How to incorporate Boho Chic in your decor!



The other day I flipped through a fashion magazine and saw a spread announcing the resurrection of flared jeans. This is big news. This is wardrobe-changing, budget-gobbling, “I invested how much in skinny jeans and now they’re a fashion flub?” news. Just when we females (and some menfolk) finally embraced the sensation of denim grasping our ankles like cling wrap, we must welcome flared bottoms flapping and whacking our calves with each gladiator-sandled step?




Boho chic flared jeansImage via Something Navy





Yep. It’s all part of Boho Chic (Bohemian Chic), the sartorial shift to get your gypsy on, to pull your scarves and shawls out of the “To Donate” box that never made its way out of the attic, and ask your inner Stevie Nicks if she’s ready to roll. And, folks, this fashion movement has found its way into the world of home decor!




This doesn’t happen very often–in fact, it’s hard to imagine another clothing trend crossing the threshold of the home; but Boho Chic has done it. Ah, but get ready to breathe a sigh of relief. There is no need to overhaul your existing decor; this look is so style specific that just a few elements can transform your space. So let’s get layering!





 Boho chic layered rugsImage source: unknown






Lay it down: If there’s an essential element of Boho Chic, it’s the use of rugs. They can be brightly hued flat-weave kilims, vivid suzanis with with their radiating circles and scrolls galore, or cream-colored Moroccan wedding blanket rugs with rows of fluffy fringe embellished with silver sequin bling. Or all three–slightly overlapping. No kidding.





Flokati rug Moroccan wedding blanket bedspread boho chicImage via Fashion Squad






For a conservative approach to Boho Chic, I’d suggest using a brightly colored rug here or there, as these color-rich rugs can otherwise be overpowering. Or place a large natural fiber rug in, say, the living room and add a smaller, more colorful rug on top for a subtle layered effect. The vanilla tones of a Moroccan wedding blanket rug or a fluffy wool flokati certainly offer a softer look–not to mention a place to sink your toes!





 Boho chic tapestry headboardElle Decor; Ellen Pompeo’s bedroom; image via Portwings






Looking up: Rugs need not be limited to the floor. Suspended on the wall, at the head of the bed, they are the latest DIY headboard.




Pile it on:  Perhaps in contrast to all the neutral decor as of late, pillows must be drenched in color and more is, well, more. Mismatched? Oh yes, but focus your selection on bright blue and white batiks, ikat, Moroccan and suzani patterns, fringe-centric Moroccan Wedding Blanket pillows and anything that says “world traveler”. Note: bright colored pillows tend to look best against neutral colored sofas or bedding. Finishing touch? Toss a blanket edged in fringe or pom poms across your sofa, chair or bed.




Boho chic bedroomSource Amber Interiors






Fiddle leaf fig Boho chic decor lambskin rugImage via Homemaker




They’re alive!: Those mood lifting, air-cleaning, room brightening elements called plants are thankfully being re-embraced as essential elements of Boho decor. Top picks: Fiddle Leaf Figs, Snake Plants, Boston Ferns and Majesty Palms. You’ll want to place yours in over-sized natural fiber baskets and, I kid you not, macrame planters are back.





Suzani table cloth gallery wall bohemian chicImage via HomeEdit





On the wall: Walls are mostly painted white or the extreme opposite: plastered with large scale, busy-as possible wallpaper. Adorn said white walls with gallery groupings of portrait paintings (thrift stores are a great source) and, if there was ever a time for incorporating bad seascapes, your gallery wall is taking submissions.





Bohemian chic bedImage via DigsDigs





Boho loves brass: Boho Chic has a soft spot for all things brass from light fixtures to cabinet hardware, planters and vases to curios.






Sheepskin rugs on chairs dining table boho chicImage via Mix and Chic




Diversification: Small-sized lambskin rugs can be draped on chairs to give them some Boho flair. And if these chairs are at a dining table, don’t worry if they don’t all match. In fact, this is a mix and match, vintage-embracing, causal style where pairing a Mid-Century Modern credenza in the same room with Balinese footstools, patterned poufs and a brass tray-topped coffee table with folding wood legs can read as charmingly cohesive. Really.





Mismatched chairs dining roomImage via Digs Digs




Be seated: Did you ever think you’d see hanging wicker pod chairs suspended from a ceiling again? Or wicker for that matter? Just when you thought something was “out” enough to get rid of, it’s back. But a Boho home just wouldn’t be chic without the random odds and ends like a wooden dough bowl filled with strands of chunky glass beads set out on a coffee table and don’t forget to add the shawl-cum-table runner to your dining room table–you’ll find one in the attic in the box marked “To Donate”!





Boho chic decor wicker chair lambskin rugImage via Etsy





This post has been adapted from my column, Design Intervention, which runs every other Saturday in The Santa Barbara News-Press.




Happy decorating! 🙂


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Boho Chic decor at The Goodland Hotel in Goleta, California



As a married couple trying to squeeze in a bit of grownup time (as in going out to dinner) before the baby arrives in November, last weekend we decided to have dinner at the Outpost restaurant at The Goodland Hotel in Goleta.



It’s a Kimpton hotel and Kimpton is known for creating hotels that feel young, trendy and hipster-worthy. Not that I’m feeling any of these things at the moment, but I wanted to see how a formerly dated (but aren’t they all?) Holiday Inn could be transformed into something a designer friend described as, “Very cool and very Bohemian Chic!”



So I was game…



and not the least bit disappointed!



Here’s the head-on view as you enter…



Boho chic entry Goodland hotel


They had me at serpentine sofa. And Moroccan wedding blanket pillow, poufs, and a kilim rug with fringe that looks like it has a case of cowlick.





