Monday, August 31, 2009

in the library 8.31.09

This week's book selection is all about color! The role of is sometimes overlooked or seen as a fun part of design instead of a crucial element. But the science behind color reveals that we are majorly impacted both psychologically and physiologically by it, so understanding color is a necessary tool for designers as well as diy'ers out there.

Color: Messages and Meanings is a great primer.

you can find the book at or your favorite local retailer

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Living Luxury

My recent post on Luxury has gotten me thinking about all the things that it means to me. One word that keeps popping into my head lately is Quality.

As a designer I look at quality in materials. Items that are well-designed and are made to a high standard. I often look to small companies because they seem to be run as much on passion as they are for profit. The proprietors of the business eat, sleep and breathe their work and they stand behind what they do. They choose their materials wisely and oversee the process from manufacture to store. In green design this is especially important. I need to know that everything in the product and process is done in a way that I can comfortably recommend to my clients. Quality materials look better, last longer and often create a sense of pride in ownership. I believe that is luxury.

As a human being, I look for quality of life. Spending time doing things you love with people you love leads to a happier life. We must be able to balance the not-so-great with the great so we feel satisfied. When you spend more time in the drudgery of life than you do in enjoyment, it leads to problems. We must be honest with ourselves on what makes us happy and what does not and make an effort to create more joy.

So here is a little assignment:
  • Write down 5 things that bring you joy. They can be activities, people or objects
  • Come up with a way to incorporate each of these into your life on a regular basis.
If you post your list in the comments section, I will enter your name into a drawing for this luxurious giveaway from my favorite source for handmade goods, Esty.

Set of 4 Coasters made w/ Amy Butler fabric  Morning Glory in Slate
check out the Etsy shop

The drawing will be held at the end of next week.

My List:
1. Curling up in the morning with a cup of tea
2. Catching up with my amazing friend Kim
3. Digging through fabric swatches and imagining what I can do with them
4. Watching my dog, Lily, bound through tall grass like a miniature deer
5. Cooking dinner with my husband

Friday, August 28, 2009

weekend project: get ready for fall

It may be over 100 degrees here in Southern California, but that is all the more reason to yearn for the crisp autumn weather. Last night I was flipping through the newest Martha Stewart Living and came across the perfect fall project and I had to share.

Needle Felting is the practice (and the aptly named tool) of intertwining wool fibers- be it yarn, felt or wool roving- to create textural patterns. You can do this on any wool you can get the needle through (think: skirts, shoes, curtain embellishment, endless possibilities).

Add some seasonal color to the living room with these fuzzy felt & wool pillows. I'm a fan of the diamond pattern, which reminds me of an argyle sweater.

These scarves look like they would be expensive at a craft fair...

The projects actually look pretty simple, they just require the necessary tools. For a behind the scenes look at what the project was like, visit the Craft Dept blog and pick up the September issue of Martha Stewart Living for instructions. I'll be testing this one out too, so check back for pictures and my version of the story. Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Build It Green

I just got back from a green building professional training course put on by Build It Green, a California based program that certifies homes and industry professionals. The course was well organized and very informative, plus I got to brush up on my construction knowledge and meet new people in the industry.

I highly recommend checking out the organization to learn about green building practices, regardless of where you live. It's not overly technical and they definitely preach the doable versus an over the top doom-and-gloom stance on sustainability.

The one thing I want to say is that we all need to be informed consumers. Don't be afraid to ask questions: you need to know the pros and cons in order to make the best decision at that moment. Things are constantly changing and it's easy to get overwhelmed, but awareness and a little common sense goes a long way. And if you are looking for some help, there are lots of organizations out there to guide you in the right direction.

Green Guide Network is a business directory for green companies. They currently have listings for Southern California but are expanding nationally within the next few months.

The Green Spec Directory lists building products that fit the criteria needed for most green organizations (third party certification, etc.) is a great resource for those who don't know where to start with their education.

Or you can contact me at I love to educate (i.e., hear myself talk).

Monday, August 24, 2009

in the library 8.24.09

Luxury is a term often thrown around in the design world and it seems to have taken on a slightly different definition as of late. Terms like simple elegance and casual luxury lend themselves to a very different approach to the way we design spaces. Luxury now can mean anything that makes you feel rich (in whatever capacity that entails). Surrounding yourself in things that you love - unique artwork, handmade tschotskes, plush fabrics - means that every time you walk into a space you think "I love this room!" And that is a designer's true goal.

