Do you remember when the Refrigerator Gods smiled down upon us and JB spotted a Sub-Zero refrigerator listed on Craigslist for $100?
When we thought this can’t be right, maybe they forgot a zero? But they didn’t. Or, maybe it won’t work? But it did. And then seven hours later (after the hauling, the grunting, the kindness of one friend who lent us her moving truck and another who lent us his muscles) as though an appliance miracle was taking place, the new fridge slid into the old built-in opening in our kitchen with 1/16″ to spare? Well, if you don’t, you can read all the scintillating (Do we like it? Why do we like it?) details here, but this post is not about that fridge.
This post is about the previous owners of that fridge, Ben and Jonathan, who were parting with their Sub-Zero for a very good reason: they were going with all-new appliances for a very, very impressive remodel.
I’m glad you asked.
It’s not like there was anything wrong with the Before. In fact there was a lot that was right with it. And there’s our fridge, cute as ever, as it sat in their yet-to-be-transformed-into-awesomeness kitchen/dining room.
Just to build the drama and so the Before looks a bit more lack-luster, here is the space as it starts to enter the “It has got to look like hell before it gets better” phase.
And then it turned into this.
I know, right?
Oh, how I have La Cornue range envy. And copper pot envy. And everything about that kitchen envy!
A La Cornue sink?! We just hit a whole new level of fancy!
Another shot of their new paneled fridge with all its come-hither, walk-towards-the-light, open-door glory.
The living room Before…
And now? Goodbye beams with track lighting. Hello tongue and groove ceiling, light and airy color palette, a chandelier to make RH blush, new doors, windows and hardware.
This door hardware!
Shall we take a closeup of that chair…with the Hermes throw? Wow. Good use of the Foo Dog as a coffee table accessory, too. I’m now inspired to pull mine out of “storage”. (You know, “storage”, aka “our garage”, the area that inspires JB to chant, “Hoarder!” on the hottest of days when he knocks his knee into a stack of my chairs, trips over a bag of my throw pillows, and almost gets the guillotine by a mirror that’s threatening to shimmy off a shelf? That place.)
The fireplace in progress…
The master bedroom…
With this amazing chinoiserie wallpaper detail…
Master bath After…
But the transformation was not limited to the interior. Here is the exterior Before…
And in case you thought you were having a hard day…
count your blessings that you aren’t outside heaving a million-pound fountain to the wall…
Of course once you attach said fountain, there is the fun part of standing in it?!
Thank you to Ben and Jonathan for sharing pictures of their amazing remodel and, guys, if you ever decide it’s time to upgrade the Miele built-in espresso maker, our Sub-Zero said it wouldn’t mind sharing the spotlight with another show-stealing appliance. You know my number.
I’ve hit what I have termed the Molasses Stage of pregnancy where moving quickly seems impossible–unless some sort of caffeine stimulant were involved–and we all know that is on the Uh-Uh-Uh (insert mental image of wagging finger) List. And it sucks. Former me operated in an accelerated mode. Revved up was my default setting. Now I’m huffing and puffing on the walk JB and I always considered “the short walk”, and the moment I crest the hill (a minor incline to non-pregnant persons, Mt. Everest, to me), I’m declaring, “I did it!” between gasping breaths with not the slightest bit of sarcasm.
Mirrored closet doors in the master and nursery. A controversial design choice, to be sure, to be defended by design logic in upcoming blog post.
Flipping over in bed (the expectant mother is advised to avoid sleeping on her back in favor of lying on her left side; right is second best although that may smoosh her liver, to allow the greatest blood flow to both baby and her legs, these legs that may still awaken her, regardless, cramped with Charlie Horses with ridiculous regularity, each morning just before 6 am) has become a very big deal. Each flip is accompanied by grunts and moans as though it is the greatest of Herculean efforts. And, for me, it is. As I explained to my Ob-Gyn, “It’s like there’s a hard cover dictionary strapped to my stomach.” “Well,” she says, “there kind of is.” “Well,” I add, “this dictionary can kick!”
This window was replaced with the one you see below–for better or worse. I actually loved the minimalism of the original one and freaked out when I saw the heavy mullions of the new one, but the client (JB, in this case) insisted dual pane was a necessity and he preferred the modern look of the replacement.
Nursery before new window and new closet doors go in. Notice the unsightly fence outside the window that JB covers in the next shot.
Big improvement! Not only did JB build a pretty fence to cover the strange looking existing one, but he fastened wires so the newly planted passion fruit vine can be trained to espalier. Now it’s, almost, a room with a view.
The other day, walking from the car to the entrance of Trader Joe’s, I thought the arch in my left foot might give out. Then it righted itself. Such is this new life. I explained to my friend who tells me what it’s like to have a new baby, whom I remind what it was like to be pregnant, there is a constant toggle between sitting, “Ahhh,” to standing, “Ooh, I can’t sit for another second,” to needing to sit again. I’ve read over and over that that those with buns in the oven are not supposed to be on their feet for very long, even when preparing food that must go in an oven that, thus, requires some standing while chopping, dicing, stirring and the lot. I thought that must only apply to other pregnant people because I was feeling fine. But now, I’m not. At 32 weeks, my belly has grown to be low and egg-shaped, a la Humpty Dumpty, and it’s darn heavy to heave around.
Another proud JB moment when he built this custom insert, using fence scraps, for our fire table so it can function as a coffee table when the fire element is not in use. So smart!
New 11′ x 13′ white umbrella goes up making the outdoor seating bearable during this heatwave.
And the heat, the heat that I used to love! It couldn’t have been me who used to recoil at the sight of Halloween decorations in the stores when we were only in September. “Slow down!” I’d say. When Christmas decor began it’s early infiltration I cringed at the thought of the shadowy, shortened days that would soon be upon is. “Stop the clock at summer,” I’d lament. “Summer months are for truly living. They only give us major holidays in fall/winter to focus on so we make it out alive.” And now? I long for the chill, dream of sweaters and blankets and not feeling like I’m melting every moment. Heat has become my Kryptonite and I yearn to shiver. Cold weather, I’m, waiting for you. Hurry, please!