If you look over to the left, there was this unconventional hotel decor…




That is not wallpaper, those are  1″ x 2″ boards protruding from the wall and adding detail–and, methinks, a lot of hard to reach spots that housekeeping might not be too enthused about having to dust.




Boho chic hotel decor



But these chairs…




Lounge chairs at Goodland hotel



I would never have chosen a fabric that light for a commercial setting, but, right this minute…they look amazing. I made asked JB to study how they were made…just in case he needs to build something similar at our house.




To the right, it was like visiting your cool friend’s living room.




Boho chic lounge goodland hotel




The reception desk had an inventive rope pattern in the front and check out that chevron plank feature wall. But don’t forget about the offbeat, randomly colored, hexagonal tile floor. I sure won’t.




Check in desk Goodland hotel




The restaurant had these seats. (Each one appeared to be slightly different.)





Chair at Outpost restaurant




Therefore, of course, each back featured a different quote. Quotes on backs of chairs? Now that’s just clever, right?




Back of chair at Outpost restaurant





Perhaps a depressing quote, but intriguing, nonetheless.



The windows were dressed in macrame and wooden beads…





Macrame window treatment Goodland hotel





And if you went to the restroom…





Women's bathroom Goodland hotel





(the ladies’ room, in this case)





Women's bathroom at the Goodland hotel




you would pass this hall on the way…





Hall of art the Goodland hotel




Again, no seen-it-before commercial carpet or carpet tile, here. Instead, real tile (more of that wacky pattern), and a blow-your-mind-big kilim rug.




Closeup of the beach-themed art…






Beach art at Goodland hotel




Inside one of the rooms–courtesy of the website since we were only there for dinner…





Goodland hotel roomSource: The Goodland Hotel




As far as the food in the Outpost restaurant, it was decent. JB and I both liked the Bao Buns–like an open-faced Manapua and if you happen to be from Hawaii, this reference will make sense–the best; however, at $4 a tiny bun, if you plan to fill up on them, you’ll soon eclipse the price of an entree. The tacos (we tried both the battered fish and chicken) were just “meh”, but the fried brussel sprouts and artichoke hearts were darn good and the steamed chocolate cake satiated even my picky palate (which becomes even more, “You better do right by me!” when it comes to dessert).




Besides the fun decor, another neat thing we stumbled upon was the Summer Movie Screening. A large, inflatable movie screen was set up on a green lawn (in our drought-ridden area, this was very exciting, like spotting a leprechaun) and streaming Endless Summer. The grass was strewn with puffy meringue-like poufs for–I’m assuming–guests-only to sink into while they watched the surf flick. We only witnessed two women who were taking advantage of this opportunity, but just the fact that it’s offered is another way The Goodland seems to be setting themselves apart from the stuffy hotel vibe and angling for inclusive over exclusive.





Goodland hotel movie screeningImage via their website.






Excuse me, now I have to go and ask JB when he’s planning to make us some of those chairs we spotted in the entry.





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How to make a small space feel bigger!



The first time I watched Tiny House Nation, I assumed the concept was to construct a ridiculously small house just to see if it could be done. It took a second viewing before I realized the homes were being built for people who actually wanted to live in these down-sized domiciles. The Tiny House Movement, a social movement for simplified living, not only exists, but it’s not so little. Apparently, teensy digs are the next big thing!




Tiny house modern awning desertImage source: Tiny House Living




Do these folks like to feel swaddled by small spaces? Abhor cleaning capacious quarters? Appreciate that tiny homes fill up quickly and thus discourage gross (in both senses of the word) consumption–because you don’t need what you can’t fit in? Possibly, but add to this that tiny digs also leave a shallower footprint on the Earth’s tender terrain (fewer building materials required and less square footage to illuminate, cool or heat.) With regard to economics, smaller houses equal smaller price tags and a miniature space demands minimum effort to maintain. In other words, there are myriad reasons to support less is more.




 Tiny house window wallImage source: Care 2 Care





If you happen to inhabit a pocket-sized space, whether it be anything less than 1,000 s/f (the national home average is 2,600 s/f), or a true Tiny House (ranging between 100-400 s/f), here are some ideas to make even a home with Lilliputian-sized rooms feel big.





Bibelots be gone: Pairing down is the first step in opening up small space. If you aren’t using it, you don’t love it and/or it doesn’t truly fit or do anything to improve the space, recycle or donate it. Amen.





mantel decor Image source: Studio McGee





Let it shine: Allowing more light to enter a room will make it appear more vast. If privacy isn’t an issue, consider sheer drapes. Avoid “chopping up” walls by choosing sheers in a similar color to your wall color and keeping the pattern small to non-existent. Or lose the heavy look of drapes entirely in favor of the tailored, crisp lines of blinds or shutters.




Studio McGee InteriorsImage source: Domino




Lighten up: Warm, dark colors will make spaces feel tighter, whereas light, cool colors visually recede, making rooms feel more expansive. A light, monochromatic color palette used for large areas such as walls, flooring and big pieces of furniture will do wonders to widen a room. Break up the blandness by introducing color through smaller items like art, plants, accessories, a throw blanket, and/or decorative pillows.




Seeing clearly: When you can see through furniture, it takes up less visual space. Thus glass or acrylic coffee tables are ideal for diminutive digs.  Following this logic, exposed legs on chairs and sofas offer an airier appearance than skirted pieces.





Lucite coffee table Mathew JamesEh, yes, these are skirted pieces. Focus, instead, on the lucite coffee table by Mathew James Designs via Etsy




Pulling away: Instead of placing a sofa pressed up against a wall, move it out a few inches. The “breathing room” behind it will make the sofa appear less cramped. Another trick? Angle it in the room and suddenly the formerly small space may appear to grow.




