Thursday, January 30, 2014

Split Screen

I'm always, always, always on the hunt for interesting ways to hang art.

I spotted this home tour by designer Tara Guerard on Style Me Pretty, via Bryn Alexandra.  I love the way they hung the many-panelled Japanese screen with a little--interruption--from the window.  This may have been a practical choice--if the screen was simply too big for the space between windows--but I will give them full credit for their ingenuity.  This installation gives the screen added energy, and I love the way it calls your attention right on over.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oops...I bought a rug

Here's what happened.

I thought this was the perfect rug for my dining room

(save for the $6000 price tag).

I recently decided this one would work well, especially in keeping with my new found Kathryn M Ireland obsession.

(if only it was wool and not cotton.)

I had the sample floating around the dining room for a while, feeling like it had just the palette I was after. My price for a 9x12 was going to be under $400...not bad at all.  But I didn't pull the trigger.

Yesterday, I was alerted by the blog Kiki's list that One Kings Lane was featuring Stark rugs.  I headed on over to take a look for a client.  (No really, I swear.)

I spotted a striped wool flat weave with the green of my curtains and the blue of my chairs and the brown from around the house and the red (or orange) I was hoping to add.  Just, alas, no yellow.  It was available in several sizes, and the posted price range went up to around $1550.  I clicked through, even though that was way more than I was planning to spend.

But no.  The 9x12price popped up: $149.  Where's the other zero?  I thought.  I put it in my cart, convinced the error would be corrected.  Nope.

And so, in a month (why a MONTH?)  I will have a 9x12 Stark flatweave wool dhurrie for the bargain price of approximately 95% off retail.

With colors that, now that the thrill has worn off, I have to admit will probably  But who knows?  Also...returns accepted within 14 days.

Do you make impulse purchases when the numbers are "too good to pass up?"

Monday, January 27, 2014


Preamble:  Today is the FOURTH day this month that schools are closed here for dangerously cold temps.  As in, the high today is projected to be -6.  The low?  -22.  Those are raw temps before any of that wind chill nonsense.

So let's talk about cozying up a bedroom, shall we?

Lots of designers don't "fluff" a space, bringing in textiles and accessories, but I have to say, it can be pretty satisfying, and the gratification is instant.

I have a new client who has a solid set of Pottery Barn furniture and a pale grey wall color that she likes, but her space lacks personality.  She contacted me to bring a little life to the room.  She wanted the room to feel cozy, finished, and not too feminine, and she didn't want a lot of stuff.  She was VERY open to color palette and look, so I put together 4 boards with fairly different vibes to see where she was at.

Calm and fresh:

warm and Cheerful:

Modern and masculine:

It's amazing how different these spaces can feel based simply on textiles and accessories.

None of these are the direction we ended up going....hopefully we'll have a before and after soon--just waiting on the linen roman shades!

If you're local, stay warm.....

Thursday, January 23, 2014

White is a color, too!

This post is perhaps appropriate as the world is covered in snow and my children are staying home once again due to sub zero temps from another arctic blast.

But it is inspired by my contractor, who, after I sent him paint specs for a project, wrote back, "just so we're clear.  The whole place is getting painted one color.  WHITE."

Yup.  Atrium white to be specific.  I'll tell you this: white is not easy.  those undertones can go kooky, and of course it reacts dramatically to different light conditions.  Many a blog post and article has been written about choosing the perfect white.

For my current project, here's my seal of approval:

“I painted my whole house in Southampton in Atrium White—the walls, ceilings, and moldings. It looks amazing and has incredible depth with a fresh appeal.”
- Lulu de Kwiatkowski

One Kings Lane "The Perfect White Paint"

I don't often paint walls white (though my own house is mostly white, due to the open plan), but there is such a fresh, bright feeling about it, don't you think?

P.S.  The room was deep purple before, with a dark rust sitting room.  Should be quite the transformation!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Floral headboard two ways

I've been noticing more and more patterned headboards pop up on flash sale sites One Kings Lane and Joss and Main lately.  I keep ogling them, even though we do not need any new headboards around here.  When one popped up in major on-trend watercolor splendor, I thought it would be fun to design a room--or two!--around it.

And so: Girly glam

And cheerful country

I love how completely different these are, working from the same starting point.

And I have to say, I am in love with this country-ish design.  It's not normally my thing, but I am really craving bright, fresh, cheerful looks these days, and lots of YELLOW!

