Tag Archives: west elm

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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compulsive design: decorative desks

That mega house-redesign project I’m working on (the series starts next week!!) has really brought out the compulsive shopper in me. Give me a retail task, and I’m like a frantic, obsessive beagle tracking a scent….no way am I giving up until I find that thing! So, I shop and shop (and shop), looking for every.possible.option, until I’m so sick of whatever I’m looking for that I can’t stand the thought of seeing one more, ever.

Then, inevitably, just as I’m ready to move so that I don’t have to find a console table at all, the right option materializes.

So, I was thinking….I might as well put some of that obsessive hunting to good use and share it. What do you say? Are you up for a little more chatter about design?

With that, a few of my favorite desks from the latest compulsive hunting project:

Left to right, from top: Josephine desk in light blue, World Market, $140 / Parsons desk in diamond-weave grasscloth, West Elm, $499 / Beckett desk, Serena & Lily, $899 / Besta-Burs desk in white (also in black and red), Ikea $269 / Ava desk in nickel (also with wood base), Pottery Barn, $499 / Go-cart desk in chartreuse (also in orange and carbon), CB2, $149

I was looking for something feminine, but not girly. Something I could put in an office that my hubs wouldn’t be embarrassed to use occasionally. And, most important of all, something with a very light footprint that would sort of disappear into the room. My office/guest room/library has become a furniture graveyard – currently, it boasts four bookcases, a queen bed, a giant upholstered chair, filing cabinets and a cedar chest. Adding a desk to the mix almost seems cruel, but I’ve got work to do!

What did I end up with? It’s all in the reveal, friends. I know, such a tease. Mark your calendars – my home redesign series starts next week!

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friday finds / happy fourth!

Happy Friday, friends! This is an especially lovely Friday for me…it’s been a busy, busy month here, and I need some R&R. So, I’ve decided to give myself a little “staycation” next week. That’s the problem with a holiday falling on a Wednesday: it all but requires this kind of drastic action. So, I’ll be MIA here in blogtown, but I have no doubt I’ll be unable to completely detach, so if you get lonely, hang with me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or even Instagram. I’m everywhere, people…just like Starbucks.

With that, a few of my favorite finds this week!

I love a good West Elm party, and they’re having a great one tomorrow. The Portland store is having a “Dog Days of Summer” bash – bring your dog, donate some food or treats to the Pixie Project (an amazing doggie nonprofit), and you’ll get a free pro pic of your pup. Meet me there! Oh, and if you’re not in Portland, don’t fear – other stores are having their own awesome fetes as well.

Claudia Pearson doggie plates, $16 (yep, totally need these)

You know by now that I’m not exactly the eco-friendly type. But I got the sweetest email from the owner of a very stylish green boutique called Future:Standard, to let me know that her entire site is 20% off this weekend with code sb1120. She has some pretty fantastic pieces, eco or no…a few of my faves:

Scalloped denim shorts, Covet, $50 / Kingston dress, Koch, $142 / Dean Tee, Toggery, $44

I have a longstanding love of Russian nesting dolls, or matryoshka (if you can spell it) Something about the bright colors, insane amounts of detail, and all that tinyness manages to appeal to my creative side and my Type A personality. So when I spotted these adorable stacking matryoshka necklaces, I let loose a tiny little squeal. Am I too old for them? Maybe. Am I still dying for one? Absolutely. I’d put the whole family on one 22″ silver chain…or, even better, a charm bracelet!

I got my copy of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale catalog this week…and friends, it is good. My favorite pick so far? Those Rag & Bone Newbury boots you’ve seen on every. single. celebrity. They have a black suede edition for $299, which is an amazing price (they retail for $495, and almost never go on sale). Keep your eyes out for those bad boys…presale starts 7/11, but you know I’ll give you my annual picks list before then 🙂

And speaking of new social media, I’m going to give you a little Instagram goodness today instead of a Pinterest pick. I recently got the most gorgeous rugs from Rugs USA as part of my insane home overhaul. I’m head over heels for them…and so are my pups, who think my new Moroccan souk rug is one giant dog bed. Happy dogs, happy life. Or something.

