NEWS

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  • IS IT REALLY ALMOST AUGUST?

    IS IT REALLY ALMOST AUGUST?

    I was upstate at the cottage last week preparing to begin renovation in August. Here is some beautiful Rose of Sharon that I have in abundance on the property. I will likely move these as this side porch will become the kitchen. Right now the trees are quite pretty, but, one, I want something evergreen to look out upon and, two, they are right in the middle of the yard between the cottage and the border of the property - not much room at all on this side. My plan is to plant some arbor vitae on the border to create an evergreen privacy hedge and create a stone walkway here between the front and backyard. There is still so much to do though and my focus is on getting the renovation running smoothly, so I will likely concern myself with the yard more in the spring.

    That said, I did do a whole lot of pruning and yard clearing already. Love these tools! However, this was mostly in preparation for work on the cottage, just clearing bushes and such around the perimeter. I need to remove several trees that have sprouted up around the house as well and a couple of massive leaners that I am afraid might fall and squash the cottage. My neighbors have been so amazingly friendly and helpful. For not really knowing what I got myself into, I feel so lucky and fortunate to have ended up in this spot. I think it will be the perfect mix of nature, privacy and community for me - I can walk to town! - and this rope swing turned out to be so much more fun than I had anticipated.

    It was also so peaceful to just float out in the creek and stare up at the trees. But, back to the city, this week I am here attending to client projects. I will be out in South Orange tomorrow and doing some thrifting and sourcing. You can follow along via Instagram or if you would like some help with an interiors project, maybe your own little Shangri-La upstate, contact me here. Have a great summer!

  • GRATITUDE

    GRATITUDE

    I know this is going to sound an awful lot like tooting my own horn, so forgive me, but when I receive an email from a client like the one I did today - it feels awesome and I want to share it. This just in from South Orange:

    As things come in I'm really impressed with how the decorating feels effortlessly stylish and fresh without being too precious or too trendy. Our place feels like a real home. We love it. We are so thankful that we have you to help us because aesthetics are important to us and I know how frustrated we would have been trying to figure it out ourselves. I know my friends and family are going to be so impressed!

    First, wow, validation is amazingly rewarding. Would I love to have a spread in a magazine? Yes, that type of professional validation would be great, but I am really in this for my clients and, to be honest, what they think is what is most important to me. It means a lot to me to help someone create a home they love.

    Second, to hear that my client finds her home "effortlessly stylish and fresh without being too precious or too trendy." makes me feel really great because, although I have not outwardly claimed this as a goal, it is something I keep in the subtext of my ideas. These are all the things I think good style should be - effortless, timeless and approachable - and I think it can be acheived no matter what look you are going for, be it bohemian or classic, glamorous or casual.

    Okay, I am done patting myself on the back. By the way, the mock-up above is for their sun room. I really cannot wait to style and photograph this project, but we are going on hiatus until the fall and then will move upstairs to do the bedrooms, so it might be awhile. I will be out there in a week though, so will try to post some snippets to Instagram. Have a great holiday weekend!

  • HUDSON VALLEY RENTAL

    HUDSON VALLEY RENTAL

    So, here is the news. You already know that I recently bought a cottage in upstate New York. Well, my brother also bought a property upstate (on the same day) His house, a three bedroom, is also a gut renovation situation, but since he already lives upstate, he is hoping to make it a vacation rental. We love this kind of stuff. Well, obviously, let's hope I do! Although my brother is not an interior designer, he is super handy. He renovated his own house - even rewired the whole thing - and used to restore vintage Volkswagens. He loves to sketch and plan and build stuff. Needless to say, all we talk about lately is our renovation projects. He is always trying to come up with ways to save me money and help out, not to mention that he is putting me up when I am upstate working on the cottage - hello swimming pool and a sister-in-law who is a great cook. Although he has his own ideas for his house - and they are good ones - I am trying to convince him to let me repay him by helping with the interior design and decoration of his rental project, because, let's face it, I am his target audience - city folk.

