Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Inspired Weekend Floral

I've been trying to get back into the habit of arranging fresh floral about the house. I was once pretty diligent about doing this every Saturday morning - either by way of my local Trader Joe's or Farmer's Market. But somewhere along the way, be it a result of continuous wedding or party floral work or as a by-product of focus (and budget) spent on other house projects, I fell out of practice. The long weekend seemed a perfect occasion to pick it back up.

I took inspiration from a recent Goop luncheon - images of a table arrangement that seemed to pull in some of the flavors of the meal served - lemon, artichoke, asparagus... My modified version borrowed from the colors, textures and plantings around our house and garden. Our lemon tree is overflowing with over-ripe citrus right now, begging to be plucked and put to use. We also tend to favor succulents and cactus around these parts, so I pulled smaller plants from other areas of the house and incorporated them into what became a long, textured buffet of floral, foliage, fruits and veggies.

Memorial Weekend sits right on the cusp of both the spring and summer seasons and I think this hodge podge arrangement is representative of both.  The base was constructed from various materials as well- enamelware, glass, petrified wood and basket vessels.

Over the weekend, we had an impromptu dinner party and deconstructed it to make room for food on the table. It was easily put back together and has lasted nearly 5 days now. It's such a versatile set up. I may even replace the blooms and foliage and give it new life to make it last through the next weekend. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Around Here // Shibori on the Patio

Over the past few weeks, we've been getting pummeled by unseasonal winds here in SoCal. They caught us by surprise in the wee hours of the morning that last week in April. Just the week before, we had finished our landscaping projects and fancied up the area around the fire bowl. We were quite pleased with ourselves for being ahead of the summer entertaining curve for once. But then those Santa Anas blew in and made a mess of all we'd planted and prepared. Daylight finally came and we had nary a moment to survey the damage. We made a mad dash to secure anything that had not yet blown into the pool (or the neighbor's yard) and bring what we could inside to protect it from further damage. 

Such it was that the deep seated bench that once sat around the fire was relocated to our enclosed patio and tarped over to spare what was left of the cushions. Two steps forward, one step back as they say... 

When the winds eventually subsided, it was evident some of the outdoor cushions I made just last season would need replacing. The truth is, we had left them outside most of the year and they had become weather-worn long before that gusty week. While I was not happy about the added expense,  I was thankful to have a good reason to replace them with a softer pattern and easier on the skin textiles.

I was lucky enough to find inexpensive white linen-like pillow cases, along with a couple of flat weave rugs and linen place mats that would eventually become additional pillows. To give them a little color and bring this mish-mash of materials together, I decided to try my hand at shibori.  There are so many tutorials out there on this hand dyed technique, picking it up was fairly easy (here's one of my favorites yet). Supplies were inexpensively acquired and one night after work, I outfitted our shower area with Home Depot buckets and created a dye bath station.

I soaked my twisted, banded and knotted fabric in basic black Rit dye, alternating the bath times to result in contrasting tones. I even tried my hand at painting fabric, sketching dozens of lines down the face of one pillow with screen-printing paint.  The once brown, grain-sack place mats I found on the clearance rack at Home Goods were sewn together and stuffed to create a couple of striped accent pillows.

Once they dried and I had a chance to iron them,  I was pretty tickled at how well they turned out on my first attempt. 

The winds have passed now (hopefully for the rest of the season), but we have not yet moved the bench back out by the fire bowl. The display of plush, shibori pillows makes for nice visual transition walking from indoors to out.  Just beyond our kitchen door, this little area has also become a favorite, cozy spot to thumb through magazines or just curl up in our bathing suits while having lunch on weekends. It may eventually be relocated, but for now, it's a good place to settle in for the lazy days of summer that lay ahead.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Poolside Noshing // Three Make Ahead Salads

The wind changed course last Friday morning, turning the air outside our Orange County home thick and heavy with smoke and ash from brush fires burning 40 miles south. Consequently, the day originally planned to be spent outdoors took a turn of its own and sent me straight into the kitchen, where I happily spent several hours experimenting with the food stocked in our fridge and pantry. I poured myself an iced coffee, turned on my favorite playlist and set about making three salads that could be pulled right out of the fridge and onto the pool deck for some light noshing over the sun-soaked weekend to come.

This one is my own take on a favorite Whole Foods creation. My version of this simple salad whips up fast and easy and stores well in the fridge for snacking over several days - if it lasts that long.

My go to chicken salad recipe typically involves a light tarragon vinaigrette. But lately I've been drizzling Liquid Aminos (a substitute for soy sauce) on almost everything I eat. So I married up my traditional love of an herb-focused chicken salad with my latest taste sensation and ended up with a salad that may be put on regular rotation all summer long. While you may be tempted to add salt along with the many other seasonings that go into this mixture, be forewarned that the Aminos or soy sauce will have already satisfied that element. Taste first, salt later.

I had a small bag of potatoes that were about to turn bad and decided to put them to work in this light, mayonnaise-free potato salad. I pulled out a jar of smoky spanish paprika, originally intending it to add some color. But I let the pungent smokiness of the paprika take the salad in it's own direction and in the end, I had a Spanish inspired version that was equally good served cold from the fridge, at room temperature or heated. For a heartier twist, a thinly sliced hard boiled egg would be a perfect compliment to this dish.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Scenes from our Anniversary Staycation

We spent a mere weekend by the pool, but my tan lines say we went to Bali. Though the original plan was to grab a room by a pool in Palm Springs to celebrate our 6 -year wedding anniversary, we realized we've spent months and months creating the perfect resort at home. Why not just stay and treat it as if we were away for the weekend? Here, I share a few outtakes from a home-stay vacation - a staycation perfectly suited to celebrate the life we've worked hard to build in our years together.

