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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Starting at the front door!

When I arrive at a client’s house for the first time, I take a big breath to stifle my nerves and then I don my hyper-observant, leave-no-less-than-ideal-items-unnoticed lenses. (They just happen to look like the same prescription glasses I was wearing when I pulled up, so no one is the wiser.)


Via Claffisica
From the property line, forward, I try to take it all in. Even if some items are not in the budget to be improved upon, I’m madly redesigning the mailbox, replacing the asphalt driveway with cut stone, and—quite often—mentally repainting the front door. Here’s why.
You are Home TDC
Via Thrifty Decor Chic
The 90s, (and their siblings, the 80s), called and they want their wood doors back. Even here in stylish Santa Barbara where the townhouses are tony, there are far too many Golden Oak stained front doors–plain or with a leaded glass oval in the center or demilune at top, paired with–what else?–brass  hardware. (Yeah, I know. Brass is back, but more on that later.) And they could look so much better. So easily. With a bit of black-ish paint.
Oak front doorYeah doors, we’re talking about you.
I try to go back in time to a florescent-lit Home Depot aisle in 1992, and wonder if the thought was, “Real wood is natural and beautiful. Why cover it with paint?” And that totally makes sense—if the answer wasn’t, “Because real wood makes a much better tabletop, floor, or rustic plank wall feature than it does a door—especially one paired with leaded glass.” (Caveat: Spanish doors are the exception and look best with stained wood in almost every case I can think of.)
Black door with demilune
Via The Decorologist
Side note: Funny how these days people pay big money for things to look chippy, rusted and beyond “gently used” when in eras past poor people were saddled with them because they couldn’t afford to replace them. Back then, a smooth stained and finished front door with a leaded glass window and a brass handle so shiny it resembled gold would make you look like you had arrived. Now it just makes you look like you’ve arrived at a dated front door.
One King's Lane Dresser
This dresser used to say you couldn’t afford another one. Now it say you can afford $2,999.00 at One King’s Lane.
Three, two, one…and we’re back on topic.  So when we arrived at the Open House for the house that is now our home and I saw the front door was goldeny oaky with a leaded demilune at top, my first thought was, “Bleck.” My second thought was, “I know how to make it better!”
Front Door BeforeOur door, before.
It was the very first home project we tackled.  Because, don’t we all know good design begins at the front door? (And sometimes at the base of the driveway which is why I say we also need a new mailbox.)
JB was kind enough to remove the door and prep it for me by covering the glass and hinges with painter’s tape.
Front Door duringPrepping the beast.
And so the transformation began.
Up until recently, if I were espousing my fondness for door transformation with a swift coat (or two) of paint, in the next breath I’d add, “Choose black.”
Thank goodness the day before I painted our door, a design mentor of mine suggested, “Add a drop of white to make it a very dark charcoal. It’s softer than black and will make your door stand out from all the other black doors out there.”
Front door almostAlmost there…

And was she right? A resounding, “Yes!”  Black doors have become kind of A Thing and that wee bit of white (around 1/3 cup white per gallon of black) made for a softer, and less ubiquitous color.

Front Door BeforeOne more time. Our door before.

Front Door After
And after!*
*Try to ignore the the weird “spilled makeup” esque colorant the former owners used to stain the walkway. We’re still brainstorming what to do about that.
Funny story: our door turned out to be plastic, not wood. But the same designer friend had just turned me onto PPG True Finish  paint which apparently she has used to paint on Formica counters with good results. Now I haven’t, so I’m not recommending it until I’ve tried it myself. Just sayin’ this stuff offered great coverage for a plastic door when I was a bit concerned about how paint would adhere to plastic. So far, no problems!
Benjamin Moore black door
Via Benjamin Moore
I crossed my fingers that it was okay to skip sanding and just start painting. (It was.) After JB had done the hard part of removing the door and using painter’s tape to tape off the edges of the window, it was only fair that I dealt with the stinky part (that paint just smelled extra toxic than most, but also dried incredibly quickly, which was perhaps part of the toxic trade-off) and messy part of painting.
Charlton House black doorRichard Smith

Two, fast-drying coats later and that door was ready for re-installation. But we still needed a peephole.

