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make over my house: the big reveal!

{Editor’s Note: Welcome to installment #4 in my home design recap! I’ve teamed up with some truly amazing sponsors, including Manor Fine Wares, Rugs USA and woonwinkel home, to turn this big empty space into something really special. In case you’re behind, check out the rest of the series right here.}

Friends, it’s time!! Are you ready to see the finished product?

Chairs (and here) / Lamp / Clock, c.o woonwinkel home / Rug, c.o Rugs USA

Ta-da! This is the view as you walk in the front door – remember those drawings from my lookbook? Pretty spot-on, isn’t it? Except that instead of that delicious (and sorely out of budget) round mirror, I opted for one I found at HomeGoods for $39. And instead of a plant (which died almost immediately upon entering my house), I decided a side chair would have a longer life span in that corner.

Pay particular attention to a few of my favorite things, including my fabulous new green lamp (it’s called the Melon lamp, which makes me love it even more), and that beyond-fab Moroccan souk rug from Rugs USA. It’s like walking around on a giant Ugg slipper. Also, the pups are crazy for it – they think we got them an 8×10 dog bed. Rugs threatened to be a major budget obstacle for this project, but the pricing at Rugs USA was outstanding, the shipping was free, and I absolutely could not be happier with the quality. (Tip: they have coupons all the time, so sign up for their emails and you’ll score a serious steal.)

Reclaimed barn wood coffee table
/ Chevron pillows / Whale pillow / Poufs

This is the view from the fireplace. Yay, gratuitous pillows! Husbands love gratuitous pillows. Mostly, I love the magical way those chevron pillows make the entire room work. The fabric and the color palette pull everything together instantly. They’re definitely what you’d classify as a splurge (or an act of madness), but truly, the room wasn’t nearly as good without them – I couldn’t believe the difference when I tried to take them out. So, I swallowed my yuppie guilt.

Art: Michele Maule, Jen Garrido, Nick Hlobeczy

A close-up of some of the detail on those beautiful cabinets. The gallery wall is all my own art, including two custom puppy portraits by the amazingly talented and patient Michele Maule. That awesome-sauce clock? You’ll be hearing more about it next week when I give you an up-close peek at some of my favorite details in the room. But it’s from woonwinkel home, and I’m obsessed. Talk about not your grandmother’s mantle clock! I love the dose of clean, modern simplicity it brings to the room.

Lamps / Console Table / Yellow bowl, c.o woonwinkel & Pigeon Toe Ceramics /
Zigzag runner (a steal!), dining table & pendant light, call Manor to order / Jute rug
, c.o Rugs USA

I promised myself that I would have an IKEA-free home, but honestly, after searching high and low (the biggest understatement of all time), this sleek white desk was the perfect size to live behind the sofa, and I love the modern edge it brings to the room. Truly, I think this might be my favorite spot in the whole house. Love the poufs, love the navy lamps, love the yellow bowl filled with jelly beans (another awesome piece from woonwinkel)…the whole thing is very, very me.

The dining room was especially tricky, but Shannon worked some serious magic by choosing a long, narrow table (this one’s made of recycled tires!), which worked wonders for opening up the space. That super-soft jute rug from Rugs USA warms up the room and keeps it from going too industrial. It also ties in all of the other rugs in the space. It can be hard to connect multiple smaller rugs in one room, but by changing up the textures and keeping the palette neutral, I think they play off each other perfectly.

The chairs belonged to my last table – yay for not replacing everything! And that light fixture. I kicked and screamed over that. Not enough light, I said! Try candles, Shannon said, ever so calmly. She was right…it’s a stunner.

And just because I can’t resist a photo with my beloved tiger, the Brigadier General, here’s a nicely-styled bench in the living room:

Everything you see was already mine, except that basket underneath, which I was convinced a snake would jump out of at any moment, so I sent it back. Incidentally, the hubs thought I should point out here all of the different ways we’ve displayed art throughout the rooms. I’m not sure it’s so much “displayed” as “haven’t gotten around to hanging,” but I like his enthusiasm.

So? What’s the verdict? Are you as in love as I am? Swooning heartily encouraged, friends. And stay tuned…next week, I’ll show off all the little details that make the space special, give you some of Shannon’s top-secret styling tips, and share a few key things I’ve learned during this project that you’ll definitely want to file away for your next reno.

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make over my house: designer q&a

{Editor’s Note: Welcome to installment #3 in my home design recap! I’ve teamed up with one of my absolute favorite home stores, Manor Fine Wares, and a few other wonderful sponsors you’ll be hearing about, to complete a total redesign of my main living areas. In case you’re behind, check out the before pics and the design plan lookbook over here.}

As I’ve mentioned in prior weeks, when I first moved into my new space, I was stumped. The layout wasn’t making sense to me, none of my furniture was working, and even though I like to think I have a bit of expertise in the world of style, I knew I was completely out of my league.

