Tuesday, December 2, 2014


With cooler weather, early nights and holiday preparations of late, I've been spending so much time in the kitchen lately. I've reacquainted myself with all the little details I love most about my cooking space, while making notes about subtle changes that would make meal prep and storage run a little more smoothly. One of the things I would add if I could would be a larger storage or butler's pantry. So it was no surprise to me that this high contrast arrangement by Danielle White of 'The Countryphiles' peaked my interest. It's perfectly suited to my own tastes that bridge both modern and vintage in design. I can't resist all that glossy, black, beveled tile along the backsplash and how they paired it with warm wood countertops and white cabinets. The composition and finishes all make perfect sense - but especially so when viewed as a whole along with the house. Click on over to see a full tour as taken when the house hit the market back in May.


Monday, December 1, 2014


 It's Cyber Monday and you may very well have your sights set on getting all of your holiday shopping done today online. The holidays can be a bit of a budget buster and a good deal on something you truly want to purchase for someone can only help. But should you not find the perfect gift online today or one within your budget, consider pulling together an inexpensive handmade gift any recipient would be happy to receive.

Though I won't be tackling suede clutches and tipi forts as I did in years past, here are three quick and easy projects I'm considering over the next couple of weeks for someone close to my heart.


A beautiful terrarium not unlike the one above is the perfect foil to a long, cold winter for your gardening enthusiast aunt. The best part: you don't have to be a gardner to build one. Simply layer materials of your choosing together in a clear glass vessel (Tip: seek out something similar from your local Target or Home Goods).  Refinery 29 brought in the professionals to break it all down for you.

 One year, a relative brought me back a sampling of local flavored salts from a trip to Hawaii. They were simply packaged, but the smells and colors of the various salts were so intriguing and inspired me to use them in all sorts of dishes over the months that followed. I think this idea by Daily Fix takes it one step further - adding both herbs and spices to salts uniquely packaged in glass tubes - perfect for your brother in law who likes to experiment at his grill year round.

Hello Natural
 I came across this easy leather brush wrap and thought it'd be perfect for both make up and art brushes. Perhaps you found some pretty little brushes online, but are not crazy about the packaging they came in. Queue a little leather and cording and you have yourself an elevated, handmade case to present those brushes in to your niece who is a budding make up artist. Those brushes will probably mean more to her (and last longer) protected in a pretty little keepsake that she'll use for years to come.

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!


Thursday, October 30, 2014


It's Week 5 of the One Room Challenge, a 6-week room makeover event that makes waves through blog land twice each year. This challenge, created by Linda of Calling it Home is not for the faint of heart. It's a rigorous obstacle course of design, innovation, problem solving, budget limitations and stamina. I'm linking in again to give you a play by play of progress as I go into the final week before the big reveal. 

Catch up on previous weeks here:

At this point, I'm working feverishly on tying up all loose ends on our master bedroom makeover.  Since I last checked in, I've made some final purchases that have actually started arriving at our doorstep, visited my local Home Depot more times than I can count and completed a couple of "build your own" projects that finally have me feeling pretty good about making the 6 week deadline. 
With all these details starting to come together, it feels very much like I'm falling asleep in a brand new room each night. Pretty exciting stuff.

One of the projects I finished in the last week was our new upholstered "leather" headboard and frame. I was able to score some beautiful buttery faux leather from Dorell Fabrics. If you are in Orange County, I highly recommend checking them out by the way. They have a killer selection of almost-like-the-real-thing faux leather. Feeling pretty satisfied with how this turned out. 
Last weekend saw lots of activity on the project front, including some more progress on a burl side table project (that stop the presses ! - I'm just revealing now for the first time). I found a great specialty hardwoods retailer that has become my current favorite haunt by the way. I've been teaching myself through a little expensive trial and error about how to properly apply veneer. This project is about 75% complete at this point, but I'm optimistic about pulling it out just before the final photo shoot. I also visited Mood Fabrics in LA over the weekend and picked out some suiting fabrics that I'm incorporating into our pillow scheme. 

Finally, I'm revealing some details on some of the prettier effects that will go into our room (pictured above)

I ordered a limited edition print by Georgia Tankard titled "Pool Illumination" from Minted. It's an underwater, nighttime pool shot that I just kept going back to time and again when searching for art to deck out our newly paneled walls. Its pretty apropos for our poolside Master Bedroom.

