Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Hip List // 'Valentino' Edition

The latest addition to our family needs very few material goods to keep him happy.  Nonetheless, I've created a hit list of a few items we'll be picking up to make sure he's well represented and comfortable within our household. As far as pet accessories go, I always think it best to keep it simple and classic. Valentino's darling little mug and undeniable charms make frilly fuss and adornment unnecessary anyway.

A stylish new soft harness by Puppia will keep him comfy and make him the envy of all the dogs on the walking trail near our house. Classic brass tags with all the necessary details will help bring him back to us should he ever go astray (he's chipped too!). I'm loving the simplicity and polish of these stainless/acacia wood dog bowls! A solid, well made leather leash will last forever. We'll freshen up Valentino's funny little face with these vet-approved pet wipes. We hear he likes to fetch a ball! These tennis ball launchers will make sure our arms can keep up with his playful spirit. Finally, I was able to find a seat protector customized to fit my car. This will help keep water, dirt and sand off the backseat following trips to the beach or park.

Monday, January 27, 2014


If you've been following along with me on Instagram, you already know that over the weekend we acquired a new pint-sized member of our household. Today I wanted to share a bit about our first few days with this little love bug and how life has already changed because of him.

The decision to bring another dog into our home after Dylan's passing was one we struggled with for many months. When would it be the right time? Would it ever feel like right time? I think The Mister came around a little earlier than I did, but somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas I felt ready- ready to once again hear the pitter patter of paws on our wood floors. So we slowly began to search for a dog that would be a good fit for us. 

Unfortunately, we would come to the table with a bit of baggage. I didn't discuss it much here on the blog, but the last few years with Dylan were a heartbreaking spell of intensive care taking, behavior changes, specialists and expensive vet bills. We put off trips we wanted to take and dinners out with friends to stay home, keep him comfortable and healthy for as long as we were given with him. So, we were still a bit leery of taking on a young puppy or adopting a dog from a shelter that may come with his own set of problems. That said, we were still considering these options and others when The Mister came to me with an ad for Valentino.

We spent some time with both Valentino and his family, getting to know a little more about him and the circumstances that were unfortunately resulting in his adoption out of his first home. This loving family tried everything to prevent it from happening, but they had an allergy issue to contend with and decided it was for the best. I can't imagine having to make that decision. 

Luckily, we got a call back that they decided we'd be a good fit for their boy. We had a week to prepare and we were giddy and anxious throughout. A new bed and toys were selected and sat ready to welcome him home. It was a roller coaster mix of emotions the night we exchanged him, but his remarkable reaction once we brought him through the door put us at ease. 

He ran with intention throughout every room in the house, inspecting, getting his bearings. Then toys were found and playtime ensued. He claimed his new bed and slept soundly his first night with us. We could not believe it.

Throughout the weekend, he and I puttered about the back yard together. I grabbed the rake and worked one side to the other, watching as he explored and found just the right patch of sun to sprawl out in. In these initial days, we spent time observing and taking queues from one another. We already learned quite a bit about what makes him happiest. Though we left the patio doors wide open and gave him free reign, we realized quickly that he wanted to be wherever we were.  He rushes to the fridge each time he hears the ice machine, anxious for a small cube or two that might fall on the floor (and he's not shy about asking for one from your glass). Valentino plays hard and quickly tires, rolling on his back for a belly rub if you're willing. He's curious and inspects and falls into sleep quickly, snoring like no other being I've ever heard. 

By the time our parents arrived for a visit on Saturday afternoon, we had already fallen into a comfortable cadence. It was as if he'd always been here with us. By Sunday evening, he was curled up in my lap, head burrowed under my arm, snoring away. I was in heaven. He was trusting enough to jump up on his own and reassured me that he was adjusting ok. It felt like the ship was righted somehow. I don't think the hole Dylan left behind will ever close. But, in just these first couple of days, our little family has already found balance once again.  

More than anything, I hope sweet Valentino has found some balance during this weekend transition and realizes that we are here to give him a good life with us. I can not tell you how lucky we feel to have him.