But asking for help? From a professional? That seemed even more out of my league. Surely, I was nowhere near the budget of a girl that would hire a designer. And surely they’d look at my little job and laugh me right out of the store. When I first mentioned my idea at Manor, I fully expected to be told I was nuts. But instead, they were so excited! They loved the prospect of working on a lower-priced job, and my designer, Shannon, told me more than once she was really enjoying the challenge of hunting down good design pieces on a budget. I’m choosing to believe her.

Since for most of us, the idea of hiring a designer feels like traveling to a foreign country, I wanted to have Shannon give us the low-down on everything there is to know about hiring a designer. Prepare for some serious design expertise!

SMC: When you’re working with a new client, how do you get started? What is the typical process like?

Shannon: The first session really about just getting to know one another. I like to discuss what the client is interested in, what their living style is like, and what brings them joy. I also like to walk around the space with them and discuss how they came to have the pieces they do and what pieces really mean something to them so we can try to use them in the new plan.

I feel that the key to being a good designer and giving the client the end result they are searching for requires being a good listener – you can determine a lot of what someone is really wanting within their home by listening and reading between the lines. From there I will take measurements and discuss timelines. I try to tell clients that they set the pace of the project, so we can move as slowly or quickly as they like.

Read on

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make over my house: the lookbook

{Editor’s Note: As I mentioned last week, I’ve teamed up with one of my absolute favorite home stores, Manor Fine Wares, and a few other wonderful sponsors you’ll be hearing about, to complete a total redesign of my main living areas.}

As I told you all last week, when I moved into my new house, I needed serious help transforming it into the light, airy, clean space I had in mind. Luckily, the amazing people at Manor Fine Wares came to my rescue!

I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I first met with Shannon (my designer extraordinaire) – after all, I’d never had a design consultation. So, I came armed with lots of adjectives about what I wanted (and didn’t want) the space to be, color preferences and loads of photos.

What actually happened? She walked into the room, and immediately said “Yeah, this isn’t working, is it?” and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Sadly the biggest offender in the new space was my beloved bird chair (you can see it in the “before” pics). I positively adore that chair, but it was taking over the room in the new house. Shannon’s immediate reaction made it clear: the birds had to go.

Next, it was time to talk about musts. What furniture has to stay? Well, the sofa…because I’m too cheap to replace it, and I love it. And my secretary desk/china hutch in the dining space. And a few pieces of art that I could never part with. But beyond that, I was flexible. And what is a “must have” in the new space? The husband’s recliner…he’s a miserable mope without it. Also, said recliner must face the television. Marriage/life lesson: some battles just aren’t worth fighting.

Beyond that, we talked more about mood and feel than specifics – I told Shannon that my last place had been cozy and filled with books, knickknacks and bright art, with color and clutter everywhere. This time, I wanted a clean slate. Something soothing to my eyes, very little visual clutter, even less color, and a light, airy feel. Urban beach house, without the cheesy ocean-themed accessories, I told her.

And this is what she gave me (click the arrows to see the full lookbook):

Pretty wonderful, right? (I’m especially in love with that souk rug from Rugs USA) One of the biggest challenges in this space for me was layout. I was really resisting the traditional placement of the dining table (it felt like a huge blockade when you walked in the door), had no idea what to do with the alcoves on either side of the fireplace, and was stumped by which direction the couch should face. Shannon solved every problem. And honestly, just having that voice of authority to tell me this was the solution was pretty priceless.

I’d have never, ever come up with those chests of drawers flanking the fireplace. And it would have taken me ages to realize that my round dining table was never going to work in this space. But Shannon just knew…and saved me months of agonizing over what would have made this room work.

Plus, take note: not all of the pieces in that lookbook are from Manor. My budget precluded the full-on, high-end design orgy I had in mind. My total budget for the project (yep, I’ll just tell you) was $7,000. Not cheap, certainly, but not even a drop in the bucket compared to most design clients. But Shannon didn’t balk. She went to West Elm. She went to Cost Plus. She went to Rugs USA. And she found pieces that blended seamlessly with her picks from Manor.

Next week? A little Q&A session with Ms. Shannon, where we’ll nab all of her best design secrets! Stay tuned.

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make over my house: the before

{Editor’s Note: Friends, I am so, so excited for this series! I’ve teamed up with one of my absolute favorite home stores, Manor Fine Wares, and a few other wonderful sponsors you’ll be hearing about, to complete a total redesign of my main living areas. It was a huge project, and I can’t wait to show you everything over the next few weeks!}

For those of you that follow me elsewhere (ahem, Twitter and Facebook), you’ll know that I moved earlier this summer. Specifically, I moved from a cozy old Victorian to a sleek, modern/traditional condo (with a killer view).

