Black & White &…

September 29, 2014

tumblr_mfbsjdeouv1rk7lm8o1_500 I debated calling this post “confessions from a converted beige addict” but We’ll stick with Black & White &… I am here to tell you, white(ish) walls and trim are always appropriate.  Sure, sure, you love color.  Thats great, I do too. But, a dash of color or flash of texture in a white room makes a statement and has such a cool aesthetic, you really don’t need to paint walls to match your sofa (or your art! please no.)  White is also adaptable to any architectural style, high Victorian to Mid-Century and everything in-between it’s always appropriate.

living-3-dog-0003a_prvpenneySee how well the furnishings show in this beautiful room. I’m not sure this may be the work of Daryl Carter (or maybe Thomas O’Brien) I love the look and I love that you get to see the stuff in the room, the beautiful shapes and the silk gloss of the leather, the grain of the side table, the knot of the sisal rug.  This room doesn’t slap you in the face.  The occupants would be the stars of this space and the detail harmonize to create a beautiful space that holds you without being obvious.  That’s what I love.

tumblr_mmhnhynhb31qcv7buo1_1280 tumblr_mgguhxfYoP1r6y3u1o1_500

I think the deep black floors of these spaces ground the white walls and create interest.  I like a white on white look too but I appreciate – now that I have white floors – that they are a maintenance issue if you have kids, dogs, or a life other than cleaning your floors daily… but they are pretty.  The sinister darkness is the perfect juxtaposition to the pure light of the white.  tumblr_mzx1l9eft31qzleu4o1_500In every room a bit of color must fall.  And I’m falling for the look of this sofa covered in a Hudson Blanket, Genius!  I have a pair of chairs that were my grandmothers in a very similar style to this sofa.  When I got them they were covered in a beige vinyl.  I had the covers replaced with an off white silk and it has lasted more than a decade but I think I’m ready to embrace this look.  So cool in a clean simple space, a statement for sure but surrounded by subtle, I think it could be great.  I am saying keep color to a minimum to get the look, but bend the rules a bit to make it your own.

tumblr_mwga0rLoCk1qb83abo1_500 1912023_10200593497878952_1661017225_n  tumblr_mi6dmcu8VW1r3jkexo1_500

My Fall Fashions

September 27, 2014

To the horror of my husband, I went out in sweatpants last night…

Like OUT out! To dinner at a nice place!!


I wore a white dress shirt and a pale grey cashmere sweater with dark blue sweats from JCrew, and I think I looked cute… I’ll tell you one thing I was wicked comfy. You all know I love my cozy.  The pants are a skinny cut and the ankles are elasticized, they don’t have a knit cuff, so honestly, it was probably hard to tell they were sweats.  Here is the honest truth, I typically dress for everyone else, not myself.  I wear what I think is appropriate vs what I want to wear.  Maybe it’s the “F” it forties, but I think I’m done caring about what other people think.


I am very happy to dress in clothes from J.Crew.  They are a classic brand that tends to not chase trends but seem to update the look they present and stay current and relevant by adjusting silhouettes, and details.  A company probably looking to sell to folks a bit younger than me, but happy to have multiple markets.  I like mixing a bit of “designer” with the basics from J.Crew that tend to be well made a relatively well priced.  My palette dosen’t vary from Navy, Khaki, Grey and White.  I will wear a gingham, or plaid but thats a about it.  Give me a Navy corduroy jacket paired with some dark rinse jeans and a grey cashmere sweater anyway, or grey sweater with khaki shorts works too.  I like the idea of looking nice but keeping the “fashion” subtle.  It’s not unlike my decorating style.  I don’t need to walk into a room and get slapped by the loud drapery.  I use more color and pattern in my work, but there is a subtlety to it than allows the package, the entire envelope of the room to hold together, you see the room not the sofa, then the drapes then the… I think you get my point.


