Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Handmade Pretties

I've been getting a ton of emails asking about our Christmas stockings from the Better Homes & Gardens shoot. 

They had the recycled sweater stockings made for us by Lara Newsom of Handmade Pretties and & I can't get over them!!!  (We have our ratty old sentimental ones that we love for Christmas morning but these beauties are hanging on the mantle :)

We also tied some of her felt ornaments on wrapped packages:

And they're hanging in our tree too:

The boys absolutely love the sweater balls she made...

They're under our tree right now and it's fun to see the boys go in and start playing with them.  It looks like presents waiting under the tree!!  Here they are:

{photo by Lara}

I know Lara is totally backed up before Christmas but if you can wait, it's so worth it!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Convex Mirrors

{Mount Vernon Federal reproduction Convex Mirror by the Friedman Brothers  $3200}

I've had my eye out for a Federal-style convex mirror for a while...  Alone, they can be very serious pieces, often thought of as formal & symbolic.  Above, the 13 balls surrounding the mirror represents the 13 original colonies, and of course, the Eagle, chosen by our Founding Fathers, symbolizes the United States of America.  Originals and even good reproductions like the mirror above cost in the thousands.   In the 1940s and 1950s, a bunch of reproductions were made out of plastic and other cheaper materials and then painted gold.  I looooove the one below on liveauctioneers.com with a starting bid around $1200. 

In the photo below, Dorothy Draper used a massive ornate convex mirror for the Greenbrier Hotel:

{Dorothy Draper, the Greenbrier Hotel, photo via tilevera.com)

Below, Markham Roberts used a guilded Regency convex mirror above a fireplace in a new home that he worked hard to "age."  This story came out a few years ago and I really loved it because it showed how to add patina and a sense of history & permanence to a brand new home. 

{Markham Roberts in House Beautiful by Eric Piasecki}

...But as formal as Federal style convex mirrors can come across when used traditionally, they can also read modern & fresh when used unconventionally.  Below, Darryl Carter has a painted black convex mirror in his bedroom. 

{Darryl Carter's bedroom in Elle Decor Magazine}

I love Eddie & Jaithan's small white one below.  It's so unexpected and adds a bit of whimsy to the room:

{Eddie Ross in Lonny, photo via Matters of Style blog}

And how pretty and & glam is this mirror layered over mirrors below?

{also Eddie Ross!!}

A bit more versatile are plain convex mirrors as seen in the living room below.  The domed mirror itself is beautiful:

{JB Randall Powers in House Beautiful, photo by Luca Trovato}

Smaller ones can be added almost anywhere:

{image via decoroad}

If you look closely at many of them, you'll see the balls or starts inlaid in the frame reminiscent of the 13 original colonies.  Many of them have exactly 13.

{House Beautiful}

{image via Homeandgarden.com}

The convex mirror below lends a cool vibe to the room.  I love it when the mirror is old & spotted.

{Miles Redd in House Beautiful}

...And... -finally-  I found my very own vintage convex mirror when I was shopping at a thrift store in High Point with my friend Maria of Colour Me Happy.  I think it's one of the 40s or 50s reproductions and I might reguild it.  The mirror has been aged to perfection and it's complete with the 13 balls representing the original Colonies.  It was just the thing missing from above my nightstand:

{my bedroom.. photo by Helen Norman}

I'm always on the lookout for them and ebay has some pretty good deals.  That being said, there's nothing like an original & the beauty & history it posesses, so antique stores & sites selling mirrors in the thousands are also worth looking into if you have the budget.

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Our Thanksgiving Table

This year we're having Thanksgiving dinner.  It's an "off" year for our family so most of them are travelling and the gathering will be small.  My dad's driving out from Chicago but hasn't left yet so we'll see if he makes it to Virginia in time. 

