What You Do Makes a Difference

I often make the joke to friends and family that I’m not doing anything to save the world, but I am making it a prettier world to live in.

What You Do Makes A Difference William James Quote Motivation

Now there is nothing wrong with living in a pretty world, but this thought process and repetition can constantly discredit what you are doing. The fact is, interior designers do so much more than make homes pretty. We work hard to create an organized, clean and functional spaces for our clients — spaces in which they feel relaxed and can get cozy when they come home from their long days at work. This reduces the stress level as a homeowner, because the baseline of your home is done.

A well-designed space, public or private, makes you feel good to be in it — even if when you come home, there are dishes to do and laundry to be washed, it won’t drive you mad.

There are so many other examples of jobs that feel frivolous, you might even beat yourself up for not doing something better, but chances are, you are still making a difference. So take a minute to let that sink in and build yourself back up again, because what you do is important!

What do you do, and how do you find yourself making a difference? Have you found that having a well-structured and decorated home makes you feel good at the end of the day?

PS, the background color is Sherwin Williams “Spiced Cider,” and I LOVE the color! It is the perfect blend of warmth and color while still feeling really neutral — and it is totally making me want to grab a chai latte!!

100 Year Old Basement Renovation In Process

This project started out a lot like many others. When I first met with the homeowners, the wife was timid and anxious about even letting me see the basement, but upon seeing it and discussing the space with her, she became very excited to be moving forward with renovating this space.

When I presented the plans to the husband and wife they both became very excited about the space and anxious to keep things moving. This basement needs to consist of more organized storage for household items, their extra refrigerator, an appliance pantry for larger counter-top appliances that get used only a handful of times throughout the year, a laundry room, and gym. In addition to these shared spaces, we needed to create a space where family can crash when needed, so there is also a shared mud room with exterior entry and a full private suite with a kitchenette, living room, bathroom and bedroom, and knowing how amazing this space is going to be when it is finished, any member of the family who gets to crash in this basement is going to feel like they landed at a 5 star hotel.

Through shopping trips, research, planning and revising plans, I have become pretty close with the family and they have had some unfortunate news come to light. That said, we are doing everything we can to finish this project as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.

The space has been fully gutted and the french drains are going in. The space feels so much larger than it felt before and they are starting to be able to envision the plan within the shell of their basement now. We are at a pretty fun stage of the game with everything so raw right now. (All of the images above are pre-demo; below is where we are now.)

I wanted to share this seemingly nothing of an improvement so that you can see how these projects start. We have to knock things down in order to pick them back up again, and in this business it isn’t all pretty. Sometimes you might be ashamed of how your space looks now, but it will get there, even if it takes forever.

This basement is 100 years old, it has a lot of character, and we are intending to keep a good chunk of the character in tact. Can’t wait to show you more along the way as we progress.

Tour Of A Sweet Master Suite

This project all started out with a little leak. The homeowner was experiencing a drip in their shower, which developed into mold, which spread through to their closet, and before you know it, their insurance was coming out to take a look at the problem.
Master Suite-Bathroom Overview1

This project started as something done out of necessity, but soon became something that both husband and wife wanted to never have to worry about changing as long as they were in the home. So we worked through a more functional design for the space, shifting the walls slightly to accommodate a wider closet, swapping the tub location to accommodate the make-up area and more cabinetry. We shifted windows, added a laundry room, etc., When it was all said and done, it was so worth it.

The only thing we did outside of the on-suite portion of their master was pick out new paint colors to help the spaces flow together better — hence the random photo of the fireplace. This is their sitting room that leads directly into the bathroom from their master bedroom.

I could live in this master suite. All that is missing is a beverage center for coffee in the morning and wine at night, and a mini fridge and microwave for snacks. Maybe we can tack that on to their next home improvement project.

Set Design | Friends

Last week I mentioned designing boats and how there are so many other areas where design can be applied. I have been re-watching Friends from the beginning (thanks, Netflix), and there are some incredibly detailed and beautiful sets.