My book selection of the week addresses this perfectly. Defining Luxury: The Qualities of Life at Home. The collection of spaces designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber are beautifully photographed to capture the character of each room, the details that make it feel casual and elegant at the same time.

available at

Friday, August 21, 2009

weekend project

I am a big-time freak when it comes to organization. Growing up, I anticipated trips to the office supply store as much as the toy store (and don't get me started on back-to-school shopping!) These days I spend time organizing other people's homes as well as my own constant project - the home office space.

So when I found this project on Martha Stewart, and I'm not joking, my heart started racing and the wheels began to turn. It's an office in a chest - super easy to construct and it holds all of the need-it-off-my-desk stuff. Plus, I'm a huge fan of hidden storage, so I will probably make a cushion for mine to become a bench when needed.

I am currently on the hunt for the perfect chest a la Craigslist, and I will be posting my version of the project once I get it finished.

If you want the instructions for your own weekend project, click here

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

spotlight on: Austin, TX

It seems that, in spite of the economy, people are still doing a fair but of travel this year. I myself have been dreaming of a mini-break to Austin and it seems like I'm not alone - almost every magazine I look at these days has a travel guide for the live music capital of the world.

This image, from a recent issue of Southern Living, really fueled the fire. The first thing I thought was that it looks like the French Riviera, the place that my summer vacation dreams are made of.

The aptly named Oasis, is a restaurant overlooking Lake Travis. It features live music most evenings and a spectacular view of the sunset. Oh how I wish I was there right now...

To plan a best of Austin vacation, check out some of these travel guides
Southern Living, Weekend Itinerary
Design Sponge, Austin Design Guide
Austin Visitor's Bureau
Austin's 10 Best

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Home of Windsor Smith

The September issue of House Beautiful is truly a great one. Aside from it being all about color, they feature the homes of some wonderful designers who use color in fresh and daring ways.

One such designer is L.A. based Windsor Smith. Without giving away too much, I wanted to show a couple of spaces that really caught my eye.

This is technically the entryway, but I would just hang out here. The colors are masculine but very inviting and every element feels luxurious.

Just beyond (also shown in the picture above) is the family room. But this family includes a bunch of boys so Windsor decided to make it about them by painting the walls black and placing a ping-pong table smack in the center of the room. How fun!

Good design is all about balance. Paint one room black and offset it with a pink one. Even in varying shades of pink the room still feels comfortable and inviting to everyone. Plus, I love that yellow chair...

You can also visit to read the article, find your color personality and so much more. It's a great site.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

wonderful walls

Inspired by yesterday's post, In the Library, I decided to pull together some wall treatments to put a little skip in your step (at least that's what it does for me...)

Lotus Papers
The first one comes from Farrow & Ball because, after all, they were the inspiration for the post. This print is called Lotus from the special edition collection. Visit Farrow & Ball to order a free sample.

Gallery image
This print, Arches from Phillip Jeffries, is printed on hemp paper which adds a textural element and makes a bold statement in blue.

This image, from the September issue of House Beautiful, features fabric covered panels from Lee Jofa used to create a textured crewel wall treatment (and the pitchers are vintage love love these!).

image courtesy of Signature Prints

I have long been a fan of Florence Broadhurst's - partly for her bold graphic designs and partly for her mysterious murder (I'm very intrigued by that sort of thing). This print, called Shadow Floral, is one of my favorites. Shown here in dusty turquoise.

Wall coverings are a great way to liven up a boring wall or bring focus to areas that sometimes gets overlooked (like an entryway, the interiors of open cabinets, even ceilings). The next time you're in the mood to shake things up, sit down with a book of wallpaper and see if you can't just find something that inspires you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

in the library 8.17.09

My design book pick of the week:

I love Farrow & Ball for their gorgeous collection of wallpapers and elegant paint color selections, but this book just pulls you into a world of graceful yet completely livable spaces.

I love the subdued tones on the walls and trim and then the pop of rich cinnamon. I picture myself spending a lazy Sunday afternoon here re-reading Pride & Prejudice.

