Easter eggs to dye for and how to preserve them: A tutorial!

For whatever reason, I had it in my head that Easter was at the END of April. But my calendar says otherwise. It says it lands on April 5th this year which means if any of us plans to dye eggs for Easter, it’s time to get cracking!  (Minus the cracking part–yuk, yuk).




I was lucky enough to know someone kind enough to bestow goose eggs upon me. As you can see from the photo below, goose eggs are about three times the size of large chicken eggs (the brown one in the center). The eggs I dyed were goose eggs, but, of course, any size white egg will do.





Goose egg size compared to regular brown egg




Since I figured it might be a while before any more goose eggs came my way and I had high hopes that these would turn out to be eggceptional, I decided to preserve the eggs by blowing them.



Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do that.




Using the tip of a sharp knife, tap one end of the egg to create a hole. Once you have made a tiny hole, use the tip to gently widen it until it’s large enough to fit a wooden skewer inside. Repeat on the opposite end of the egg.





Use knife poke hole in egg






Now insert the skewer and use it to break up the contents of the egg.  There is no photo to accompany the next step because I didn’t think I wanted a photo of myself, cheeks filled with air, lips pressed to the egg, posted to the internet.






Skewer to make hole in egg to blow egg





So you’ll just have to carefully follow my words. First rinse the exterior of the egg with very hot soapy water (and/or wipe the area where you will be planting your mouth with rubbing alcohol). While holding the egg over a container, press your lips to one end of the egg and blow. You will soon see yolk and albumen come out the other side. Grab what you can with your fingertips to help remove it. Tip: There were moments when it felt like my eardrums were on the verge of blowing out. To avoid this, I found it helpful to “plunge” the egg with the skewer and vigorously shake it in between rounds of using lung power.





Blow yolk out of eggsThe egg contents can be refrigerated and saved for scrambled eggs, quiche, fish batter.




When your egg appears empty, rinse the inside by holding it under the faucet and letting hot water run through it. Shake the egg to see if any yellow matter flies out of either hole. If so, rinse again. Rinse until the only thing coming out of those holes is water. Set aside to dry.



And now…on to dyeing the eggs!




Using natural egg dye is, well, natural, and sometimes free.





Dyeing Easter eggs with onion skins




To dye white eggs a yellowish brown, use onion skins boiled in water. I used the skin of two onions (if you don’t plan on buying two onions, you may be able to “harvest” the fallen skins from your store’s onion bin; hence the nod to “free”).




For a yellowish-brown Easter egg dye:

Add 3 cups of water to the skins of two onions. Boil for 20 minutes. Let cool. Strain liquid into a glass or metal bowl. Add 2 T white vinegar.




For a purplish-blue hue:

Add 1 cup of sliced purple cabbage to 4 cups of water. Boil for 25 minutes. Let cool. Strain liquid into a glass or metal bowl. Add 2 T white vinegar.






Cabbage dye Easter eggs blue




Dye the eggs by placing them into either dye. Rotate them frequently to prevent one side from absorbing more dye than the other. When they have reached your desired hue, use a slotted spoon to scoop them from the liquid. Set the eggs on a baker’s rack (with paper towels placed underneath to absorb drips and protect your countertops from becoming yellow-ish brown or purpish-blue) to dry.



And then you will have these beauties!




Natural Easter egg dye cabbage and onion skinsPurple cabbage dyed egg and onion skin dyed egg. Tip: to intensify the color, and add sheen, pour a teaspoon of olive or vegetable oil onto a paper towel and rub the oil into the dyed shell.





For our next trick, we are going to make leaf impressions. All parts of the egg will be dyed EGGCEPT where the leaf was placed.





Fern, sage, Italian parsley leaves (as shown below), and clover, all make good designs. If you want to really venture off course, so does string, or rubber bands, wrapped around the egg in a random way. But for this tutorial, leaves it is.






Parsley leaf design Easter eggItalian parsley leaf.





Use old pantyhose to keep your leaves in place during the dyeing process. Cut segments from a leg section and carefully pull the hose onto the egg while keeping your leaf in place. Or pull a leg section on the egg and slide your leaf inside. Both ways work well. Twist each nylon end and secure with twine.






Easter eggs leaf design




Strain your onion Easter egg dye and submerge the eggs into the liquid, making sure to rotate them, frequently.




