Archive | February, 2013

New Rug In The Boys Room

For any of you faithful blog readers out there, you may remember that back in January while John was out of town, the kids and I got hit by a stomach bug.  My oldest got hit the hardest and without being too graphic, I’ll just say after that week, we needed a new rug.

Finally earlier this week I got one of those emails from World Market saying they were having a big sale on their rugs.  I went down there and found this:

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I love the warm gray in it which goes so well with the window seat cushion fabric.  It is also really soft which I know the boys like and it has a lot of texture.  A bonus is the cool circular pattern which the kids have each seen as either a tornado or a galaxy.  icon smile New Rug In The Boys Room

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And it was such a deal!  This is apparently a discontinued rug but they have a great selection right now, many for half price.  This is not a paid endorsement–I just love a good sale.

I’ll be signing off for the rest of the week tonight as John and I will be headed to a little town near the Bay Area called Nevada City tomorrow.  We’ve never been there before but have heard so many great things about it.  The biggest deal of all is that we will be going alone!  Some wonderful grandparents have flown in town and watching the kids for us for two nights.  Thank you Mimi and Pappy!

Hope you all have a great rest of the week and a great weekend!  I’m sure I’ll have some pictures to share next week.

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Client Sneak Peek: Living Room Before and After

For a lot of my clients who are new to using a designer, the transformation is a slow process.  Also, a lot of people want to have a general plan that they can implement over time as money becomes available.  That’s actually how we do it in our family most of the time too unless it’s a big construction project.

I’ve been really excited about a couple’s beautiful downtown Oakland Victorian condo that I’ve been working with them on since late summer/early fall.  We have been ordering furniture and fabric and getting things framed and it’s starting to come together.  We’ve been focusing on the living room but the rest of the house is starting to get transformed as well.  Although we are still awaiting several items in the LR, here’s a sneak peek of their sofa area.

First the Before (aren’t the windows gorgeous?):

DSCF2053 1024x768 Client Sneak Peek: Living Room Before and After

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And now the After:

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We still need lamps, some more throw pillows and accessories over here but I wanted to show off this beautiful sofa.  The large nailhead trim is killing it for me as well as the upholstered back and soft lines.  These ladies have fantastic taste and I would describe their style as hip/antique/global.  You can’t see it but on the other side of the room are two mid-century chairs and a beautiful tansu.

And you can see which coffee table they went with from my previous post and I think it was the perfect choice.  Such a nice combination of wood and metal to go with the vintage typewriter side tables.  I also applaud their bravery in following my recommendation to go with this antique Persian rug.  The color and wear in it adds so much warmth and texture.

And the gallery wall was a very important piece of the puzzle for them as they have many photographs of friends, ancestors, relatives, etc.  I love the history and personality it adds to their very social space.

Also, one partner in the couple just returned from a trip to the Galapagos Islands and brought back the adorable little carved turtle.  Such a great accessory!

Thanks for stopping by and happy Monday!

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Easy To Grow House Plants

I’ve seen a lot of talk lately on the blogosphere about the lack of a green thumb among many bloggers.  I have to admit, I have killed many a plant myself while I discovered which ones could tolerate my rough brand of love.  I might like the looks of a maiden hair fern–so much so that I have gone through several in the last few years–but I kill them within two weeks.  (It’s like flushing money down the toilet, but I will probably do it again–they’re so pretty!).    The ones listed below are a hearty bunch and can tolerate inconsistent attention, bouts of inexplicable interior drought as well as guilt-driven over-watering.  If you are looking for plants that can take a licking and keep on ticking, try one of these:


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I’ve only had this cactus since the fall but I don’t think I’ve ever watered it.  It’s like a piece of sculpture but I have to remember it isn’t actually sculpture…


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This little plant is great for a kid’s room because it’s carnivorous.  (Wait, I just reread that and it sounds darker than I intended.  I meant it eats flies which kids might find cool, not kids which some parents might find cool icon wink Easy To Grow House Plants ).  We keep it in the boys room most of the time but it loves all the sun it gets in the kitchen–as well as the flies in the summer.  It has grown like crazy over the last year or so.  Just keep it sitting in water and it does great.  Out of the blue a week or so ago it sent up this crazy long bud.  I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it blooms.  Below is a picture of it a few months ago before the bud:

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And now:

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Elephant bush:

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This is actually a new one so I can’t truly vouch for it but it is a succulent which I have had good luck with.  It’s also pretty delicate for a succulent which is nice for a tough plant.