Friends Set Opening Scene

I think what is so interesting to me about set design is it combines residential design with commercial design because these characters are interacting in a whole built-up world. Here are a few of my favorite sets from Friends:

  • Monica’s apartment, specifically her kitchen and living space: Her kitchen showcases cabinetry painted in a bold color with open shelving on top. Open shelving is something that is so big right now, and I love that it has been used and showcased in television sets like this one. In the living room, her walls are purple, and so are all of the doors and trims. After watching this again, I am contemplating where I can apply this monotone painted look to make it work, and I’m thinking my living room might just be the perfect place!

Friends Set_Monica's Kitchen Friends Set_Monica's Living Room

  • Central Perk: That classic orange sofa? Such a cozy hang out space, and did you know that the art on the walls in the coffee shop changed in every episode? Take a closer look next time and see if you notice anything else quirky that the set designers and the rest of the team played around with on the set.

Friends Set_Central Perk

  • Chandler & Joey’s place: Again, the kitchen: what a quirky yet functional space! The fusball table is the perfect accent in there instead of a dining table for a bachelor pad. I just love it. I also really love the episode when Joey builds the entertainment center that is just a bit too large for the wall between their bedroom doors… I would hate to be the person responsible for a mistake like that in real life!!

Friends set_Chandler & Joey's

What shows do you love the design of? Do you ever find yourself noticing the space the characters are interacting in on sitcoms? I think being a set designer would be so fun, but I can’t imagine how complex it would be to have to create a space that really is perceived well through filming.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

I’m On A Boat

Boat Design-1

When P turned 30, one of his good friends from college gifted us a boating brunch experience. I love these kinds of gifts where you are building memories with people instead of giving things. This past weekend we cashed in the brunch gift and set sail out of Perth Amboy, N.J. to take a little trip around Staten Island, and we got some really great views of the city. I didn’t take my camera so there are only weird selfies that were taken and won’t be shared, but it was a really nice way to spend the day.

Boat Design-2

It made me think though… there are all types of spaces to design in the world. I practice residential designs with a focus on kitchens and bathrooms, but there are also people who design commercial spaces such as offices, retail shops or restaurants. There are people who design movie theaters, and set designers for theatrical stages as well as for sitcoms and other movies and TV shows. And then there are boat designers, people who design boats from house boats, to yachts to cruise ships.

Boat Design-3

How much fun would it be to design a boat?! Maybe I should see if I can get any clientele back home in Seattle where there are a lot of house boats, and cross over to watercraft through residential interiors on house boats…or maybe I will just stick with what I know and continue working with houses on solid ground.

Boat Design-4

The world of design is so vast and incredible, I just love looking at and exploring all the wonderful outlets that interior design creeps into. It sets off the dreamer in me! What are you dreaming of in your career path?

Boat Design-5

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Click over to see more images from each of these incredible boat designs!

Dressing Room Details

Last week, I shared a dressing room in progress with the promise of more to come. So this week, while I await the final details to come together, I want to share with you the furnishing selections and accessory choices for the space.

For this space, offering a seating space –where she could sit to put her shoes on, or he could relax while she was finishing her make-up — was key. But I wanted the seating space to feel inviting enough to act as a place to escape when they just wanted to relax as well.

I had first wanted a settee or a chaise lounge, but for size and space reasons also considered chairs for the space.

Options 1 & 2 felt too linear for the space, like you would always have to sit in them with proper posture. Option 3 is a great shape and option 4 is a good style, though a bit too long and lean, but both were slightly out of reach for the budget on this space. Options 5 & 6 were perfectly relaxed but just a hair too long for the space, both coming in at a little more than five feet in length. Option 7 again, is a bit too straight, but the velvety texture makes up for that. And Option 8 was just right!

For the rugs, the option was to go shaggy or tufted for the texture and solid or patterned with the coloration. Here are the options we narrowed it down to:

The first option is a tonal shag, with a pattern that felt too large in scale both for the space and for the size of rug we would be getting. The second option was beautiful, but again, was just too large scale for the space. The third option, I really fell in love with everything about, but overall the pattern was a bit too abstract for the space we were putting together. The fourth option is shaggy in a super lux and silky texture, which fit perfectly with everything we were aiming for in the space.