Friday, January 24, 2014

A Birthday Wish List

Coming right off Christmas, I always feel a little guilty about celebrating my birthday. Santa is always plenty good to me and I can't imagine needing or wanting anything more. That said, I thought I'd have a little fun with a birthday wish list post anyway. I've been working pretty diligently towards two of these things and who knows? I may eventually treat myself. The others are extra 'would be nice' luxuries that would make the marking of another year all the more special. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Make This // Geo Dowel Pendant Fixture

I recently shared some pictures from the big New Years bash we had here at the house and today, I thought I'd highlight one of the design elements that went into the party decor.

We were expecting a lengthy guest list and wanted to make good use of every corner of the property. So though it was unseasonably warm that night, we staged a tent out by the pool to house another seating area for guests. Tent lighting options are readily available from party rental companies, but I always opt to create a unique statement piece of my own. I have an affection for lighting fixtures in general- but especially those that are inventive and make good use of understated items to create something more dramatic. The dowel pendants I came up with were heavily inspired not only by my fixation of late on geometric patterns, but by the seasonal Himmeli that adorn Scandinavian houses at Christmastime. So there was both a motivation to infuse something handmade, but also meaningful and relevant to the time of year.  The fringe benefit? These were inexpensive to make which left extra budget available for other more important expenditures like cocktails.

I have to tell you that though these may look complicated, they honestly came together so easily. I was convinced they'd fall apart with the first evening gust. But the glue has held them strong and sturdy well past the turning of the New Year. 

Here's the how to.

What you'll need:
1/4" wood dowels sourced from craft supply store
Hot glue gun/sticks
Plug in pendant lighting kit
Filament Bulb

To create a design like mine, you'll need 24 - 12" dowels. I also used Ikea's Hemma lighting kit. But you can also find similar kits at Urban Outfitters and on Amazon.  I finished off the pendant with an old fashioned filament bulb for effect, sourced right from my local Home Depot.

For our large party tent, I made two separate fixtures and hung them side by side. I also left the wood dowels unpainted for this affair. But, these can be easily repurposed with a little paint to create an entirely new look for our next party. See? It's a win win and good use of resources.

Party on.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Design Dilemma // Table Leg + Stool Pairings

I really thought I had it all figured out. I've had the barstools and legs picked out for our custom built mahogany dining table top for months and months now. But then the wall color changed and the windows got all black and steely on me and well... I find myself at a design cross-roads with new decisions to make. So what better an opportunity to pass the buck and turn to you design-enthusiasts for a little help in making selections?

Here's where we stand above. We're choosing to leave the windows bare and show off all that clean, black framing. The table will be counter-height, not bar height unfortunately due to the drop in the chandelier. No sense saddling up to the table if you can't see the person sitting across from you, right?

We're having the legs fabricated by a local welder to meet our height and width requirements. While I always hoped for a polished X base on the table, those window frames have me reconsidering a more streamlined flat-black square base. There is a lot of chrome already in the space with the chandelier above and lighting in adjacent living room. So perhaps it's best to downplay the polish at the table. 

As such, I'm leaning toward the black square base paired with the minimalist black stools. I think the footprint on the stools is just right and will allow that warm wood to take center stage by sliding just under the table. Of course, the stool selection will be a stretch budget-wise, but the legs will probably come in a bit lower than the 'X' base or other chromed out option.

So dish. What is your favorite pairing? 


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kitchen Wallpaper Reveal

If you've been following along for any length of time, you'll know just how excited I was to get the wallpaper up in our kitchen dining area. I had ordered a sample of Erika Wakerly's 'Angles' in the white/silver color way many, many months ago and there it sat, taped to the wall - a hopeful reminder that someday this space would take a more formal shape. 

Santa (aka my Husband and Mother In Law) packaged up this long awaited gift for me over the holidays and we booked some time with my Pops over this past weekend to get it up on the wall. In just a couple of hours, he showed me how it's done.

