Holy cowhide: Our chair is in House Beautiful magazine!

Okay, so it’s not our chair.



But it’s our chair.




(Who’s on first?)



And when I spotted it in the July/August 2014 issue of House Beautiful magazine I jumped for joy and ran around the living room nudging JB and squealing, “Look! That’s our chair! But not our chair.”




I can tell you it was just the two of us standing in the living room. And only one of us was impressed. (The one who’s desperately trying to run with this “Who’s on first?” reference.)







Our chair in House BeautifulYep, that chair. Room design by Juan Carretero.





No, House Beautiful didn’t draw the blue arrow. That was all me making sure you knew what to look for so would understand my glee when…





I showed you this.






Our living room chairOur living room. Design by, yours truly. Disclaimer: we’re on the precipice of a remodel so please ignore that that’s carpet beneath the cowhide rug and not the pretty reclaimed hardwood planks we have selected that–I can only hope and pray–will be installed sooner rather than later. As for any other design fouls, please apply the same “Pre-remodel Pass.”





Before I took the photo to share with you, I remembered I just happened to have a spare cowhide rug hanging out in my garage (as any good hoarder interior designer would) so I set it in place and now I’d say Juan Carretero and I have just about the same style vibe going on. Of course, Juan’s abode is in Manhattan (we’re in Santa Barbara) and his chair is noted as “an antique scroll-arm chair” while ours is “newer”. Then again, his antique version has torn leather and ours, (yay, estate sale scores!), I am happy to report, does not. Point for Juan. Point for me.




House Beautiful chair detailThis is Juan’s chair as shown in House Beautiful. See how the seat looks like someone wearing sandpaper pants sat down one too many times? The funny thing is I didn’t draw that arrow on the pillow; it’s part of the pattern and it’s pointing right to the damaged seat of the chair like, “Check out how worn I am. I’m am so antique, I’m almost refuse.”





But that’s enough about chairs, Juan, and this blogger. As for JB, he still thinks the chair is the most uncomfortable thing he’s ever sat in and longs for the parallel universe where I replace it with some leather squishy thing that reclines and comes fitted with a cup holder. Sorry JB, in this universe, Juan and I would never approve!


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Design inspiration from the Las Vegas Design Market


Last week I lost my Las Vegas Design Market virginity.  It was my first time. And, wow, was it good. So good that sometimes what happens in Vegas must not stay in Vegas. Especially when it’s perfect fodder for a design blog post!




During the trip, I was lucky enough to stay in a house that was so fancy it felt more French castle than Henderson, Nevada. (Thank you J.T. and S.H.!)







It had an outdoor swing that was custom-built (as in the reeds were gathered, soaked, and woven into the basket you see below) to look like a hot air balloon. Uh huh.





Hot Air Balloon chair





And a sofa upholstered in this fabulous fabric. Oh yeah.






Sofa fabric





But enough about the amazing house.





Let’s get on with the show!




I must admit, I felt kinda swanky walking through the front door to the LV Design Center. I mean, just look at that peacock on the glass. Need I say more?




There were three buildings with many, many floors each of which was filled, especially for the show, with design showrooms. It was so tiring, apparently my mind erased how many floors there actually were. Let’s just say we walked from 10 am to 6 pm, non-stop, two days in a row. The glamorous life of a designer. Not.





Las Vegas Design Center





Inside, there were round mirrors o’ plenty. Round mirror trend alert!





Round Wood Mirror




These two sucked me in and I ordered them. Like a Vegas memento. And a reward for all that trudging–I mean walking!





Round mirrors




Sputnik chandeliers (or “Spoot-nik” as my mom recently corrected; Bolshoe spasibo, mom.) are also A THING.





Sputnik chandelier



Antler this and that, (loose antlers, antler mirrors, antler chandeliers, and antlers attached to to the heads of their previously alive owners), were ubiquitous.




I did find this mirror beautiful, and all the more so, when I convinced myself it was made from antlers that had fallen, naturally.




Antler room




Do you have a wood plank wall, yet?



As cool as a distressed wood plank wall looks–I love that they’re almost always made from reclaimed wood and offer a rugged, organic look over something that’s sleek, smooth, and sterile–I have to wonder, are these for us what the wood panel wall was in the 70s? You know, the wood panel wall that everyone grimaces at today and can’t wait to take a paint roller and some white paint to?




Plank wall




There was some pretty stuff…






Bliss Studio SignThis was just a sign outside a showroom, but I thought it was too beautiful not to capture and share.






This wall would be easy enough to recreate for instant “wallpaper” on the cheap.






Abstract wallpaper





Feather chandelier fitted with a bulb that changes colors, anyone?






Feather lights





I loved the simplicity of this line drawing and, of course, that it was of a dog.





Dog drawing on wallThis would be a nice touch in a kid’s room.





Here was the perfect two-in-one: the clever bookshelf chair.





Bookshelf chair





But if you want a little more b-b-b-b-bling in your chair…





Circular ChairThis chair comes with a diamante’ option–the salesperson told me so! I guess she thought I loved the chair, not that I was posing in it because I thought it was so over-the-top crazy.





Or maybe a cradle rocking bed is more your style…





Okay, for a rock star client (Note to self: must get one of those!) this would be kind of perfect, no?





Cradle Bed





There were quirky things.






Backwards booksAnd the award goes to this display for Least Practical Way to Store Books, Ever! (But it did look very cool.)





I have a client who I think, I think, I think might have this wallpaper installed in her office. I hope so! I love it.





Book wallpaper





And there were odd things. Things that made you say, “Huh?”




Like this…





Racoons taxidermy




And this…





Horse lamp




And this…





Gold banana




And even this….





Horse tableNote the human leg pedestal table in the background.





Some stuff was a little dark. No I don’t mean the ten thousand hanging lights or the sparking geodes (oh yeah, geodes are also A THING; if you want to be on-trend, you must get a smattering for your desk, coffee table, bookshelf, or entry table. Like yesterday or at least by tomorrow).





Snake wallpaper




No, I meant dark as in this creepy snake wallpaper.





Snake wallpaper detail





Some things fell into the category of, “Now who would buy that?”





Yellow bling chair





Others fell into, “Wow!”