The client found this great mirrored vanity for a steal, and we sourced this very similarly detailed stool to accompany the piece:

The last decorative pieces are the window treatments, art and accessories.

I found the art (Audrey|Chaplin) and immediately knew it was perfect for the space, well everything except the size. The prints were too wide! After much searching we found similar prints on art.com that have been ordered. The window treatments were narrowed down to these two options, and although the black and white had a great velvety texture, the silver was the right move for this space. I played around with a lot of pillow and throw options for about a month, online, in stores, you name it. But finally, the day the install started, I landed on the two options above while playing around at West Elm. We quickly decided that the first option would shed too much on clothes while getting ready and wasn’t worth the risk no matter how cozy. The alternate was a great way to incorporate the velvety texture I keep trying to bring into the space, the larger pillow nods to the paint color, while the smaller pillow keeps things feminine, and that throw is incredibly soft.

So, there you have it! Now for the last few little details to come in and we will be home free! Can’t wait to get them in there and finish the space so that I can photograph it and share it with you all!!

White Open Kitchen Reveal

I am currently in the midst of a kitchen that is wrapping up, and I was going to share some details of that space today, when I realized, I never shared the last kitchen with you here! It’s so beautiful, I can’t believe it didn’t get its time to shine! (Click on the images to expand view.)

White Open Kitchen

When I first walked into this space, there was a wall facing the front door, concealing the kitchen space from the living space. The plan was to open it up and achieve a better functioning kitchen space with ample storage and better sight lines through the main space.

And that is exactly what we did.

WOK1WOK5WOKI2WOK3WOK4WOK6WOK8 WOK7WOK9 WOK10

For a look at where this project started, hop over to their work-in-progress post here, and to see more images of this kitchen, hop over to our Houzz project page for this space here.

WIP|Dressing Room

One of the projects I am really excited about right now is a dressing room I’m working on for a great couple. The house is an older home with tiny existing closets, but at the top of the stairs to their second level, there is a larger bedroom to the left, the master, a bathroom directly across from the stairs, a linen closet next to the stairs on the right and a smaller bedroom on the end of the hall just past the linen closet.

A look at the exiting extra bedroom just after moving into the home:

Since they have two additional bedrooms on the first floor, we’ve decided to convert the second bedroom upstairs into a large walk-in closet, or dressing room, creating a full master suite upstairs. The room has stunning hardwood floors, an existing closet, and for resale purposes it may need to be converted back into a bedroom, so we are anchoring all of the shelving into the walls which can be patched and painted easily enough when the time comes.

Personally, I think that the dressing room would be an excellent sales feature on its own without being converted back, but resale won’t be for a while.

The first thing we did upon my first visit to the home was take a look at all of the shoes, clothing and handbags that they were hoping to house in the dressing room. I then needed to see the space. I took my measurements and hit the drawing boards.

I came up with two options for them in the space calculating the number of items each could potentially hold and presented each to them. To help them better envision how each would feel in the space, I measured out some of the key pieces and marked them with blue painters tape on the floor, and once we could all really see how the space would lay out, a plan was very easily selected.

From the plan, we began furnishing the space. The largest piece of the dressing room is obviously the cabinetry, which had a lot of research involved. Although similar in many ways, the cabinetry for closets are very different from kitchens and baths.

That said, we began looking into a happy medium between big-box stores and Ikea options which turned out not to be customizable enough to fully customizable cabinetry lines. We found our happy medium with a local shelving systems company, Bella Systems, who thus far has been a breeze to deal with.

It took some back and forth between all the parties involved to find the exact right use of space and components involved before we settled on the final layout (the above left floor plan) and placed our order. While we wait for the cabinetry to come in, we are working on selecting seating for the space, a new makeup vanity and coordinating stool, new jewelry storage, art/details for the walls and other accessories.

I promise to update with some selections soon and I can’t wait for this space to come together! It is going to be a dream for the homeowners and the envy of all of their friends and family (myself included)! All digitally created images provided by Bella Systems, some modifications have been made from these plans to fit the current plan moving forward… I can’t wait to share this space with everyone!