 White sofa striped rug coastal living roomImage source: Unknown





Run with it: Run plank flooring (wood, laminate, tile) the length of the room to make it read as larger.






Lucite chairs capiz chandelierImage source: Best of BKYLYN




All together: A unified space will appear larger. This means, when possible, keep the same flooring running throughout the house. When you get to areas that may require a different flooring choice (i.e., tile in bathrooms or kitchens) select a surface in a similar color palette. The same concept applies to rugs: the less contrast, the better. Tip: a natural fiber rug pairs very subtly with wood floors.






Side to side: Sliding barn doors and pocket doors free up space by not swinging into it.






Rustic distressed barn door Image source: Vintage Mulberry




Smart storage: Consider floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Even if every book you own is already stored on your Kindle, bookshelves are a great way to display curios in one centralized area instead of sprinkling them across every spare surface.




No smoke, only mirrors: Use them to create the illusion of an expanding space and to bounce light around. The fewer shadows, the more open your rooms will feel.





 living room with mirrorsImage source:





Go big: Oddly enough, a few big pieces of furniture can make a room look larger than many smaller pieces. (Same goes for walls. Select one larger piece of art versus several tiny framed pieces as a gallery wall can go busy very quickly.) For a win-win, select furniture that does double duty, such as an ottoman that functions as both a coffee table or extra seating, a trunk that acts as a side table as well as a handy storage spot, or a daybed that doubles as a sofa with room for storage boxes to slide underneath and out of sight.





trunk coffee table coastal living room





Happy decorating!




This post has been adapted from my column, Design Intervention, which can be found every other Saturday in the Santa Barbara News-Press.



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How to survive a remodel!



Remodels are fun at The Beginning (when the arrival of a crew and the removal of a wall means, “This is really happening!”) and at The End (when all that planning, hard work and check writing results in a fantastically revamped living space)–but, in the middle, they can be full of so many twists, turns, and travails, that your sanity feels at risk.





House plans tape measure hammerImage source:




If you can move out, do. But if you plan to stick it out at home during your remodel, here are some tips for survival.




Beam construction photo




Choose wisely: If you go the contractor route, go for the best reputation, not the lowest bid. Ask around. Check references. Visit an ongoing job and speak to the owners of a house that was remodeled long enough ago (over two years) that if the work was shoddy, problems would’ve already arisen. Remember, cheap labor is only cheap until you have to pay to redo it.




Your contract should include a scope of services, a timeline estimate, payment terms, an outline of what materials will be used, and what is and is not included. If you have any special requests such as no radio playing or smoking on the premises or, “If you deposit debris on my rose garden, I will come unglued!”now is the time to state them. As the job progresses, email any requests or changes so you have a written record. This will help avoid, “But I thought we said…” discussions later.




Stick around: Now is not the time to take a vacation. Even if you think you’ve thought of everything, there will be unforeseen issues and you will need to be available to make design decisions, pronto, lest your job comes to a screeching, time-and-money-gobbling halt.




demo studs debris remodelImage source:





Rise and design: Crews generally like to begin at 7 am. To avoid a discussion about surprise dry rot while standing in your pajamas, blinking the sleep out of your eyes, prepare to become an early riser.




Not so fast: Until walls are opened, you just don’t know what will be found. Hopefully not mold, dry rot, or galvanized pipes, but there will likely be something. Brace yourself. Problems aren’t usually solved immediately and kitchens can take months to redo–no matter what you see on television.





Remodel constructionImage source: Huff Insurance




Plan ahead: Permits take time, ditto anything ordered from Europe or with the word “custom” in front of it. To avoid costly delays, have your design planned down to the last slow-close hinge and make sure materials are on site, ready for installation, before the installer arrives. You don’t want your plumber standing around tapping his foot, and counting dollar signs in his head, while you’re on the phone tracking down your back-ordered faucet!





Casa camping: Preserve one area as your sanctuary from all the noise, dust and strangers who have invaded your home. A makeshift kitchen can be set up in a garage or laundry room. (Freeze meals ahead of time.) A toaster oven, hotplate and paper plates will become your new best friends. If you’re remodeling bathrooms, do one at a time so you do not find yourself signing up for a family YMCA membership just to keep up with personal hygiene.




Construction debris




Here, there, everywhere: Dust will happen. Work areas should be sealed off with plastic sheets and painter’s tape or, better yet, plastic sheets with a double-sided zipper. Remove and store what you can, especially fragile items and sensitive electronic equipment.




Vacate the premises: Stay away when chemical-laden materials (adhesives, paint, stain, etc.) are being used. Really, isn’t this the perfect excuse for a much-needed hotel getaway? There will be times when your electricity, gas, and water will be shut off. Plan accordingly.





Entry tile demo




Your furry family: If you find the sound of a jackhammer unbearable, imagine how it affects Fido’s ears! At least you know why that stranger is making loud noises. Fido doesn’t. Warning: Your otherwise fenced yard may be opened for heavy equipment to enter. With doors removed or left ajar, startled pets may flee or run right into dangerous machinery. Create a safe haven indoors with toys and blankets to burrow into when the volume cranks up. And prepare to leash up the dogs for around-the-block potty breaks more times than you’d ever thought necessary.





Construction equipment demo day





Warn thy neighbor: Loud noises, too many parked trucks and an unsightly dumpster in your front yard can make your neighbors turn their noses up at you faster than you can say, “porta potty fumes”. Informing them in advance, offering invites for sneak peeks, and even providing a thank-you-for-your-patience potted plant at the end will go a long way towards keeping the peace.





Construction three story houseImage source: Unknown




This post has been adapted from my column Design Intervention that appears every other Saturday in the Santa Barbara News-Press.




