July 30, 2010


house beautiful

I'm loving the feel of this totally expansive, soothing white space today. Especially in summer, every home should be as open to the air, sunlight, and warmth as this one is. There's zero humidity in the air today, and the sky is cyrstal blue. Today is perfect for this home, where indoors and outdoors lose their boundaries and you can't tell where one starts and the other begins. Look at those glass doors! They're the size of entire walls. Hope your weekend is full of the kind of easy, breezy living this space exemplifies.

July 29, 2010

dorm design — a bold, fresh start

It's been quite a few years since I was a college student, but I still remember those early days of living in a dorm—discovering new friends, eating too much, laughing too much, and talking into the wee hours. Oh, and there must have been some studying in there too. That first year was everything; it encompassed every emotion on the spectrum. I felt exhilarated, overwhelmed, and lonely at times. In a new environment, the little things that are familiar and that remind you of home are so important. And that importance was what a reader described when she wrote to me and a bunch of other bloggers a while back about her daughter's first year in college. This design-loving mom wants for her daughter a room that's cool and stylish but that totally brings her the comforts of home. So here's my stab at recollecting those early freshman days for this first year student, and my wish for what my freshman dorm room had looked like (it contained nothing as pretty as this)!

Hmm, after spending hours on this concept board, only now have I realized that in searching for a color scheme that to me feels fresh, bold, and happy, I have pretty much replicated my loft & cottage header. I'm sure there's some deep meaning there if I wanted to explore that!

And I do recognize the seeming contradictions in the two ideas that I'm after in this room—"comforts of home" and "bold, fresh start." But why can't we have it all? I think we can. Here's how I did it, clockwise from top left:

1. Good lighting is essential. These wall lamps from PB Teen can mount on the wall over the bed and over the desk.
2. Loved these clothespins found at Etsy that are handstamped with inspirational words. I'd use them just like this in the room, strung on a cord and used to display favorite photos, postcards, invites, mementos.
3. A message board is a must for reminders for yourself, notes from your roommate, messages from friends on your floor. This one's from Ballard.
4. A great set of sheets is a splurge but a critical part of making a new space feel like home. I love the yummy color and cool print on these Grass Trellis sheets from Serena & Lily.
5. When life gets to be too much, you'll want to wind down and get cozy in your soft sheets for a good night's sleep. For this, I love a little aromatherapy. Bath & Body Works' pillow mist in eucalyptus spearmint is instantly relaxing.
6. A chunky braided basket from West Elm is shaped long and low and is perfect for underbed storage.
7. Dorm rooms are notorious for tight space and lack of storage. PB Teen's canvas bins keep messes organized and out of sight.
8. The cheery, large-scale dots and bold navy color drew me to the Cirkel duvet set from Ikea. The price is of course irresistible too. But the benefit of the duvet cover is the lush, plush coziness of the down comforter inside it—a must-have.
9. This jute cube from West Elm is perfect as a footrest, as extra seating for all those friends hanging out, and as much-needed texture. 
10. Forget plastic cups. You're a college student, not a child! This set of pretty patterned porcelain from Anthropologie feel substantial in your hand for morning coffee, afternoon cocoa, and late-night tea.
11. Koko Company's indoor/outdoor rug livens up the room, warms up the space, and cleans up like a breeze.
12. Finally, here's the fabulous fabric with colors and a pattern to pull it all together. I love this colorful toile from Staceage to diy into an oversized box pillow on the bed, a fabric-covered message board, or curtains.

Want more inspiration? Check out the dorm room designs these great bloggers came up with today:

6th Street Design School
Aesthetic Oiseau
Caitlin Creer Interiors
Design Darling
Emily A Clark
Haven and Home
High Heeled Foot in the Door
I Suwanee
Kelly Green
Matters of Style
Perfectly Taylor'd
Visual Vamp

July 27, 2010

tuesday tip: get a new view

When a room feels stale, or your design is just not working, I like to try something as simple as playing with the layout. Right then and there, start moving the big pieces—chairs, rug, sofa, table—around. It's like a puzzle, and if you experiment and take your time with it you will find the right fit.

Maybe all you need to do in that room is change your perspective. And give yourself something good to look at. Move a chair so it's facing the fireplace. Turn your desk so you have a view into the backyard.


And when you're really stuck, step away from the room. Completely.

Go outside. To your own backyard or to somewhere far away. 

Get yourself a new view. Change your perspective, not just your furniture. As Julia Roberts (as Elizabeth Gilbert) says in Eat, Pray, Love, "marvel at something."

You'll come back refreshed, with a fresh eye, and ready to make a change.

July 26, 2010

what colorful drapes can do

I'm really digging this living room with its grasscloth walls, large windows, and neutrals framed in fresh green drapes and accented with pops of blue. I think we can all agree the drapes make the room here—and its the color that does it. I'm all for keeping a scheme neutral and then livening up with drapes in saturated color.

can't remember the source, possibly bhg

The green is just singing to me right now.


But pink is so pretty too.


Color plus pattern is evern more exciting.

Palmer Weiss

Amanda Nisbet

I think I like this so much because the curtains seem integral to the design—because they create such contrast and are a focal point and link all the other accents in the room, they feel like the starting point of the room, rather than the last-minute finishing touch or afterthought. We're so used to seeing rooms where the curtains fade into the background, blending with the wall or trim color. What do you think? I hardly ever start with drapes but maybe I should. It's a great way to find your color story and create a focal point in a neutral room.

July 22, 2010

before & after: a living room to make you happy

As promised, lovely readers, here's a living room I just finished last week, and I could not be happier with how it turned out. Remember this little preview?