Varying shades of green create dimension as the white ceramic and glass stand out against the soft mint wall.

Warm, rich colors create a backdrop for the earthy elements that make these spaces so inviting.

Find the book at Farrow & Ball

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blissful Bedroom

I just received the new trade catalog for the fall/winter collection at Bliss Living. I have to say, it couldn't have come at a better time since I had just attempted to make my bed (which rarely happens) with the various mismatched pillows and blankets. I did finally buy a quilt to fit our king sized bed a few months ago - prior to that we were using the one from our old queen!

Having the requirement of eco-friendly bedding makes it somewhat difficult. You typically can't just go to a store and pick up organic cotton anything, though it is getting better. Furthermore, bedding can be quite expensive and we have a standard king versus the ever popular California king...the excuses go on and on.

Getting back on subject, I was excited to flip through the pages and see a range of colors that felt new and fresh, like the Icelandic Dream collection

(I love the wooden mobile in the background)

and Amelie Green

I'm really drawn to the varying shades of green, especially the touches of olive and dusty sage together. Notice the Canada passport pillow too. How cool is that?

I'm also a fan of the reclaimed wood shelves

Needless to say, it sent me into a bedroom redecorating frenzy so you may be seeing my bedroom before/after posts in the near future.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

award winning

I spent this past weekend in the Celebrity Retreat at the Teen Choice Awards. Rachel Hulan of Path Design was chosen to design the eco-friendly lounge, and I went along to help setup and break down.

While some of the actors received surfboard shaped awards, I got to take home my very own prize: a papier mache bird that was used in our lounge decor.

This little guy, from Stray Dog Designs, is so cute! It's handmade from recycled materials and coated in a non-toxic paint. Personally, I think my prize is better...thanks Rachel!

Check out Rachel's blog for pictures of the space.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a noteable project

No matter what I do, I just can't get away from using paper. First of all, I'm a list maker. I need my to-do lists to get me through each day (plus it's so very satisfying to cross things off). Then I need paper for the printer, paper for drawings, paper paper paper.

I do try to cut back by using scrap paper as much as possible. But the pile of scrap printer paper was starting to outweigh the blank sheets so I decided it was time for a new plan.

I thought my piles of paper would be better used as notepads. That way I can make my lists and throw them into my purse, car, wherever (I never leave home without a notepad). To make things more fun I decided to use some scrap fabric to bind them.

So I chopped up my paper into halves and quarters, punched holes for metal brads, and glued the strips of fabric onto the pads. Viola! A whole new set of notepads.

I'm really not much of a crafter but this was easy and turned out pretty just be warned that some of you may be receiving these as gifts.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer on the Lake

Growing up in Minnesota, our family spent every summer at our lake cabin. These days I don't get to see much of that cabin but the memories are vivid, as each summer I dream of of waking up to loon calls, fishing off the dock and playing cards until the early hours of morning.

Lake Houses is a nice collection of images that spark nostalgia and a definite longing to take a trip to the lake.

find the book at

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

sprucing up the office

I've been collecting jars for years. I'm typically not a hoarder of any sort- I just don't like clutter. But jars are such useful objects and I've given mine a second life as office organizers, holding everything from pens and paperclips to art supplies.

Last week I found a cool project on Martha to transform ordinary glassware into display pieces with enamel paint. Not quite willing to give up my clear glass collection, I decided first to experiment with a few pieces and see how that went.

I picked out a few jars that I thought would look good with enamel, washed them out and used rubbing alcohol to prepare the surface for paint. I selected 'Pacific Blue' for the first round and got to work, pouring the paint and swirling it around.

Here are the jars after the first coat. I later went back and added another coat. On one jar, I decided to try doing a layer in white, to make the inside white and the outside blue. That didn't work so well so I ended up covering it with another blue layer. But that left me enough white paint to do a 'milk' jar.

My new and improved jars! My next step is the honey jar (clear jar in the photo). It has a great texture that will look pretty cool. I can't decide if I should go white or blue...any suggestions?

For the project how-to, click here

Ps, this is a green project if you use a water based non-toxic acrylic enamel. I didn't know this when I started so my blue is a regular enamel, but the white is eco. Just an FYI.

*Note: the before and after jars are shown on swatches of Rubie Green textiles