When the color is right, remove the eggs from the dye. Allow them to dry COMPLETELY before removing the stocking casings.






Panty hose Easter eggs drying





Now decorate, at will!






Fern, sage, parsely leaf design dyed Easter egg Fern, sage, Italian parsley.







Fern design onion skin Easter egg on plateEgg place markers: You can write your guest’s name with gold or silver Sharpie at the base of the egg.






Yes, that’s a gilded egg on that plate, below. Also easy to make. It’s as simple as applying sizing (gilding adhesive) to the parts of your dyed egg that you want to turn gold (or silver, if you use silver leaf). Once the sizing becomes tacky to the touch, use tweezers, or your fingers, to place the sheets of gold leaf on the sticky areas. Use a dry brush, or your finger, to smooth the leaf and rub away any extra. Easy as that!






Gilded Easter egg and leaf design Easter eggOnion-dyed leaf imprint Easter eggs displayed in bowl atop a moss “nest”.






How about you? Do you have any fun Easter egg dyeing tips in your basket?


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



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





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





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






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






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




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





Pantone Color of Year 2015 Marsala nail polishSource: Pantone.




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






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






How to use it: You got me.






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








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









 Guildord Green Benjamin Moore Color of Year 2105Ahh.










Guildord Green Benjamin Moore bedroomApplause! Source: Benjamin Moore.









Guildord Green Benjamin Moore wall detailSource: Benjamin Moore.







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






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




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




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



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Creating a quote-themed painting: A tutorial!

Well, hello there!



It’s the happiest time of the year–at least for my solar-powered soul!–Daylight Savings Time has begun! This is when time, formerly contracted and shriveled in winter, warms and stretches and anything seems possible. Darkness and frigid temperatures retreat to their seasonal cave, and we turn our heads toward the light that lingers, and lingers until dogs are walked at 7pm, dinners are served well after 9, and I find myself burning the midnight oil long past midnight.




As the days heat up, the skies clear and the gardens begin to bloom, there is a sense of having so much time on our hands–time enough to create one of these quote-themed paintings!




It all started with this magazine ad.




I loved the paintings, but knew they would be the opposite of inexpensive.





Mag ad word paintings Source: Maison K, Santa Barbara Magazine





So I decided to make my own and you can, too.






Here’s how:






The first step is to add texture to your canvas. The trick? Modeling Paste.






Modeling paste






The tool? An old credit card or gift card–or library card if you’ve gone all reading tablet. Apply the paste liberally and use your retired card (or a firm piece of cardboard) as a trowel. Caution: If you apply the paste too thickly it will take approximately FOREVER to dry. With that in mind, trowel away.







Modeling paste on canvas





Add a warm background using burnt umber (rusty brown) colored acrylic paint. Mix it with water and you’ll have a nice sepia-toned wash.






Sepia tone wash




In the photo below, you can see how the texture created by the (completely dry) modeling paste comes to life once you add color. (The same canvas was used in the shot above but since it is still white, the texture reads as non-existent.)





Now add your charcoal wash made of dark grey acrylic paint thinned with water.






Charcoal wash




Ay there’s the rub: Use a clean, dry cloth to rub away the excess wash, but not too much or you risk wiping some of your pretty texture into oblivion–trust me! (Eh hem.)






Rub canvas





Once your canvas is the tone you’d like it and thoroughly dry, use a charcoal pencil to write your inspirational quote. Fresh from seeing The Theory of Everything, I was repeating this Stephen Hawking quote in my head enough that I thought I should honor it with a painting. When you have finished your lettering, seal the surface of the canvas with clear acrylic spray to prevent unwanted smudging. (Some smudging is a good thing.)






Stephen Hawking quote There is Always Something You Can Do Patinting





If this quote isn’t for you, Pinterest is a good source of inspiration.





(Preaching to the choir.)




I used trellis wood from Home Depot to make a custom, DIY frame.





Trellis molding





I stained the wood using Minwax Wood Finish in Dark Walnut.








Stained trellis molding




Once the stain has dried, measure and cut.





Cut trellis molding






Attach one strip at a time.  Position your first piece so it just barely juts forward beyond the face of the canvas for an ever-so-slight shadow box effect. Use your hands (clamps are even better!) to hold the wood in place; secure it with brads. I spaced my brads about 6″ apart.






