Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Thanks for the Hug

I laughed out loud when I read my friend Linda's (at Lime in the Coconut) comment about the "group hug" I'd received though the comments to yesterday's post.  She's so right.  Thank you all so much for the kindness.  When I wrote the post yesterday, I was feeling as close to tears as I've felt in a really long time (I joked with my assistant Meghan that I was going to jump in her lap for a good cry.)  I honestly didn't write it looking for anything... In a way I use this blog as a journal, usually keeping off the drama/ boring / too personal stuff, but there are times when it comes out anyway.  (After I hit "publish" I thought I sounded like a whiny complainer.)  But I did end up getting something.  So many of you are in the same boat and somehow knowing that we're not alone-  faaaaar from it it- makes me feel better. 

Thanks for the hug.
{pic via pinterest via piccsy}

And there are so many different sides to it.  Many commenters are in completely different careers and it seems they still struggle with the same issues.  There are those moms who do decide to stay home and love it although can't help wondering "what if" just the way moms who go to work wonder "what if?  There are stay-at-home moms who feel like people think they are on easy street.  (Can I just say I can' disagree with this more??  Staying at home with children to me is the toughest job.  (I'm sure it's very rewarding but it is exhausting and those parents deserve a LOT of credit.)  Then there's the guilt that seems to be associated with all sides of motherhood.  One commenter raised a really interesting issue that in her workplace history, there has always been a "mommy" who she felt used her children as an excuse to get out of things and put more work on others.  Another mother commenting mentioned that she realized she had judged those decorators without children. thinking about what would happen to their careers once they did have kids.  I also realized I was judging the people who judged the "mommy" decorators.  (And just to clarify for any of those who asked, this isn't something imagined, I've actually heard of specific decorators using these terms in reference to others in a very negative way.)  My mom (who was a single parent for most of my childhood) said that childcare was always one of the toughest part about raising kids. 

When it comes down to it, I think we all have insecurities and questions ourselves sometimes.  I find that when I get really frazzled/ upset about something with my kids (such as the daycare situation yesterday morning) I start to question myself.  On normal days, things roll off my back & I'm even able to laugh or roll my eyes when I hear about haters, but when I'm emotionally charged like that, it all seems like it's tumbling down.

With Justin's case yesterday, I took him back to his existing daycare, which had turned over most of its teachers & its director over the summer.  We were less than thrilled to be taking him back to the center as we didn't love it last year & were planning on using it temporarily until we could find Mary Poppins, but when I got back to the daycare yesterday, it was worse than it had been the previous year.  The two ladies we looved -who had taken such good care of Justin- happened to be coming in later that day and those that were left seemed unconcerned that Justin was crying for so long.  I'd fully expected him to cry, I just expected he'd be picked up and comforted. 

Anyway, I have two kidinkies up right now so we're off for breakfast, but thanks for the shoulders yesterday.  I promise I'll get back to good stuff later this week.

{NOT a picture of our breakfast - i wish!!- image from the Awkward Bird}

On another note, we are installing a new project tomorrow.  (Thank goodness for my mom babysitting!!) My clients' house underwent a major renovation and all of the pretties are going in tomorrow!!

xoxo, Lauren

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

Monday, 29 August 2011

"Mommy" Decorators

This morning we planned to have our kids start back up at daycare & a new school.  As you might remember from last year, it's kind of a tough time.  Our boys are 4 years old and 20 months old and finding the right kind of care that's best for us all has been tough, both emotionally and on the wallet.  This morning I went to drop Justin off (our 20 month old) at his old daycare and after I left the room I watched as he stood there and wailed for 5-10 minutes.  The caregiver had set him down the second I left the room and as I waited to fill out forms in the main office I could hear my baby crying his lungs out.  I peeked in and still no one was holding him...  I watched as a woman picked him up for a minute or so and then I came back again and he was standing there, balling alone.  They were crazy busy and I could see that there was so much going on, but still, it just felt wrong in my gut.  I told the director as much and left.  They tried to be nice but it just didn't feel right. 

...SO now I'm at home with Justin and no childcare, the day off, and a search for Mary Poppins. 

