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Thursday, October 16, 2014


It's Week 3 of the One Room Challenge, a trademarked online room makeover event created by Linda of Calling it Home. Today, I'm linking in with all of my design crazy web-mates to reveal progress on the architectural paneling and trim work that now faces what was formerly a 22-foot blank state of a wall.  For months we kicked around ideas to transform this hard-to-work around wall and finally landed on a simple, classic paneled design that added the visual interest we were lacking. Being more of a minimalist, I was concerned about tricking it out too much. But I'm so very happy with the design we landed on.  

By the way - that's my pops up there, making my dreams a reality - again.
 So here's a look at 'er all gussied up in her first coat of white. In the end, three coats of Benjamin Moore 'White' Semi-Gloss brought us to a beautifully smooth finish. The counter to all this white is the now dark accent wall that will sit behind our bed's headboard. After a lot of samples and teasing by the paint guys at our local Ace Hardware (thanks a lot guys...), we went with 'Nightfall', also by Benjamin Moore. I gotta tell you... I am in love with this color. It photographed a little bluer here, but in reality, it's a charcoal gray with a just hint of brownish green. I especially love the way it darkens up at night and the way our recessed lighting plays off of it. Tres sexy... 
 The house has been a torn up mess for 3 weeks because, when I do a project, it typically turns into at least 3-4 other small projects. I'm taking a little heat from the dude on this, but so far he's been pretty patient with the state of things and has been pitching in to move things along. 

In other news... nobody blogs about the One Room Challenge uniform. Please tell me you have one? Mine typically involves the same pair of jean shorts I've worn for the last two weeks, a ball cap and layers of paint splattered t-shirts and sweatshirts. I aspire to be one of those bloggers hammering and drilling away with a perfect manicure, but alas... with this 6-week deadline, who really has time for that? Let's be honest. The day is a success when I wash my face.

So, in summary, the house is a mess, I'm a mess, but we've made quite a bit of progress on the modern, sophisticated master we've always wanted. 

Minus 3 weeks until much needed manicure. 

Catch up on previous weeks here:

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Today's the day I get to share my big plan for the One Room Challenge. This is my second run in this trademarked, online makeover event created by the fabulous Linda of Calling it Home (you can see the ORC project I completed last Spring here). I'm once again linking in to participate for 6 straight weeks of makeover madness with all my design minded blog buddies. The objective this time - bring modern sophistication to our still unfinished master bedroom. Last week I shared a before look at the room as it has sat for most of the 4 years we've lived at Holtwood House.  Today, I'm laying out my game plan to take the room full circle and create the master retreat of our dreams.

 I've long been captivated by all of the elements I'm sharing with you today.  So it feels extra good to show you how I'm going to make them all work together. Paint colors have already been selected, some of the textiles and furniture have already been purchased and I'm well on my way to bringing my vision to life. The final outcome will see a mix of dark and light walls, interest and dimension on the walls where some is sorely needed and texture - lots and lots of texture.

There will be a statement or two in the room - one up high and one down below. Do you recognize that chair? I couldn't help myself... I was haunted by it after leaving it behind at Sunday's flea. It was in the stars and let's just say... we found our way back to each other. I've already gussied it up with leather polish and some Danish Oil and it currently sits in our living room, waiting to take its place in our finished bedroom. Pinch me!
As I'm working my way through this overhaul, I'm taking inspiration from spaces like these, infused with a mix of light and dark, clean lines and texture. These are some of my favorite bedroom designs (ever) and they are guiding me in creating a similar design vibe in my own bedroom.

Revisiting the original wish list I shared with you last week, my plan is to create some visual interest with architectural trim work, update the room's color palette from blue/gray to my signature black + white and upgrade some of the hand-me down furniture with new finds (like the flea market chair!). You'll also see me layer in texture through leather, burl and faux fur details as my plan comes to fruition in the coming weeks. 

I'm promising to reveal at least one major change in next Thursday's update. So be sure to check back! Until then, be sure to follow along on Instagram for a sneak peak behind the scenes.

...and make sure you check out all the amazing makeovers in progress over at Calling it Home. 


*inspiration images 1 | 2 | 3

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I've long admired the way designers pair up classic inner trimmings of a pre-war building with modern fixtures and furnishings. It's one of the things I gravitate to when I'm traveling through Europe - something about the longevity of well built, beautiful buildings of yesteryear living on in the modern age.  But when I'm home, I prefer unfussy architectural details - clean lines, uncluttered walls amidst a mix of both vintage and modern furnishings. Luckily, there are quite a few design options for newer builds these days that give a nod to the trim work of old, but play still play it clean, contemporary and cool.