I think they should hire her to do all their modeling, don’t you?

That’s it for me! Have a fabulous weekend and a happy Fourth, everyone…I’ll see you back here in a week!

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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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plus one: west elm summer preview

Some days, my job is so fun, I can’t quite believe how lucky I am. Like, for example, when West Elm invites me over to the store for a sneak peek of all the goods they have in store for summer. And gives me mini cupcakes. Plying me with sugar nearly always works, but these goods needed no plying at all. West Elm is knocking it out of the park this season, friends. Care to be my plus-one for the preview?

{Photos by yours truly…can you believe it?}

Yes, I’ll take a few of those woven baskets, that papier mâché hippo head, and any or all of those bed linens, thank you.

Of all the goods to love at West Elm, I think my favorite thing is that they are masters when it comes to display creativity. Sure, I won’t be stringing baskets from the ceiling, but it gives me a great indication of just how well they’ll work as a decorative item. And note how they’ve taken the scary out of pattern-mixing for your bedroom by showing off all of those contrasting bed linens together. I love the pairings they came up with, and it proves the point I’m always making: if you love a combo, it will work, no matter how bold or unique. It’s true in fashion and it’s true at home.

Since I’m in the process of moving to a new place, you’ll most likely be hearing a lot more about home design from me over the next few weeks…I hope you don’t mind. I have remodeling on the brain, and well…it all shows up on the blog. For now, I’m ogling all sorts of potential additions to my new pad from West Elm. Want to see a few of my current faves?

Don’t all of those calm creams and greys just clear your head? I can’t tell if it’s the fact that I’m moving from a warm, quirky Victorian home to a clean, modern condo (with a killer view), but it seems that bold color phase I was in a few years ago has abated. Now, it’s all calm, classic neutrals, as far as the eye can see. I’m envisioning a clean, less cluttered feel than the cozy, eclectic thing I have going on in my current space. Of course, translating that look without scrapping every piece of furniture I’ve accumulated thus far is easier said than done. But I’ll keep you posted on the process!

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trend to try: white ceramics

Editor’s Note: A big welcome back to the always lovely Kim Brandt! I’m so in love with her Trend to Try today that I’m already scouring my house for white objets to group on a shelf. Something tells me you’re about to do the same…


I am a huge believer in buying furniture and home decor items to specifically fit the space in which you live. Since I am still just a renter, and alas, have not lived anywhere longer then 18 months in my adult life, I have yet to invest in any long-term pieces. When I do, I can almost guarantee you that my first purchase will be a classic Chesterfield sofa.

In the meantime, I have to satisfy myself with accessories – especially pieces that build on current trends.  Right now in the world of interiors, bright, glossy, white ceramics are really catching my eye.

The Decorista / Graham & Green (via Pinterest) / Making It Lovely

Jonathan Adler is the originator (at least for my generation) of all things ceramic, and he certainly knows how to do white right.

Jonathan Adler Fox ($138) and Horns ($120)

Of course, JA’s fabulous, but the price point isn’t for everyone. West Elm and Z Gallerie both have great options at moderate price points. A few of my West Elm favorites:

West Elm Stephen Antonson Candlesticks ($19+) and Vases ($22+) / Porcelain Hurricanes ($19+)

The options from Z Gallerie are a little more whimsical, and would add a great point of interest to any room. I’ve had my eye on this guy for quite a while…it’s certainly more my version of taxidermy.

Lacquer Moose Head ($249) / Ceramic Books (set of 8, $159)

Being a Portland local, I’m an ever-adoring fan of a hometown favorite, Pigeon Toe Ceramics. Each piece is handcrafted, and oh-so-beautiful!