{Oh Mary...  we need you!!}

Being a working parent & having your own business has its own set of challenges.  I've actually heard people (without kids) talk down about working-designing-moms as if their businesses are somewhat of a joke.  I'm sure you're familiar with the terms "mommy decorators" or "mommy bloggers."  Does being a parent truly take away some sort of credibility in the design world?  Or does also being a blogger in addition to being a decorator mean that you don't deserve to be where you are?  (Clearly I don't think so, but sadly I've heard about people making this implication in general...  )

It's at times like this though- when I'm dealing with childcare issues and sit typing with a toddler on my lap- that I honestly start to wonder if these people are right???  I feel lucky to have gotten a shower in & to be dressed in normal clothes.  It's sometimes hard not to lose all confidence and wonder what in the world I'm doing or trying to do.  Am I just a "mommy" decorator faking it in the real world of suited interior designers? 

I'm clearly in a low spot right now to be even going on this rant, but I wish anyone thinking this way knew & understood all of the effort it takes to be where they are at 9 AM.  They might show up fresh & ready to rock, whereas the parent has been up for hours, having fed, bathed & dressed her kids for school and dropped them off and that's if everything went smoothly.  What exactly am I asking for? No it's not sympathy, but maybe a little understanding.  Because anyone who has to have someone else look after his or her children so he or she can go to work, is very serious about his or her career.  I think it's easy to quick-judge people and put them in a box.    (it's CLEAR that  I am ranting.. running from one working parent issue to the next.  please forgive me...  But I have to say, it is making me feel better ;)

Anyway, I'm off to go pick up Christian from his new school.  Fingers crossed all went well.   Sorry about the sort of down & out post. 
I'd love to hear your thoughts though as bloggers & readers on the "mommy blogger" / "mommy decorator issue."  Has anyone experienced what I'm talking about?

xoxo, Lauren

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

I Would Like To Introduce You To Henry Strong

On August 25th we welcomed our son Henry Bihl Strong to the world. We have not stopped smiling since. The whole experience has been breathtaking and more than words could ever express.
Henry is Patrick's middle name and was his Grandfather's name. Bihl is my Mom's maiden name.
We have spent every day since just staring at this face...and thanking God for such a blessing.
Thank you all for all the e-mails, calls and comments. You don't know how much they have meant to me. I am so lucky to have such amazing and wonderful people in my life.

Friday, 26 August 2011

My Dad's Dining Room: Finally {Almost} Finished!

You might remember this project from way-back-when but my dad's dining room at the lake cottage started out looking like this:

The room was actually taken down to its studs prior to this picture being taken but I don't have any shots of that. 

Over the years, we added the table & light fixure & built-in cabinetry.  It's finally almost totally finished (with the exception of maybe a rug for the cooler months and shades on the windows) so I wanted to share a few pics I took:

{The boys use the table more than anyone for coloring & projects and of course eating (ie making a HUGE mess with food for Justin.)

I wanted the kitchen & dining room to feel simple & practical and carry a bit of nostalgia for my Grandma (who died 20 years ago but is still somehow a driving force in my family) with it.  It cleans up so easily & there's no stress with messes.   (Crayons came right off of the chairs- don't worry Dad!) 

I used my Live Paisley linen in dusty blue on the curtains because of the colors of my Grandma's china (now displayed in the built-in cabinetry)

Here's a very crooked picture of the cabinetry:

{I forgot to get a straight photo of this spot with the new hardware on- oops!- atleast you get the idea}

This cottage has been in our family since 1958, with the dining room & open kitchen at its heart.  So many meals have taken place here and for my family, eating is a BIG deal.  In reality, any room is just the backdrop for the life that's going on there, but it makes me so happy that the backdrop here finally feels right.  My Grandma & Nanoo loved this house and truly made it into a home.  My Grandma had a very disctinct style:  She loved flowery details and was pretty frilly, but also a very simple woman.  Function & practicality were always first.  I like to think of the house as an updated, tiny-bit-more-masculine version of my Grandma and I think she'd love it if she could see it now.  

{Queen Anne's lace on the table thrills me to no end...  seriously.}

One of my favorite things about visiting the old house is picking flowers from our field and bringing them inside.  My grandma always used to ask me to pick flowers & bring them in when I was a little girl.  It's such a simple thing, but when we go out & pick flowers, I'm in Heaven. 

Also, I've received a lot of questions about my textile line & how to order, so I just wanted to clarify a little bit. In September, I will be selling the fabrics online (in my new online store - Pure Style Home) for those who don't live in Virginia or those who don't have access to the Design Center of Northern Virginia.  It's an online store where you will be able to view all of the fabrics & colorways, and purchase sample memos & yardage right there at the site if you need to.  (I'm waiting until September to debut the line because the fabrics have not yet been photographed so without, pictures, there's no way for me to really sell them online.  My good friend & photographer Helen Norman and my family & I are doing a photoshoot at Helen's farm for the fabrics in a couple of weeks and I can't wait to share them with you!!  Not only will we be photographing the fabrics themselves but we're putting them in lifestyle settings that embody the feeling I hope that the fabrics convey: classic fresh, simple & carefree, and in some cases a little vintage or bohemian.)