Well, this space started out looking not nearly so colorful or pretty. My client is a stylish, smart, successful, and very sweet single professional woman with a stressful job that keeps her there easily over 12 hours a day. Which leaves not much time for decorating. So, this typical beige boxy condo room would remain boring unless we stepped in. And so, determined not to live without color or style or art on the walls, my client enlisted my help and we got to work.

 What we started with:
{pros} big windows, a few great furniture basics
{cons} overcrowded floor plan, bland color scheme, lack of depth and interest

Because this is a condo and we couldn't paint, I knew the color would have to come from accessories. But with no strong pull in a specific color direction—and just one goal—to make a room that feels happy!—we just started shopping and found this great Anthropologie bowl. We snatched it up and had our starting point for a color scheme of coral and blue. And I won't keep you waiting for big reveal.


Fresh, pretty colors and lively, varied patterns in curtain panels, accessories, a new chair, and art bring new life, depth, and interest to the room. Removing oversized furniture cleared the way for a more balanced feel. Here's more detail on what we did.

Adding a console in dark wood provides contrast and warmth, where the old gray stand left the room feeling cold and industrial. We customized the new console with Anthropologie knobs in bold coral. White slipcovers freshen up the old seating cubes that were upholstered in a heavy cranberry chenille—not exactly working with the new fresh, fun, and light color scheme. Art hung in a random gallery style on the left balances the weight of the tv on the right, and the colors and theme play into the lighthearted, feminine mood of the new space.

The new chair adds lovely color and pattern, and its taller profile contrasts with the heights of the other pieces in the room, moving your eye around and adding interest. Adding just one furniture piece in a different shape or height, and with color and pattern in a room full of solid neutrals, can make a world of difference. The curtain panels behind the chair add more interest—they're from West Elm in a great grey chevron. I adore the subtlety of these drapes and how they let in the light. Oh, and the pop of color in the pillow. So fun!

A seat cushion, originally intended for an outdoor bench, had such a cute pattern and fit the color scheme just so; it just had to be a part of the room and fit perfectly on top of the cubes under the window to create a window seat. Notice how all the colors and patterns in the room coordinate but don't exactly match. Matching is unexciting—almost-matching is where the interest comes in.

We're still waiting on art for the big sofa wall, but in the meatime, I'm loving the layering of pillows and accessories here. Pillows are from Villa Home, Company C, and Etsy. And lest we go too far in the coral/blue direction, a punch or two of green brings everything down to earth. See the bowl that started it all on the tray? It's a perfect finishing touch. My client is so happy, and I'm so proud since this was a true collaboration with her and I sharing ideas and working together. It's so satisfying to have a room come together into a place she can enjoy and feel happy in during those rare moments at home.

July 20, 2010

tuesday tip: "custom" wallpaper

I stumbled across this picture from an old Cottage Living yesterday and it got me so inspired, I almost got out the Mod Podge and started covering some walls, an old door, whatever was in my immediate view.

What looks like wallpaper here is really just maps that have been decoupaged onto the wall. I've written before about how I just adore decorating with maps. Seriously, can't get enough of them. But, I also love here the repurposing of something traditional in a way that's totally unique. And it's a great-looking result achieved so easily (no plumb lines and booking and soaking and matching sheets of wallpaper, which can frankly be exhausting). I don't know about you, but I'm pretty partial to creative, easy, and fun over laborious and precise.

And you can decoupage any kind of paper. I love the idea of using pages from old books.

There's a tutorial here and another one here. What would you cover your walls with?

July 19, 2010

random thoughts on a monday morning

I'm starting to plan for Italy in the fall. Thinking of staying here.

Aside from being incredibly beautiful, it is also shockingly affordable. Cannot wait to spend the end of September in Tuscany!

Lunchskins are on their way to me today. I'm so happy to have found these, so I can stop the endless waste of plastic bags and do my little part in reducing and reusing.

Will soon be ordering this landscape screen for the side yard to add a little bit of privacy and a structure for some climbing vine tbd.

I finished up a living room project last week and will have the full before-and-after story for you soon. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of the lovely blue and coral color scheme.

Hope your week is off to a great start! Iced coffee is calling me now...

July 16, 2010

forget the upper cabinets

I'll take ledge shelving and everyday items (artfully displayed, of course) any day. Besides, open shelving is totally a Jeff Lewis signature look. I'm sold.

July 15, 2010

two beds are better than one

Oh, you knew this post was coming. I just adore this look! If you're a big blog reader, this is not the first twin bed roundup you've seen. And if you're a big design lover, you adore this look too, because it's about order and symmetry and balance. Pairing up two twin beds is just so unabashedly pleasing to the eye. It may be rare to encounter a double twin bedroom in our homes these days, but when it's done, the results can be impressive. Imagine: a great design for one bed—then times two. Behold.



tom stringer

southern accents

serena and lily

coastal living

restoration hardware


cottage living

my design dump

sketch 42

melissa rufty

tom stringer


coastal living

brooke gianetti

suzanne kasler

apartment therapy

house and home

house and home

living, etc




katy elliott

james michael howard

tom scheerer

coastal living


john willey

taylor howes

So, now I need to know: Do you have a favorite? Could you even pick one? Some of the adult rooms are stunning, but right now I am partial to the kids' ones—especially the sophisticated girls' room with the zebra headboards. Have you done this in your own home? Would you? If I had the space, I would use two twins in a heartbeat. It's ideal for a guest room or kids' room. So gracious, so charming, so design-satisfying.
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