New Guest Post: 7 Fireplace & Mantel Decor Combos for Every Style

Cultivating Joy: Why Design Matters

Thursday, September 20, 2018

News Flash: Life is about the Journey.

Question: Are you enjoying it?

When you wake up in the morning and look around your bedroom, how do you feel? Energized? Excited? Or are you filled with dread? Does opening your eyes make you want to just close them again?

How about when you get home from work: Do you feel calm? Happy? Excited to walk into your kitchen for a cool beverage and sip it in your favorite chair? Or do you feel stress before even touching the door knob? Do you not own a comfy chair? Could it even be that coming home is *gasp* more stressful than showing up for work...?

So I'll ask again: Are you enjoying the journey?

Working in Design, I come up against the question of need, often. Like, Who "needs" a decorator? And I understand. I'm not working in an Emergency Room, and no one is ever going to come rushing like "I DONT CARE THE PRICE - SAVE MY HOUSE!" (ok, maybe one day that could happen.. but I'd have to be pretty damn good, and possibly a wizard of some sort).

But when it comes to the question of "need" I ask: What about Joy?

Is Joy not part of survival? After all, what is the point of living if we can't enjoy it?

Ingrid Fetell Lee, Designer and Author of Joyful, argues that the drive for joy is the drive for life {and} joy makes us healthier, more productive, creative, and resilient (and she's got a whole heck of a lot of research backing this).

Here, let's try this visual analogy:

You're driving through life.

Both of the cars below can get you from A to Z.

Which one do you choose?

The Ford on the left doesn't drive as fast, the A/C and heat are broken, the windows have hand cranks, there's no cruise control, and the radio only gets AM stations: $5,000 OBO +no warranty (and likely to have more than a few break downs)

The BMW on the right drives uh, super fast, with no faulty amenities, and the bluetooth radio will have you jamming all over the place: $35,000 +great warranty

Your choice: Inexpensive Ford? or Invest in the BMW?

And I'm not saying everyone should drive a BMW, but I am saying, that upgrades are worth it. So maybe instead, you take your beat-up ford and turn it into a newer VW Jetta ($19,000 +warranty). Yes, the Jetta doesn't drive as fast as the BMW, but it's in your budget and it has a heck of a lot more amenities than the Ford. And you know what? THAT will make a hugely positive impact in your journey/life.

The above before and after is a prime example of how powerful small changes can be. For more info 

There is much joy to be had in investing in our homes, because they are the vehicles to a HUGE chunk of our life (unless of course you're one of those magical Instagram people who travel for a living, in which case, I hope your hotels are fabulous).

So, let's make waking up in the morning a pleasant experience. And when you get home from a long day at work, I want you to bust through that front door and breathe in the beauty. Let's get you the right glasses for your evening cocktail, and the perfect chair to lean back in.

Getting your home right,  makes a difference INSIDE OF YOU. A difference that, up until recently, has been immeasurable. But as psychologists grow in their research on the subject, I am certain that every report will soon be screaming: FEEL GOOD IN YOUR HOME AND YOU WILL FEEL GOOD INSIDE YOUR BODY. You will LIVE LONGER and more JOYFUL lives (and you might even lose weight? and fight scary diseases? ... because joy is the best fighter for life out there).

So, do you NEED a decorator?...

Joy never hurts, and good design will always bring you Joy.


New Role: Contributor, For Emily Henderson

Thursday, September 13, 2018

These past few months I've had a little side project brewing... and I didn't want to mention it until it truly came to life..

and this week, it did.

Following a lengthy application process I was officially hired in August to write an article for Emily Henderson's uber-popular design blog: Style By Emily Henderson

You may or may not know who she is, but chances are if you watch HGTV, shop at Target, or have even a wink of interest in interior design - you've seen her name (or at least her face). Especially if you live in the Portland Area, where she just famously (err... locally famously, anyway) flipped this killer home in Dunthorpe.

So what I'm trying to say is, this woman is my hero. And as she edges her way to nearly a million followers on Instagram, it's clear I'm not the only person who feels this way. So when I got the "hey we want your voice, L-a-u-r-e-n" call, I had a pinch myself maybe just once or twice.

Anyways, enough with the pinching! For today the facts are that I've been published on her site, and  will be going forward with them as a Contributor and Market Researcher. This work will simply be an addition to the one-on-one client work I'm doing here in Portland, as YOU, my clients, will always be my top priority. And these articles (however quickly they come) are simply a cherry on top of this crazy career.


