I’m Working On It

August 2, 2013

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Yes, sadly it’s been some time since my last post.  Don’t worry it wasn’t a tail spin created from one failed dessert… It was frankly a busy work and social schedule coupled with my discovery and love for Instagram.  Far less informative, it is great for eye candy  – mostly fashion, pretty people, pets, cars and destinations but there are some good designers and architects posting work… myself included).  Whats not on Instagram and what I have found I miss is the dialog that goes with the images, there is no real context.  Just pretty images, sometimes with a #tagline.  Stick with Pinterest, Houzz and good blogs for real information, resourcing and inspiration if your planning a project that involves design.

So here is what Ive been working on… The first two images are a sunroom I designed for a client that has been coming to me and Surroundings for years.  She is dedicated, open to guidance but has a good eye, willing to go the extra step and likes nice things.  Suffice to say it’s a winning combination when you add in a Virgo designer.   This space hasn’t even been accessorized and fluffed yet and it’s already a show stopper if you ask me.  The “greige” and cream color palette is puncuated with dark woods accents and glammed-up by the dash of mercury glass.  favorites of mine are the Palecek cocktail table made of petrified wood and the floor lamps designer and produced by Rich Brilliant Willing.


In recent months I also completed a summer-house for a young couple.  They were a delight to work for, and a designer is always happy when clients see the vision and allow a designer to do his or her job.  We chose nearly everything in 3 or 4 meetings.  I love the way this house turned out, every room is polished, the vibe is fresh without feeling too trendy there is quality built to last in every piece.  When it comes to furniture, you really do get what you pay for.  Most if not all the upholstery is LEE, the cool banded pillows on the sofa in the lower shot are custom with fabric from one of my favorites Kelly Wearstler, i think they add a edge to the room.  The cocktail table made from cut marble is as heavy as it looks and gets most of the attention, as it should.  It is an amazing piece from Global Views and makes the room.

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I thought I’d better post a few jobs with color so newer readers wouldn’t think I only do neutrals.  All three of these rooms are for the same client, the first an apartment in Chicago, and the following two are in her home on the coast of Massachusetts.  She is a favorite, I’m not going to lie.  I am lucky to like most of my clients but this gal has guts, likes it bold and loves the details… thats my type of client.  There are way way way too many vendors to mention, fabric designers to credit and paint colors to list, so if you want info on anything  send a note.

photo copy 4As if all that work wasn’t enough… I helped two dear friends pull together a wedding in my back yard earlier this summer.  It was a great time, everything looked great, the food was amazing and every seemed to have a really good time.  Designing the wedding cake and helping with the flowers were the “work” highlights.  Maybe I’ll post more pictures and details of thier wedding and my nieces wedding in the coming weeks, stay tuned!  I hope you feel inspired to tackle a project, get creative, invest in some good quality furniture, hire a designer… do what ever it takes to love where you live.    BB



May 19, 2013


There are a hand full of companies that produce a line of furniture that offers so much good and pretty furniture.  Oly consistently delivers on quality, design and updatedness without feeling like their pieces have a history.  The styles tell a story and what you choose basically creates the ending, your beautiful room.  I find their pieces also mix well with many other styles, pieces  add an updated and glamorous touch and depending on what you choose to mix together to possibilities are endless.    inspiration_3You know how much I love white on white.  well this livingroom grouping delivers on.  The woven raffia side panels on the settees adds depth and texture, and is a good foil for the polished metallic framework on the coffee table and sideboard.   They had me with that chandelier.


I’m ordering this bed for the shop.  I love it.  this is the type of piece you make room for.  Maybe I need it in my life?  someone needs to get this bed asap.  I really even like the pale pink they show it with.  inspiration_4

Hello Again

May 6, 2013

It’s been a while.  I’m sorry.

