The Newlyweds have landed and other news

PineapplesStrap your pineapples in. The trip is about to begin.





When we last “spoke”, I was showcasing the “ooh” and “ahh” elements I’d spotted while shopping for clients at the La Jolla Design Center.





That was so a month and a half ago.





Since then, things have happened. Big things like I was given a bridal shower; JB and I were married–and we had a honeymoon!  Yep, all that went down in the last forty days. So, I assume I get a pass for not posting every “Now take a look at this!” moment…




Wedding PhotoOh happy day. 9/13/14.





Except I wanted to. I missed blogging the ENTIRE TIME! However, time didn’t care. Time seemed to speed up and, here in Santa Barbara, where we were sweating every glass of water we drank out through our pores in our 90 degrees plus heatwave, I was slowing down–while a whole lotta stuff needed attending to. So blogging took a back burner. And yet, there was so much to say.




Pie is for loversCoral “graffiti” (the best, removable kind, right?) placed against lava rock along the highway, on the Big Island, Hawaii.






So much to SHOW you!





Hilo PalaceA hotel, I’m guessing, in Hilo, Hawaii. It has seen better days, I’m sure, but the good architecture still shines through.





So I captured the fun stuff in photos and wrote little mental notes to you. And came up with a plan…






Chairs at Marriott MauiTwo chairs just whispering, “Take a load off,” at the Marriott, Maui.





I’m going to roll back time (Note: my powers only extend to this blog) in the next few posts so you don’t miss a thing. But, while you’re here, let’s talk honeymoon.





This was the scene immediately after leaving the airport and pulling onto the highway.  And in between a cluster of buildings here and there, it carried on, interrupted only by the subtle switch to more lava rock, fewer grasses, more coral graffiti, for the twenty minute drive to our condo destination in Waikoloa.






Big Island driveMauna Kea Volcano in background. Lava rock covered with grasses, grasses and more grasses in foreground.





The land was big, so we felt small and as we shrank, so did any troubles or tethers to back home and we could, at least try to, relax.




This pool helped…





Hali'i Kai PoolSalt water pool with the neatest lounging leaves positioned just above the water’s surface. The “leaves” were stationary, built into a raised platform of concrete that summited just before the “deep end” (alas, all of 4 1/2′ of a so-called deep end). If it got too hot (which was almost always; the Big Island was also suffering their own Hello, Climate-Change! record temps), you could dip your toes or lean your legs into the water for a luke-warm water cool down.




So did eating our meals from our terrace with THIS VIEW!






LanaiHali’i Kai, Big Island.





And dips in this ocean certainly assisted in a water-lapping-against-your-floating-body, Problems, what problems? sort of way.






Kua BayKua Bay, Big Island.





While we did play tourist…






PanioloHanging out with this cowboy for a Paniolo (“cowboy”) moment in the Parker Ranch shopping center. (Do you see the almost photo-bomb, by Security, in the background?)








Happy couple South PointSouth Point selfies.







Drive to South PointThe drive to South Point: the southern most tip of the United States.





South Point TurbinesAnd more driving to South Point. Good thing we had almost a full tank. This road is lonnnng.





Unlike our trip to Kauai (Forgot already? You can refresh your memory, here) the best design I saw wasn’t man-made, but nature-made.





South Point endFinally, we made it to the wind-blown coast known as South Point where except for a natural pool of still water that made the perfect place to douse the flames we imagined rising up from our roasting, sandaled feet, the water looked choppy enough to crush a skull against the lava-rock-lined shore. Unless conditions are usually smoother, this was a Look, But Don’t Swim beach destination.






There were patterns to study. (Don’t miss the gecko, below, who was popping out his head and giving the “And you are?” stare down to the photo-end of my cell phone and me.)







Palm leaf gecko.





Yes, technically this sidewalk is man-made, but I thought the pattern was still worth noting. I’d love to see that mottled design turned into fabric and sewn into a sofa pillow!






Interesting sidewalkA sidewalk trying to emulate lava–and doing a darn good job! Big Island.






Okay, so maybe real lava looks a little different. But again, notice the neat pattern as the lava pressed upon itself and dried in Shar Pei esque folds.







Lava RockThe real deal. Lava rock, Volcano National Park, Hawaii.





More lava rock, plus feet.





Feet on lava rockVolcano National Park, Hawaii.








Flowers Hali'i KaiFlower power at Hali’i Kai, Hawaii.