With my thoughts turned to incorporating some architectural interest onto the blank state walls of Holtwood House, I've chosen a few modern takes on trim work that are helping to guide my design plan.

Collecting samples can be such an arduous task. Between style and dimensions, there are many decisions there.  I find I'm leaning towards more minimalist options with a single, edgy raised profile.

Then there are additional decisions to make around pattern. A picture frame layout is a favored classic look. But designers are taking a more modern approach with bold graphic patterns that become a focal point in the room.

I've been playing with scale and repetition in my own design scheme and have already faced inevitable obstacles when working around vent and socket placement. My well measured layouts have already been derailed several times.

In the end, several walls at Holtwood House will be tricked out in various styles and degree of detail. Clean, classic trim will be juxtaposed against modern fixtures and finishings - a step towards building a more eclectic feel within the walls of our home.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Flea Market Adventures // Indecision

I knew the second I walked away from it that I would regret doing so - and I did, I regretted it on the long walk back to the car, throughout the 45 minute drive home and straight on through dinner. I nearly  drove back, but I continued to waiver in my indecision as I'm prone to do almost anytime I shop, but especially so when I'm considering a major purchase .  Most of time, I can talk my way out of spending money pretty easily, coming up with dozens of ways I could spend those dollars instead. But the truth is, I woke up thinking about the beautiful midcentury chair of my dreams as soon as I opened my eyes this morning. I know exactly where I would put it and in full disclosure, I had been searching for this very chair for quite some time now, sure that when seen it would probably be far out of my reach in some pricey online auction or in the window of some high end antique store I'd never buy from. But there it was, right on a corner stall at yesterday's flea. The vendor knew I wanted it and worked so hard to rationalize the purchase for me. But in the end, I let indecision get the best of me and I left without my chair. 

I need a flea market wingman to keep me from doing this again. 

I spent the whole of this blistering hot weekend scouring flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales. I love rummaging through dusty boxes and cluttered shelves and finding that thing that nobody wanted anymore that I absolutely can not live without. A couple of things I did end up pulling the trigger on: this liberty mirror and this sort of brutalist gladiator painting - both of which will eventually hang in my husband's soon to be made over study. 

I also scored myself a vintage Evan Picone tailored, check blouse (something I plan to wear straight on through spring), some pretty crystalline geodes and a scalloped teak bowl that I plan to use as a bedside catch all. 

All these great little treasures that will get a new life here at Holtwood House ... but that chair tho... 

Thursday, October 2, 2014


It's finally here - the Fall '14 edition of the One Room Challenge and I, Erin Neally am once again jumping into the fray to participate in this bi-annual room makeover event created by Linda of Calling it Home. Am I crazy? Maybe. But in all honesty, I had so much fun (and got a lot done!) in my first round, that I've been counting the days ever since. 

Each Thursday for the next 6 weeks, I will join many other design loving bloggers in a linking event, as we battle through the successes and trials in making over one room.  The payout of all this hard work will be a completed room checked off my to-do list, a lot of learnings and I'm guessing I'll make some new friends in blog land along the way. I tell you, there is no way to fail!

For this round, I'll be focusing on a redesign of our master bedroom. Let me just say upfront that this room as is, works fine. It's clean, it's comfortable and there are actually many things about this room that both my husband and I like.  But the truth is, it's never really felt "finished". We moved most of the furniture in on the first day, much of it relics of rooms in our previous house and there it has sat for the better part of 4 years. I've always imagined a little more edge, sophistication and function for this space, because it is a room we (and that lil' photo bomber Valentino above) actually spend a lot of time living in. So, while a makeover might appear frivolous, this room never really got the attention we wanted to give it in the first place and until now, we have purchased very few new items for this space.

Because we spend so much time here, it's prone to real-life clutter (I've photographed it on a good day) and non-functional aspects (I can't even open one of those closet doors).  That said, its always easy to pick apart a space and become critical of individual elements. So, how about some of the things we actually like:  

The spaciousness. It's a good sized room and the current bed/dresser configuration emphasizes this.  The natural light. We have an 8ft. window overlooking our pool. Day or night, it's a great view.  The TV. It might put the nail in the coffin on a made-for-magazine design, but this is a real-life space and it gets used every single night.  The mirrored closet doors. They reflect light from the windows and keep what would be an otherwise dark corner nice and bright. 

Where we're split:
My husband prefers our ceiling fan. I am longing for a pretty fixture. I wrote all about it in this post. This is one dilemma where we will have to seek a compromise over the next 6 weeks.