Trellis molding frame




Because I also love this quote, I made two paintings.




Exhibit A:





Barns burnt down paintingThis quote can usually work wonders to shake any gloom right off of me.






Exhibit B:






Paintings with wordsI was trying to channel the charm of that lovely ad we saw above. I was missing a lanky, swanky barefoot model in a leopard print dress so, instead, I offer you: a leopard print throw on an old chair.





And for some “truth in advertising”, here is how the painting looks hung in our hallway in its current no flooring, no baseboard, door-to-be-replaced, walls-to-be-painted state.







Word painting in hallImagine it in a nice hallway (living room, entry, etc.) and it’s awesome, right?






What about you? What would/will your word painting say?


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Make way for modern: Interior Design Predictions for 2015



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





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






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



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




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







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





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






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






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






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







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







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





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





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







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






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






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







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





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




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





Indigo blue sofa modern art Emily HendersonSource: Emily Henderson






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





 Pottery Barn Modern Art PaintingSource: Pottery Barn





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





Modern bathroom floating vanity modern faucetSource: Creative Interiors Solutions





And to you I say, happy decorating!





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


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Purchasing a new mattress? What you need to know!


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





Grey bedroom Elle Decor ItaliaImage source: Elle Decor Italia





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





Pottery Barn BedroomImage source: Pottery Barn




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





 Grey bedroomImage source: Architectural Digest





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






All white bedding 2Image source: HouseBeautiful





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





All white bedImage source: Harper’s Bazaar





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




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





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




Abstract paintingsImage source: unknown




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





 Hastens BedImage source: Hastens





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



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




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

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New year, new RH!

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



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



Seriously, this place was chandelier-centric.



Exhibit A:




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





RH Chandelier cluster Melrose





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






Propeller coffee table RH





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






Floating donut chandeliers





There were chandeliers in the bedrooms…






RH Bedroom Scene Melrose





down the numerous halls…






RH Melrose Chandeliers





down even more halls….






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





And yet, there were still more chandeliers to witness.






More chandeliers RH Melrose





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





RH Twisty table





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






Mirror gallery wall RH





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





RH patio Melrose50 shades of indigo.





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






RH long table MelroseAnd me, squinting into the sun.





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





Formations Los Angeles





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





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






Formations 2





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






Concrete floor metal strips





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






Concrete cushions Formations




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

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Going mmm…modern: Our new fence reveal!


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




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




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




I drove the streets of Santa Barbara searching for inspiration.




Sometimes I struck out….





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




There were Google searches…oh, the searches.





And I found many styles that were quite nice.






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







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






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






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







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





But none gave the modern look we were going for.




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




And it shouted modern. Thus, a modern fence.





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






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




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




Horizontal metal and wood fence





But still none was quite right.






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





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









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





Chainlink fence before



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





So we removed the chain link and left the posts.





Leaving chain link posts



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




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



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



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





Inside of fence





But now it is so much prettier from the front!





Our new modern fence!






Modern horizontal fenceTa da!





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






Ashley Norton gate latchAshley Norton gate latch found here.




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





Fence stylesSource



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

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Greetings from the construction zone!

Well, hello there. It has been a while. Too long, really. This is what happens when you get your wish and your design business grows: sometimes blogs take the back burner. But wait, there’s more.




We did this to our house.





Construction debris




Well not the whole house. But, we did get cracking on the remodel which means this:



1. Our house isn’t pretty anymore. (We’re in the “It has to get worse before it gets better” stage.) In preparation for new floors, all the cute stuff has been banished to the garage, leaving only the essentials (you know:  sofa, coffee table, leopard throw blanket).


2. The slate flooring in the entry has landed in the trash bin (look closely and you can see the outlines of what once was) and our guests are now welcomed to this hot mess. (In reality, not hot at all. In fact, very chilly on the toes which is certainly not a plus during winter.  We decided while the world has its love affair with 12″ x 24″ rectangular tiles–12″ x 12″, so yesteryear; rectangles are the new tile darling–we want to push the porcelain envelope even further and use 24″ x 24″ tiles.



