Monday, 31 January 2011

2011 DC Design House

After almost completely convincing myself that I wouldn't make it in the Washington DC Design House, (I tend to do that when it gets down to the wire & I get really nervous) I got a call today from one of the Design House Committee members letting me know I'd been accepted.  I was kind of in shock and just so insanely happy when I listened to her voicemail.
I can't even express how truly honored & grateful I am to be able to participate in the Design House.  Here's a photo from the DC Design House facbooke page of the outside of the 2011 home:

The DC Design House benefites The Childrens National Medical Center which is "the largest non-governmental provider of pediatric care in the District of Columbia and treats all patients regardless of their families' ability to pay. Each year Children's provides more than $50 million in uncompensated care.   As a nonprofit hospital, Children's National relies on the generous support of individuals, corporations, and foundations to meet the health needs of children..."

I'll keep you posted as the date nears, but it's set to run April 9th - May8th.
The address is 3134 Ellicott St, NW

 Do you remember this succulent that had me all excited a while back?

It was growing in the garden room of the design house. 
It completely embodies the feeling I'm after for the space I have (an upstair bedroom/ sitting room) and I just love how fresh and luminous it is.  I'll definitely keep you posted on everything and if you're in the area, hopefully you'll be able to make it to see for yourself!  I'm teaming up with some amazing people including local artist John Matthew Moore

I'm thrilled & honored to be joining a super-talented group of designers for this year's Design House: 

James Rill (Rill Architects), Liz Levin, Patrick Sutton, Erin Paige Pitts, Nadia Subaran (Aidan Design), Whitney Stewart, Gary Lovejoy, Nancy Colbert, Camille Saum, Denise Willard, Barbara Franceski, Samantha Friedman, Jason Hodges, Cindy McClure, David Mitchell and Iantha Carley

A huge congratulations to the other designers selected and cheers to the 2011 House!

xoxo, Lauren

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


{new cubbies in my office studio...  "studio" sounds so much better, doesn't it?}

Just enjoying the last spec of the loooong snow-filled weekend before bed. Last week was such a nutty week that I totally forgot to post that I was a guest blogger/ designer over at Room Remix! PK's going a great series on paint with some of my favorite blog friends so check it out if you have a minute:


Many of you asked about the driftwood hanging above the cubbies.  My dad found it 20 or so years ago while fishing in Georgia.  It's a cypress tree root.  There used to be bass mounted on it but he gave it to me  so they're gone :)  It used to be in the shape of a star but a piece of it fell off over the years.  He's wants me to reattach it but then I wouldn't have room for my cubbies!

Also, you might have noticed a few changes around here. My blog's been getting a few tweaks including a some new buttons on the sidebar. I haven't linked everything up yet but as soon as I do, I'll be sure to give you a little tour.

Is anyone going to the design bloggers' conference in LA? I'm all signed up so let me know if you're in!

And... I find out tomorrow yes or no for the design house. Am so nervous and can't wait for the pit in my stomach to leave. ( it has to go away whether we get it or not, right?? ;). I might be in need of virtual hugs so I'll keep you posted. Finger crossed.

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

Thursday, 27 January 2011

My Office & a Snow Day

We've been snowed in today with no electricity and I'm really glad we kept our wood-burning stove:

The power went out last night & we sleep in a pretty cool house so we didn't really notice it until this morning.  We got a fire going in the wood-burning stove and it toasted up our entire lower level, where the family-room-combination-office is.  We had breakfast (cereal with MILK! ;) at my work table and got all cozy by the fire.  I took the pic above with my cell phone & thought I could beat the power outage and post from my ipad but I couldn't figure out how to get the pic up from the ipad!  ah vell.