Sansevieria or Snake Plant or Mother In Law’s Tongue:

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You can just barely see it in the bottom right of my fireplace pic.  I killed one of these once by actually watering it.  All I ever do to this one is about once a month I pour the remains of one of the kids water glasses in it and it seems to be fine.  It’s not necessarily growing a lot but it’s not dying either.  I think this one would be a lot happier with more sun.

Succulents–all kinds including jade:

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I actually bought these succulents to take to the boys’ school next week for some teacher and staff gifts but while they are here in my house I thought I would enjoy them!  Most succulents are pretty easy as long as they get enough sun.  Infrequent watering seems to be best.

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Before I tell you what a deal these were I have to tell you that they are PTA gifts–they are supposed to be inexpensive since the PTA is paying for them.  It’s not that I’m a cheap gifter!  But if you are looking for little inexpensive decorative plants that are low commitment, I got each of these ceramic pots at Ikea for $.49 and each plant was around $2 at Home Depot.

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What is this?

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This one has to be the winner.  A friend gave me a cutting of this a few years ago–maybe it had 3 leaves on it–and now look at it.  It is happy wherever I put it and I have tried it in every room in the house.  It doesn’t mind if you over water or under water it.  It likes sun but does OK in shade.  I just have no idea what it is.

stairwell plant 2 edt 1024x951 Easy To Grow House Plants

Can anyone out there help?

 What are your kill-proof plants?


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Mid Century Iconic Chairs in Eclectic Design

Over the last couple of years, doing eclectic projects for clients and now a pure mid century one has introduced me to the world of mid century iconic furniture.  Besides the Louis, Gustavs, and Victorias of previous centuries whose names are forever associated with the design of their times, the 20th century often saw the maker or designer receive the iconic status.  And I love mixing a mid-century piece into an otherwise traditional design just to add some lightness and levity.  Some of my favorites in the mid century chair category:


I’m embarrassed to say that for years I thought Charles and Ray Eames were brothers.  So sexist!  Ray was Charles second wife and together they created many iconic designs, one of which is their lounge chair in the 1950s–one of my faves:

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You can find reproductions at most contemporary and modern furniture stores like Design Within Reach.  But I was ecstatic to score this vintage one for my client last year:

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I didn’t get a great shot of the chair but there it is in the bottom right corner–with the footstool.

The Bertoia Side Chair (original version was the Diamond Chair with  a different shape):

Designed in the 1950s by Harry Bertoia, a contemporary of the Eames, this chair looks light and airy and is a nice complement to a room that may be feeling too heavy or serious.  I love them as kitchen dining chairs with a really rustic farmhouse table:

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The Barcelona

 This was the chair I was originally looking for for the bachelor pad but sometimes you have to rethink your plan when opportunity arises!  The chair oozes sophistication and high design to me.  It would look good in almost any room.

Designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich in 1929 for an international exposition in Barcelona, it became wildly popular.   Van der Rohe was of course an early arbiter of modern design and along with Frank Lloyd Wright and others, he is seen as one of the founders of modern architecture.  I would love to put two of these beauties next to each other with a green or brass garden stool in between in a masculine living room with this caramel leather.  Gorgeous!

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The Wishbone Chair

Designed by Hans Wegner in 1949, I love the look of these for dining chairs or even paired as occasional chairs in a living room.  The texture of the rush seat adds so much warmth to this design.  (By the way check these out at Advanced Interior Designs for only $198 a piece.  Much better than the $600 or so at other retailers).

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The Egg Chair

Similar to its even more mod relative, the egg pod chair, and its other relative the swan chair, this beauty was designed by Arne Jacobson in the late 50s and is my favorite of his designs:

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I much prefer this one to the pod chair because the egg is like the teenage great granddaughter of the wing-back.  You can see the lineage in it and I think that makes it more versatile.