Figure sculptureThis was a “Wow”. So was the wall behind “him”.




And others fell into…well, you tell me…





Toilet seatThis chair was on display by the escalator and wore tags like it was a totally legit piece of merchandise.





We happened to sit down at a snack table where Amy Yancey of Flipping Vegas, and her architect, Darryl, were sitting. We all started talking and they were extremely nice and down-to-earth.





Amy Flipping VegasCelebrity selfie.





Since a trip to Vegas is not complete without venturing out to The Strip, we headed there and witnessed some good design in the Ladies’ Room in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel.






Paris bathroomThose were some fancy Kohler sinks. Ooh la la.




But, by far, I thought the most design “eye candy” was had at The Cosmopolitan.




Even their sign in their parking garage was exciting.





Cosmopolitan Las VegasThose letters were at least as tall as a professional basketball player.





The entrance to their China Poblano Chinese/Mexican (?) food restaurant took “making an entrance” to a whole new level.






Poblano Las Vegas





The dog sculptures at The Cosmopolitan weren’t bad either.






Dog sculpture CosmopolitanJust look at that carpet! That wall pattern!






But the three-story chandelier for the aptly named The Chandelier Lounge…had us at “three-story chandelier”.







Cosmopolitan chandelier




How about you? Are you seeing antlers, geodes and distressed plank walls EVERYWHERE? But not snake wallpaper, gilded bananas and toilet armchairs, right? At least, I hope not!


Marching ahead: We have a wedding site in sight!



Our procrastination and foot dragging has been rewarded. Big time.





If you ran into me this week, I likely spilled forth a soliloquy on the subject so, for you, this is oh-so-yesterday’s newsflash, but for the virgin ears:  We found a site for our wedding! Or, I should say, it found us! I’m not kidding; it was like the stars aligned…and shone their luck down on us like laser beams.





Save the date writing on facesImage source, Rachel Schulz






Remember how I said I was in molasses-mode about planning our September holy-cow-that’s-3 1/2-months-away wedding?






Save the date red fingerprintsImage source, unknown.








Save the date black fingerprintsImage via Dynamite Weddings





Well, the other day, something magical happened. But it didn’t start out that magical. It started with a simple walk. My mom had stopped over to walk my dog, Lilo, with me. My usual walk is up a steep hill, and down, and then up again, and back, but my mom was feeling tired, so she suggested somewhere flatter, shorter, different. Get that? This is example Number One of “What were the odds?”





Save the date shadow signImage source, unknown.





I’ve only taken this short route two other times, (in the nine months since JB and I moved here), so, not only was it highly unusual that I would be there, but I almost never run into anyone on my walks, so it was highly unusual that anyone else would be there, either. But, low and behold, we spotted a couple. (Hint: This is the, “It was fate!” detail number 2.)






Faceless save the dateImage source, unknown.




A couple I recognized as two fun and friendly people I helped pick floors for about three years ago. I remember they had a very neat, arty house. And that they liked seagrass and wool carpet. And that was about it. I mean, come on, that was three years ago.





Save the date Scrabble tilesImage source, unknown.





So we quickly caught up. Their house had burned down (ohhhh!)  been rebuilt (ohhhh?) and they had just moved back in the week before (ohhhh!). (Last and third coincidence: Since they’d only just moved back into the neighborhood, we would NOT have been able to run into one another, until now.) Ooh eee ooh = the sound of destiny unfolding.





Save the date with dogImage via The Frosted Petticoat





I shared that my fiancee’ and I had bought a house–which turns out is only a few blocks from theirs–back in September. (More “Ohhhh’s”, but, from them, this time.) When the wife asked me the date of the wedding, I think she looked a little stricken when I said, “September,” but even more so when I added I was still looking for a location. And then these words passed her lips, “We have a house!” and I’m sure I looked whatever the opposite of stricken is. (Gleeful!)





Save the date banner and trainImage source, unknown.






This house to which she referred, did she mean the newly built one they had just finished explaining is all glass and metal (no more of that flammable material called wood!) and nothing short of amazing? Yes, she did. “Call us!” she said and I floated the rest of the way home.





Save the date 50s homemakers

Image via Craig Clement






Then I let a week and a half go by. I told you, when it comes to this wedding, I have been dragging my feet all zombie-style. But last weekend, I dutifully checked my To Do list and like a good, trying-not-to-procrastinate-any-longer engaged person, I made the call.





Save the date letters on the grassImage source, unknown.





The call that changed everything! The call that prompted the super duper, incredibly nice and generous couple to say, “Come on over and check it out.” So we did. I took photos and drooled and smiled and my inspiration banks started filling because this was one of the most impressive houses I have ever seen. (Big, big statement here since 1) Their house before was pretty rockin’ and, 2) Well, this is Santa Barbara and all, where there is no dearth of dreamy houses.)  This house was wowwwww with its modern juxtaposition of weather-worn corrugated Corten steel siding and sleek stucco walls, towering doors, swooping roof lines, and staggering mountain views. All–could this get any better?–within walking distance form our house.





Literally saving the date copyGenius image via Lydias Next Step





Inside, adjacent walls were painted lime, red, and deep eggplant. And it worked, brilliantly, says the white walls devotee (me). A motorized garage door separated her office from the open floor plan living room/dining room/kitchen with all the “Woah, check it out!” mountain views. In the guest bath, instead of cupboards under the countertop, there was a bicycle. Oh, and there was an elevator. An elevator! Everywhere I looked, I saw modern art, giant fans (from the Big Ass Fan company), and ceilings as tall as Barbie’s legs are long. And down below, next to the Olympic-sized pool, was a beautiful orchard of oak trees.





Save the date on balloonsImage source, unknown.





The kind of orchard you picture all done up with twinkly lights and long tables adorned with succulent centerpieces, burlap ribbon, and, you know, Pinterest stuff. “I love it,” I said, and then mustered enough confidence to ask, gulp, “How much will it cost?”




“Nothing! It’s our wedding present to you!”




And I’m sure I looked as far from stricken as possible. (Bursting with glee.)





What!?!? As JB’s friend, Chris, said when he heard we got engaged, “Head explodes!” (I can only hope Chris meant it as a good thing, but that’s definitely how I mean it.)