Happy Monday!


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Artificial grass: not always greener!



There are many reasons to consider a synthetic lawn. “California is in a drought!” likely tops the list and the rationale blooms from there: Fake grass won’t develop unsightly brown patches no matter how many times Mr. Foo Foo tinkles on it. It will thrive under the canopy of your large shade tree where no other plants can survive. It can be installed around the perimeter of a swimming pool–splashes of chlorinated or saline water be damned! Best of all, it will look amazing. Amazing like you spend every weekend weeding and mowing and fertilizing–except you won’t have to, for the life of the lawn.




Fake grass pool modern paversSource: Greener Better Lawns



Sounds intriguing, right? A perfect green lawn? Bring it on! Curb appeal can be yours no matter how black your thumb. But not so fast. While there are copious reasons to go faux, there are some equally compelling reasons not to. Here’s what you need to know before you start thinking artificial grass is always greener.



fake-grass-with-stones-2  Source: Greener Better Lawns




Why you might like it: If we’re going to talk pros and cons, to be fair, I should add synthetic grass is a nice alternative when you’re allergic to the real stuff. It reduces the potential of dirt and mud tracked into your home and will appear lush all year long. And, by reducing water use and eliminating the need for fertilizers, pesticides and mowers, it can seem like a green solution–but more on that later.



Lawn and swimming pool with sand stone borderSource: Greener Better Lawns




The cost: This is a case of you get what you pay for and get ready to pay a lot. The cheap stuff goes for $2-$3 a square foot and will look cheap, whereas quality turf can cost upwards of $7 per square foot. Factor in supplies and labor and artificial turf can run up to $22 per square foot, installed.




modern fake lawn built in bench modern landscapeSource: Unknown



The look: The short, flat, monochromatic faux grass of yesteryear has been replaced with thick, long blades that come complete with built-in “dead” pieces that make it, at least in the high-end varieties, read as very natural.





Longevity: A good synthetic grass is made of polypropylene or polyethylene. Avoid those made of nylon, which can curl and turn crunchy when exposed to the sun.



Synthetic lawn patio modern chairs Source: Lonny





Maintenance: Hey, isn’t it supposed to be maintenance-free? Not exactly. Weeds can grow in areas where dust or dead leaves accumulate. And that claim of never having to water is a bit off the meter. You’ll still need to periodically rinse the faux lawn to remove dust and, if you own animals, this rinsing becomes imperative to remove the stinky (although invisible) scent of urine. The infill or top-dressing will also break down and can require replacement in as few as three years.





The sound: There is an unexpected rustle, underfoot.





Dirtier than dirt: Unlike real grass, synthetic grass doesn’t harbor the helpful microorganisms that break down the bacteria found in bird droppings, animal waste and dust, which means that faux grass can easily become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. (Some sport teams have had to disinfect their Astroturf to prevent athletes from catching MRSA and Staph.)


 Harold Leidner Landscape faux lawn giant chess piecesSource: Harold Leidner Landscape Architects





The scent: There are complaints of unpleasant odors as the plastic grass heats in the sun. Add pets to the mix and you do the olfactory math. Some volcanic ash infills (such as ZeoFill) help absorb the moisture of pet urine, but do nothing regarding the bacteria. You may need an additional product–made by the same company, and, notably, available in a “fresh grass” fragrance–to add good bacteria to break down the urine, and yet another product to disinfect the grass and kill the bad bacteria.




 Margie Grace landscape design fake grass contemporary landscape pod chairsSource: Margie Grace Landscape Design





Feeling hot, hot, hot: Synthetic grass can become dangerously hot in the direct sun. A 2012 study by Penn State sites surface temps reaching up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Other studies have shown the soil 2 inches below the grass registering an additional 20 degrees hotter. When Penn State concludes that athletes should avoid Astroturf during the sun’s peak hours, for their safety, consider your bare feet and/or your pet’s bare paws.




Black pug artificial turn lawnSource: Chenango Contracting




Is it green?: Artificial grass is touted as Eco-friendly, but many brands cannot be recycled and will wind up in the landfill. If you frequently wash your faux lawn to rid it of feces and urine, your water use could actually be greater than with a live lawn. Living grass provides a habitat for the bugs that birds eat, absorbs our carbon monoxide and gives us oxygen. In contrast, there is a real concern that when a petroleum-based product like faux grass is set out in the sun, it can off-gas, raise the ambient temperature and increase the soil temperature, affecting the root system of your surrounding, live, plants.






What are your thoughts? Are you considering faux grass? Or, more to the point, are you STILL considering faux grass?



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What is Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year and Should We Care?



Pantone, the PR juggernaut famed for annually dreaming up a single new color to dazzle our design senses, has announced that this year’s winner is…Marsala. (Sit down, Kanye!) This reddish brown hue that has been described by the folks at Pantone as “brown leather meets rust” is a calm step away from last year’s vivid, bold, and, some would argue, hard to imagine as anything other than a shade of lipstick: Radiant Orchid.





Pantone Color of the Year Marsala throw blanketMind those shoes on the chair, young lady. Other young lady:  if you stopped caressing that fabric for a moment, you’d notice there is a delicious looking fruit tart on the coffee table, just north of your Marsala-hued clutch. Source: Pantone





Each year, Pantone hosts a two-day summit replete with presentations, discussions, and surely a few rounds of “I don’t think so!” before selecting their IT color which they predict we’ll spot everywhere from the catwalk to the pages of the next Pottery Barn catalog. Funny how I can’t actually recall seeing Radiant Orchid anywhere last year, nor the previous year’s pick, a bright green shade tagged–what else?–Emerald.  How about you? I’m counting on your head turning from side to side, at this very moment, as proof that perhaps these colors don’t have as much influence as they’re purported to.






