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Inspired Spaces: White walls + Old Leather + rich wood = Luxe

Have ya'll seen the space put together by Will Kopelman (aka Mr. Drew Barrymore) in the latest AD?  It's the most anti-man cave, beautiful man-space I've ever seen.  In fact, I don't see any reason to designate it a "man space," as I'd move in in a heartbeat.

I'm generally a color gal, but throw in a neutral palette with some roughed up leather, and you'll get me every time.  Besides, the home office has enough suggestion of color with the enormous John Singer Sargent reproduction (Will's an art adviser - nice work if you can get it)  What I really love is the not-in-your-face luxe of it all.  From the rich polished wood paired with the contemporary pieces to the men's suiting fabric that makes the window treatments - all against the perfectly-white background.  As Ferris Bueller once said, "It is so choice."

Moving on to the bath and dressing room portion of the program, Will turns the tables and goes dark and rich.  The dressing room in black lacquer with hits of wood and brass still serves to scratch my itch for dark, high gloss rooms.
It also serves to remind me that rooms with drastically different feels can exist beautifully as neighbors - they key is the streamlined palette, and shared materials.

The bathroom is just - wow.  It's a lot, and I'm not sure I could deal with this much going on on a daily basis, but I LOVE that he went for it.  Like all-out, gentleman's glam.  I admire a man who knows his style and rocks it to the last detail.  Drew says she cried when she first saw the space - because it made her bathroom look downright granny.

I've had this white walls, rich wood, worn leather, mix of modern soup in my brain so much, I decided to use it to put together a design scheme for a class project.  My assignment is to design a Living/Dining room space.  I put more of a feminine twist on my interpretation, and the items I sourced would be filed under a budget known as...uh, dreamy, but here ya go.
In this room, every hour would feel like martini hour.   {sly grin}

Window Treatments - An Opinion Piece

I'm finally getting around to having window treatments made for our kitchen. Our kitchen (we remodeled last year) is lovely, and doesn't necessarily need treatments, but I think it might give it a more polished, finished look.  That, and I remembered I have a large remnant of Katsugi I've been dying to use forever.

I'm planning to do relaxed (fixed) roman shades. - something like these
source unknown

I know it sounds strange, but I have this love/hate relationship with curtains, etc.  Outside of the wide blinds we have for privacy, the windows in our house are bare.  Our home doesn't get a ton of natural light, so I don't want to do anything to impede light coming in.  But, there's more to it than that.  I have what might be called curtain paranoia that stems (I believe) from being too roped into the world of decorating.

What I mean is - the gorgeous, custom window treatments we see in magazines cost uh-lot of dinero. Often, it's those custom treatments that make a room look complete, pulled together.  But cheap window treatments can do the exact opposite.  They can take a room that was looking nice, and downgrade it.
I once read a fellow decorator say something along the lines of, "If you can't swing $5000 on curtains, don't bother at all," and it's that kind of thinking that keeps me in stagnant curtain mode.  I don't have 5k in the curtain budget, so rather than go inexpensive and risk cheapening the room, I just don't do anything at all.
Thing is, that line of thought doesn't play well with a lot of clients.  People want to be able to have nice curtains, etc without blowing out their budget.  There has to be a middle ground. And this is how I found it:

 1)  I bought my high-end fabric from another designer who sells her remnants at a greatly-discounted price.  I highly recommend her site - The Designer's Attic.  Often, she has smaller yardages, but if you're flexible and looking for inspiration, Shannon's your gal.

2)  I found a seamstress via Craigslist.  DISCLAIMER - this is my first time to work with her!!  I'll update once everything is done, but my point is - look for a knowledgeable seamstress with experience who may work out of his/her home.  They have less overhead, and are often not as busy.  A go-to workroom is a decorator's best friend, but if you're competing with a lot of other people's projects a) yours may not get priority and b) it'll cost you more.

