Thursday, July 31, 2014

Affordable Find

Capital Lighting, $398 (in store price was $369)

I will admit it: this is a case where you can see where the price difference comes from.  The Regina Andrew light is larger, and the finish is clearly more special.  That said, it is the trellis pattern that really gives you the impact here, and having seen them both in person, I'd say go for the bargain!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Surprise! It's a makeover.

I was recently contacted by a client who wanted to do a surprise makeover for his wife, updating their master bedroom for her birthday.  I had two weeks to plan, 5 hours to install, and pretty much carte blanche.  As in, he didn't need to see anything before it was installed.

Fun, right?

I knew her taste from other work we had done together, and I knew she would be okay with the surprise (not everyone would be!)  I decided to make sure everything was returnable anyway, just in case...

The plan: He wanted to keep the major pieces but update and finish the space through textiles and art.  The bed and matching dresser stayed, along with the neutral rug and an heirloom chair that had been slipcovered.  My job was to bring in curtains, bedding, lamps, art, and overhead lighting.  I suggested night stands, too, since theirs matched the bedroom set and felt a bit too much like a Pottery Barn catalog.  My only restriction (apart from budget) was that the bedding could not be white.

Once we decided on side tables, I went to work on design boards, and let me tell you, it was weird not having to show them to anyone!

I used the boards because time was an issue, and I needed to make decisions quickly to get my mail-order options here in time.  Since I only had 5 hours to put it together on site, I knew I needed options for multiple looks.

Naturally, the final look is sort of a mix of these boards.  The good news is, they both LOVE the results!
We are tweaking one corner (I am off to shop now), but the space looks great and I can't wait to share the before and after!

So tell me: how would you feel about a surprise makeover in your home?

Monday, July 28, 2014


When I was in New York in June, my friend Sarah suggested the Marlton Hotel for a meet up with our friends from our public art days.  Sarah is my incredibly stylish friend who is always in the know about the latest places, and the hotel's decor is fabulous-- current without feeling overly trendy.  I didn't take any photos (well, except for one of their cafe curtain construction as reference for a project--I know, nerd), but you can see tons of photos here.

The other picture I took?  This fabulous Andy Warhol-inspired wallpaper in the bathroom.
And I just found the source!  Flavor Paper offers this paper in 4 colorways as part of the Warhol Collection.  Prices are steep at $350 for a 15 foot roll, but if you're smart you will use it like the hotel's designers--above wainscoting or another half-wall.

It feels retro yet current, right?  I guess that means it's just timeless.

Friday, July 25, 2014


A while back, we went to the fabulous weekend of open studios in Northeast Minneapolis, called Art-a-Whirl.

We go because it is a fun event, but also because I want to show my girls, artists themselves, that "artist" is actually a thing one can be when one grows up.  This year, I was also on the prowl for a painting for my dining room, and generally seeking artwork for clients.

My older daughter, Clio, had given my younger daughter, Eleri, her straw hat in the morning, and everywhere we went, Eleri was getting compliments on it.  By the end of the day, I think Clio was feeling a little stung, maybe a little regretful that she had given away something that suddenly seemed to have such value.  she didn't want the hat back, exactly, but I think she wanted to feel special, too.  (Or maybe just didn't want her sister to be so special at her own expense?)

At the very end of the day, A painting called to me from across the room, and though everyone else was ready to go, I struck up a conversation with the artist, Charles Thysell.  I loved his "big heads" work, and wanted to know more about his process for creating his large-scale canvasses.

While we were talking, Eleri got yet another compliment on her style and her hat, and Clio finally blurted out "yeah, well, I GAVE it to her!"

Want to know what the artist did?

He told Clio that kindness is the way to go, that it was so nice of her to give the hat to her sister, and that generosity can pay off.  To prove it, he gave her an original drawing.  To keep.  She was over the moon, and now the drawing (which I love!) hangs right next to her bed.

I love this "pay it forward" lesson, and this random act of generosity towards my daughter.  Also doesn't hurt as a true start to her own art collection, right?

What generosity will you share this weekend?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sneak Peek

Ages ago, I shared this design board.

Last week, we finally installed the major pieces in the dining room, and it is so, so pretty!

We are working in stages, and the living room (open to this space) will be next, along with window treatments, art, and possibly new carpet.  This will all take a while, and goodness knows I am impatient, so I just had to share the progress.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A fun DIY idea

I love getting DIY ideas from innovative store display, don't you?  I know, you are TOTALLY going around Ikea looking at the way they hacked their own pieces.

I recently spotted this dresser and had to share.

They took a narrow scarf/ runner and applied it to the front of the drawers.  In this case, it doesn't look permanently affixed, but you could really use any fabric, some spraymount or fabritac, and maybe some nailheads to finish off the look.

What do you think?  A really fun way to spruce up an old or cheap set of drawers.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why I love vintage

Vintage has many obvious benefits: the unique factor, the story associated with an interesting piece (real or made up!), and, often but not always, the price point.  But the best thing of all?  The element of surprise.