Save the date credit cardImage via The Bridal Detective





I mean, I was a bad delayer, putting off finding a site like there was…something around the corner that was just meant to be and…it turned out, there was!





Just when the news is all about the bad folks killing the good folks, and you wonder, “Why? Why? Why?” you meet people who are so, unexpectedly, I can hardly believe it, do-they-really-make-people-like-this-anymore? nice, and it makes me happy to be human again.





Tying the knot save the dateImage source, unknown





And not want to give up on mankind. Not when there are some good souls. And your silly stalling is rewarded–for a site that is better than you could ever have imagined!






Save the date written on bootsImage source, unknown.





All because you took a walk–because your mom was tired–in a different direction.






PrintImage source, unknown.





While I snapped about twenty photos with my iPad, I have yet to ask formal permission to post any of the photos of the house so I’ll limit my sharing to this one of the exterior. I think it sums up the genius of this couple. It is their Steinway piano (once a shiny red Baby Grand) that was burned in the fire and is now placed outside as a piece of sculpture. Brilliant, isn’t it?





Steinway piano sculpture










Save the date library cardImage source, unknown.





Of course, the next step is to send out our Save the Dates–hence the proliferation of themed photos in this post.





I know I included a mass of them, but each one was so darn creative, I couldn’t bear to give it the boot.




I’m studying them like mad, now. And prodding JB, “Hey, look at this one. And this one. Oh, and this one.” He is not only being kindly patient, but when I said, “I love them all, but we need to come up with our own creative version and vision,” he came up with something. Just in case we can actually pull this off, I don’t want to give it away entirely, but I’ll say it involves his bicep, a fake tattoo of my name on said bicep, a tattoo shop and a tattoo needle in my hand. Now, all we have to do is find a tattoo parlor that is willing to let us turn this bizarre photo shoot idea into a reality. (Wish us luck with this one!)






Save the date suitcase copyImage via Wedding Paper Divas




And to stop procrastinating! A big thank you to our neighbors who have offered their brand new, amazing home as a wedding site. Now that we know the where, this all finally feels real. And for that, I am the three G’s: grateful, glad, and giddy!




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Art Inspiration: meow or woof?

Growing up, my artist mom taught me to notice design in the unlikeliest of places. Odd places like the marks grass makes on a bare knee; the stretched shadow of a chain link fence; or the intricate pattern that traces the rind of any melon. The idea was inspiration is everywhere. All you had to do was look.




Toilet paper roll artToilet paper rolls by Studio Zerbey Architecture + Design Image via Houzz




So I started looking and, over the years, I developed a thing for off-beat art.





Donut paintingThis painting of doughnuts hangs, in all its gilded frame glory, in our kitchen. Unconventional subject matter for an oil painting to be sure; but to me, that’s its appeal.





I gravitated towards quirky art.






Paper bag painting40″ x 50″ (in other words, very big) abstract acrylic of a paper bag. It was given to me by a generous friend and now hangs center stage in our living room.






And irreverent art–and, apparently, art with food as its subject–gets me every time.






Bacon paintingLarge acrylic bacon painting in our living room by the talented Lyn Gianni (but I call her Mom”).





I think one of the most important things about a piece of art is it should speak to you.






You Only Live OnceEclectic Bedroom by Los Angeles Photographers Alex Amend Photography Image via Houzz






And the other day, I thought perhaps it should say, “Meow.”





Here’s the part where I need to tell you I’m nearing the finish line on the living room design for a client who adores her cat. That this client thinks her cat is wonderful and I think my client is wonderful and I need to find her art that is as neat as she is. Ho-hum won’t cut it. And that the other day, while I was brainstorming what piece we should hang over her sofa, I had an idea.



Brace yourself. It’s a wild one.



We could take a photo of her cat in black and white, enlarge the image until it was huge (as in ginormously, jaw-droppingly large), frame it and hang it above said sofa.




I know. Weird right? Crazy? Maybe. Admittedly, I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea myself until a few days later my mom and I happened to be strolling down Main street in Ventura and we spotted this window display outside a thrift store that raises money for pets in need.





Black and white dog and chair





It was my wacky idea come to life.






Black and white dog and cat behind counter




And I loved it! Unfortunately, the owners of the thrift store felt the exact same way so they weren’t willing to part with any of the photographs but they did tell me a local artist took them and that the images were processed locally. And that’s where the information stopped. Neither owner could remember the who or the where. But that’s what the internet is for. If my client decides she likes this idea, I’ll let my fingers do the…typing.




Note: Costco will enlarge a photo of your choice and print it on stretched canvas for a nominal charge so there’s always that option. (See below.)





Costco art




But back to that black and white photography.




This is a case of “You had to be there” because no matter how I tried to position my body or angle my lens, I could not capture the scale of these pet photos. This is frustrating because it’s their overblown–well beyond life-size–largesse that took them from ordinary pet portraits to something so fun it verged on pop art.





Black and white pug





Later the same day, we ate at a Thai food restaurant that featured this large design on one wall.





Bottles on wall




I think this ideas has some major potential. I’m not saying it’s perfect–far from. The scale of the fake flowers is off and the faux flora is beyond dreadful and someone should tell them to put the Christmas balls away in May–and possibly until the end of time. But, what if, for example, they used some realistic looking faux succulents at the top? I think whoever created this brilliantly devised an inexpensive way to give a large wall some major impact and I’m filing this idea under, “Maybe–with some tweaking.”





Don’t worry, I’m not even close to considering painting large bottles on my client’s wall. Or incorporating a Cat-zilla sized image as shown below. But notice how the scale is what takes this image from cute to imposing. For better or worse, in this example.






Cat-zilla muralAce Hotel, Portland




If my client does decide to go in this direction, I’m proposing a scale similar to this…





Large dog photo green wallModern Dining Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Jennifer Kesteloot Image via Houzz





Minus the lime green. I prefer a white wall as a backdrop for art.






Large cat muralContemporary Home Office by New York Interior Designers & Decorators Duane Kaschak, ID Image via Houzz




Definitely not purple. 🙂



How about you? Are you willing to call out, “Say Tuna!” or “Say beef bone!” to get Whiskers or Fido to pose for a larger-than-life-sized portrait? If so, do share the results!




