Jonathan and Ben’s inspiring house reveal!


Do you remember when the Refrigerator Gods smiled down upon us and JB spotted a Sub-Zero refrigerator listed on Craigslist for $100?


When we thought this can’t be right, maybe they forgot a zero? But they didn’t. Or, maybe it won’t work? But it did. And then seven hours later (after the hauling, the grunting, the kindness of one friend who lent us her moving truck and another who lent us his muscles) as though an appliance miracle was taking place, the new fridge slid into the old built-in opening in our kitchen with 1/16″ to spare? Well, if you don’t, you can read all the scintillating (Do we like it? Why do we like it?) details here, but this post is not about that fridge.



This post is about the previous owners of that fridge, Ben and Jonathan, who were parting with their Sub-Zero for a very good reason: they were going with all-new appliances for a very, very impressive remodel.




How impressive?



I’m glad you asked.




It’s not like there was anything wrong with the Before. In fact there was a lot that was right with it. And there’s our fridge, cute as ever, as it sat in their yet-to-be-transformed-into-awesomeness kitchen/dining room.






Kitchen and dining before





Just to build the drama and so the Before looks a bit more lack-luster, here is the space as it starts to enter the “It has got to look like hell before it gets better” phase.






Kitchen before 2





And then it turned into this.




I know, right?





La Cornue kitchen stoveOh, how I have La Cornue range envy. And copper pot envy. And everything about that kitchen envy!









Dishwasher open






A La Cornue sink?! We just hit a whole new level of fancy!






La Cornue porcelain sink






Another shot of their new paneled fridge with all its come-hither, walk-towards-the-light, open-door glory.






Fridge door open





The living room Before…





Living room before Ben










Living room remodel





And now? Goodbye beams with track lighting. Hello tongue and groove ceiling, light and airy color palette, a chandelier to make RH blush, new doors, windows and hardware.






Foo dog living room glass table





This door hardware!





Door detail





Shall we take a closeup of that chair…with the Hermes throw? Wow. Good use of the Foo Dog as a coffee table accessory, too. I’m now inspired to pull mine out of “storage”. (You know, “storage”, aka “our garage”, the area that inspires JB to chant, “Hoarder!” on the hottest of days when he knocks his knee into a stack of my chairs, trips over a bag of my throw pillows, and almost gets the guillotine by a mirror that’s threatening to shimmy off a shelf? That place.)





Hermes blanket white slip covered chair






The fireplace in progress…






Fireplace remodel




And After…





Marble fireplace





The master bedroom…





Bedroom wallpaper





With this amazing chinoiserie wallpaper detail…





Bedroom wallpaper detail





Master bath After…





Copper free standing tub master bath






But the transformation was not limited to the interior. Here is the exterior Before…






House exterior











House exterior progress





And after…




House exterior finished 1





Tile detail







And in case you thought you were having a hard day…







Installing fountain 2





count your blessings that you aren’t outside heaving a million-pound fountain to the wall…





Installing fountain





Of course once you attach said fountain, there is the fun part of standing in it?!





House exterior




Thank you to Ben and Jonathan for sharing pictures of their amazing remodel and, guys, if you ever decide it’s time to upgrade the Miele built-in espresso maker, our Sub-Zero said it wouldn’t mind sharing the spotlight with another show-stealing appliance. You know my number.





Congratulations on your beautiful remodel! 🙂






Miele espresso maker kitchen remodel





Happy decorating!





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Progress at our house with a side order of kvetching!


I’ve hit what I have termed the Molasses Stage of pregnancy where moving quickly seems impossible–unless some sort of caffeine stimulant were involved–and we all know that is on the Uh-Uh-Uh (insert mental image of wagging finger) List. And it sucks. Former me operated in an accelerated mode. Revved up was my default setting. Now I’m huffing and puffing on the walk JB and I always considered “the short walk”, and the moment I crest the hill (a minor incline to non-pregnant persons, Mt. Everest, to me), I’m declaring, “I did it!” between gasping breaths with not the slightest bit of sarcasm.





Mirrored closet door installationMirrored closet doors in the master and nursery. A controversial design choice, to be sure, to be defended by design logic in upcoming blog post.