Change in the Seasons, Change in Interiors

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Last night, for the first night in a long time, I found myself crawling out of bed in search of a second blanket. The air was crisp and sharp, I could taste it on my tongue and recognized familiar goosebumps as they popped up across my limbs. I tip toed to my dresser where I found a thick pair of sweatpants, and then pulled from the shelves a large fleece blanket to extend atop my duvet. Snuggling back into bed, warming up from the first chill of the upcoming season, I felt ready for the change.

Our lives move so quickly that, if we don't actively choose to take a break here and there, then we truly miss what's going on around us. There is so much more to our lives than coffee (shoutout to coffee: I still love you, I'm just trying to make a point here), deadlines, Netflix, aspirin, the morning/evening commute, and so on.

While we maybe can't pause every day or every month, we can certainly pause each season. If you pay even just a little attention, the seasons will teach you their rhythm. Each season has it's own way of announcing itself and these reminders are like a tap from the universe, asking us to look up, slow down for a second, and breath in the new air. And while not every part of the world has typical seasons, with regard to the weather, there are so many other indicators that let us know "hey, we're shifting." From which foods are fresh, to the holidays we celebrate, to the clothes you see in the shops (even places like LA sell sweaters in the fall), it's there.

With the signs all around us, it's nice to take the universal changes a step further and create your own, personal rituals.
For me, I have three standard rituals, each season:

  1. Select a few wardrobe additions: This doesn't have to be extravagant. Even just two or three new pieces, can make a big change to not only how you look, but how you feel. 
  2. Bring in Seasonal Foods: I'm a pretty picky eater but even something as simple as eating potatoes and citrus fruits in the cold months, and devouring berries and tomatoes when it's warmer, can make a big difference to your mind (and your digestive system).
  3. Interior Swaps: You JUST KNOW I wouldn't write an entire post without talk about interiors! And this, THIS, is obviously my favorite ritual of all.
    Updating your interiors with the change in season can do so much for your mood and your mind. Plus, it makes everything feel fresh again (even if these are items you just swap in and out, year after year). Below are a few suggestions for you to pick and choose from:

    • Change your Duvet cover and/or sheets: lighter colors and prints are great for the warm months, while a rich, dark print or solid can add warmth in the cold months.
    • Change your towels: Same as above, light for warm months, darker for cool months. Sometimes just changing out a couple hanging hand towels will do the trick, so long as your other towels are neutral enough and/or white. (You can never go wrong with a white towel, n-e-v-e-r).
    • Update Photos: You know all those great photos you took this Summer? Go print a few and update your frames. While some framed photos are meant to never be changed, there are so many more that would benefit from and update here and there.
    • Decorate for the holidays: I mean it! Nothing gets us in the flow of the seasons quite like appropriately placed twinkle lights. And while not all seasons are as rich with holidays as the fall and winter, there is always a little something we can do to regard the days as they come. Maybe this feels a bit cheesy to you, but I assure you that if you do it right, it won't feel cheesy... it will just feel like, home.
    • Bring in Plants or Florals: When it's warm, fresh cut flowers will brighten your home, but as the seasons cool, you may want to trade those in for succulents or other low maintenance plants that you can nurture indoors until the sun shines again.
    • Paint: If you own, you have the option of painting whenever, wherever, so why not take advantage? Take your white living room, and give it a mocha accent wall. Or maybe take that little powder room and finally paint it a bold charcoal. While it's more complicated than just buying a couple planets, it's not so complicated that you couldn't do it in an afternoon (and the results will have your head a good way!)

The Power in a Coat of Paint

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

There's nothing quite like a coat of paint to instantly transform a room. Not to mention if you're savvy, it only ends up costing you, like... a can of paint. UM, Hell-O. Are we seeing why I made a career out of paint?

While there about 13,125,589 examples of glamorous paint transformations out there that I could show you... I instead wanted to share a before and after that just, feels like home, a really, real, home. Something and somewhere, that I think a lot readers will relate to.

The pair of images below are from a paint consult I did some weeks back, and it so clearly exemplifies, how a home can go from good to GREAT with the stroke of a brush.


When we started, the Master Bedroom was a bright, friendly blue that was welcoming, but maybe a little too welcoming for the bedroom.


In an effort to tone down the space and bring more calm, we settled on a taupey/brown (If I'm remembering correctly, this is "Skinny No Foam" by Evolution). The color played well with the furniture pieces that were staying (Dark wood End Tables, Bed, and dressers - not shown here). We also selected a warm shade of purple for the en suite, which shared the same taupe undertones as "skinny no foam."


After the paint went up, this client took down the floral curtains, over-sized frames above the bed, and swapped out the boldly printed bedding for a subtle pattern from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Ta Da! We have ourselves a brand new master.