I recently asked my carpenter what height he recommends for peepholes. His answer? “5′ from the bottom of the door, or eye level.”  Well JB is 6’2″ and I’m 5’7″ so whose “eye level” are we talking about? After a bit of a debate, we decided  5′ 3″ was a fair compromise but not before I said, “What about when we have kids? How will they see out?” This was the logical resolution:  if our kids aren’t tall enough to see out the peephole, they aren’t old enough to be left home alone to answer the door. Not to mention step stools have been invented.  So 5′ 3″ it was.

Black door lion head knockerOoh la la. Now we just need to add one of these!
We could tell our door was brand new which made me chuckle that the previous owners might have had this conversation: “You know what we need to sell this house? New wall-to-wall flesh toned carpet to match the newly flesh tone painted walls and a new plastic front door. With a demilune window!” However, I must say they were of-the-moment to pick oil rubbed bronze door hardware.
Problem is, ORB hardware fades to the background and all but disappears on our nearly black door. Now that old bronze stuff I’ve been convincing clients to update over the years, is not only of THIS VERY moment—perhaps even a tad in the future—but it looks AMAZING against black. Kinda like how a jeweler shows off his silver and gold against a black velvet backdrop. Even though ORB  gets a bit lost on the near black we chose, we’re going to keep it because 1) it matches the finish on the address numerals and the outdoor light fixture hanging on the adjacent wall and 2) we plan to have ORB knobs in the rest of the house and there’s something to be said for consistency.
Black front door with arch
Via Shelterness
If you happen to have a leaded window in your door, painting the door black or dark grey is a great way to make the blackish/grey color of the leading tie in like they were made for each other.
Now I love our door’s leaded glass which I hated before. It adds much needed light into the entry and is an interesting feature of the door. I’m actually glad it’s there.
Have you transformed a door with black/dark grey paint? I’d be happy to hear about it!
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Design trends of 2013: A year in review of the good, the bad, and the had-enough-of-that!

Looking back at 2013, which design directions are worth keeping and which shall we veer away from?

Where does the time go?  Like 2013, the year that up and left in a flash. It may be gone, just like that, but many of the designs it brought us are still on trend. Of course it’s too soon to know, for example, if burlap-everything is here for the long run, or is about to run out of thread. Will the fad of driftwood-grey furniture be all washed up this time next year or is it a new classic? What we need is a crystal ball. Instead, we’ve had a year-long glut of mercury glass.
For now, it’s too early to predict the design styles of 2014. They’re still just buds, yet to bloom. Perhaps they’ll take seeds from 2013 and combine to form a hybridization of haute design. Or maybe grow in the direction of offering us something entirely new. While we wait for the nascent styles to unfurl, let’s revisit those of the past year–the good, bad, and sometimes just plain ugly—to determine what worked and what should be weeded out for the New Year and new design beginnings!
The writing on the wall: As someone who has just painted the largest wall in our living room with (black) chalkboard paint, I have officially joined the masses. Call me a lemming, but also call me the proud new owner of a wall that is not only scene-stealing in its dark-hued, high drama, but the stage it sets for ever-changing messages and doodles runs the gamut from subtly entertaining to uproariously, gut-clenchingly funny. Plus it was about 2,000 times (give or take a zero) less expensive than the grasscloth wallpaper I originally had my heart set on. This win-win is causing my heart to beat in my chest in that cartoony sort of way with big love for chalkboard walls. But, mark my words, the day it feels too trendy, I’ll change it–with the stroke of paint brush.
Chalkboard Bed Wall
Via MyNottingHill.Blogspot
Lessons learned: The first time I saw what is referred to as schoolhouse lighting (you know the bulging, frosted white globes that look like they were salvaged from schoolhouses circa the 1920s but are now reproduced en masse?) my eyes bulged in appreciation. Second time: same thing. Thirty ninth time, I thought, “Thank goodness we were not ready to do our kitchen renovation when these made their first appearance or I might have fallen prey and would now rue my decision to choose a light I know at least thirty nine other people have.” To be fair, the very first one I saw was sourced from an actual classroom and it was very cool. But now the majority on the market are just made to look old and that faux vintage inauthenticity is leaving me longing for the bell to ring on this trend.
Open Shelving
Via House Beautiful
Heads up: While I’m no proponent of taxidermy or animals being hunted for such purposes, I am overjoyed that no animals were killed in the making of the faux antlers and animal heads that have become the trophies of modern décor. However, these stylish stag (and rhino, ram, etc.) heads straddle the line between, “Nothing was hunted or killed, but mimics something that was” which, in turn, makes me straddle the line of, “Are these great or terrible?” After seeing far too many deck the walls of fashion apparel stores this holiday season, the verdict it in: I’m hunting for something else to decorate my walls.
Okay, I actually love this. That bear does have a beard, right?