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Balsa wood flowers: pretty green for a white flower.


When it came to choosing a wedding date, 10 months ago we confidently declared, “In September!” But now that September is a fleeting four months away, it is with mumbled speech that I admit while we know the when, we haven’t locked down the where.




Table in fieldThis is, however, the “where” that I picture in my head. Image via Ruffled.



I know, I know. I’m on the verge of failing planning-your-own-wedding. But not having secured the location isn’t for lack of trying. We’ve had brilliant ideas like renting the group camp site at El Capitan: A somewhat private locale, an ocean view, and decor a la nature. What’s not to love? The answer: the $1,200 price tag–not to mention all the Saturdays in our planned marital month were already booked. (Sunday is an option, but then you must deal with the port a potty of Saturday’s wedding–which means Sunday is not an option.)



Rustic weddingWhat a fun serpentine-shaped table arrangement! Image via Ruffled.




So we’ve upped the ante. We’re spreading the word (“Nice couple desperately seeks wedding site!”), scouring the internet for local spots, and moving wedding plans from the back burner, to the front. While the hunt continues, I’m taking inspiration everywhere I can find it.




A few weekends ago, I found some at JB’s cousin’s wedding. It was a baseball-themed wedding with some very cute touches such as this cake…





Baseball theme wedding cake





Upon closer inspection, this cake topper has me wondering. While the couple tanned in preparation for the blessed event, their skin tone has never matched the ethnicity these figurines suggest. I can only assume there was a run on the paler version of dog-inclusive cake toppers.




There were clever, handmade, (by the talented bride), centerpieces like this…




Baseball wedding centerpiece





But what really grabbed my attention were the flowers. At first I couldn’t figure out what they were made of. Then the bride revealed they were made of wood. What?!






Tapioca flowers in jar





Yes, wood! They were the only flowers on site and the industrious bride made each boutonniere, bouquet, and centerpiece using them. So what exactly are wood flowers? I did some online sleuthing and discovered they go by the name of balsa wood, tapioca wood, or sola wood flowers and can be purchased here.






Balsa wood bouquet with greenery






Each petal is cut from the wood peel of the tapioca plant and is pressed into shape, then formed into a flower. They blossoms come in a natural ivory tone, but can be painted, as the bride did, to match any wedding color palette.






Bride and Groom TableThe bride and groom’s table.






The beauty–besides that of their appearance–is, unlike regular flowers, you don’t have to worry about them wilting during a hot summer wedding.






Balsa wood boutonniereBalsa wood flower and feather boutonniere example courtesy JL Design.




Other pluses: They are ecologically friendly in the sense that using them avoids sacrificing real flowers; they’re great for allergy-sufferers; they’re purported to last as long as “forever”, and, at as low as 28 cents per flower (see the Shell flower here), your floral budget will come up smelling like roses. On that note, you can also scent their centers with essential oils, give them a spritz of your signature perfume, or Angel Aromatics will sell them to you pre-scented.





Tapioca wood shell flowers





While white on white is attractive, I think their beauty really blossoms with the addition of a soft green.  Succulents such as the type that looks like strands of green pearls (aptly named String of Pearls; botanical name: senecio rowleyanus) would look very pretty.






Balsa wood bouquetImage via JL Design.






If you need some more visual inspiration, the floral company JL Design seems to have cornered the market on decorating with these flowers. Every amazing picture I found came from them. You can visit their site here.




Tapioca flower and driftwood centerpieceImage via JL Design. I counted 23 flowers. If each is say 28 cents, plus a piece of found (read: free!) driftwood, that comes out to a whole lot of “Stunning centerpiece!” for only $6.40.







Balsa wood pomanderImage via JL Design.





You can make your own pomanders to use at a bridal shower, wedding, or baby shower by hot gluing each flower to a foam sphere. Before you cover the entire sphere, attach a loop of ribbon (i.e., in a cream-colored satin or other coordinating wedding color) to the sphere with hot glue. Use a pearl-topped pin to additionally secure the ribbon to the sphere. Finish by gluing the remaining flowers around (but not on top of) the spot where the ribbon is attached to camouflage the area. Note: when selecting the size of your sphere, bear in mind that it will “grow” with the addition of flowers.






Balsa wood flowers in bowl




The bride generously let some of the ladies take a pomander home. I was one of the lucky ladies and, upon returning home, popped mine into a silver bowl for a spring table top decoration that happened as fast as you can say, “No water changes necessary!”



PS, Yes, that is a painting of bacon. That is what happens when you mention to your sweet artist mother that you think a pop-art influenced bacon painting would be a fun conversation piece over your table: she is kind enough to surprise you with one for Christmas! And that is just one among the many reasons that make her the best mom I could ever ask for. Happy Every-Day-Should-Be-Mother’s-Day, mom!





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Holy Craigslist: We bought a Sub-Zero fridge!

As an interior designer, I had to polish up (pun intended) on my knowledge of high-end kitchen appliances. Sure these might be items I would only dream of owning, that I may never operate–outside a display in a fancy showroom–but for the sake of my clients, I had to learn what was what.




The more I educated myself, the more I began to want these appliance–for myself! My “Drool List” went something like this:




The Miele Built-In Espresso Maker (with its trademarked Conical Grinding System, Frother and Integrated Milk Tank)…




Miele espresso makerRetailing at (gulp) $3,299.00 Not deterred? You can find one here.




La Cornue’s stove and range top–which, to me, always looked a lot like upscale luggage (literally and figuratively?).


La Cornue RangePrices vary.  Think $8,600-$35,000 range. It’s one of those, “If you have to ask….” products. But if you have to see, you can, here.




And the Sub-Zero refrigerator.




Sub-zero fridgeWhile we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind their wine cooler, either.



And last weekend…(drum roll, please)…JB found one on Craigslist for $100!



Yes, a hundred dollars! Sure, it’s used–but lovingly so. And since we haven’t started our kitchen remodel yet this is going to be a sort of refrigerator test run. This way we can see if the size and style and energy usage works for us–so we’ll know if we want to spring for a new one when it really matters!