I’ve been distracted by, I’ll admit it, Instagram.  It’s so narcissistic and a bit voyeuresque… but for a kid with a little ADD, it’s great.  I still troll design sites, blogs, retailers, vendors, and manufacturers of blog worthy design.  I have a desktop full of images I had intended to say something about over the course of time I have been neglecting this blog.  So here is a deposit of chic white rooms, with black and natural wood tones dominating the aesthetic.

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tumblr_mggi3uuakE1rk7lm8o1_500 tumblr_mhd7khOLAY1r94dw8o1_500 malibu carbon beach house for sale open concept floor plan white living room great room shag rug floating shelves cococozy

I do love a clean and serene environment but damn if I don’t fill up every table top with birds nests, twigs, stones form trips to beautiful beaches and do-dads I pick up along the way.  These rooms for the most part have a un-designed design to them, intentionally “thrown together” creating an environment that is comfortable, feels organic, and is beautiful to experience.

 pf_1carinaolanderpf_11carinaolanderI should mention two things: There is not really anything new about black and white in design with the exception that it seems to go along with the quirky anti-design design and feels current and clean and edgy.  2. Black and White was the strongest trend to come out of High Point ( the furniture and lighting and home show in North Carolina).


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The rooms shown here are curated, found objects, collections… each item chosen for it’s color, texture, shape value and  visual weight.  A balanced room dosen’t feel like a museum, or shed for that matter.  Don’t over do the amount you decide to display or live with.  Less is typically more (unless however, the pieces used in the simpleset of vingettes must be of stellar quality beauty and form.  Put your best feet forward kids!

