Monday, December 30, 2013

Lovely Mondays - Budget Friendly

Given that we are post holiday and some of you may want to put that credit card away for a bit, today I will shine the light on a few pieces that stylistically can hold their own in a high end interior space.  They provide style and at the same time would suit any budget.

Admittedly I will not do this often so this may be a post for the record books.  The reason is simple; I truly believe in the ability of the craftsman. I am lucky to be able to wander through showrooms such as Holly Hunt, Design Atelier and Dennis Miller and see impeccably made pieces of furniture. I know and my clients end up knowing what priceless pieces these are and what they can add to your home.  It is why I have been so carefully developing and editing and reworking my own line of furniture.  I do concede however that there are times you need to add a piece here or there that isn't heirloom quality - perhaps to try something trendy, or because you know it will end up to be your four year old's favorite spot (or in the direction that your four year old will be throwing a baseball as in the case with our home).  So with that in mind.....

This is the Valencia Vanity Stool from Home Decorators. At $159 it is a steal and is extremely versatile.

I have owned this side table from Neiman Marcus for ten years and it is still one of my favorite pieces.  I have used it as a standard side table for my living room, but it has the height for a nightstand or a tea table.

This is such a nicely designed barstool from Ikea.  Comfortable but modern.  I have used them with custom slipcovers for an even sharper look.

Wisteria is definitely my favorite mail order catalog.  They really have a number of unique items at reasonable prices.

I love this mirror for its simplicity and scale.  

Another simple piece but the alabaster will certainly add luxury to any room.

I am often impressed with the home goods from Urban Outfitters.  I certainly could not wear their clothing anymore so I'll stick to curtains...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

I hope you enjoy the first full post from our contributor, Kelly Barnett.  She is my wonderful design assistant and such a talent; we are lucky to have her on board! 

Fabulous Fridays - Sunday Brunch

Sunday brunch is hands down my favorite meal of the weekend. Give me some good coffee, a mimosa, and delicious breakfast food and I'm set for a day of relaxing (in stretchy pants) with the people I love. The problem with brunch, for me, is always "the choice." Salty or sweet? Pastry or eggs? Toast or pancakes?

With a quiche I don't have to decide. Eggs and cheese in a pie crust? Why yes, I'll take a slice. Or three.  A few months ago I stumbled upon this adapted Thomas Keller Mushroom Quiche recipe on the Smitten Kitchen Blog. 

The dangerously buttery crust alone was WELL worth the tedious hours of prepping and cooking. Deb recommends par baking your crust so I made mine the night before we had guests over for brunch. (If you are going to do this I suggest you invest in some baking beads... I made do with all the change and rice in my house to fill the 3" thick pan and ended up hunched over the sink separating change from rice for the rest of the night... not as easy as it sounds.) 

Below is my first attempt which I would label "moderately successful."

I say "moderately" because the crust was heavenly but I should have let the quiche set for a bit longer before serving. If you are hoping to serve your guests brunch before noon I suggest getting up early for this one. :)

We have friends visiting from out of town this weekend and I plan on taking on this mountain of a quiche again.. this time with a crazy toddler and a newborn in tow. Let's be honest, we might end up with an eggy mess and be going out for brunch on Sunday.

This time I'll add the two extra eggs Deb mentions on her blog. Personally I prefer a denser quiche to a custard. I also substituted basil for thyme the first time around (this is a no thyme household) and added fresh crumbled feta and the flavors were amazing.

Serve with a light arugula salad and some fresh fruit and you have a brunch that will wow your holiday guests and satisfy the full gamut of brunch cravings. And don't forget the seasonal pomegranate mimosas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Contest Wednesdays - Furnishings

This is an exciting post for me because I love my sources so when I have an opportunity to share them with you and potentially bring them more business, I am thrilled.  We used some superstar sources for this contest and we are going to let you have access to our personal rolodex.   We hope you enjoyed this month's up is a modern home office space (featured in January).  And please remember that if you'd like to enter the next contest you have until December 31!

Highlight 1
The Daybed
This gorgeous piece is by Madeline Stuart.  We placed it in front of the fireplace because it provides a luxe seating option which would otherwise be hard to pull off in this small room.  With its extremely low back, you can place it in front of the fireplace and still take advantage of the great view.  The fact that it is more shallow than a normal sofa (32" compared to 40") is key.  Using an outdoor fabric makes it extra durable.

Highlight 2
The Armchairs
These chairs available at Jayson Home will work very well comfortably pulled up to our round game/work table, but the most important thing is that they are light enough to rotate to face the daybed.  All of a sudden you get a seating group for four perfect for entertaining.

Highlight 3
The Art
With a more traditional space we decided to mix things up a bit by placing some contemporary photography.  Since this particualr family has children, we thought that the playful and lively work of  James and Karla Murray would be a wonderful addition to the room.

Extra Details
The antique marble fireplace will be an unexpected juxtaposition against the modern mahogany paneling.  The small bench with sconces above will make for a great reading corner for the clients youngest daughter.  The ceiling fixture by Urban Electric is refined and classic but the finish is really a wow factor.  

Please look for next week when we'll discuss the textile and color decisions!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lovely Mondays - Papers

I have had a myriad of responses when discussing wallpaper with clients.  Many still are of the opinion it should have stayed in the 70s. On the other hand, one client went so far as to say he didn't want to see an inch of drywall in his entire home, that it all should be papered.  I personally love the effect wallpaper can provide.  Warm, unique, colorful.  When you think about how rich and lively fabrics can be, why not take the opportunity to have that effect on your walls for something special?  

