Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Painting the ensuite

I was suuuuuper excited when I got a pair of white tramp art mirrors for the girls' bathroom, and for a steal.  But, naturally, these mirror were just a touch shorter than the old ones, leaving a bunch of big old holes in the walls.  Which means I need to paint.  Which dominoes into the sink skirts and the shower curtain and who knows what else.

As it turns out, my girls have opinions.  Specifically, they have opinions about what color we should paint their bathroom.  Clio would like either "swimming pool" (I mentioned I had two leftover samples we could try, "swimming" and "pool."  Naturally she thinks we should mix them because the names go so well together.)  Otherwise, she wants golden honey.  Eleri thinks we should paint a silvery grey, which would actually be very pretty with the marble tile floor, but I'm not sure I want to go for a pink and grey combo (their room is pink.)

Just to get the ball rolling (and in the name of no turning back), I threw some samples on the wall--colors in the general direction that we are discussing, but probably not the perfect color themselves.

You mostly see this color form in the girls room, but you can also see it from the hallway if you look in.  In these photos, I kind of like the intensity of that chartreuse (currently in the hallway, but also changing....).  But in person, I think the softer yellowy green (which is not reading very green here) might be better.  I just worry about a rainbow sherbert situation.....

What do you think?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Design Boards to start the week

Happy Monday--I think my painting arrives today!

I'm sharing some design boards this morning that show, yet again, how you can achieve wildly different looks even when using the same key pieces--in this case, the existing navy leather sofa and rustic/modern dining table, plus grey raw silk roman shades and fancy modern chandy.

The living room and dining room are one big room, so everything has to play nicely together.

And in the end, we threw most of this out and built a new look around a boucheorite rug, which is on the slow boat from Morocco.  It changed the palette completely.

Hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Love this drawing.  It shows how the trend in side table + lamp has changed over the decades, but also illustrates the key point that the total height of the combo remains about the same.

I found this inforgraphic through a google search, but I happen to know that Dina at Honey and Fitz has compiled a number of infographic design cheat sheets, here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Powder Room Paper

I'm making decisions lickety split.

Working on ordering one of these papers for the powder bath.

Which would you choose?

Friday, August 15, 2014

File under: I never would have done that, but it looks good!

Sometimes I realize that I have hard and fast design rules of my own that aren't, you know, like real rules.  And of course fake rules are meant to be broken.

Case in point:

Heather's rule: when layering rugs, one of them must be solid.

Breaking the rule beautifully:

A cowhide over a large-scale printed dhurrie!

What WHAT?!

And yet it works.  I think because both patterns have organic shapes, but one is high-contrast and one is low-contrast, and one has a regular repeat while the other is random.  See the house tour of these geniuses here.

I'm a gonna try my hand at this.  Look for some pairings next week!

Have a great weekend,


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I went for it!

I met with a photographer last week to plan to shoot my house.  (I know: my own photos are SO beautiful and not at all dark or blurry so why would I want to bring in a professional?).  The result is that:

a.  I am super excited and,
b.  Man, do I have a lot of work to do!

But you know what else?  Deadlines are awesome, and all of a sudden I am making long-considered, well-drawn out decisions lickety split.  The biggest one?

Art for the dining room.

I have been living with an 8x10 print out of this painting taped to my wall for weeks, nay, months, and I just bought it.  And now I wait...three weeks or more...while it takes the slow boat from Australia.

Yesterday on Design Sponge, Grace Bonney wrote about splurges and the benefits of "playing the long game."   The dining room wall is a huge focal point in my home--it is the first thing you see, in a way, when you come in the front door, and it is in the room where we probably spend most of our time as a family.  I've known for years that it needed a large canvas, and while my temporary solution lent a more finished air to the space, I am thrilled to have saved enough rewards points on my business card to, well, reward myself.

Right before biting the bullet, I read the artist's description of the work.

This is a portrait of my 107 year old neighbour in Nanning, Guangxi Province China. She was born the same year as Emperor Puyi, China's last emperor. She has lived through great social, political and economic upheavals. So much speaks for the lines on her face.

And you know what I realized?  This painting is a contemporary ancestor portrait, a fresh take on the kind I wrote about here.

Isn't it funny how we sometimes get an idea in mind, and won't let it go?

Monday, August 11, 2014

A little Zhush in a kitchen

It's a common problem: you bought the house in spite of a dated kitchen, but the renovation is a couple years off at best.  A client came to me recently with just this issue.  She didn't want to spend a bunch of money, but she couldn't stand being in her dated, drab, and unfinished kitchen.

Nothing a little zhushing can't help, right?

The floor is currently a linoleum tile in a peachy/terra cotta color.  Cabinets are going pale taupey grey, and walls white.  I gave her three looks with new hardware, lighting for over a built-in table (2 lighting options in each board--statement and simple), an outdoor rug to cover a good portion of the floor, and cafe curtains for a cheerful look that doesn't block too much light.

Look 1:

Look 2 (minus the valance on the cafes!):

Look 3:

Paint is happening now.  It will be fun to share the before and after!  
And as always, it is amazing what a little paint and fabric can do to lift a space.