Pantone Color of Year 2015 Marsala aprons The apron, the tie, the lip color, we get it. Source: Pantone.






Now you see it: Okay, fine, I’ve noticed Marsala in a few fashion features (it’s well-suited to winter wear), but on throws, pillows, or an upholstered pouf? Not a one. Even Pantone’s website seems stumped on how to incorporate this color, as it limits its use to images of aprons, a tablecloth, a man’s tie, a woman’s top, a single settee and the nail polish and lipstick color of the models.




Pantone suggests incorporating Marsala into the home through accessory pieces, paint, linens and small appliances (I’m still befuddled by this last one–is KitchenAid about to reveal a wine-colored mixer?) but stops short of showing us how. Of course, they do add, Marsala is “a subtly seductive shade which embodies the satisfying richness of a fulling meal. ” Well then.





Pantone Color of Year 2015 Marsala nail polishSource: Pantone.




Now you don’t: Sure, rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, and throw blankets (not to mention your winter jacket) in Marsala will hide a multitude of spills and sins–any brown will achieve that–but I can’t imagine this color used outside of homes with an architectural inclination towards Tuscan, Moroccan or Spanish–and certainly not Santa Barbara Spanish, where we are wont to keep our look light and summery all year round. Then again, Pantone begs to differ, reminding us, “Naturally robust and earth wine red, Marsala enriches our minds, bodies and souls.” Lofty claim, I’d say. Or is it?






Pantone Color of the Year 2015 Marsala clothing Art director: “Man on the right, I need more snarl.” Source: Pantone.






How to use it: You got me.






 Pantone Color of Year 2015 Marsala Fox MaskThis is the point where the art director must have said, “Hell, we’ve shown aprons, and fabrics, ties, and nail polish. What else comes in this color? A fox mask? Of course!” Source: Pantone.








Benjamin Moore’s pick: On the other hand, I offer you Benjamin Moore’s crowned 2015 Color of the Year, Guilford Green (HC-116). I’ve never been one to gravitate towards green, but this neutral, silvery interpretation has me reconsidering. With undertones of yellow and grey, it would pair well with cream, white, and dark stained woods. I can imagine it used in a serene dining room, or as the color of kitchen cabinets offering an unexpected respite from the preponderance of white or grey.









 Guildord Green Benjamin Moore Color of Year 2105Ahh.










Guildord Green Benjamin Moore bedroomApplause! Source: Benjamin Moore.









Guildord Green Benjamin Moore wall detailSource: Benjamin Moore.







Sherwin-Williams’ Selection: Far, far away on the color spectrum from BM’s soft, subtle green is Sherwin-Williams’ Color of the Year for 2015, Coral Reef (SW 6606). Called upbeat, and the perfect melange of pink, orange and red (by guess who? SW), they suggest this color for an accent wall, a piece of furniture or your front door. All I have to say is, yikes, somebody warn the neighbors! Perhaps it would be cheery for a kid’s room, but, even at that, I imagine a year from now your eyes would be buzzing from it and it would be time to buy a new color and start over. Of course, these companies are no fools. I’m sure that is exactly the outcome they predicted.






Sherwin Williams Coral Reef bedroomIt this color doesn’t scare you, surely the tarantula-esque photo mobile will. Source: Sherwin-Willams.




What about you? Do you have plans to use any of the 2015 Colors of the Year in your decor?




Note: This post has been adapted from my column, Design Intervention, which runs every other Saturday in the Santa Barbara News-Press.



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Make way for modern: Interior Design Predictions for 2015



There’s something to be said for choosing classic decor: it’s timeless, aesthetically pleasing, and when you get it right the first time, you gain the peace of mind that you’ll likely avoid a redo.





 Laura Ashley 80s bedroom floral bedspread floral wallpaperThe opposite of timeless.






But if everyone shirked trendy in favor of longevity, can you imagine what would happen to our economy? Sure, it’s a bummer that sponge painted walls and popcorn ceilings didn’t stand the test of time. That those height of haute, circa 1995, Laura Ashley floral curtains don’t have a single taker in your garage sale’s Free box today.



Perhaps we can think of it as our civic duty to cycle through the phases of In/Out; Hot/Not; “I hate brass/I need more brass!” (Economic stability, we’ve got your back!)




So for those on the precipice of a renovation, for others who are due to entertain a new look for the New Year, and for the rest of us who just like to keep a finger on the pulse of relevancy, I offer you some of the top home decor trends of 2015!







EDC100113_212Source: Elle Decor, Cameron Diaz’s kitchen. Design by Kelly Wearstler.





Illuminating: “See ya!” Schoolhouse lights and bare Edison bulbs. This year, the trend will be to decorate kitchens and dining rooms with a single, and strange, light fixture. Looking “found” and “Where did you find that?” is in. In fact, the odder, the better. The traditional look of a conventional chandelier suspended over the dining room table has been replaced by oddity and eclecticism is reigning supreme.






Bubble glass chandelier dining room Source: Gorgeous Home Decor. com






Feels right: You’ll see cowhides and lambskin rugs either placed alone or layered over natural-fiber rugs. Pet a Mongolian lamb pillow and you may decide your sofa needs two or three.






Hand chair hair on hide Emily Henderson office blue walls Hair-on-hide in  Emily Henderson’s office







Mongolian lamb pillow black leather sofa unusual chandelierMongolian Lamb Pillows available at Ava Home Design If this isn’t the strangest light fixture, ever, I don’t know what is.