If you are in the DC metro area, you can view my fabric line at the Design Center of Northern Virginia.

Thanks for the support & have a great weekend!!  (Can you believe summer's almost over?? wa wa wa)

xoxo, Lauren

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

Thursday, 25 August 2011

I'll Be Right Back....

I'll be right back...after we welcome a very special new member to our family.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Nursery: Ceiling and Light

After a long search for wallpaper for the nursery walls, then wallpaper for the ceiling we decided to paint the ceiling. I went through several designs (these were just the beginning).....
I could have (and might have, ahem) gone a little crazy with the design but since Patrick volunteered to take on the challenge we decided to keep it somewhat "simple"- straight lines.
I knew I wanted to do tone on tone and gray, but after that I was relatively open to the exact shade. We had trim paint left over so I decided to use that as the darker color. I also liked that is was a gloss finish, something unexpected since the lighter color was an eggshell finish

I know the light fixture above was a favorite of many of you but don't worry, it went to a good home- our guest bedroom (which reallllly needed it). For the nursery light I knew what I wanted from the moment I saw it a year and half ago at Market.

I instantly loved the whimsical feel of the recycled styrofoam fixture but I knew it would have to be the right room. When we found out we were pregnant I knew just where it would find a home.
I know it is a little out there, a sentiment many, including the electrician, have conveyed to me but I could not love it more. It is unique and adds a playfulness the room needed.
Here is a picture of the full ceiling and light.
No, it is not your eyes playing tricks on you, it does look like the lines to the right are slightly uneven. I can assure you, after hours of taping, leveling and measuring the lines are perfect. It turns out that sometimes you don't know you have a huge dip in your ceiling until you decide to draw attention to it. C'est la vie.
So while I do still dream of wallpapered ceiling I could not be happier with the way things are looking overhead.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Side Table Needed- Bring In The Stump

There are still some items missing from the nursery, one of them being a side table for next to the rocker. Bring in this beauty...
A few months ago a wonderful client called to tell me that there were stumps on her street and volunteered to grab some for me. Of course I said yes and she has been holding on to these for months for me.
Last week I picked them up and this brings us to the part of the story that really Patrick should narrate. I had warned him of my next plan for the nursery- a stump side table- but what he was thinking when he opened my car and found the trunks I am sure would be a great comic relief.
Apparently there is a lot that goes into getting a stump from its natural state to a state suitable for home use, especially when the space it will be used in belongs to a baby. I will let you know what I find out and how this progresses. Needless to say this will be one of those things that will completed post baby arrival. I can't wait to for the finished product though, the lines in this one I hope will be fabulous!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Queen Anne's Bouquet

I've got more pictures of my new fabrics/ curtains!  (I'm sorry if you're sick of them by now, but I am so insanely excited that I can't stop.)  In my bedroom at the cottage (my dad's) I decided to hang my newest design Queen Anne's Bouquet on either side of the doors to the balcony: 

I had them lined in blackout lining although I typically prefer unlined linen or a light lining for an airy feel, but the sun streams straight through the doors in the morning & we wake up around 5:30 or so every morning because of it, so function over form won out here. 

Here's a close-up of the fabric, which is a "bouquet" I drew of one of my favorite wildflowers:

The room is very much unfinished.  Although I do have a pretty white quilt I and a pair of lamps I love.  I had the ceiling paneled in pine and I haven't yet decided what I want to do with it.  My original thoughts a few years ago were to try out some type of limewash, but now I'm really undecided and have lots of thoughts floating around about it.  I do think I want to keep the walls white (a new white though) as for my own personal bedrooms, I really prefer white.  (It goes best with all of my colorful clothes strewn about! ;) ;)   

{Yeah, I know the recessed light kind of kills it, but like I said, I didn't win every battle here.}

As we make more progress here I'll be sure to share.

