Baywood Residence

A San Mateo couple with a young daughter requested that I do a makeover on their space utilizing existing furnishings where possible. Art and accessories warmed up the space and gave the rooms a more finished look. Husband and wife have somewhat divergent styles, so finding a happy medium and incorporating family heirlooms was key to the project’s success. The rooms needed to welcoming, reflect who the couple is at this stage in their lives, and be able to withstand their energetic little girl.

I painted an antique cabinet to use as a bar.

The leather sofa and chair, as well as the coffee table, were purchases the couple previously owned. The tables were topped in tempered glass with polished edges to stand up to the daughter’s toys and activities.

The fireplace will be re-surfaced eventually. The 70’s brass and iron mesh curtain was removed and an updated flush fireplace screen was put in its place.

The side table was something the family already owned.A bronze mirror was cut for the top and it was stained darker.

The leather-covered bench was placed against the wall to be used as optional seating for guests.

The family has a number of heirloom carpets. A smaller one was used to create a reading area within the larger living space.

The addition of art will be an evolving process for the homeowners. A 1968 screen print titled Leili and Majnon was finished in a nondescript frame so it was gold-leafed and distressed to add more depth.

The grouping of vintage fruit prints is on the dining room wall. The room is still a work in progress – Above and below is a sneak peek.

A handmade baby outfit from Puerto Rico was shadowboxed and hangs at the entrance to the daughter’s bedroom.

The vintage painted shelf in the daughter’s room allows her to display her ever-rotating treasures.

Vintage unframed art adorns one wall.

A pouf matches the custom draperies, and sits underneath two long shelves holding the daughter’s books. A bookcase would have taken up too much room on the floor, and the walls were a great use of space.

The layout of the room includes an extra door that is never used. It cannot be removed because of code so it was papered and hung with framed chicken wire that displays the daughter’s artwork with clothespins.

The stuffed animals occupy a painted vintage suitcase.

The bedroom furnishings were a present from the in-laws, the mirror is vintage.

The antique pharmacy jars hold the daughter’s wide selection of hair clips, ties and accessories.

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The Wonder of Wall Coverings

de Gournay hand-painted wallpaper

de Gournay hand-painted wallpaper

Let’s put it on the table straight away. I love wallpaper. Would I paper an entire house? Probably not. For one thing, the paper I covet is probably the most costly available, and for another, I am a renter, so I’m saving that indulgence for my very first home. It’s not for everyone, but the paper above? The monkeys? That’s definitely for me.

de Gournay butterflies

de Gournay butterflies

The first time I saw gorgeous, hand-painted wallpaper used in a design magazine, I had just started high school. Up until that point, my only exposure to wallpaper was what I had seen peeling off the dentist’s office walls and the hideous bright yellow floral that adorned my bedroom when my mom first bought the house.

de Gournay panels

de Gournay panels

Nothing about the magazine photo stayed in my memory except the wall-coverings, which were a vibrant Chinoiserie scene that included flying birds, cherry blossoms, pagodas, butterflies and branches, and was painted on a soft silver background. It took my breath away. Furniture was inconsequential next to that art. I filed it away in my head with other beautiful things that have left their imprint on me. de Gournay hand-painted wallpaper is, to me, the epitome of luxury and timeless chic. 

de Gournay

de Gournay

Walls are a very personal thing – both physically and metaphorically. The way you adorn (or not), the walls of your environment says volumes about who you are, and what you are about. While I love the look of great and eclectic art on bright, white walls, I also really, really love faux bois wallpaper and think that I would love to do an entire hallway in it. Nobilis does the most realistic I’ve ever seen.

Nobilis faux bois

Nobilis faux bois

Then again, I also really like the more playful and topographic-map looking faux bois as it  would look gorgeous in a modern, minimalist or contemporary home.

AVictoria faux bois

AVictoria faux bois

But here’s the thing, I am also obsessed with textured walls, and thus, organic wall-coverings. There was a time back in the 70’s and early 80’s when textured wall-coverings were pretty commonplace. I remember my mother painting over some textured brown grass cloth, turning it white, and I thought that wall was the coolest thing I had ever seen afterward! Texture creates a warm elegance that a flat wall just doesn’t have on its own. My favorite place to use texture is in an entryway. Grass cloth is perfect for creating an interesting, high-end and earthy-feeling space.