We decided to raise the sight line of our doors by replacing the 6′ 8″ doors with 7′ tall doors. Surprise, when the installer uncovered the existing headers they were all too wimpy to use and had to be replaced with beefier ones which means we have been staring at exposed headers, like this one, for quite a long time. Charming, no?
We had the “clever” but almost budget-breaking idea of moving the furnace into the attic to 1) gain storage and 2) move the intake vent that greeted you at the bottom of the entry wall to the hall ceiling where it is now less conspicuous.
The air intake vent used to live here. Now something pretty like a potted plant can live here. 🙂
We pulled off the door trim and opted for the more modern, no-trim, look achieved through square-edge bullnose and a huge chunk of the budget. (We came to realize it would have been half as expensive to tack on trim. Arghh.)
It’s only a matter of time until the door levers we ordered can be installed and we can stop using washcloths for doorknobs. Or so I remind myself.
Note-to-self: trying not to breathe while at home is next to impossible, if not deadly, so maybe trying to fit a remodel in while pregnant was a loopy idea. Drywall dust coats every surface in our house with its snowy powder. The poor baby probably thinks it’s gestating during war time what with all the racket of construction sounds. Pounding hammers, screeching saws, the slam of wood as it hits the scrap pile, the recurrent yelling at Moki to return the roll of drywall tape, electrical tape, or drill bit he just stole, “This minute!”: it’s all very loud and probably a lot for a fetus to have to bear. It’s a lot for the fetus’s mother to bear!
Our dining room is also the staging area for construction supplies. Very cozy. As witnessed by the paint samples on the wall, the new wall color has been chosen: Benjamin Moore’s Simply White.
Boob lights have come down (and been replaced by 4″ LED recessed lights) and floors and baseboard and entry tile has come up.
The existing toggle switches have been replaced by faux knob and tube switches as a nod to our design concept that straddles old/new. The plates will be brushed nickel to match the door levers.
In an effort to decrease the great amount of dirt that tumbles down and sullies our new concrete stairs (as evidenced in this photo), JB is reusing the wood from our former pergola and turning it into a secondary retaining wall with an extra landing at the top. El Nino, we’re ready for you!
Then there was yesterday when I realized the job site I was standing in that had just finished demo the day before had walls painted with lead paint. Lead paint!? Yes, lead paint in a 1920s house. The client/owner was kind enough to rush me out of the house and continue our meeting elsewhere to spare me from inhaling any more fine lead powder (ack!! panic sets in at the typing of those words). I need to be back on site on Monday, but, will bring a dust mask and might even wear my respirator, fashion be damned, in favor of protecting a fetus!
This Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of my wedding to JB. In commemoration, I’m posting the column I wrote two days prior to our Big Day. Imagine prepping for a DIY wedding that was taking up every spare moment meaning I hadn’t had time to pen my vows and, thus, was agonizing over writing them at 9:30 pm the night before, praying I’d come up with something that elicited at least a few giggles from the guests and, of course, would be meaningful to my future husband when all I really wanted to do was fall into a deep slumber from the utter exhaustion brought on by the two days straight we spent outdoors setting up for the event during the 90 degree heat wave–and my column was due just two days before the wedding; ack, it was a hectic time! Included are photos of some of the DIY decor we tackled for our rustic wedding. I’m happy to say I met my deadline (for the column and the vows, although I was editing them down to the last minute while my hair was being curled and brushed into submission). The column ran the morning of our wedding: 9/13/14. Enjoy! 🙂
Simple sign created from leftover planks of hardwood flooring, painted with lettering and nailed to a piece of plywood.
The day this column appears in print, I’ll be standing at the end of a borrowed carpet runner, poised beneath a makeshift copper arch, and gripping (likely with perspiring palms) my homemade bouquet. And uttering some (hopefully) profound words which will culminate in the momentous proclamation of (gulp!) “I do”. Today is the day I marry the best man I’ve ever known.
Sweet Lilo, my Chiweenie, sporting a tuxedo from Petco.
If you and I had hours to spare, I’d tell you about the panic attacks, the pages and pages of “To Do” lists that caused me to bolt upright in bed wondering, “Did I…?” and the multitude of design decisions that had us thinking, “Eloping would’ve been so much easier!” Because–everyone was right, planning a wedding is a lot like having a second job–one that costs more than it pays! But along the way we discovered some design ideas we really loved, and since they were DIY, they helped keep the budget down. So without further ado (after all, I have a wedding to get to!) here are some of our favorite homespun wedding decor ideas.
Oh the many uses of a framed chalkboard sign.
Love signs: Chalkboard signs are a perfect way to convey table numbers, label an unrecognizable dish such as, say, “Vegan Bratwurst” or explain the contents of a drink dispenser containing “Cucumber water”. When marked with the words “Love” or “thanks!” these signs do double-duty as props held by the bride and groom for photos that can later be printed into custom thank you cards. And, unlike so much wedding decor, chalkboard signs can be wiped clean and used for party decor throughout the year. (Imagine “Boo” or “Pumpkin soup” in October.)
Frame from the 99 Cents Only store.
Remove glass insert and spray with aerosol chalkboard paint.
Let the sprayed glass dry, then cure.
Pop the chalkboard painted glass back into the frames.
If you want to hang the signs on the back of a chair, thread ribbon through the picture hanging loop on the back of the frame.
To make these, begin with photo frames, preferably ones with slightly ornate, even gilded, frames–if they aren’t gilded, you can spray them to be. (The 99 Cents Only store is a great source.) Remove the glass and spray one side of it with aerosol chalkboard paint. Dry for fifteen minutes then spray a second coat. Let dry for at least two hours, then pop the glass back into the frame, painted side facing out. Important: Do not skip the next, crucial stop of curing the surface of your chalkboard by rubbing its face with the side of a piece of chalk and then wiping it off with a clean dry cloth lest whatever you write be forever etched into its surface.