So what do you think? Could you make a small change like this in your home?

Until Next Week.

Big thank you to this client for allowing me to share these images. 

New Ikea Products that you may just need to own.

Friday, August 17, 2018

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love mostly like Ikea.

Should you design your whole house around the Ikea catalog? Probably not.

Should you buy things here and there that you think are really awesome? Heck yes.

I am by no means "above" Ikea, or any brand for that matter. The fact is that you never know where the perfect piece is waiting for you, and no one knows (once you've styled it properly) what it cost you, or where it came from. In fact, the task of making inexpensive items look high-end, is super fun (for me anyway, if that's not the case for you.. call me). 

This week I'm sharing my top picks from the new Ikea catalog, check them out below:

Kungsbacka Kitchen
If you've been following my blog, then you know about the huge crush I have on black accents. A black kitchen not only says "hey I have food in here!" it also says "I'm full of mystery and look great in dim lighting!" 
And while I don't often recommend purchasing cabinets at Ikea (not that it's a total no, but just that there are so many stronger options out there to explore, first) but this kitchen was SO stunning, I couldn't leave it out. Not to mention, it is made entirely of recycled materials. Don't believe me? Even Elle Decor is swooning over that fact.

Bollebygd Display Box
I l-o-v-e pieces like this. At only 14" high and 9" wide, this dramatic accent is not only fun to look at, it's functional too! Place it in any room and watch it fill up with goodies: Sunglasses, medicine, spices, jewelry, pearl binoculars (am I seeing that correctly??) whatever knick-knacks you've got, they would play nice in here.

Are you seeing this? It's a chair AND a towel rack. Considering that I use almost every chair in my house as a hamper, something like this is a Godsend. Not only can you stack things, but you can hang them, like the proper human being you were raised to be.

Fjallberget Chair
This chair is advertised as a conference chair, but I'm in love with the idea of using these as dining room chairs. Drawn to the clean lines and Scandinavian Minimalism, this chair makes my brain go "Ahhhh" every time I look at it.

A simple design and use of natural materials make this piece a winner. The vertical strips of wood on the headboard, contradicted with a horizontal slat on the foot-board, offer just enough interest to the viewer. Plus, Ikea must have thought "hey maybe bare wooden headboards are a little too harsh" so they took some leather straps and attached a couple cream pillows to the frame. I love the softness these pillows add physically, as well as visually.

(P.S. If you aren't in the market for a bed, that sweet little nightstand is only $69!)

Eldtorel Pillow (um, that pink one in the front)
A trip to Ikea is never complete without a new pillow... or at least when I go, that's the case! and this guy is next on my list. If you squint, it sort of looks like a sunset... but mostly its just a fun play of pinks, blues, and gold? brown? goldy brown? Anyways, go get it, it's only $6.99.


You Decide: How Many Dining Chairs you should buy, and why.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Deciding how many dining chairs to purchase can be a really frustrating situation because there are so many ways to spin it. Go Big? Go Basic? and how do you store the extras?

For Example: Let's say you have 4 people in your household.

...So that's 4 chairs.

But your table seats 6, and you sometimes entertain....

And perhaps the table has an extension, allowing you to seat up to 8 ....(because you do have that one big holiday each year).

So do you play it safe and get 8? Meet in the middle with 6? Or save a bit and just get the 4 you really need?

Ideally, you always go big.

The fullest set, no matter the size, is always ideal; because that look is simply impossible to beat.

Of course, going with this option requires you to actually have enough storage for the additional chairs. Whether that's 2 extra, or 20 extra, it does require some square feetsies that not everyone has.

Below are a few of options for achieving optimum seating, within the constraints of your home (whatever those constraints may be for you):

Consider getting chairs that stack.
Nowadays there are so many options for stackable chairs that it wouldn't be out of the question to do a full set of stackable chairs, and simply tuck them away when they aren't needed (it only takes the square footage of one chair, after all!)

Stackable option #2: Purchase stackable chairs exclusively for the seating that gets stowed away and just make sure they are complimentary to the aesthetic of your full-time set.

Consider (don't gasp) folding chairs. 
As with the stackable chairs, there are so many upgraded options these days that aren't, well, this:

Brands like Calligaris (aka Connubia) now offer truly modern styles that even come with a hook (a hook!), for easy storage.

Get creative and stick with the originals. 
If you only have a couple extra dining chairs to store, you can always spread them through the house. Use them in the entryway next to a console, or tucked into corners of your living room. They make for great seating in any room (I even keep one in my bedroom to throw clean laundry on... which is something that occurs with intense frequency).