Here is our old fridge inherited from the previous owners…


Old fridge door closedThe two magnets were ours, but the scratches, dents and random blobs of cream-colored paint were not.





old fridge closeup

See? I wasn’t kidding about the cream paint marks–on a white fridge! I can only wonder about the why and the how.





And here is our new (to us) Sub-Zero in all its stainless steel glory!




SUB-ZERO front



I think it’s so pretty and it slid into the opening of our existing cabinets with a 1/16 of an inch to spare, kinda like the Refrigerator Gods were smiling down on us. It’s already worlds better–and quieter–than our archaic one that incessantly moaned, groaned, and hummed.  (The Sub-Zero makes more of a steady white noise somewhere between waves crashing and being on an airplane, but quieter.) I’ll keep you posted about how it affects our electric bill!






Moving truckIt took this truck (thank you JT!), the help of a super friend (thank you, Michael!) and some swear words (sorry, neighbors!) before the new fridge entered our home.




In a moment of “The more contrasting metals the better!” JB gave the old hardware a vinegar soak to remove years of caked-on grease and then used Brasso to polish the heck out of it. Admittedly, it’s a bit on the clashy side, (I like to see it as our kitchen just went Bohemian Chic), but I do like the soft shade of brass, more like a brushed finish, than super brassy and shiny.  In the past, I have had clients boil their shiny brass hardware in water and vinegar to age it, but now what’s old…is a tiny bit out and the sparkly stuff is en vogue again. Funny how that happens.


Brass hardware polishedNew warm tone. And a lot less grime. 🙂





Besides good looks and a subtle sound, I’m not just judging this fridge by its cover. It’s what’s inside that counts and that is a heck of a lot of room. It’s huge! I feel like I can fit the contents of three refrigerators in here. We transferred all our food from the former fridge (see below) –that was stuffed to the max–and in the new fridge, it’s nothing.



Old fridge door openIck. Uck. Oh, the suffering every time my hand brushed across the exposed screw on the upper deck. Skin was lost I tell you. And the clutter. Oh boy.




And now…It looks like a (non-cooking) bachelor lives here.




SUB-ZERO inside



We even have room for our three varieties of butter!




Butter trio in fridge



Yes, we’re butter gluttons. Since we went gluten-free, we have been delving deeper into the world of dairy products. Have you tried the Ferrarini Italian butter (the one on the left) from Costco? It’s not cheap, but the flavor justifies the cost. We find ourselves eating small slices atop (rice) crackers as though it were cheese. It’s that good. And we’re that bad.



Inside the fridge



I’m so excited to have a stainless steel fridge with a bottom drawer freezer so I can run experiments like:



1) What does all that stooping do to your back? Will it become natural to squat and open the drawer instead of leaning over? (Ah ha! Who needs to go to the gym when you open your freezer drawer enough…unless, of course, you’re opening it to reach for vanilla ice cream, eh hem!, on a nightly basis?)



2) Well, this one I can confirm. Magnets don’t stick to the door. One of my clients was recently a bit dismayed when she found this out for herself, but we both agreed it’s a blessing because it forces people to keep their fridge free and clear of magnets, kind of like what we designers and stagers will do to your fridge anyway if we’re trying to make the house look its best. Now cluttering with magnets and take-out menus and kid’s art isn’t even an option which is not such a bad thing.



 3) Will  more food fit into  a bottom-drawer freezer than a side-door freezer? Confirmed, yes!




What about you, have you had a Sub-Zero for years and are wondering what took me so long to join the club? (The $100 price tag secured my membership.)  Do you have a fridge you think is even better? The couple we bought the Sub-Zero from are investing in a Miele Smart fridge and a La Cornue stove and vent hood. Sigh. Although, I’m not entirely envious of their Smart appliance. From the hacking stories we’ve heard, they might not be such a smart idea. For now, we’re going analog with our new pretty beast.

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Hawaii Part 2

For all of you who received the post “Aloha, Hawaii. We miss you already!” twice, I apologize. (For those who didn’t receive it at all, I also apologize and you can scroll down to the end of this post to view it.) The long explanation involves way too many technological terms. The short one is my blog delivery service went into a precautionary shutdown mode in an effort to combat spam. Problem solved, I think. Fingers and toes are crossed!


When we last left off, we were here…



Beach feet



When I turned around, I saw this…




Dark clouds


It was very strange to look straight ahead and see blue sky and sunshine (see first picture) only to swivel my head and see an impending storm. Good thing we had our fill of Vitamin D and packed in a hurry because a few minutes later we drove down the road and saw this…



giant water spout!



Water SpoutView from Makena beach, Maui




I took this photo from the car window which means we were out of there in minutes. Good thing since we later heard reports there was a flash flood that we (phew!) barely missed.




There were other displays of water, but all more predictable such as the Spouting Horn on Kauai.




Spouting Horn pre spoutWait for it….





Spouting HornThere you go.




Or this beautiful beach (Barking Sands on Kauai) that could only be accessed after a 30 minute bucking bronco style car ride over a dirt road that was more pot holes and sharp rocks than it was dirt. As I drove us in, I scooted all the way forward in my seat with my white knuckles at the top of the steering wheel, hoping we wouldn’t get a flat tire or a busted oil pan.  When we finally arrived, I exclaimed, “This better be the best beach we have ever seen!” Well, it kind of was. It was beautiful, it was desolate (there was one other person that you can barely make out in the background, but those foot prints were all mine) but the sand was also seriously, scorchingly hot!



Barking SandsBarking Sands beach, Kauai. (Ouch, ouch, ouch!)




I read they call it Barking Sands because the sound the grains of sand make when you walk on them. I think it’s because with every step you take, your dogs are barking. I had flip flops on and my feet still felt seared. It was so painful that I ran through the sand dunes (not pictured) on the way back up to the car. Ten minutes later, back onto that bad road, I realized my watch was missing and had likely fallen into those sand dunes and that is where I decided to let it live. As much as I loved that watch, it wasn’t worth ten more minutes doubling back on that terribly bumpy road and I knew I’d never be able to slowly retrace my steps on that sand. If you go, don’t wear lose jewelry (well, ever) and consider going Mainlander style with tennis shoes and socks!