Hot in the kitchen: The style pendulum has swung and white cabinets will be swapped for darker colors such as light and dark grey–even black cabinets are back en vogue! These moodier tones will be paired, in striking contrast, with brass hardware. Shaker cabinets, I’ll always love you, but the market is also making way for glossy-front cabinets that offer a sleek, modern look with their Jetson-esque invisible hardware.





All that glitters: You’ll be spotting gold, brass, and copper accents on lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, cabinet hardware and curios. If it’s shiny, it’s all the rage.





 Black cabinets white subway tileSource: Homedit Interior Design and Architecture Magazine







Glossy white kitchen Italian cabinets modern kitchenSource: Magzmagz Hardware? What hardware. Space age is what it is.






Step on it: White washed, wide-plank European White Oak was the It floor for 2014, and will likely work its way into the new year. But for those who want the look of wood with the ease of tile maintenance, Tileco, in Santa Barbara, says tile planks that mimic rustic wood are hotter than ever. “Bigger is better,” they add. Standard 12″ x 12″ tile? So passe! The more modern 12″ x 24″ rectangle has superseded the square (unless we’re talking 24″ x 24″ squares). Even tiles as gargantuan as 24″ x 48″ are having their moment. Textural tile (imagine large, monochromatic rectangles with wavy rides running through them) are trending, as well as vein cut stone or porcelain made to mimic stone. Meanwhile, heavy contrast, such as dark stained cabinets set against white quartz counters, is in high demand.






Source: Houzz: Beach Style Powder Room by Boston Architects & Building Designers ZeroEnergy Design







Source: Houzz, Modern Living Room by Victoria Interior Designers & Decorators The Sky is the Limit Design





As the color wheel turns: Newsflash: grey is the new beige. All right, we knew that last year, but it’s still in. For those not ready to covert from its predecessor, tan, to the new go-to neutral for walls, I offer you: greige. (Not kidding.)




For the bold and daring rest of us, we’ll be loving grey stained floors and furniture, painted cabinets and walls, and upholstery fabric. However, we’ll also see more splashes of color introduced to liven up the grey (e.g., modern art, vibrant prints, indigo blue sofas). The year of “the color of oatmeal” may just be usurped by saturated and bright.





Indigo blue sofa modern art Emily HendersonSource: Emily Henderson






So abstract: Have you noticed the sudden surplus of modern art in catalogs and design magazines? When Pottery Barn, monger of the traditional, displayed graphic prints in their room scenes, I knew it was official; we’re being primed for anti-realism. Brace yourself for an onslaught of bright and blobby colors and smeary streaks; modern art has gone mainstream.





 Pottery Barn Modern Art PaintingSource: Pottery Barn





Modern everything: Faucets included! The other day I was searching for faucets at Ferguson’s and had a hard time finding something that wasn’t modern. Yesteryear’s darling, oil rubbed bronze, has been pushed out by brushed nickel and polished chrome. For the super trendsetters, you know brass is back–with a vengeance! These finishes are the new shining stars of the primarily minimalist, square-edged, sleek and clean design lines. It looks like this year we may be saying goodbye to flourishes, and hello to minimalism.





Modern bathroom floating vanity modern faucetSource: Creative Interiors Solutions





And to you I say, happy decorating!





Note: This blog post has been adapted from my newspaper column, Design Intervention, which runs every other Saturday in The Santa Barbara News-Press.


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Purchasing a new mattress? What you need to know!


If you’ve ever spent the night on an uncomfortable mattress and awakened to find yourself sore, sleep-deprived and short-tempered, you know mattress quality matters. However, finding the right one can be daunting. It’s an investment of a few hundred to several thousand dollars and, as any salesperson is sure to remind you, we spend a third of our life asleep, so you want to choose wisely. But don’t lose any sleep over this. Here are some tips to help you find the mattress of your dreams!





Grey bedroom Elle Decor ItaliaImage source: Elle Decor Italia





Like Goldilocks: Purchase your mattress in person, not online, and seek local stores specializing in mattresses over department stores that just happen to sell them. Now get ready to spend a few minutes on each one. You many not need to go as firm as you think. Many people overcompensate with a firm mattress because they imagine it will soften over time, but with a good quality mattress, medium may provide more than enough support.





Pottery Barn BedroomImage source: Pottery Barn




Smaller may be better: In days past, the big names in mattresses (often starting with an “S) used to be family-run; however, many have now been purchased by large conglomerates focusing more on quantity than quality, meaning those high prices often reflect the cost of major marketing, not a superior product. On the other hand, mattresses from smaller, lesser-known companies can run around 35% less in price, yet last significantly longer.





 Grey bedroomImage source: Architectural Digest





Choose your core: Innerspring mattresses: the gauge of the coils and placement of said coils will determine the firmness of the mattress. Memory foam mattresses: think Tempur-Pedic. This petroleum-based product offers a very sinkable surface which is great if you’re a side sleeper and want to cushion your hips and shoulders; however, its squishiness can impede flipping your body from your back to your side and vise versa. Other complaints are the foam can become too stiff when the room temperature is cold and become too heated as you lie upon it. (Not ideal for those who tend to run warm!)  Latex mattresses: latex contours to your body and is more bouncy than memory foam, making it easier for you to flip yourself over; 100% natural varieties, sourced from the sap of the rubber tree, are available. Note: Natural rubber latex is also breathable and won’t harbor dust mites which makes it a healthier alternative to petroleum-based foam. Air chamber mattresses: think Sleep Number. These mattresses contain air chambers which can be adjusted via remote control to vary their firmness; one bed can be divided into, ideal for partners whose weights and preference for firmness differ.






All white bedding 2Image source: HouseBeautiful





Sleep on it: You won’t really know if a mattress is right for you until you spend the night on it. Ask if your local retailer offers a Comfort Guarantee, which is a period of time for you to try a mattress at home and still exchange it for free.