Pigeon Toe Ceramics mini creamer ($20) / Mason Jar lantern (shown as planter, $36)

Of course, if you’re like me and don’t like spending a lot on interior trends, I have a great tip to get this look for less: spray paint!  I really like these trophies displayed in a window, but you could try this trend with any thrifted sculpture.  I’m picturing the knickknack aisle at my local Goodwill and envisioning a group of those awful ceramic figurines spray painted in high gloss white. Serenity!!

Image via Design*Sponge

What do you think? Are you ready to embrace a little winter white?

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get gifting: cheap thrills

(Also known as the “under $30” guide). Because most of us have the highest of ambitions but the lowest of budgets, my list of cheap thrills for the holidays is here to help you keep that holiday credit card balance in check. Turns out, it actually is possible to give a thrill-inducing gift and stay under budget – who knew?

  1. Totally invigorating in the morning, and not the least bit girly. Anthony Logistics eucalyptus + mint shower gel for men, $18
  2. Who can’t use another tote? This one has the added bonus of a cross-body strap and a stylish, not-too-sweet graphic. And it’s made by a dear friend of mine! Chrysanthemum tote, Westmama Designs, $29
  3. West Elm has a bevy of beautiful throws this season, but this one’s cuddly soft and comes in a rainbow of hues. Add your favorite paperback of the year, and give her an excuse to snuggle up. “Favorite” throw, West Elm, $29 (on sale for $19!)
  4. I never seem to have enough cosmetic bags to throw into handbags, carry-ons and totes. This one reminds me of Chanel, but won’t make me cry when my lip gloss leaks. LeSportSac “Kevyn” cosmetic case, $25
  5. If there’s a teen or tween girl on your list, I promise you, this is the gift to get her. Absolutely every color under the sun…so you can prove to her there’s more to makeup than piles of black eyeliner. Expert Mega Palette, Avon, $30
  6. Bargain gifts for men are hard to come by, but this watch is infinitely more handsome than its pricetag allows for – I especially love the webbed strap, which gives it an urban edge. Military style canvas strap watch, Avon, $15
  7. I’m basically obsessed with this stuff – it’s become my savior during these dry, windy winter days. Trust me, she’ll be addicted too. Blood orange body balm, McEvoy Ranch, $22
  8. Chocolates are always a great bargain go-to, and these have a fun twist. Each flavor is modeled after a bigger, badder (much more caloric) dessert. Red velvet cake truffle, anyone? Ultimate Dessert Truffles, Godiva, $25
  9. A classic holiday scent that’s festive, but not cloying. And I always love the packaging from Linnea’s Lights! Pumpkin soy candle, Linnea’s Lights, $21
  10. Okay, this one’s a smidge over budget. But you get six single-glass bottles of wine for that price, custom grouped by region or selected by master chefs. For a budding oenophile, it doesn’t get any better. Mario Batali Selection 6-bottle wine sampler, Tasting Room, $33 (looks like you save $10 by signing up for their mailing list!)
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mail call: west elm

The latest West Elm catalog just hit my mailbox, and I am head over heels for so many of their new pieces, especially the Global Bazaar collection. All are made from handmade textiles or local craftspeople, which means each piece is limited-edition and one-of-a-kind. That’s a lot of hyphens, but it’s also a lot of fabulousness.

{Essex dhurrie ottoman, $599}

{Everett Kantha chair, $899}

{Kantha quilted throw, $99}

{Indonesian ikat woven baskets, $39-59}

I love how distinctive and special each of these pieces feel – the very opposite of the mass-market vibe you typically get from West Elm and its brethren. They have so much character and warmth, they’d easily translate to nearly any decor, and would be easy to reinterpret in any number of spaces. In other words, great investment pieces you’ll treasure for years.

Much as I love all of them, I have to admit that I’m sort of bummed about the Kantha throws. I splurged on one of these years ago – they’re all handmade in India – and have always treasured it, so I sort of hate that now you can pop into any West Elm and snag one (for much less than I paid, incidentally). But hey, my loss is your gain. Or something like that.

Check out the rest of the new goodies at West Elm…there are bound to be a few things you can’t live without.

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