Flipping over in bed (the expectant mother is advised to avoid sleeping on her back in favor of lying on her left side; right is second best although that may smoosh her liver, to allow the greatest blood flow to both baby and her legs, these legs that may still awaken her, regardless, cramped with Charlie Horses with ridiculous regularity, each morning just before 6 am) has become a very big deal. Each flip is accompanied by grunts and moans as though it is the greatest of Herculean efforts. And, for me, it is. As I explained to my Ob-Gyn, “It’s like there’s a hard cover dictionary strapped to my stomach.” “Well,” she says, “there kind of is.” “Well,” I add, “this dictionary can kick!”





Window to be replacedThis window was replaced with the one you see below–for better or worse. I actually loved the minimalism of the original one and freaked out when I saw the heavy mullions of the new one, but the client (JB, in this case) insisted dual pane was a necessity and he preferred the modern look of the replacement.






Clear annodized aluminum Jeld-Wen window modern windowReplacement windows.







Nursery constructionNursery before new window and new closet doors go in. Notice the unsightly fence outside the window that JB covers in the next shot.







Modern wood fencey outside windowBig improvement! Not only did JB build a pretty fence to cover the strange looking existing one, but he fastened wires so the newly planted passion fruit vine can be trained to espalier. Now it’s, almost, a room with a view.





The other day, walking from the car to the entrance of Trader Joe’s, I thought the arch in my left foot might give out. Then it righted itself. Such is this new life. I explained to my friend who tells me what it’s like to have a new baby, whom I remind what it was like to be pregnant, there is a constant toggle between sitting, “Ahhh,” to standing, “Ooh, I can’t sit for another second,” to needing to sit again. I’ve read over and over that that those with buns in the oven are not supposed to be on their feet for very long, even when preparing food that must go in an oven that, thus, requires some standing while chopping, dicing, stirring and the lot. I thought that must only apply to other pregnant people because I was feeling fine. But now, I’m not. At 32 weeks, my belly has grown to be low and egg-shaped, a la Humpty Dumpty, and it’s darn heavy to heave around.






Custom fire table insert redwoodAnother proud JB moment when he built this custom insert, using fence scraps, for our fire table so it can function as a coffee table when the fire element is not in use. So smart!






Outdoor patio furniture white outdoor umbrellaNew 11′ x 13′ white umbrella goes up making the outdoor seating bearable during this heatwave.





And the heat, the heat that I used to love! It couldn’t have been me who used to recoil at the sight of Halloween decorations in the stores when we were only in September. “Slow down!” I’d say. When Christmas decor began it’s early infiltration I cringed at the thought of the shadowy, shortened days that would soon be upon is. “Stop the clock at summer,” I’d lament. “Summer months are for truly living. They only give us major holidays in fall/winter to focus on so we make it out alive.” And now? I long for the chill, dream of sweaters and blankets and not feeling like I’m melting every moment. Heat has become my Kryptonite and I yearn to shiver. Cold weather, I’m, waiting for you. Hurry, please!






Opening pocket door exposed headerWe decided to raise the sight line of our doors by replacing the 6′ 8″ doors with 7′ tall doors. Surprise, when the installer uncovered the existing headers they were all too wimpy to use and had to be replaced with beefier ones which means we have been staring at exposed headers, like this one, for quite a long time. Charming, no?






Furnace closet constructionWe had the “clever” but almost budget-breaking idea of moving the furnace into the attic to 1) gain storage and 2) move the intake vent that greeted you at the bottom of the entry wall to the hall ceiling where it is now less conspicuous.







Painting wallsThe air intake vent used to live here. Now something pretty like a potted plant can live here. 🙂







Modern door surround detailWe pulled off the door trim and opted for the more modern, no-trim, look achieved through square-edge bullnose and a huge chunk of the budget. (We came to realize it would have been half as expensive to tack on trim. Arghh.)







Single panel doors modern doors constructionIt’s only a matter of time until the door levers we ordered can be installed and we can stop using washcloths for doorknobs. Or so I remind myself.







Note-to-self: trying not to breathe while at home is next to impossible, if not deadly, so maybe trying to fit a remodel in while pregnant was a loopy idea. Drywall dust coats every surface in our house with its snowy powder. The poor baby probably thinks it’s gestating during war time what with all the racket of construction sounds. Pounding hammers, screeching saws, the slam of wood as it hits the scrap pile, the recurrent yelling at Moki to return the roll of drywall tape, electrical tape, or drill bit he just stole, “This minute!”: it’s all very loud and probably a lot for a fetus to have to bear. It’s a lot for the fetus’s mother to bear!