Use a paper cutter or scissors to cut 1/2″ x 12″ slices from a paper grocery sack.
Paper wedding bands: Decorate any linen or paper dinner napkin that has been folded into a rectangle with a personalized band. Use a paper cutter to slice 1/2″ wide x 12″ long strips from the plain, unprinted side of brown paper grocery bags. Wrap the band around the center of the napkin and secure it to itself on the underside of the napkin with a piece of clear tape. Use your best script or individual letter stamps and a stamp pad to create a special message. Example: “Love”, the wedding date, the first names of the bride and groom connected by an ampersand, or a dot of sealing wax in the center stamped with the couple’s monogram. (For upcoming holidays, this same technique can be used to write, “Thankful” or “Peace”.)
Thank you to my sister for making this fantastic wine jelly. The “silverware” was plastic cutlery from the 99 Cents Only Store.
Ceremonial sprigs: For a twist on traditional flowers, use sprigs of rosemary, lavender or sage to decorate wedding cupcakes, a tiered wedding cake, or tuck into the aforementioned napkin bands. Lavender, long associated with love, virtue and devotion, has calming properties which may just come in handy on The Big Day. Sage is linked with wisdom and mortality, but rosemary has the most notable history. Tied to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and also a symbol of fidelity, brides used to weave it into their wreath headdresses, decorate branches to give as wedding favors, or dip into their wine during toasts. Lasses would sleep with sprigs under their pillows to induce dreams portending their husbands to be. Cautious (and superstitious!) brides slipped sprigs into their partner’s pocket to ensure faithfulness. All three of these herbs grow prolifically, so any of these plants can be purchase for the occasion, stripped of some leaves, and then planted in the garden to commemorate the red-letter day–not to mention seasoning many shared meals to come!
This was actually not at our wedding. I randomly saw it a few months ago at a wedding held at a restaurant that I happened to pass by and it was so cute, I could not resist taking a photo and sharing it with you.
Framed!: A large, empty frame from a thrift store or garage sale makes a fun photo prop for wedding pictures. The more ornate, the better. If it’s not already gilded, spray it with gold or silver paint. Guests can take turns holding the frame in front of themselves as they pose. Tip: Attach rows of twine across the back of a large frame, hang it to the wall, and clip plain wooden clothespins to the twine rows. Keep a Polaroid camera on hand (these can be found online) so guests can take selfies and pin them to the twine. The best shots can later be placed into a photo album for the newlyweds.
Yet another use for chalkboard signs. The chairs were from an estate sale.
Take a seat: Look to your local thrift store for old and interesting wood dining chairs for the bride and groom. If the seats need new fabric, see if they can be unscrewed (from below) and popped out. If so, reupholstery can be as simple as using a staple gun to cover the seat with your favorite fabrics. Tip: Painter’s drop cloths are an inexpensive alternative to linen; natural burlap is nice, too. If the wood structure has seen better days, painting it white or gold–or any one of your wedding colors–will quickly refresh it. Just so it doesn’t look too new, you may want to consider strategically sanding the freshly painted wood to give it a gently aged appearance. Tie the chair back with strands of ribbon and signs reading “His ” and “Hers” or “Mr.” and “Mrs.”.
My dress was second-hand, but I loved it. Here are my ladies of honor holding our DIY bouquets. See the tutorial on how to make your own here.
Say “Yes” to a designer dress: Without growing broke, that is. Bridal dresses usually come two ways: expensive and beautiful or cheap and they look it. As of last year, Santa Barbara got another option with the arrival of The White Peacock bridal consignment store. Because these dresses have been worn (usually once) and dry-cleaned, they look brand new. And because most of them are designer names, they’re jaw-droppingly beautiful, which means you can be too, without the price tag to match. Tip: After your wedding, if you’re not inclined to keep your dress for posterity, you can always sell it back to recoup some of that wedding expense!
Stumps and succulents: a perfect, inexpensive, combo!
Stumps and succulents: This project can take some foresight, but if you have time, keep an eye out for any neighbors who are felling trees. If they are kind enough to let you have any of the refuse, stumps make great centerpiece bases for a rustic wedding (add a glass hurricane, candle, and/or flower arrangement on top) and can be used as risers on buffet tables. Instead of renting a wedding cake riser, an extra-large stump adds a touch of nature–and saves you a rental fee! Succulents, in lieu of flowers, not only hold up to the heat of a summer wedding, but need not be tossed. A bouquet or centerpiece of succulents will re-root if planted in your garden and will continue to commemorate your special day.
This sign was inspired by the Lite-Brite kids’ toy from our childhoods. It was as easy to make as drilling holes into a plywood board, painting the board black, and inserting Christmas lights.
It’s all over the internet: Facebook users are less likely to LOL (Laugh Out Loud) than they are to phoneticize their guffaw with a “haha” or a “hehe”. At least that’s what the social media “share and show off site” (aka FB) discovered after analyzing posts written in English during the last week of May.
Okay, maybe for Halloween, or if you’re an orthopedic surgeon, but those are THE ONLY INSTANCES when this chair does not max out the creepy-bad-taste meter.
Good, I say. I was always a “haha” kind of person who found LOL too trendy, too socialized, and too embraced by the same folks who chant “Woo!” to articulate unbridled enthusiasm, think terms like “jelly” are acceptable substitutes for the word “jealous” and respond with ROFL (Rolling On Floor Laughing) to anything other than grievous news.
This chair, on the other hand, sure it may be totally uninviting and poky looking (certainly not ideal characteristics for an everyday chair) but isn’t it still just so darn charming?
