Thursday, December 7, 2017

The first office

Well, if you follow me on instagram (you should!) then this is probably a pretty anti-climactic before and after, but alas.

I first leased this space in January, when the puppy made it impossible to go on working form home.  I had looked on and off at small spaces in Minneapolis, but this one was just right: near my kids' school in a smallish and well maintained office building with a "shell" brimming with potential.

The before:

And the after!

This space has good bones: natural light, wood floors, and a very pretty pressed tin ceiling, which does a lot of work adding some charm and character to what really is a white box.  I also love that the paint color is warm and creamy, not a bright stark white.  (Nice job, landlords!)

The downside was how the single window sat way off in the corner and was kind of small for the wall.  

Window treatments to the rescue!  I hung ready-made curtain panels from my best secret source (fully lined, weighted hem, and tab backs, which make for the best non-custom panels), going to the longest standard size that would fit (96").  Then I put a natural bamboo shade at the height of the curtain rod to cover the gap from the top of the window and trick the eye to thinking the glass extends up behind the shade.  I also extended the rod on the left to take up more of the wall.  (btw, the rod was $6 from ikea)

The left panel ended up being centered on the table/desk, which gave pleasing balance where there was none naturally.

That table was a craigslist find for $100.  I loved the large surface (it has leaves for flexibility) and I always think pieces that have pretty details make a huge impact in a small space.  To make it function as a desk, I picked up a $60 file cabinet with drawers from Ikea that tucks underneath.

On the other side of the room, by the door, I created some storage with bins for samples on each current project and topped it with a mirror to bounce the light form the window around the room.

The chair, a south african photographer's sitting chair also purchased off craigslist and recovered in a Kravet zebra print with espresso gimp and black-brass nailhead, was mostly just pretty, but also provided a spot for a kid to perch when dragged to the office after school.

(Fun fact: I sometimes style finished spaces for the shoot and occasionally the client doesn't want the props I bring in.  Check out this house and you will find the topiaries and that awesome mid-century statue!  So glad I got to keep it.  The little silver tray in front of the mirror is also left over form that shoot.  IT serves as a drop spot for keys.)  

I HAD to add a lamp, for function of course, and luckily found this awesome scissor one on final closeout at RH.  Again, in a small space it's great if your functional items can also serve as visual interest.  This guy is practically a sculpture.

Finally, It's no secret that I am a BIG believer in the power of an art wall.  This space needed something big to ground the whole desk area, but I didn't want to spend a ton.  I found a book of world myths for about a dollar at the retrowanderlust warehouse sale, with 18 book plates representing myths from different countries.  I bought up a load of my favorite white frames from Target and had my framer cut custom mats in this awesome army-olivey green.  (I would have just used the white mats that came with the frames, but the opening was too big for the prints.  Since I had to go custom anyway, it was an opportunity to make it LOOK custom and bring another tone to my fairly neutral space.)  Fun fact:  I hung this grid the day I moved out, for this shoot. (with contact strips--no wall damage!)   There is a larger grid of these in the new office space.

In short, some ways to dress a white box and make an office beautiful AND functional:

- Make a small window bigger through the magic of window treatments
- Use furniture from outside the "office" category to create a personal feel
- Use strategically placed frames to create architecture
- Let your lighting serve as sculpture
- Storage can be attractive

And yes, I did buy a white computer to go with the color scheme.

A little more background, since apparently I have MUCH to say about this little space:

I wrote about the coolie shade on the lamp here.  I wrote about the problem of starting with a colorful rug here.  And I shared a design plan here.  (I ended up not too far from this!)

The new space, which is larger and has the bonus of storage, is coming along.  I shared the design board here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Wish List

Hi there!

I actually have new content coming soon.  Despite a crazy couple of months, we snuck in a few photo shoots and I'll have some fun before and afters in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, my annual indulgence of sharing my wants with you.  For links, wish list here.  Once again it's looking similar to last year (and previous years!)

1.  A subscription to Galerie magazine.  I devour my shelter mags as they come through the door--which isn't often enough!

2. For some reason I'm really into these asymmetrical tops of the athleisure variety.

3.  Fresh foam booties for dog walking.

4.  All of our everyday plates are chipped.  These are fun possibilities!

5.  Fun every day earrings in mixed metals.

6.  A runner for my stairs.  (Or more precisely, my husband's agreement that I can put a runner on our stairs.)

7.  Funky one of a kind pottery.  One of these crooked vessels from Polly Yates would do nicely!

8.  An investment bag.  The Madewell option has been on my list for years (now available in canvas!) but a friend and client just introduced me to a better option.