3)  Go with more practical options.  Because I don't expect to ever want to close the shades in my kitchen, the ones I'm having made will be fixed - meaning, they will appear to be operable, but won't be.  This saves yardage = $$, but the look will still be custom.  The same thought can be applied to other rooms.  A standard curtain panel runs 3 yards, and many times, you'd want a more plush look than that would allow.  So, you can see how quickly you could get into the 10+ yard range.  Decent fabric, liner, hardware, labor - you can do the math.  But, if your style will allow it, a lovely and tailored roman shade can give you a lot of custom bang for the buck without all that yardage.

I picked up on a lot of gorgeous examples of roman shades in lieu of curtains in designer Erin Gates' book, Elements of Style - a great resource, btw.

photos via EoS

So, my takeaway is:  don't let high-end decorating ways deter you from pursuing a custom look.  It can be done.  It just might take a little more research and legwork.  Totally worth it, if you ask me.  Stay tuned for the reveal of my custom/savvy spender kitchen shades.


Looking at 40



I turn 40 this year.  It's getting easier to say that, btw.  For some time, I've been dreaming about the ultimate getaway trip to celebrate this milestone.  You know, how you picture yourself somewhere fabulous, doing fabulous things you otherwise never get to to do?  I don't know, like sleeping in late, or lounging near a beautiful pool without wondering if your kids are drowning.  Casually browsing mesmerizing shopfronts, or lingering over dinner with your Significant.  You get the idea.

I've alway dreamed of Morocco as an incredible destination.   Can you imagine?  The sights, the aromas (spice heaven!), the shopping (I might as well book an export crate for the rugs, baskets, etc). Over the past, oh, five years or so, Morocco has blossomed as a legit and luxurious destination for Americans, but, over the past, oh, year or so, there's also been a lot of scary shiznit happening that might make you think twice about your personal security in that locale. 

So, let's just say I've had a rethinking.  Somewhere a little closer, a little less likely to see you captured and beheaded for your beliefs, but by all accounts (and we've done some Intel), incredible.

Panama.  I'm lookin' at you.  Specifically, the American Trade Hotel in Casco Viejo.  It's uh-maze.  A design junkie's end all. 
Check it.
The Lobby bar, and a guest suite.  I'm all about a contrasting black trim; we've done some in our own house, and I love the crisp-ness it adds to a room.  I love it even more the way it's paired with the amazing wood floors.

They have me at hello with that perfect Trad/Colonial facade tricked out with contemporary iron-framed glass on the main floor, and yeah, you might convince me to soak in that tub. #bathdesignporn

Just stop already with the badass tile situations, 'K.  If our newly-finished study had a Central American sister, this space would be it.
Your choice of cocktail-serving spaces. (There's a pool, too.  Case you were wonderin'}


Yeeeah.  I think it might work.  For what we'll save in time and airfare, we could stay an extra day to take in more cool stuff.
Forty's not looking' so bad, ya'll.
ag

*images by Rue and American Trade Hotel - An Ace Hotel

Staging a blog comeback: The Ick Master Bathroom

So, new year, new me.  As 'muricans, we all love a good comeback, so I'm attempting to make this mine.  Attempt being the key word.  We've done a lot of renovating over the last year and a half, and I've been a total slacker about documenting it.  So, I hope to catch up somewhat with that, but really, I just want to get back to the reason I ever blogged to begin with.  To give voice to my inner monologue, the heavy emphasis being on interiors, and to plan and organize decorating projects.

Jumping right in...Our master* bath.  It's en suite to our room, but otherwise, there's nothing master about it.  It is wee.  Eight by five feet, to be exact.  Anyway, it's next on our project list.

Behold.
 It's charming in that hospital-grade kind of way, right?
Original vanity that is super low, even for a shortstack like me.
 New tile, but I just can't deal.

I feel like I just stood in front of you naked.