But that’s right now, this moment, if you want to be on-trend. It’s head-spinning to keep up isn’t it? So imagine my disposition a few weeks ago when I attended the Las Vegas Design Market, a To-the-Trade-only mecca for the latest in home decor where climbing the escalator through three buildings, 42 floors in all, I had two days to absorb showrooms packed with what’s promised to be the next design craze. The latest and greatest. Stuff that will be coming soon to a living room near you–yours if you should be so lucky! Here they are, the top design trends from the Las Vegas Market 2015, and they’re so worthy on an OMG!
Note the petrified wood side table.
So old, it’s new: Side tables fashioned from a slice of polished petrified wood atop slim metal legs are the side table du jour. A few years back, the ridiculously heavy solid petrified stumps were a home fashion must-have, but, thankfully, for the health of our backs (have you tried to lift one of those things?) styles have shifted to the airier, open-legged look.
What to say? Words escape me.
Seeing clearly: Calling to mind Cinderella’s glass slipper, surprisingly see-thru acrylic chairs in the French style of a rounded back dining chair (transparent shades are available, but devoid of color was the clear winner) will add some cheeky glam to your desk or dining table. Used sparingly, wacky wallpaper (framed old photos of movie stars, rows of vintage books, abstract bunnies) adds the perfect whimsical backdrop.
Points for fascinating.
This wallpaper takes the gallery wall concept to a new level and does all the agonizing work of placement and hanging for you!
Think of all the real books you could store if you just built a bookshelf where this wallpaper would hang.
Who doesn’t want to be reminded of Easter all year long?
Smooth surfaces: If you’re riding the sleek and modern wave, consider a desk or dining table finished in glossy white lacquer with sparkling X-base legs for your home office or dining room. Not only is the look clean, the smooth surface is a breeze to wipe up.
Note the X-base table legs, the bench seating and the metal/leather chair combo.
Idea alert: this could be your next DIY project!
Mix, don’t match: Imagine this: dining chairs on one side of your table and on the other side…a bench! A bench with a dining table brings to mind a merry BBQ al fresco feel, can accommodate more guests than individual chairs will, and offering two different seating options at one table is just, well, fun. So what are the tables looking like these days? Traditional polished wood tables with turned legs are in short supply, but live-edge tops, rough-hewn planks, and concrete topped tables pared with metal or wood Parson’s legs are ubiquitous. Note: plank wood everything from headboards to buffets are so plentiful, I fear they may not sustain the saturation.
Fifties fanaticism: The love affair with Mid Century Modern continues. White or brightly colored formed-plastic chairs with metal tubular legs are being marketed for the living and dining room although I find the look a bit classroom–cafeteria, at best! Tapered wood or metal hairpin legs that appear so spindly they seem likely to crush under the weight of the chairs, console tables, and buffets they’re holding up are apparently supported by a mighty big fan base. Table lamps with bases of walnut or fired ceramic paired with textured linen shades were outnumbered only by the plethora of arcing floor lamps with over-sized barrel shades. Tip: the latter are great for placing next to a sofa for super task lighting, but only if you can make peace with the sensational of something dangling over your head.
Metal tubes and distressed leather? Oh, yes. Does anyone remember the Maxell ads from the 80s where the man is sitting low in his Le Corbusier chair, blown back by the sound of his Maxell speaker system? I feel like that man when I sit in these new low sofas/lounge chairs.
How low can you go?: Lounge chairs and sofas have gone deep and low. How deep? So deep that if you lean back you’re slouching, and if you aren’t terribly tall, you may find your feet are dangling. But how low? Let’s just say if you’re with child or your joints are aching, forget about getting up gracefully. That being said, they are a thing of beauty. Muted tones still reign supreme, with sofa styles toggling between tufted and tailored to the even cleaner line of the tight back and single bench-seat sofa (say goodbye to sitting on a seam). Adding to the ever popular oatmeal-toned linen fabric was this newcomer: distressed brown leather. This sanded-looking leather was often accompanied by what appeared to be metal tubes wrapping around the sides of said sofa or chair. Very Bauhaus. Very a la mode.
At the beginning of August, JB was kind enough to agree to brave the Las Vegas Design Market with me. This is a great plan, I told him. A last hurrah. A babymoon. A chance to find amazing furniture for clients and maybe even something for our nursery.
Oh yeah, that room. I’m often asked, “How is the nursery decor coming along?” It’s not. Or it is if you know we’re still waiting for the new window, closet doors, floors, and paint that will magically (if my prayers are answered) come together in the nick of time. But if you weren’t warned, it would look like a guest bedroom gone wrong. There is one piece of furniture (if you don’t count the ironing board): a totally baby-inappropriate, Queen-sized bed that is currently covered with clothes and sprinkled with a snowy layer of drywall dust since even though the drywall guys used plastic to cover most surfaces, drywall dust found its way EVERYWHERE. (Do you remember this post on surviving a remodel while staying in your home?)
At this point, it’s rather hard to imagine the room ever looking cute, let alone SAFE for an infant to enter.
But back to the Design Market. I attended it last year (you can find that post here) so I knew there would be three buildings, and 42 floors of viewing pleasure to traverse that would, by the third day, make my eyes glaze over with sensory overload and my feet implore me to seek the nearest bench for goodness’ sake before my arches made good on their threat to collapse. And I know Vegas is hot, but it has been hot here in Santa Barbara so I figured my body was somewhat acclimated. I assumed I’d be fine. And that it was a brilliant idea to go.*
*I assumed wrong, but more on that later.
Last year I was posing on interesting chairs.
This year, I stare at that photo and think, “So that’s what my legs looked like before the swollen calves of pregnancy pounds. Harrumph.” There will be no selfie’s posted because I did not ask JB to capture me sitting or standing or walking. It was enough to be that person with the side to side waddle wearing a sleeveless dress tied at the waist where my market badge hung just over my bulging stomach bouncing and bopping with each step, very professional-like. My pony tail had fallen flat in the heat, even my elbows were sweating–so you can imagine the state of everything else! And what, at the hotel, had seemed like a fine denim ensemble felt Midwestern frumpy the moment I entered the first glamorous showroom. I felt like an impostor until I decided not to care and just embrace my pregnant self.