It was fun to play apprentice that day, watching as he matched, measured and cut with precision around sockets and door frames. Though he's been doing it for many years, in the end,  I felt sure I could probably hang a simple wall or two on my own, someday down the line - though maybe I'll test out my skills with a far less expensive roll... 

We don't get a lot of natural light in this part of the house. So it was important to us that the paper we selected would help brighten up the space, not just add decoration. It was difficult to capture in these photos, but the light that does come in through the adjacent patio windows reflects beautifully off the chaotic metallic design, accomplishing what we were hoping it would do.  We moved the glass cabinet back in place along the wall and added some backlighting. It actually looks a little formal, so I'm hoping to 'dress it down' a bit with artwork, some new textiles around the table and accessories. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekend Progress + Some Thoughts

I am so happy it's Friday! This year has started out pretty productive and while I try to fit in some personal project work during the work-week, real progress truly happens on those two little days between this one and the next. This weekend I'm targeting both the dining room wall (Pops is back! - that's him doing some prep work just ahead of that long awaited paper) and some necessary yard clean up. The Santa Ana winds have been howling for nearly a week around these parts (and it's been pushing 90 all week-- in January!) and the yard is just a dusty, windblown mess. Saturday, my Pops is teaching me how to hang wallpaper. Here's hoping all goes smoothly... 

I also wanted to highlight a few things that had my attention over the course of this week - some that made me really think and others that had me a bit excited...

Mind This | I'm really enjoying Design Sponge's 'Mindfulness' series. This particular post articulated a lot about what I've been feeling lately. I think I've slowly been evolving to a similar Need + Love formula myself.

The Most Unselfish Gesture | Did you come across this story? I had no words... I sat and read through it twice and tried to put myself in every single person's shoes and see it as they experienced it. He says he did it to make himself feel better. I think it was one of the most unselfish acts I've ever heard.

Fan Fare | Those close to me will understand the utter joy and excitement this news from Rolling Stone brings to me.

Up for a challenge? | Goop has teamed up with Food52 on a little contest? Are you game?  I'm considering it...

Have a good weekend friends... 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Project In Progress // Metallic Linen Pillows

With the living room now washed in a bright white paint job, my attentions have turned to incorporating more neutral accessories into our living room. With the gray walls gone and the lamps upgraded to white, I'm really feeling a simple, clean palette in that space. To help lighten up our extra large charcoal gray sectional, I've been kicking around the idea of a pillows in various white, ivory and cream hues, a mismatched collection in various textures all tied together with one common denominator- metallic linen. 

I've found myself running into a typical problem of mine: I settle on something I really want and then can not for the life of me find it. I've seen some close runner ups on Anthro and West Elm and was a little shocked to find pillows upwards of $200 on other sites - I know it's par for the course as these things go, it's just not in my budget- especially not in the quantity I'm aiming for.  So I have resolved to find my own solution and will re-open the pillow factory at the kitchen table once more.

I've been meaning to try my hand at some painted textiles anyway. I think this is a safe enough endeavor to experiment a bit and see what I can come up with.  I'll be mixing and matching with some metallic linen yardage I've been lucky enough to find at Avisa Fabrics through Etsy. Gray Line Linens in New York has some affordable options as well. I'm probably going to order a few swatches from each to see how they will pair with the sofa and with each other before taking the plunge.

More to come on this project. Cross your fingers for me.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Picture This // A Trip Through Joshua Tree National Park

We rose early on Saturday morning and before that first cup of coffee was finished, we were on the road headed East toward the desert. Our day tripping plans had manifested not only out of resolve to get out and do more things in 2014, but truth be told, this adventure also had purpose. 

Many months ago, we finally settled on a direction for the styling in our central dining area. One of the things it involves is a photography installation of sorts. We searched local shops and online archives, but could not find the one. Unable to find exactly what we wanted elsewhere, we decided to experiment with our own camera. Saturday's subject: the twisting and turning architecture of the Joshua Tree. Lucky for us, they grow right in our own backyard here in SoCal.