Kalopa Forest 2Kalopa Forest, Hawaii. Doesn’t it look like the trees’ roots are holding hands or are my honeymoon-colored-glasses still on?





There were black sand beaches.






Punalu'u BeachOuchie. Ouchie. Ouchie. Hottest sand, ever! Punalu’u, Hawaii.






Black sand feetWe could only brave this photo because our feet had just been in the ocean–hence the sand clinging to our toesies. Note: As the posted signs will tell you, it is illegal to remove the sand from the beach. But what if you have a mom at home who wants to see what said black sand looks like in real life and not just a photo of our sand-sullied feet? Answer: You carefully insert your sandy digits into your sandals and run like hell to your rental car!






Nature just popped her pretty head up everywhere.





Even when it couldn’t have been easy.







Fern and door 2I previously posted this photo on Instagram with the caption “Tenacity”. JB thought that was the hokiest thing he’d heard all day and volunteered the counter caption: “Don’t Tread On Me.” (Stair tread humor.) Yuk (and I do mean “yuck”) yuk.






Lily padsA proliferation of bloomin’ lily pads.







Marriott MauiLily pad central: the Koi pond at the Marriott, Maui.





But alas, while the honeymoon doesn’t have to end, the vacation did.




We had to head home.





Drive from Punalu'uRoad from the black sand beach at Punalu’u heading to Volcano National Park.




We said goodbye to our condo with it’s oil rubbed bronze this and dark wood that tropical decor.




Hali'i Kai Bedroom




Goodbye pretty verdigris gate…




Gate at Hali'i Kai




So long wandering without deadlines, hearing the roar of water…it was nice knowing you.




Hilto Hawaii WaterfallOne of my favorite shots JB took on the trip: the waterfall at the Hilton, Hawaii.




Or driving for hours to see a landscape that looked a lot like Mars (if Mars could support fern life).






Volcano National ParkJB calls this “Tenacity 6, 7, and 8.”




No more pretty flowers…




AnthuriumsAnthurium extravaganza at the Farmer’s Market in Kailua Kona.





But, you know what happens in life, one adventure ends and another begins. So, last week, our first official week home from our honeymoon, we decided we needed to add this guy to our lives.




Goodbye vacation. Hello puppy.





Mokie sleepingMeet Moke (“tough guy” in Hawaiian pidgin), but we call him Mokie.



Lilo (our Chiweenie) is less than thrilled. We are zombie-tired after back to back nights of puppy rumbling and ruckus (Mokie wakes up in the night to play with Lilo and Lilo would prefer to slumber–as would we!), stumbling outside–while it’s still dark out!–to make sure Mokie pees OUTSIDE, and speaking of pee, thank goodness these carpets are coming up soon because they, less than fantastically, have been doused in pee and other digestive waste.



So it’s back to realty. Albeit a new, puppy-love-filled, sleep-deprived one in which Lilo looks up at me imploringly with eyes that say, “Why did you do this?”



Welcome home, honeymooners.



Design Inspiration from La Jolla


My circumference is not that big. (No, I’m not talking about my waistline which, in preparation for fitting into a wedding dress in less than a month–yikes!–has been put on caloric restriction and is hopefully shrinking as we speak.) I mean, I tend to move in tiny circles.



Like a dog who’s chasing its tail….





MPLA doorDoor outside MPLA Associates in La Jolla, CA.



Like a professional hula hooper…




A hamster stuck on its wheel….





Kravet Monkey wallpaperMonkey wallpaper (and free Nespresso!) at Kravet Fabric in La Jolla, CA.




Or like a person who is comfortable in her own backyard (and by backyard, I mean a 20 mile radius, not my actual backyard).





Abstract painting two chairsAre you noticing modern art everywhere, too? I think the red glow of the single, dangling interrogation-style bulb just adds a little sumpthin-sumpthin, no?




For instance, I live in Santa Barbara which is only 1.5 hours from LA (times two if you hit rush hour traffic), yet I almost never go there.




I just circle and repeat.






Abstract art flowersAh modern art. Sometimes you work (see closeup agave leaf painting to the right) and sometimes you don’t (see–flowers?–scaling the wall to the left).





But not lately. Lately I have moved outside my maze and boy does it feel good. The other week I was lucky enough to attend the Las Vegas Design Market (for a refresher, please click here).  And I recently had the pleasure of traveling to La Jolla (5 hours away–woop woop!) with another designer to begin the interior design of a house we’re collaborating on.