Grasscloth Foyer

Grasscloth Foyer

It can be really subtle, (or not) depending on the color and whether it’s metallic. There is nothing quite like metallic grasscloth. It’s absolutely stunning when mixed with masculine and industrial-style pieces.

Metallic grasscloth

Metallic grasscloth

I have to admit I also have a little bit of a thing for pricess-style wallpaper. You know, the soft, fuzzy kind that Cinderella probably had when she moved into the castle? Yeah, I love that too. Design Your Wall has an awesome collection of flocked velvet wallpaper that makes me fall in love a little bit more every time I see it. The ultimate in textured paper, it definitely evokes a retro-brothel feel that I think would be so wicked in a small bathroom or a woman’s dressing room. It’s fun, unique and definitely over-the-top princessy.

flocked velvet wallpaper

flocked velvet wallpaper

If I were going to forgo wallpaper, I would probably opt for large-format art for my walls. I am completely smitten by the look of a single wall done in one giant, graphic image. Like a feature wall, but without the paint. I was digging through a pile of old design magazines and found a 2009 issue of Elle Decor UK, (now called Elle Decoration) and re-discovered Tektura, a UK-based company that turns digital photographs into large-scale vinyl wall coverings. Although it’s a 4-year old idea, it feels fresh to me, and I’m pretty sure I need it. In my future dream home, I will have them turn the below image of a fighter-pilot’s helmet into a floor-to-ceiling piece of art – and I will love it madly. I have carried this image with me for years, knowing that one day, it would be on the wall of my home.

Photo-realistic Charcoal Rendering

Seven years ago I learned about Flavor Paper in NYC and went a little bit mental ordering samples. I decided that there is definitely a project out there in the world that requires me to install their hand-screened Elysian Fields paper in a nursery, counseling office, or some other totally cheeky place. The black and purple colorway almost made its way onto the walls of my shop, but I am constantly nailing things to the walls and that wouldn’t be good for the paper.

Elysian Fields in Antique Pink by Flavor Paper

Elysian Fields in Antique Pink by Flavor Paper

Just saying the word “wallpaper” used to bring to mind a grandmother’s house, or a stuffy, cold manor on a bog. Today’s bold patterns and modern colorways have given new life to wallpaper and a new opportunity to do something different and graphic in your space. Dwell Studio has a line of wallpaper that’s both modern and edgy. My heart beats a little stronger for their Snake Chain pattern, which looks like basic curled “S” shapes until you get up close. LOVE it.

Dwell Studio's Snake Chain wallpaper

Dwell Studio

I am going to be experimenting with some of  Tempaper’s removable wallpaper in my dining area. For us renters, it’s kind of a dream come true! My dining space is very small, and very boring, and I’ve painted it more times than I care to admit and it still makes me sad. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out and whether it was really “removable.” 

Tempaper styles

Tempaper styles

So next time you are thinking about refreshing your space, consider adding a bit of interest with wallpaper. Whether your style is conservative, traditional, playful, eclectic, or minimalist, there is a paper in this world for you. You just have to pick one you like and get it up on those walls!

Wishing you much inspiration,


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Danielle and Joe

Image courtesy of Kevin Chin Photography

All Images courtesy of Kevin Chin Photography

Danielle and Joe Portelli were married in Burlingame, California in August, 2012. In an exciting twist, I did not do the floral arrangements for the day, but was brought on board as a wedding coordinator and decorator for the entrance hall to the reception room. With only two weeks to get it everything from the church programs, to favor labels, to the guest gift bags together, it was definitely a challenge! Continue reading

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Come on Over! Styling Your Holiday Home

Image courtesy of Jess Country Flowers

Whether you’re like me, and the thought of having large groups of people over gives you hives, or you’re the frequently entertaining-type, it’s the time of year to invite folks over to fill our homes with the love, laughter and warmth. Inviting people to come into your home is a universal sign of generosity, and guests should feel welcome and special when they enter your space.

I have always loved the extra effort that’s made during the holiday season. Making sure the house is clean, decorating for the season, using the “good” china and creating a sense of abundance through food and drink makes me feel honored and appreciated as a guest.

