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).


Top 3 Recommended Paint Brands

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

As a paint color specialist I work with only three, carefully selected, paint brands. I have chosen these brands based on the overall feel of their color palette, how successful they've been for my clients, and the overall quality of their product.

Below are my top three brands as well as a quick overview on what makes them so exceptional:

1. Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines
 When I first heard that Joanna Gaines was coming out with a paint line, I sort of rolled my eyes. Figuring it would be a gimmick; just another opportunity to push the Fixer Upper empire and something that would sell only because her name is on it...


From the highly pigmented bold colors, to gently faded whites, there is an overall softness to this entire line, and the way it plays out in homes, is truly dreamy. There are not two colors in this palette that don't go together. Nearly every pairing is a perfect match (and how she did that, I have NO idea).

The Magnolia mixture is high quality, and a bit $$$$. For most clients I recommend selecting the Magnolia colors and mixing them in an Evolution by Miller Paint, mixture. Not to say that Evolution is cheap, but it offers a bit of savings for the same richness and quality of paint. Also, because Miller carries Magnolia paints, they know the exact mixture for these colors.*

*Side note: Please do not select colors from one brand, and take them to another store. Color matching isn't all it's cracked up to be.... More on that in a later post.

2. Evolution (previously Divine) by Miller Paint 

This, stuff, rocks. Anyone who has ever worked with it knows the difference. Thick, creamy, and complete after only one or two coats (Standard paints take three or more). The brand was founded by a woman in Lake Oswego and has been a staple in the Pacific Northwest ever since. The name changed from Divine to Evolution, some years back (legal reasons, change of hands, something like that..) but many people still use the names interchangeably.

Similar to the Magnolia line, their colors blend seamlessly together and offer a sense of calm that I simply cannot put my finger on. While I often reach for the Magnolia paint deck first, Evolution is a close second, and I regularly offer my clients a blend of both brands (when working with multiple rooms).

3. Benjamin Moore

If I'm going to call myself any sort of paint pro, then I have to tell you about your new friend, Ben. He makes GOSH DARN GOOD PAINT, PERIOD.

I could do an entire post on what makes Ben Moore so great and why it's worth the money, but for now let's keep it simple.

Below are three main reasons why I would reach for Ben Moore:

1. Magnolia and Evolution don't have the color I need: As much as I love them, their colors are somewhat limited (around 150 in each line). While Ben Moore breaks the glass ceiling on color, and brings you color options by the thousands. It takes some real work to sift through, but when you need it, IT IS WORTH IT.

2. Exteriors: Ben Moore is the very best for exteriors (Evolution being a close second). Their premium paints are super fast drying, tested & proven to beat the elements (weather, life, etc.), and hold their color over time.

Plus, their Historical Collection offers my favorite colors for exteriors.

3. Bathrooms: Did you know that most paints are made with a bit of soap? Sort of odd, I know, but let's consider this: have you have ever seen streaks in your bathroom paint? Almost like your walls are sweating? It's not aggressive, but a line or few over time. Well, that's the soap in your paint, soaking up the humidity and dripping.  Aura Bath and Spa is soap free and is the only paint worth it's salt, that's designed for high humidity environments.
Mind you, this stuff is pricey, so don't worry about using it in 1/2 baths, you only need it in spaces where there is a shower, tub, or sauna.

Note: I'm making an exception here on color matching: It's so important to have a sturdy paint in your bath, so feel free to take your evolution or magnolia colors over, so you may have them properly mixed for these rooms. The painters I work with all agree that Ben Moore has the best trained staff when it comes to color matching.

So there you have it, friends! My top three paint brands. If you have questions or need a paint color consult of your own, Reach Out!


On Trend: Contrasting Kitchen Islands

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A designer friend of mine recently purchased his forever home; a cozy (yet large) two-story, in the country just outside Portland. Among the bells and whistles that make this home so special, I found myself (as we scrolled through the images on Redfin approximately 3,289 times) particularly drawn to the kitchen. Having had one previous owner, the home offered custom touches like crystal chandeliers, a decked out walk-in closet, and most notably, a contrasting kitchen island... in violet.

The more I looked at this kitchen, the more I thought... "I've seen this before."

Sure enough, I hopped on Pinterest and was able to pull up a number of examples; But I must say that the trend has yet to take on the full force that say, white marble or shiplap have. The idea is still fresh, new, and totally fun! Not to mention, it's a low-commitment, low-cost way to change up your kitchen (should you have an island to play with).

This Green is so yummy, it leans toward being a Kelly green, but is a bit more subdued. Smart find: the homeowner kept their kitchen uniform by applying brass handles to the cabinets on the island, as well as their surrounding cabinets. This is key to note, because wherever we bring in contrast, we also need to bring in a connector.
ie. Contrast = Green Paint, Connector =  Brass Handles

Paint Color Guess: Evolution Glenhaven

For the homeowner who isn't quite ready for color, going with a neutral like the above grey, is an easy way to dip your toe in the water. Here we see uniform handles, just as in the previous island.