Dining room construction zoneOur dining room is also the staging area for construction supplies. Very cozy. As witnessed by the paint samples on the wall, the new wall color has been chosen: Benjamin Moore’s Simply White.







Construction hallwayBoob lights have come down (and been replaced by 4″ LED recessed lights) and floors and baseboard and entry tile has come up.






Faux knob and tube wiring modern houseThe existing toggle switches have been replaced by faux knob and tube switches as a nod to our design concept that straddles old/new.  The plates will be brushed nickel to match the door levers.







Reclaimed wood stepsIn an effort to decrease the great amount of dirt that tumbles down and sullies our new concrete stairs (as evidenced in this photo), JB is reusing the wood from our former pergola and turning it into a secondary retaining wall with an extra landing at the top. El Nino, we’re ready for you!






Then there was yesterday when I realized the job site I was standing in that had just finished demo the day before had walls painted with lead paint. Lead paint!? Yes, lead paint in a 1920s house. The client/owner was kind enough to rush me out of the house and continue our meeting elsewhere to spare me from inhaling any more fine lead powder (ack!! panic sets in at the typing of those words). I need to be back on site on Monday, but, will bring a dust mask and might even wear my respirator, fashion be damned, in favor of protecting a fetus!







Happy decorating!:)



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San Roque house reveal!


I wish I had a picture of this house the first time I saw it. JB would be in the background, as well as our real estate agent, because we almost bought this house.




Gutted kitchenThe kitchen Before





We bid well over the asking price, but, still, our offer was rejected.






Kitchen afterThe kitchen After with Option A as a kitchen mat.





Which, by this point, we were growing accustomed to.




We were stuck in a cycle of elation; despair; repeat. It took nine offers on nine houses until we finally bought the house we’re in now.






Kitchen after 3Another After with Option B as a kitchen mat. Option A won.







Cararra counter grey glazed subway tileCloseup of the pretty, handmade grey tile with its translucent finish that read like the water’s surface on a winter’s day, but, unfortunately, in this picture, looks like fifty shades of purple.





But, before that…






Gutted walk-in shower





there was a lot of hoping and dreaming.





And sighing and wondering when it would be our turn.




Grey faux wood rectangular tile





Each time was like meeting a really great potential mate…





Master bath with electrical and plumbing




someone who made your heart flutter, who you could feel, in the pit of your stomach, was going to be your forever person…




Plotting master bath medicine cabinets blue tapeAh, the many uses of painter’s tape.




who wouldn’t even agree to go on a first date.




Unfinished master vanity




We only made offers on houses we were SERIOUS about. Houses that felt like they held a future for us. Before we could be sure, I’d run through my design plan for each room and JB would patiently listen to what I thought would go where and how we’d transform the space and which drawer would be best to hold the silverware.





Grey faux wood rectangular tile





And then we’d get the call. Someone else got it. But don’t worry; you’ll get the next one.





But each time we did worry. And feel sad and I’d try to erase from my mind all my plans of finishes and furnishings and forget about how cute I knew the kitchen could be. Or how I’d make the bathroom better.





Cararra marble walk-in shower after





Because it was going to someone else. Their house. Their life. Their design ideas.





Carrara shower niche





Which always kind of made me want to drop my business card off with a note that read, “Call me; I’ve already picked out the color scheme–and I know which drawer you should use for the silverware!”





Master bath after grey vanityAren’t those lights amazing? You can find them here.





But I never had the guts. So imagine my surprise when a client of mine called to say we wouldn’t be meeting at her house that day…






Grey vanity Cararra marble after




We’d be meeting at the new house her mom just bought.




Cararra marble counter RH faucet





The one that needed a mega remodel…





Master bath Hinkley Congress Vanity lights




and my design help!





Master bath reveal towel warmer chromeThe heated towel bar which may be in “off” mode during this heatwave, but will be a comforting touch this winter.





Mermaid bathroom artMermaid art courtesy of my mom (Lyn Gianni) hanging in the water closet above the ooh-and-ahh Toto Washlet toilet.






Glass paned doors master bathThose doors may have a modern feel but were original to the 1950s house and salvaged during demo.







Hexagonal cararra penny tile white bath afterBath #2




I was beyond thrilled!




Guest bathroom afterIf only I could go back in time, I’d replace the toilet paper roll with one that is less smooshed





And bursting with ideas!





White ruffled shower curtain glass door knobI’m enamored of this doorknob by Emtek.






