The last few months of 2015 were a blur for me, in large part due to my participation in the Where Hope Has a Home project at the Ronald McDonald House Stanford. Although it may seem like it’s just furniture in a room, it took a year of space planning, soliciting sponsorship, raising funds for purchases, shipment delays, architectural changes, electrical changes, paint selections, lighting installations, designing custom-made pieces, construction delays, multiple deliveries, and more nights spent in a 35 degree building with no electricity and no heat than I’d like to think about. In short, the project was/is HUGE, and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re in the punch-list phase!
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.
There is so much goodness to share so I’ll just dive right in! A month or so ago I was selected to be among a group of awesome and talented designers who will be donating their time and vision to help decorate rooms in the new wing of the Ronald McDonald House, Stanford. Conceived in conjunction with the San Francisco Design Center (SFDC), and titled, “Where Hope has a Home,” this amazingly worthwhile project will provide a safe, comfortable and beautiful space for families with critically ill children to be together and heal. The current RMH has had to turn away families for lack of space and this new building will enable many more to benefit from the loving environment that the home provides. My own daughter was treated at Lucile Packard for a rare heart condition. Though it was the most terrifying experience of my life, the staff and doctors at Stanford were outstanding and provided the care needed to save her life. I am so honored and humbled to be able to give back in one of the biggest ways – by providing a space in which those on a stressful journey may find a moment of peace.
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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Your home is where the shared space of the world ends and your private sanctuary begins. What could be more sacred than the space in which you begin and end each day? Creating a peaceful environment that honors what you love and who you are, isn’t really about four walls and some furniture.
Whether it’s family photos, glittering crystals, or a bowl full of shells you’ve collected, you add to spirit and love to a place by adorning it with beautiful and meaningful things. The word “sacred” means different things to different people but I use the word to mean highly valued and important : deserving great respect.
You don’t need a large area to create a sacred space. If you have is a shelf on a wall, you can turn it into a Blessings altar by adding to it tiny things you are thankful for, remind you of happy times or people you love. Sacred does not have to mean religious, although you may include religious icons if that is important to you.
In a 6 x 5 foot reading nook, I created this wall altar for a client as a private way to honor her Indian heritage. When she settles into the chair to read, she often lights the candle and uses those few seconds to think about her family. Those thoughts keep her close to important people in her life and give the nook a feeling of serenity.
In my own home I have several vignettes that are ever-changing. None take up much space and all provide touch points that remind me of moments, places, people and the general beauty of the natural world. My kitchen windowsill is an unexpected place to put special objects, but I stand there multiple times a day to use the sink and am always looking at what’s there. Right now I have a small collection of things brought back from my favorite beach – a place that holds everything my heart has ever felt.
Creating a cabinet of beautiful things is also a great way to add a sense of sanctity to a room. All together it looks like a piece of art but when you stand in front of it and really see the individual objects, it becomes almost meditative. Noticing each and every thing takes time, and if all of the items have meaning, you can’t help but feel their importance.
Setting aside a small corner of a room where you sit quietly reading, taking in the sunshine and letting the day slip away doesn’t require fancy decor or objects of spiritual significance. The sense of calm, warmth and safety you feel when snuggled under a warm blanket flipping through a magazine can be sacred in the sense that it refreshes you, centers you and removes you from daily stress. That is a space worth creating!
All my best,
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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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.
The 50’s and 60’s are amazing examples of entertaining done right. Details mattered, inviting people over was always a big deal, and even casual after work drinks were served in decorative highballs. What drink doesn’t taste better in a fancy glass?
How would I describe a romantic room? I don’t think of it as a room where the romance necessarily happens, but a space that inspires a romantic feeling. The Fontana Park Design Hotel in Lisbon, Portugal (above) is a perfect example for me. Luxurious, other-wordly, and deceptively simple and elegant. It’s like roaming around on a cloud.
Romance in design is about lighting, textures, colors and overall ambiance. While sexy spaces are very similar, they’re a little darker, edgier, and secretive. A romantic space is more airy, melancholy, sweet, and ethereal. Think medieval maiden mixed with Flokati rugs and billowing linen window coverings. There is usually an element of fantasy in a romantic room intertwined with soft fabrics. Benjamin Noriega Ortiz does an amazing job of creating beautiful rooms that are modern, eclectic, and interesting.
Although pink, fluffy, ruffly, and floral are usually associated with the word romantic, there are many ways to interpret those design elements and keep it modern and fresh. Featured on Apartment Therapy, Cynthia and Oliver’s San Francisco flat has all of above but it was done in a chic, warm, comforting, stylish way. The lines of the furniture are soft and curved, the materials – leather, ceramic, lacquered wood – are sleek and smooth. It’s all pretty seductive!
Modern Romantic is as much about the physical aspects of a room as it is the way a room makes a person feel. Above, the mix of heavy and curved lines, spare but elegant accessories, and pink tones creates a blend of feminine and masculine that is a little mysterious and a little melancholy. It’s a contemporary but romantic interpretation of a sitting room.
I am madly in love with this bathroom. The industrial + glamor combination is heady stuff for me. It’s such a small gathering of things but it invites you to imagine an interesting, complex and impossibly chic person living there. Velvet, vintage, glass, warm wood, cool steel…it’s all completely romantic.
Grace and Dennis Hu’s living room is a good example of Modern Romantic. The raw silk curtains, deep sofa, velvet pillows, brushed nickel and crystal accessories, tufting…Of course, style is subjective. My definition of romantic design is tied to my own likes and dislikes. I absolutely hate chintz and fringed sofas but many people think it creates a romantic ambiance. I think of it as elderly. For some, candles are romantic, but putting them in a Super 8 motel room won’t transform it into a romantic room (sorry). In the end, a room is a room and it’s very much about the memories you create in it and the things it inspires you to do.
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Long ago I read Karen Kingston’s enlightening book, “Creating Sacred Space With Feng Shui,” and much of what I read has become a building block for how I work with my clients to define their current and future space. When it comes to clutter, Kingston’s belief is that we are tied to everything in our home by invisible strings of energy.