One of the most often repeated quotes I’ve encountered from clients, usually about halfway through the design process, is something to the effect of “I never thought we were the type of people who would work with a designer.” This is such a loaded comment but really, I get what they are trying to say. Especially for young families, hiring a designer is not at the top of their economic agenda and can seem like something frivolous to say the least. Here are the most common reasons people don’t hire a designer and get the help they want for their home:
1. Designers are for rich people.
This gorgeous castle-home of Axel Vervoordt is beautiful inside and out and I’m sure cost a small fortune, but having a well-planned, well-designed, comfortable home doesn’t have to. If you can’t get a budget together for a whole house, focus on one room at a time. If you can’t get enough for one room, pay for a few design consultations and get a plan in place. This will help you as you acquire things over time to make sure each item is what you want and need and will save you money in the long run. The best way to tackle a space is to do it all at once with a budget and a clear concise plan but if that’s not feasible, hire a designer for a consult and talk about what you want for your house. How do you want it to feel? What are some space planning issues you are having? How do you want it to function? What’s working and what’s not working? What colors are you drawn to? If you are doing a one-time consult, plan ahead with as many inspiration photos and questions prepared beforehand as you can. Decide what you want this consultation to focus on: paint colors? fabrics for a room? furniture layout? This will help you get the most out of your time and money.
2. Hiring a designer means we care too much about materialistic things.
Just because you create a home you love that functions well doesn’t mean you care about stuff. It just means you appreciate the things you have and want to be happy in your home. Walking into a room that makes you feel good and functions well can change your outlook and make you and your family happier as a result. Good design doesn’t mean expensive or showy, it just means thoughtful and well-done. In fact, a well-designed space will be subtle and comfortable as well as beautiful.
3. A designer will depersonalize my house.
You’d be surprised how many people think this. Of course, a good designer does the opposite of this. A good designer will make your home feel like you and make it an expression of the things that are important to you. Family photos, keepsakes, treasured art, collections, and mementos, are no longer lost in the shuffle, but become an integrated feature. Again, design is collaborative. A good designer will listen to what you want and need but once you have settled on someone to work with, trust that person and let go of the process a bit. In the long run you will be happier with the result.
4. We are a young family and a designed house won’t work in our reality.
This is another one where the opposite is true. A well-designed home doesn’t mean a museum where nothing can be touched, but it does mean putting care and effort into creating and maintaining a home you love and that actually functions better for your family. It can also mean better storage, better organization, and perhaps some purging. Maybe it means putting in place some rules about how kids and pets treat the things in your home, but isn’t that a good thing? I want my kids to feel comfortable in our house but I want them to grow up appreciating and respecting what we have. We have a beat up old sofa that gets climbed and jumped on everyday but it’s got a slipcover that has stood up to five years of washes. Practical and beautiful aren’t mutually exclusive.
What are the reasons you try to make and keep a beautiful home?
I know my posts have been fewer and farther between lately–I have a few client design projects picking up right now as well as design related freelance projects not to mention children, grocery shopping, life, etc. It’s no more than anyone else is doing–I know we are all busy–but I feel like I am at the crux of learning how to balance it all and just figure the whole thing out. Maybe we never really figure it all out!
After my last post about the piano, I wanted to share these great little accessories I picked up last week.
I was in the Crate and Barrel outlet spending a gift card from Christmas and besides a couple of bowls and lanterns I found these great little brass vases:
They have a cool shape–like a sphere that has been flattened (is this a shape? What do you call it?)–and are brushed brass. They would work in pretty much any style room and the brassiness is soft and subtle so it won’t be overpowering.
This brings me to my next new thing. I’ve started being a regular contributor to Houzz.com’s guest picks series so every month you can find recommendations for design products that all fit a theme. Last month it was owl fabric for nurseries and this month it’s brass accessories to introduce this trendy metal into your decor. You’ll find this vase as well as many other options. It publishes at the end of the month but you can follow my ideabook as I put it together. Just check out the link in my sidebar to see what ideabooks I’m working on.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope everyone is having a good week!
Something that’s been bothering me for a while in our piano room is the piano itself. I love that we have a piano and it gets used a lot, but it’s quite old (60+ years) and isn’t that great of a quality (Acrosonic) and we haven’t tuned it in almost 10 years. So for a long time I have debated the idea of painting it.