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The Tulip Chair

Designed by Eero Saarinen also in the 1950s, I love these for desk chairs.

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Camille and Wendy of Walrus also had an amazing vintage tulip chair for sale at our last flea market with beautiful upholstery in good shape.  The guy who bought that really scored.  Here’s theirs:

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I actually even prefer the tulip table mixed with some other chair for dining–maybe the Wishbone or the Bertoia?

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And I have some mid century chairs similar to the ones above in my very traditional living room although I don’t think they’ve ever made it into a photo.  Here’s the best one I could find:

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Being totally honest here, it may be a while before these chairs are ever viewed from the front.  The kids have pulled off the buttons (I think initially it was an accident but then became fun…) and torn holes in the upholstery and now the stuffing is starting to come out.  Things I never thought I’d say: “Stop pulling the stuffing out of that chair!”

What about you?  Do you have any favorite icons from the mid century?

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The New Living Room Details

I was playing around with the fabric I ordered for the wingbacks today in the living room and decided to take some detail photos of some of the updates I’ve made.   You may remember the photo below from this previous post:

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I’ve been fooling around in there waiting for all the fabric I ordered to come in.  Here’s the fabric:

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I’m still waiting for the fabric of that swatch to come in from West Elm.  By the way, I am loving West Elm these days.  Have you checked out their market items?   Anyway, I’m getting off track, these 3 fabrics are being made into slipcovers for two wingbacks I have, probably to go on either side of that console table under the window:

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Turning to the left you see this:

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OK, I gotta talk about this bentwood table.  I love it because it’s pretty and because it was such a find.  The top is so aged and patinaed–it looks like an old oak wine barrel.  The legs are so graceful and the center detail is lovely too.  It’s a little crooked but so is our floor so I just make sure it’s positioned so that they cancel each other out.  :)  On top of the books under the cloche sitting in a brass bowl are three bird nests I found last year in our neighborhood.  Two are from humming birds.  on the ceiling you can also see the lanterns I added in December.  (I know they aren’t period but they look so much better than the contractor boob lights that were here before…)

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Here’s our saggy sofa.  I can’t tell you how many times a day this poor thing gets jumped on.  And it’s a sofa bed from our pre-kid days living in SF when we had to have a place for guests to sleep.  I’m keeping it until the kids are finished jumping on stuff–whenever that is!  The slipcover is about 5 years old and has held up great.  I made the velvet pillows last year and, confession, that bolster in the middle is not actually a pillow.  I just wrapped the fabric around another pillow I had to see what it will look like when I actually do make that pillow!  Scandal!  I also just draped the olive fabric over our cat scratched chair to hide it. I know, I am so cheating…

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I bought this little spindle leg table at a salvage yard right before New Years because we were having our party and I didn’t have anything to go here.  I finally got around to refinishing the top but haven’t done anything with the bottom yet.  The lamp used to be espresso (as was everything at that time) but I painted it in December to add some color to the room.  Also to play off the green and blue of the columns:

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I bought these two antique columns about 5 years ago at my favorite salvage yard.  I thought about buying them for weeks before I actually did it but now, they wouldn’t last a minute there before somebody would snatch them up.  The salvaging world really has changed.

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This is a vignette next to the other column.  Basket for toys and some of my favorite prints in the house.  The one of the bottom is a limited edition embossed pterydactyl fossil.  Such a weird thing to do but is so cool up close.  You can kind of make it out in the photo.  Above it is an antique lithograph.

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And I don’t think I’ve ever shown a detail of our Victorian glazed tile fireplace.  It has green, brown, yellow and a little bit of blue which help inspire the palette.

Thanks for taking the tour again!  Did I miss anything?

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Mid Century Lighting Finds

I have been having so much fun exploring mid century design lately.  It used to be a style that I appreciated but never really loved, but lately I can’t get enough.  Just look at these awesome lighting choices out there:


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This large ZIYI LARGE CHANDELIER is $840 from Circa Lighting. I love the hand rubbed brass and the bends of the arms.  I can just see it as the focal point of a beautiful mid century dining room.  But if you need something similar but more budget conscious, here is a great alternative from Lighting Universe:


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It’s the Harlow 8 light by Hinckley Lighting and is just $539. I also adore this Jonathan Adler Bamboo Rod Chandelier for $849:

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Isn’t this one unbelieveable?  Gah!  Gorgeous!