So even though I wasn’t designing the house for us anymore…






white subway tile shower niche fern leaf







Oak floors white walls hall





I lucked out and had a client who shared my vision.





Guest bedroom nautical flush mount






So here is the rest of it…






Master bedroom swing arm lamps




in all of its




Living room before










Living room after





unfinished glory.





Hall laundry






The house that was never ours…






Improvements on front of house





but I got to redesign, anyway. 🙂






Charcoal front door




PS, After losing one more offer on one more house, we finally found our home which I’m happy to say, ended up being the one we loved the most. During the moments of rejection and frustration it was hard to keep the faith, but sometimes just when you think you will never win, the thing that was best for you after all, comes your way.




Here’s to hanging in there. Happy Tuesday! 🙂




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Santa Barbara street sign photographs and guest bedroom reveals



A few years ago, I came up with an idea to create custom art for a client’s guest bedroom. Since the house was here in Santa Barbara, and the room was a guest room, I thought it would be fun to take photos of street signs that were iconic to Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Street, Mission Street, California Street) and print, frame, and hang them ourselves.




Santa Barbara street sign photography



Cute/fun/intriguing, right? But the project never got off the ground. Or, more to the point, neither the client nor I made the time to go around snapping street signs.


Fast forward five years later to the client who has




an open mind..


and an iPhone that takes very good photos!



And that is how my idea for custom Santa Barbara street sign photographs, to hang in a guest bedroom, finally came to fruition.



A guest room which began like this…





Guest Bedroom before




Well, not exactly like this. The first element to be ordered was the seagrass headboard which was prevented from having its true moment until we fixed up the rest of the room.



Which we did…





Guest bedroom shot after




There was a bit of cajoling before I could convince her of the greatness of this nightstand from Pottery Barn, but the moment we placed it she agreed it added the right amount of world-traveler-whimsy to the space.





Pottery Barn trunk side table glass table lamp



The other side of the bed…




Nightstand jute shade lamp





And the other side of the room with a new lamp, pillows and accessories…




One day, or so I’m promised, we can reupholster that chair in an oatmeal shade of Belgian linen. For now, it got a pillow makeover. The orange table lamp was a super find as it tied in so nicely with the custom orange bolster pillow.  PS, My client sewed all the pillows herself with fabric we selected from Your Remnant Store.




White bed seagrass headboard 2





Not bad, eh?





Three blue and white Euros pillows on bed



Note: The street sign photos were taken on a regular ol’ iPhone and printed in sepia at regular ol’ Costco. We popped them into pre-fab frames from Aaron Brother’s and…ta da…inexpensive, original art, ideal for a Santa Barbara guest bedroom was born!



Speaking of guest bedrooms, here’s Guest Bedroom Number Two as I first saw it…





Guest bedroom before






Not bad. It has that all-white bed thing going for it. But we could do better, so it was transformed into this…





Guest bedroom after 1



The nightstands…





Nightstand in guest bedroom





Opposite wall…





Guest bedroom other view(More Santa Barbara-themed art, this time an old rendering of the Santa Barbara Mission.)





Notice the lighter version of the seagrass headboard that we used in the other bedroom and, my favorite part, the custom Euro pillows (Kravet fabric: Nashik/Bluemoon) that my client was happy to sew herself!





Guest bedroom with three pillows seagrasss headboard





Here’s to turning the ideas floating around in our heads into finished projects! 🙂




Happy weekend!



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Project updates!

I’d love to show you some Afters. The pretty stuff. Styled and well lit. But, right now, every project I’m working on is, unfortunately, so far from its reveal that if I waited until each was ready for a full feature, I’d be forced to completely rely on posting my past newspaper columns as new posts. As it is, with my posting rate being as here, there and where? as it has been, I’m already worried I’m going to be asked to turn in my blogger badge*.



*Blogger badge: totally fictional concept, thank goodness!



So this post is to let you know, I haven’t just been sitting around popping bon bons in my mouth.*



*Although, that sounds lovely about now.



Instead, there are projects happening. Projects like this…



See the merlot-colored wall in this wine cellar? Sure it was wine colored and all, but it also made the space feel dark and oppressive and like the wall was thrusting forward and engulfing what little space there was so I had my client change it to a much lighter paint color (which, ahem, exactly works with the adjacent natural stone wall), Pale Almond (OC-2)  by Benjamin Moore.