For the record, it came to us this way.  The tile in the shower, and the vanity are the original 1970s builder-grade selections.  The previous owners installed new floor tile, and put a fresh coat of the oh-so-flattering mauve (flat finish, btw) paint and called it a day.
In the time we've lived here, the lack of an exhaust fan caused the ceiling paint to chip, and the sheetrock to bubble/chip.  Most of the walls also have water lines from condensation.  We've since installed an exhaust fan, but the damage was done.
We've been focusing our time/money/effort on other rooms the whole family enjoys, and I've been putting off the decision-making, but now it's time to bite this bullet.  Truth is, though I may not have run out of designing steam, our checkbook might've, so my original plans to make this a tiny but luxe bath have scaled back.

And that's where I'm at:  redesigning.

As a visual, my first thoughts were to brighten it all up (obvs), add a lot of reflective and light surfaces to bounce light, and address the seriously-lacking storage situation.  Something marbly and mirror-y like these would make me happy.

BUT, after crunching some numbers, and really thinking about elements I love, I'm pulling more in a mixed materials/textures direction.

Still on the white marble train, but instead of a lot of white/light gray cabinets, walls, etc,  I'm planning to mix in some med-dark wood tones with brass to keep the color palette a little warm.  We live in a traditional Colonial, so keeping some wood tones suits the home, too.
Heading somewhere like

I would love to reclaim an old chest for a vanity, and have done some searching, but our very specific space requirements have made it tough to find the right piece.  I'll probably end up with a ready-made vanity (boo!), and will instead focus on the preeeeetty marble herringbone mosaic that'll cover the floor.

So , I have some design-boarding to do, but at least I can think New Year, New Bath!

Lovin' my Laundry Room

I've been jonesing for a decent, even (gasp!) pretty laundry room for a long time. Being a family of five means I spend a lot of quality time with the washer and dryer, so my wishes are justified, right?
Many of the homes in our area have a utility space in the basement, so I'm grateful ours is a legit laundry room on our main floor.  However, when we moved in, the layout made zero sense.  The washer and dryer were up against the side wall, partially blocking the window.  In what was a new "oh, that's...interesting," the drain tube from the washer was zip-tied (classy, right?) to the utility sink faucet, so each time the machine emptied, it splattered water everywhere. Last but not least, there was a wire-style shelf attached to the right wall.  I'm vertically challenged, but every time I'd do laundry, the clean clothes that were hanging on the bar of the shelf batted me in the head.
So, yeah, me and the laundry room were going to have a come-to-Jesus.
First, I'll address our machines: Rarely do you see top-loading machines in those awe-inspiring utility room pics, but ours came with the house, and the washer is brand new.  I would love a front-loader, so I could put a folding counter on top, but I'm gun shy.  I've had several servicemen say front loaders are finicky.  I can't deal with a temperamental wash machine, so for now, top loaders are where it's at in the Giese compound.
Layout Change: Clearly, the solution to the problem was to flip the washer and dryer to the back wall, then add storage, etc above.  First, we had a plumber install what I believe to be a "proper" water connection and drain box on the back wall.  We also had to close up the old, and cut a new dryer vent. 
Next, we dealt with the floors.  I considered painting the old linoleum in a fun pattern, but when I saw a box of vinyl wood planks for like, fifty bucks, I went for it. Ben installed them like some kind of pro. I think it took less than three hours.
Disclosure:  I was aiming for a "look," but not to spend a ton on this room.  I was really pleasantly surprised by how decent those vinyl planks look.
Then, the wallpaper went up.  I have to tell you, this was the Game Changer.  I had a general design idea in mind, so when a great Schumacher grasscloth popped up on The Designer's Attic, I jumped. NB: If  by chance you're considering hanging your own wallpaper, grasscloth is not Beginner's level.  Our paper hangers are great, and they mentioned how tough this paper was to deal with.  On the other hand, I think it probably added a layer of structure stability to the room.  The stuff is serious.