I have been looking for a mirror for the powder room for a couple of months now, but when it came down to it, a) I was not in a hurry, since there is a perfectly functional, if plain, mirror in there already, and b) I was not willing to spend anywhere near three digits on it.

So imagine my utter delight when, after piano practice on Tuesday, the girls and I wandered in to an occasional sale at Urban Cottage and stumbled upon the most perfect mirror for that space!  Perfectly unique, reminiscent of a high-end model or two, but under $50.  I could not have planned it, I just had to stop looking and let it come to me.  The find is a thrill.

That, my friends, is why I love vintage.  And I'm off to all my favorite haunts this afternoon with a client.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


For a while now, I have been noticing that the beautiful Indian pulkhari textile on my bed is fading.  The background color has gone from a vibrant coral to a faded orange, and the embroidery has simply disintegrated, one color at a time.  (It still had some blue here, and lots of pink, here.)  At first, I sort of vaguely suspected that it was changing, and then, all of a sudden, it became very clear when I posted an old photograph from my bedroom in the same post as a current picture, but the damage was already done.

This is one of those things about decorating: it is not forever.  Organic materials change.  Use wears away at things.  Buttons pop on upholstery, kids leave stains, pets scratch floors and furniture.  Even if you decorate appropriately for your lifestyle, nothing stays pristine.

I absolutely believe in using what you have.  Our wedding china is very expensive, but I would rather use it and delight in it, even if it means chips or even a broken dish here or there, than leave it on the shelf.  Having that textile on our bed was one of my favorite vignettes in the house.  It made me think of the store where I bought it--now defunct--and the early days of my brother and sister-in-laws relationship (she was with my mom and I shopping, and spotted the textile first.)  It reminded me of Clio's tiny toddler room in Brooklyn.  For a while, I let it fade because using it made me happy.

But then I freaked out and moved it to a chair, still in the room but out of the line of direct sunlight.

And I tell myself that it is good to move things around and keep it loose.

Tell me: Have you loved and lost any precious objects?  My heart broke a little when one of my daughters knocked over a ginger jar at my mom's, left to her by my grandmother.  But of course life goes on.

Monday, July 14, 2014

When you have to replace your siding....make lemonade.

Yes, I am mixing up that metaphor, but life may have given us lemons and I am staying positive.

A small piece of siding came off the front of the house, just under a window, and when my husband got some repairman types out to take a look, one of them thought we might need to replace all the siding on our practically new house.  Why?  Because it came primed but was possibly never painted.  Replacing the siding is worst-case scenario, painting the whole house and garage is best.  Still a whopping expense that we weren't expecting quite yet, but hey, it's a chance to change the look of the house, right?

Here's the current color.  Sort of bland and unassuming, but also neutral and modern in feel.

At first I was thinking there weren't many options, but of course that's not true.  There are lots of elements to consider: upper and lower s, house trim, window and door trim.  The more monochromatic, the more modern.  The more different colors, the more traditional.  Let's play, shall we?

First step: tweak the color (warmer, greener), add contrast trim.

Next up, add a second tone to the bottom half of the house.

Or how about using the darker tone up top?

Different color palettes start to evoke different vibes, too.

Modern cottage


Or cabin in the woods.

If I had my druthers, I would probably paint the house black.  Did anyone watch American Dream Builders, Nate Berkus's new design show?  There was some controversy over the choice to paint the exterior of a beach house black in the finale, but I personally loved it.  Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home recently revealed that she had gone dark with her home's exterior, and it is pretty fabulous.  

Here is mine dressed all in black, or with high-contrast trim.

Only problem?  As a teardown/ new construction, our house is already out of scale for the neighborhood, and painting it black would be like giving our neighbors the finger.  And we like our neighbors.

I'm not sure what we will do just yet.  I let my husband play around with the paint tool, and here is what he came up with.

So.....There's that.

What scheme do you like?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Making my way back

I don't know what happens in June, exactly.  Somehow all the year-end activities (school field trips, dance recitals, board recruitment and elections for the board I co-chair) simply take over, and when I blink we are heading in to July, season of birthdays.I wish I was one of those laid-back people who just roll through all this, but frankly I am just high-strung enough that the dance recitals and the like really do me in.

But!  I just got a little reprieve by staying home while my fam went to visit my in-laws.  While they were gone I did some major plate-clearing, and got through this reactive phase and in to a more contemplative place.  I'm thinking about shit, yo.

One of the many projects I took on was going through stacks of tearsheets, including a folder labeled "scan for blog."  It made me think about what this should be a space for (if it should continue to be a space at all).  I ended up throwing almost all of them away, as I realized that the only content worth sharing here is my own.  My projects, my process, sources I am liking, decorating tips I find truly useful.  You don't need me reporting on trends or showing you pictures you have seen a million times elsewhere.

When I started this blog 4 years ago, I waited to hit "publish" on my first post until I knew I had plans for at least a month's worth of posts.  After this little hiatus, I did the same thing.  I have written nearly 700 posts on this blog, and before I began again, I wanted to be sure I still had more in me.

I am coming back, weekly, I think.  Maybe biweekly if I am so inspired.

I hope you will join me!



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