Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Kitchens on the Brain...

I'm working on a few kitchen projects at the moment and for the past couple of months, I've been collecting images.  One of the easiest places (besides a physical binder) to collect images is pinterest.com.  One of the kitchens we're working on is for our clients who absolutely love to cook and they're drawn to simple, functional beauty that feels timeless & as if it's always been there with a tad of a European edge. 

{House Beautiful,,,  I looooove these leather chairs!!!}}

And not that we're doing garden mazes in the kitchen, but although a bit more formal than what we're going for, I want to bring a little bit of that traditional garden- conservatory-vibe into the house...  But in a more relaxed way...

{image via rkw.blogspot.com}

We're looking at going with a beautiful French range by LaCanche:

{Kitchen by Mary Evelyn McKee via elementsofstyle.com}

...Except in stainless steel w/ brass accents:

They needs lots of space in the sink for washing large pots & pans & so we're considering a deep, wide farmhouse sink.  I love this laundry style sink:

{via moderncountrystyle.blogspot.com via Brooke Giannetti}

I haven't come across any 1 image that perfectly embodies the feeling we're after but Ina Garten's home is definitely in the mix:

{One of my favorite houses EVER, featured in House Beautiful}

...We just want it to be a teensy bit less "fresh" and a little more aged.  The house is also not a rustic one & so we really don't feel that the beams would be appropriate, although we love them.   

We're using a mix of finishes in the kitchen, many of them unlaquered brass and if you haven't already read this post last week by Brooke Giannetti about mixing metals in the kitchen, then you need to hop over to Velvet & Linen to read it.  Along with Ina & a few others, the Giannetti's aesthetic has also played a  big part in this particular kitchen design.  When I first met with my client & she showed me inspiration images, so many of them reminded me of Brooke & Steve's Patina Style and when I mentioned them, my client said she was an admirer.

{countryliving.com via Brooke on pinterest}

We're striving for the perfect mix of old & new, beauty & practicality.

{An old wooden tabletop...  I can't remember the source, but how amazing is this timeworn finish?!!}

I also love the baker's racks that Darryl Carter uses in many of his projects.  They're so gorgeous & functional:

We're planning on incorporating a pair flanking the range hood.

We're looking at doing plaster one similar to this (below) but with more of a curve to the front and back:

{HGTV.com by Jane Ellison}

Anyway, as we make more progress, I'll be sure to share updates. 
Because it takes a lot of this....

{image from investorspot.com}

and this...


before you get to this...

{image from wonderingfair.com}

xoxo, Lauren

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

Henry's Nursery- "The Big Board"- Part 1

Okay as promised nursery details are here.  Let's start with the single item I had the most questions regarding- Henry's Big Board as we call it.
It all started with a simple idea.  I wanted a huge board in Henry's room for pictures, etc. but I wanted something different than cork board.  I am going to have Patrick write about the initial conversations of what I envisioned but this was the very primitive sketch of what I wanted.  
In the beginning I planned on using old reclaimed floor planks from a local company that specializes in those sort of things but when hanging something over a crib, weight quickly becomes an issue.  Originally I wanted this board to be much larger but again, over a crib changes some details.

So after a lot of debate about safety Patrick went to work.  I had also planned on using amazing hardware for the corners but we ran into a lot of issues so in the end we used simple brackets to connect the boards.
 While most of my original ideas were scrapped/edited for one reason or another, one idea did make it all the way through- burlap upholstery tape woven across the back to hold up pictures, etc.  Ordered from an upholstery supplier this part was easy- weave, tighten and staple.
Several of you asked how we attached it to the wall so I included this picture to show the supports behind the board.  These boards (painted to match the wall) are screwed into the studs and the board was attached to these with hanging hardware.  I can tell you that board is not going anywhere, we were very careful about safety over the crib.
 Up after completion.
 I decided to include this too (although it is less than flattering) but it shows another view of the ceiling and light.
Closer view of materials.
Part II- Items on the board coming next.....

 First Image (the one better than the rest) courtesy of Paula of Two Ellie

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Quiet Time

In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.  John 1:4

Friday, 27 January 2012

Bits of Blue

Happy Friday!!  Maybe it's the unusually warm weather or that it's one of my favorite colors, but I've been drawn to touches of blue lately.  We just presented a plan to a client with a blue painted buffet in a dining room & here are a couple images that I looked at.