    I feel that when renovating to flip or rent a house, keeping finishes pretty neutral is a good idea, but that doesn't mean boring. You can always add in texture and pattern, vary furnishings in terms of wood, glass or metallics and bring in greenery to make a place feel layered and pulled together. I am thinking wood floor, white walls, black kitchen cabinets, subway tile - keeping it easy and simple, but more on the kitchen later. Let's focus on the living room for now, which is probably always where you are going to spend the most money on furniture. I love the sofa in the above inspiration image - leather is great for vacation rentals, as are slipcovers, so I put both in my first mock-up proposal (top image). The budget is tight, but I found a great leather sofa on craigslist and the chairs are IKEA. In general, and after speaking with my brother, I feel the space needs to be comfortable and relaxed, but also not random and too disparate - as many vacation homes are where leftover furniture seems to go to live out its last days.

    This image above probably has a bit too much of a modern or Scandinavian vibe for this project, but I like the mood and that sofa is begging to be lounged on - exactly what you want to do on vacation. Eventhough the house is currently gutted and nowhere near ready for furniture, I wanted to pull something together for my brother illustrating some of the above ideas, so this week in my off hours I gave myself the challenge to furnish the living room space for around $1,500. This mock-up (in the top image) is what I came up with - thanks to craigslist, Target, Urban Outfitters and IKEA. If this were a primary residence, I would probably upgrade some things, such as the IKEA chairs and the Urban Outfitters side table and floor lamp, but I am pretty happy with everything else. I could definitely spend a weekend in this living room. Now we'll just have to wait and see if he will let me get my hot little decorator hands on his house for real.

    On a side note, this is a VERY small budget and small budgets take a lot more time, so this amount is just not practical if your interior designer is one you hire (i.e. not your sister). You'd have to pay your designer probably twice as much in fees just to find things. With a small budget, I usually devise a plan for the client that is shopped out over time as money allows. Remember the 'ole project management saying, you can have things good, fast and cheap - pick any two. However, I also recognize you can't wait a year for furniture, so buying some short term affordable pieces that you can resell or donate when you upgrade later can often be a strategy.

    You can contact me here if you are looking for help with an interior design project or follow along behind the scenes on Instagram. Have a happy 4th!

  • SUMMERTIME

    SUMMERTIME

    Summer is here! While some of my projects will be slowing down and going on hiatus, a couple of others may heat back up. This, along with a new project I may begin next month and my own cottage renovation, should keep me busy enough, but I also have my fingers crossed for plenty of beach visits, mountain hikes and general lying around in the outdoors. This outdoor patio would be the perfect spot. I pulled it from a pinboard I made for my cottage renovation and thought I would share a few things about that.

    The cottage is small. I am hoping to add some square footage by bumping out the front, but it will still be a humble creekside cottage. So, basically we are looking at a one bedroom with a sleeping loft situation. The plan is to open it up to the outside. Small house, big garden. I have about 7,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space that I really want to utilize when the weather allows. I want to do a flagstone patio off the back with a seating area similar to this image above, a dining table and a couple of lounges. The front will be smaller with a little grass and maybe just a hammock and bench. Off the bedroom, I would like to do a shade garden (more flagstone if I can swing it) and have the bathroom accessible to it as well, with an outdoor shower. I like the idea of being able to walk directly to the bathroom from the outside. Beyond the flagstone in the back, I want to do an enclosed raised bed kitchen garden and then just different garden beds with pea gravel paths and maybe a fire pit. I have a shed back there that will be storage, but I might make it convertible to a little summer guest sleep shack. Something like this would work (pardon the blurry photo). I can't get enough of beautiful vines.