Illuminating Decisions

One of the biggest issues in our bedroom is the lighting. Since my work space is here as well, I need good lighting all the time. A few weeks back I discussed adding a specific task light for the work space, but the overhead lighting needs to be addressed as well.

Yesterday I finally purchased the lamp for the work space, so I thought today I would try to make a decision on the overhead fixture. I also wanted to share with you guys, one of my favorite online retailers for house wares. I’m always surprised when people haven’t heard of One Kings Lane (OKL) because it is often a go-to for me when I’m looking for something unique or beautiful. They have great options available all the time and always at a reduced price. When I started trying to decide what I wanted for our overhead fixture, I was looking all over the place with nothing striking me as even an option for the space. Then I thought I’d check OKL to see if they did lighting too, and of course they do, I should’ve just started there.

For the bedroom, I love the idea of adding a chandelier. Chandeliers can be sexy and/or romantic, they can be sculptural and interesting. They illuminate the space while offering a focal point, so first, I checked them out as an option.

Lighting Options-Chandeliers

The four choices I found I really do love! Option 1 feels more appropriate for a dining space as it is a long and narrow piece, but I love the art deco feeling of it, the lines feel very flapper-esque to me. (Burlesque Oval Chandelier, also available in silver.) Option 2 is definitely more functional and I love the industrial quality of the black and exposed bulbs, this light is super functional and makes a good option for a bedroom, entryway or dining space. (Socket-To-Me.) Option 3 is very sculptural and has great curves, it is perfect for that retro chic space, but again, this fixture feels a bit more appropriate for the dining room. (Vintage French Chandelier.) Lastly, I love option 4! The soft drape of the chains paired with the sheer volume of them creates a stunning focal point, this piece would be perfect for our bedroom, if our bedroom was just a bit larger; it would also be well suited for an entry hall. (Chantilly Chandelier available in 6-light, 10-light or 12-light options.)

So, now that I’ve accepted the fact that our small space really wouldn’t be best suited for a chandelier option, Let’s look at the flush-mount and semi-flush-mount options.

Lighting Options-Flush Mount

Option 1 is a nice simple choice, the metal trim is simple and clean without feeling too style-specific, and it is available in a few different metal finishes to go with your space. (Harbour Flush Mount, alternate finishes.) Option 2 is probably the most spectacular semi-flush mount I’ve ever seen. It’s intricate glass shade is a textural work of art that I can only imagine does beautiful things to the light it filters. (Bella Semi-Flush Mount.) Option 3 offers a soft and simple sculptural shade, with lovely brass details. The organic shape of the shade is sure to please, and would be well suited for a bedroom space. (Soho Semi-Flush Mount.) Option 4 is another more industrial or farm-chic option with it’s cage-like shade. The details are simple and clean and would look fresh in any space and could work for several styles from rustic to city loft. (Downtown Flush-Mount.)

So there you have it! So many options for our new light fixture, I can’t wait to install our selection and have more light in our bedroom! Is there one that you think would be perfect for us? Or even better, one that is calling your name to come and live with you?? One Kings Lane has so many other options as well for lighting, so if you need something new for your space and you don’t like the ones I’ve narrowed it down to for my space, check out their chandelier lighting section or their ceiling-mount section and let me know what you think!

This is not a sponsored post, it is based solely on my own experience with and love of One Kings Lane. I’ve had great success ordering through OKL in the past, the only tip I have for you is to check the details on the order to make sure you love anything that is a final sale piece before you pull the trigger, especially noting the size specifications. Everything we’ve purchased through them has worked out great, so if you are new to them, I hope you love what you see!!

A Master Bath That Masters Aging in Place

You might be asking yourself right now, “what is aging in place?” It is a big topic right now that is especially hitting home with many baby boomers, but is also relevant with anyone doing a renovation and considering how long the plan to be in any given place.

Master Bath AIP 1

As we get older, our bodies unfortunately begin to deteriorate. We find that it may not be as easy to get around and do the day to daily tasks we are accustomed to doing on our own. That is why this is such an important topic, because it isn’t something that only affects a select few individuals, it is something that will affect us all.