Circa also has this beautiful star flush mount for the ceiling or wall for $315:

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And we’ve probably all seen this brass lotus chandelier that was offered on 1st Dibs last year. Love. It.

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Here’s one from Ebay for $839:

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Or this Sputnik inspired reproduction on Etsy for $579:

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Do you have any great inspiration lighting pics for midcentury style?  Please share!

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Our House Colors And A Bit Of Reality

Just a quick post before the weekend.  I put together this board of all of our house colors for reference.  All colors are Benjamin Moore.


Paint Colors text 2 Our House Colors And A Bit Of Reality

1. November Rain: Master bath, Master bedroom, Kids bathroom, Kitchen floor and trim

2. Agave: Accent stripes in boys room

3. Sandy Hook Gray: Dining room fireplace, Living room trim

4.Winter Ice: Entryway, Hallway

5. Ballet White: Living room walls (on my monitor, this color looks beige but it doesn’t look like that at all in our house.  More like a white with taupey undertones).

6. Deep Creek: Kitchen muntins and door, Living room muntins and mullions

7. Morning Dew: Guest room

8. Dark Pewter: Powder room

Unless otherwise stated, all trim in our house is Kelly Moore Swiss Coffee.  That’s also the color on the walls in the kitchen and in the office.  BM makes a Swiss Coffee but the KM one is softer.

Secondly, I wanted to throw a little truth in the mix today.  You may remember this image from my last post:

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It looks like a quiet peaceful garden here.  But that’s because there’s no volume on this blog.  Below is an image looking out of the second floor window of the boys’ room:

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This is College Avenue.  In the morning and afternoon rush hour there is a steady stream of cars driving faster than they should on this street.  There are stop signs a couple of blocks in either direction and it is a heavy pedestrian street with lots of shops and restaurants 2 blocks down so it’s not like a freeway, but too often cars are rushing to get somewhere and racing up to the next stop sign.  Every weekday I cross that busy street right there with at least three kids (sometimes more if we are bringing friends home) and can’t tell you how many times we have almost been mowed down.  For the last year I have led our neighbors on a crusade to petition the city for better traffic calming measures here.  There are four schools within a four block radius as well as a playground, library and dog park.  The city came back with a response that everything was fine, case closed.  While I have handed the reins over to another mom who lives right across the street to fight the good fight, it is still one that gets my blood boiling everyday.  Especially because a few years ago a kindergarten student at our elementary was killed at a bad intersection just a few blocks away from here by a driver in a hurry.

BUT, what I really meant to write about before I got on my soapbox was how deceptive the photos of our yard are with that hedge.  When we moved in the hedge was about 3-4 feet lower and there was no fence.  This yard was also all gravel.  We stared at that yellow and salmon colored apartment building and willed the trees and plants to hurry up and grow!  We are slowly transforming this yard and it is nice to feel that all that chaos is at least not visible to us when the kids are playing here but the reality of the city is still right there on the other side.  That’s why I had to call it our “urban oasis.”  And don’t get me started on our back yard.  That’s for another time…

Have a great weekend and be safe!

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What We Did Over The Weekend

Besides watching the 49ers lose the super bowl icon sad What We Did Over The Weekend John, the kids and I tackled a big project this weekend.   Dealing with a camellia bush was a task I have been putting off for a while but wanted to get done before the spring.  This gigantic tree is one of four that have massively grown up around the house.  This one in particular was blocking light and damaging the paint and shingles on the front of our house.

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It was also spaced far enough out from the house that it was taking up some valuable real estate.  We don’t have a huge yard and we want to make every bit of it usable that we can.  So last fall I had the camellia “pruned”:

Screen shot 2013 02 05 at 9.26.36 PM 300x196 What We Did Over The WeekendI know, it’s pathetic–poor camellia.  But it really opened up our yard so much and made our living room so much brighter.   I knew after a few months we had to get it taken out.  So about a week ago we did:

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Which left us with a 12 x 12 patch of dirt.  But oh the possibilities!