We took the kids out in the snow & Justin (above, 1) loooved it.   He was watching a snowball fight between Daddy & Christian:

{Yes, that's a snowball pelted at my 3 year-old's head.  My husband's a bit like Dumb & Dumber in the snow.  He hit me with one and it was seriously like a baseball...  I guess it makes us tough??? }

Anyway, onto the office.  I've been needing more storage and we have the room for it so on a whim we decided to go for these shelves (from Target) last night.  (We've beein toying with the idea of built-ins but want to keep the room open for alternate arrangements)  Dave made it home just before things got really crazy around here snow-traffic-wise. I'm thrilled with the results:

I haven't really organized it yet and I still have some empty cubbies.    Much of my gear is in our laundry room & Dave's work-out room so I'm going to bring out only the most-used items. 

(empty cubby hiding behind Schumacher bag ;)

I put my ink pads & stamps in this old hammered ice bucket and I know I'm just begging for little Justin to come explore.  (He loves to carry things with handles.) 

I've never really shown you what all is in my office so I thought I'd share some peeks.  Inside this little closet (which is next to the new cubby shelves) I keep some of my smaller fabric samples in color-coded clear plastic bins.  I prefer to pull my fabric swatches from their books unless it's a book of solids like linens or velvets:

{The printer & a bunch of other junk also lives in here.}

Larger fabric samples go in the hallway (most of them are Schumacher in case anyone spies anything they have to have in the pic;)  and are grommeted and attached with shower rings to curtain rods we hung: 

looooove my pretties...

...And just to keep it real, here's the view I never show:

I'm working on this spot.  I want to add more shelving up to the top and turn the whole area into the spot for my active client boxes, which store swatches & samples for each invidual client.  Completed job boxes go in a less-accessible area.  And that poor thing hanging on the wall is one big mess.  For now it houses all of the miscellaneous pads & notebooks I've accumulated so that I remember to use them...  but there's definitely a better way to use this space.   I'm getting there ;)

..Okay, and because I like to end positively, here's one last look at my new cubbies:

{Do you spy our candle collection??  Leftover from the power outage}

This little addition gave us some much-needed breathing room and I just love that feeling. 
I think I'll leave a couple cubbies empty for quick "mess stashes.." 
And I'm going to go now because I'm doing more organizing.  ahhhhh so happy.


xoxo, Lauren

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

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Umm yeah...

...That's cereal with water.

When we opened the fridge for breakfast this morning, I realized we were out of milk. 
It happens. 
But it happened after we'd poured the puffins in the bowl. 
And his heart was set on that bowl of puffins. 
I told him it wouldn't be good, but he had to try the water in the cereal. 

You only try this once. 
I remember when I did.

It's really not the end of the world, but it's really not good.

... But thanks to Gramma for showing up an hour or so later & fixing things:

love you mom.

xoxo, Lauren

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

Monday, 24 January 2011

Textiles Shmextiles

My textile line is finally coming together and it's been a crazy past couple of weeks.  I've been meeting with various artists to go over the designs for screenprinting.  They're insanely talented and I feel so lucky to be able to work with them.  We're starting with 10 or so designs and will hopefully expand the line from there.  The designs are all over the map and the connecting thread is that they're all somehow personal to me.  (as fabrics tend to be.)

It's been an interesting process.  In my head, I know exactly what I want but I have to communicate that to the artists through my seriously rough sketches and various photos.  I can't imagine how awesome it would feel to be able to draw what's in your brain on paper.  I'm jealous. :)  

Since fabric's on the brain, I've been drawn to it even more than usual.  I just found & bought this beautiful robe on etsy from Pretty Plumb Sugar whose things I loooooove:

I also picked up this antique thistle print (hint! hint! ;) from Bananastrudel:

...Like I've mentioned before, I have a little obsession with weeds & wildflowers so they will definitely be making appearances in the line. 

The one design I actually drew myself is this overscale wild chicory blockprint-esque print:

It will be available in several colorways, one of them being a "true" colorway with the flowers in periwinkle blue. 

I'll keep you posted on our progress but as of right now the line is set to come out this Spring around the same time as my furniture line.  Then of course I'll have to photograph the textiles in use so that'll take a little longer.  I'm definitely going to be lining my closet in one of them (They'll be sold as fabric or wallcoverings) and I can't wait to not mind when our closet door is open.