Wine room wall before



Alas, it somehow never dawned on me to capture the After so you’ll just have to imagine a HUGE IMPROVEMENT and focus on this next photo featuring a header painted a color that made it read like a super long Band-Aid.




Wine room header before




I had my go-to guy cover it by installing reclaimed shiplap from Indo Teak from Pioneer Floors. A tin ceiling went up and…my, how much better it looks! Oh, hey, you can see the lighter wall reflected in the glass if you look just below the reflection of the painting. (See below.)





Wine room with wood plank wall



This newly framed bathroom is oh so close to being finished. When I came on board, it looked like this…




Bathroom gutted



Then it looked like this…




Shower coating walls




Flooring went down…




Bathroom floor install



Tile and a marble door surround went up…




Shower progress



It is now more finished than this (above) shot, but it’s still not quite, almost there, how long is this going to take already?, ready. But, soon. Soon, promises the contractor.




This guest bedroom went from this disheveled state…





Guest bedroom before





To this. With a headboard and custom pillows on their way and art to be hung. PS, I was so pleased with these nightstands  from Home Decorators Club and they were quite reasonable!





Guest bedroom in progress




I procured a giant (hard to tell from the photo, but this hammered silver bowl was about 24″ in diameter) container and planted it with live succulents for this…





Succulents in metal bowl



equally gargantuan dining table. Note: One day I’ll remember to take a photo of the flax-colored fixed panels that we installed above these windows. They hang from custom made oil rubbed bronze drapery rods that are oh so stylish. But a view is still a view.





Succulent display dining room



This empty space…




Kitchen progress



Now has cabinets!





Kitchen cabinets installed



And they’re painted and there are Carrara countertops and beautiful smoky grey glazed tiles for the backsplash and a cute light above the sink…but the gosh darn hardware is taking forever to arrive.




Kitchen cabinets painted



I styled this bathroom…




Free standing tub bathroom before



like this…





Free standing tub and sidetable




This house is mid-maekover





Improvements on front of house



and this shot shows its new driveway…





House new driveway



And brick herringbone pathway…




Herringbone brick path




This bathroom is getting new everything, but I am kind of crazy for this picture as a Before shot since it looks so completely awful.




Bathroom before




Even our house got some sprucing. Check out the Before, featuring way too much ivy…





Ivy covered yard front



The During!




Front back




Yes, I know, it’s so far from an After. Not even close. But that’s the point. None of these are. They are messy, in-progress, we’re gettin’ there photos. Just like real life.



You know, In the spirit of Keepin’ it Real? Don’t worry, there will be prettier stuff to come. Also, just like real life.



Happy weekend!






Hello, Progress!

A few weeks ago, these big machines pulled up in our driveway…




Construction equipment demo day





and our steps, retaining wall, and patio that used to look like this…





Patio before(We dismantled the pergola before they arrived.)





became this rather large pile of dirt.






View of yard demo




Even though our backyard was forced to enter the “It’ll loook worse before it looks better” stage, (and it looked baaaad!) each day something new and exciting would happen–always accompanied by a lot of noise, dust, and the smell of gasoline that made us wonder, “What is that?” (Apparently gasoline is used to grease the plywood forms so they will not stick to the newly poured concrete. Apparently.)*




*Or someone spilled some gasoline while filling the big machines because the forms were up for two days, yet the air generally smelled for weeks after.




Forms for retaining wall




After some design decisions that made us wonder, “Ahck, was that the right choice?”–because this was our first (concrete) rodeo–our confidence grew as the new retaining wall, steps and patio were slowly unveiled.





Smoothing concrete patio





Check out the plywood boards the workers wore strapped to their feet to prevent footprints! Kinda like snowshoes!






Stamping concrete patio




Grooves were made every 48″ square as both an aesthetic choice and to prevent cracking. A brushed finish was added to the concrete that was colored Dark Grey–at least, in theory. (Despite the name, the color cured to one that is much closer to a light, bluish grey.)





When the patio and stairs were finally smoothed and finished, they required 24 hours of drying time before we could step on them…






Concrete patio stamped








and do a little dance for joy because we LOVED how it all turned out!






New poured concrete patio






The surrounding area still needs plants galore and some amazing outdoor furniture and styling before it is really ready for its closeup. (JB walked by as I was typing this and remarked, “The patio is not ready for a reveal!”)




