girls room
- Polish brass urns for dining room
- Replace dining room light fixture
- Spraypaint outside chairs
- Spraypaint this little chair for entry
- Buy(and spraypaint!) hardware for the little desk
- Make a new painting to hide the TV


In terms of "being done," well, I am realizing today that I faked a bunch of things that I will now have to finish.  Like, the new shower curtains for the girls bath is really a pair of curtain-curtains and will need to be adapated for water-resistance.  Or, the trim I added to the guest room bedskirt is actually just pinned on, and not even on all three sides.  Or, those pillows I sewed for the girls room are still open on the bottom, where you can't see them.

The good news about all those odds and ends is that I will have plenty of little projects to share in the coming weeks.

I will say this: it is so interesting to look back over photos of the house these past four years.  I absolutely love where I have landed.  I completely Love My Space,

I hope you'll stick around!


Friday, October 10, 2014


When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a small powder room with gold damask flocked wallpaper, a shiny gold sink, and fluted gold faucets.  There was a conservatory full of plants, complete with the small brass spray bottle for misting the leaves.  There were dressing rooms for the pool that smelled of cedar and bathrooms upstairs with seemingly endless doors.  It was magic.

My own parents had a redwood coffee table with nooks and crannies perfect for parking our matchbox cars in "caves."  There was a lazy susan coffee table that served as the kids table for big events, and the fun of rotating dinner plates with cousins was endless.  The dining room had a wall of mirrors behind a huge assortment of potted plants; the doubling effect turned the room into a jungle.  The leafy beige wallpaper didn't hurt, either.

When I came home yesterday, the tree wallpaper was up in the powder room.  Clio, who is eight and weary of all the changes around here, went in and declared "I love it in here!"  and immediately started finding hidden words in the leafy design.

I remind myself often that decorating is a luxury.  But sometimes I am reminded that design can be magic.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Story of a Project: The big reveal!

Thanks for following along as I take you through the process on an ongoing project!

Monday we looked at the before and talked about the plan, Tuesday we chose a floor plan for the living room, Wednesday we perused some design boards, Thursday we tweaked the accents.  Today is the big reveal!

As a reminder, this is how the living room and dining room looked before.

And here is what they look like now:

And some details:

The living room from the dining room:

I often feel like I want to move in when a project finally comes together, and this was no exception.  Now, my client feels like memories of her family are all around her through the beautiful things they collected, but they are not overwhelming HER presence in her home.  I love the way we were able to accomplish that, and all the personality that her parents' thing imbue to a very current sensibility.

I'm sort of sad that this one is over!  Though we do still have her office to work on.....

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Story of a Project: Tweaks

Yesterday we looked at design board for my client's living room.  She chose a layout for casual entertaining, and the key piece was a sectional.  I mentioned yesterday that we made some tweaks to the chosen design, the biggest was changing from a grey sectional to a more glamorous piece in teal with nailhead trim!  We also went with a chair more on the "save" (versus splurge) end of the spectrum, this classic '50s design from Ikea.

With our large pieces pinned down, and key lighting selected, it was time to pin down the accents.  We needed two side tables, a table lamp, and baskets for under the console, and I gave her three "looks," shown in columns.

Can't wait to share the reveal, tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Story of a Project: Design Boards

Picking up where we left off yesterday:

For her living room and dining room, my client chose from a selection of floor plan options.

Her choice?  Casual entertaining.

We knew we were taking our colors from this rug, 

and she also had an amazing tree-slice coffee table that we decided to keep.  

I shared the dining room options on the blog here.  This was the final:

Since the living room is open to this space, the two rooms had to play nice.  We decided on a couple of key elements before I even started sourcing: grey sectional, natural fiber rug layered under the silk one, and white linen curtains.  From there it was a question of where to put the color, and pinning down a "look."

Look 1: Slightly Coastal

This one has natural wood elements to play off the vintage coffee table, and crisp white, glass, and nickel for clean contrast.  One strong pop of coral is fun and fresh.

Look 2: Modern Organic

Here the color palette emphasizes teal and black, and the accent elements are more streamlined in shape but incorporate rustic finishes.

Look 3: modern pop

The most contemporary, this look has classic mid-century lines on the console, chair, and lighting, ans slick finishes and bright coral to contrast the natural textures.

I won't make you guess: Look 3 was the winner.  BUT, we changed a lot when it came time to implement months later.  Tweaks up next, tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Story of a Project: Space Planning

Yesterday I introduced you to a project that has been long in the making.  We chipped away at the whole-house shell over the course of a year or two, putting in some hardwood floors, replacing carpeting, stripping wallpaper and re-painting everything.

My client was living in her parent's old house, where she had lived as a teenager.  Often we get set in our ways, putting a couch against a certain wall simply because it has always been there. What we needed to do was create a space that worked for HER life.

In came the floor plans.

Generally, there are a couple of good ways to configure any given room, and I usually give options.  I find that clients usually know pretty quickly what layout will work best for their lifestyle.

Case in point:

The living room has a bay window at one end and an archway to the dining room at the other.  It is visible from the front door, and a step down from the hallway that leads to the back of the house.  Here are the options I presented.

This option orients the space to the view out the front window, and uses the bay as a cozy reading spot.  An armoire houses a stereo and books. and there is plenty of ambient light.

Casual entertaining

This option orients the room towards the dining room and creates natural flow between these two public areas, and the entry.  A sectional is perfect for seating a group, or stretching out when home alone.

Formal Entertaining

This option leaves the flow between the two spaces, but creates a tight conversation area within the living room.  The chairs back to the hallway and create a sense of wall between the two spaces.  Strong symmetry and pairs also feel more formal and buttoned up.

Great for TV

A pair of facing loveseats flank an armoire with a flat screen.  Each perch has its own large side table for drinks and popcorn.

We were lucky that the client was starting from scratch for furniture, since no one existing piece dictated our layout.

What would you choose?  What do you think she chose?

Tomorrow: the design boards.


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