Gourds and glittery ornaments in a weathered silver bowl

Setting the scene in your holiday home doesn’t have to be a complex endeavor. Using tarnished and well-loved silver bowls filled with piles of white gourds or tiny orange kumquats adds a sense of whimsy to the table setting. I’ve always leaned toward eclectic (can you tell?) and I love the organic and unexpected. It’s a guarantee that I’ll be serving drinks in vintage glassware as I find it far more interesting, and I’ll be opening cupboards wide to see what I can use to hold flowers, drinks, displays and of course, food!

Taking those Halloween pumpkins and turning them into a interesting modern table display is a chic way to re-use what you already have. The pumpkins above have been spray-painted with low sheen acrylic and grouped with similarly shaped ceramic bud vases. They would also look amazing with mismatched milk glass, or even other painted fruit like pomegranates and squash.

Apartment 46 table setting

Silver always works to add sparkle and elegance. Make votive holders out of vintage goblets and looking glass spray. You’ll get the look of antique mercury glass except it will be that much cooler because you  made them yourself! Take objects from elsewhere in your home and incorporate them into vignettes on the table, such as the silver pheasants that were previously on the bookshelf. Vintage linens make excellent table covers and if you don’t happen to have the right size, then layer several for a Victorian-romantic style and sprinkle with dried petals.

Creating impromptu bouquets from garden herbs and produce is a very unexpected way to decorate. I am extremely fond of purple artichokes and every time I’ve used them in an arrangement, they are noticed. By visiting the vegetable aisles at the organic market you can find fantastic things to add to your holiday vases. I really hate the taste of kale, but it’s gorgeous in a bright white vase mixed with black basil and artichokes. Bud vases look amazing filled with delicate stems of rosemary and thyme and placed around the room. Add a few appropriately sized fallen branches or twigs and you have a gorgeous conversation starter!

Image courtesy of Second Hand with Style

Serving up hot cocoa and butterscotch Schnapp’s (my fave!) in vintage jadeite mugs with a side of hand-made marshmallows is fancy twist on a very simple, but heart-warming treat. In fact, using vintage glass in unexpected ways adds both color and beauty to your party setting.

Filled with unscented soy wax and cotton wicks (available at most craft stores), you can create gorgeous candles that that guests can take home as a parting gift when they leave.

Use vintage dessert cups to hold varying shades of succulents and mix them in with the candles. You cannot go wrong with such a pretty display! These also make wonderful take-home treats for visitors as succulents live a long time, and guests can replant them in their own gardens.

Image courtesy of the Daily Grommet

Create a unique buffet-style station of small-bites or sweets by clearing off a console and displaying foods with props that fit the occasion. The tall stalks of wheat in clear vases and white gourds make this display appropriately Thanksgiving-ish. I love giant glass containers filled with branches so that I can drape the branches in strands of beads, pearls, or strings of tiny white lights.

Image courtesy of Interior Design Musings

Not everyone has the budget or the room for an actual bar cart, so an easy way to set up a great little libation station is to use a table-top set with trays, glasses, and a selection of alcohol and accoutrements. Another option is to use your fireplace mantel if you have one. Even in a small space, you can set up a station in the kitchen that still looks party-ready.

Image courtesy of Fabulous on a Budget

Allowing folks to serve themselves creates a more relaxed atmosphere with a better flow. It’s always awkward to have to ask the host/hostess for more wine and it’s tiring to keep track of who is running low. Of course you still need to keep your eye on that hard-drinking friend you have that may need to crash on the couch but most people can handle serving themselves.

Image courtesy of Minimalisti

So whether you go big or small this season, think creatively about how to turn your space into a warm and welcoming space that makes your guests feel both relaxed and special. They should feel like they can serve themselves, but also feel as if they’re being taken care of. When you open your home, you are also opening your heart, and I hope that you’re able to fill both with loads of love!
Best wishes, Melisa

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Creating Curious Displays

Vintage martini glass planting – Apartment 46

There’s a romantic crispness to the air right now. Night comes earlier and it’s the perfect time to cocoon under warm blankets in candlelit rooms. It’s my favorite season of the year. As the last days of summer disappear, creative souls start bursting at the seams with ideas for their Halloween and Fall displays. I’m not known to be a thematic sort of girl and I don’t “do” holiday specific windows at Apartment 46. However, I’m all for unpredictable and imaginative displays, and I am nearly always designing some take on a cabinet of curiosities. In fact, our whole shop is modeled on what I believe a curious collector’s apartment would feel like. Continue reading

