Friday, February 28, 2014

Playtime with Valentino

 The flokati rug that currently sits in our furniture-less dining room has become Valentino's favorite playtime spot. I often come around the corner to find him entertaining himself by rolling around in its furry fibers or charging head-first from the other side of the room to its edge, where he will inevitably ride it right into the wall. How do we break it to him that this area will soon house a dining table and barstools? 

We're in for a rainy weekend here on the left coast folks and good thing, because we so desperately need it. Because we'll be couped up indoors for the better part of the next two days, I have a feeling we're in for lots of moments like these. Let's hope the rug I waited weeks and weeks for will hold up under the circumstances.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bar Decanter at Bedside

I am not a water drinker during my waking hours. Honestly, I'd rather drink anything else. Probably as a result of that bad habit, I am up throughout the night refilling the glass of water I keep on my bedside table, which inevitably leads to poor sleep patterns. Looking to curb this domino effect, I figured out a way to make it a little easier to have a quick sip before I nod back to sleep by keeping a small decanter of water along with my glass at the ready.

You might remember this post where I shared the up-cycled mineral bar decanters I made from old liquor bottles. I happily displayed them throughout the holidays, even putting them to work as a juice bar for our New Year's Eve extravaganza. Today, one of them serves both a functional purpose, while providing a little extra bedside pretty.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fresh Ideas // Rustic Meets Modern Kitchen

I love spaces that make you reconsider what you think is your "style". If I had to categorize myself, I would figure fancy myself a lover of streamlined modern rooms, free of clutter and anything that might translate as aging. But I've been surprised by so many rooms that fall outside that box, rooms that break through the invisible barrier of what I'm supposed to like and not like. This is one such room. 

I might not replicate the design in its entirety in my own home (a cook's kitchen is so personal), but there are so many wonderful things to love and learn from in this kitchen. I look at this space and I instantly smell coffee brewing and feel a strong urge to huddle up and cook here on a rainy day. Certainly it would be bathed in beautiful lighting with the prominent mixed metal fixtures placed strategically throughout the kitchen. I'm particularly fond of task lighting over the counter these days - over any counter actually be it kitchen, bath or office. Here, they no doubt play a pivotal role in the owner's cooking experience. But what surprises me most though is that there is room for both rustic and modern in this space - the bank of drawers under the counter and appliances certainly skew modern while many of the other furnishings, even if new, keep the space grounded and homey. 

There are other details in this kitchen to study and love. Click on over for some close ups and more out of the box ideas.

Design by Asa Myrberg

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Houseplans // A Green Screen

Spring projects are already in full swing here around the house. The mild weather we've been afforded has made for some pretty productive work week evenings and weekends. In fact, the whole of this past weekend was spent re-working our vegetable bed configuration on the side yard. It's pretty satisfying how well it is shaping up in that part of the yard. But all that time spent out there over the past few days has also raised an issue in another area of our yard we feel we can no longer ignore. 

In an attempt to finally solve for an unsightly fence along the most highly visible poolside planter in our yard, we'll be installing a bamboo screen. The bright sunlight, narrow planter bed and rock-hard clay soil this area makes it difficult for anything to thrive in the ground. So we've come up with an above ground solution that will help us hide out our eyesore of a fence, while adding a verdant backdrop to our pool deck.

Before settling on our plan, we took inspiration from a bevy of options that provide both a privacy or sound barrier and an attractive green belt around a garden or patio. Here were some of our favorites.

There are so many plant options to choose from. It amazes me how a well planned arrangement can keep the prying eyes of an entire city at bay on a rooftop garden. 

As the first stage of our plan, we will remove eight towering Cypress trees along one part of the fence. We've held off on removing them because they currently act as a barrier between our neighbor's second story window and our pool deck. But the bottom line is that they are dirty, costly to maintain and pretty beat up from wind damage and animals that like to nest there so they must go. 

Once removed, we can build out our planters. We're planning on six,  2x6 foot beds, roughly 24" high, but of course that could eventually change based on lumber costs. We're moving towards a walnut stain and chartreuse colored bamboo (perhaps Alphonse Carr) which will both contrast nicely against all the black we currently have going on in the yard. 

Intro Image: John Rocha's home in Provence as photographed by Richard Powers
Last Image: Workshop / apd

Monday, February 24, 2014

3 Things I'd Like to Make // Getting My Creative Mojo Back

I think I found my creative mojo again. Somewhere between planning our big European adventure this past Fall and the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I had lost it. I was tired and frankly, just a little burned out. But lately, I'm finding myself thinking about some new, original projects I'd like to complete. I owe this rejuvenation in part to some of the inspiring creations I've seen from others - projects like the three I am showcasing today. Sometimes I've found it helps to let other makers guide the way back to creativity. 