Bedroom Inspiration

August 22, 2014


The color trend everyone is thinking will be the next big thing is OliveGreen, but I have my sights set on a current hot color… Dark inky blue, deep marine, sapphire blue.  I’ve been thinking about the little bedroom at the cottage, and was contemplating an all white room – which you know I adore – but the longer I live in that tiny space, late in the evening and early mornings (and the dogs make sure it’s EARLY) and I think I really like being held by a deeper color.  currently the walls and ceiling are “previous owner grey” and the sad carpeting is a dark brown synthetic industrial berber… it’s as awful as it sounds.  I’m surprised I haven’t called my therapist yet, but plans to make the change early fall are helping me get through this design dilemma. tumblr_n5r2cj13fR1qatvvoo1_500

 Anyway, the plan is for Simply White – my go to white – on the ceiling and Simply White floors.  I think the deep color will look rich and evoke a marine vibe without being overtly beachy.  I also like the idea of mixing high and low, glam but easy like a sisal rug mixed with an old gold mirror leaning on the floor.  The old gold is important i think, a dark room needs the pop or luster of a metal… I could go polished nickel but thats really just not my look.  I always advocate for white cotton sheeting so thats a given and maybe in the colder months I’ll mix in some navy sheets (Ralph Lauren, love them) to add depth and amp up the cozy factor.  


lunchtime-fix-7-blue-on-blue-rooms-similar-to-sarahs-house-4-dining-room-you-like-0The room is pretty much together in my head – now to find that mirror and call the painter – with the exception of window treatments.  I LOVE a shutter, but I am not so sure I’ll like a white shutter on a dark blue wall and with the trim painted out to match the walls (that was the plan anyway).  Do I paint the trim white and go with white shutters? that feels safe and too traditional doesn’t it? Stay with the plan to paint trim blue and use a inside mount roman shade? match stick? Split bamboo?  Offer up a vote in the comments if you want to vote or come back and check for an up-date once I’ve had the painter in!  
greige and gold living room


Design Crush

August 16, 2014


As I have said many times, inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere.  The colors of a leaf can spawn a color palette in a room, a vintage photograph can educate the eye towards texture and the balance of lights and darks. Sound too esoteric for you?  I get that, but it’s really very true… Nature, art, architecture heck, ANYTHING can really be a spring-board for a creative project no matter the medium.  In my design work I find people are drawn to certain shapes, colors, textures or patterns because of some recall that might remind them of something, or makes them happy, this too is inspiration.  Embrace it.  when something “feels right” move toward it.

Good design can also inspire others.  I love Daryl Carter’s work, Kelly Wearstler, Thomas O’Brien and host of others but I have a new crush.  Ken Fulk.  I might be late to this party, but he stepped into my peripheral vision when he refurbished a water-front home in Provincetown, MA.  On bike rides in the East End of town, I would always slow up to check out a decrepid old house with great bones that was slowly being lost to neglect.  I guess it was a year or two ago that the house got the attention of Mr. Fulk who has brought the house back to something that might be even better than what it once was.  Now I haven’t actually seen the interiors myself, but I have seen an image or two – I think it was on Instagram, and it’s quirky, details are made to give the house soul and patina.  It’s sort of layered up with antiques, oddities and old-fashioned charm but it’s thoughtful, comfortable and feels effortless and that is how a house should feel.

Marrakech-1-09 Modern_Heritage-1-W3153-0220 PRIVATE-LOFT1 PRIVATE-DURHAM6 PRIVATE-DURHAM7 Modern_Heritage-5-W3153-0744-1

Clearly a designer than marches to his own beat – in a very good way – his use of color, his mix of styles and the talent of merchandising he shows makes me want to see more… I’m smitten.  Here are a few images, favorites that I borrowed from his website (click his name above to be directed there).  Ken Fulk, like the other designers I mentioned all inspire me.  It’s ok to like other peoples style, to borrow a look or an idea.  That’s how trends are born.  Just give credit when credit is due, don’t copy… make it your own, tailor an idea to suit you and by all means… share the knowledge or pass the idea along if it’s really that great.