9.  Statement jewelry from my friend Tia.  Love the necklaces made from lake superior stones, but the fringe earrings (in nude?  black?) or the half moon earrings would be every-day staples.

10.  A new throw for the living room.  The one I got for my bday 5 years ago is full of holes!

11. Cashmere-lined colorful leather gloves.  A wish list staple.

12.  A Lagatto Romano puppy!

13.  Design books.  This year's crop is looking great!

14. Sheepskin seat covers.  This is really for the doggy.  Not entirely sure if I am serious about this, but there are incredible custom options out there--who knew?

And....I feel compelled to say that this wish list is just that--daydreaming about what I might like but certainly in no way need.  I'm so grateful for all the wonderful thins in my life.  (But this is a fun game to play each year--and amazing how little my wants change!)

Tis the season: what are you wishing for this year?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Gallery Walls--alternative grids

I'm such a fair-weather friend, aren't I?

Blogging silence.  And now, here I am--asking for your help!  (Well, opinions anyway.)
I've been in my new office space for over a month and finally finding time to hang art and curtains and generally upgrade the feel of the place.

Here's the design board for the general plan:

And the floor plan:

That grid of artwork that defines the conference table area is made of these bookplates from a vintage book of world mythology that I found at the Retrowanderlust warehouse sale. (As pictured in my former space, upstairs.)

I have 19 in total, and I came to the office today (Saturday) to hang it in a tall grid of five-five-five-three.

Well, nothing is quite that simple, is it?

I realized that I wasn't sure I wanted such a rigid grid as I had planned.  Why?  Because I already had a grid of 16 spaces in the expedit bookshelves on the far wall.

So instead of hanging the art, I've been playing around on the computer, deciding on a layout.  

Here's where you come in:  what's your favorite?

My original plan:
(I wanted something vertical, but am limited by the vertical orientation of the prints and the overall height. 4 rows just fit floor to ceiling, with about 2 inches between frames.)

Other straightforward grids:

But then I started to think about ways to add in more dynamic shapes or movement.

Staggered lines:

Center line with "chevrons":

The checkerboard:

The "Butterfly":

...Those are all still pretty geometric.  So what about this?

When I saved the above image, I titled it "breaking free of the grid."  I sort of love how it feels like it just got kind of shaken loose.

Okay: VOTE!

Actually, I think this exercise just told me what to do....but I still want your opinion!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stamp Art

Just spotted this "french stamp art" at Wisteria (where they are having a pretty great sale right now--click here for all sale items.)

Made me think of my stamp art project, still going strong in my dining room!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Morpholio Board

I make design boards a lot.  You've seen a bunch of them here.  Several years ago, I settled on Olioboard as my go-to, and for the most part I love them.

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by an old friend who works for Morpholio.  They were launching a new app, Morpholio Board, and wanted some designers to take it for a spin.  While olioboard is a web-based app that runs in flash and doesn't work on a tablet, Morpholio Board was built for the ipad.  I played around for a couple of days and found it SUPER intuitive (and I am not a natural where tech is concerned.)  Populating boards and manipulating products and layers is super simple.  Right now, their library of products skews decidedly modern, and I had a lot of fun playing with brands I don't often use.  You can also import images of products and build your own library (which is much like Olioboard.)  Here are some of the boards I came up with:

Fun, right?  The ability to "cut out" an object is impressive, and the layers are really quite seamless.  There are tons of other features on the back end that are pretty robust, like the ability to export a product list for your clients.

  This isn't meant to be a review--just sharing a new tool (and some creative work made with it) that some of you might enjoy.

Go check it out!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bedroom Boards for a 60s condo

I'm working with new local clients who are moving from their family home into a 6th floor condo with light and views.  The only problem?  It hasn't been touched since the 1960s.  They are mostly managing the gut renovation on their own, but I get to decorate!

One of the fun things about this kind of move is getting to move cherished items to new contexts.  Case in point: they had a persian rug in the living room that they loved, and a pair of brown leather chairs that were fairly new and quite nice, but they didn't want the brown palette in the open living/dining space.  So into the bedroom they go!  To modernize the brown and cream and tie in to the other spaces, we went with a deep jewel tone for the walls.  We wanted to offset the warm tone with something cooler.  Green felt too 80s, plum felt too 90s, so we landed on blue.  As I look at these design boards I realize the color is reading much more teal than in reality--it is a deep blue, but with a little less green in it.

