Catching Up With The Muses

P1030247The past several months have been filled with blessings and challenges both personally and professionally and updating the blog has fallen woefully behind. Whereas I used to send out monthly newsletters keeping folks up-to-date on our wanderings, I’ve switched over to daily musings and updates via our Facebook page. If you haven’t already visited us there, we’d love to see you! I’m also really excited about my weekly columns on Houzz. Reader response has been fantastic and I’m getting to know so many amazing people through the sharing of design expertise and experiences. To read each week’s piece, make sure to check out Apartment 46’s idea books.

In May I finished a large garden project in the San Mateo hills, as well as worked on a complete renovation in Sunnyvale (ongoing), began the master bedroom of a Hayward Park home, put more touches on a San Francisco apartment, and did a few garden and home refreshes here and there throughout the Bay Area.

I’m still working on the Sunnyvale home, have started a second Hayward Park home, a Hillsdale home, and will be starting a San Jose garden project as well as a Hayward Park backyard. The San Mateo Hills garden project has been expanded to include more of the property so that’s happening this weekend and we have a Millbrae home on deck. It’s an understatement to say I’m blessed by the work because the clients I’ve been lucky enough to design for have been some of the kindest, funniest, and most interesting people I could have hoped to meet. I know there’s a definite design rule about crossing the client-to-friend border but it can’t be helped. The folks I know are just too damn awesome!


The shop is still doing custom floral and we’ve had the opportunity to do several super huge bouquets over the past couple of months. I really don’t believe that a house is a home without fresh flowers and greenery.  Floral arrangements are something we’ll always offer because we feel it’s such an intrinsic part of making a space more lovely.

Our relationship with One Kings Lane is going strong and we’ve continued to sell unique vintage items in their weekly flash sales. If you haven’t already made an account, please click on the OKL banner on the right of our blog and make one. Registering through our page helps our small business and lets OKL where you heard of them. They never spam and they always have beautiful things on offer.


I’ve been really focused on vintage art and have so many great pieces in the shop at any given time it’s impossible to post them all. This 1970’s era black, white and gold abstract is currently for sale. Although it’s over 30 years old, it feels fresh and modern and would be gorgeous above a console, leaned against a larger piece on a mantel or even put in a guest bath as a point of interest. Every home needs “real” art and it doesn’t have to be something big and expensive to be meaningful. Art is a room-changer. Whether you’re into abstract, illustrative or oils, there are as many ways to add art to your space as there are artists. I personally think gallery walls are an exciting way to mix various smaller pieces to create an interesting tableau.

Vintage Japanese glass vase

Sometimes the smallest accents make the biggest impact. Many times I’m hired to provide the finishing touches to homes that have all the basics — sofa, tables, television — but are missing the warmth. It’s so important that a home reflect the people who live there and I am thankful every day that I get to continue doing what I love most, which is adding beauty to Bay Area homes and gardens.

I’m hoping to post photos of my recently completed projects very soon and if you haven’t been by the shop in a while, you know we’d love to see you.

Much love,


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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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How to Fix Horrible Holiday Decor

Although I love this time of year, from an interior design perspective, it also happens to be the most terrifying for me. People are just downright out-of-control. I’ll forgive the lawn full of disparate lighted animals (llamas, and penguins?!). I’ll overlook the retina-burning-blue-Hanukkah-lights. I’ll even give you a pass for the inflatable anything folks have decided is festive. I know that people get excited about the holidays. I get that. What harms me is the Every-single-red-Santa-sparkle-deer-snowman-tree-fugliness approach to holiday decorating. Stop it.

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Things to be Thankful For

It’s been a little while since I’ve had a chance to update you all but good things are happening. When times are slow, it gives me the opportunity to reevaluate the space, and how I want it to flow. I’ve removed a lot of items but added others that work so much better. If you haven’t come by in a while, I invite you to stop on in! Oh, and if you can, bring me a skinny vanilla latte. 🙂

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One of a kind treasures

One of the greatest things about Apartment 46 (and of course I am terribly biased!) is the unique nature of every item in the shop. I do carry a few vendor lines, but they have met stringent criteria and are both beautiful and natural.

I am often asked where I get all of the things I have on offer. They come from all over the place – from outdoor markets in Amsterdam to highest bidder estate sales in Hillsborough. I am constantly on the hunt for cool new items to share with my clients.

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