Nothing is set in stone right now so I'd love any thoughts and/or ideas you have to share.  Anything you're dying to see? 

xoxo, Lauren

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

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Column Love

I've always loved this photo of my mom with my paternal grandparents, Grandma Maestranzi and Nanoo.  (I know I'm not spelling "Nanoo" the correct way, but it's how I've spelled it my entire life & I'm not changing it now ;)  I'm not sure where they are but I can't get over the columns & all the intricate stone & metalwork.  I think my mom looks so beautiful and her pale yellow dress always reminded me a bit of the lady in Annie.  (the movie)

There's something so awe-inspiring about big white columns.  Do you remember learning the 3 types of columns in art class?  They used to drill it into our heads:

{image via}

How beautiful???  I've never visited Greece but am dying to...

{Temple of Zeus photo by DeClan McCullagh Photography}

This is my dream:

{by Bobby McAlpine...  if you haven't read his book, The Home Within Us, get to the bookstore now.  It's probably the one of the best I've ever read.  It was so good & so true, I got teary; no joke.  I have been wanting to write a post since I read it last Spring but I really need to do it justice and it'll require a lot of thinking.  It will change your outlook and/or totally verbalize all those stray thoughts you had running around in your head that you couldn't make sense of.  It's done perfectly.}

I love drawings of columns & architectural details and could fill my walls & home with a collection of them.   Check out this ancient book:

I'm considering this drawing originally by Sir William Chambers for a client:
One of my favorite paintings is by artist & friend John Matthew Moore

{I love the glimpse of ruins on the mountain in the background.  }

And...  getting funny, is this drawing by Marc Johns:

{Drawing by Marc Johns}

Speaking of columns I don't own, below is a photo of my dad's house in Barrington Hills, Illinois when I was growing up.  He designed it & learned a ton in the process.  I spent summers, every other holiday and random vacations there.  (My parents divorced when I was 2 years old and my mom & I moved to Virginia when I was 4 to be near my grandparents and my dad stayed in Illinois.)  My dad remarried a woman who had two kids near my age (whom I absolutely adored) when I was 7 and built the house for us all.  Without getting all into the crazy very sad details, my dad & my stepmom divorced seven years later and my dad eventually sold the property when I was in college.   But I've always loved this house.  Seeing it built from the ground up, watching my stepmom decorate it and doing my bedroom (eek- spongepainting!! :)  all made me love the design process. My dad built us the best 3-story treehouse in the world and I still dream about it.  I could go on & on so I'll save it for another day.  (I have video tours I made when I was a kid so I'm going to try to upload them if I can.)  But anyway, I remember playing on the front porch, marching around and around the big white columns singing songs with my stepsister.
{This house is like my Tara hahah...  I really do miss it.}

Anyway, I'm off to start the day but have a great weekend!  Stay warm!!!

xoxo, Lauren

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

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Snuggle up

It's almost Friday!!!  Get excited.

xoxo, Lauren

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

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Trust Me

I'm one of those people who goes through food cravings and I'll eat the same thing for days or weeks in a row because I'm so obsessed with it.  (Even things like salami or soup for breakfast. )  I've been making this chickpea salad lately and I love it so much I wanted to share.  It's so easy.

Just mix these ingredients together:
- Canned chickpeas
-Diced tomatoes
-diced onions
-chopped fresh pasley
-olive oil
-lemon juice
-fresh garlic (if you know your family & friends love you know matter what)
-salt & pepper & garlic salt to taste
-Finally , weird as it sounds, add capers & parmesan cheese. I swear it's good.

...It's so easy & even better if you can make it a few hours before you eat it so it has time to marinate.  looove it on day 2.   We've been having it with warm pitas & feta...  mm mm goodness

ps- I promise I'll post pics of my laundry room as soon as I can get it clean enough to photograph!!  (I found the fabric for the curtains at Lewis & Sharon)

xoxo, Lauren

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

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Get excited

When designing a room- whether it's for myself or for someone else- I've realized that I need to be excited about it to do it well.  That's just how it is.  I might not be excited about all projects at the get-go (ie my laundry room) but once I find something to do to the room or put in the room that I feel a strong emotion about, I get really excited and into it...  And then it all just sort of seems to flow together into a full idea.