Abstract flowers at MPLAWoo wee: more abstract flowers.






So, of course, I took pictures of everything interesting that we saw–so I could share it with you!




Side of flower sculptureWorkin’ the side angle.



The best thing, by far, was this store entrance that had the most whimsical and wacky wall treatment. (Note: somebody did this–so you could, too! It’s just grey paint with white loopy chalk circles drawn on top. I’d suggest sealing the swirls with a clear aerosol spray paint–unless you want them to rub off so you can adjust them from time to time.)




Chalkboard wallMPLA Design Associates, La Jolla, CA.




Here’s a closeup so you can see the design was kind of like a Calder mobile goes 2D. Note the actual mobile in the far right hand corner.





Chalkboard swirls





Kravet had this neat wallpaper in their entry.





Kravet Wallpaper




But MPLA had this terrazzo floor in their bathroom.





Terrazzo floorThis floor had me thinking this might be a neat alternative to tile for a residential bathroom.  No grout = kinda brilliant!






Bon Bon OttomanAnd we couldn’t leave before ordering one of these poufs for our clients. The poufs are 100% wool, they can roll across the floor and they’re named “Bon Bons”–we were defenseless.




How about you? Have you been discovering sometimes you have to go outside your own backyard to find the grass that’s greener?


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Holy cowhide: Our chair is in House Beautiful magazine!

Okay, so it’s not our chair.



But it’s our chair.




(Who’s on first?)



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




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







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





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





I showed you this.






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





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




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





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


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Design inspiration from the Las Vegas Design Market


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




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







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





Hot Air Balloon chair





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






Sofa fabric





But enough about the amazing house.





Let’s get on with the show!




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




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





Las Vegas Design Center





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





Round Wood Mirror




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





Round mirrors




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





Sputnik chandelier



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




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




Antler room




Do you have a wood plank wall, yet?



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




Plank wall




There was some pretty stuff…






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






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






Abstract wallpaper





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






Feather lights





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





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





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





Bookshelf chair





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





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





Or maybe a cradle rocking bed is more your style…





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





Cradle Bed





There were quirky things.






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





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





Book wallpaper





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




Like this…





Racoons taxidermy




And this…





Horse lamp




And this…





Gold banana




And even this….





Horse tableNote the human leg pedestal table in the background.





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





Snake wallpaper




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





Snake wallpaper detail





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





Yellow bling chair





Others fell into, “Wow!”





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




And others fell into…well, you tell me…





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





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





Amy Flipping VegasCelebrity selfie.





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






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




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




Even their sign in their parking garage was exciting.





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





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






Poblano Las Vegas





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






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






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







Cosmopolitan chandelier




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


The making of the Save the Date sign: Let there be light(s)



If you’re a loyal reader, you know I have been determined to create a clever Save the Date for our pending (as in, “Holy cow, fast approaching, someone slow this thing down!”) nuptials. I wanted it to look as cool as something the hipsters would’ve devised, although they would have done it minus my angst, my gotta-get-this-right stress, but with the addition of their, “We could be doing something so much better right now” blank-faced flair.






I was after something like this. (See my absolute favorite Save the Date*, below). Although, to be fair–or accurate, really–these people can’t be hipsters; their faces convey too much human emotion:  an oxymoronical combination of worrisome glee.






Literally saving the date copyImage via Lydiasnextstep






*Excuse me, but I must interrupt my blog post to make a very important aside. When one is doing a lot of talking and thinking and scribbly note making about materializing Save the Dates and sending out Save the Dates, etc., one soon finds it is easier to resort to shorthand and discovers the handy acronym: STDs. And then one bursts into peals of laughter over the hilarity. I mean take the word “sign” off this blog post title, insert acronym, and it has a very different meaning, indeed. Come on, tell me that made at least someone smile, if not just guffaw.








Back to the scheduled post. I think I liked this Save the Date so much because they were actually saving the date. So I racked my brain. Dates. Saving. Thoughts, thoughts, chin tapping, brow scratching. Nada. Then I decided I could play the date and pretend to be tied to train tracks, like a damsel (or date, in this case) in need of saving. I could pull off looking delicate and distressed. (I think.) However, my idea also sounded like the other “D” word. No, not dumb: “DANGEROUS!”





So I came up with this, instead…






Hand holding save the dateYes, you are witnessing my real hand. No models were involved. And, you guessed it, that is an authentic dried date.  Points for originality. Am I right?