All white bedImage source: Harper’s Bazaar





Delve deeper: A mattress labeled “organic” may contain organic cotton (yay!) that has been dyed and softened with chemicals (boo!), be constructed with chemical-laden adhesives used to attach its layers of foam, and be doused with fire-retardant chemicals. You owe it to yourself, and your health, to press beyond labels that read “natural” and “organic” and ask for explanations and sources.




 Jeff Andrews Kourtney Kardashian bedroomImage source: Architectural Digest Mexico, Jeff Andrews Design, Bedroom of Kourtney Kardashian (eh hem!)





Sleeping safe: By law, mattresses must be fire retardant. The cheapest way to achieve this is with chemicals and, unfortunately, companies do not have to label which ones are used. Worse, these often include a combination of boric acid (used as roach killer), formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), antimony (chemically similar to arsenic) and the list goes on. Fire-retardant chemicals are associated with reproductive, thyroid, and neurological disorders, hyperactivity and cancer. They can be transferred transdermally and stored in our fatty tissue–they’ve even been found in breast milk! Ask your salesperson about wool-coated mattresses which are naturally flame resistant. Tip: Wool has the added benefit of absorbing moisture and regulating your temperature as you sleep. However, some wools are additionally treated with flame-retardant chemicals to make them even more fire resistant so do not be satisfied with a label that reads “wool”; inquire further!




Abstract paintingsImage source: unknown




Don’t take it lying down: Warranties generally cover manufacturing defects, not wear and tear or comfort. Stains and soil will void warranties, so you may want to add a waterproof guard beneath your mattress pad. Resist the urge to remove the mattress label lest you ruin your chance of a return. If your bed’s foundation is in good shape, you may consider replacing only the mattress or paying for a higher priced mattress with a lower priced foundation, but proceed with caution as, in some cases, this can negate a mattress warranty altogether. Tip: Many pillow-top mattress cannot be flipped, but their longevity can be extended by rotating the mattress at lease twice a year.





 Hastens BedImage source: Hastens





Counting zeros, not sleep: For literally the best mattress money can buy, visit a Hasten’s showroom. (Fun fact: the first American Hasten’s showroom opened here in Santa Barbara.) Since 1852, this Swedish company has been making custom, handmade mattresses comprised of horse hair, (tubular so air circulates and you don’t overheat), flax (to dissipate static electricity), wool (a natural fire retardant and insulator), natural cotton, metal coils, and slow-growing pine. Nothing they make is artificial–or inexpensive. Running $6,000 to $100,000, Hasten’s mattresses are designed for you to sink into, not sleep on top of yet, as Tracy Jackson of Santa Barbara Mattress says, “No bed is more supportive!” In a world where most products are made by machine, these mattresses are handmade, customized to your body and made to last.



Consider this: A poorly made mattress will last 1-2 years, a good mattress 9-12 years, a Hasten’s mattress up to 60 years. However, as each Hasten’s mattress is a custom creation, they do not offer a Comfort Guarantee.




 Note: This post has been adapted from my newspaper column, Design Intervention, which runs in the Santa Barbara News-Press.

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New year, new RH!

RH (“Restoration Hardware” for those of you not hip to their recent push to brand themselves as an acronym) has replaced its former space on Beverly Boulevard (which was a whopping 24,000 s/f) with new digs on Melrose Avenue that is…wait for it…a mouth-gaping 40,000 s/f!



The new RH features rugs and room vignettes and an organic tea atelier–(atelier: Fancy French word for a workshop or studio, especially one used by a designer. How many eyes would roll if I start referring to my home office as my “design atelier”? One pair at least: mine.)–and more chandeliers than you can shake an electric bill at.



Seriously, this place was chandelier-centric.



Exhibit A:




This display seems to say, “Energy bills be forsaken!”





RH Chandelier cluster Melrose





But look closer and there’s a pretty neat coffee table with a propeller base.






Propeller coffee table RH





This next vignette was interesting if “interesting” is my euphemism for “Don’t these chandeliers look like sparkly floating donuts?”






Floating donut chandeliers





There were chandeliers in the bedrooms…






RH Bedroom Scene Melrose





down the numerous halls…






RH Melrose Chandeliers





down even more halls….






RH Melrose Arched doorIs that an urn or a vase or a vase/urn?





And yet, there were still more chandeliers to witness.






More chandeliers RH Melrose





On the way to view more-ways-to-incorporate-four-or-more-chandeliers-into-one-room was this intriguing table.





RH Twisty table





Behold The Wall of Gilded Mirrors–strangely fitted with art lights which adds some design gravitas to the fact that they are just mirrors, or does it? I’m still undecided.






Mirror gallery wall RH





Then onwards and upwards to the 10,000 s/f (!!!) rooftop garden…





RH patio Melrose50 shades of indigo.





This park-like setting was complete with olive trees, DG pathways, views of the Hollywood Hills…and this dramatically long–I guess no one will be saying, “Load that into my trunk, please,”–coffee table.






RH long table MelroseAnd me, squinting into the sun.





Before the day was over, there was a quick jaunt to Formations, the store where design dreams come true, and one could say goodbye to his or her life savings in a matter of, “I’ll take that bed.”





Formations Los Angeles





It’s To the Trade and I was “oohing” and “ahhing” over just about everything.





See what I mean? Everything was kind of “Wow!”






Formations 2





Even their poured cement floor with its bands of inlaid metal was so clever.






Concrete floor metal strips





But this cement stack of “pillows” for the garden took the Cuteness award for the day. (Note: I sat on them and they were surprisingly comfortable!)