But who knows how far off that will be? For now, we have an RH fire pit (from the 40% off sale at the RH outlet. We made the forty minute trek for patio furniture which, sadly, was either too gargantuan or too puny and as we stood there willing it to be otherwise, a salesperson wheeled the very fire pit I was hoping they’d have and parked it in front of our feet–like it was a sign from the furniture gods! At least that’s what I kept telling JB!). And, really, what more does a patio need?






Restoration Hardware fire box






Oh, right, chairs!







New patio RH fire table patio chairs





Don’t worry, I’m on it. 🙂





How about you? Have you been sprucing up your yard in the spirit of “Spring has sprung”?




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Going mmm…modern: Our new fence reveal!


I’ve said if before and I’ll say it again, “Good design should begin at the mailbox!” (Gosh darnit!)




Mailbox frontOur custom mailbox. Forgot the story? You can read about it here.




You know, the box that advertises your address and essentially says, “I’m with THAT house.” It should add style, not taketh it away. So if I’m that insistent on mailbox flair, you can only imagine how seriously I took the design of our fence.




I drove the streets of Santa Barbara searching for inspiration.




Sometimes I struck out….





Teddy bear topiaryLandscaping and “fencing” join forces creating life-size, gummy bear-inspired (just a guess) topiary sentinels. Santa Barbara, CA.




There were Google searches…oh, the searches.





And I found many styles that were quite nice.






Ornate lattice fenceIf you like lattice, you may love this one.







Split Cedar fenceOh split cedar, if we had a ranch, you’d be a strong contender.






White capped fenceFancy and traditional. Too bad our house isn’t!






Gothic FenceIf you want your fence to say, “Keep out and stay out!”, this French Gothic fence has got you covered.







Metal fenceOuch, ouch, ouch! I pity any male intruders who dare scale this forbidding fence.





But none gave the modern look we were going for.




But wait, that’s a story unto itself. Last year we bought a Ranch Style home that was architecturally anemic. It had enough clean lines and 90-degree angles that would suggest modern, but add some trim and design flourishes and it could just as easily have gone traditional. Like Michelangelo letting the marble tell him what sculpture lay inside (“David, are you in there?”) we let the house whisper in our ear and tell us what it wanted to be.




And it shouted modern. Thus, a modern fence.





So I got all droolly-mouthed when I saw this…






Aluminum and wood fenceI don’t actually think this house pairs very well with the brick exterior of this home, but if I could transport it to our property, I would like it very much. Except for the fact that everyone could see inside, which just occurred to me. On second thought, you can keep your “Feel free to peer inside my yard, I’m always wearing pants!” fence design.




This one also has a little bit of peek-a-boo quality, but it’s just cool, right?




Horizontal metal and wood fence





But still none was quite right.






Dog poking through fenceEven though this one came with a dog-friendly window. Don’t you just want to press your kisser to the other side of that bubble?





Because, we wanted modern and we had the issue of…









Which made us think all might be lost and we were going to have to just live with a chain link fence and its set-in cement posts.





Chainlink fence before



That is until Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict (such a good show!) shared her brilliant tip to remove only the chain link portion and use the existing posts as the posts for your future fence. Thanks, Nicole!





So we removed the chain link and left the posts.





Leaving chain link posts



1. Attached 2 x 4 s to the posts with metal straps.




2. Constructed the horizontal portion of the fence from 1 x 6  boards of redwood leaving a gap the size of one medium-sized nail between each board. Now when the backyard is lit and you approach the house from the driveway, there is a nice glow through the boards, yet someone would have to struggle to actually see through those tiny gaps.



3. Attached the horizontal portion of the fence to the vertical 2 x 4s with additional 2 x 4s.



4. For a finishing touch, we will eventually encase the metal posts with more wood, but since we knew we would be taking part of the fence down (to allow heavy equipment access to our forward-leaning retaining wall) we haven’t yet done this so it still looks a little funky on the back side.





Inside of fence





But now it is so much prettier from the front!





Our new modern fence!






Modern horizontal fenceTa da!





After the great Modern Gate Latch search, I finally found a source that made modern gate latches. Now we just have to make the time to install the darn thing!






Ashley Norton gate latchAshley Norton gate latch found here.




Selecting a fence style made me suddenly very aware of fence styles whereas, before this, I must admit the words “French Gothic Picket” would not have rolled off my tongue. If you are thinking about building or rebuilding a fence, here is a great cheat sheet of some of the most common styles.