I love the durable, "wheatey" texture, and it immediately dictated the need to pair it with a glossy, deep blue on the cabinet.
Speaking of...I bought a basic stock wood cabinet and closet pole, painted the cabinet, and added some vintage brass hardware.
Can I just take a moment to say what a HUGE moment this was?  Clothes. No longer. Batting head.
OK.  Carrying on.
I can't even tell you how happy I am with the reconfiguration.  The tiny room feels so much more spacious, and appropriate for the task at hand (i.e. the endless pile of clothes.)

 Even the Hubster, who initially thought it was a frivolous project, gave it a thumbs up.  Win-win!

Resources:
Vinyl wood planks - similar to these
Wallpaper - Schumacher grasscloth via The Designer's Attic - an amazing resource, btw.
Cabinet - Unfinished wood cabinet from Home Depot
Cabinet Paint - BM water-based Alkyd in high gloss Polo Blue
Cabinet hardware - vintage.



While the Girls are Away: Bedroom Redo

My "big girls" are spending a couple of weeks with their "Mims and Pops" in Texas, so I thought it would be a great time to surprise them with a room redo when they come home.   Currently, they have matching twin beds that are oriented in an L shape - not ideal or pretty.  They've been wanting bunk beds, and since it should help open up some floor space, we caved.
At the risk of going all-out girly girly, I'm planning on a (very light) lavender striped wall to coordinate with the Biscuit bedding that's on order.

Where I'm a bit stuck, though, is on rug selection.  My natural tendency is to over-match, so I often have to step back a bit to choose something that works, without looking too much like a furniture showroom.  I've put three variations into design boards to get a feel for what will look best.   I've ordered marquee letter lights in each girl's initial, but unlike the images, the letters will be gold.  

So, in general, a lot of softness going on.

My first choice is probably this loose floral rug that pulls in the lavender, but also gives me some wiggle room to accent with other colors.

Another option is this more "matchy" overdyed, low pile.

Then there's the wild card.  Offering a more high-contrast look, while still pulling in the base lavender.
Thoughts? Opinions?  Give 'em to me.

Powder Room Idea #1001

Just when I think my blogging days are over, the whim hits me to post, and I feel like I wanna share.  It praaaaably has something to do with the fact that I've been doing a cleanse this week, the last two days of which were a fast.  Brutal.  But today, I am fla fla flying with inner energy, so here ya go.

The last I stopped in here, we were in demo mode for our kitchen.  Happy to report kitchen is beautifully complete, but there's still things I wanna tweak before she's ready for her close-up.  So, patience, peeps.

We've been trying to tackle other rooms here and there.  I don't know if I've ever mentioned the scoop on the house we bought in our frantic quest for a home Stateside.  In a nutshell:  perfectly livable, but really generic.  Trying to add in character and style from scratch takes time.  And moolah.  Neither of which I have the buckets of I feel I deserve (please read: sarcasm).

For the last few months, I've been going back and forth over wallpaper choices for our tiny powder room.  It's the only bathroom on our main floor, and because of the micro nature of it, it needs a major injection of personality.

We replaced the old sink with a wider pedestal, and in the process discovered the lovely circa '74 floral wallpaper.

I've been all over the map with new paper ideas, but know I want a bold pattern, with a big repeat.  My first thought was to reach back to our Brazilian roots with tropicali afternoon - purchasable via Spoonflower.
I love this pattern, but here's my hang-ups:  Unless you specifically do a rush order, Spoonflower's shipping time is ridiculous.  Secondly, they price and parcel in single rolls.  It makes it more expensive, and more tedious to hang.

So, I never ordered it, and one day stumbled upon Enchanment from Thibaut.  A gorgeous Chinoiserie, in a bold color way, and a big repeat.  Perfect.  Ordered.
The only thing left to source is a mirror.  Because of the sconce placement, I need a tall, narrow mirror, but want it to have some shape.  I've been toying with something with beveled edges to bounce the light around (there's no natural light), but spied this black lacquer framed one, and think it might just work.  The dimensions are perfect, but is the outline too strong.  Hashtag: overthinking it.