Paint Color Guess: Magnolia Earl Grey

For the person who wants nothing to do with grey! this yellow could be your ticket. You can see how they pulled the yellow from the rug (left) and kept the counter tops the same as the rest of the kitchen, thus tying it all together.

Paint Color Guess: Magnolia Amber

Last but not least, one of my absolute favorite accent colors: Black. Classy, Dramatic, and goes with ev-er-y-thing. They even had a little fun here with opposing countertops, but tied it all together with the hardware. Umm, can I get a BRAH-VOH ? 

Paint Color Guess: Evolution Black Finish

*Images via Pinterest

2018 Updated Pricing

Thursday, June 21, 2018

While I realize we are 6 months into 2018, I figure it's better late than never to get your eyes on the new 2018 pricing. For those of you who I am currently working with, your prices will not change on the present project, but for future projects the updates are below:

$0 - Complimentary Phone Consult: Up to 30 minutes

This is where we discuss what you want, what I offer, and check to see that we're a good match going forward. I'm also happy to answer any design questions you may have that can be answered via phone.

$149 - Initial Consult and Intake: Up to 1.5 hours, flat rate

Your space is assessed and we have a real in depth conversation about where you want to go with this project and I can get you there. Every Intake looks different, yours could be just one big design conversation over coffee, or we could wrap up quickly and dive into thorough measurements of your space. It will vary based on the specific needs of your project.

$110 - Hourly Rate: Follows Initial Consult, unlimited hours

We've done the consult and you're ready for some real changes. From here, you will be charged on an hourly basis for any number of things: Shopping, Space Planning, Furniture Selection, Fixture Selection, Connecting Contractors, Home Styling, and much more. The work is billed weekly so you always know where you stand on hours and fees. No big contract required: you are welcome to use my services as much or as little as you like!

$199 - Color Consult: Up to 2 hours, flat rate*

As a color specialist, these services are available a la carte. Should you only need assistance with paint selection, this is the route for you.
*For clients who have completed the initial consult, I offer my color consultations at the regular hourly rate (above), or the flat fee listed here, whichever rate is hit first. 

Questions? Click here. Want more info? Click here.


Style Note: When to give up the sweats

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

I did something big, People.

I gave away two of my comfiest, coziest, sweatshirts.


Awe, it hurts a little to think about; but I want to re-live it, for you, and maybe you can do the same.

So there I was, updating my closet from winter to spring (P.S. yay! spring!) and in the back and forth of sweater, swap-for-tank, sweater, swap-for-tank; I wound up pulling a number of items that were either outdated, or simply something I did not wear this year at all (sorry dog-print-sweater, you were so cute when I got you for Christmas 2015, but your quirkiness has faded along with the material...).

The clean out felt good and stepping back, looking at my fresh rack of colorful tanks, I couldn't help noticing a couple pieces that were standing out in all the wrong ways. So I walked to the end of the rack, plucked them up and realized "oh it's just you, old friend" comfy sweater 1 and 2 were just dangling there all "hey, can you grab me a beer? and some Cheetos, if ya got em. Thanks girl."

and I was all "Oh yeah, I got you." 

and then I paused, thinking should I get rid of these?

and one part of my mind was all are you insane?! They're so comfortable. You can't. YOU JUST CANT.

and the other part of me said but... they're hideous.

We all have clothes that we don't prefer to wear in public, but I realized today (Like, TODAY) that there's a big difference between pieces that we prefer not to wear in public, and pieces that we are HELLA EMBARRASSED to wear in public.

Example: Prefer not to wear in Public

1. Old T-Shirt with small hole in it

2. Anything soaked in sweat

3. Ill fitting jeans

4. Black belt with Brown shoes

Example: Embarrassed to wear in Public

1. Anything that makes you pray you don't run into anyone you know

2. Anything that has you apologizing to the people you know when you DO run into them (which you surely will because the Universe loves it when we dress like poo. It's like "Hahah there she goes again in those saggy bottom shorts with a hole, Where's her ex boyfriend at?... ah yes... *re routing* .... Perfect. They will meet in the cheese aisle." )

 (I've legitimately tried to hide from an ex by burying my face in my hands... More on that later, maybe)

So, I thought, it may be time to give away the comfy comfies. I will note however, that I have the luxury of owning other comfies that are actually decent enough for a public setting. If I did not own decent comfies, I would not get rid of my ugly comfies. So if you only have one set, DO NOT get rid of them until you have a new set to replace them with. Because without them, how are you supposed to enjoy a Saturday night?

Finally, I very much believe that how we dress affects how we feel about ourselves. I also believe that there is no cookie cutter formula to what makes you feel good, or your neighbor, or me, or your Mom, or co-workers, and so on... so it's up to you to decide what makes you feel good about y-o-u. 

