I have an obsession with animal-footed furnishings. I don’t even know when that started or why my world won’t be complete without them, but I know I need them in my life. Brass hooved and animal-footed pieces have been around for hundreds of years and have lived in the most luxurious homes – gracing castles, English country estates, and posh dining rooms the world over. In these very serious spaces they brought a touch of whimsy and mystery. In today’s homes, animal-footed furnishings play nicely with everything from traditional settings to ultra-modern surroundings.
Photo courtesy of Keel A/P
I need to confess something. I am completely obsessed with wood. Not just any wood mind you but amazing wood. I’ve been heavily crushing on Shou-Sugi-Ban for about a year now and it’s getting kind of serious. Shou-Sugi-Ban 焼杉板 (or Yakisugi) is an ancient Japanese exterior siding technique that preserves wood by charring it with fire, cooling it, cleaning it and finishing it with a natural oil.
Throughout the design and build process for the Ronald McDonald House Stanford’s, Where Hope Has A Home Project, one of the most challenging spaces for me was the diminutive bathroom. Knowing that some resident families will stay at the house for more than 30 days, I wanted to provide as much of a home-like feel as I could in such a tiny footprint.
Each time I sit to down to write a post I am overwhelmed by all of the things that have happened since I last updated my blog. It’s apparent that I need to devote as much love to the blog as I do to my projects because it’s an awesome creative outlet that helps me connect with you in a way that my Facebook and Instagram posts cannot.
Having been chosen as a designer for the Where Hope Has a Home Project at the Ronald McDonald House Stanford, has been such a humbling and challenging experience. I am continually in awe of the design talent that has come together to make this very special building a beautiful, safe and comforting place for children and their families.
So I’ve been doing some soul-searching and I’ve decided I’m finally ready to tackle a TOTAL renovation of my blog. It’s been sitting here sadly waiting for quite some time and I feel like I know where I want to go with this. Writing two weekly columns for Houzz has been amazing and I’ve met so many fantastic people through my involvement with the site but I have to admit, I’ve let my own little blog kind of languish. I’m sorry for that. I regularly post missives on our shop Facebook page so you can always keep up to date with our day-to-day there, and I’m probably far too active on Instagram where I post the things that inspire me. All of this is happening, and yet, I go to sleep each night filled with stuff I want to write about and share with you. So I’m getting re-focused and will be reworking the blog over the next couple of months.
Since I somehow got myself on the WordPress.org platform instead of normal-people WordPress, I’ve found that I am unable to apply any new template or format. The theory is that I should be intelligent enough to code my own template on WordPress.org which is never gonna happen so…Wish me luck with this while I work on the new blog in parallel to trying to keep y’all updated on this blog. You know there will be a lot of coffee and swearing happening up in here as currently it’s is all me and I am many things but graphic designer/tech brillianaire is not one of them.
Many of you know I was recently invited by Kohler to visit their phenomenal resort, The American Club spend time in their design centre, drool over their gorgeous offices (The Beacon), and tour the factory. I promise I’ll expand on that visit in my next post because really, it was incredible and I want to go back. The most important thing I took away with me from that visit was getting to meet and connect with several really fantastic, intelligent and creative women in design and photography.
If you haven’t checked out Sketch42 or La Dolce Vita, hurry UP! There is so much to see and experience on both sites and the women behind them are awesome human beings. You know me, it takes me a while to warm up to folks and being the always-wary girl I am, I wear my trust issues on my sleeve. These girls are the real deal and I’m blessed to have crossed paths with them.
As usual I’ve been in the shop creating because that’s how my mind works. When I’m stressed, excited, happy, sad, or breathing (which is always thankfully), I’m creating. Sometimes I get stuck in my own head and it’s hard to come back to reality. I’ve been making loads of curious things with what nature has provided me and I can’t wait for you to stop in the shop and see what’s been going on.
Be patient with me while I revamp this little sugar-shack of a blog I have and hopefully I’ll do you all proud. In the meantime, go forth and get creative, it’s good for your soul. 🙂
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I would describe my personal design style as being a bit dark and stormy. While I can appreciate things like country cottage and shabby chic, the sweetness of it isn’t something I naturally gravitate toward. Whether a room is traditional, contemporary or completely eclectic, I’m always looking for a bit of strangeness, something that can counter-balance the perfection. To me, dark and stormy style is all about finding that thing that makes a room edgy, interesting, and mysterious. It’s a room with a sexiness that makes you feel sexy by being in it. It doesn’t have to be a Goth-themed space. I’m not talking about darkness in the context of death and scary monsters, I’m talking about darkness that evokes a naughtiness, curiosity or steaminess.
It’s hard for me to believe that in ten short days Christmas will be upon us. By now, you’re probably done decorating, but if you’re like me, you just keep decorating until the holidays are over – and they’re not over for me until New Year’s Day. So if you’re really done (is that even possible?), then I hope this post inspires next year’s decor. However, if you’re hosting a holiday shindig, or feel like you’re lacking a little sparkle and intrigue, read on for tips on how to bring a little extra bling to your Christmas or New Year’s surroundings.
A reclaimed wood cabinet does double-duty as both a mail/key drop off area and bar in the entry space.
The organic hemp pouf acts as an ottoman or extra seating for the kids when necessary. The striped carpet is made of Flor carpet tiles and can be changed up on a whim. Perfect for kid-friendly family spaces.
The children use the low coffee table and floor cushions as a place to get creative.
The second extra long window seat cushion is custom made of chenille velvet.
Vintage crates provide both storage for art supplies and display space for meaningful items.
The large kitchen island is topped with a gorgeous slab of reclaimed wood.
The eat-in kitchen includes a larger-style dining table flanked by antique Korean scrolls that are family heirlooms. Ziggy wanted to be in the photo so he got to stay.
The small-scale subway tiles laid-out in a Chevron pattern compliment the modern polished cement kitchen counters.
The large sectional provides a comfortable place for the family to watch movies together. The over-size jointed steel floor lamp provides unexpectedly soft lighting.
The industrial-style media center keeps the space interesting.
Details make every house a home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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