Concrete cushions Formations




How about you, have you discovered a store that sheds light on some new designs (pun intended)?

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Los Angeles: A design field trip


Did you have a wonderful Thanksgiving? I hope so!




And now, back to interior design…but first, a few ramblings.




While it’s nice to call Santa Barbara home (the beaches, the hiking, the shared zip code with Oprah) when it comes to finding furniture, it’s fairly fallow.  LA, on the other hand, may be sprawling and smoggy and traffic-y, but when it comes to furniture stores, its style cup runneth over.




So even though driving to LA from SB feels a lot like leaving a quiet little hamlet only to arrive in Gotham City–albeit with more daylight and no real-life comic book characters lurking about–my design partner and I were in need of a few wow factor pieces for a house we were finishing (spoiler alert: upcoming blog post!) so we sucked it up and headed out.





LA Mart chairOh the time it would take to polish that chair!







The first stop was the LA Mart.





Plant wallNifty succulent wall just outside the LA Mart.





The Mart offered some items of interest, such as this strangely shaggy chandelier. I think it falls into the Love it/Hate it category. Personally, I’m leaning towards loving it, but we knew our client wouldn’t so we left it for someone else with amazing taste to snatch up.






Sea Urchin ChandelierNote the snobby note.







Mongolian lamb pillows were here, there, and everywhere…







Lambskin pillowsSo far, the best prices I’ve found on Mongolian Lamb pillows have been not at a wholesale source, but at West Elm!







There were some bling-encrusted items that our clients could live without (as could most people, right?)…







Bling sofa





that had us wondering, “Who buys this stuff?”







Glitter bedFrill Fest 2014.





We decided not us and promptly headed to the Pacific Design Center. You know, the Blue Whale, or as its website so chest-thumpingly proclaims:  LA’s “elite design district.” This used to be the place, all 750,000 square feet of it, where you were likely to bump handbags with the designers who specialized in second homes, spot something you’d just seen in Architectural Digest, and experience selection saturation: they offered everything from frame-worthy fabric to appliances so advanced, even the Jetsons would be jonesing.






PDC outside





But that was then. Now it was, in fact, so deserted, I had no trouble taking this shot below without a single person walking by–on either floor. Note the vacant storefronts to the left and right. Or rather, don’t. It’s all quite sad to see how much the industry has changed with the boom of online shopping.










While the PDC was low on patrons and high on vacancy, it was not without interesting (interesting = euphemism for, “What is that an installation of spider snot!?”) installations of “art” in their, otherwise, echo-filled halls.





PDC ArtMucous themed “art”.






To be fair, there were a few remaining showrooms with some neat stuff…







PDC roomLike this hanging lamp. I am always saying you can’t go wrong when you merge the concepts of space, metal, and Swiss cheese.







And this Rorschach-esque wallpaper and the tables with the Flintstones feet? Adore is too weak a word.








Rorschach wallpaperNeat, cute!





But nothing really said, “Your client needs this!”






PDC room lightingDefinitely nothing here!






So we moseyed away wondering if the Big Blue Whale had actually become a dinosaur and headed to Beverly Blvd., hoping for something better.







Rifle floor lampsNot better.





Rifle lighting, while good for a guffaw, was not really our design aesthetic. Not this year, anyway.





Umbrella chandelierRihanna needs one of these, right?






The Birdie Chandelier by Ingo Maurer has been around for a while now, but it’s so silly, it still makes me smile.





Lightbulb chandelierUntil I see the $2,390.00 price tag.






The next stop, ddc, (too cool for caps), was filled with “If you have to ask….” items. I had to try not to sputter when I found out the glass waterfall coffee table we inquired about was over $4k!






Modern chairThis chair was eye-catching sure, but seems to say, “Go away,” more than it does, “Sit, stay, relax.”





This next chair scored no better on the relax-the-back scale, but we were fascinated with the glue-only construction.






Wood particle chairThe ultimate blogger craft project.






Hanging with Jane would be novel and all, (pun so intended), but we were unanimous in nixing this wallpaper.





Glass coffee tableBehold the $4,000 coffee table.





I loved this lamp. I really did. You could have a terrible house and terrible furniture, but if you owned this lamp, people would say, “But she has the coolest lamp.” Alas, it was something like three trillion dollars (give or take) so we high-tailed it out of there with out budget still firmly intact.





Gooseneck floor lamp





And headed back to the world of retail. You’ll know this one…Restoration Hardware!  Of course since this trip, this RH on Beverly Blvd., has been replaced by the one on Melrose Ave., which makes the next few shots like an RH time capsule.





RH BeverlyFancy, no? Seriously, it’s hard to imagine how the new one could be better, but I have heard great things, one of them being that it is 40,000 square feet compared to the 24,000 square feet of the one we were about to enter.






There was an olive garden entrance. (New one boasts a 10,000 square foot rooftop garden, also with olive trees and DG.)






RH Gardens 2






But does the new one have a crazy graffiti wall? So hip. So LA. So…(“Fearless and Hopeless”? What were they thinking? Suicidal thoughts, I suppose)…depressing!






Fearless and HopelessAll it needs is a soundtrack of sirens to accompany this mood-dulling maxim.





Instead they had tea–a tea atelier–just below the delightful display of birdcage chandeliers and a floral boutique. Does the new one? Yes to the tea. The floral boutique? I can only hope so.





RH Birdcage chandeliers




We liked a lot of things, but we were in a Godilocks sort of mood so nothing was quite right.





RH Chainmetal chandelier




So we tucked our memo sheets and price lists away, headed to the car and sped home, trying to beat all that traffic, and get back to our much tinier, smog-free town that we get to share with Oprah.



How about you, where do you like to shop in LA? Have you been to the new RH?



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