Client Bedroom Sneak Peek

Just a quick sneak peek of some progress in a client bedroom redo.

We chose a deep rich turquoise for the walls and an apple green velvet headboard with nailhead trim for the bed:

IMG 3223 e1374035391333 764x1024 Client Bedroom Sneak Peek

We painted out the trim and doors and everything in this turquoise and it feels so rich and dramatic in there now.  In the next photo you can see the fabric we are going to use to make a duvet.  We just laid a large sample on the comforter to get a feel for what it will look like.

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We painted almost everything that turquoise.  They actually have a little nook off the bedroom with a stained glass window (this is the bedroom of my Oakland clients.  You will totally recognize the stained glass from their LR in my previous post) and they were unsure what to do with it.  They have a lot of books and love to read so we decided to turn it into a little library reading nook.  We also painted it a contrasting color–a deep yellow with some green in it.  The shelves are in the process of being built but the exterior of them will be painted in the turquoise:

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You can see how the color plays off the stained glass without being dictated and dominated by it.  Who wouldn’t love to have a mini library in their bedroom?

IMG 3228 e1374036473974 764x1024 Client Bedroom Sneak Peek

Here you can see the colors better together.  Forgive the iphone pics.  It was also evening–thank goodness for summer time lingering light.

Here’s the drawing of the shelf design so you can see the double arches that will be going up with some cornice molding:

IMG 3231 1024x764 Client Bedroom Sneak Peek

(Excuse the coffee stains!  I do so much of my work in the mornings before the kids get up when I am enjoying my morning coffee.  Things feel so calm and clear then).  Also, you can’t tell from the drawing but the upper arch of shelves will come out about 6 inches over the lower ones to provide extra storage.  These are high ceilings (10′) and we wanted to take full advantage of that vertical space.  Too bad we can’t get a library ladder in there–or can we….

Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek into the process.  Hope to have more to show you before too long.

Some New Stuff Around The House

I just have a few little sneaky peeks to share with you from around the house.  First, I bought a new rug for the kitchen:

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I loved the rug I made from the Ikea rugs last year but it was getting washed a couple of times a week and was really looking worse for the wear.  I wanted something darker and warmer to hide stains and ground the room a little bit more.  This kilim is bigger too and so far I’m liking it.  I had been thinking about a new rug in here for a while and one of my favorite rug suppliers had a sale so I couldn’t pass it up.  Hopefully the kitchen will be clean enough in the next few weeks for me to take a real picture…

Also, I mentioned a few weeks ago that Duncan was desperate for his own room and as a middle child he puts up with a lot so we decided to get rid of the guest room and give him his own space.  This room is a lot smaller than the other bedrooms as we had to take a couple of feet out of it a few years ago to add another bathroom upstairs.  (You can see images of the light bright old guest room here).  But I am determined to make it really special for him so he won’t even notice–So far so good. I have too much to do to it yet to do a big reveal but I wanted to show a sneak peek of this amazing antique swing arm light I got at the flea market over the weekend:

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I love this light so much I walk into Duncan’s room and turn it on and off when he’s not around.  Luckily, Duncan is as kooky as I am and he totally loves it too.  He loves brass (he calls it “gold”) and requested a lot of gold in his new room.  Not only am I excited to have a 6 year old boy who loves brass but just a six year old boy who requests a specific finish in his room.  He is so my kid…

duncans light 2 edt 1024x785 Some New Stuff Around The HouseHere are some other reasons I know he and I are totally related:

He requested his room feel like a cave.  He wanted a forest/nature theme.  He requested gold.  We went on Etsy together to look for art and when he saw an antique hand colored lithograph of a forest for sale he literally said “Ooo lala!  That’s beautiful!”  He requested having plants in his room (specifically Aeonium which is his favorite succulent).  He also asked for a brass bird sculpture for his room for his birthday.  I’m not kidding people.