Driving those first few barren miles into the park from our chosen entrance, I'll confess I was a little skeptical that we'd find the shot we were looking for. But as we wound our way along the perfectly maintained roadways within the park, I'm certain I no longer cared. What a sight to behold. It was as if we'd landed on some ancient and distant planet, warmed by a glowing desert sun. 

We'd drive along the main road, detouring at intervals down one of the unpaved paths that lead to a campground or point of interest. Rock formations drew most of the picnic seekers, hikers and climbing enthusiasts, leaving the main thoroughfare largely desolate.  The solitude only seemed to add to the experience. It felt as if we were seeing something seen for the very first time.

I'd pop out of the car to capture a few of the more unique specimens, anxious and excited to be roaming amongst this martian landscape. The Mister played both scout and driver, looking for just the right turn out that might yield us some more interesting points of view.

Carefully, I watched my step amongst the dust and brush, reminded by the boroughs and ant hills that once I ventured out beyond the well maintained road, I was trespassing into true wilderness.

Even amongst untamed desolation and the occasional fallen soldier, we found so much beauty.  I snapped away, at times focused and intent on capturing what I saw through my view finder. At others, I carelessly aimed my lens, trying desperately to take in every frame of what I saw right before me.  How could you possibly explain it otherwise?

Towards the end of our self guided adventure through the park, we made our way to Keys View, a summit of sorts looking down from the high desert to the lower Coachella Valley below. Haze prevented what we were told was a clear line of sight right on into Mexico. But we could clearly see Palm Springs and Mount Jacinto to the West and the glare of the vast Salton Sea out in the eastern distance.

Once back home, I crossed my fingers and was able to get a better look at what we shot through the camera. In the end, we captured the one we were hoping for. There's so much romance in the idea of filling our home with images we shot on days like these. The photo that will eventually hang in our dining room will serve as a good reminder to embrace new adventures and will always recall the day we ran around the martian desert, long after the dust has left our boots.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Around Here // Lewis Dolan Bar Pulls

Sometimes its the little details and not the dramatic transformations that bring the most satisfaction. At a time where still - every room in the house can be called "unfinished" and we're already in the midst of planning bigger renovation projects for the Spring, I can't tell you how excited I was when the UPS driver rang our doorbell on Christmas Eve with one more itty bitty package I had nearly forgotten all about.  I might as well have won the lottery when I tore it open that night, for I had long admired the Lewis Dolan Bar Pull Collection and knew somewhere along the line I'd find just the right place to display it at Holtwood House.

We had painted off the set of oak built-ins sitting in our entry-way. But there they have sat, naked for nearly 4 years now. Truth be told, the cabinets are built so that no hardware is needed to open them so it wasn't at the top of our punch list to adorn them with unnecessary ornamentation while we attended to well, other more necessary expenses elsewhere in the house. It's funny though how desire sometimes necessitates need and that's what happened with these particular pulls. Eventually I had to have them.

The day they went on, it's like a little beam of light was shining down on our entry. They added just the right amount of polish and put us just over the finish line so that at last, we could now call this space complete.

Note: I ordered the Bar Knobs in Brushed Brass from myknobs.com. They were fast to ship, competitive and I couldn't have been more pleased with my purchase. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Made It // Upholstered Box Frame

I'd love a new bed. I've imagined moving a king sized mattress, complete with a professionally upholstered frame, fit with 500 thread count sheets into our bedroom long before I ever laid eyes on Holtwood House. But you have to admit, that there's also something so undeniably satisfying in making something happen from almost nothing and in resolving a long standing eyesore with just a little experimentation, risk and determination.

I'd long tired of the old skirt that used to hang around our bed. I tested longer bedspreads and oversized duvets that might fill the gap between our metal frame and the floor just so and still leave a sleeker impression. But those temporary solutions still left our 'made' bed still looking pretty disheveled. As we approached the holidays this year, I had a vision to create an extension of the wall hung headboard I had made just weeks after moving in. My plan would implement a 'box' that would sit around the bed - unanchored to the metal frame, but sturdy enough to stand on it's own. 