But despite having the soles of my feet slightly singed, I’m happy to report there was good design everywhere…



Hawaii GateGate on the road by Makena beach.





Tidepools ceilingThe tapa cloth ceiling of the Tidepool’s restaurant at the Hyatt, Kauai.






CabanaThe cabanas where we stayed at The Outrigger, Maui. Wouldn’t one of these cabanas be so great in a backyard? Tip: If you’re considering it, you may want to keep it without walls, as shown above; my best friend just returned from Belize and said the (enclosed) room they stayed in had a similar palapa (palm frond) roof and it gave the room a slight scent of a urine soaked basket!





Red SaltRed Salt restaurant, Kauai. Check out that capiz shell chandelier!




Red Salt wall decorA wall in the dining room of Red Salt.




Close up Red SaltUp close, they looked a bit like little Tupperware cups, but very effective from afar.




I even liked the color palette in our hotel room. It was kind of like temporarily living in a sepia-toned photograph (the art was also sepia-toned photography to go with the theme), but I thought it worked. It felt very calming and I loved the radical pattern of the carpet and the giant bamboo on the mirror.




Maui hotel



Nature is always endlessly inspiring…




Tree and oceanNear Spouting Horn, Kauai. There was going to be a rooster in this photo, until he became scared and scooted out of the frame.




WaimeaWaimea Canyon, second lookout spot (don’t just stop at the first and turn around!), Kauai.





Swinging BridgeInspiring nature and architecture (the Swinging Bridge in Hanapepe, Kauai)! I wonder what it would be like to live in that green house at the end of the bridge.




In Hawaii, they even have pleasing designs on their payphones…




Hawaiian Phone BoothYes, a payphone (in Hanalei, Kauai)! I picked it up and there was a dial tone, so I think it must work.



And if you go to Glass Beach by Port Allen…




Glass BeachGlass Beach, Kauai. (That’s beach glass and beach aluminum in my palm.)



You can see this graveyard….




GraveyardEqually eerie and beautiful.





Kaui tombstoneI know it is kapu (forbidden) to take home lava rocks lest you welcome calamity in your life. Let’s just hope there is not a similar rule for posting and blogging about photos of grave sites with lava rocks at their bases.




Each grave stone appeared entirely different (from afar, that is; I didn’t get too close). Strangely enough, there are many, many graveyards along major roads in Kauai, but what was perhaps most interesting about this one was its view…





Recycling PlantNot bad for all of eternity–except maybe the view of the recycling plant but it is the reason behind all that cool beach glass.




Our friends were staying at the Hyatt so we got to walk the grounds (and wish we were staying there)…






Feed the koi fish…




Feeding koi


To create this feeding frenzy koi vortex…an interesting design unto its own…








And, guess what the rooms at the Hyatt have? Only Carara marble floors and the Toto Washlet (bidet) toilets, of course.




Toto at HyattThe Toto Neorest 700H Dual Flush model runs a mere $4,450.00. If you don’t consider that flushing money down the toilet, you can find one here.



But it was the free things found in nature we found most fun like this view…




Taro FieldsThe taro fields in Hanalei, Kauai.




Or spotting this guy on the side of the road…




Horse I pulled over to take this shot but didn’t get any closer in case the horse didn’t care much for gawking tourists. I was feeling bad for this horse strangely tied up to a fence alongside a main road (the road on the way to the dirt path for Barking Sands) until we passed two more horses that were tied up and eating and we realized this was a two-in-one to keep the vegetation down and feed the horses for free. Not a bad idea, I guess.




And eating the local fruit fare was a must.








Exposed rambutanRambutan–not as sweet and flavorful as lychee, but still fun in it’s grape-meets-tropical-fruit melding nonetheless. Plus I love the design of their softly spiked reddish pink skins.




What about you? Are you planning a trip soon? Don’t forget to leave lose jewelry at home and consider paying someone to carry you over any beaches calling themselves Barking Sands!


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Aloha, Hawaii. We miss you already!

Aloha to you as well. I have been gone. Which means I have been a bad blogger. Bloggers aren’t supposed to stop. Ever. To sleep, maybe. Eat. But there should be no extended breaks from blogging. There are rules about this sort of thing.




And I broke them. Because I was here (see below). And JB, too. In Maui first and then Kauai.



Beach feet




To get there, required a stop here: the San Francisco airport.





San Francisco Airport globes




Have you been there lately? They have remodeled an entire terminal and added a cool display of giant silvery orbs.




SF sign(This.)



There is now a water bottle filling station which the green girl in me loved.  The penurious girl in me who didn’t want to shell out for the inflated price of airport sundries liked it too.



GlobaltapSo smart. Is this company public? Someone should look into that.





Refilling water bottleWith the push of a button clean (I hope), fresh (I doubt) water.




There was a Yoga Center with a lone stretcher whose zen we did not want to interrupt so we quietly shut the door. And burst into giggles. Only in SF.




Yoga CenterThe lotus pose and a cup of coffee? Is that what this image is suggesting?



The San Francisco airport is even cool enough to feature a display of Japanese toys down their long corridors.  My heart went all aflutter when I spotted the tower of Hello Kittys. “Kitties?” (Somehow that just looks wrong.)




Hello Kitty displayI know, I look maniacal in this photo. I like the contrast between the actual child on the left who walked right past the display versus me who demanded a photograph be taken and is beaming with almost inexplicable joy.



So, yes the SF airport had a lot to offer, but what it didn’t have was five minutes to spare for us to arrive from our connecting Santa Barbara flight and catch our flight to Kahului, Maui. As we jumped off the shuttle and ran towards the (closed) doors we were told we missed our flight by 5 minutes. They showed no mercy, so we were forced to show ourselves a good time for the next 4.5 hours eating and wandering through the airport. There were a lot of water refills. And, photos taken. (As you can see.)



It wasn’t all bad. We stopped in a wine bistro and I spotted this child’s version of the Ghost Chair. I prefer the clear ones, but it was fun to see one so tiny. If you need to have one, I found the website where you can buy them  here. Uh huh, that is $147.00 for plastic, but it is cute. Wait a minute, what were kid-sized chairs doing in a wine bistro? Only in SF.