Because I recently tried a brussel sprout recipe that involved dates, (I do have a hipster moment now and then), we happened to have a box of dried dates in our fridge. So I whipped up a toothpick-inserted sign for my date and headed to…where else? The railroad tracks.





Save the date with real date




The problem, as though I need to tell you, the perceptive viewer, is obvious as witnessed above. But, I’ll spell it out for you anyway: my date and “Save me!” sign were so tiny, in order to show enough tracks to give context, the date and sign became but a speck of something resembling a small sausage or animal dropping. So I picked up my turd-shaped date, watched as a train zoomed past us, and then crossed the tracks to my car and drove home with my head hung low.





Save the date on tracks



Not to mention, (but to totally mention), before I left the house JB declared my literal sense of humor was likely a sign of having a really bad sense of humor or no sense of humor at all. Nice. But, rest assured, despite my fizzling ego, the wedding is still on.



I arrived back at home, so unenthused, I surely could’ve been mistaken for a true hipster.



Enter: JB, who has these moments of brilliance. This was one of those moments. While I was out tramping on the tracks (as in walking, no midriff baring shirts were worn on this day, or any day, really), he was at home making a mock-up of a sign we could use for the STD photo. (Tee hee.)




Cardboard save the date signInspiration a la Lite Brite, cira 1985.





I loved it. So JB cut a piece of plywood to size to create the sign we’d use for the actual photoshoot. I wrote in chalk (and evidently dark pencil) to loosely mark the numbers and used a 5/16″ drill bit to create holes that were large enough to fit Christmas light bulbs through.





Wood save the date sign




Once the holes were drilled, I painted the sign with black acrylic paint. When the paint had dried, I popped a bulb through each light, plugged in the end of the strand and we had this…






Save the Date signWho has a Redwood tree in their front yard in So Cal? We do.




Insert humans (us) and we had this…





Save the date poses 2




and this…





Save the date poses 1




to choose from. And we chose this one….





Save the Date final with datePhoto credit goes to Lyn Gianni (aka: Mom).



In retrospect you can hardly make out that there is an actual date in JB’s hand, only the “Save Me!” sign which makes it look a whole lot like he is requesting to be saved from…marrying me? While that certainly wasn’t our intended message, this was the only one in which we both looked generally excited, not too posed–so unhipster, it was probably hipper than hipster. Not to mention, in this one JB looks like he just spotted a unicorn and is waving hello with his single jazz hand.




Save the Date card




We used a template from (see above) because JB liked the idea that if you’re going to send out STDs (chuckle, chuckle), it should be done the ecologically-minded, paperless post way. And did I mention it’s inexpensive? Many of the templates are free, including the one we chose, but to send the posts is another story. You can send out as many as 75 invites for free, but they will be accompanied by an ad. For $10 they offer a single-use, ad-free premium design that you can send to up to 2,500 guests (I’m guessing this option is for really popular people). We decided to be big spenders and choose the deluxe $30 package that includes the use of ad-free premium designs (although we happened to pick a free one) that can be sent for one year to 250 people (because we’re not that popular?). This package also includes two free printed post cards to be sent to yourself, or a friend, as a keepsake or to your parents who are wondering what you have against paper.






Happily Ever After light sign







Yes, I know this is a design blog. So here you go. You don’t really need plywood to make one of these signs; you could use cardboard or stretched canvas. I was inspired by our sign and decided to quickly make another one that said “Happily Ever After” out of a plywood scrap we had lying around. I figured it could hang on the wall or lean against a tree as a prop at our outdoor wedding. Unfortunately, I made it so quickly I forgot my own advice of plugging in the strand before popping each bulb into a hole. Save yourself a headache–and from your results looking as spotty as mine do above–and keep the strands plugged in as you insert them through the holes so you don’t bother wasting time with a busted bulb.




Note: You will end up with a scraggly bundle of Christmas light cords on the back which you can flatten to a manageable lump by using long strands of duct tape taped across the back of your board. If you use plywood, you can insert screw eyes to attach wire and hang the board. If you want a more finished look, you can purchase trim molding from Home Depot and spray paint it any color you like–think gold for a gilded look. Use a miter saw to cut the corners. Use brads and hot glue to attach the molding to the front of the frame. Or, large-scale rope (left natural or spray painted gold) can be attached with brads to the perimeter of your board to create a rope “frame”.