    Eventually, I would like to build a small off-the-grid bunkhouse at the rear border of the property. I have no neighbors behind me, just a large forested lot. I think this will allow me to really enjoy the place with friends and family more. The cottage has deeded access to the Esopus Creek, so kayaking and swimming are right there, plus it is a quick bike ride into town, nearby nature preserves or the Hudson River and Saugerties lighthouse. I am really imagining it as being all about the outside/outdoors in warmer months. As you can see, I have a list of wants. Much like with my clients, I know I have to balance my desires and my reality. My limited bank account is telling me to focus on the house first. In the meantime, I will just have to chic up some canvas cots, string a hammock and pretend some of the weeds are intentional. It is all about style and perspective, right. If you want to peek at some more ideas, here is the cottage pinboard. Hope you are having a great summer so far.

  • WHAT MAKES A HOUSE A HOME

    WHAT MAKES A HOUSE A HOME

    For the past week and a half I have been in St. Louis helping my parents with some things. We moved from Woodstock NY to this house when I was in high school. For the past twenty years my parents have spent half their time at a house they had built in Florida and we tend to gather there as a family. With me and my siblings mostly on the East Coast, I rarely make it back to St. Louis. If you follow me at all, you may remember I was out here last year in early September, but before then, it had probably been at least ten years. The trees seemed bigger, the house smaller or older and more roads and shopping areas had been built around us, such is the passage of time.

    We have been talking about selling this St. Louis home for awhile now and, much to my parents amusement, I have been staking claim to things here and there. One of my sister's made this cermic vase in the above photo. I already have one of her vases that drew some comments from admirers when my place was featured on Design Sponge a few years back. As much as it pleases her that I love her work, I am pretty sure she isn't going to let me make off with this piece, but I might try to sneak that rock into my suitcase and I am eyeing some other pottery that has been relegated to the basement storage. I am not overly sentimental, but I like to have some special pieces around and something made by a friend or family makes it all the better. The people that breathe life into a house are what really make it a home after all, much more so than expensive furniture or fancy decoration.

    In other news, my South Orange project is moving along nicely and I can't wait to finish and photograph it. I have completed the design plan for the Esopus Creek Cottage and will try to share a bit more of that. I am hoping to begin construction in August. You can follow me on Instagram for more snippets of St. Louis and behind the scenes of some of my design projects. Have a great June!

  • UPSTATE COTTAGE

    UPSTATE COTTAGE

    So . . . I bought a house.

    Here I am in the backyard wondering what I have gotten myself into. The cottage is upstate on the Esopus Creek, which winds through the middle of the Catskills before joing the Hudson. I found this old postcard of the area on eBay.


    As many of my projects in the city are rentals or often low on construction and high on decorating, it is really nice to dig into floor planning, materials and finishes. It is a real fixer - a full gut renovation is in order - but I am actually excited about the opportunities that will bring along with all of the work. I have been percolating ideas like crazy and getting waaaay ahead of myself. I probably won't get into the meat of the project until this summer, but I will post updates here and on my Instagram if you want to follow along.

    Have a great week!

  • SPRING BREAK

    SPRING BREAK

    I have been down here in Florida for the past week visiting with my family. We have had a house here for about 20 years. My siblings and I usually all try to descend upon it some time in April, while my parents spend half the year here. (You can see a few images on my Instagram and I will probably share a few more there this week. How about that Blue Spring?) But it is back to work later this week, finishing up projects and getting ready to have a couple more photo shoots soon. I hope you all had good holidays whatever you celebrate and wherever you are.

  • YOU CAN TAKE THE GIRL OUT OF THE PHOTO SHOOT . . .

    YOU CAN TAKE THE GIRL OUT OF THE PHOTO SHOOT . . .

    After another busy week, you would think that I would have preferred to spend Sunday having brunch, going to the Farmer's Market, wandering the city and lounging around reading. Well, luckily I managed to get all of that in on Saturday, so when Sunday rolled around I decided to begin the task of unpacking the bags from the shoot that had just been dropped in the corner and left for days. The botanicals had been sitting in a plastic pitcher on the kitchen counter all week. The thistle was done for, but that green bushy stuff - whatever it is - is still going strong and the hearty pussy willows were ready to be cut down and placed in the vintage silver vase I recently picked up. I actually had quite a few design leftovers from this job. I may have to open up a shop soon! After things were unpacked I couldn't resist styling up my dresser and taking some photos - just with my iphone, I didn't get the tripod out or anything, but I guess I just needed to get one more fix to last until the next project wraps.