(By the way, looking at these pictures I think of all of us bloggers who were over the moon about our hydrangeas 5 months ago and look at them now!  They look like a garden Morticia would have from the Addams Family.  Just a bunch of brown sticks.  I knew it would look like this for the winter but seeing the contrast in the pictures above makes me realize how dramatic the change is).

But I digress.  We had a bunch of large (24×24) pavers and gravel that we pulled up when we added the lawn on this side of the house so we decided to use some of them for a patio eating area here.  John got back to work laying them and making them perfect just like he did on the brick path.

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Then we assembled this arbor and anchored to the ground with concrete.  Added some sod and mulch, a climbing rose and here we are:

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The arbor is redwood so it will fade to gray like the fence has.  Plus we planted a climbing rose next to it which I hope will grow quickly.

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Below you can see the lavender border I planted too.  I’m hoping it will get enough sun there to do OK.  Not sure once that big tree gets all its leaves again.

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I’ll be sure to do some real afters when everything is blooming in the spring and we get those raised planters full of summer veggies again.  This really is our urban oasis so I plan to work hard to get it looking good.

By the way, has anyone grown Japanese Boxwood before?  We have this low hedge that I planted last year and I know they are slow growers, but how slow?  Will they get noticeably taller in the next couple of years?  Hoping to have a few feet before too terribly long…

Are you doing anything to prepare your garden for spring?

PS-I realized this weekend watching the Super Bowl that my 7 year old thought that Baltimore was Boldemort–like Voldemort.  I guess he thought they were true evil. icon smile What We Did Over The Weekend

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Color Inspiration: Emerald and Turquoise

For a while now my favorite color combo has been blue and green.  Not surprising looking at images from my blog, but also not all that interesting.  Really, who doesn’t like blue and green?   Even if you like hot pink, I bet you don’t really have anything against blue or green.  That’s like hating the sky or the grass:

41cb187961ae4868780d8182a0b58ef2 Color Inspiration: Emerald and Turquoise


But there’s something about a green with a vibrancy to it or even an olive earthiness mixed with a soft whisper of a blue that is really speaking to me these days.

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I love how the patina in the above image adds a hint of green to the blue paint.

38f84c99ef3f6686aee3569aa3045ba0 Color Inspiration: Emerald and Turquoise


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Source: via The Urban Orchard on Pinterest

Some dark charcoal gray mixed in can make the palette more contemporary and sophisticated.  And then have those colors become a back drop to set off golds or oranges and my heart skips a beat:

328c67eb67326bd03352fbd6db9509ea Color Inspiration: Emerald and Turquoise


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Especially when the orange is a wood tone or the gold is an aged brass:

5ae6051b17fa1d7e7d990b09e6ff9054 Color Inspiration: Emerald and Turquoise


14cde447d88a08303ef9a5efaa542685 Color Inspiration: Emerald and Turquoise


a517e5b20855a998d37c99b22ca914d6 Color Inspiration: Emerald and Turquoise


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What about you?  What color combo makes your heart go pitter-pat these days?

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Office Refresh-Sneak Peek

I spent the morning working in a client’s office in downtown Oakland today.  He had wanted a little refresh to his space which is an office in a large financial institution with strict rules about uniformity.  For instance, we can’t paint, change out the furniture, alter the furniture, etc.  Also, there are no windows or any natural light so it’s a toughie.  And the client wants to be sure that whatever we buy for the space can be used in another office in the future if he ever changes jobs.

So today I got started.  I had bought a few accessories and the client had brought in a table and bookshelf from home.  I also planned to paint both the book shelf and the table but only got the bookshelf done today.  He still plans to buy some art for the walls and a mirror he purchased hadn’t arrived yet so there is still plenty more to be done.  But just the little changes made today are starting to make a big difference.  Here is the before:

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And here is the (preliminary) after:

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(Please forgive the iphone pics).  When the table gets painted and the mirror goes in on that wall I think it will make such a difference (as will the art).  It’s been interesting designing a space and trying to keep it somewhat impersonal which is the opposite of what I do when working in someone’s home.  Also, designing around that orange veneered desk has been a fun challenge.    icon smile Office Refresh Sneak Peek

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