Why, you may ask.  Because 24″ x 24″ seemed to add the right amount of oomph for the eyeballs, whereas the rectangles looked a) too busy and b) too wimpy next to the brawn of the 24″ squares.  However, weeks later I am still making regular trips to the tile store to retrieve samples of dark charcoal tiles that come in this size–who knew 24″ squares would be so hard to find while the world is fixated on rectangles? The poor tile salesman has been working on this for weeks and yet still has only found three tiles that come this large in a dark charcoal color. The one we like best will take three months to produce so we are debating whether it’s worth it to wait so long (the degree of darkness is just one shade deeper and it is the difference of waiting days versus three months) for the tile we prefer. But what is three months of suffering a hypothermic, foot-scuffing entry when the tile we want could offer a lifetime of style?



Entry tile demo




3. The stenciled chevron patio rug tutorial I was going to blog about is about to be unearthed which is a shame because I was going to show you how to determine the correct rug size for your dining table by adding 24″ to each side (or 48″ to the diameter of a round table). And how to tape off the area with painter’s tape and paint the background color of the rug with patio paint like so.





Painting chevron patio rug




Then once the field color dried (two coats may be necessary, depending on the color and condition of the underlying surface), how to plot your chevron pattern with painter’s tape, like this.





Taping stenciled chevron rug





How to use more patio paint in a contrasting color (dark charcoal, in this case) to paint the chevron stripes.





Stencil patio rug





And to paint “fringe” at both ends. (“Fringe” painting courtesy of mom. Thanks, Mom!)






Fringe on painted rug





So you’d end up with a cute, inexpensive outdoor rug that is perfect for areas where leaves drop and you find yourself constantly sweeping, scooping, and swearing at those darn leaves. An area, like this…






Patio with stencil chevron rug





And maybe you’d want to buy one of those outdoor lanterns they sell at Osh for $20 and hang an electrical bulb attached to a socket kit attached to a black cord that fades to the background and lets your light be the star of the show. The addition of marquee lights (best price at Target), wouldn’t hurt, either.






Pergola and lights





But I can’t because now the patio looks like this.












Patio undone





Farewell pergola.






Pergola undone





All because we discovered this….





After a couple of rains blessedly interrupted our steady Santa Barbara drought, our kitchen counter and base cabinets separated from the wall by 1/4″! Eek!





Counter separating from wall




Thus a simple plan of updating doors, windows and floors screeched to a halt because you can’t install hardwood floors in a house that has a slab foundation, is below-grade, and is obviously experiencing a lack-of-proper drainage mega moisture issue without those pretty new floors warping, cupping, and buckling. Certainly not, dear reader.




Even though JB had been so industrious and already ripped up most of our existing carpeting in a moment of “Let’s do this already!”, we must not do this already.





Dining room below. Note the site of the moisture test which confirmed a new retaining wall and drainage were–darn! darn! darn!–necessary.






Dining room floor



Welcome to the exposed slab hall. Check out that bit of carpet peeking out from the doorway on the right. After pulling up the existing baseboard, carpet, pad, and tackstrip, JB had a brainstorm and started to loose-lay the carpet back in place, atop the concrete, which, although not as cushy as carpet over pad, keeps the house warmer, cleaner (not that carpet is clean, but it is certainly cleaner than the exposed slab) and more sound absorbent. No more echoes of, “What is for dinner..ner…ner..ner?”




Carpet demo in hall





All of this is to say that tomorrow the patio which has turned into a cracked and pitted surface with points peaking like colliding continents will be jackhammered into oblivion and replaced with a new, prettier patio. A new retaining wall, which should take care of any future rain trickling down our sloped backyard, will be erected. And gutters a plenty will be going up.





Pitted patio




Which means the remodel can move forward and I’ll have one less excuse for my blogging tardiness! In the meantime, thanks for hanging in there with me and thank you for your patience!





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As Luck Would Have it: The La Jolla House Reveal

Happy New Year!



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



 Mokie in front of fireplace Mokie just stared.






Cat drinking from vaseEllie was preoccupied.







Lilo in bedLilo was already tucked into bed.





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




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



La Jolla yard



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




La Jolla Kitchen 2




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




La Jolla desk



And one more shot.


La Jolla deck



But the real story is this…


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


so we could remember what the place looked like!