    In project news, there is a little bit of a lull this month because everyone is going to be away next week, including me. Project PCV is about to cross the finish line at a snail's pace, but it's all good. I am hoping by the end of May to begin snapping the pics. Project Inwood should be heating back up soon and we've moved upstairs at South Orange. There is still a lot to do downstairs, but the master bedroom plan is complete and moving ahead, as you may have noticed if you follow me on Instagram. You can also take a peek at it here

    In other news, spring is finally here. Yes, it is still a little cool and rainy, but the daffodils are up and there is no turning back. Hope you all are enjoying some warm and sunshine this month. Until next week.

  • BACHELOR PAD - IT'S A WRAP!

    BACHELOR PAD - IT'S A WRAP!

    Here is one of my favorite images from this weekend's shoot at the bachelor pad. I could not love more those little vintage silver boxes (apparently for shaving supplies) and how the thistle looks against the almost black bedroom walls. These are the moments that make the countless hours of hard work worth it. These little styling moments and photographs are pure joy for me. My business is young and I still always fear that the images won't turn out, but once things start clicking relief and excitement sets in and you forget that you were up until 1 a.m. ironing the wrinkles out of your client's duvet! I love to do the photography on my interior design jobs, but this time I also took on a big art project, so needless to say I am a bit exhausted from wearing so many hats this past week. I am still editing all of the images, so it will be a little while for the full reveal, but there are some other sneak peeks up on my Instagram. As always, feel free to follow along on there and if you have an art or design project you need some help with, you can get in touch here. Have a great week!

  • PHOTO SHOOT PREP

    PHOTO SHOOT PREP

    Next week I will be shooting the bachelor pad that I recently finished. The project was completed last month for the most part, but I scheduled the shoot for when my client will be out of town next week. For the innocent bystander, watching a photo shoot is probably mind numbingly boring, so I like to spare my clients when I can. These images are quick snaps from the last installation, so all of the main pieces are in place, everything just needs to be cleaned up (that streaky mirror!) and styled for the big day - and my client, of course.

    I admit that this mirror was picked by my client and I was a little worried about it, but I think it is all going to come together in the end. The glossy dark black finish brings it off the dark wall, but it doesn't scream at you. At first I thought it was too dark, but then with all of its ornate detail, maybe it is better dark. I have been collecting styling bits to have options and am excited to play around with them.

    I am going to try to keep it pretty simple though, because that is my client's style and really best fits the space too. I think it is easy to get carried away because it is actually a really fun part of the job - the final layer - but I am keeping restraint in mind.

    Well, except where the pillows are concerned I guess. Yes, those are A LOT of pillows, but I couldn't resist. They look so good. Cougar, the cat, is thinking, "Lady, what have you done to my sofa?!" He is just not sure what to think. I also removed his blanket for this pic, so I think he was really ready for me to leave at this point : )

    These prints arrived today and will be hung in the living room. My client is going to be collecting art over time and has been having me look at things here and there. Most of the art going in for the shoot will be coming back out because he is looking for specific things and the two pieces he bought aren't in yet. It is kind of crazy. I can handle photography, but I have decided to challenge myself to make a large piece - with paint and gold duct tape (!!!) - to go above the sofa just for the shoot. I am really hoping it doesn't look awful. I want something simple there and am rolling the dice on pulling it off. I will be prototyping over the next few days, so stay tuned to my Instagram feed and feel free to weigh in with brutal honesty. Until next week.

    If you have a design project you'd like some help with or are interested in ordering prints, feel free to get in touch here.