{Our table set up in the lower level in the family room-combination-office}

My parents divorced when I was two years old, so I'm used to split up holidays and celebrating whenever it's possible even if it's not on the true "day of."  Deciding where we'll spend holidays does tend to get me a little tense because of so many years of back-and-forth between my parents and always feeling like everyone was fighting over me.  Now that I'm married and have in-laws it's even harder because there are more people who love us (haha what a rough life! ;) and want to be with us.  We'll definitely be doing a bit of the celebrating of the holidays on other days this year so we can see everyone and still get to spend some time at home. 

hahah okay, enough of my saga and back to the table...   I started with curtains from Ikea for the oatmeal-colored linen tablecloth.  (I didn't have one long enough so I went with curtains...  By using two panels (unsewed and overlapping) I could spread them wider and longer.)  I layered a beautiful vintage orange quilt over the curtains. 

I still have pumpkins left over from Halloween and added them to the table...

It was hard for me to get a picture of the magnolia wreath I hung at the window because the light was streaming in so strongly, but here's an attempt:

{It's a leftover Christmas wreath from last year that's browned just the right amount for Fall}

I used my Grandma Maestranzi's 'wild clover' china because I knew my dad would love seeing it {in case he makes it here in time ;}

{After so many years of daily use at the lake cottage, there were only 2 pieces left of her china...  I loved it so much and had so many fond memories of using it as a little girl that I went to replacements.com and found a whole set for myself.}

And another pumkin... wondering if there will be any room for food on this table???

{I'll remove some of the larger items once we sit down but I love a pretty table for guests to see.}

We might even have a fire in the wood burning stove...

...So have a very happy Thanksgiving!!  We all have so much to be thankful for.  In the least cheesiest way possible, I want to thank you for reading.  This blog has become such a big part of my life & I really appreciate your time & support. 

Oh?  And the food??  ummm... yeah, we'll see what happens with that.  We're attempting our first turkey tomorrow!! 

xoxo, Lauren

ps- I also have my 10-year high school  reunion Saturday night--- so excited to see everyone!!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

I made curtains!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I do a lot myself but that I'm not really that into doing it.  I'm after results and don't savor the process.  I'm not a perfectionist and I get sloppy when I do projects.  Watching Dave stencil our living room wall when I was pregnant was torture.   However, I do like an-hour-or-less-long projects and I got one in this weekend:  cafe curtains for our laundry room.

They were so quick & easy and I luckily had 2 yards of fabric lying around that I'd purchased on a whim a little bit back when Seleta did a post on Lewis & Sheron.  (I'd used the fabric for the recent photo shoot at our house as a throw blanket and figured I could use it later.)  It ended up being perfect for the windows!!  ( I love it when stuff like that happens!)  I wanted a natural vintage-grandma feeling...  a teensy bit kitschy and almost as if they'd always been there.  I attempt potting in there and also keep my gardening tools in there so the fern fabric from Lewis & Sheron was perfect.   

When I finish up the rest of the laundry room I'll post "afters" but here's a quick "before" to give you an idea of the state it's been in...

{We haven't been able to really walk in there...}

{before we moved in}

Wish me luck!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The wardrobe I want

So a month or two ago, a new (to me) catalogue arrived at my house.  Gorsuch.  I fell in love.  Like really fell in love...  I didn't want everything... Just a few things...  all of which had commas in their price tags, so none of them will be coming home to me.   BUT, this little blog is my place to dream and so dream I will...  I wish for:

{I'd wear this at least once a week.. probably more.}

I'm definitely a believer in buying quality over quantity and wearing what I love over & over -which is why I'm often wearing the same things in pics! ;)-     I still have clothes from high school and I've learned the hard way to buy only what I love.  (I still make an impluse Target purchase every now & then and regret it...  I've also made some of my favorite purchases there too but it's easy for me to get sidetracked by their low prices and buy stuff I don't love.)  I consider things I really love and feel like "me" worthwhile purchases, but unfortunately these Gorsuch items are all still out of my price range. 