The things you need can range from a bench in your shower because it’s easier to shave your legs, you’ve had a recent surgery and need to be careful about where the water is going, and how much standing you are doing, or that you are older and may need help bathing at some point — to adding grab bars.

Although many of us don’t like to think about these things — because they are scary and we just aren’t there yet in our lives —  they are a reality. People are living longer, and with that longer life come challenges. Instead of letting these things creep up and surprise us, why not plan for them in your renovation process?

In a bathroom renovation, especially a first-floor master bath as is the case in this project, it’s a nice idea to offer some elements that will help give the space longevity and work with us as we age. These details can still be appealing and never have to look clinical with all of the pieces available in the world today. If you think you are going to be spending 20 years in your home, it is definitely worth weighing the options.

Some elements to consider are converting from a tub/shower combo to a shower only so you aren’t stepping over a large barrier while you are climbing in and out. If you are getting rid of that tub to make room for a larger shower, why not add a bench, you may be surprised at how much you like to have it, even before you need to use it!

Master Bath AIP 3

Grab bars are another thing that people don’t like to think about. When you see grab bars, they just feel old and clinical, but I’m telling you there are so many more attractive options out there these days that finding something that both looks nice, and serves a great purpose as well, is relatively easy. Consider getting a small (12″) grab bar and positioning it vertically inside the shower door to hold onto as you climb in and out (this works well if you keep the tub too); and a medium grab bar (18″+/-) placed horizontally along the back wall to stabilize yourself as you are showering, or to hold onto as you maneuver yourself to the bench.

Consider adding a handheld-shower to your shower. If you have a bench, consider placing the handheld-shower near the bench, you can use it while you are young to shave your legs, and when you get older it will be positioned right were you need it. Hand showers also come in handy for cleaning the shower so that you don’t have to bucket the walls. (I could actually do a whole blog post on the conveniences of adding a handheld shower.) This particular unit is made by Hansgrohe called the “Select,” and it offers a button to help change the settings without having to rotate the whole face of the unit, making it much more user friendly for all ages.

Finally, when you are selecting the controls in your shower, remember to touch and feel different styles. See what is easy to hold and turn now, and consider if something is more difficult now, how it may be come even more challenging as you age. Everyone is a little bit different in what they prefer, but typically speaking, lever handles are easier to adjust quickly without having to really grip, where as a knob can become slippery and a cross handle can become challenging to really grab hold of.

Master Bath AIP 8Master Bath AIP 2Master Bath AIP 7Master Bath AIP 10

Some things to consider outside the shower are the vanity area and the toilet. Most toilets these days are “comfort height,” but it’s a good thing to double check when you are ordering, it will make a big difference as you are using the facilities.

For your vanity, consider going with the newer kitchen height cabinets (which finish at 36″ with the top). This height makes it easier on our backs as we lean over the sink to brush our teeth, wash our faces, for men shaving, etc., of course if you are short or tall, these can typically be customized at a small increase that will probably be worth it in the long run. For the faucets, think about the way you turn on the faucet and what type of handle is easy for you to grip and use on a regular basis.

Lastly, consider adding a make-up counter to give yourself a place to sit down as you fix your hair and make-up. This space can feel very glamorous to the younger crowd, but can become very practical as you age.

Master Bath AIP 5Master Bath AIP 4Master Bath AIP 6

Don’t forget about good lighting, which will make all the difference in the world as you use the space daily at any age!

The pictures in this post are for a couple that were renovating their bathroom. They are not old, but they are an older couple and we spent time discussing these things, because as she puts it, she plans to die in this house. We planned a space that takes many of these ideas and makes them a reality. The only thing you don’t see here are grab bars, which we have planned for, purchased and even stabilized the wall in preparation for them, but they don’t need them yet so she wants to wait to install them until the time comes.

Their bathroom came together beautifully. The client had been using the bathroom for about 6 months when I came to take these photos and they couldn’t stop raving about how much they really loved it!

Have you considered how you will age in your home and what things you could do to make your day to day life a bit easier?