20140803-122617-44777496.jpgI have read back and it seems I’ve made many promises about what I’d do (and not do) if I were to be lucky enough to some day have a beach house.  No “designer pillows”, “paint everything white” the list goes on and on. Well…

I’m a liar.

I’ve got a few pillows – 6 so far to be completely accurate – that are made from “designer” fabric, Not everything in my little getaway is painted white, and it is quickly becoming a mini petri dish of design experimentation.  Curated and decorated but with authentically aged pieces, family pieces, antiques, local art, and even the occasional seashell.  I’m happiest in a space that blurs the lines between something very vintage and something a bit more updated…  A mix of modern and vintage.  The interiors of our little house have mostly come together with items we had in the basement of our other house, things that belonged to my father and grandparents, shipped across the entire continent to be held in storage until now, and a few recently purchased pieces that give the spaces a modern punch.


Here I simply stacked a bunch of old crates that came out of my fathers plumbing shop in down town San Mateo.  My sister shipped them all out to me – way too cool to get rid of – and now they provide the perfect storage in our dining/guest/library room.  A white Saarinen gives this space a modern edge and creates a place to sit and eat, work or do a puzzle on a rainy day.



We have also decided to live with the green woodwork in the living room, for now… but it totally works and the over all color palette seems to have followed suit – neutrals of course and a lot of white with splashes of blues and greens – expectedly coastal I know, but it works.  I have embraced the green and it gives a turn of the century vibe, a 40’s 50’s vibe and a modern “designer” vibe too and I’m great with all of that.  You can’t tell but we hung an off white grasscloth wallpaper in this room to clean it up, soften the edges a bit and to add a layer that didn’t feel too heavy but gives depth.  There were box valances and curtains, those are all gone.  In their place are clean lined bamboo blinds that fold up like roman shades.   20140803-122618-44778175.jpgNot going to lie… I’m now on a tear.  Buying vintage pottery like a drunken sailor, oil paintings from the 20’s to the 60’s and  nautical themed ditties that have patina.  The coffee mug(s) pictured above is the latest splurge.  I love them.  I have my eye on a set of mixed color mixing bowls that remind me of a set my family has at our lake house in California and an oil painting of waves crashing on rocks painted sometime in the 1930’s.  The house is tiny so it shouldn’t be much longer before I run out of room.  Let me know if you want me to fill up a little (or not so little) house for you.

I’m Working On It

July 23, 2014

photo 1

It’s always a lovely drive down to Narragansett Rhode Island… Several bridges, miles of coastline and farms and charming towns along the way.  I made a recent trip to deliver some goodies to a client there and here are just a few (non-professional) iPhone snap shots.  Just wanted to share what was keeping me busy these days.  Among other things I was picking up a custom sisal rug from Merida from their Fall River plant.  Very exciting to me as I had never seen their operation before and I’ve been selling Merida for over 10 years.

photo 2Check out this state of the art facility.  They have work tables that must be 30, 40 or maybe even 50 feet long!  I loved seeing the guys working on custom bindings, and I feel lucky to have the “workroom” so close – by just a few towns away – not because I intend to visit more… but because my orders come so quickly!  So after the brief tour of the Merida facility, I was on my way to deliver not only a beautiful sisal rug but ALL of this furniture (mostly LEE Industries).photo 4

This room was a totally different layout when I first saw it.  Sofas flanked the fireplace just out of the frame to the right.  It was cozy but cut the room in two, and no one was using the other half of the room and that was the space with the best views of the ocean beyond.  So, I pushed a sofa to the window and turned another sofa to face the fire-place.  English arm chairs covered in a Thibaut woven fabric flank the fireplace (so there’s still a cozy spot for cold nights) but the room is much more open and inviting. We 86’d green sofas and red and green striped chairs so the greige palette is quite a change. Once I place the coffee table and a few accessorizes this living room will be done.