The possibilities are almost endless: “Peace” or “Noel” at Christmas; “Boo” for Halloween, “Love” for Valentine’s Day–or any day. A simple word like “Wonderful” or “More” would be intriguing and kind of Pop Art-ish, as well.



One last design thought while we’re on the subject of drills and design. The other evening, JB and I went to Chipotle (because their food is yummy and all their meat is Humanely Raised) and, while there, I noticed this wall…





Chipotle hole wallChipotle Wall. La Cumbre Shopping Center, Santa Barbara.




It’s really a simple concept: a wall of raw plywood in front of a lit niche that has been painted a contrasting color. However, you could take it so much further. You could customize it by painting the plywood, using the holes to spell out a word, phrase, line from a poem–or even a family crest or company logo. In other words, by using a drill bit, plywood, and lights, you can get a whole lot of “wow” for not much money.



And that’s something to get excited about!




Chipotle wall detailChipotle wall detail.




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A different side of interior design: The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation


Last weekend, I was honored to help interior designer Jennifer Taylor, of Taylor House Interiors, do some special decorating. And by “special,” I mean heart-breakingly meaningful. The project was a bedroom makeover for a young girl, named Mandy, who is fighting cancer with every ounce of her sunny self.


But, unfortunately, right now, the cancer is winning. Enter: The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. They’re a non-profit organization that provides financial and emotional support to families of children with cancer living in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties. And sometimes, they make the stars align and grant wishes.


Mandy, a fan of the HGTV network and many a design show, made a simple request: she wanted a newly styled room.




Room Before



I only came on the scene when things were already pretty-fied by Jennifer which mean this room you see above, is nothing like what it was. Its former self had a purple wall that made the room go dark, and there was a bunk bed, and a desk, and a whole lot of stuff, too much stuff to let a room be as stylish as it needed to be. So the stuff was ushered out, crown molding went in, and Sherwin Williams Jet Stream was painted on the back wall as a feature wall and SW Timid Blue was painted on the surrounding walls.




The closet was divided and conquered and mirrored closet doors were ordered.





Closet Before




When installation day came, we got to work setting and staging, rearranging and replacing, fluffing and smoothing and smiling.



There was a whole lot of smiling.



Because, we knew, this wasn’t a regular, “Here’s your new space” makeover; it was the fulfillment of a wish, by a special girl, who was running low on her wishes being granted.




A few hours later, the room turned into this…





Bedroom After



And the closet looked like this…




Closet After


(Mirrored doors were installed later that day, long after my camera and I had left.)



I didn’t get to see Mandy’s reaction, but I heard it was AWESOME and SUNNY and AMAZING, just like she is.


If you would like to find out more about The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, please click here. If you would like to find out how to help Mandy, please contact The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation and ask to speak to Becca.


Here’s to finding solace in our surroundings when the world seems too confusing for words, to appreciating the wow moments when we have them, and to remembering how lucky we are to have a surplus of future moments stretched out before us and to cherish each one like it was a wish, granted.


PS, I have to make a special shout-out to JB’s mom, Ginny. We send our love and hope you’re healing quickly! 🙂


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A Beautiful Bathroom Transformation

Sometimes stuff just finds its way into a room. Any never makes its way out. Such was the case with this client’s bathroom. There was a little of this and a little of that, a scalloped edge sink, and a bottle or two (or three or four) too many.



And that just wouldn’t do. My client wanted it to feel fresh, spa-like, and perhaps, like if you listened really closely, you could hear the tub whisper, “Relax. Stay awhile.”




So there was work to be done.






Bathroom Before







Wait for it. I’m trying to build suspense here….









Bathroom Before 2






Okay, now you can look.







Bathroom After 2




We replaced the baseboard with a more substantial (taller) and squared-edge (for clean lines) variety, and added beefy, Craftsman style, trim to the new door. A deeper tub was installed to replace the existing one. And the sparkling new window was flanked with 6″ x 12″ porcelain tile that had the most beautiful wavy stone pattern and subtle texture.





The sconces, faucet, shower head, tub spout, soap dispenser, and even the toilet handle were finished in champagne bronze for a soft golden look that wasn’t as brassy as polished brass. A rectangular sink added a touch of modern to the space, but the ruffled shower curtain grounded the room in femininity.






