Monday, November 17, 2014


Over the years, I've adapted my approach to entertaining and feeding a crowd. There was a time that I planned elaborate menus built only on made from scratch dishes.  I wanted to wow and please the people who were so gracious to attend our frequent soirees. Admittingly though, I would find myself exhausted from all the cooking and clean up long before the party even began, which made for a rather dull hostess.  Today, my entertaining style is far more laid back and I find I'm able to partake in all the fun intended in the first place. 

As evidence that you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen to create a pretty presentation, I wanted to share the informal 'build your own' spread laid out for an impromptu game night we recently hosted at our home.

The idea was to present options for our guests to build out their own crostinis and plates. We encouraged pairings by building out several different variations beside the various ingredients where guests could take queue and create their own version. Foregoing elaborate platters, I pulled from our pile of boards, mixing and matching wood, slate and marble to create a large display atop our kitchen island.

Colorful micro-greens served as garnish along the edges of each board, creating a cohesive presentation.

We baked off the crostini ahead of party time and used them as filler. Though we pulled together a couple of homemade toppings and dips, many of the options at the buffet were our favorites selected right off the grocery store shelf, taken out of the carton and placed in dish ware for serving.

No need to set up an extra table with cloths. We always find our guests congregating around the kitchen counter, regardless of an elaborate buffet set up. So we went with it and covered the entire island with our food boards. Candles and mini pumpkins helped pull the look together and make it festive.

As an additional tip, we did not put all of the ingredients purchased out at once. Though we bought several pounds of meat to have at the ready, we displayed smaller amounts that could be easily backfilled if needed, eliminating wasteful proportions that would typically sit out untouched during our party. In the end, we had more than we needed, but were able to use refrigerated leftovers for other meals throughout the weekend instead of tossing food into the garbage. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Friends, it's Week 6 at last and I finally get to show you the outcome of a project I've been hard at work on. What an incredible experience to again take part in the One Room Challenge, created by Linda of Calling it Home. I've challenged myself to tackle a personal space that had been nagging at me for quite some time - our Master Bedroom. Along with that, came some additional hurdles like building out a couple of pieces of furniture of my own design, working within my own limited budget and creating a modern, sophisticated master retreat in just under 6 weeks. While I am so very happy with the outcome of all this hard work, one of my favorite parts of participating in this event has always been all the new virtual friendships I've made. I've been so inspired by my design-crazy web-mates who linked in each Thursday to share their own progress.  A big thank you to Linda as well, for all her tireless work to pull this event together. So much goes on behind the scenes that we all will never fully realize. So thank you Linda for the opportunity to link in and take part along with the 20 professional designers and bloggers who revealed their spaces yesterday

I've shared my progress over the last 6 weeks (you can click through to see each week below), so let's get to the happy ending, shall we?

I hinted in recent posts at some new nightstands I was working on. One of my biggest successes with this project was the eventual creation of a pair of burl tables now flanking our bed. Both the top and base are constructed of 100% wood, finished in a mappa burl veneer. I taught myself through some tense trial and error how to apply the veneer myself. I have to tell you, I have so much more respect for experienced craftsman who build fine furniture. What a learning experience! The front flap on my design opens up to allow for media storage (no more tablets and phones in the bed!). I'll be sure to share more about the functional aspects of these tables, related aspirations and what I learned while building them in a future post. 

I couldn't be more pleased with our art selection for this room. Our new print, "Pool Illumination" by Georgia Tankard, sourced through Minted, is a colorful focal point on the newly paneled white wall. I love the quiet impact of the white paneling and how it contrasts with the artwork and some of the weightier furniture that sits alongside it. The chair was a flea market find that I could not live without. My gut was right. Life with this chair has gotten so much easier - a comfy place to sit and visit and tie shoes and well... it's just the prettiest.

Did you notice? The ceiling fan is now GONE. My husband relinquished his beloved fan to make my design desires a reality. In its place now hangs a simple brass shandy made by the talented folks at Park Studio LA (found on Etsy!). They couldn't have been easier to work with and allowed us to drop by and pick up the fixture in person. It makes all the difference and looks so pretty looking in from the backyard pool. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, in the name of making the whole room a more functional space, I decided to tackle our unruly closet during this renovation as well. I painted the inside the same dark shade as the wall behind our bed and added in some additional shelving and brassy brackets. With the extra space the shelves created, I was even able to carve out a small dressing space for all my baubles and wears.

Some other details: The trim work on the doors now makes for a grand entrance to our updated master. We also painted out the aluminum window trim in black, bringing the original 1960's windows up to date.  
My biggest complaint with our former room was that it never really felt finished. We had cobbled together a clean enough look through odds and ends we had when we moved in that didn't end up in other areas of the house. It worked just fine for the last couple of years while we've focused on finishing up rooms elsewhere. But I have to tell you, it feels so good to finally retreat at the end of the day to a space that feels finished and complete.

While I was lucky enough to add some new purchases to our suite, I also acquired a few pieces through good ol' blood, sweat and tears. A new bed was not within our budget, but a bed I built out of a very much like the real thing "leather" was in the cards for us. I also sewed up some custom pillows and shams for our bed, using various pinstriped wool and cotton suiting fabrics. Even the box spring is covered in a subtle charcoal pinstripe. Valentino's toys are now no longer underfoot and corralled in this easy for him to access basket from Ikea. I painted out a green basket I bought on clearance and customized it with some brass and leather strapping to compliment other finishes in the room.

I've received so much encouragement from other bloggers participating in the event. Even so, there were times throughout the 6 weeks where I felt like I was on a one-woman mission to crazy town. Perhaps Emily really captured what I intend to say here best. I enjoy these types of projects so much, but putting all your hard work out there on the interwebs can leave you feeling, well... a bit vulnerable. 

Lucky for me, I have an ace in the hole. I don't work with a formal team of people, but I have a lot of support around me to help me realize my vision. You know when you were little and wished you could grow up and go to work with your parents? Well, I don't get to do that. But working with my Dad on these types of projects gets me close. I've learned so much from him (and I'm pretty sure on the next project he's going to make me use the table saw). Most of all, I appreciate how he believes in me and makes sure I don't look like a fool in front of you all. He built out that paneling I so desperately wanted up there and helped me add some trim work to finish off my burl tables. He drove out over several days and painted the room out and even returned to make sure that beautiful brass fixture overhead got hung at the 11th hour. We're pretty lucky to have my Pops.

Shout out to my hubs and our good friend Kyle as well for helping to get all these side projects over the finish line. I wouldn't even have that chair without my husband who helped me chase down that flea market vendor for it and let's be honest, I still owe him some sort of fan in the room.

To recap, here's my wish list when I first started 6 weeks ago. Though I blew my own self-imposed budget early on, I was able to recover some of what I spent by selling off a portion of the room's prior furnishings. In the end, I accomplished what I set out to do: finally complete our master bedroom while adding a bit of edge and functionality. 

This has been another great One Room Challenge adventure. But let's keep in touch OK?

Previous updates here:

Now go see what all those other 90+ talented bloggers have accomplished over the past 6 weeks!

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