One of these is already in progress. Can you guess which one? 

Cat Dash, Market Editor at Lonny turned inexpensive terra-cotta pots into little works of art. I love that she also took inspiration from another creative genius when choosing her designs.

I'm betting there is going to be a run on dowels and brassy bits at hardware stores everywhere as a result of the organizational sensation by Fran of Fall for DIY

I've been on the hunt for a unique spin to the vertical garden I'm planning out back. This solution by the stylish Naku of Bambula is one option I'm seriously considering.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Valley of the Moon Revisited // A Weekend in Pictures

I consider myself a true SoCal girl. But truth be told, there's something so wholesomely alluring about the Northern California lifestyle, that sometimes, even I can imagine picking up and moving there someday. For now, there are weekends like this to help feed my soul, complete with 1400 year old Redwoods, rolling hills, farm to table food, plentiful wine and golden, lazy mornings.

In the early hours of Valentine's Day, our little family of three packed up the car and headed North. We arrived in Sonoma Valley, known locally as The Valley of the Moon, just before the dinner hour and began a weekend full of samplings and exploration.

My Dad and Step-Mom have a vacation home in the area and The Mister and I and little Valentino were fortunate to have this magical home base for the weekend, set right in the midst of some of Sonoma's greatest vineyards and Walnut groves.  Our day trips would take us throughout Sonoma County - North into Santa Rosa, Guerneville, Forestville and Healdsburg. Later, we would drive East into Napa County, seeking wineries in Oakville and St. Helena that were on our weekend punch list.

Our first day of exploration had us hiking deep into Armstrong Redwood State Reserve. There we were just us three, on a lonely path lined by ancient towering trees. There was a good mist falling that morning which only added to the atmosphere and scent on the forest floor, all mushroomy, with fern and wood. We saw very little movement, but all the while, were acutely aware of life all around us - the shrieking sounds of unfamiliar birdcalls and falling dew from the canopy far above. We breathed it in deep and were completely lost in it all.

Exploring is hungry and thirsty work. Thank goodness there were plenty of ways to fill our bellies. We finally got to sample some of the local brews at Bear Republic in Healdsburg. One evening, we were also lucky enough to grab a spot at the bar in one of my favorite restaurants - The Girl and The Fig. The rain was falling that evening on Sonoma Square, but inside, we were cozy and happy, grazing our way through their famed menu. We eventually stopped in for some game-changing Mexican food at El Molino Central. It's one of the coolest little dives I've been to in a while. I won't even get into details. Just go and be happily surprised with all you'll see and eat there.

For as much as we saw and did, the thing I'll miss most about Sonoma are the lazy mornings we spent around the house. This was really different for me, an early riser who typically gets up and gets to work back home or sets off early with a list of things to do on other getaways. I think that having access to the house and surrounding neighborhood was critical to that. It allowed us slow-paced morning walks, bundled up in our PJs, with cup of coffee and our boy. No list. We just meandered along the fence lined streets and talked through all we wanted to do that day.

And of course, there was plenty of vino to be had. Eventually, we made our way through both Sonoma and Napa Valleys for tastings. We didn't do a whirlwind tour, but picked a short list of wineries we both had never been to before. It lead to all kinds of happy surprises... even a new favorite Riesling for two red wine drinkers.

In the end, we walked away with a few favorites - both bottles and memories I know we will always look back with great fondness. It was hard to choose among them, but I've managed to select a few picks below that will help to tie you over until you can get up to Sonoma and do a little exploring of your own.

Notes: Though Anderson Valley is further North, we were able to sample the Goldeneye Pinot at Duckhorn Winery in Napa. We never made it to design destination Cade Winery on Howell Mountain, but were able to taste their wondrous Cab at sister winery PlumpJack in Oakville. The grapes from the Lake County Riesling also hail from further North, but you can get a glass from producer Schug right in their cozy little tasting room over in the Carneros region.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Patio Plans // A Geo Pillow Menagerie

It's funny how anticipation for a coming season eventually evolves into a new series of projects around the house. Current focus: the covered patio area surrounding our backyard bar. We had some bench seating installed right after we moved in and though I gave the upholstery a little refresh last spring, I currently have my heart set on adding a menagerie of monochrome geo pillows to funk up the space. After all, we tend to spend the entirety of the summer entertaining in that area. I say, why not stay current and add a little more eye candy?

Would you believe that these inexpensive pillow covers were an inexpensive Etsy find? Check out even more pattern and color options by 5CHomeDecor right here
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