And then we actually started to enjoy ourselves because we saw this…
Check out those monogram side tables (“I” and “P” in this case.)
If there is a showroom to cheer you up and remind you that design doesn’t have to be about fuss and formality, it belongs to Andrew Martin. From the black and white Polaroid print wallpaper to the giant, neon-lit double astronaut image, their displays are like a celebration of playfulness and a high five to irreverent decor.
Which can be a breath of fresh air after you’ve just exited a showroom like this…
The Christopher Guy Collection.
Entering the showroom of Christopher Guy is an experience. The salespeople are well-groomed (no denim frocks, here) and slick, but if you’re quick enough you can slip into their separately staged rooms covertly snapping photos with your iPhone without suffering a stiff finger poke on the shoulder accompanied by a disarming, “No photos allowed,” glare. Somehow, even with a belly bump, I waddled in and out of these rooms with extreme stealth so I could bring to you the glamour, the nod to Art Deco, the strange world that is…
This is a very dramatic headboard but, sadly, only suitable if you also happen to have soaring ceilings. If you have standard 8′ ceilings, you need not apply.
In the market for lacquered furniture? Christopher Guy is your guy.
This wire man sculpture was astoundingly affordable (in the hundreds, not thousands) but JB was the voice of reason convincing me one man in our house is enough.
I thought this wall art was clever…and so easy to replicate as a DIY project!
Four Hands Furniture.
Here is a closeup…
IKEA frames + paper + black Sharpie= DIY wall art, right?
I will be sharing a more comprehensive post on the show in the next few days, but before we wrap up, check out these outdoor lights. The bulb is a battery-operated light that fits into an outdoor-compliant base with an acrylic drum shade. I love quirkiness of having indoor looking table lamps outside, but I didn’t love the price: $500 retail.
I can’t recall where I snapped this photo (below), but it was on the way from one casino to another. (Yeah, I know, very specific.) JB and I are still toying with the idea of doing something similar, but in black and white, on our one bare living room wall, yet we haven’t found an image that either of us likes enough to see as a permanent feature and blown up to life-size scale. However, this one gives the feeling I’m aiming for where it is just so charming I don’t even care that I don’t know who these people are. Maybe we need to stop searching for images online and start looking through old boxes of family photos. Or maybe we’ll decide this is a terrible idea and cover the wall (it is currently a chalkboard wall) in grasscloth wallpaper.
The Magritte-esque horse sculpture and fun faux flower “clouds” at the Aria Casino…
So why was going on this trip a crazy idea? Certainly it was worthwhile as a business trip, but it somehow slipped my mind that to enter or exit our hotel one must cross the floor of a casino with air thick with fetus-threatening exhaled smoke that made me panic every single time (stress = not so great for the fetus, either) until I decided the best I could do, since holding my breath seemed like a problematic, if not unrealistic, option, was to hold a wad of paper towels to my nose and use it as an filter. JB would walk ahead, in a, “Not associated with the crazy chick behind me,” manner and and I would walk as quickly as I could shuffle, trying to own my paper-towel-clutched-to-nose pollution filter like I was wearing a chic Asian surgical mask.
And that was just the walk through the casinos. The halls to the rooms were kept so chilly I got goosebumps and just when my body had adjusted to the Arctic chill, bam, I’d be hit with the wall of heat outside. Heat like I had forgotten existed. Heat that was so much worse than our Santa Barbara heatwave. Heat that made me seek benches in the shade so I could sip my water bottle, sometimes pour it on my head, douse my paper napkin air filter with water and wipe my neck while questioning my sanity for bringing us to this place.
Our “living room/office” at the Venetian.
Why? Because Vegas is a crazy-loud place filled with talking billboards and loud music and throngs of people who are competing to be even louder.
Our room became a sort of respite from the chaos. Even if it was freezing before I figured out how to turn the air conditioning down.
This vanity was a nice touch so that one person could use the separate toilet room while another person could agonize over how to get her pony tail to lie flat on top.
The cute wallpaper inside said powder room.
More fun wallpaper in the marble-themed bathroom. Can you imagine if you slipped? Ouch!
And just when things were seeming fancy, we were brought back down by the view outside our window (because I didn’t spring for the additional $45 per night for a view of The Strip).
Kinda takes your breath away (in a…gasping for fresh air…and green trees kind of way)!
I don’t think I have ever been so happy to come home from a “vacation”. Avoiding the smoke, volume and heat was kind of like being stuck in a video game dodging bad guys. For the finale? In the airport, on the way home, I opted for the pat down and the TSA agent commented, “Last flight for you for a while, huh?” Yep, small talk, small talk, (pat, pat). She asked me when I was due (this is not so bad, kind of like a full-body massage). I told her (patting ceases). She says, “Huh, you really shouldn’t be flying,” and divulges that her sister went into early labor while flying, due to the change in altitude, and the plane had to make an emergency landing. “Oh, really, how far along was she?” (weak smile). “The same as you,” (knowing look). “Uhhh…” (gasp, look of horror, more gasping).
I tottered over to JB who was waiting at the end of the conveyor belt with my carry-on luggage and repeated the story. And burst into tears. I questioned our pre-parental prudence, “Should we be driving instead?! I cannot go into labor on the plane or the baby might not survive!” He calmed me down. We both cursed the TSA agent. And flew home. Without incident.
To the safety of our drywall-dust-covered-house. 🙂
Hearts sank and minds buzzed at the news: After ten years and three kids, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck were throwing in the marital towel.