They found nightstands they love from CB2 which went perfectly with the slight deco influences we are bringing in elsewhere.  The big thing with the bedroom was that everything had to be in stock or short lead time so they have a bedroom when they move in!

Look 1: Masculine and clubby

Look 2: Feminine and organic

How do you feel about brown?  (It's definitely "my" neutral, so I'm happy to see it making its way back after years of grey!)

Which look would you choose?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Screen porches and outdoor rooms

It snowed here last week.
But yesterday the Forsythia were in full bloom and the time to get outside is coming, even here in the northlands.

I put together these screened porch looks for a new client and thought I'd share the ones we didn't go with.  The trick with mixing outdoor items is in the materials--unlike an indoor living room, most affordable outdoor pieces have exposed frames and there's less fabric all along.  In these looks I limited my frames to 2 materials and kept the palette tight.

They are putting new windows into the porch which means install is maybe 6 weeks away, but I can't wait to see this one come to life!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Make it work

I've been watching season 14 of Project Runway with my kids.  One of the contestants, Merline, never stops talking/moving/dancing/singing.  In an early episode, she was repeating Tim Gunn's "Make it work" over and over, like a tic, or a broken record.

Make it work make it work make it work make it work.

I'm having a make it work moment.  I've been in my office for 3 months now, and I FINALLY ordered a desk chair.  (why are practical things so much harder to commit to than impractical ones?)  I knew I essentially wanted a tan leather knock off of an Eames management chair but spent a lot of time deciding between padded or ribbed, real leather or "vegan" leather (which really came down to budget.)  I finally pulled the trigger on the ribbed style, in faux leather.  It came quickly and then sat in a huge box for a week.

I unpacked and assembled it this weekend.  It is not tan.  It is brown.  Which would not be that big of a deal (tan will show more marks from blue jeans etc), except that this particular shade of brown CLASHES WITH MY DESK.  (a table I found on craigslist).

Ugh.  This is the danger of ordering online when the subtlety of the color really matters.

So now, do I disassemble the chair, repackage it, and haul the huge box away, and order a lighter, TANNER tan chair?  I am so not inclined to this solution.

Do I find a textile to fold and drape over the back?

Do I paint the tabletop?  (the base is ivory, the top is currently wood.)

I'm hanging art behind the chair but don't know what it will be yet (apart from a row of white frames with white mats.)  Do I choose something to draw the eye away from the desk-chair combo?

I love the idea that this space be somewhat minimal, without a lot of pieces and layers.  When you do that, in neutrals to boot, everything has to be just right.

This is a VERY easy mistake to make (and a difficult one to avoid when you can't see something in person.  I suppose the tip is, when ordering online, make sure the items you are ordering are in contrast colors to adjacent items.  Less nuance in color = more wiggle room).  Obviously it is my job to avoid or fix such mistakes--but it is much harder to do that for myself, on a weekend, than for my clients, as part of my job.

I can tell you this: I'm sitting in the chair right now and it is comfortable.  The thought of going back to the sagging upholstery of the vintage Milo Baughman chair I have been sitting on for weeks is NOT appealing.

Time to make it work.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Obsessed: Coolie Shades

This was supposed to be one of those quick and easy posts where I share my latest obsession: those deeply cone-shaped lamp shades that are, apparently, called coolie shades.

Me being me, this somehow turned in to deep research on coolie hats, both the originals and their interpretation in fashion (particularly popular in the 1940s); the term coolie and whether or not it is considered offensive; and the use of said coolie shades by designers (they appear to be somewhat of a signature for John Saldino.)

This all came from the fact that I want one in my new office, and that the latest issue of Veranda seems extra populated by them.

But really, what (if any) of that are you guys interested in?

So here you go, a round up of some lamps currently available, with coolie shades at various degrees sloped.  I love how architectural and sophisticated they feel, how they balance out fat lamps and give stature to skinny ones (perhaps this was also the appeal of the hats???)

For sources, (fair warning: none of these are exactly budget options), go to the board here and click through.

Here are some as seen in Saladino's work.

Here are some coolie hats in art and fashion:

And with that, let's call it a day!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tomboy to teen dream: how to decorate so your kid won't outgrow her room

I recently did some boards for a seven year old self-proclaimed tomboy.  She had been sharing her room with various siblings most of her life, and she was getting a room of her own for the first time.

When I first saw the space set up for her, she had star wars sheets and posters.  Her furniture was odds and ends from other rooms.  She wanted green walls.

Mom wanted to give her new pieces (her sister just got this makeover.)  Right now she wants "boy stuff" but in a few short years, she will be a tween.  (It's crazy how time flies!)  She may hold on to her tomboy ways for ever, but she may find herself drawn to girlier things.  So, how do you decorate for her wants now and plan for the future without replacing everything?