And many of you have asked about when the fabrics will be available for sale & how to buy them (thank you!)...  I am truly working as fast as I can to get these babies available.  There will be about fifteen different designs in the first collection with 2-7 colorways per design. (For a total of 60 or so different fabrics.)   I am still working on the final designs and we're photographing the entire collection at the end of the month so I plan to have them online soon after.  Like I mentioned before, I was a little surprised when I first started looking into the cost for the fabrics.  I've learned that high quality linens are much more expensive to make when they aren't mass-produced and we've priced the fabrics accordingly.  (Approx $120/ yard) In my own home I have my fabrics on pillows only right now ;)

When I first started designing textiles, I really had no idea where I wanted to take it.  I began more on a whim just because it excited me.  I have to say that I am now head over heels for it and am gaining more confidence with it.  I originally thought I'd have artists do the designs but now I've started doing them myself and it's really satisfyling.  I'm not an artist by any means and drawing & painting doesn't come naturally to me AT ALL, but I have actually been able to create some things that I really love and that speak to me.  I haven't quite decided yet how I want to sell these fabrics or where I want to take it, which I know sounds like an odd way to start a business.  (And I agree.)  I normally set very concrete goals for my self & my business and follow planned out steps to get there, but not this time.  The textile industry is very new to me & until I can figure out how I want to navigate the waters, I'm taking it slow.  There are those who design patterns and sell them to fabric companies for money (which is sooo not where I'm going... these designs are really personal to me and I am so not disattaching myself from them)  there are those who do books for other companies (for example Windsor Smith's collection for Kravet) and then there are those who sell fabric under their own company  and have their collections sold in showrooms (Kathryn Ireland for example also sells her fabrics at John Rosselli Showrooms) and then there are a tons of small companies who sell on their own.  I really haven't decided where I want to go with this or which way is best for me/ my family.   

The fabrics are currently only being shown & sold in one showroom in Virginia.  (And if you're a designer in Virginia, you can contact the Design Center of Northern Virginia for trade pricing.)  Like I mentioned, thery're being photographed at the end of August, so until then, I have no way to sell them without any pictures.  I will be sure to post as soon as they're online.

xoxo, Lauren

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

Love The One You're With- Veranda Interiors

Today I am thrilled to welcome Melissa from Veranda Interiors as my guest blogger. I can't remember exactly when we became blog friends, but everyone should be lucky enough to have a friend like Melissa.

Her interiors are gorgeous, following her own home's progression is envy inducing and I have even made a special trip to H&M thanks to her post; but her kindness and support outweighs all of that. I feel very lucky to have met her in the crazy blog world!

I am SO thrilled to help out our expectant mother, workaholic, incredibly nice, favorite blogger Marianne by participating in this great series. When she first asked me to do this post we were hunkered down in our crappy rental while our new home was under construction, I sent a note back telling her that I could only do a 'hate the one your with' post. I really wanted to share images of our new home with you but we moved in and a week later we were off to our cabin at Tablerock Lake for the summer...so here I am, featuring the cabin since it is a place that we completely overhauled and we are now able to create so many wonderful memories here.
To ensure that the growth of the boys is documented as well as the fun that we have while here I set up this wall across from the front door so it is the first thing you are greeted with. I picked up the adorable growth chart off Etsy and have put some of our favorite images around it. They can change out from year to year...or I may just cram the frames closer together and add more.
The kitchen is the heart of the home and even here it is the same case. We are constantly seated at the island, creating yummy cookies with the boys, and cooking up a storm for my family when they come for the weekend, all 22 of them! The kitchen has come a long way, here is an image of what we were working with when we took possession of the home.



The family room on the main level of the home gets a lot of use from guest and our little guys. All I have to say is thank goodness the cream sofas are slip-covered, ha! My favorite item in this space is the antique teak bench from Bali that we use as a coffee table. The patina is wonderful and it just gets better with use.



The dining area of the home is right next to the great room so it had to all flow together. Once everything was drenched in white I started the hunt for decorative items. While I am still in search for many more things the space is working for me...for now.



Since we are never here during the winter months I needed to fill the fireplace box with something. The pillar candles were perfect since it is a darker space of the home and the ambiance it gives off is perfect. Tucked away in one corner of the room is Nemo, our glass fish from Roost, he is our cork collector at the cabin and the only fish I can seem to keep alive.

We tend to party it up with a bevy or two by the camp fire or on the dock so we needed a space for a bar but we are a little cramped. To accommodate the storage we required I found a great antique armiour that I adore. It is tucked away nicely in a corner and serves a great purpose.
So this is where we have been hiding out this summer. Thank you so much for visiting and do come again, I promise to make you a wonderful meal we can share. Mel xo

Thank you Melissa, of course I love it. Now I can't wait to see the house progression in the coming months!!!