They lived in an 8,800 s/f estate, nay compound, where I’d assume the furniture transcended stylish, the sheets had thread counts in the high hundreds, and everything was perfectly in its place. Surely dust did not reside in that house. But, apparently, neither did enough happiness to keep the house a home.
It reminded me of a quote I have taped to my computer, “You can only do what you can do.” When I catch myself striving for perfection, or thinking someone’s grass is truly greener than my drought-devoured lawn, it becomes my mantra. Which brings us to houses. Yours, mine, even that really bad one down the street. What do we all have in common? We’re doing what we can do. Perfection is not the goal, or perhaps even a possibility, but doing our best is. In that spirit, here are some interior design mistakes and their very easy corrections.
The magic carpet effect: A living room rug should not only define the space, but unite the furnishings; however, all too often, I see homes with rugs that appear to float like magic carpets because they are just too tiny. I’ve pondered the explanation–smaller rugs cost less and/or tend to be readily available whereas larger ones can require a special order–but whatever the reason, there’s an epidemic of dinky rugs.
Source: unknown. Okay, this one is like a trick question. Clearly the neutral rug is large enough (and could even be made slightly narrower) yet upon first viewing, the bright fuchsia rug reads as THE rug and it is clearly on the wee side.
Source:Besidesign. No brainer, right? This rug is postage stamp small and not grounding anything. The whole tennis-shoes-under-the-coffee-table, packing tape and bills scattered about, and crooked picture over the sofa makes me feel like we’re seeing this room at an unfair advantage, like it’s still in its bathrobe and we just barged in.
Source: Architectural Digest, Brooke Shields’ living room. Notice how the front legs of both the sofa and two chairs rest on the natural fiber rug. If it bothers your eye that the back legs don’t, you could increase the size of the rug but risk engulfing the room. Generally you want to see at least 18″ to 24″ of exposed floor around the perimeter of the room. In this case, even more works.
When sizing a rug for your living room: a good rule to follow is that the rug should begin under the front legs of your sofa. It should extend under your coffee table and continue until it fits beneath at least the front legs, if not all four, of any chairs placed opposite your sofa. Finally, the rug should measure, at the minimum, one foot beyond both sides of your sofa. While I highly encourage you to get out your tape measure and plot this out, generally speaking, an 8′ x 10′ rug works for most living rooms; a 9′ x 12′ is best for larger living rooms with massive furniture. If you have a rug you know is too small, but you can’t bear parting with it, consider layering it atop a larger rug that has a minimal pattern such as a natural fiber rug.
Source:Architectural Digest. Design by Daniel Romualdez. Drag your eyes away from that instantly entertaining graphic art (yuy, yuk) and notice the fine execution of rug sizing.
Sitting pretty: Dining room rugs should be large enough to accommodate a guest sitting in a chair without feeling like that chair will teeter off the rug. To determine the correct rug size, measure the length and width of your table and add 36″ to 48″ to both the length and the width. For a round table, add 36″ to 48″ to the diameter and decide whether a round or square rug suits you style. Select the closest standard rug size or visit your local flooring store where they can fabricate a custom rug from the myriad choices of pattern, colors and materials.
Source:Designmobler. Witness: the well-measured dining room rug.
Source:Nwlug. Just when we were getting rather rule-centric, enter the exception to all that rigidity: animal hides. Go as big as you can, then call it good enough.
Help me, I’m a feature wall: Feature walls became A Thing around the same era when design shows began featuring fixing up your neighbor’s house while they were unsuspectingly on vacation and painting not only their heirloom armoire but also one of their walls a shocking shade of orange, a throw-out-the-rules bear hug towards embracing color, the bolder the better! Except they weren’t better, they visually shrunk spaces and made everyone who had to sit near that orange wall appear to have a sudden case of jaundice. In the interest of allowing your space to return to light and airy, I’d suggest painting any feature walls back to the same neutral color as their surrounding walls.
Source: Featurewalls.com If everyone suddenly has a strange pallor, it might be the tangerine colored wall.
How do you determine the right neutral for the rest of the walls? Settle on your top three paint colors, paint them on sample boards (available at paint stores) and attach them to the walls in question with painter’s tape to observe how they are affected by the light of morning, noon, and incandescent light, at night. This may seem like a lot of effort, but so is repainting your walls so you want to get it right the first time. If you must have a feature wall, how about a subtle one? To achieve this, locate the color of your surrounding walls on a paint sample strip and select a feature wall color that is in the same row, but one or two shades below. This new color will still give you some drama, without diverging from the color family.
Source: Design by Kraszweska The drama of the back walls is heightened by the deeper saturation of grey, but everything still feels calm and light. That is, until you take a closer look at the giant painting behind the sofa and ask yourself, “Who lives here and what are their hobbies?”
Set it aside: If your bed, nightstands and dresser all match, I’m calling a design intervention. Sure it was one-stop shopping, but it’s also dead-end design. Yes, the styles should relate to one another, but having them all be exactly the same is lazy decorating. If you can replace at least one of these pieces (note: mismatched nightstands can be whimsical!) to break up the set, please do it. Other options include repainting or staining, say the nightstands or dresser, in a new, fresh shade that plays off the color(s) in your existing bedding, rug, or window coverings. Or simply give your dresser or nightstands a new, individual identity with new hardware!
Source:Wholesale Furniture Brokers. If you wanted to, you could click on the link and this set could be yours for $2,249.96, but don’t do it, I beg of you!
Source: Decorpad. See how the nightstands and lamps don’t match but they are similar in finish being white tables and mercury glass lamps so the whole design still appears cohesive without feeling stilted. Now this designer obviously still had a hankering for a little more matching and, hence, the bench was upholstered in the same fabric as the headboard. Personally, I could see a clear acrylic bench with a light and fluffy Mongolian seat so the whole effect stays light and airy, not clashy, yet without a repeat of pattern.