A neutral base.

Here's the room we decided on:

The bigger, more expensive items (rug, furniture, window treatments) are all in the same gender-neutral palette: white, navy, and a sort of greige on the headboard.  The bedding, lamp, desk chair, and paint color satisfy her taste today. (She can also keep the star wars sheets in this design!)

Later, those same items can be changed out to a more feminine (and more grown up) vibe.

I went pink, because it is (for better or for worse) classic "girl," and because I happen to love pink and navy together.  But lavender, yellow, coral, aqua, or chartreuse could all be employed to similar effect.

Paint and bedding have a lifespan anyway, and could use refreshers after 4 or 5 years (and I reused the quilt, which gets less skin contact and gets washed less frequently.)  I added a mirror over the dresser and a pinboard, which reflect changes in how a girl might use her room.  The upholstered, swivel, rolling desk chair is more comfortable for an older adolescent who may have more homework.  So when it comes down to it, these are changes that would happen for practical reasons anyway.  I guess the big luxury is changing out the lamp!

There are tons of great options out there these days that can work for both genders.  Big retailers like PBTeen and Land of Nod unfortunately separate everything into "girls rooms" and "boys rooms," but don't be afraid to cross over!  You may find the perfect rug or quilt (etc) for your girl in the "boy" category.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sexy bedroom, girly dressing room

I love these fearless fun clients!

Here's the direction for the bedroom:

Those marbled ceilings!!!!

We just decided to go all out drama with the black walls and white curtains, above, though we also considered a softer look with white walls, ombre curtains, and some pink.

Meanwhile, across the hall a small bedroom is getting the dressing room, treatment.

Pink stripes?

Or go all the way with busy hummingbirds?

Nope, a little pink on pink instead:

We tied in to other spaces by including some of that high-contrast black and white against the pink.

All in all, dreamy....

Can't wait to get this all installed!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The office part two: Kill your darlings; skin the cat

I was a creative writing major in college.  I'll always remember the admonition of our Senior Seminar professor to "kill your darlings."  This means you have to cut those favorite sentences (or paragraphs, or characters!) that you love and have become attached to, but aren't working or furthering your aims with the piece.

I was always terrible at that.

Last week I showed you a design board for what the office could be, but isn't.  Why not?  Because of this rug.

This rug is my darling.

I got it at the tender age of 24, at the ABC Carpet and Home outlet in the Bronx.  It was my first major house purchase (and remains one of the more expensive things I've ever bought.)  It's big, and Turkish, and I think it represented "being a grown up."  Standing in the vast warehouse and watching the men flip back rug after rug in stacks was intoxicating.  The palette includes colors that are still favorites (aqua! chartreuse! terra cotta!  Look no further than my portfolio to know I love these colors still.) And honestly, it makes a lot of sense, stylistically, in the space I lease, which has very pretty white tin ceilings.

The other reason I based by scheme on this rug?  I already had it, and rugs are expensive.  I liked the idea that using this rug would stretch my budget.  Then I started looking for a table to use as a desk, and realized the rug was kind of bossy, and the table I needed was pretty specific.  A french farmhouse table.  Not too rustic, not too chunky, light of wood tone and elegant of line.  You may be shocked to know that craigslist did not offer up such a table to me, and certainly not at a bargain price.  All of a sudden, I was looking at spending close to $1000 on the right table to work with the rug I already had.  I also started considering splurges on other items that would complement the rug, but which I might not otherwise buy.  I bought chairs to make the rug "more modern" instead of using the Ghost chairs I already own.

When I made the neutral-scheme design board that I shared last week, and realized that the rug didn't belong in my real vision, I had to kill my darling.

And then, in a glorious mixture of metaphors, I remembered that there's more than one way to skin a cat:

Neutral rugs like the ones I was envisioning are fairly cheap.

Craigslist has tables aplenty that work in this scheme (tomorrow I'm picking up a table I previously looked at and passed on because it didn't go with the rug.  It's only $100.)

I'll return the guest chairs I bought, use my Ghost chairs for guests, and get myself an actual task chair instead.

I'll splurge on fabric to reupholster my cool vintage chair, but now I can choose any fabric I want (and I think I might want zebra.)

I'll still splurge on a lamp, but instead of keeping the one I used to want, I'll get one that represents my style, now.

And perhaps the best part?  In this scheme, I can hang any art I want.

I'll be a little sad to roll up the rug and send it back to the basement, though.


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