Bathroom After 3





With all the great changes, the one that tickles me the most is the face pot. I found it in my client’s office, tucked away at the back of a shelf. Said client was out of town so I took the liberty to fill the pot with potting soil and a fern. You may note, in a later photo, the fern has been changed to a succulent and this, dear readers, is the downside of maiden hair ferns: while beautiful, they’re finicky things, prone to expiration.






Bathroom After Other View




Above is a behind-the-scenes peek of the design before the light switches went on, before dark, hardwood planks were installed in the hallway, and–apparently, before the painter came back to touch up every spot I marked with a piece of blue painter’s tape. If you look closely you can spot the kitchen–pre-remodel–reflected in the mirror.






Bathroom Bird Picture






Here is a closeup of this cute picture (the pelican is embroidered on fabric) that now hangs over the toilet.








Vanity close up







My client sourced this vanity online and we all know things can look different on a screen, but I’m happy to report the vanity was even more good looking in real life.








Face pot





And here the pretty (and cross eyed?) maiden is with her new succulent headdress. Love her!






Paint: Benjamin Moore color Mayonnaise, in eggshell, for walls and ceiling

Benjamin Moore color Simply White, in satin, for baseboard, door, and door casing

Vanity: Fairmont Rustic Chic

Counter top and backsplash: Crema Marfil marble, custom

Shower curtain: Marshall’s

Toilet and sink: Kohler

Shower head, tub spout, faucet and toilet handle: Delta Lahara in Champagne Bronze

Floor tile: El Pietra Millerighe in Caramel cut to 6″ x 12″ for shower walls and left in original 12″ x 24″ size for the floor. Grout color: Alabaster.




PS, The other day, one of my clients mentioned that his tile guy suggested we install his 3″ x 6″ white subway kitchen tile in a grid pattern instead of the typical offset stagger. I wanted to “see” it myself before I decided if I was on board so I traced a few tiles, in both patterns, directly onto the wall to compare the Normal (staggered) version to the Who-Does-That? (grid pattern) version.  Well, guess what? For this space, I actually preferred the (Who-Does-That?) grid pattern!


Grid pattern tile







It ended up looking like this which I found much more interesting for this small, somewhat plain space than regular ol’ staggered. We used a grey grout to add a contrast and up the oomph, but the exact color name escapes me at the moment and I can’t find it in my notes.






Grid tile kitchen in progress




The house is adobe style complete with stained pylons protruding out just below the roof line, but the inside is devoid of beams and has fantastically soaring ceilings so the plan for the inside is rustic modern with a nod to Spanish/Western. (It’s a man’s house; need I say more?) The exposed concrete floors will be polished and sealed with a matte finish. The windows will receive white, roller shades (motorized so his stunning views can be viewed within in seconds) and, in the kitchen, I’m contemplating using these stools…




Restoration Hardware Spring StoolRestoration Hardware New Industrial Coil Stool



with this table.


Angelo Home Brookdale Zinc and Wood Dining TableAngelo Home Brookdale Zinc And Wood Gathering Table from




And this piece of art.






West Elm StaredownStaredown from West Elm







This design project involves the entire house so I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to the Before and Afters!





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Marching ahead: We have a wedding site in sight!



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





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





Save the date writing on facesImage source, Rachel Schulz






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






Save the date red fingerprintsImage source, unknown.








Save the date black fingerprintsImage via Dynamite Weddings





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





Save the date shadow signImage source, unknown.





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






Faceless save the dateImage source, unknown.




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





Save the date Scrabble tilesImage source, unknown.





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





Save the date with dogImage via The Frosted Petticoat





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





Save the date banner and trainImage source, unknown.






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





Save the date 50s homemakers

Image via Craig Clement






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





Save the date letters on the grassImage source, unknown.





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





Literally saving the date copyGenius image via Lydias Next Step





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





Save the date on balloonsImage source, unknown.





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




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




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





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






Save the date credit cardImage via The Bridal Detective





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





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





Tying the knot save the dateImage source, unknown





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






Save the date written on bootsImage source, unknown.





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






PrintImage source, unknown.





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





Steinway piano sculpture










Save the date library cardImage source, unknown.





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





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




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






Save the date suitcase copyImage via Wedding Paper Divas




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




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IKEA Dish Towel Hack: from the kitchen to the bedroom!

Yes, away to the bedroom we shall go. But first, now that I have your attention…



The blogosphere is bursting with impressive IKEA hacks. For example, one talented blogger began with this BILLY bookcase, added crown molding and baseboard, caulked and painted and–presto!–it looks like a custom built-in that cost thousands of dollars, not $59.99 per 31 1/2″ x 11″ x 79 1/2″ unit.