Fence stylesSource



PS, For my readers who prefer projects to design musings, don’t worry, more projects will be coming soon!

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As Luck Would Have it: The La Jolla House Reveal

Happy New Year!



I hope your New Year’s Eve was all that you hoped it would be! We stayed home and toggled between Carson Daly’s NYE and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve until the ball dropped. Then we reflected upon how much we have to be thankful for (our family and friends, our first year as a married couple, our second year in our house, the first holiday for our new puppy, Mokie) and sealed our joy with a kiss.



 Mokie in front of fireplace Mokie just stared.






Cat drinking from vaseEllie was preoccupied.







Lilo in bedLilo was already tucked into bed.





But that was last week. Back in November, my design partner and I finished a house in La Jolla that I would have shared earlier if the holidays hadn’t swept away every spare moment.




It was an amazing house, perched on a hill with ocean and city (the good, green parts) views.



La Jolla yard



I mean washing your dishes from this vantage point, would be…dare I say it, pleasurable?




La Jolla Kitchen 2




More good views…(with a cute doggie-in-the-background bonus).




La Jolla desk



And one more shot.


La Jolla deck



But the real story is this…


Because our clients live in La Jolla, and we live five hours away, in Santa Barbara, we did all our design work based on ONE TRIP to the house. One measurement-taking, note-scribbling, photo-snapping visit…


so we could remember what the place looked like!




La Jolla Kitchen



HGTV, this could be your next hit show:  “See the house once, now redesign it!”



We only had our memories, iPad photos, and a few notes to go on before we had to start conceptualizing and ordering.



 La Jolla Art 2Art by Lyn Gianni.



And then we waited,


and waited…


and waited some more–grrrr–because when you go the custom route, things can take what seems like forever. Add to that the workers at the Long Beach port went on strike which meant Customs screeched to a halt.


Double grrrr.



La Jolla Dining Room



We had to use a loaner table, above, while the real one made of glass, walnut, and steel shipped–in, apparently, slow motion–from Italy.




Mini pumkin plate setting




It seemed nearly everything was behind schedule. We were frustrated, our clients were frustrated.  Just when we were dreading sending our next, “It looks like it will be another month,” email, production dates shortened and delivery dates came into view.





La Jolla Living Room




We scheduled an installation date. We made the pilgrimage from SB to SD with a vehicle stuffed so full we had the visibility of a moving truck. We had coffee, conversation, and celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter to fuel us until we arrived at the house, near midnight.




La Jolla



The next morning, a succession of small (big to us!) miracles seemed to take place as delivery after delivery arrived in perfect order (rugs before furniture, that sort of thing). We found the one grocery store that carried white mini pumpkins (we were setting the table pre-Thanskgiving) and when the million pound mirror arrived, see below, Lizz Lang Art Services stopped what they were doing and magically materialized at the door with more power tools and brute strength than we were equipped with.




La Jolla Master Bedroom



They hung nine other pieces which meant we could keep going…





La Jolla paintingCustom art by Lyn Gianni.





La Jolla EntryArt also by Lyn Gianni.



…at our, “They clients will be here any minute!” pace. (They were on vacation and were due to arrive home at 4 pm.)




At 4:03 pm, as we were literally tossing on a throw blanket and adjusting throw pillows on the sectional, the delivery driver of the sectional announced, “I think the owners just pulled up.”




La Jolla Bathroom



The clients walked in and squealed with joy; we squealed with relief and it was wonderful. We made our graceful exit (marred only by the awkwardness of the fifteen minute search to find my missing phone that had mistakenly been thrown into the bottom of a bag of pillows during our extreme haste). And, giddily, we drove home with tired feet, growling bellies, and spirits soaring because so many things worked out when they could, just as easily, have gone the other way.



PS, My mom and I saw The Theory of Everything over the holidays. I highly, highly recommend it.  Stephen Hawking has certainly been through a sort of hell most of us are lucky enough to never endure, and yet…here are his words:



“However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”


 –Stephen Hawking



Here’s to making those words ring true as we enter 2015.




Happy New Year!

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Before and After: Coastal Chic Living Room

Just when you might be wondering, “What, another DIY project tutorial from your wedding that took place how many eons ago?” I thought I’d bring it back ’round to interior design.




A few months ago, I met a very sweet client and her son. Her living room and dining room needed some adjusting, but the space was oozing potential with soaring ceilings, an open floor plan, and light streaming in through one towering wall of glass doors and transom windows.