So if you own something that makes you shudder when you walk by a mirror, do yourself a favor, and donate it. (or just go big and burn it...and don't tell the mayor I said that).


Inspired Movie Sets: You've Got Mail

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

To be a great designer, I believe that you must always be slightly bored.* Which is why, when you ask a designer, like really ask, "where do go for inspiration?" they won't say "Houzz." (and if they do, maybe consider re-hiring). Yes we go to Houzz and Pinterest, but it's more of a tool that we use rather than our source of true inspiration. In fact, the question "where do you go for inspiration?" is one that designers often talk about amongst themselves, as if they're sharing a secret recipe. Like, we're all over here baking apple pies, but how do they come out equally delicious, yet slightly varied? Is it in the flour?  the sugar? the timing?

So today I'm sharing one of my inspiration sources: Movie Sets.

Instead of diving into all the nuances about what lights my fire on a good movie set, I've decided to turn "Inspired Movie Sets" into a new series, where I will explore sets one by one, and talk through the details as they come. Today we will start that series with one of my favorite sets (and one of my all time favorite movies) You've Got Mail.

Ah, here we are outside Kathleen Kelly's (Meg Ryan) Brownstone. It's fall, and no one is concerned with the fact that she could never afford this IRL. She runs a bookstore that grosses 300K/year (according to Joe Fox aka Tom Hanks, who later announces this at a party) and somehow, she lives in what is surely a $7-million Bachelorette pad, in the heart of NYC. Yes people, we are officially on a movie set. But HEL-LO, look at that entryway. Bay Windows, original millwork, a perfectly colored front door. Ay-yai-yai!

Type-type-type-type-type, I love you, Tom Hanks, Marry me and my cute lamps and perfectly placed vase. I also have fantastic built-ins to my left, probably orginal too, type-type-type-type 

Oh look, it's me again! Kathleen Kelly. I'm still typing, but this time you can see my sweet little antique desk more clearly, along with my perfectly curated wall art. Somehow each element on my desk is perfectly balanced and arranged. It's almost as magical as how I've come to afford this place (or did she inherit it? I think they may mention that at some point in the movie... but still, COME ON PEOPLE).

I just... can't, even. The millwork, the matching sconces with tiny-little-shades, a perfectly selected mirror, and two (surely antique) plates on just the tinsiest sliver of wall. Shoot, even the toilet is cute.

P.S. The Pajamas. Are they horrible or do I love them because they are also antique?

Cut to:  *antique pajamas flouncing around living room* Actress peers out of perfectly hung sheers, to confirm that boyfriend has fully exited the brownstone. She is surrounded by well curated prints; stripes, florals, and dots, as she tip-toes back to antique desk with perfect lamp, perfect vase, and the aforementioned PERFECT BUILT INS. 

This was filmed in 1998, and 20 years later, I'm pretty sure she could rent out the shelves themselves for like $700 a month. I've seen worse here.

The kitchen is tiny, but like a good New Yorker, she doesn't do much in there anyway. Plus, it has french doors with glass windows, WHICH IS ALL IVE EVER WANTED FROM LIFE.

Oh wait, she's doing something in there. I see veggies and a pot, maybe she's making soup. This must be from one of the scenes where she was sick and couldn't leave the house. Remember? it was like.... 

This! There she is. Full on flu. 

And Tom Hanks Joe Fox brings her flowers and she's all "huh?" because he just put her out of business and was like a TOTAL JERK and stole all the caviar at a party WHILE putting her out of business and subsequently stealing her main source of income.

..But I digress.. look at the floral sofa! So 90's. Which is a great place to pause this article and be serious for a moment; because this sofa, inspires me. Not that I want to put traditional, floral sofas, all over Portland, but that I'm drawing ideas from it. I love how full it feels with all the pillows and blending of prints and textures. Nowadays, if I hop on the aforementioned design websites, I'm going to find mostly minimal, sleek sofas with sharp lines. 


It's a handsome sofa, and I see it a lot. Which is why it doesn't spin my wheels like the 1998 floral throw back, coated in cushy, varied pillows and throws. 

Make Sense?

Oh heck, back to the movie:

Great, we didn't miss much; Kathleen Kelly appears to still be typing. This time she's probably talking about that country-chic-meets-french-renaissance bed frame and headboard. THIS IS NOT SOLD IN STORES PEOPLE, not in 2018 anyway. But again, the wheels of inspiration are turning:
Soft stripes, white-gold frame, with a kiss to Paris? Um yeah, I'm on board. Where can I custom order one and DO YOU WANT ONE? Unlike the sofa, I'm not simply inspired by the bed frame, I'm ready to buy. Everything comes back around, right?



*This is something Issac Mizrahi said years ago, regarding fashion design, and it's stuck with me ever since.