Child Ghost Chair



There were new, modern-looking grown up chairs in the lounge-y areas. Like this…



SF airportBlurry photo, but you get the idea.



We checked out the art.





Trailer photoOnly in SF.



Then finally, finally we got to board our plane.  And head for here…




Outrigger PoolThe Outrigger, Lahaina.



And it was…paradise. But paradise can take a lot out of you…well the plane ride home can and the jet lag, and the photos to sift through. So I’m going to be a “bad” blogger once more and ask you to hold on and wait for Part II.



Mahalo.  🙂



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Decorating with Stag Horn Ferns: Meet Philomena!

Stag Horn Fern and Bench(That’s Philomena! Above, top right.)


I have a thing for garage sales. My mom and I go ever Saturday, like it’s our religion, and most people we know are dumbfounded by this. They pepper us with questions. “Do you haggle?” No, we’re shy so we usually pay full price unless that price is ridiculous and we’re brave enough to suggest a lower figure. “What are you looking for?” Nothing in particular. It’s like a treasure hunt. We go with an open mind in search for awesomeness–at a fair price.



Gilded cash register This was $1,200. I don’t know if that’s a fair price or not. But I do know it did not make my cut for “reasonably priced items for staging.”



Case in point, the other day, I found these, in a box marked “Free”. Seriously? Seriously. For free. The garage sale woman was so nice, she reiterated, “They’re free,” in case I had missed the sign. (I had not.) JB and I just finished making a table (more on that in a future post) using turned legs from Home Depot (at $10 a leg x 4 legs, definitely not free), so I cursed myself a bit for not being prophetic enough to foresee that there would be free table legs in my future. Oh well. It’s okay, there will be more tables to build. I can see it already.



Carved table Legs

I get excited every time I look at these. All that carving…and free! 



Anyway, I also have a thing (read: big, pulsating crush) for stag horn ferns. You know, these guys.



Stag horns on wall




JB’s last name starts with a “B” and rhymes with “luck” so you can imagine why all things resembling antlers and horns have a special soft place in my heart.



Stag horn on white house




See the resemblance?



Real stag



So when I found this stag horn fern at a garage sale for $15, I handed over my fifteen dollars. (Home Depot charges $45 for the same size so this was a case of very fair pricing.) I christened it Philomena (I guess I gave it a gender, too) and brought it home with all sorts of ideas blooming in my mind. Note: I name all my houseplants. Philomena joined her siblings Gertrude, Anastasia, Penelope and Roger. The “boy” in the bunch belongs to JB. Somebody needs to have some kids already, eh?



Stag Horn Fern MountedThis is Philomena before I gave her some style.



I thought maybe I’d hang her in the bathroom because stag horn ferns are fans of humidity–they don’t like the temperature to dip below 65 degrees–and we all know showers make bathrooms feel a bit equatorial every time we use them. But she didn’t look right there. (I did, however, suspend an air plant and moss in a glass orb to see how an air plant survives in a bathroom. I can tell you they do not survive in my office or living room.)




Feeding Stag Horn Banana PeelFood (banana peels or Gro Now tablets) goes right back there.



But I had the perfect place outside. So I hung her. Then I fed her. Yes, here is maybe the best part of owning a stag horn fern: you can/should/will really want to feed them banana peels. The woman who sold her to me told me once a month. Advice on the internet runs the gamut from one per month to 4 to 8 per month. I’m sticking to one per month since I also  read that the decomposing banana peel can attract fruit flies. If you own one, please let me know if you feed it banana peels and how often.



Stag Horn Fern in Bathtub

I took this picture standing outside the restaurants The Lark and The Lucky Penny, here in Santa Barbara. I have stag horn fern (and galvanized bathtub) envy. So pretty!



Then my garage sale partner (aka, my mom) called and said, “You know what would look good? A frame around Philomena.” My mom’s an artist so she’s always coming up with clever ideas like that. I don’t know how I got so lucky (for my mom and for what I’m about to tell you), but I happened to already own an empty frame that was…the exact size I needed. I popped it over the board Philomena was mounted on and it fit–just like that. I know, right? (Note: Frame was former garage sale find. One of those items I had no idea what I’d do with it, but for $2, I knew I would come up with something. And that, is why, garage sales are worth getting up early for.)



Stag Horn Fern Framed

Lookin’ good Philomena! 


Before I go, I feel like I must impart some of my new-found knowledge about stag horn ferns. Allow me to boil my hour of internet research into a palatable few factoids. If you happen to have a giant stag horn fern, like my friend Tim, and should separate it into smaller pups (yes, that is stag horn fern lingo; you read it here) so the weight of one doesn’t make your tree topple over and so you can pass the pups on to a dear friend who really loves stag horn ferns and can think of a few other place she (eh hem!) would like to put them, you can watch a great video on how to do that here.



Stag Horn by House

 This is my friend Tim’s stag horn fern. I think it needs dividing…




Hanging Stag Horn

Tim is the lucky owner of this beautiful monster, too. Which also looks in desperate need of dividing…(in my biased opinion).




Stag horn fern cluster

I’d turn it into this.


And now, a bit of advice…


Stag Horn Fern Facts (try saying that 5 times fast!):


1. SHFs are epiphytes or “air plants” which means they do not need to have direct contact with the soil. They take their nutrients from the air.



Stag horn ferns on patio



2. And banana peels. To feed your SHF a banana peel, stick it behind the mound of the plant.  (See photo with my hand, above.) The decaying peel will feed the plant–and a few fruit flies, so watch out. The potassium in the banana peel helps offset sodium and SHFs, like many humans, try to avoid sodium. If you don’t want to attract fruit flies with decomposing banana peels, place two Gro Now tablets in the back of the plant (where the banana peels would otherwise go) once or twice a year. As the plant is watered, the nutrients will be released.


3. There are 17 species in the SHF Platycerium genus. One of them is known as “Hula Hands” and has fronds that appear to curl and wave in the breeze, much like the hands of an actual hula dancer.  Note: Alas, this is not the variety I have.