Here is a powder room with a modern damask installation - so dramatic.  Paper by Graham & Brown.

The paper here is so subtle, but if you look closely you'll see a lacquered circle design on a matte black background.

This provided a very subtle texture for a bright white bedroom.

The design behind the daybed is actually a paper from Trove.  Many people who attended the showhouse mistook it for a hand painted mural.

The paper on the right ended up hiding closet doors in a showhouse.  They had no personality before (see pic) and so I had them fully covered with a paper from Anthropologie.



Friday, December 13, 2013

Fabulous Fridays - Holiday Style

My style in clothing is very much a reflected in my interiors work.  My pull toward clean lines and luxurious textures is evident in both.  I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together....
happy celebrating!

Dinner Party

Cocktail Party



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Contest Wednesdays - Space Planning

In today's post we are going to share the details of the floor plan for this month's winning design.  Our challenge was to fit THREE purposes into a fairly small, square room.   The clients wanted this 13' x 13' room to function as a reading lounge, an entertaining space and a work space.

As with any small space, allowing furnishings to easily move and serve more than one purpose is key.    Also, by using furnishings that aren't typical is helpful as well (a standard 7' long and deep sofa or overstuffed lounge chairs, for example).

Function 1 - A lounge-y reading space
We placed the gorgeous low running chaise in front of the fireplace; an extra cozy placement and one of the only places that a large scale piece could be successful.  An added bonus of making for a killer view as you walk into the room.  

Function 2 - A work space
We fit in a corner banquette with a nice size 42" round table.  This can now work as a game space, homework space or even an intimate dining space.  The banquette allowed us to fit a larger table because it does not require the depth that dining chairs would.

Function 3 - An entertaining space
When guests are present the game table will work as a perfect buffet/bar.  The two freestanding chairs will turn and pull up nicely to face the daybed to work as a conversation space for 4.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lovely Mondays - Radiant Orchid

I am personally ecstatic that Pantone has named Radiant Orchid the color of 2014.  Now I do like to think that my job is staying ahead of the trends and as designers, we use color like crazy and it completely varies from client to client.  

However, with this new public enlightening of this lovely pinky purple color (one of my personal favorites) I am hoping I can more easily persuade clients to be a bit more bold.  Up to this point, I have only used it in the 2011 Lake Forest Showhouse and Gardens and also my own powder room in Chicago.


A perfect example of no color really being "new" to designers is the brilliant colorist Jamie Drake. He has mastered radiant orchid many times over.  

What are your thoughts?  Are you willing to go pink??
I am hosting a Christmas Brunch and thought it would be a fun way to use this color in small doses...beginning with this lovely invitation from Oscar de la Renta via Paperless Post.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fabulous Fridays - Cookies!

I call myself a stress baker.  There really isn't any other way to describe it.  It really sounds better than calling myself a stress eater (which I also am) seems more productive, no?  So you can guarantee that during this busy holiday season there will be extra baking going on in my house.  The kids and I will begin this weekend; I am letting all four pick a cookie to make for the holidays as we have friends and family in and around the house.  Below are my favorite basic recipes that will get us started...hope you enjoy!

My favorite cookie right now is a twist on the traditional chocolate chip.  Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookie recipe is the best of all sweets combined in my chocolate and coconut.  I bake these in bar form so that they are extra chewy.  They make plenty for a crowd. 

These are another take on chocolate chip - this time with the festive addition of cherries.  Cherry Double Chocolate Chip from Gourmet Magazine.

These aren't exactly cookies but they are close enough in my mind and still fun for the holidays.  This recipe for Mixed Berry Chocolates is from Bon Appetit.

Finally I am adding my sister in law's recipe for traditional sugar cookies.  These make such a delicious dough perfect for however you choose to decorate.

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 cup of butter

Then add:
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring

Mix together the following then add to above:
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp. of baking soda
1 tsp. of cream of tartar

After mixing dough, refrigerate for 2 hours.  Roll out on floured counter top until 1/4 inch thick.  Bake at 375 for 8 minutes and decorate when cool.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Contest Wednesdays - Reveal

It is finally here!!  Our big contest reveal...
We had the chance to work on a brand new hearth room this month and it was so much fun envisioning all that would go into this traditional and cozy space.  Today we will reveal the concept boards but please look forward to all of the details on the space each coming Wednesday.  We will reveal space planning insight, source information and other insider ideas!!  Congratulations to our October winner and we hope you enjoy your new room!

Hearth Room
Main concept

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lovely Mondays - Holiday decor

It is officially that time of year.  I won't say I'm behind because I would never admit to that, but I haven't started my shopping or decorating yet (gasp) if that tells you anything.  As most know I am a minimalist when it comes to accessorizing.   A few personal and beautiful items is all I usually need in each room.    When it comes to the holidays, however, it is a nice opportunity to create a more rich and lush environment for a bit.  Here is a nicely edited list of ways to make your home special this season.

These mini lights from Restoration Hardware are battery operated and on copper wire for flexibility.

I would love to see these sparkly reindeer from Wisteria within lit greenery so they really shine.

This luxe pillow by Dransfield and Ross would be beautiful in any holiday setting.

A nice addition to the side of a fireplace from Jayson Home

An adorable tray from Biscuit Home.

If you are sticking to a traditional palette for your table, these placemats (also from Dransfield) would be beautiful.

The stylish Branca shop could very well be your one stop shop for red decor.  This red chevron blanket is adorable.