A Well Dressed Room

April 11, 2013

photo copy 8A sofa, chair, table, rug and lamp really isn’t all that different from a jacket, shirt, tie, pants and shoes.  Designers are constantly referencing lighting as jewelry in the room, and that’s because it quite literally IS the jewelry of the room.  Small accents in metal, glass, stone, mirror, ceramic and the like serve a similar purpose to jewelry.  Sure they provide light but they also add a sparkle, a layer of something small and pretty. Paired with a large swath of fabric (sofa or sweater) the two create a beautiful relationship and complement one another.
photo copy 9Much like wearing a suit (pants, jacket, vest),  a room can be furnished with matching sofa chairs and ottoman.  The look is clean and polished, simple maybe… but done in leather, cashmere or linen the vibe can be tweaked to become something extraordinary.  Rooms can also be a lot like a pair of jeans and an old favorite sweater.  A slip-covered sofa in a hard-working twill and a cozy wool  blanket only needs a fireplace, a good view or a reading light and a book to make it complete.  photo copy 7Whats the point? When you’re furnishing a room, think about getting dressed. Start with how you want the room to look or feel – if you were getting dressed you’d be thinking about the weather, the occasion and of course whats clean – So you should start with whats right for this room, apartment, home. Decide on a palette or a vibe and maybe pick an inspiration piece to guide your decision-making – like a pair of shoes you just have to wear! Your room will need underwear, a good foundation aka. paint and flooring. You’ll need the basics… Rug, sofa or bed, tables or dressers, a chair perhaps (and if we were really getting dressed, a belt, watch, shoes and sox, jewelry, tie pocket square and maybe even a hat and coat!) this means lights, pillows, books, art and of course accessories. Each layer is important and will help give your space a finished quality. Attention to detail is key, you’d iron your shirt right?
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ScalaGuestThe amount of time you spend sleeping In your life is around 30-35% precent of your daily life, supposing you sleep the recommended 8 hours every day, which is 33% of your day, approximately.  Of course,in some cases,you may have to wake up early for a field trip or something and sometimes you may want to sleep in, and sure we all have a late night every now and then…it really depends on the person, but generally, the range is from 30-35%, assuming you are an average sleeper.  Obviously if you fall into a coma, it could be much, much longer.  Have I made my point? your bed, the room it occupies is important.  The bed in the top image is from Hickory Chair.  I believe it is called the Lakehouse bed.  Inspired by a classic 1840’s acorn post bed, this design features the elegantly scrolled headboard, shapely turned posts, and gracious proportions that distinguished the antique. Instead of executing the headboard in wood, my hero Thomas O’Brien translates the form in curvaceous upholstery with standard nailhead trim. Available in Queen, King and California King sizes along with endless finish, nail, fabric and leather choices. tumblr_mi9rlvuZxW1qatvvoo1_400Love the dark wood finish in the custom paneled alcove for this glamorous set-up.  It reads very Hollywood to me, old world and “of quality”.  Swing arm lamps are the perfect detail for reading in bed, looks like there might be some hidden storage just inside the  alcove… everyone needs a place for a bottle of water, an iPad or Kindle and maybe a late night snack.803b1bbc37bf It’s a tight squeeze but they got three twin beds into this room.  A great set up for children and teens, I have fond memories of the bunk room at my families cabin in Lake Tahoe, CA.  We slept in sleeping bags so we didn’t have to do laundry on vacation so this room is definitely a step up from my good ol days, but it was fun just the same.  thNo room for three traditional twin beds?  No problem… try this fancy set-up, perfect for a coastal home.  Just be sure you get strong rope and that you hit a stud in the wall when you fastening the supports to the wall.  Love the grey white and yellow color story. 
Four-Poster-Twin-Bed-from-Houzz I love a big bed in a small room, so of course I really love two big beds in a small room.  When you really only have the space for a bed… make a statement.  Black was the perfect choice for this cool blue bedroom.  there is a great energy and a nice play between hard and soft. tumblr_m9eb0g1Naf1qanaj8Minimal is always a chic and comfortable look.  Keep your bedroom uncluttered and simple and you will find unwinding and letting go of the day will come easier to you.  Create an oasis of calm, a cocoon for yourself… a place when you emerge from your refreshed and ready to take on anything. tumblr_mgqjf2W07G1qzleu4o1_250Masculine, moody and rich (sounds like a catch!) it also sounds like this yummy paneled wall.  No headboard needed.  simple table, simple light, simple bedding… showstopper wall.  it’s really all you need.  Well that and a very good mattress.  Don’t cheap out.  Spend as much as you can afford, a very good mattress could be 2000 to 3000 dollars.  Test a lot of beds, ask a lot of questions, you might be the Temperpedic type, you might like a pillow-top and you could be an extra-firm.  960x385_configure-your-base2stay-kensington-hotel-room-with-twin-beds-instead-of-a-king-bed-perfect-for-family-visits-to-london


TARGET’s Look-A-Likes

March 18, 2013

I slipped in to our local Target store yesterday to buy some Champion brand gym clothes that they have on sale.  I needed more high performance clothing now that I’m performing at a higher level ; )  My trainer and gym membership have been working – even with an occasional, ok frequent, cheat.  Since I was already there, of course I had to see what they were pedaling in the house-wear and garden centers.  Now you might not be quite as shocked as I was to see these cute little side tables but let me tell you after having sold this table to a client I WAS SHOCKED to see a look-a-like in Target of all places.