Living Room Before




However, the sofa, while from Sofa U Love, was lumpy and bumpy and not worth saving. The large white chair (see photo above) was too massive for the space.





The dining room table was in great shape, but with the coordinating chairs, it read too much like a set from a furniture emporium.





Dining Room Before




The fireplace, you can see below, was a plug-in and gave off very little heat. (Hooray, it now has two proud new owners thanks to my client’s willingness to post it on Craigslist.) And the coffee table, while okay, was just that.





Living Room Before Other Side




So I got busy and started conceptualizing and ordering and staging and rearranging, and now the space looks like this…





Living Room AfterI love those poufs! And the back of those chairs…wowzer!





In this second shot, you can see how the dining room shares the same space and how it got its own transformation with a new chandelier, new white Parsons chairs, a homemade burlap runner and glass terrarium filled with succulents…






Living Room After 4




The view from the other side…





Living Room Other Side




The patio went from this…





Patio Before




to this…





Patio After





And the dining room from this…





Dining Room Before




to this…





Dining Room Adter





The not-so-useful plug-in fireplace was replaced with much need storage and lighting.






Living Room After 3




Did I mention how sweet my client is? Well, she is also sweet to planet Earth and likes to cycle to as many places as possible. (Check out her handy dandy basket for flowers and veggies from the Farmer’s Market). When I first saw the space, both bikes were placed exactly as you seen them below. My intention was to make the space as coastal chic as possible with hints of modern (e.g., the painting above the dining room table, the industrial looking “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining” sign) and, I thought these bikes looked so pretty, almost like modern sculpture, that they got to stay right where I found them.





Bicycle After




An aerial view from the stairs.





Living Room Stair View





Patio Chairs: World Market

Driftwood Lamp: World Market

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining sign: World Market

Wood bead chandelier: World Market

Living Room Rug: Natural Fiber, Overstock

Wood living room chairs: Overstock

Poufs: Home Goods

Parsons Chairs: IKEA

Wood credenza: Jeffan

Glass half-barrel coffee table: Vintage find



You can check out more Before and Afters at my interior design website Kisha Gianni Designs or click here.




A different side of interior design: The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation


Last weekend, I was honored to help interior designer Jennifer Taylor, of Taylor House Interiors, do some special decorating. And by “special,” I mean heart-breakingly meaningful. The project was a bedroom makeover for a young girl, named Mandy, who is fighting cancer with every ounce of her sunny self.


But, unfortunately, right now, the cancer is winning. Enter: The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. They’re a non-profit organization that provides financial and emotional support to families of children with cancer living in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties. And sometimes, they make the stars align and grant wishes.


Mandy, a fan of the HGTV network and many a design show, made a simple request: she wanted a newly styled room.




Room Before



I only came on the scene when things were already pretty-fied by Jennifer which mean this room you see above, is nothing like what it was. Its former self had a purple wall that made the room go dark, and there was a bunk bed, and a desk, and a whole lot of stuff, too much stuff to let a room be as stylish as it needed to be. So the stuff was ushered out, crown molding went in, and Sherwin Williams Jet Stream was painted on the back wall as a feature wall and SW Timid Blue was painted on the surrounding walls.




The closet was divided and conquered and mirrored closet doors were ordered.





Closet Before




When installation day came, we got to work setting and staging, rearranging and replacing, fluffing and smoothing and smiling.



There was a whole lot of smiling.



Because, we knew, this wasn’t a regular, “Here’s your new space” makeover; it was the fulfillment of a wish, by a special girl, who was running low on her wishes being granted.




A few hours later, the room turned into this…





Bedroom After



And the closet looked like this…




Closet After


(Mirrored doors were installed later that day, long after my camera and I had left.)



I didn’t get to see Mandy’s reaction, but I heard it was AWESOME and SUNNY and AMAZING, just like she is.


If you would like to find out more about The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, please click here. If you would like to find out how to help Mandy, please contact The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation and ask to speak to Becca.


Here’s to finding solace in our surroundings when the world seems too confusing for words, to appreciating the wow moments when we have them, and to remembering how lucky we are to have a surplus of future moments stretched out before us and to cherish each one like it was a wish, granted.


PS, I have to make a special shout-out to JB’s mom, Ginny. We send our love and hope you’re healing quickly! 🙂


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