{my laundry room... I didn't like it until I gto a handle on the vibe I wanted.}

If I don't find that "spark," that catlyst that excites me (whether it's because I think it's beautiful, highly personal, new to me, or fun or odd or whatever) then working on the room can feel like homework & drudgery. 

In this industry, when what you're doing is helping people create a home they will love, it's easy to get into a groove.  You form opinions about what you like and don't like in a room and even though your homes for different clients should all be different and personal to your clients' tastes, you begin to carry these views with you.  You know what works and doesn't work/  what you agree with and what you disagree with.  For example, how you generally like your rugs sized, proportions concerning items like chandeliers, lamps, furnishings, etc.  You kind of form "rules" in your head for yourself, realizing it's okay to break them when need be.  For me though, if I follow all of my "rules," it can get dull.  It can feel like clockwork or connecting the dots.  Things have to feel fresh to me or it feels as if we're following directions instead of creating.  The juices that flow are totally different in those two tasks.

I used to wonder why artists would go through "periods."   Picasso comes to mind here:


{The Blue Period}

{The Rose Period}


It seemed to me that he'd achieved perfection so early on;  Why go through these periods? 

...I think it's because if he'd continued on where he'd started (with realism/ perfection) it would have felt like following a formula.  He'd mastered it and needed to move on to master something else. 

I think many of us in creative fields do this.  I think we have to or we get bored.  I go through periods of loving bright, white and neutral rooms with little clutter and then I get into moods of loving cozy, warm, richly colorful rooms with lots of things in them.  Of course every project is most influenced by the client, but it's also influenced by what I'm working out in my head at the time.  (Many times a client's personal style drives me to research & I learn to appreciate yet a new perspective.) 

{My client Malinda's dining room was extremely traditional & we needed something fresh & exciting in there to get it to where Malinda wanted it and to keep it from feeling typical.  The framed ikat fabric panels did this for us.}

Personally, I need to be constantly broadening my perspective & my appreciation for alternative viewpoints or things start to feel static and elementary.   I think it's why I've been branching out into furniture & fabric design.  I need to keep things fresh for myself.

But back to finding that "spark" in each room and getting excited...  Today I believe there's what might be called a general "current" style in mainstream America.  What I've noticed is that while much of the general population does not subscribe to interior design magazines - like Elle Decor or House Beautiful- or blogs, they do receive catalogs from stores like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Ballard Designs, Arhaus, Z Galleries, Ikea, West Elm, etc.  I would say that what these stores are selling ends up strongly influencing what people generally view as "in style" and "current."  I know many of the design-obsessed (like me) may be totally "over" something once it's hit the mainstream stores, but we have to realize that it feels "of-the-moment" to the majority of the people out there.   {My dad thinks anything HGTV does is gospel and contantly argues with me when I mention something I want to do to his house if it's not HGTV-approved.}  So while people want something highly personal and created just for them, they are understandably, highly influenced by these popular big box stores catalogues & TV shows.  Many of them fear doing things they haven't seem done before or recently in the "big box" stores or on TV.  (I don't think they think this consciously, but I've noticed it.)

{Ballard Designs}

So, although most people have their own personal styles, they are being influenced by what's for sale in the current marketplace and how it's being displayed, used, etc.  I appreciate so much of what's being done in catalogues like Pottery Barn or Ballard Designs, etc.  I see that they're grabbing ahold of interesting items and displaying them & selling them creatively...  There are talented people behind these companies.  But, I also see it as my job -when I'm hired by someone- to come up with different solutions.  To try something new.  To not just do what's being done.  If my clients wanted exactly what they see in the catalogues, they could simply purchase an entire room and be done.  (Honestly, If someone really loved a catalogue room this much, I'd say go for it.  You just got some of the most talented people in the industry to design a room for you free of charge.)   