Initially, I spec'd out some boards, but even knotty pine in the dimensions I needed would end up costing more than I ever wanted to spend on this project. I nearly bit the bullet when I happened to glance over at the reduced lumber pile and saw a plywood panel marked with a little paint at 70% off. Some quick math and at $3.60, including some custom cuts out the door, I knew I could not pass it up.

Back home on the fly, I fashioned a box that sat 16" high from the floor around our bed - just a smidge higher than the box springs. I set my plywood boards at 90 degree angles, fastening them together with 2" wide corner brackets. Some batting I had hanging around the house was stapled over the box once it was set upright around the bed. This added some much needed padding and dimension under the upholstery. 
Unfortunately, I no longer had the headboard fabric and knew I'd have a hard time finding an exact match. Luckily, I had just enough (and I mean... just enough) micro-suede in a similar color left over from an abandoned pillow project and at last found another use for it. I carefully measured and marked the backside before cutting it down and stapling it into place.

The bed looks so much more polished now - particularly when the duvet is tucked tightly into the box frame. This was one of those surprisingly satisfying little projects where the stars aligned and all came together quickly, inexpensively and better than I ever anticipated. Just an hour of my time - using just a handful of materials, most of which I already had on hand and the result really worked to elevate our master bedroom. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Welcoming 2014 // All the Details from Our Inaugural Celebration

The first six days of 2014 have been a wondrously fun mix of photo swapping, video watching and reminiscing. The truth is, while many of you have already moved past holiday clean up and on to organizing life in the year to come, I'm still riding high from the party we threw on New Year's Eve. I have to tell you, after so many weeks of planning and handcrafting details for our fete, it's truly been the sweetest gift. 

Today I'm offering a glimpse into all the handiwork that made up our inaugural celebration. 

We wanted our guests to get the message straight away - this was a party! We placed a few effects and some party animals out front to help show them the way.

Our signature cocktail greeted them at the door. We nicknamed it the "Au Revoir" - a tasty concoction of Calvados, Champagne, Apple Cider and Mint. It was sort of the Yin to the Yang as we we ushered out one year and welcomed another.  

 I whipped up a few shooters from the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen archives to get our party guests going. First up - The Bramble (citrus vodka with a blackberry floater), The Cosmo and a Cucumber-Lime Margarita shot served silver spoons.

The beaming Cheers marquee sign created by The Mister lead guests out onto the patio bar. We had asked guests to help us build the bar by bringing a bottle of their choice with them. It worked out really well and we had everybody's tastes well covered. 

The mineral decanters I had created just prior to the holiday were used to present juices and other mixers beside the bar.

We lucked out with the weather and ended up spending part of the balmy night poolside under the canopy. We ditched sidewalls in favor of prettier effects. I pulled together some geometric lighting fixtures using dowels and industrial bulbs. Overhead, we hung a cone art installation (10 hours and 1200+ sheets went into that). Lumber trees decorated with white paper flowers sat along the perimeter of the canopy in between the cocktail tables.

Some old wood paneling was parlayed into a timepiece that announced the New Year on both coasts.

One of the best decisions we made was hiring in Felipe and his amazing taco cart for the night. No work in the kitchen meant more time preparing pretty details like the monogrammed and gilded coasters that sat on all the cocktail tables.

The biggest transformation of the night impacted our living room. We cleared out all of the furniture to create two sections - a dance floor and adjacent lounge area where guests could rest their dancing feet. To protect the floors, we laid down thick plastic and indoor/outdoor carpeting. The solution was a success!

In the dining area, we fashioned a board game using dice and the painted beasts that sat around last year's Christmas tree.  

Tired guests were sent home with hand painted goodie bags stuffed with a burrito, taco sauce and a chocolate chip cookie - the requisite snack after a long night of dancing and indulging!

We woke up to the aftermath of a great celebration. Thankfully our house can take a party and cleaned up well. As we kick off the first official work week of 2014, all is already polished, shined and put away. But what a night to look back on with all our nearest and dearest. It's something both The Mister and I will remember and talk about for many nights to come. 
© Holtwood Hipster. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig