Archive | January, 2013

Coffee Tables

Lately I have been searching for a coffee table for clients who are redoing their living room.  It’s coming together: the paint has gone up, the sofa has arrived, pillows have arrived, chairs are getting recovered, curtains are being made, side tables purchased.  But we have yet to settle on a coffee table.  In the process I have seen several coffee tables that are quite nice.  Thought I would share some of my favorites:

Love this one from West Elm.  Such a light take on the wood and iron look and on sale now for $319.

This is so pretty and even though it has a lot of wood it feels airy with the legs and the fretwork.  It’s currently on sale for $239.

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Bouclier Coffee Table

This one is made perfect with the brass feet.  It’s on the pricier side at $899.

I love the flexibility of these bamboo tables from Ballard, $179 a piece.  Put them together for a coffee table or pull them up next to chairs by themselves.

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Simone Coffee Table

This iron and wood table from World Market is a delicate version of the many more rustic ones you see on the market and a great deal at $199.

Love this one from DWR.  A bit pricier ($900) but what a statement.  The top also comes in wood veneer options.

I love this wood and glass one from West Elm too.  Such great lines.  (It’s on sale for $319 as I write this).

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Nate Berkus™ Glass-Top Bamboo-Style Metal Table


I love this brass bamboo coffee table from Nate Berkus for HSN.  Unfortunately, it’s out of stock but I had to include it anyway–too pretty!


What do you think?  Have any good ones to add to the list?


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Adding Functionality to Beauty

A few years ago I bought this antique armoire at a local shop to serve as extra storage upstairs.  As is common in many old homes, there is not a lot of closet space to be had and we were very much needing a place to keep linens:

Screen shot 2013 01 28 at 9.00.19 PM 274x300 Adding Functionality to BeautyI loved the tone of the wood (walnut I think) and the inlay detail as well as the fact that is was in good condition and had never been refinished.  Unfortunately it was not really set up to be a linen closet but just a closet for people to hang a few items back in the day.  So it became a place for us to stuff blankets and comforters with no rhyme or reason:

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I’m all for making things work in the name of beauty but I had originally purchased this piece to help with our storage issues so it seemed like something should be done to make it more functional.  So, last week I inserted some shelves down the two sides and now there is beauty inside and out:

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I also organized my own closet this weekend and I feel 10 pounds lighter.  For me, the hard part with organization is not doing it, but maintaining it.  I’m hoping these shelves will help make that easier.  icon smile Adding Functionality to Beauty

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So as part of my resolution to share more on the blog (you didn’t know I made that resolution because I didn’t share it!  Dammit!) I’m about to detail (confess?) a weird obsessive phase I routinely go through.  I’ll call it my Ebay Spiral…

Several years ago I became obsessed with finding oriental rugs on ebay.  This was way before I started a blog–this was like 2007.  I didn’t actually buy any, I just spent hours each night searching ebay for perfectly imperfect vintage oriental rugs.  I had dozens lined up in my watch list and eventually I did buy one or two small ones (which I later sold–buyer’s remorse?) but mostly just wasted a lot of time looking at oriental rugs.  One could argue that I was researching (for what, I’m not sure) or adding to my designer knowledge and education but really I don’t know what I was doing.  I did learn some of the lingo and can recognize a caucasian vs a kilim vs a persian, etc and I learned a little about wool quality, but really I was just obsessing.  That lasted about 8 months and then I dropped it like a hot potato.

Next I got really obsessed with finding charcoal sketches, mostly of female nudes, on ebay.  That was actually a bit productive as I acquired one of my favorite art pieces in our house (the one in our master bath) from 1929:

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After that I continued with my art phase and searched for watercolor portraits and then oil paintings of abstract horses (I know, weirdly specific–I never found what I was looking for with that one.  If I don’t find exactly what I’m looking for I don’t buy anything which may be a good thing but also means I have lost hours of time with nothing to show for it!).  Then it was abstract or primitive sculptures of horses (another bust) and that brings me to my latest obsession.

For almost a year now I have been stalking brass animal sculptures on ebay.  I think it started with the awesome parrot I got for my client’s apartment last year:

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I have yet to buy one on ebay (although I bought one at the flea market last month) but I really covet them!  Again, it is weirdly specific: They can’t be too literal (usually–although sometimes this is a plus).  They have to be vintage–mid century is usually the best although the 1970′s provided some awesome examples.  Not mounted on anything (usually, although I have seen some cool lucite bases with some).  And they have to be animals.

I was just doing one of my ebay searches and I came up with some awesome ones:

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OK, this owl is super literal and super adorable.  I want him for my living room!

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I love this sweet little fawn.  How cute for a little girl’s room!

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I know, this is really literal too but it’s not over the top.  I’m thinking of the ones you see of horses stampeding or dolphins leaping.  If you want dolphins, there are a ton of those by the way.  Brass dolphins must have been huge at some point.  There are also a LOT of phalluses.  I’m not kidding–brass phalluses.

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There are also a lot of really dramatic brass bulls.  I think they were a big thing for Gordon Gecko types in the 80s (representing the stock market and all).  But I like this little guy because he’s actually a bison and he’s kind of folk art looking.

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And I’m totally in love with this ginormous camel!    I love him!  I love that he loves champagne too.

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At first I did not know what this was which made me like it even more.  A cute little funny weird elephant.  I also have a thing for elephants…


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Combining two things I love: brass and animal skulls!  It’s a win/win.  This could work in somebody’s house…I just have to buy this, meet them and then give it to them…

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I know, it’s very literal and life-like–but it’s a penguin!  And it’s huge!  I did not know penguins had such crazy claws.  Don’t they just have webbing?  That looks like a dragon’s feet…

As I mentioned, I bought one of these brass beauties at the Alameda Antiques Faire last month.  I gave it to John for his office because he really wanted the one I gave to my client (which really is the best one I’ve seen so far) and this is to kind of make up for that.  I’ve actually moved it to the living room and I do like him here:

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 I just may have to get one or two more to move around the house.  I wouldn’t want this guy to get lonely…

Brass animals?  What do you think?

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Choosing Fabric–Collaborating

Even designers and design lovers need to talk it out sometimes!  Last week I had my friend Camille from The Vintique Object over to talk about some fabric options I’d been mulling over (technically, I’ve been mulling over fabric for this one chair for over a year) and I think we came up with a great combo that will work nicely in my living room:

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The plan for the wingbacks is to upholster the back in the dark patterned fabric at the top, then the front in a light neutral (not pictured because I haven’t found that one yet) with a stripe of the  solid olive going down the front center.  The lighter pattern will be an accent with some pillows, etc.  I have been going back and forth between upholstering and slipcovering and I think I have finally decided to slipcover.  I think my kids are too hard on the furniture right now to upholster and I don’t want them to feel like they live in a museum where they can’t touch anything.

All the fabric above is from Lewis and Sheron in Atlanta.  They have a wonderful and reasonably priced selection but I don’t love their website.  The pictures are hard to see and they don’t show you much of the overall pattern of each fabric.  You really would have to order a yard to get the effect of most of them.  That and there is very little description of each one so it’s hard to know the weight of it and its applications.

Here are the chairs getting the treatment:

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I hope it won’t be too long before I have some afters to show you. icon smile Choosing Fabric  Collaborating

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Going Out In The City

I just had to share the details of my crazy fun birthday over the weekend because my husband (and our two friends that joined us) did such a great job to make it really special.   (Plus, there were some really cool interiors at the places we went).

We started the evening at Gitane, a restaurant and bar in downtown San Francisco.  We went there for drinks while we waited for our dinner reservations (which were at a young and hip 8:30 pm).  The decor at Gitane was amazing.  Here’s the alley where it’s located:

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And here is the bar where we hung out for about an hour and a half.

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20 foot ceilings with amazing chandeliers.  Also, fabric panels that ran the whole height of the walls.

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In this photo and the one below you can see the ceiling medallions quite well–that is real moss!

The photographic tapestries of people lying on each other was the only total question mark for me.  We debated whether it was an orgy that got interrupted by a sudden and severe plague or is everyone in the picture so bored/hungry/drugged out they can’t summon the energy to even climb off each other?  Really not sure but to be honest it was the one weird thing that I guess made it all work and definitely made it very San Francisco.

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Back to the amazing stuff.  Look at the curved chevron pattern of the paneling in the photo below.  Incredible!  Not to mention the wallpaper and the fabric on each of the seats as well as the patina on that bar.

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But my favorite was probably the bathroom.  Speechless.