Also ordered was the Bradley floor lamp from Eurostyle Lighting. It arrived in a flash and exceeded my expectations. It's looking mighty fine paired up with that vintage leather chair I picked up from the flea last month.

I couldn't resist picking up a few Nate Berkus goodies from Target like this gold and black faceted lamp, geometric woven storage bin and these navy and velvet pillows

I've addressed the upgraded furnishings with the bed and tables and am closing in on some of the textural details in the room. I'll be focused on finalizing artwork and pulling all the textiles and accessories together in this final week. Meet you back here in exactly 7 days for the final reveal!
Be sure to check out progress by all my crazy talented web mates over at Calling it Home.


Thursday, October 23, 2014


Week 4 of the One Room Challenge never fails to sneak up on you. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that just yesterday, I was feeling pretty darn confident about where I am in the course of this 6-week makeover event, brought to us all by the lovely Linda of Calling it Home. But then I woke up this morning in a sheer panic, knowing I'd have to give an update and share some of the details on my progress. Funny how that happened. Never underestimate the emotional challenge of the One Room Challenge. 

So let's chat about where things are here in our master bedroom makeover during Week 4.
 First off, what would I do without my Pops. I mean... look at the grand entrance he made for us by tricking out our double doors with a little trim. It's such a pretty little surprise to behold and flows nicely from the adjacent hallway into our newly paneled master.

I've been putting in a lot of sweat equity myself, creating and building some of the furniture that I've envisioned for this space. Custom built pieces from the trade are sadly not in my budget. I may end up saving for something down the road. But the ORC is the perfect opportunity to hone some of my DIY skills. I can tell you that as of right now, I have a project hanging in the balance that may not be coming to fruition as smoothly as I imagined. But I am pressing on with a second attempt and if not, will put Plan B into action. 

I'm a bit of an overachiever. But one of the things on my wish list is "better functionality" and well, I just couldn't live in this newly updated master without addressing the chaos that lay just beyond the broken closet doors. So I took on that area and gussied it up with my charcoal paint and some brass brackets. I'm pretty giddy about how it all turned out and guess what... I've discovered that I actually do have some nicer clothes to wear other than my ORC uniform after all.

These next two weeks will fly by and I'll be posting regular updates on Instagram. Are you following along? You can also catch up on previous weeks here:

Be sure to check out all my insanely talented web-mates linking in over at Calling it Home.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Taking Notes // Bedroom Table Styling

I've been busy on making over our master bedroom for the One Room Challenge and one of the areas I've been particularly focused on is the eventual styling of our dresser and bedside tables. While so much focus on designing a polished bedroom goes into layering linens, my eye always gravitates to the layered personal effects that to me, really breathe life into this private space. 

While my goal is a completely polished and finished room, I'm wary about over styling. It's a slippery slope to design a photographable room without oversimplifying or cluttering up with needless artifacts. So often, I look at a room in a magazine and say to myself: yeah, but it looks like nobody lives there or none of that even belongs in a bedroom. In the end, I want the final ORC outcome to convey the space we will be living in everyday. While I may not leave my socks on the floor or the aspirin on my bedside table when I photograph our master makeover, it's important to me to style our bedroom in a realistic manner.  Most of all - I want it to feel finished. So I'm taking notes from the pros by browsing through some of my favorite bedroom table vignettes.

So much of the furnishings, art and textiles will read masculine. I'm a bit intrigued about the idea of displaying some traditionally feminine artifacts like perfume on the dresser. I've always tucked them away in the bathroom or in a cabinet (one less thing to dust!). But I may just pull out some of my pretty bottles and display them. Maybe doing so will even encourage me to wear my favorite fragrances more often.

I'm also a bit leery about clutter. But meaningful displays - personal collections, photographs and artifacts that will serve as a reminder of good memories my husband and I shared together are something I'm considering in our final design. 

Most of all, I plan to use table top displays as an opportunity to bring color and life into our room. We're in week 4 now and still very much in the 'laying the groundwork' stage. But by next week, I should be well into adding in some of the layers that will add color, texture and dimension to our master makeover.

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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:

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