Okay, I actually love this. That bear does have a beard, right?

Simply delightful: I still have a soft spot for the simplicity of snowy white Shaker-style kitchen cabinets combined with equally wintry white porcelain subway tile. Yes this look has been done, done, done, but the clean lines and pretty pairing of white on white is one of the brightest, cheeriest material combinations around and offers the perfect blank canvas for clients to make the look their own with accent pieces such as floor mats, dish towels and custom window valance.
White Shaker Cabinets
Via Indulgy
A bright idea dims: Yes, Edison style bulbs with their crystal clear glass bulbs and bright-burning, amber-colored tungsten filaments look awesome, but they were a little more awesome at the beginning of the year when we would see them here and there. Now that they are everywhere (the other day, I spotted them at both of our big box hardware stores out in the Goodland), I’m wondering if too much exposure will mean lights-out for this trendy bulb.
Edison bulbs
Via Lydony
Inside out: Open kitchen shelving was a big thing this year. Personally, I could take it or leave it, but usually recommend leaving it because it limits your upper storage space to items worthy of display—where, let’s face it, your treasured glasses, plates and color-categorized mixing bowls become defenseless targets for air-borne grease and dust that can hardly wait to cling to it. And let’s not forget that by relegating the upper storage space to the pretty pieces, all the less attractive, but still functional and vital-to-serious-cooking items, are forced to fit in close quarters in the closed-storage of your base cabinets. If this trend dies out, I will smile smugly and say, “If everything was meant to be on display we’d be in an aisle in Williams- Sonoma, not your home’s kitchen!” For clients who are adamant about having open kitchen shelving, I’ll add, “Let’s give you base cabinetry aplenty. You’re going to need it!”
Open shelving country living
Via Country Living
50 shades of gloom: People were up to their eyeballs in beige and along came the new neutral: grey. From fabric to paint it has been this year’s color darling. But since greys have undertones of green, brown, blue, pink or yellow–or some combination thereof–getting the right shade can be a challenge. If you don’t want your newly painted room to feel like a cloudy day every day, or so cheerfully blue that your living room is the color of a baby boy’s nursery, proceed with caution. But get it right and pair your gray with enough white molding for contrast and it can be stunningly stylish and glamorously moody. I think we can all agree grey is a lot less blah than beige, and that just might make it — as Sherwin-Williams declared earlier this year — the new black.
Gray walls
Paul Massey
Industic: I use this term to refer to “Industrial Chic” decor. This is very far from your aunt’s “Shabby chic.” Distressed wood, yes. But instead of faded denim and floral fabrics, we’re seeing burlap and metal—lots of metal. 2013 brought us zinc-wrapped desks and even beds, aged iron cart wheels on coffee tables, Tolix metal dining chairs and more exposed duct work and galvanized metal in restaurants and tasting rooms than you could shake a wine glass at. This stuff is solid, masculine, and with all those industrial materials, bound to last and last. But as far as the look’s longevity, my advice is that a piece or two is unexpected; anything more becomes fast becomes gimmicky.
Industrial kitchen
Classic color: Black paint is the little black dress of front doors. Everything looks good with it—even old-school brass hardware (now that’s one comeback we can likely count on). Many times I pass a house and think, “If they just painted the front door black, that would be a good place to start.” The good news is that I saw a whole lot of doors painted black in 2013. Now if there was one way to tweak the black painted door for 2014, I’d say add just a dash of white to the black paint for a dark charcoal that will still give the wow factor, but will soften the black and set your door apart.
Black door
Via Decor Pad
What trends are you guys still loving or ready to say, “That was so 2013!”?
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Note: This post was adapted from my column, Design Intervention, in the Santa Barbara News-Press

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