photo 5Since the kitchen is open to the living area the client and I decided to update the yellowy kitchen too by painting the island a warm tannish grey Ben Moore Revere Pewter HC-172 and the other cabinets Ben Moore OC-85 Mayonnaise.  The white is still a warm white but the yellowness is reduced to something that feels white, without feeling like primer.  The existing kitchen had beautiful wood countertops but the island had a basic “builders special” granite top so we upgraded the counter surface on the island to this beautiful Calacatta marble.  We chose to have it honed, knowing a highly polished surface would give way to use.

photo 3

Last but not least, what do you do when you walk into a clients bedroom and you discover they have a water-bed that they are not willing to part with? you recover it!  I chose this nautical looking woven from Thibaut to update a well made but dated wooden bed.  The dark nailhead coordinate with the bedside lights and sconces in the room and maintain our intended “tamped down” tonal, quiet range of colors.  We repainted this room too, a dark mocha to set off the view… pale blues and creamy whites brighten this master bedroom and keep it interesting.

 photo 6Different client, different house, different look.  I can and do use color.  Quite a bit in fact, even though I prefer to live with less of it in my life.  I enjoy the enthusiastic client that asks for color.  This hip couple wanted something that felt younger and more playful than what their pervious designer had given them.  The house is big, and formal and in an area where, um… Lets just leave it at the first designer made assumptions based on the house and the area, she didn’t know her client.  The shot above is a screened porch.  We started from scratch with the exception of the brown woven side chair, the set was newer and very useable so I found a dining table to match and we worked with it (recovered cushions of course).  The chaise can be flipped to allow the user to face the fireplace in colder months and away from the fire when the fireplace is not appropriate.

photo 7This is the same clients sun room, the only thing we kept was the woven wallpaper.  Oh, and I recycled the settee that has the Thibaut print on it,because it was the right scale, well made and it allowed us to spend more on other things in the room.  I love this room.  Plenty of color – NAVY is a color – for the client and still tonal and sophisticated and grown-up feeling too.  The dark inky blue sofa is from LEE, the custom pillows are all made from Thibaut fabrics.  All thats missing here is a rug.  Were going to go tan to pull the wall color because this fall the floors are going dark! The lighter rug on the dark floors with the tan walls is going to look amazing.

Thanks for checking out the blog, hope you got inspiration from it.  xo

photo 3

Here they are… My window boxes.  As most of you know I try post as much original content as possible and I attempt most everything I post about (like those blasted Ding Dongs turned cupcakes a few posts ago).  Some things go well, some not so well.  I have to tell you my window box experience was flawless start to finish… so now, I just have to keep them watered and alive.  In all seriousness, I ordered the window boxes from installed them myself and spent less than an hour at the nursery – and I didn’t argue with my spouse about what to buy – so that in itself is a win! and had the right amount of soil, plant material and a beautiful sunny day as a bonus.   I think they will be really pretty once they have filled in.  They will take some time to be truly “photo worthy” but I wanted to share with you what I decided on and hoped to encourage you to try it – provided you have a house they are appropriate on : ) I think the palette is special and interesting and the textures are varied and unique.  It’s a strong color story, even the flowers of the plants will stay within the green and purple palette. What do you think?

photo 5

I chose  purple fennel,  green and purple potato vine, lavender, and tri-colored sage.  I think I’m going to really like the depth of the deep purple  mixed with the acid green of the potato vine.  I picked plants that won’t get particularly tall as my windows are not big to begin with and don’t want to lose too much view.  The potato vine will be an aggressive grower but they hang so beautifully and are such proven winners that I don’t mind if they eventually become out of scale with the other plants.  Fingers crossed they are happy with the amount of sunlight they are going to get… they are in a particularly sunny spot.

photo 4

There was a very good guide on the window website to help guide you to the right sized box.  They suggested if you have shutters going a bit wider on the box than the window trim would help keep the proportion and I have to agree.  There is a balance with these new boxes the previous boxes didn’t have – they were at least 10″ smaller.  I still have to attach decorative brackets that will really finish the look of these.  Maybe I’ll post one more snap-shot later in the season when they have filled in.

photo 1


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 155 other followers