Hope your week is off to a good start!

Friday, August 8, 2014


The tides may be shifting, people.  Mercury may be retrograde, or maybe Hell is freezing over.

Forever and ever, I have dreamed of this crystal ship chandelier, which I have blogged about twice now, here and here.

[Jonathan Adler, Elle Decor]

You know what?  I don't want it anymore.  I want its exact opposite.

The Z1 Cotton lamp by Nelson Sepulveda

Or the Koushi lamp by Mark Eden Schooley, in cotton or net.

I am obsessed.  Full stop.  I wantneedhavetohaveone in my dining room.  Same oversize ethereal sculptural quality of my Maskros, but way, way more sophisticated.  See a beautiful round up of more images here and here.

I tracked down sources for both, but neither appears to be available from a US supplier, and even if I could splurge on the fixture, the shipping is brutal.

Ballard designs has the closest thing I can find, though it might push the rustic edge a bit too much into country territory, as opposed to the more global influences of the others....

For scale: ignore the rest of the room!

Could I live with it in lieu of the real deal?  Would I forever be disappointed?  I've seen some DIYs out there for the Koushi lamp, but my space is not "undone" enough for that to work.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Occupational Hazard

I bought a pair of these lamps for that surprise makeover I did, but I didn't end up using them.
Leading up to the install, I had two events at my house, and had to put all the boxes and bags and bedding for the makeover in our guest room, instead of the office (and, well, front hall, back hall, and dining room, per usual.)

My mom came to check out the loot just before install, and when she saw these lamps sitting on the side tables, she said "I actually love those right there."  Yeah.  Me too.

And guess what?  When I returned everything else left over form the shoot, it seems I forgot all about these.....

Of course, this means there are now 7 lamps in a room the size of a queen bed, including the wall lights (remember those?).  This just might be overkill.  Surely there is a spot for some of the others elsewhere in the house, right?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mint Barstools

I was just about to suggest to a client that we go mint on the barstools in a largely white and wood kitchen. Thinking it might feel like a risk, I went looking for inspiration shots to share.  Turns out, there are lots!  Are mint barstools a thing?

I love that this fresh and unexpected color actually works in a variety of styles:

Home Beautiful Magazine, via decor8.com

via Mackenzie Pages

via ninahans.com

via The Design Files

Rosa Beltran Design

Barstools are such a fun place to bring in interest, especially in an open-concept kitchen/great room.  An unusual color, material, or shape can go a long way to personalizing one of the more difficult rooms to decorate.

Would you go a little crazy with a barstool choice?

Happy Monday, friends.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Reader design dilemma: Working with a traditional red couch

Nicky writes to me with this dilemma:

"I am stumped and can't find anything online (including pinterest/ mod boards) to give me direction for this crimson couch.  Red always seems to be the accent color, not the statement piece!  I love the looks of Pottery Barn and modern farmhouse style."

Here is what she is working with:

Nicky has some great pieces to work with and a clear direction, but so far the space is really only half decorated.  The first thing to do with a piece like this couch is to accept it.  No use fighting it, right?  Luckily, the lines work great for Nicky's intended style.  In such a small space, I would keep a tight palette to work with the couch, and bring in interest through shapes and textures.

First up: wall color.

Nicky is not loving the yellow, and while I agree it is a little too much with the couch, I think she is on the right track.

Working from the diamond pattern in the couch fabric, and coordinating with the existing carpet, I would choose more of a warm beige or ivory.   I would just be careful that it did not match the carpet exactly--go  a little darker or lighter to create contrast.

Benjamin Moore Creamy White

Next up: Window treatments.

To connect the two rooms and bring some balance, I would do floor-length drapes in both spaces.  Some people shy away from drapes in an eating area, but if you hang them just off the floor they should not get gross.  I would hang linen drapes in a neutral color, something that becomes tonal with the walls.

Finally: Let's bring in some furniture!

This look feels most appropriate to Nicky's style and current lifestyle, with two small kids in the house.  A Pair of leather club chairs and weathered wood tables will simply patina with use, and bunching tables plus side tables are all moveable, creating flexibility for littles who may want to play on the floor.  The palette is really limited, but leather plus cowhide plus copper plus iron plus weathered and whitewashed woods = totally interesting.  There is also a little beaded motif running through, with the nailhead trim on the leather "B", a bead detail on the white drum table, and a perforated look to the copper lamp.

Later in life as the kids grow, Nicky could graduate to a more elegant and traditional space, while still sticking with the same tight color palette.  A wing chair, turned side tables, and armless slipper chairs are all classic and elegant, and the blanket-stripe rug and block print art keeps it from getting too formal.

OR!  How about going the other way?  I noticed that Nicky has some suzani-looking pillows on her couch, so even though she has self identified as modern farmhouse, I thought I would throw a more global-loving, cozy English look in there as well!  Suzani rug, super tufted chairs, a well-traveled trunk, mismatched bamboo tables with elegant ceramic lamps....you know I love this look.  :)

For more inspiration on how to let a red sofa shine, check out this recent post on Sadie and Stella.  Changes the way you think about red, doesn't it?

Hope this helps, and have a great weekend!


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