I love what the shot of blue does in this neutral dining room: 

{I think the homeowners are the founders of Wisteria}

I've had this image for a while (and have posted it more than once) but I looooove this Gustavian piece:

{The mix of the blue with the old door is perfection.  I can't remember the source for the image- sorry!!}

And finally (yeah, it's Friday, this is a short one ;) this past summer I found this cool old blue trunk at an atntique store and put it in my dad's almost-finished lake house dining room:

{It's great for last-minute mess stashing..  Curtains are in my Live Paisley in Antique Beige and Boys are by Lauren & David Liess ;}

Anyway, I'm off for the day but have a great weekend!!  It's SO beautiful & warm here today that I can't believe it's January!!!

xoxo, Lauren

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

In My Head

In my head I am Martha Stewart...
I am one step ahead, I cook great meals and my drawers all look like this...
 Ooohh, or even this....
But in real life (or as was the case last night) I am one hour late for supper club* and I show up with store bought cookies and wine purchased last minute at Walmart while picking up formula which we are almost out of because I am in fact never one step ahead.  

C'est la vie.....Happy Friday!

*And if you are more like me than Martha I hope you have a group as wonderful as this supper club because they don't mind.

**Also, as many of you have pointed out, those Walmart cookies are actually really good.  I had never had them before but I was pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, 26 January 2012


I went looking for a dress from All Saints that I could not find, but I did find these two that I wish lived in my closet.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Designer Showhouses- Do or Don't?

One of my favorite things to do is working on textile designs. I always have a list of designs in my head that I want to do, but sitting down & finding the time to sit down & draw them is another story. Sometimes it just takes some good motivation. The DC Design House has started up again this year & so I've been busy drawing. I've seen the new house - along with all of the other interested designers in the DC area- and have been working on a design to submit for a space. (First everyone sees the house & then we have a couple of weeks to create a design, which is then submitted for review by the Design Committee. )

I've gotten a few emails & phone calls lately from designers asking if I thought it was "worth it" to do the Design House last year. And the answer is, I'm submitting a design again, so YES definitely :)

{My room from last year.. And just to warn you, something is wrong with blgoger and it won't let me upload any other pics so this is a pictureless post from here on out. sorry!!}

I have to say though... it's really up to each individual designer to decide if it's "worth it" for herself or himself.

First of all, Children's Hospital is an amazing cause & each year, I try to do something special to help people through our design work, so I think that's an important "pro" for doing any charity design showhouse.
Being involved in the Showhouse makes you feel like you're part of this big team & it's a ton of fun. I can't say it in any other way other than it just makes you feel special. (It kind of reminds me of doing plays in gradeschool :) People are generally really supportive of one another and in our showhouse, we had a great PR person (Sherry Moeller) who sent so much press everyone's way, so that was amazing. You get to work alongside amazing designers and see all these beautiful spaces happen up-close. It's really nice & exciting to be around so many people in the industry.
One thing that has to be taken into consideration is the cost of doing a room in a showhouse. Both time/ opprtunity costs & money. A showhouse is different from other projects in that you are working around a lot of other people and there are certain times when you have to get things done. The schedule is very compressed & there's a lot of pressure to get things finished much quicker than you would in an ordinary project. (For example, if you're doing COM upholstery, a typical lead time for a sofa could be 8-10 weeks or even more depending upon your fabrics & availability. Well, with the compressed showhouse timeline, you might only have 7 or so weeks to get everything in. Last year I was on pins & needles waiting for all pf my pieces to come in on time.)

As far as money goes- things start adding up. I tried to get as many donations & loans as I could. (I am forever grateful to companies like Peter Dunham Textiles & Michael Smith, and Stark Carpets and lots of others who donated their goods to make our room happen. And The team of people I work with was also right there for me, donating labor & time, which I never could have afforded on my own.) But expenses still add up & there lots of things you just have to purchase (sometimes custom ones for example) and you do end up spending quite a bit of money.

But I think being in a Showhouse really gives you the chance to show others that you're there. It puts you in a place to get noticed & to help make a name for yourself, and as anyone in our business knows, that's what keeps your business going.

Another question I get a lot is- "Did you get clients from the Showhouse?" ... My answer is a hazy one. We had lots of inquiries into our services, but not many that panned out into full projects.

We received lots of inquiries for consultations but unfortunately, due to our workload & staffing, we're only able to take on full-service projects. The one project we did take on that was related to the Design House was with a client whom a previous client had already referred to us & who was already considering working with us before the Showhouse. I think seeing the space we created in person convinced her & her husband that we were "right" for them. I would say if you're doing a showhouse because you expect to directly get clients from it, then you might be disappointed. Go into it thinking you won't get any clients & if you do, that's a great perk, but don't count on it for your finances.

Other people have asked about getting Showhouse rooms published in shelter magazines. It's another thing I would say to not go in expecting. Typically, certain magazines will shoot a showhouse for an upcoming issue. Home & Design Magazine (our local Design Magazine) used photos of every room of the Showhouse (I think) last year & so that was great for everyone. And Traditional Home also typically shoots the DC Design House, so of course everyone is dying for their room to get chosen. It seems like the more public/ larger spaces are typically shot for this like the living rooms, master, etc. but you never know- it coule be you! Last year, we were lucky enough to have our room photographed for an up-coming Better Homes & Gardens Magazine issue (coming out in April!! :) and I'm so excited about the article because it really focuses on the design decisions made & how to go about creating a room with that type of feeling.