As a (former) professional musician this seemed a little bit sacrilegious but the giant dark hole it was creating in this semi-dark room finally bothered me enough that I went for it. I also read that as long as you don’t paint the sound boards, it won’t affect the tone. Not that that would have really mattered with this piano anyway…
After the first coat is when I always say to myself “I’ve made a horrible mistake…”
But then you finish up:
This area is going to change a bit more over the coming months as I have another wingback to reupholster and I finally have a plan for dealing with that incredibly off-center window. My brain loves symmetry so this has been a hard one for me. The second wingback will go on the right side of the piano and we will move the barrel chairs around.
So painted pianos, totally worth it or sacrilege?Pin It
A few years ago the City of Berkeley came and planted trees in front of our house along the street at my request. They gave us a few species to choose from but one that was new on their list and new to me was called Chinese Fringe. I looked up photos of it and and thought it would be interesting:
This one in the picture is a very mature tree in full bloom. We got two baby ones two years ago and for two years only the littlest one bloomed. This year they both bloomed beautifully and everyday I had at least one person ask me what they were or say they looked like something from Dr. Seuss. Here’s the view of one out of our kitchen window:
So hard to see. This was the best pic of the larger one. Here’s a little bit better picture close up:
In the picture above you can see they look like fringe-y puffballs, like truffula trees.
Taking the few decent pictures I did of these pretty trees took forever. I hate photographing the outside of our house because of this:
OK, not horrible but that massive tangle of lines that reaches up to the sky really looks like this:
That telephone pole is killing me! It’s got to be the ugliest telephone pole in the country. And with the number of wires on it it must provide power to most of the country too. Six wires go to our house alone! What in the world are they for? We only have one tv, no house phone, and average to low electricity usage. The street perpendicular to us at the end of the block has no poles and is so pretty. I’ve heard you can request that the city come bury them (which is better for earthquakes anyway) but it’s incredibly expensive and they add it onto your property taxes. And I’d have to convince everyone on our street to pay too. Not gonna happen
But I digress. On Wednesday I was home with a very sick two year old and we sat like this:
for over an hour while she slept (poor baby–she’s all better now. 24 hour stomach bug). During that time the city came to replace the pole which apparently was getting unsafe. It was crazy to watch them disassemble it and I was able to take a couple of pictures:
Although the new one is slightly better looking than the old one, they actually just moved all the wires to the new one but didn’t take the old one down. Now I have two telephone poles. I’m sure they will come back for it someday but until then I am willing that little Chinese Fringe next to them to grow fast.
And a final note to a totally rambling post, we are headed to Legoland this weekend with the kids so I’m signing off till Monday. Have a great weekend!Pin It
Continuing on with my posts this week with details about posts from last week is this wing back chair. Thanks so much to everyone for your kind comments about it last week. Yes, I was really pleased when I went to pick it up and was really happy with how it turned out and the quality of the job.
I have to first give props to Camille at The Vintique Object. I had been struggling with fabric samples for a while with this chair and finally called Camille to come help me talk it through. Perhaps the best thing about starting this blog is that I have met so many design friends and I’m so lucky to have met Camille right here in my neighborhood! I may never have met her without this blog and I love that I can call her and talk through stuff when need be. Sometimes you just need another pair of eyes you trust tell you you’re not crazy.
My thinking for this chair was I knew I wanted texture (surprise) and I wanted pattern but not too much. I loved this chair from Simply Seleta and thought I would do something graphic and organic as a focal point on the interior of my chair too but I never found the exact right thing. I also really love contrasting masculine and feminine. There really is almost no pattern anywhere in the room and while I wanted to start introducing some, I wanted it to fit with the rest of the calm/rustic/organic vibe I had going on. I knew I wanted something different on the inside than the outside and after months of deliberation I decided on the stripe down the middle. This was for its bold contrast and also to help protect the lighter covered fabric from the the many stains it will probably get over the years. (Sound of gritting teeth…)
For a long time I thought I wanted slipcovers. I have a white denim slip on our sofa and it has held up great after about 5 years. But I wanted a higher end fabric and this chair also really needed help. The wooden frame was popping out in places and just covering it with a slip was not going to do the trick. I have to admit, I have laid a blanket over the chair for a couple of days to keep the kids and cat from ruining it. I am also going to have arm covers made for it that can be washed and the seat cushion can be washed as well. It was a risk but for the tailored finished look an upholstered piece gives, I think it was worth it.