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images via

To learn more about Charles Doells’ gypsy inspired decor (Gitane means gypsy in French) see this article.


After Gitane, we headed over to Michael Mina for probably the best meal I’ve ever had.

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(the only pic we got–that’s me on the left with my friend Val)

I think we were there for over 3 hours and had so much good food and champagne I had to forgo some of the dessert.  Just some though.  It was also then a requirement that we head out for dancing just to burn some of it off.  So around midnight we headed to DNA Lounge:

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images via


We had a completely age-inappropriate incredibly good time and I was tired for two days afterward (not from the champagne, from the dancing.  Seriously,every muscle on my body hurt the next day!).  Us at the club was a little bit like the older sister in Knocked Up.  Farewell youth!  icon smile Going Out In The City

Thanks so much to my  hubby for an unforgettable 40th birthday!

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Making The Living Room More Livable

I’ve been on a picture taking binge lately so I thought I would go ahead and share the updates I’ve made to our tv and living rooms as part of the house tour.  They run together as one big room so doing them together makes sense.

First, from a year or two ago here is our old set up in the living room.  You can see the walls are a soft yellow and the trim is white–this was actually a nice little sitting area but the whole space needed an update.  Also, what you can’t see to the right is a long console table that divided the two rooms.  So this is the before:

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And here is the after:

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Here is a before from a year or two ago.  In morning light the room was not bad but in bad light, that yellow drove me crazy.  A few befores:

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And after the updates over the holiday:

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Another before of the old not well-planned gallery wall:

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And now after:

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Now the display has many more personal pieces and family photos.

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This antique waterfall cabinet now holds my McCoy pottery collection.  The blues and greens helped inspire the palette.

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And the handsome fellow in the photograph above it was John’s grandfather, my oldest’s namesake, Hart Shoemaker.  The other side has photos of my grandparents.

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I had to do a close up of some of these frames.  I used Rub N Buff for the first time ever to give some gold accents to this wall and I’m totally addicted.  It is so easy and absolutely transforms them.  In this photo the watercolor has RNB but looks so much like the one above and to the right of it.  Such a quick and inexpensive way to transform an in expensive frame.

I’ll do a post in the coming days to detail all the changes.  I bet you can spot most of them!

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Some More Updates

I realized yesterday as I was posting about the powder room color update that over the holidays I did A LOT of projects around the house.  I have so many updates to post about but haven’t been able to photograph them for the blog because truly, the rooms on the back side of our house get terrible light in the winter.  I actually tried taking photos with just really bright exposure back in December but we were getting a lot of rain then and it was just not looking good.  So instead of blogging about the projects I just kept doing them and biding my time until the light moves back in the sky to the north and I can take some decent photos.  We’re almost there…

But, I did find this photo from a sunny day last month that is a decent sneak peek of the office redo I’ve been doing.  I have a very patient client–my husband–who has been waiting for years for me to tackle his home office instead of everything else in the house.  The only before photo I have is this:

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This photo is from the early days of my blog when I was just posting about furniture projects (this was a salvaged desk I refinished for John several years ago) and taking pics with my iphone.  The walls were blue (I have no idea what color!) and it was a dumping ground for all paperwork, some laundry, toys, etc.  But also John has to work from there, sometimes one or two days a week.

And, unlike me, John loves a style I’ll call “controlled clutter.”  He likes stuff.  Lots of colorful music posters, tchotchkes, mementos, photos, etc.  He always said he wanted the walls completely filled with stuff.  He has been kind and supportive enough to let me do my thing in the rest of the house and in here he gets to be in charge (almost!).  Here is a photo of one of the walls after we painted it white but still before pics.  We also had already flipped the desk and the sofa so that the desk is now under the window:

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That door on the left leads to our newly painted powder room.  So those are the befores and here is a sneak peek of the after:

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We are getting there!  As you can tell, John is a huge music fan and together we also have a small collection of folk art.  We got a new rug (I took advantage of a sale at Rugs USA this winter to get a couple of new rugs).  As soon as the light improves I will show you the other changes in here–some big changes to a bookshelf and the desk itself.

Some big changes have happened in the living room too since I last posted about it but they aren’t finished yet.  I’ll probably do a sneak peek there too soon though.  Sorry to have so many teasers!  I guess I’m a total tease. icon smile Some More Updates

Thanks for stopping by!