And another thing I would think anyone submitting a design for a showhouse agonizes over (I know I do) is which room to pick to submit a design for.  When big, talented & established designers do showhouses, I would think they pretty much get the spaces they want to do.  When you're new to the industry & haven't yet quite made a name for yourself, deciding on a room can be really worrisome.  Last year I chose a smaller bedroom space upstairs for my design.  I didn't get the bedroom I submitted a design for & was moved right next door to a very similar bedroom so I could keep my general design.  I felt sooooo lucky.  I loved my space and was happy with my decision to start small.  ...  Now what do you do if you decide you want a more prominent space?  (Spaces on the first floor of showhouses are really desirable and I think they are generally harder to get.)  I honestly don't have a good answer here, as this is the big question going through my head right now.  Part of me says, "play it safe.  If you're newer or have never been involved with a showhouse before, just choose a space you think you might actually have a shot at and play it safe."  The other part of me says, "Go for it.  What do you have to lose? Be true to yourself and if you think you can create an amazing design for a space, then do it, regardless of who you are."   No guts, no glory, right?  (But that's not exactly true in a showhouse ;) ;)  If you aim too high, you could just miss it altogether or you could be rewarded.  You never know.   

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I'm sure other people have other ones though, so if you've participated in a Showhouse before & have any advice, I think everyone (me included!) would love to hear it.

One last thing-  Never let fear of rejection keep you from making the Showhouse decision.  Don't even let it weigh in.  Rejection is scary and kind of makes me sick, but I think it's something we all experience & know we (eventually ;)  get over.  I was sooooo nervous last year & I'm surprised to see I'm even more nervous submitting a design this year, and that rejection fear is very real for me, but I'm fighting it because the risk is worth it. 

xoxo, Lauren

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

Graphic Panels and A Gallery Wall

Dear West Elm,

Saw these in person and I would like to thank you for making pre-made graphic panels, they look great.  Now, if you could just line your curtains I could start using them.  Lack of lining drives me nuts, rarely can I use an unlined panel.  I want to end on a positive note though.  Your gallery frames in silver/linen are used repeatedly in my repertoire...something I can't say about any other single item.  Example from install this week (complete room shot coming...one of these days):
*Black frames Target

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Poufs For Sale

A client of mine has two brand new poufs for sale she purchased from Ones King Lane, Divine Designs is the brand.  Perfect condition. $200 for the pair (they originally retailed for $260 each).  E-mail me @ mstronginteriors@aol.com if interested.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Extra Extra- Thanks!!

January is always a little crazy in this business.  (Ok, let's be honest, what months aren't in anyone's life??)  But anyway, we've been busy shooting projects, working on new ones, and thinking about & planning for the the Springtime which brings on design showhouses to visit, more projects and.. a baby!!! (due in May:)

{Yes, I know how scary this 3D pic of our Baby Liess looks...  All of that tissue looks like hair!!  My 4 year-old looked at it and said, "Oh... it's a girl because she has all that hair!"}  Ah vell. 

We've also had some really nice mentions & magazine features lately.

Thanks so much to Victoria Magazine for including me in their Special Entrepreneur Issue!!

The article I was featured in focuses on women who have created businesses out of their passions.  (I'm honored to be included among them.)  I'm feel so lucky to be working in a field I love so much, but owning your own business puts you not only in your field of work, but also into the "entrepreneur" category.  It's a hat you sort of put on without realizing, and it was really interesting to look back for this article & talk about how I got my start & the business going. 

Before the article, I was unfamiliar with Victoria Magazine, but I was BLOWN AWAY by some of the homes featured in this month's issue.  (and flowers!!)  Serious eye candy & I'm hooked.

I was also thrilled to be included in Washingtonian Magazine's new blog column of before & afters by DC area designers.  (click on the link aboce to view it.)  I can't wait to check out the next ones!

And thank you so much to Cassandra Lavalle for including a snippet of my bedroom in this month's issue of Rue Magazine!!  It's a great little page that shows unique ways to store your magazines.

{I keep my current ones in this massive old bowl}

So be sure to check out Rue --- I am in love with a photo collage one of the rooms in there this month!

And finally...  we've been working on our back office some more.  Our desks & chairs came in- yay!!

{Don't you love my Christian Patrick Liess originals hanging on the wall  above my computer?? - left}

We're doing inspiration boards along the entire wall above our desks & my assistant, Meghan, has been gathering hers up for a while now.  The other walls are full of shelving which is making life soooo much easier. 

Anyway, I'm off for the day but have a great one!!

xoxo, Lauren

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