Now I know it’s not like he lives in a vacuum.  He sees me doing all this nutty decorating stuff everyday and the things I gravitate to and he obviously is being influenced.  But the fact that he is able to be influenced enough by this stuff to make these requests is what I’m talking about.   When he’s eight we are going into business together.

And finally, here’s some fabric that’s going into Duncan’s new room too:

duncan fabric edt 1024x682 Some New Stuff Around The House


One other little thing:  Someone emailed me recently to ask about a red and aqua fabric from an earlier post .  I accidentally deleted the email and can’t retrieve it.  If that was you, will you please resend your email and question?  I’ll get to it ASAP.

Also, if anyone is interested in the curtains from the guest room, I am making room for new things and am listing them for sale.  They are a discontinued Waverly print that were professionally made and are in good condition.  $300 for the pair.  Let me know!

Thanks for stopping by!

A Tale Of Two Dining Rooms

Working with online clients is so different than designing a room or rooms for a house you can be physically in.  I don’t know about other designers out there but for me a lot of my “aha” moments with design happen when I am just being in a space with no distractions for a while.  Suddenly I just get what should go where and how the space should flow.  It also helps to meet the client and have a chat about his/her likes and dislikes.  You can just get a feel for who a person is by sitting and being with them for a while which helps to tell their story in their house.

But that doesn’t really happen with online clients–at least not immediately.  You get emails and pictures and measurements and really that is enough to slowly build a vision, but finding those “aha” moments can take a little more time, imagination and really, trial and error.

This has been true with my latest client–she’s been so awesome to work for so far and is really letting me talk her into stuff which I love!  But at first, I totally misread her style.  Starting with the dining room, we are doing a few rooms in her new house (a gem of a mid century ranch in LA) and somehow from our correspondence I came away with mostly traditional, a little contemporary, soft colors, with some bling thrown in:

OB Client GL DR A Tale Of Two Dining Roomsart: etsy, wishbone chairs: New Egg, capiz chandelier: West Elm,

After the first pass at a design board, I always like to get input to see if I am on the right track.  This helps me refine the process and many clients are better able to articulate what they want after they have a starting point.   So after some fun back and forth, I realized my client is really more contemporary, neutral, and just a little traditional:

OB Client GL DR2 A Tale Of Two Dining Rooms

art: etsy here, here, here, chandelier: LBC Lighting, lamp: West Elm

I have to admit, I also like the second one way better so I’m really glad it worked out this way!  And now that I get her tastes a little more, I’ll have more courage in tackling the other rooms we are doing.

How do other designers out there tackle online projects?  Are we all really visual or do some of you have a more methodical approach?

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Client Living Room Before and After

A couple of months ago I posted a sneak peek of a client’s living room promising more to come.  I don’t mean to be a tease but sometimes these things move more slowly than you plan.  The living room is finally done enough take some pictures and show you some before and afters.

Here’s where we started:

MG LR before 2 768x1024 Client Living Room Before and After

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   MG LR before 6 1024x768 Client Living Room Before and After

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And here are some afters:

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Some more before:

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And after:

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M G LR 4 wtrmrk 682x1024 Client Living Room Before and After

Before:MG LR before 9 768x1024 Client Living Room Before and After


miriam and gloria lr 2 edt 682x1024 Client Living Room Before and After

This is a Victorian condo in downtown Oakland and these ladies are awesome to work for.  They are adorable together, fun, have a great eclectic, slightly boho/slightly global style, know what they like, but are also up for almost anything.  And you can see they like plants as much as I do!

And the best part is we are now moving onto doing their bedroom.  It’s hard to stop with just one room…

Thanks for checking it out!

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Best Mother’s Day Gift

Just a quick post to brag on John and show what  great gift he gave me for Mother’s Day last month.  I got them back from the frame shop and hung them up immediately:

mothers day portraits 2 682x1024 Best Mothers Day Gift

mothers day portraits 682x1024 Best Mothers Day Gift

They are by an Irish artist named Rachel Corcoran and you can find her etsy shop here.  John said he sent her images of the kids and she sketched and he asked her to tweak them a little and that was that.  They are also done on antique note cards.