Source:Ebay where this bench is a mere $3,695. At this top ticket price, don’t you think staging it somewhere other than in front of their vegetable garden would’ve been more appropriate? Then again, they are offering free shipping so one mustn’t be too picky.
Happy Monday and happy decorating! 🙂
This post has been adapted from my column, Design Intervention, which runs every other Saturday in the Santa Barbara News-Press.
I wish I had a picture of this house the first time I saw it. JB would be in the background, as well as our real estate agent, because we almost bought this house.
The kitchen Before
We bid well over the asking price, but, still, our offer was rejected.
The kitchen After with Option A as a kitchen mat.
Which, by this point, we were growing accustomed to.
We were stuck in a cycle of elation; despair; repeat. It took nine offers on nine houses until we finally bought the house we’re in now.
Another After with Option B as a kitchen mat. Option A won.
Closeup of the pretty, handmade grey tile with its translucent finish that read like the water’s surface on a winter’s day, but, unfortunately, in this picture, looks like fifty shades of purple.
But, before that…
there was a lot of hoping and dreaming.
And sighing and wondering when it would be our turn.
Each time was like meeting a really great potential mate…
someone who made your heart flutter, who you could feel, in the pit of your stomach, was going to be your forever person…
Ah, the many uses of painter’s tape.
who wouldn’t even agree to go on a first date.
We only made offers on houses we were SERIOUS about. Houses that felt like they held a future for us. Before we could be sure, I’d run through my design plan for each room and JB would patiently listen to what I thought would go where and how we’d transform the space and which drawer would be best to hold the silverware.
And then we’d get the call. Someone else got it. But don’t worry; you’ll get the next one.
But each time we did worry. And feel sad and I’d try to erase from my mind all my plans of finishes and furnishings and forget about how cute I knew the kitchen could be. Or how I’d make the bathroom better.
Because it was going to someone else. Their house. Their life. Their design ideas.
Which always kind of made me want to drop my business card off with a note that read, “Call me; I’ve already picked out the color scheme–and I know which drawer you should use for the silverware!”
Aren’t those lights amazing? You can find them here.
But I never had the guts. So imagine my surprise when a client of mine called to say we wouldn’t be meeting at her house that day…
We’d be meeting at the new house her mom just bought.
The one that needed a mega remodel…
and my design help!
The heated towel bar which may be in “off” mode during this heatwave, but will be a comforting touch this winter.
Mermaid art courtesy of my mom (Lyn Gianni) hanging in the water closet above the ooh-and-ahh Toto Washlet toilet.
Those doors may have a modern feel but were original to the 1950s house and salvaged during demo.
I was beyond thrilled!
If only I could go back in time, I’d replace the toilet paper roll with one that is less smooshed
So even though I wasn’t designing the house for us anymore…
I lucked out and had a client who shared my vision.
So here is the rest of it…
in all of its
The house that was never ours…
but I got to redesign, anyway. 🙂
PS, After losing one more offer on one more house, we finally found our home which I’m happy to say, ended up being the one we loved the most. During the moments of rejection and frustration it was hard to keep the faith, but sometimes just when you think you will never win, the thing that was best for you after all, comes your way.
The other day I flipped through a fashion magazine and saw a spread announcing the resurrection of flared jeans. This is big news. This is wardrobe-changing, budget-gobbling, “I invested how much in skinny jeans and now they’re a fashion flub?” news. Just when we females (and some menfolk) finally embraced the sensation of denim grasping our ankles like cling wrap, we must welcome flared bottoms flapping and whacking our calves with each gladiator-sandled step?
Yep. It’s all part of Boho Chic (Bohemian Chic), the sartorial shift to get your gypsy on, to pull your scarves and shawls out of the “To Donate” box that never made its way out of the attic, and ask your inner Stevie Nicks if she’s ready to roll. And, folks, this fashion movement has found its way into the world of home decor!
This doesn’t happen very often–in fact, it’s hard to imagine another clothing trend crossing the threshold of the home; but Boho Chic has done it. Ah, but get ready to breathe a sigh of relief. There is no need to overhaul your existing decor; this look is so style specific that just a few elements can transform your space. So let’s get layering!
Image source: unknown
Lay it down: If there’s an essential element of Boho Chic, it’s the use of rugs. They can be brightly hued flat-weave kilims, vivid suzanis with with their radiating circles and scrolls galore, or cream-colored Moroccan wedding blanket rugs with rows of fluffy fringe embellished with silver sequin bling. Or all three–slightly overlapping. No kidding.
For a conservative approach to Boho Chic, I’d suggest using a brightly colored rug here or there, as these color-rich rugs can otherwise be overpowering. Or place a large natural fiber rug in, say, the living room and add a smaller, more colorful rug on top for a subtle layered effect. The vanilla tones of a Moroccan wedding blanket rug or a fluffy wool flokati certainly offer a softer look–not to mention a place to sink your toes!
Elle Decor; Ellen Pompeo’s bedroom; image via Portwings
Looking up: Rugs need not be limited to the floor. Suspended on the wall, at the head of the bed, they are the latest DIY headboard.
Pile it on: Perhaps in contrast to all the neutral decor as of late, pillows must be drenched in color and more is, well, more. Mismatched? Oh yes, but focus your selection on bright blue and white batiks, ikat, Moroccan and suzani patterns, fringe-centric Moroccan Wedding Blanket pillows and anything that says “world traveler”. Note: bright colored pillows tend to look best against neutral colored sofas or bedding. Finishing touch? Toss a blanket edged in fringe or pom poms across your sofa, chair or bed.
They’re alive!: Those mood lifting, air-cleaning, room brightening elements called plants are thankfully being re-embraced as essential elements of Boho decor. Top picks: Fiddle Leaf Figs, Snake Plants, Boston Ferns and Majesty Palms. You’ll want to place yours in over-sized natural fiber baskets and, I kid you not, macrame planters are back.