What do you think: would you ever go for such a statement headboard?  (Or would you leave your options open and drape a textile over a smaller print, kind of like this?)

Also, I'm loving cafe curtains right now.  They don't have to be overly country kitchen when done right.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole

In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin talks about the types of decision makers: "satisficers" and "maximizers."  Want to guess what I am before I even tell you what those terms mean?

Instead of trying to paraphrase, I'll just quote Gretchen's blog:

Satisficers (yes, satisfice is a word, I checked) are those who make a decision or take action once their criteria are met. That doesn’t mean they’ll settle for mediocrity; their criteria can be very high; but as soon as they find the car, the hotel, or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied.
Maximizers want to make the optimal decision. So even if they see a bicycle or a photographer that would seem to meet their requirements, they can’t make a decision until after they’ve examined every option, so they know they’re making the best possible choice.
I don't know, am I a maximizer if I can (and will and do) happily look at literally thousands of rugs before buying one for my living room?
Witness:  It occurred to me today, not for the first time, that my living room may function better with a pair of chairs opposite the couch.  More on that later, but for now let me tell you this.  I am only JUST BARELY THINKING about this plan, and I have gone down the ebay rabbit hole.  IF I were to put a pair of chairs there, they would need to be small scale, an interesting shape, low, and ideally have a good fabric-to-wood ration so that a.) the frame doesn't compete with the big hulking coffee table and b.) reupholstery is not too expensive.
Some inspiration for what I mean:

(Both, Angie Hranowsky)

(Both, From the Right Bank)

And some of the options I am busy maximizing.

And don't get me started on parsing fabric options....

You know I want to know: maximizer?  Satisficer?  Or some hybrid creature? 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


You know how sometimes people say that everyone should work in food service if they are to be allowed to eat in restaurants?  Well, something similar could be said about services like re-upholstery and furniture refinishing.  Until you have done it yourself, it can be difficult to appreciate the labor that goes into it, or price tag associated with the work.

Remember when I started refinishing a desk?  It is harder than it looks.  But progress has been made, folks, and there's something to that.

I stalled out when the temps dropped, and this project has been taking over the garage, filling up the rightful place of the CAR these last few months, until finally the polar vortex kindly delivered an exploded tire and my husband brought the desk inside when the weather was frightful -45 or so.  And now it is sitting in my kitchen where I can admire the progress but I can't access the tupperware.

Anyway, the before:

And the Progress shots:

Yup, there it is in my kitchen.

SO much prettier, right?

Now, the hard part: make a mess of sawdust in my basement, or wait until spring to finish it up.

The girls, of course, think it is just fine like this and are trying to convince me to put it back in their room.

Have you gotten in over your head on any projects as of late?

Do tell: misery loves company.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tweaking an art wall

When I finally tackled a staggering pile of my kids' art over break, I came across some lost treasures, and took the opportunity to make a little tweak to the office gallery wall.  There are two little collages, in white frames at the bottom, that Clio made when she was 4.  I always liked the idea of swapping out the girls' art as they grow, and I love the idea of giving their art import by placing it right alongside the work of professional artists.

Buried deep in the "to scan" pile I found a pair of watercolors inspired by Andy Warhol.  

I love the way the Tomato Soup cans fit right in to a wall filled with poster art, experiments in printmaking, and the Fred Tomaselli collage that makes use of a New York Times.

While it's nice to have some things "finished" around the place, making small changes like this keep things fresh without being disruptive, don't you think?

Friday, January 10, 2014

New Art Pour Moi

I have had such specific wish lists (and here and here) over the past few years as I decorate this house, no one has dared to go off-list all that much when it comes to gifts.  But this year, after subsidizing some house purchases as a gift in the past (like this one), my mom decided to--gasp!--give me something I didn't ask for, much less already buy myself.

And you know what?  It can be delightful when someone who knows you well gives you something they think you will like, and introduces you to new stuff in the process.

Jennifer Lashbrook is an oil painter based in Dallas who has become known for her "swatch paintings."  My parents hit up a lot of art fairs, and when they were in Arizona around Thanksgiving and saw these artworks made from paint swatches, well, they knew just who had to have one.  Or two, as it turned out.

Yes!  Those portraits are made from PAINT SWATCHES.  The originals are sold, but my parents got me signed, limited-edition prints.  Marilyn is about 8x8 and the Beatles are about 5 1/2" square, small enough to go just about anywhere, or to add to my office gallery wall.  