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Beckys portrait 682x1024 Best Mothers Day Gift

It’s kind of amazing how well she captured them!  The kids love them too and say that’s what they would look like if they were on their own animated show. icon smile Best Mothers Day Gift

I can’t believe Father’s Day is this weekend.  I gotta get busy…

Hope you all are well!  I am busy working on many new (and old) client projects and hope to have pics for you before too long.  Also, my ever patient middle boy Duncan has requested his own room, so soon we will be saying bye to the guest room and hello to Duncan’s new digs.  Check out the guest room pics on the side bar.  It’s going to be a big change and I might be offering some pieces for sale as we rearrange and get settled around here.

Thanks for stopping in!

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What I’ve Been Doing

Sorry to have been gone for a bit.  I just wanted to touch base with everyone to update you on some transitions I’m having.

Earlier this year, I determined I wanted to focus a lot on the design aspect of my business and if need be, less on the blogging.  I wanted to be a designer who blogs instead of a blogger who does a little work as a decorator.  I kept blogging a lot though as I had time and really enjoyed it and there were plenty of projects around my home that I wanted to share and ideas I wanted to discuss.  The good news is that the designing side of my business has really  picked up and I am learning how to manage it as a one person gig.  With construction and design work, timing is everything and I want to make sure I am completely on top of each project especially since a couple of them are requiring a decent amount of construction.

I have also been busy honing my skills needed to draw plans, layouts, elevations, lighting plans, and how to communicate these to tradespeople, contractors, etc.  This has been hard work with kids, end of school activities, some travel, as well as managing the projects I have been hired to do, and blogging has definitely taken a back seat.  I am not complaining though!  I really am thrilled with the direction this is heading and I don’t in any way mean to say I’m quitting blogging but I can see it will have to slow down for a while.

But in the meantime, I did want to show you a table I managed to refinish in our kitchen over the last week.  This table has been hidden under a burlap table cloth for a while but the burlap had taken a beating and it was time for a change.  The finish was a little dated and had also taken a beating with milk spills and scratches, etc.  So I stripped it and white washed it and here are the results:

white washed table detail wtrmrk 682x1024 What Ive Been Doing

 white wash table wtrmrk 682x1024 What Ive Been Doing

I hope to have some more before and afters of other projects soon.  A little hint of things to come, around the house I have changed some chair cushion fabric, finally joined the bandwagon and bought a fiddle leaf fig, hung some more art, took the second wing back to the upholsterers, and maybe one or two other things I can share soon.

Thanks for checking in and being patient with me while I figure this whole thing out!

The Biggest Misconceptions About Working With a Designer/Decorator

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.

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Elle Decor

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

New Accessories, New Projects And A New Feature

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.

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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:

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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.

painted piano accessories wtrmrk 1024x682 New Accessories, New Projects And A New Feature

This brings me to my next new thing.  I’ve started being a regular contributor to’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!





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A Painted Piano: Before and After

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.

IMG 2924 1024x764 A Painted Piano: Before and After

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…

IMG 2925 e1367528290991 764x1024 A Painted Piano: Before and After

After the first coat is when I always say to myself “I’ve made a horrible mistake…”

But then you finish up:

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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?

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My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

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:

Screen shot 2013 04 25 at 10.20.01 PM My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline


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:

Chinese Fringe full edt 1024x682 My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

So hard to see.  This was the best pic of the larger one.  Here’s a little bit better picture close up:

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chinese fringe close up 1024x682 My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

chinese fringe detail edt 821x1024 My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

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:

exterior house view edt 1024x552 My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

OK, not horrible but that massive tangle of lines that reaches up to the sky really looks like this:

exterior house view telephone pole edt 1024x682 My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

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:

becky sleeping My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

or this:

sick becky My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

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:

new telephone pole 764x1024 My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

telephone pole 2 764x1024 My New Favorite Tree and My Least Favorite Sightline

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!

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