To help vet out the plan, we started by compiling a high-level wish list. From there, I began crafting a design strategy that will hopefully address all of these areas. We also came up with our out of pocket budget that must cover any new purchases, tools and supplies.  You must know that I've been squirreling away a savings for this space - cobbled together with side jobs and eBay/Craigslist sales. The final design will repurpose as much as possible (be it here or in other rooms) to eliminate waste and I'm quite sure the final outcome will include some second-hand items. Based on our budget, I've also accepted that all the pieces may not come together in 6 weeks. Additional time and savings may need to happen. But that's all part of this challenge - to see what can be accomplished in a limited timeframe.

Next Thursday, I'll share a bit on the direction and work in progress (yes! It's already set to happen this week). Until then, please be sure and visit Calling it Home to see what my fellow participants are scheming up for their spaces. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


There's been a long standing argument in our bedroom. So far, no amount of negotiating has convinced my husband to see things from my point of view. At the root is a clash between longtime sleeping preferences and prioritization of form vs. function.  An argument about whether we should replace our current ceiling fan with an actual lighting fixture may seem trivial (and in the grand scheme of things, lets face it - it is a bit), but design mojo aside, I'm rallying for fewer mornings with a scratchy throat and stuffy nose and a little more fun in the bedroom.  Here, let lay out my argument.

We've spent countless hours and expended all of our energies upgrading and decorating more prominent areas of our home like the living room and kitchen. The back of the house is still very much a work in progress. It's funny how we push aside even rooms where we tend to really live in order to prioritize spaces typically reserved for company. Our Master bedroom has certainly suffered from this behavior. But I'm looking to change that and spice things up in that part of the house with an upcoming renovation, which will hopefully include a much longed for fixture above our bed. Let's be honest, a well designed fixture can make an impactful design statement and elevate what is often in real life, an overlooked room in the house.

My husband has a slightly different idea about what should be going on above our bed. He prefers the soft wind and dull drone of our ceiling fan overhead when he sleeps. He has slept with a fan on his face for most of his adult life, something that many here in temperate Southern California have become accustomed to. The truth is, our summers are hot and nights are frequently stale with little to no breeze away from the coast. Ceiling fans have become a necessary evil.

While fan placement above the bed is often dictated by region, sleeping preferences also play into the decision. Here my friends, is the root of the root, the bud of the bud.  If I'm being honest, I dislike the feel of the fan on my face. I wake up most mornings allergy ridden and resenting a night's sleep under the fan. Yet, I'll attest to the fact that either the air conditioner or fan is necessary on many nights- particularly during the summer.

Setting aside sleep preferences for a moment, I'd argue that our master bedroom is also a prominent room deserving of a little drama. Not only do we spend much of our evenings there, it also opens up into a second wing in our house visible from all of the other rooms.

When we first purchased the home, we were in a mad rush to meet our electrician's deadline for fixture delivery and ordered several at once - including the fan. It's the most basic white model carried by Home Depot and has worked just fine for its purposes. Had we the budget in those early days, we might have selected something a little sleeker looking. While there are far more budget-friendly choices when it comes to choosing a fixture, the truth is that well designed fans at an accessible price point are indeed harder to come by- even now four years later.

So the jury is still out on our design dilemma. I've offered up a plan that would allow my husband to have a fan blowing on his face all night long while I sleep happily under the beautiful shandy of my dreams. Its easier to think about making this change as we face the possibility of cooler weather. But will I regret it come the next heat wave. Frankly, there's a really good chance. 

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Fresh Ideas // Spacious Bath

Spacious Bath, Fresh Ideas

Not all of us are lucky enough to have a spacious custom master bath in our home. But there is still inspiration to be borrowed from rooms unlike our own. Today, I'm featuring a modern ensuite bath designed by Richard Hallberg (photographed by Miguel Flores-Vianna) with plenty of fresh ideas that can easily be adapted to make even a smaller room feel much more grand.

Behind the tub and between the back windows, a mirrored backdrop lengthens the room and reflects natural light to keep things bright and airy. The designer emphasizes the scale of the room by placing potted trees atop the counter (a trick he uses often - see his online portfolio). Though a more conventional backsplash would have been tile or stone, here a large scale piece of art becomes a central focal point behind the bathtub instead.  The design plan stepped further out of the box with floating shelves beneath the vanity vs. traditional cupboards. Towels placed at the ready give this room a spa-like feel, as does the soft upholstered ottoman in the center of the room.

We have a much smaller master bath configuration at present and are planning to renovate sometime in the next year. The floating shelves and potted trees are two ideas I am considering incorporating to make our outdated small space feel more modern and spacious.