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Kittredge Home

Pravina and Perry Kittredge are a well-traveled, well-educated, and super interesting couple with three young children. As a scientist, Pravina loves interesting objects and odd things. Perry, a middle-school math and social studies teacher, likes a relaxing and uncomplicated space that is both comfortable and functional. The challenge was to take on two previously unused spaces and turn them into something the family could enjoy. Continue reading

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We’re An Official One Kings Lane Affiliate!

We are so excited to announce that we’ve been approved as a One Kings Lane affiliate! We have been in love with OKL since the day it began and being able to offer their collection of products through our site is just another way of helping you create an amazing space.

If you’re already a fan, all you have to do is click the banner on the home page of our site and book mark the link and there you go! Each time you log on through the bookmarked link, you’ll be supporting small business as zero extra cost to you. How awesome is that?

If you’ve never been to OKL, then get ready for a double-helping of “yes please!” You’ll wonder why it’s taken you so long. You can join the site directly from my home page. Click the banner, create an account and voila! You’re a super star!

We have some other fantastic things cooking with OKL so we’ll keep you posted. Until then, thank you for loving us as much as we love you.


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Dez and Jeremy’s Wedding

All images courtesy of Carlos Hernandez Photography

Desiree and Jeremy were married at Crystal Springs in Burlingame, California, in June 2012. We are so grateful to Carlos Hernandez for taking such awesome photos and for allowing us to use them on our site.

All images courtesy of Carlos Hernandez Photography

The ceremony overlooked one of the most gorgeous nature preserves in Northern California, and it was important that we didn’t take anything away from the natural surroundings, so we chose to decorate the gazebo with a simple bough made of King Protea, vintage pearl strands, and an early 1900’s papier mache garland made for a theatre in London.

The beautiful bride has a love for Frida Kahlo, Day of the Dead, and vintage eclectic, and wanted to honor her Mexican heritage with a colorful and creative bouquet, as well as interesting decor.

Included in her flowers and in her groom’s boutonniere were two small, turquoise, skull stick pins that she had carefully chosen to make her day more meaningful.

We also designed a floral hair comb of bright pink roses and Dusty Miller for the bride to wear under her mantilla-style veil at the ceremony, and reveal at her reception.

For the guest sign in table, the bride had provided family photos and some very special accessories, such as a rosary, a gorgeous Frida Kahlo art book (to be used as the guest book), and a large, turquoise vase, that we filled with flowers. We created a sort of altar and added mismatched mercury glass votive holders, a scattering of spray roses, and an antique, handmade, lace table cover.

All of the reception tables were covered in different handmade lace table covers that we had individually tea-dyed to create a rustic look. We created centerpieces out of vintage silver compotes surrounded by mismatched mercury glass votive holders.

The Sweetheart table was covered in a lace tablecloth and included a set of cups, filled with succulents, that spelled out “Amor”. We added mismatched mercury glass votive holders to give it extra sparkle

The bride chose an amazing spread of candy for her guests that they could mix-and-match  and take home as favors. We found a source for her on Etsy that made vintage-style adhesive labels that the guests used these to seal up their glassine bags of treats.

We also found a phenomenal Ex Voto (votive offering) for the couple to use as the cake topper.

We are so lucky to have been a part of this special couple’s day and we know they’re destined for a life of love, laughter and endless adventure!
Much love,


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The Art of Creating an Eclectic Style

I’ve written before about eclectic style, and it occurred to me that it was definitely time to revisit the topic. With the increasing popularity of HGTV, and a slew of shows like Design on a Dime, Dear Genevieve, and even American Pickers, people are more daring than ever when it comes to tackling their own decorating. Continue reading

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Marlene and Robert’s Wedding!

Image courtesy of Duy Ho Photography

Marlene and Robert were married in Pleasanton in May, 2012, at the gorgeous Palm Event Center. We are so fortunate to have had the day, (and our floral designs), captured in the stunning images provided by Duy Ho Photography. Continue reading

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