The heavy linen (which gives it a burlap look but is soft and linen-y and upholstery weight) came from West Elm. Yes, West Elm sells fabric! I looked all over for the perfect fabric for this part of the chair and it was hard to find. If it had the right texture it was too light. If it was textural and heavy, it was too creamy. This one was perfect. The olive stripe and the pattern are both from Lewis and Sheron. I chose the olive because it picks up the golden olive tones in the pattern. I also chose contrasting piping to give the whole thing more presence and highlight the pretty curves.
My only regret is that you can’t see more of the pattern from everywhere in the room but I’m hoping that will change a bit when the other one gets done. Also, I guess it’s kind of nice to have it be a little surprise when you’re looking at it from the other side of the room, but I’m having a hard time not telling people to make sure they see the back…
You may have noticed that I switched out the table too. I have changed that table 3 times over the last few months. This little green one used to be in our entryway. I had to switch them because the other console was too big with these bigger chairs. Now that it’s here I need to paint it something more vibrant I think. Or maybe black.
It never ends…
Thanks for stopping by!
I hope everyone had a good weekend and is getting back to normal after the upheaval in Boston last week. I was glued to the news coverage when I could be and could hardly believe the events that unfolded. I’m just glad that the suspects have been caught and Boston can start to heal.
Onto lighter topics, I owe you all a couple of posts regarding details from the office and the wing back chair. I’ll start with the office today.
The most questions I got regarding details of the office were about the art used in there. Most of the credit for compiling that goes to John. Since several people asked what the art was and where it came from I thought I would just take you through most of it and give a few details. Here’s a reminder of what the gallery wall looks like in there:
Here’s some of the art:
This is a poster for a band called Grails. We saw the show together in SF a few years ago and got a poster from the show. John’s rule about hanging music posters is that they have to be from shows he has seen, not just massed produced posters. BTW, if you are into music, Grails are amazing.
The poster on the left is for Wilco–John is a big fan. It was a show from 2007 in Berkeley at the Greek Theater. On the right is an illustration from a company called Delicious Design League. His company hired them to do some art for a project and these were from some illustrations inspired by that project that they gave him afterward.
This is a limited edition print some friends of ours gave us several years ago from the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis, TN. John and I met in college in Memphis and these friends are also from there. Al Green of course is a Memphis icon. It also fits into this quirky folk art aesthetic. I need to get it framed…
This is just a print John bought from an artist on Ebay.
This is a Pottery Barn mail sorter we got as a gift from my mom a few years ago. John found this website Printstagram that prints photos from your Instagram images. They have this really great size (I think 3×3) and you get like 24 of them for $12. The great thing is they are printed on cardstock so they have a really textural look and feel to them. I have a plan to do a family photos installation using these on our stairwell soon but just haven’t gotten to it yet. Also, John contacted the company and they said the cardstock holds up really well and they haven’t seen any fading or discoloration on ones that have been around for years.
One of the Prinstagrams of me and Becky…
And the boys jumping at the beach.
Here’s a reminder of what the desk area looks like:
This poster to the left of the desk is a signed Shepard Fairey (famous for the Obama Hope posters and Andre the Giant’s Posse) that was sent to John when Shepard Fairey’s design agency Studio Number One did some work for John’s company. I love the design on this one–one of my favorites!
This is from a “rare album” (Holland, 1945 Picture Disc) of a band we both really like called Neutral Milk Hotel.
In the full photo of the desk you’ll notice an Uncle Sam and an Angel wood cut outs. These are both folk art pieces from an artist in Georgia named Howard Finster. We bought these about 12 years ago right before he died. We also bought this bull which is my favorite and is on the book shelf:
Also had to include this cute picture of my husband (then 13 years old) shaking governor Bill Clinton’s hand. It’s also signed by the former prez.
There are some other music posters and vintage ads around but that is the bulk of the art! I hope that answered some of your questions. It helped me to write all this out just to see what we have accumulated over the years.
Thanks for stopping by!Pin It
If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you might remember this wing-back chair. I got it for free from a friend a few years ago who was getting rid of it. The pink velour actually sat in our house for the last three years. I have been itching for so long to get this old girl reupholstered.
I chose fabric a few months ago but had to wait while some of it took time to come in. Then I dropped it at the upholsterers a couple of weeks ago and picked it up over the weekend. Here’s the after:
In this photo you can see my little antique horse sculptures I got at the flea market last weekend.