PS-In case I don’t blog again before the weekend, I wanted to say I have a big birthday happening on Sunday (gulp) and I’m a little nervous about it.  I’ll just say it ends in a zero and leave it at that. :)  I actually am looking forward to the next decade but definitely feel an era ending.  How do you handle the big ones?

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Dark and Moody

I’m borrowing this title from a line from Emily Clark’s blog today. icon smile Dark and Moody   You may remember I was having a  yearning for dark rich colors last fall.  Today Emily did a post about considering painting her powder room a darker color and it reminded me that before the holidays I pulled the trigger and painted our powder room a dark color which was a big change from its previous light hue:

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Now, it looks like this:

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So what do you think?  I admit I’m loving it now, but will I feel the same in April?  I was worried about a dark color like this looking flat but I wasn’t wanting a semi gloss because of the rustic styling in here.  So instead I had it painted in flat and then waxed it myself to add depth and movement.  It also makes it easier to wipe clean.  The little kilim was an old rug I had in storage.

You can see the original before and afters of our downstairs bath here.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sparkling Rum Punch

I meant to share photos and recipes from our NYE party this year but as usual got so focused on the party that I forgot to take pics.  Anyway, my trick of serving a specialty drink seemed to do the trick again and thought I would share the recipe for anyone adding to their party repertoire.  This recipe for Sparkling Rum Punch comes from Southern Living’s December 2012 issue:

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Photo: Jim Franco; Styling: Lydia Degaris Pursell


  • 2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 2 (750-milliliter) bottles sparkling wine, chilled


  1. Stir together orange juice, orange liqueur, and rum in a medium bowl; cover and chill 1 hour. Pour mixture into a large pitcher or punch bowl, and top with chilled sparkling wine. Serve immediately.
  2. Note: We tested with Cointreau orange liqueur and Asti Spumante sparkling wine.

I added the rosemary and orange slice as in the picture and also a mint leaf.  Really yummy!  This would also be a refreshing drink for a summer party.

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Thinking Outside the Brown Box

Do you have a lot of unfun projects to tackle in  your house?  You know, the ones that cost a lot of money but don’t have the visual pay off.  We have had a lot of those: foundation, roof, plumbing, electrical.  Well, another one we have needed to do for a long time is replace pretty much all of the shingles on the East and West sides of the house.  Here is a picture of our brown shingle from this past summer–we face North:

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Our house colors are pretty typical for this area–brown with white trim.  This might be my favorite color combo for a brown shingle craftsman–as long as the shingles are stained.  Ours however are painted.  I know this makes them more durable but they lose that natural warmth, age and weathering and tend to look so flat.  But to get them back to an unpainted state we really would just have to replace them all.  Not in the budget at this time.  But the thing that having painted shingles frees me up to do is to consider other paint colors besides brown.  Although our house is considered a craftsman, its on the cusp of the Victorian era and we have a lot of Victorian elements such as that turret–and Victorians are the opposite of brown:

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(image source unknown)

So lately I’ve been snapping photos of houses around our neighborhood for inspiration.  Forgive the image quality as they were all with my phone…

house paint colors 5 Thinking Outside the Brown Box

Above has stained shingles with dark trim and a sagey green color on the sashes and mullions.

house paint colors 4 Thinking Outside the Brown Box

Above is stained brown with white trim.  So pretty and natural looking!

house paint colors 3 Thinking Outside the Brown Box

It’s hard to see in the image above but this house has a dark stain on the shingles and white trim but the mullions are a pretty blue.  I really like this combo too.

house paint colors 6 Thinking Outside the Brown Box

The one above is interesting.  More Victorian elements and even a bit of tudor and craftsman and the shingles have been turned to siding.  Also, some (odd) updates to the details and scale have been made to make it more contemporary as well as the orange and gray color choice.

house paint colors 2 Thinking Outside the Brown Box

This one is so bright and fresh.  Yellow with white trim and a beautiful green on the mullions.  And of course a red door!

House paint colors 1 Thinking Outside the Brown Box

This one is pretty too–more of a taupey neutral with a creamy trim and blue on the mullions.

I’m sure I’ll find more as I explore but these are the ones I’ve noticed.  Honestly, I’ll probably stick with brown or maybe a dark gray, keep the white trim and maybe change the color of the sashes.  What do you think?  What’s your favorite?

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