And below, I want this whole outfit....  Aviators are my friends.  sweaterdress?  scarf? belt?  A-mazing.  Suede coat?  meeeeeeeow:

And I want to wear it in the wilderness and pitch a tent like her.

This blouse has the most beautiful detailing....

{Uhhhh.. love the sleeves!!!!}

{Really????? Come to me!!}

And finally....  I just loooooooooooove this coat and have been thinking about it since I first saw it.  Look at its bell sleeves.  So pretty....

I'll take the faux fur 3-digit version of this please ;)

...So...  none of these are coming home with me, but has anyone seen anything similar? 

Thanks so much to everyone for the sweet comments & emails about the BHG spread!!  It really makes my day and I feel so supported by my blog friends. Thank you :)

xoxo, Lauren
If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Saturday, 20 November 2010


Hi!  Just wanted to send out a quick post to those who've asked about specific sources used in our house..

(Our entryway...  photo by helen Norman}

The Da Vinci book I used for the framed sketches in our entryway is Leonardo's Notebooks and the frames are from americanframe.com and were a little over $20 each for custom sizing.  I think I used the "antique gold" metal frames.  The orange door is painted with Behr's Maple Leaf. 

Have a  great Saturday & thank you to those who responded to my post on plagiarism... I was able to contact the owner of the site with the contact info you provided & they took it down immediately.  {For those who didn't see it, a blog had taken my blog posts & posted them as their own under the name "stylishliving"...  I called & they removed it.}  If you write a blog, try googling it and seeing what comes up in case someone has done this to you too.

And finally, I was surprised (kind of happily!) at the number of you who responded that you have similar children-dog-morning-issues.  Nice to know I'm in good company.  :)

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Today & Yesterday

Yesterday was the quintessential Fall day: brisk, sunny, trees bursting with color, leaves crackling up the sidewalks...  I loved it.  We went on a nice walk and Justin toddled along side of us instead of riding in his stroller. {He thinks he's big stuff}  One of my favorite things about walks is coming home just before it gets dark and enjoying a few {short} moments of peace in my living room.  I love twilight and especially love cozying up to watch the sun set through the trees.  (I don't really get the full sunset.. it dips behind other houses before it really sets but I get enough.)  I turn off all of the lights and the windows just sort of glow with color.  This little tree outside of my dining room window is one of my favorites right now:

I really don't have the hang of how to shoot that spot so it looks pretty but here's another pic to give you an idea:

haha, again, I can't capture it in pics but it's such a brilliant orange and is better than any artwork I could buy.  The tree is in a weird spot in our backyard and when we first moved in I thought about cutting it down but after I saw it last Fall, I totally changed my mind.

That quiet time is really a pick-me-up.  Last night I came in all excited from our walk because I found a bunch of these on the ground:

{Heaven!  Sorry neighbors, I know it's weird I pick branches from your yard!}

Befire I realized what I was doing, I was arranging them around the house and snapping pictures.  {Do you know how annoying that must be to live with?  Dave (my husband) didn't say anything and just opened up a recipe of mine from our cookbook and made dinner. {I try not to be overly-sentimental on here because I realize people are reading and many don't want to hear my personal goo- and I know lovey-doviness is totally annoying- but damn he's awesome.}

...But back to that quiet time...  These days it feels like life is just spinning at a ridiculously fast pace.  And I've stopped kidding myself that it will ever slow down.  It's insane that it's almost Thanksgiving.  I cherish that time.  It's almost like for a few minutes, things just stop.  I don't go in there every day at that time but I guess I should try to when I can.  It's always good for me.  I neeeeeed it.

Mornings at our house run the gamut from fairly relaxed and rushed (when we all get enough sleep) to nighmarish (when we don't.)  Lately we've all been a little low on sleep and Christian (3 ys old) especially because he doesn't sleep at daycare. 