fakeoomphThis little table is a design from OOMPH, and is clearly a knockoff.  I’m a bit torn about this.  On one hand I love that the masses get this great design for a fraction of the better made side table from Oomph… good design for all!  But, It makes me sad that with all the resources Target has, they couldn’t have designed their own cool table and not taken design ($) from a small company like Oomph.  The bottom line is it’s good for you.  This table is 39.99 and available at Target.  It is a chic little table that would look great next to a slip-covered swivel chair, and the end of a sexy settee or even alongside your bathtub holding am iPad and glass of wine. fakeadlerJonathan Adler has become a household name in recent years.  We went from obscure pottery artist to world-class decorator and retail giant but marketing a look we really haven’t embraced since the days of Merimeko, Vera and other 60’s Modish designs.  And, do you know how you can tell when someone has made it really big?  They get knocked off by a big box chain like Target ( and in this case Nate Burkus ).  Yeah, Yeah tortoise shells have been used in interior design for decades but this white version I’d something Adler has really made iconic.  Bad for Adler… diluting the market and creating a trend so strong it’s bound to be over-played, but great for you because it’s only $19.99 at Target.  fakeglobalNow I may be wrong here but I’m 99% sure this is an Arteriors original design.  And yep, you guessed it… now available at your local Target.   It’s nearly $800.00 from online retailer Zincdoor.com  was it really only $24.99 at Target?  Wow, crazy cheap.  This table is not as well made and they changed the proportion of it a bit from the original – taller and a bit more delicate looking – but come on it is so a copy.
fakejamieJamie Young is my “go-to” lighting resource.  They have up to the minute, white-hot lighting at prices that are fair for the well made and well designed quality products they produce.  This white floor lamp from Target is so a Jamie Young KNOCK-OFF.  Bad for Jamie Young… Great for you.  I don’t think it’s nearly as pretty as one of Jamie’s – the high gloss looks cheap and this lamp isn’t made nearly as well – but for the cheap price $69.00? I might be able to live with it.  click here to see the Jamie young version.

Caramel & Cream

March 12, 2013

tumblr_mhaeyk3hUY1rpvwj6o1_1280I should warn you… I’m dieting, hence the title  I’ll try and keep food references to a minimum.  What I did for today’s blog was just go through some unused pictures on my desktop looking for a common theme.  It’s no surprise that I’m a major fan of whites, off whites and creams all used together.  Well is seems I really like a dash of caramel mixed in with my whites.  tumblr_m8s0ro9DFD1qatvvoo1_500

Even though it is a “neutral” I like to use caramel as well as tan, camel, light brown, and other warm mid-tones as I would a color.  In a white room with tonal upholstery, those rich warm colors can be the accent or the “punctuation” in a space.  But there is more than just a strong color story here.  The furnishings are transitional to modern – in a mid-century meets 70’s bohemian mixed with Scandinavian leanings type thing.  The look is decidedly masculine, yet appropriate for either sex.  I love the simple and clean look of these spaces with the extra dash of exuberance in the layer of found/collected/layered accessories.

tumblr_mh1ixgDdkN1r19bzso1_500Art has a great way of really taking center stage in rooms like this.  If you think you’re going to try for this type of vibe I suggest you pay strong attention to the walls.  If you can’t afford statement pieces, found and collected groupings of interesting small pieces will work, but you can’t put multiple groupings on every available wall, so plan ahead!  I’m a sucker for a four-post bed, but in white in a white room with the warmth of the wood floor and doors, perfection!  The softness of the drapery header, the easy matelasse coverlets and the simple bedding are classic, simple and just perfect.  The hide rug really sums up the prefect color palette white and tan dash of black… the percentages of colors is right on.


You can knock it out of the park with this color palette in the kitchen too.  I’ve helped many clients create kitchen palettes with cabinets in both whites or creams mixed with a yummy pecan, fruitwood or other warm stained mix.  They are the perfect compliment and reinforce the “furniture” feeling in some kitchen design that is still so popular today.  The mix works with traditional, country, as well as shaker, contemporary and modern.  I love the open and random boxes used in this kitchen.  Found object meets function for a look that is easy, not too precious and fun to be in.  I WILL USE THIS IDEA in my beach house.
tumblr_mgud3xzByi1qh86vuo1_250 I’m mixing in this shot because I love the room and because It proves that this “look” can work with any style.  The glam of the gold mirror and sconces and the deeper tones of the wood pieces suit the white and camel upholstery and elevate the textures in the space to becoming the pattern.  A room with no pattern is not as easy to produce as it sounds.  Texture becomes very important… the crown moulding, the basket, the books, that great mirror! even the legs of the stool all become the details your eyes see.image-1.aspxand just because I love the feeling of these images…


They all seem to suit the idea or vibe of the spaces I’ve highlighted today.