Billy bookcases ikea hackImage via





Another style savvy blogger turned IKEA’s RAST dresser into a side table Dorothy Draper would’ve been proud to call one of her own designs.





Ikea Hack Rast DresserIf this doesn’t say Dorothy Draper, (it does), it certainly doesn’t say $34.99 RAST 3-drawer chest from IKEA. Image and project via Marcus Designs.






In contrast, my IKEA hack is on the small side: 16″ x 26″, to be exact. It’s cute and easy to make but, admittedly, only a humble contribution to the hacking greatness that runneth over on the internet.





However, while it might not exactly blow your mind, the good news is, it won’t blow your wallet, either.





It starts with one of these….





Ikea Elly dishtowels

And we’ll turn it into a pillow.





Yes, a dish towel. IKEA calls them ELLY. At $3.99 for a pack of four, I call them a sweet deal.




Note: The IKEA site discloses all sorts of pertinent information about these towels. (See highlighted IKEA link above.) For example, they tell you each towel is 20″ x 26″, that they’re made of 100% cotton and should be machine washed, and that shrinkage 5%. That is not a huge amount of shrinkage, but to be on the safe side, you may want to wash (and dry) the towels before you sew them so you don’t have to deal (and by “deal” I mean: freak out/cry/eat two bowls of ice cream because that always makes it better) with shrinkage later. Just a suggestion.



Choose the dishtowel you like best to convert into a pillow. Or “billow” as I accidentally typed (which is odd since the “P” and the “B” do not reside anywhere near one another on the keyboard; I suppose that would be a pillow with a cold). I love the faded denim shade of blue on the one I chose and I’m a sucker for stripes, but the skinny stripes or plaid ones would transform nicely into pillows, too.






(Flashback alert!) Do you remember when this towel was hanging in my kitchen? One day it whispered to me, “I can do more than just hang here and look pretty.” (I thought it was so pretty, I never actually used it to wipe dishes.) Apparently I speak “dishtowel” because I listened.




SUB-ZERO front









But I digress. A lot. Obviously. But, back on topic. After you select your dish towel, you will also need white cotton fabric (remember, you may want to wash and dry it if it is not preshrunk) for the back of the pillow as well as a 20″ x 26″ pillow insert. Velcro/buttons/a zipper are optional.





Pillow supplies




IKEA conveniently also sells a 16″ x 26″ down-filled* FJADRAR insert–(Your guess on how to pronounce that is as good as mine; if you know that or how to insert the two dots over the “A”, please enlighten me on both accounts.)–for $6.99. This folks, is another steal of a deal.



*I have become rather anti-down after researching and discovering that the majority of down comes from live-plucked geese–(Yes, live! Future blog post. Brace yourself!)–but IKEA is the only source I know of (besides Patagonia, but last I checked, they weren’t making pillow inserts) who responsibly sources their down. Yay IKEA!



My plan was to make the easiest pillowcase possible which meant instead of a zipper enclosure, I made an envelope fold. The 20″ x 26″ sized dish towel lends itself to perfectly to making a 16″ x 26″ pillow. If you want to go fancy and create a contrasting welt with one of the other dishtowels or a plain white welt, you are a more ambitious–and likely much better–sewer than I. For those of us who prefer the easy peasy method, begin by placing the ELLY dish towel and your white cotton fabric front to front.




Dishtowel draped on white



Just so you can see where we’re heading, I draped the fabric over the pillow insert to create a concept of the finished product, below. Which reminds me, another great thing about the ELLY dishtowels, (besides the cuteness factor and price and the fun fact that our cat happens to share the same name–and personality, I might add), is these towels are hemmed on the edges which means you don’t have to hem the flap of the envelope fold. Go IKEA, go!




Positioning fabric






Now sew the sides together.




Graffiti on sewing machine





You will end up with something like this.





Unstuffed Ikea dishtowel pillow



To make sure the pillow stays snugly shut, you could add a button, but in the interest of finishing in a jiffy, I used Velcro. Tip: pinning through Velcro can be rather difficult and can bend your nice sewing pins. To keep the Velcro in place, I taped it to the fabric using clear Scotch tape which I removed as I sewed.




Pillow with velcro



Stuff your pillow, toss it on a bed, and you’ll get something like this…





Ikea dishtowel pillow and peaches



ELLY IKEA dishtowel pillow on bed






Here it is against blue bedding.