La Jolla Kitchen



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



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



 La Jolla Art 2Art by Lyn Gianni.



And then we waited,


and waited…


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


Double grrrr.



La Jolla Dining Room



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




Mini pumkin plate setting




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





La Jolla Living Room




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




La Jolla



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




La Jolla Master Bedroom



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





La Jolla paintingCustom art by Lyn Gianni.





La Jolla EntryArt also by Lyn Gianni.



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




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




La Jolla Bathroom



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



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



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


 –Stephen Hawking



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




Happy New Year!

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Brown paper packages tied up with string!

Brown paper packages tied up with string




Are we really going to talk about brown paper packages tied up with string?








Because, if you are anything like me, presents don’t get wrapped until the night before Christmas.




And you want something that looks good, so good, but the price of fancy wrapping paper can be like an ornament hanger in your side.



So how ’bout this, the day before Christmas I’m going to give you the easiest present wrapping idea--barring the brilliance of the gift bag which is a wonderful, wonderful thing, but an easily abused, slippery slope into sloppy, whereas this wrapping looks like you tried…



…like the gift recipient is LOVED–and yet, it’s so easy.




All it requires is:


3M Brown Craft Paper (from the 99 Cents Store)


Fresh Pine Greenery (I snipped some from the base of our Redwood tree; if you don’t have a Redwood–or other pine–tree, check where Christmas trees are sold. There are usually scraps and snippets galore and if you ask nicely and bat your eyelashes profusely–or pick up the sprigs and smile and say, “I’ll gladly get this green waste off your hands,” you, too, will have a plethora of pine.)


Mini pine cones (also from Redwood tree; sorry, I can’t think of a free source, but I can think of Michael’s Craft Store or a similar shop.)


Twine (Home Depot.)


Glue gun (I don’t know where you keep it. Just grab it and let’s get started.)



Wrapping materials




Oh yes, and just to make things a bit more interesting, let’s age some sheet music, shall we? What no sheet music lying around? Have you checked the thrift stores or tag sales? Well don’t bother. I did and apparently sheet music is all the rage now (coveted by crafters) and not so easy to secure. Instead, you can Google “sheet music” and print out your own on regular copy paper. Thank you, Google Images.



Like this…




Sheet music




To age it, mix 1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules (reg or decaf, totally your call) with 1 T of hot water.





Tools to age paper




Spread on like so, but in a much less drippy, much more elegant manner.





Age sheet music with coffee




You will get something that looks like this. If you share my disdain for waiting, hit the paper with a hairdryer to get rid of the excess moisture.





Aged sheet music




Then to further speed things up, nestle your coffee-aged sheet between two clean white sheets of paper to make a paper sandwich (this will protect your iron and your ironing board) and iron the pages until they are completely dry. Note: This will happen very quickly; make sure not to scorch your paper; that’s a whole other level of aging and not what we’re going for with this project.




Iron paper




You can use your aged sheet music to make cute homemade tags for your brown paper packages tied up with string (twine) and decorated with fresh greenery and baby pine cones.





Sheet music present label




And/or cut your sheet music into triangles and make a Noel banner to swag somewhere wonderful.





Sheet music Noel sign




Consider covering the top of a brown paper-wrapped box so it really sings. (Sorry, had to.)





Sheet music wrapping paper





Or make a tiny banner (cut triangles from your sheet music and attach them to a length of twine with hot glue) to decorate a plain brown paper gift bag.


Like this…




Buck silhouette



Or this…




Noel bag




I mean, really, imagine the possibilities…and all for pennies!




Preserved boxwood wreath Imagine signPreserved boxwood wreath from Target.




Lastly, but not leastly, I want to say a heart-filled thank you to all my readers (old, new, best friends, and perfect strangers). I just read a note I scribbled to myself last year during a moment of “Wouldn’t it be a good idea to write down important dates?” that reminded me I started this blog in February of 2014. What I don’t need is a notation to recall this time, last year, when I was scrambling to build this site (with the help of a dear–and patient!–friend) and wondering if it would ever be up and desperately wishing it was so I could write a Christmas post.



I am so thankful that it is and to all of you who read it because now I can wish you a very, very Merry Christmas and thank you for following along with Design Intervention Diary.



Thank you, truly, and warm holiday wishes to you!


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