Stag horn fern office



4. If the root ball looks dry or it is hot and dry outside (like it is now; 86 degrees in March, by gosh!) water the plant twice a week by drizzling water into its mound or submerging it in a bath or bucket of water. When it is not hot, watering once a month should suffice. (Keep an eye on that root ball!) Mist your SHF, using clean water, as often as you’re trigger finger can handle–they love it!


5. The plant forms it’s own mounding backdrop from what are called base shields. As new ones form, old ones die and decompose allowing the plant to feed itself.



Stag horns Elle Decor

Image via Elle Decor


6. As one site said, they like “bright shade”. Yes, that’s a bit of an oxymoron, but they went on to clarify saying, “filtered sun.” If you keep yours indoors, SHFs prefer natural light from a south or east facing window. They don’t want to get chillier than 55 degrees so if you have yours outside, like mine, you may want to hang it so you can bring it in at night during the winter.


7. Don’t wipe the soft fibers when cleaning the leaves.



Stag horn ferns on walljpg



8. Name your SHF. Bucky? Fernalicious? Staggy? I’ll leave this part up to you.



Do you have any tips on taking care of stag horn ferns? Do you love them as much as I do? (Hard task, as I love them a lot!)


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Too trendy? The search for wedding ideas that haven’t been done to “Death do us part.”

There’s a whole lotta wishful thinking when I tell you we are!/were?/are! getting married in July. Truthfully, I don’t know if we can pull it off. And that makes me feel bad because we carefully chose the date ourselves and, normally, we’d do anything we could to avoid missing a deadline. So how can we allow ourselves to possibly miss the greatest deadline of our lives, thus far?



Chalkboard signImage via Southern Weddings (We are not Virginia or Henry although those are very nice names.)



Because I have wedding planning block. And it doesn’t stem from the fact that we’re still knee-deep in the trenches of sample selection and the what-will-go-where? stage of our remodel and that I’m hardly anxious for anyone to see the house while it’s very much in its Before state. (Did I mention we plan to host the reception at home? Oh yeah.) Or because I have spent the time since we became engaged daydreaming about, and working on, setting up this blog, instead of reflecting on which wedding dress styles would look smashing or if we should choose cupcakes or something tiered.



Rose Wedding dress



And it’s not cold feet–although JB will tell you my feet feel like wedges of ice, especially lying in bed, mid-winter.  No, the real reason behind this block is because for a while I was paying attention (pre-engagement) and I saw all these amazing crafty wedding ideas. Ideas that made me think, “How clever/original/wonderful! Who are these brilliant minds who thought that up?” And then I saw them over and over again.



Rustic wedding stagImage via Rustic Wedding Chic 




Roses and orchids



Don’t get me wrong. It is with a big smile on my face that I acknowledge we are living in a fine time for planning a wedding on a budget (which we’re definitely on). Five years ago, you couldn’t fake stylish. It came one way. At a hotel or sprawling rented house, tables festooned with vases stuffed with thousands of dethroned roses,  a shot glass or magnet printed with the date of your wedding resting at every place setting, and a three-tiered–at minimum–cake. These days a decent backyard trumps the confines of a stuffy ballroom, mason jars stuffed with lavender and wild flowers are beyond passable–they’re preferred; the party favor is a poem typed on an old typewriter, and instead of slicing into a $400+ cake creation, the bride just smashed a cupcake (that her sister made, gluten-free) into her groom’s moustached face.



Outdoor wedding

Image via Bridal Guide



Today, having a DIY wedding doesn’t mean you’ll appear low on funds--but, instead, incredibly hip! And so, you may ask, why are my feet still dragging when they could be trying on some ballet flats I might bedeck in glue and glitter for the big day?



Glittered ballet flatsImage via Elizabeth Anne Designs 



Because, it’s starting to feel like every good idea has already been done. For example, if we got married anytime between now and the last five years, this is how our Save the Date would look. (Except we’re not actually these people.) Incidentally, my best friend just pointed out if we’re planning on sending out Save the Dates for July, we’re officially behind schedule.

Save the date hipsters


We’d wear vintage threads, stand side by side relaxing our faces into expressions that read, “This is nothing special. Really, there are a lot more important things we could be doing right now. Truth.”



Save the date grocery cart

Image via Paper Source.

Or pose, while one of us rides a grocery cart, the other pushes, and we lean in for a charming kiss. (I actually really like this one!)



We would have chalkboard everything from the font on the invitation….



Chalkboard wedding invitationImage via Zazzle.com

To the actual wedding



Chalkboard wedding backdrop



To the decor




Chalkboard chair signs




There would be stumps here




Stump wedding decorImage via One King’s Lane



And there




Succulent Wedding cake

(I made this cake for my best friend’s wedding, last September. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the stump was giant, almost 3′ in diameter, and heavy!)



Mason jars for vases



Flowers in mason jars




A burlap “Just Married” banner–possibly one resembling Scrabble tiles, like this…



Just Married Burlap Banner



And burlap and wine barrels at the cake table dessert station



Wedding wine barrels

Image via The Very Last Detail 



A rustic sign leading guests to the action…




Rustic wedding signImage via Ruffled blog 



A vintage chandelier hung in the garden



Wedding chandelierImage via One True Love Vintage Rentals



A station with an old fashioned typewriter so guests can share the keys to marital bliss



Typewriter wedding

Image via Jitterbug Vintage Weddings



And a beautiful succulent bouquet….



Succulent bouquet

Note: I read a suggestion somewhere that you can plant your succulent bouquet directly into the ground and it will begin to root and grow…along with your love.



But I’m determined to switch it up a bit. Do something that hasn’t been done.



Burlap wrapped silverware

Image via MarryMeTampaBay 



I’m curious about the next trend in wedding design. I’d rather be on its cutting edge than on the tail wind of what was done last year. Or the year before, or the year before.  And sometimes that takes more than the allotted time (T minus five months) to figure out.



Happily Ever After signImage via Crossroads4kids 



But as I look through these images, I admit, I love every one of them! Perhaps it’s okay to not reinvent the (wedding) wheel, but just roll with the inspiration. Borrowing ideas might be just fine. There is supposed to be “something borrowed, something blue,” right?  How about you? Have you come up with any amazing ideas to set your wedding apart? I’d be happy to hear them!


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