Ikea dishtowel pillow blue bedding



Don’t worry, these antlers are not a permanent bedroom fixture. JB and I agreed to not hang much until we renovate and paint the walls, but they were too blah for the photo so I thought the antlers would add a little something. I think now, it wasn’t quite the right something. Perhaps I had been watching too many back to back episodes of Game of Thrones. (We’re almost caught up with the rest of the watching world.) As a friend mentioned, the look I achieved is: “Horny.” Great. But the real reason I removed them after I shot the pictures is we live in earthquake-prone California which means these horns could impale us while we are sleeping. So, new pact: an antler-less bedroom wall is a safe bedroom wall.



By the way, if you happened to be thinking this pillow is cute but 1) I don’t have a sewing machine or 2) Sewing isn’t much fun, those are two perfectly reasonable sentiments to which I’m happy to respond. This is another “IKEA does it, again!” moment. IKEA just happens to have come out with this new pillow cover that perfectly fits their 16″ x 26″ FJADRAR fill and it’s only $10 (!!!), beautiful, and, of course, hard to pronounce. It’s the VITFJARIL (please imagine two dots over the A, for the sake of correctness).



Here it is…



ikea vitfjaril pillow





Told you. In real life it’s just as cream-colored with a linen texture (100% ramie; 4% shrinkage).


How about you? Have you done any IKEA hacks lately? No, taking an axe to their “It has to be missing a part!” assembly-required furniture does not count. 🙂


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From shabby to chic: an exterior Before and After!

This is a post about a house that had seen better days. A house that was very in need of some TLC. A house where the latex paint on the exterior walls was shedding like an Irish Setter in summer. One where the shutters were missing rails like jack o’ lanterns missing teeth. And the yard? It had more uncovered dirt than Us magazine.



But see for yourself.




Side of house before




Uh huh.





Exterior Before



Lucky for this house, my clients recognized under all that mess, there was a cute, sweet home. That just needed a chance. And an interior {and exterior} designer.




It’s hard to tell from this picture (see above) but that is a frosted jalousie window to the left of the teal-colored front door. One of the first design decisions was to replace it with a horizontal window. Not only would the shape solve a design dilemma–(there is a bathroom on the other side of that window that needed privacy; with a higher-hung, horizontal window, we could get away with clear glass and let more light in without the threat of someone seeing someone else tinkle)–but I was able to find a wood-clad window that would blend with the era of the home and the rest of its existing windows–for $50 from Habitat for Humanity. Sold!





The plan for the rest of the exterior went a little something like this…




Front of house before2




But let’s revisit that window for a moment.




Old window



See the uninstalled window lurking in the left hand corner looking all inconspicuous? It took the place of the installed (frosted jalousie, shuttered) window.




In other words, this…





Window standing













Window after






Ah, what a difference trim and fresh paint make.





The front turned out like this….





Front view




Here’s another view, if you happened to be gazing left….




Front side after




Ready for your closeup, front door?




Front Door after 2


The hanging exterior light was a $20 rummage sale find (courtesy of me, the junk sale junkie).




And that sad side area…





Side of house before





turned into this pretty side area!




Side of house after




The painter’s helper had a moment of genius when he suggested we move the existing fence forward. We all agreed it would make the side yard better tie into the backyard and add more privacy to the front. A salvaged gate was resurrected with a sand, stain and finish and now contrasts nicely against the fence (which is painted the same soft, creamy color as the house’s siding).




Side view after




The clients just happened to have this amazing doorknob lying around in their garage.





Door knob detail


Now when was the last time you saw back plates as cool as that, I ask?





The front yard got a quick clean-up.





Witness: the Before (gulp)….






Front yard before




And the After….




Front yard after



Note:  This mulch just happens to be on sale at Home Depot for $10 for 3 bags (each bag covers 2 cubic feet). Since the only changes from the Before to the After in the front yard were the stucco wall was power-washed and mulch was added, it just goes to show how transformative mulch can be–making that a temping sale indeed!


Paint details:

Door: Benjamin Moore, Black Beauty (satin)

Shutters: Same as door

Posts, beams, trim, door and window casing: Benjamin Moore, Simply White (satin)

Siding: Benjamin Moore, Muslin (eggshell)




What about you? Is your house thirsty for a paint job? Is your yard ready to gobble up some mulch? If you would like to see more Before and Afters, please visit my interior design website



Happy weekend!



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