Here's the rough scenario:  Dave leaves for work around 6:45 or so, I hear Christian banging on his door to come out of his room.  (We put his doorknob back on now...  he just forgets he can use it ;) He comes out of his room and into my bed and asks where Daddy is.  I tell him work like every day and he begins to wail at the top of his lungs which wakes up Justin, our 11-month old.   Justin wakes up almost every morning with a dirty (like really dirty #2)  in his diaper, and it's often not just in the diaper.  I'm telling you this not to gross you out (sorry if I did) but to give you an idea of the state of things.  So I leave Christian who's just happy we're all up to clean Justin and his bedroom carpet up.  While I give them a bath, my dog- Ashby- goes into Justin's room where I've left the bagged up pooey diaper and proceeds to tear into it and have her creamy breakfast. 

Does this happen often?  At least once a week or every other week. 
Why don't I learn?  What is wrong with me?

I mean, I know my dog likes diapers.  She's like a panther waiting to devour its prey.  I've got to try harder.

{the beast}

 I mention all of this because of the difference between today & yesterday... (And also because - having just gone through the experince again, I needed to vent.)  The thing is that, as far as circumstances go, there really is no difference at all between today & yesterday.  Most mornings start out something like that and I have the option to end most days something like yesterday's end.  The only thing that I have any control over is my attitude.  I was really impatient & snappy this morning with Christian (and Ashby) and I hate being that way.  It's directly correlated to how much sleep I get, and clearly I need more.  But, since that's not always an option, I'm going to attempt for some "peace" inside even when all's insanity outside.  That's where this blog sometimes helps me.  Even though you may have sat through all of that rambling thinking "what the-?" it was good for me, so thanks.  Writing often helps me figure things out and make changes.  

Also, for anyone who's ever emailed me asking "how do you do it all?" or "how are you so together?"  here's definite proof that I don't and I'm not.  :)  

{#1 trying to squeeze the life out of #2}

When I opened the door today to get the boys to school/ daycare, the first thing Christian said was, "It smells good outside."  I walked outside just after him and it smelled like Winter.  

Here's to attempting to slow things down and remembering that even when all's insane, it's what we've got, so love it.  

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Client Inspiration & visiting a friend

Today I'm guest blogging over at my friend Seleta's (@ Simply Seleta) about bringing fresh greens inside.  (shocking, I know...  you never see me doing that.  It comes from a very basic need to stay away from the grocery store or having to get in my car to do anything extra.)

{Seleta's new gallery wall- love!!}

And I also thought I'd share a family room plan I'm working on for a super-sweet client of mine, Sandy.  (Remember her living room, here?)  Well, now we've moved onto the family room.  When I visited them for the family room design presentation, I was greeted with a hysterical (although I'm sure serious :) note written to me on their chalkboard from Sandy's husband, Dave.  It read, "Lauren, be gentle."  As wives & husbands know, decorating budgets are often tricky.  Many of the husbands I work with really just want their wives to be happy and are willing to agree to the plans as long as they're comfortable with the budget.  Other husbands heavily weigh in on the decision-making process.  It's so interesting to me to see how partners come to make design-related decisions together.

My plans are typically driven by fabrics & a general palatte and I thought I'd share Sandy & Dave's with you:

Sandy, Dave, and their daughter Emma want to be able to relax in and really enjoy their family room, which is in their basement.  Sandy currently can't stand being down there, which is where the TV is.  Emma also wants to use the space to hang pit with friends & do homework.  I came up with a plan full of cheerful aquas and a fun mix of patterns to get the space feeling a bit more energetic & happy and to work for both mom & daughter.  The current out-of-date fireplace surround is being replaced by goooorgeous aqua subway tile and we're deciding between wall-to-wall seagrass or sisal for the floors.  (layered over with a soft wool area rug.)  The goal is to get the family to love being down there & I can't wait to share the results and more details with you!!

Have a great day & thank you so much for all the kind wishes about BHG!! 

And, stop over @ Seleta's to read my post on greens! 

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.