As soon as the movers pulled away and I saw our furniture in the new space, I knew it was all wrong. All of my beloved bright colors were completely overpowering in the new house. What had felt warm, bright and inviting in our old space was now just plain too much. The furniture was too big, the colors were too bold, and it felt like nothing was working.

In my dream scenario, HGTV would have swooped in and saved the day. But in reality, I got something that was even better: a chance to work with a designer at a store I already know and love, to get all that personalized expertise, but none of the “Oh lord, I hate that chair she picked!” or “I hope they leave soon, so I can repaint that green wall.”

From the day I arrived in Portland (almost literally), I’ve harbored a fantasy that I’d hire a local store called Manor Fine Wares to redesign my house. The store is utterly unlike anything else in town – sophisticated and fun, rustic and surprising. Want to see a few of the many, many reasons I heart Manor?

Oh, it’s so good, friends. So good.

When I knew a redesign was in order, I thought I’d start at the top – and luckily, when I approached them with the idea of teaming up to redesign my space, they jumped at the chance. As it turns out, working with a designer is actually nothing at all like HGTV…but it’s no less awesome. Shannon Riordan, my designer extraordinaire at Manor, is pretty much a mad genius with layouts, details and creative solutions – all of the things I’m terrible at.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you the skinny on what it’s really like to hire and work with an interior designer – how the process works, what real-world design budgets look like, and Shannon’s best tricks of the trade. And then, of course, we’ll cap it all off with The Big Reveal, which I just know you’re going to love!

Next week, I’ll show off the mood board and layout that Shannon came up with to get us started. Can’t wait!

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friday finds

Happy Friday, friends! This week’s finds are a little (okay, entirely) home-slanted…perhaps because I’m in the midst of redecorating! I’ll be sharing the whole process with you next month, but for now, here’s a little taste:

My design guru at Manor (hi, Shannon!) is helping me stretch my style boundaries a bit, and it’s working. This lighted ampersand (from a vintage carousel sign) is so not in the design plan, but I still think it’s fantastic. At 2 feet tall, it makes an insane impact in a room, making it a total steal at $205.

I’m suddenly finding myself drawn to bold, modern pieces that still have that crisp, clean vibe I’m after. This bowl from woonwinkel (another amazing local design store) is made of neoprene! It’s so sculptural and fun (and would be the perfect place to stash remote controls).

But then, I can’t resist going back to my heart of hearts, which always lies in France. Serena & Lily just launched a gorgeous new outdoor collection, and my hands-down favorite pieces are these Parisian bistro chairs. Oh, how I long to put a set of these on my new deck!

I’ve had kind of an inexplicable craving for wind chimes ever since we moved…specifically these gorgeous ones from Pigeon Toe Ceramics (right here in Portland!). If you’re looking for a housewarming gift for me, I’ll take the aqua, please.

And then, of course, there’s my weekly Pinterest pick. Isn’t this the most divine home office you’ve ever seen? Sigh…someday.

{Photo by François Halard for Vogue, via this is glamorous}

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone! And if anyone spots a non-hideous recliner out in the world, please pass a link along to me, won’t you? Desperate times over here, friends.

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so much to do… (and happy mother’s day!)

Wow, this weekend is hoppin’, friends! So many fantastic things happening, I have a feeling I’ll be a pile of mush by Sunday night. If you’re in Portland, come join me at any or all of the following:

  • Tim Gunn (!) will be at Nordstrom in Washington Square on Saturday, hosting a summer trends fashion show for Lucky Brand Jeans (owned, apparently, by Liz Claiborne). And, um, HE ASKED TO MEET ME!!!! I may need to take a sedative. In other words, this will be an event worth seeing on many levels.
  • West Elm has a pretty fun Mother’s Day event going: head over on Saturday from 10-3 and meet up with the floral experts from Solabee to design a perfect bouquet for Mom (or just nab some arranging tips from the pros). This one’s not even Portland-only – West Elm is hosting the same event in 7 cities, so check the list to see if you’re a lucky winner!
  • Manor Fine Wares is hosting that fantastic Heather B. Moore trunk show I told you about recently on Saturday from 10 am – 6 pm. Take Mom over and check it out…between the free champagne and the couldn’t-be-more-perfect gift options, it’s a Mother’s Day slam dunk.
  • Believe it or not, I’m participating in a fundraising walk for the Oregon Humane Society. Which means I’ll be wearing tennis shoes. In public. Feel free to come cheer me on…or, you know, be a little less self-absorbed than I am and just participate to raise money for needy furballs.

Whatever you’re doing, I hope it involves your mom somehow. Mine is jetting off to points unknown (aka, Virginia) for the weekend, so I’ll have to celebrate long-distance style by publicly embarrassing her. Love you, Mom!

{My awesome mom, being adorable in her leather trench, chunky knits and some pretty fantastic boots back in the ’70s.
None of which she saved for me.}

However you spend it, have a great weekend, friends…see you next week!

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