I explored a bit in the kitchen this weekend as well. Tomorrow, I'll share three recipes perfect for poolside noshing this summer.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

One Room Challenge Project Reveal // Guest Bath Redux

 A mere six weeks ago, our guest bathroom bore the band-aid paint job of a hasty, make-do-till-we-can-do-it-right make-over. Today, it is a peaceful, modern retreat nearly fit for a master en suite. Friends, today I'm happily sharing my results for the One Room Challenge, a six-week, semi-annual makeover event that takes the blogosphere by storm. This round, I threw my hat into the ring as a linking participant and while it certainly was every bit the race-to-the-finish line challenge it was always intended to be, the community spirit of this event has admittingly been one of the best blogging related experiences I've had yet. So before I pull back the curtain on my own effort, please let me extend a warm word of thanks to Linda of Calling it Home for hosting and encouraging design minded bloggers like myself to join in amongst the core group of heavyweight designers who shared their reveals yesterday. What a thrill to be sitting here, typing up this post with yet another room finally completed at Holtwood House.  

Over the last three years, our home has slowly transitioned away from dated mid-century finishes and bad 1980's upgrades, to a more modern California ranch-style, with desert and coastal influences.  In the early days following our move, we took the the guest bathroom and upgraded it a bit with some paint and accessories. It was never meant to be a forever solution, but the whimsical striped pattern we had painted on the walls served us well for the last couple of years while we focused on other areas of the house. The One Room Challenge upgrade I'm revealing today brings our plan full circle. We inexpensively remade this space with V-groove paneled walls, concrete counters, paint, hardware, artwork and accessories.

We achieved our objective of 'desert, modern, luxe' through a creamy and earthy mix of color and texture. The clay-like tone of the concrete countertop really drove the direction for some of the more earthier elements like the cactus pottery, Nate Berkus bath rug, curtain trim and the tweed upholstery on the stool. The creamy undertones of Benjamin Moore's White Dove on the paneling and walls brightened up the space and made it feel fresh, while blending nicely with the older tile we have yet to replace. Our hope is that the mix of hardware and fixture metals will also whether design trends as far as these things go. I'll probably always be partial to the warmth of brass, but the coolness of chrome always feels new and modern.

One of the most refreshing changes in this space has everything to do with the panels draped on the sides of the tub. The old shower doors were aged, mismatched and dirty. We were so concerned about exposing the dated square tile behind the tub, that we had kept them there, thinking we'd eventually replace them when we installed new tile. Problem solved - doors were removed and the tile was not as hopeless as we always assumed it was. It's not the subway tile I had my heart set on, but it's in good condition and cleaned up just fine. We hung the paneling high and gave the narrow room some much needed height. 

I think all of the different elements play together cohesively, but there are a couple of individual details that I wanted to highlight. The little vanity stool was a Home Goods find made over with some multi-toned tweed fabric fished out of the discount bin at my local upholstery shop. In person, the undertones read gray-green and compliment my favorite vanity color nicely. I sprayed an inexpensive chrome robe hook from Home Depot gold to match the cabinet hardware. I opted not to install a towel rack in the room, but the hook now offers a place for visiting guests to hang a towel if needed. I skipped the spray paint and applied gold leaf to our two factory-grade IKEA mirrors and then roughed them up a bit with a scouring pad to help give them a bit of a patina. I love the dichotomy of 'aged' metal against the pristine paneling.

So before I close this chapter on the One Room Challenge Guest Bath Redux, one more quick look back on where it all began:

A big thank you again to Linda and to all of you who took time to drop me a note throughout these last 6 weeks. What an adventure. I also can not forget to thank my Pops who spent quite a bit of time helping me panel and paint and of course The Mister, who always indulges me in all my design imaginations. 

You can read about my plan and weekly progress here:

 Please be sure to pop on over to Calling it Home and congratulate all of the talented, hardworking participants linking up today with their big reveals.  


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Guest Bath Redux // ORC Week 5


It happened - my first moment of true One Room Challenge style panic. It was over something seemingly trivial really. All the bigger, time consuming projects are well behind me now in Week 5. But there I was, in the midst of a crisis, the likes of which I had not yet encountered in previous weeks - weeks when much larger tasks were tackled like hanging the paneling, constructing a concrete countertop and choosing paint and hardware.

I think it had everything to do with the fact that just one week from today, I will call this room complete and reveal a project that has really been my personal mission for 6 weeks. Fear of public humiliation or failure, are part and parcel to a public reveal of one of the most personal spaces within our home. 

That mini meltdown now behind me, I'm persevering and tying up all the little loose ends for our Guest Bath Redux. Here's what needs to happen over the next week so I can call this room complete.

It's reassuring to know that I'm in really good company for the home stretch! Be sure to stop by Calling it Home and cheer on all my blogger friends who are linking up as they wrap up their own rooms. 

You can read all about the One Room Challenge, a 6-week sprint to makeover one space, created by Linda of Calling it Home right here

You can read about my plan and weekly progress here:

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