In my mind I keep thinking of this chair as my mullet chair because it’s all business in the front and a party in the back:
I have another (free–from the side of the road) wingback that has to get reupholstered to match to go on the other side of the table but that will happen in the next few months. I’ll post details on this chair later in the week.
Thanks for stopping by!Pin It
We are starting to get a little more spring light around here and I can start to take pictures in the house of all the projects we have tackled. Here are some befores of the office:
And now the afters:
I’ll post details about the transformation soon.
Happy Monday!Pin It
(soft grayed blues, yellows and greens)
For the last year or so I have been creating color boards for client consultations. I got the idea from Maria Killam and her website Color Me Happy. Maria sells color boards as a set and they are her chosen colors that she recommends and stands behind from her years of color consulting. I’m sure Maria’s are wonderful but when I started out I wasn’t ready to invest in them and I wanted to pick and choose colors that I was considering specific to each job.
At first I used large foam core boards but they turned out to be too thick and hard to transport. I recently cut them down to about 12 x 18″ and switched to some thin plastic boards they sell at my local Benjamin Moore store.
I like that I am acquiring a color story that reflects my general preferences and aesthetic and they really are so useful at client meetings. It helps everyone see better how a color will work in a space and helps me feel confident about my recommendations.
Here are some neutrals:
I just add labels to the back. As you can see some of the boards are a bit sloppy and someday I might buy Maria’s but for now they are getting the job done.
For any other interior designers or color consultants out there, what are some of your color tools and tricks? Any you don’t mind sharing?
Have a great weekend!Pin It
We are back into the swing of things now that school has started back after spring break. I have so many design projects in the works that I want to share but they just aren’t quite ready yet. One thing I’ve been thinking about lately though is porcelain tile in bathrooms.
I sense a comeback. We all know about backlashes: something awesome gets discovered then when people start to see it everywhere it falls into disfavor and then enough time goes by that suddenly people appreciate it again. This has probably happened with probably every aesthetic since humans started decorating with cave paintings.
Well something that people have been renovating into oblivion for the last decade or so are those smaller 1940s houses with the porcelain tile bathrooms often in black and yellow or pink and blue. Born out of the economy of the depression and WWII, these homes had small closets, small bathrooms, and smallish kitchens very separated from the other rooms. Pretty much the opposite of the way we want to live today. In many neighborhoods including the one I grew up in, these houses are not just being remodeled, they are being torn down. So sad. So maybe it’s time for a comeback.
Check out the photos from a real estate listing from Portland OR that was featured on Retro Renovation.
Kind of amazing. This home has 5 (!) tiled bathrooms. Things I like about this style: the tiled archways over baths and shower entrances; the high contrast borders and designs on floors and walls; tiling high up walls and right up to window casings; coordinated and tiled in soap holders and toilet paper dispensers; built-in looks for cabinetry and vanities; exposed plumbing under white porcelain sinks. And even with all the tile and design, there is something functional and utilitarian about this style that makes it really authentic and appealing too. I mean what could be more durable and enduring than porcelain tile covering as much surface as possible in a bathroom? My grandmother’s house that I grew up in was built in the early 40s and the tile has had constant use ever since and has held up amazingly these last 70 years. Original fixtures and fittings too. Next time I’m home I’ll definitely take pictures…
There is definitely a revival of interest in these homes and their counterparts in the 1950s. Anyone who checks out the blog Retro Renovation can attest to a hardcore following and I have to admit, I am really liking the style of these 1940s bathrooms (less so the ones from the later 50s but who knows…they might grow on me too) and could see them incorporated beautifully into a contemporary home or kitchen. (Be sure to check out the post about refrigerator drawers and refrigerator cabinets from the 1950s. Why did it take another 50 years for that to catch on? Or completely fitted kitchens which people are starting to ask for more and more).
Check out this gorgeous bathroom on pinterest that started my new love affair with porcelain tile:
(Sorry for the tiny pic. I can’t figure out what Pinterest is doing now with embedding photos. If I figure it out I will come back and update).
I know this is more art deco/art nouveau and much more ornate and grand but I can see the relationship between this tub and tile and the ones in the previous photos.
So what do you think? Is porcelain tile going to replace marble as the new go to in bathrooms? Will color replace white subway tile? Love it or hate it?
I live in Berkeley, CA with my husband and three children. A desire to share a lifetime love of creating beautiful spaces led to this blog where I display my home renovation, client projects, and inspirations.
If you would like a home that makes you happy to come home to, contact me for a consultation.
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