On the wall: Walls are mostly painted white or the extreme opposite: plastered with large scale, busy-as possible wallpaper. Adorn said white walls with gallery groupings of portrait paintings (thrift stores are a great source) and, if there was ever a time for incorporating bad seascapes, your gallery wall is taking submissions.
Diversification: Small-sized lambskin rugs can be draped on chairs to give them some Boho flair. And if these chairs are at a dining table, don’t worry if they don’t all match. In fact, this is a mix and match, vintage-embracing, causal style where pairing a Mid-Century Modern credenza in the same room with Balinese footstools, patterned poufs and a brass tray-topped coffee table with folding wood legs can read as charmingly cohesive. Really.
Be seated: Did you ever think you’d see hanging wicker pod chairs suspended from a ceiling again? Or wicker for that matter? Just when you thought something was “out” enough to get rid of, it’s back. But a Boho home just wouldn’t be chic without the random odds and ends like a wooden dough bowl filled with strands of chunky glass beads set out on a coffee table and don’t forget to add the shawl-cum-table runner to your dining room table–you’ll find one in the attic in the box marked “To Donate”!
And that wasn’t doing anything for our outdoor seating. Enter: the inexpensive bandana ($1 each at Walmart or the Dollar Tree).
And some down and dirty sewing! No cutting necessary as these bandanas come 22″ x 22″. I used 22″ x 22″ pillow inserts (the finished cases were 21 1/2″ x 21 1/2″) which made for a nice, snug fit.
You know the sewing drill, right? Simply place the fabric front to front; sew all sides together except one and turn inside out to reveal your, almost, finished pillow.
Now about that final side. In an alternate universe where I am a more adept sewer or someone was, kindly, doing the sewing for me, that last side would get a zipper because when you can remove your pillowcases you can A) launder them and B) frequently change your cases allowing you to alter the look of your decor as often as you see fit.
However, since I was my own labor force, I opted for the easy route of sewing a long, single strand of Velcro, in lieu of a zipper, (sewing the “girl” part of the Velcro to one upper lip of the opening and the “boy” part to the other), and calling them sufficiently finished.
JB built that side table using wood salvaged from our former pergola: 4 x 4s for the legs, 2 x 6s for the edges and 2 x 4s for the top. I love it now, but once the legs develop a patina to match the top, I think it will look even better.
At $2 per pillow for the bandanas (one for the front, one for the back, and you may want to consider using a different color for each so one pillow provides two different color options), this might be the least expensive pillow you ever make. Imagine using them on a twin bed to add more color to a kid’s room or on an all-white bed in a guest bedroom in a rustic-style home. Note: If you use them outside for entertaining, I’d suggest pulling them in as soon as the last guest leaves or the somewhat thin fabric will likely fade before someone can say,
As a married couple trying to squeeze in a bit of grownup time (as in going out to dinner) before the baby arrives in November, last weekend we decided to have dinner at the Outpost restaurant at The Goodland Hotel in Goleta.
It’s a Kimpton hotel and Kimpton is known for creating hotels that feel young, trendy and hipster-worthy. Not that I’m feeling any of these things at the moment, but I wanted to see how a formerly dated (but aren’t they all?) Holiday Inn could be transformed into something a designer friend described as, “Very cool and very Bohemian Chic!”
So I was game…
and not the least bit disappointed!
Here’s the head-on view as you enter…
They had me at serpentine sofa. And Moroccan wedding blanket pillow, poufs, and a kilim rug with fringe that looks like it has a case of cowlick.
If you look over to the left, there was this unconventional hotel decor…
That is not wallpaper, those are 1″ x 2″ boards protruding from the wall and adding detail–and, methinks, a lot of hard to reach spots that housekeeping might not be too enthused about having to dust.
But these chairs…
I would never have chosen a fabric that light for a commercial setting, but, right this minute…they look amazing. I made asked JB to study how they were made…just in case he needs to build something similar at our house.
To the right, it was like visiting your cool friend’s living room.
The reception desk had an inventive rope pattern in the front and check out that chevron plank feature wall. But don’t forget about the offbeat, randomly colored, hexagonal tile floor. I sure won’t.
The restaurant had these seats. (Each one appeared to be slightly different.)
Therefore, of course, each back featured a different quote. Quotes on backs of chairs? Now that’s just clever, right?
Perhaps a depressing quote, but intriguing, nonetheless.
The windows were dressed in macrame and wooden beads…
And if you went to the restroom…
(the ladies’ room, in this case)
you would pass this hall on the way…
Again, no seen-it-before commercial carpet or carpet tile, here. Instead, real tile (more of that wacky pattern), and a blow-your-mind-big kilim rug.
Closeup of the beach-themed art…
Inside one of the rooms–courtesy of the website since we were only there for dinner…
As far as the food in the Outpost restaurant, it was decent. JB and I both liked the Bao Buns–like an open-faced Manapua and if you happen to be from Hawaii, this reference will make sense–the best; however, at $4 a tiny bun, if you plan to fill up on them, you’ll soon eclipse the price of an entree. The tacos (we tried both the battered fish and chicken) were just “meh”, but the fried brussel sprouts and artichoke hearts were darn good and the steamed chocolate cake satiated even my picky palate (which becomes even more, “You better do right by me!” when it comes to dessert).
Besides the fun decor, another neat thing we stumbled upon was the Summer Movie Screening. A large, inflatable movie screen was set up on a green lawn (in our drought-ridden area, this was very exciting, like spotting a leprechaun) and streaming Endless Summer. The grass was strewn with puffy meringue-like poufs for–I’m assuming–guests-only to sink into while they watched the surf flick. We only witnessed two women who were taking advantage of this opportunity, but just the fact that it’s offered is another way The Goodland seems to be setting themselves apart from the stuffy hotel vibe and angling for inclusive over exclusive.
Image via their website.
Excuse me, now I have to go and ask JB when he’s planning to make us some of those chairs we spotted in the entry.