There are other art changes needed and/or happening.  Just when I thought the art was "Settles" it will breathe new life in here to mix it up.

P.S.  This would be an Art You Can Afford, except you can't seem to buy Jennifer's work anywhere but art fairs!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What to expect this year on the blog


After 18 days off, the children went back to school today.  I thought these "cold" days of no school would be a challenge: the phone ringing off the hook with clients ready to get moving again, stir crazy children jumping all over me, a total working-mom clash.  Instead, my clients seem to be easing back into things too, and my girls continued to happily entertain themselves, and I got to catch up on some things.  Like sorting and scanning the huge pile of kid art that has been blocking a filing cabinet for months.

I also pulled together all my notes for blog posts, which gave me an opportunity to think about what I want to share with you this year.  I'd like to keep my regular series going, like Art You Can Afford, Two Ways, and Reader Design Dilemmas (have one?  Send it my way.)  In addition, I'm toying with the following:

It Always Works
The more design work I do, the more I realize that I rely on certain staples.  I work with clients with a range of tastes and styles, yet there are items I come back to again and again in ANY space.  I'll share some of these items and show you why it always works.

New to Me
Sometimes I don't blog about cool products or ideas I come across because I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't know about it yet.  Guess what?  Untrue.  This will be a place to share products that I think you might like that were new to me--and might be to you, too.

8 ways
I like versatility, and my job keeps me thinking about what to do with interesting pieces (a vintage textile, a carved stool) or how to fill unused spaces (the end of the bed, the end of a hallway.)  This series will take these items of spaces and show you 8 ways to use them.

Making the Most of
Another theme I've noticed in my work is that most of my clients can't afford to (or don't want to) make major changes to their architecture or finishes.  So I have to decide: do I mask the problem or make the most of it?  This is another series where I would love input from readers.  If you have something awkward in your home that you can't change, send me a photo and tell me a ll about it; chances are, you're not alone!  I may be able to help.

As I grow my business, it's time to invest in some improvement.  This year, this means professional photography of projects and a redesigned website and blog.  I may also finally talk to one of those companies that is always emailing me about increasing my SEO and being smart about getting the blog out there to grow the audience.  It's a lot of work to write and manage a blog--I may as well reach more people, right?

What else?
If you are a regular reader and want more of something, or miss some category of content that I am slacking on, let me know.  Email me

I hope this sounds good to you.  I am excited!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pillow Mania from the Polar Vortex

You will be happy to know that I didn't leave you out while I was on break.  Nope.  I am right where we left off:  fretting about the living room rug.  Lonny just named Beni Ourain rugs one of the three trends they hope will die in 2014.  So that's nice.  Nothing like getting in on the way down.  (Does anyone else feel that the popularity of the beni can be traced almost single-handedly to the pages of Lonny?)

No, really, I love it, and I don't care so much about being "current."  These rugs are one of those items that have been trending lately, but the authentic ones are classics that will never go out of style.

Next up?  Finishing off the space.  In this case, that means pillows.  Since we haven't left the house in 4 days, I have had plenty of time to search the internets high and low and put together too many schemes.

(actually, this was helpful.)

It feels like the room wants to be sort of neutralish with so much going on, but I want color.  Who wins?  Let's take a look.

1. Major color

2. Minor color

3.  Gold and black

4. Black and tan

5. Green and Brown

What do you think?

Of course, I could always recover the green chair.  And those lamps could be spray painted.  Like a dog chasing its own tail......

Monday, January 6, 2014


Happy New Year friends!

Here's what I can tell you: I took a real break.  Like, I don't know where my cell phone is right now kind of a break.  Like, vacation auto-reply on my work email for nearly two weeks kind of a break.

Here's what I will say about that:  Hooray!

The last bit of 2013 was a real doozie for me.  (How do you spell doozy?  Spellcheck is telling me both of these are wrong.)  Taking a proper step back (and finally reading this--well, most of it anyway) has me ready to brush myself off and move forward.  Onward!

I thought about recapping last year, or sharing details from my break, but, nope....boring.  Onward!

Today MN is shut down due to ridiculously cold weather, and with my girls home, I am extending my break by one day....

I hope you'll meet me back here tomorrow.  It's a good thing my husband built an igloo with the girls...looks like we will need it!

Just kidding.  We are inside with the fire going, lots of blankets, and wool socks.


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