{Ballard Designs}

When I'm working on a room, I need to feel that I'm pushing the design a bit or I'm not 100% happy with the results in the end because it never really excited me.  I often mention to clients that I want to push them a little bit outside of their comfort zones because that's where they'll truly be satisfied.  My happiest clients in the end are the ones who were presented with designs that scared them just a teensy bit when presented and went for it.  They often have to sit on the plans for a couple of days before comitting to them.  What may start out as "really???  seriously??" ends up being their favorite part of the room.  I live for this.

{My clients, Aimee & Dave's orange overscaled floral sofa}

EVEN when it's my own home...  In our house, I was really afraid to push the button on our bright green sofa.  When it arrived in the house -prior to anything else- floors, art, chairs, pillows, shades,  etc.) I was "oh my gosh- Oh my gosh- Oh my gosh" nervous.  I was scared.  It suck out like a sore thumb in a sea of white: 

{At this moment I remember thinking eeeeeeeek I need to get to work!  The sofa scared me but excited me.}

{Now it's one of my favorites parts of the room}

When we decided to do a 5x7 Durer print blown up on the entire wall of our dining room...  I sweated the entire time we installed it.  

Then I was psyched.

...When we hung the DaVinci frames "randomly" I debated about hanging them in a grid:

The dark navy nursery & canopy?  Probably one of the rooms people have had the strongest opinions about (lots of love lots of hate) but I loved it even more. 

These are the things that now make me love my home.  They were the "risks," the "sparks of interest" the truly personal statements for me in the rooms.  It was what got me excited about these spaces & what got the juices flowing. 

I have spaces in my home that I don't feel this way about.  Rooms I just sort of tossed together things that we had.  They work okay but I have plans for them:

{In my basement I threw together a bunch of old seascapes I'd collected and mixed it with aquas and warm tones.  I love being in the room and it feels good in there but I don't feel that it's really very appropriate to our home.  I don't live on the coast and it's giving off a kind of inauthentic vibe...  even if only to me.}

I frequently have clients who ask me to recreate my entryway gallery in their home or who want to do a large blown up print or a bright-colored sofa.  It's because they've seen how it can work and they trust what they can see.   Of course, I can't just go around doing the same designs in everyone else's house right?  For my sake and for my clients' sakes, I need to be working on new ideas, keeping their homes fresh & interesting.  Finding those "sparks" in even the most traditional of homes is of utmost importance. 

To truly do a home justice, you need to feel for it.  Be passionate about it.  Have a strong point of view and go for it. 

I need to be excited about something in order to really do it well and the sparks keep me excited.  There are some projects that I'm so excited about the moment I walk through into the room and there are others that take more time.  (Ie my laundry room... over a year.)  I will often sit on projects like these for clients for a couple of weeks, researching, looking through books, the internet, blogs, fabrics, rugs, objects, etc. before finding that piece of excitement & tension.  Sometimes it happens when I'm drifting in & out of sleep and sometimes I'm full awake & consciously searching for it.  But when it happens, I know it and I just love that feeling.  It's like an "ah-ha" moment.  And I get excited.  {When I'm alone, it's not uncommon for me to stand up and dance around or squeel or begin furiously writing my thoughts down when this moment happens.  If I'm in public when it happens, I'll typically just say -more than once, often over & over- "I'm excited." ...  I'm sure the people around me (often clients or showroom reps) are like "ok, we get it.  You're excited." OR, if I was trying to sleep, I finally get to sleep because my brain can turn off.} 

I think this can be applied to almost any creative endeavor: planning a dinner, a party, taking photos, creating art, designing houses, products, etc.
{One of my recent "I'm excited" finds frpm Schumacher}

I often write about things to try to figure them out.  This was one of those things I hadn't really consciously thought about or pinpointed.  I  guess it's good to know.   I need to get excited and although I might sound like a ditzy girl when I proclaim it, that's okay.  I'm fine with it because I know I need it.

xoxo, Lauren

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