Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Joy of Christmas

The true joy of Christmas to me is making memories that we will never forget - especially now that Sheila is a little bit older and able to have some fun with the holiday.

Making cookies...


Decorating the tree...


Need some help from Daddy for the high branches...Sheila had so much fun decorating the tree. And very proud of all of her ornament placements.


A ride into the city for brunch at one of our favorite spots, Sabrina's.


And then a family outing over to Czerw's to pick up kielbasa and other Polish delights for Christmas at Mom Mom's. You can't see that well in this photo, but we were in a 3 hour line to get into Czerw's. You can see the sign in the photo below and that's where we started in line.


Family outing to my brother's house...Sheila loves to hang with her cousins.


Our tree on Christmas Eve...


Our attempt at a family photo on Christmas Eve...oh boy.


Writing our note to Santa...



And the magic of Christmas morning. The new wooden blocks from Santa are a big hit :)


It was a great week of vacation and a great Christmas. I hope you enjoyed your time off with your friends and family. Sheila ended up getting a nasty cold after Christmas so that combined with some snow yesterday I've got some cabin fever over here.

I hope to be back to regular blogging come 2013 and I've got some fun projects to update you on as well.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Checking In and E-Design Update

Hi there - I know I've been so sporadic with my posting. I just haven't been up to it and have been busy, but really just spending a lot of quality time with my family which I think you'll all agree is most important.

I thought I'd show you an update of an e-design that I'm working on...


My client was drawn to most of the fabrics proposed here in the photo that you see, so we're rolling with it. There will be some tweaks and some changes, but this gives you an idea of where we're going. 
Remember my color story post with some inspiration images? This is the same project.

I hope to check back in soon with some recent photos and some Christmas fun that we've had.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fabrics for All Seasons

I've been thinking about how fabrics can be used for the holidays, whether you incorporate a new pillow, table runner, napkin, tree skirt, etc. But then I started to think about how fabrics can be chosen and can work for all seasons, multi-seasonal if you will.

Here are a few of my favorite fabrics that you can incorporate into your home for everyday use, but would also be perfect as a holiday accent as well.

Here's the scoop on the fabrics I chose:

If you've been contemplating bringing in an animal print but are a bit shy to commit this Kravet/Candice Olson fabric is a really nice option. It's durable and has a nice texture to it, but it's subtle - and a neutral that you can incorporate into your home a variety of ways. Imagine how pretty it would be as a pillow nestled atop a red or creamy white throw on a sofa.

The check is a classic. Even a contemporary interior could incorporate a check in the right color

The Madder fabric by John Robshaw for Duralee is the one that I used on the cafe curtains in my kitchen. I love it and very happy with this choice. If time permits, I'd love to use some of my extra fabric to make some placemats or napkins.

I've included this small print John Robshaw/Duralee fabric a number of times on the blog. It's as versatile as the animal print, and small enough to read as an animal print.

The peacock/botanical fabric is a bit of a departure for me but I thought it was beautiful. This fabric could establish a color palette for a space, or it could be that one accent to incorporate into a neutral setting for some interest.

I came across the Lighten Up fabric by Robert Allen  recently while working on a client project. The green is the most versatile and it may not come across as such in this image but it is quite vibrant. It would be a pretty option for a simple cafe curtain or shade.

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We were supposed to go get our tree today but it's raining, so I think we are postponing for now. Anyone else still treeless?

Also, our sweet little Sheila just decided not to nap today, open the door to her room, and take her pants and diaper off.  Uh-oh. Wish us luck :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rearranging and Using What You Have

Ever since I read Rene's post about organizing/arranging/decorating the tops of cabinets, I've been fixated on arranging the look on top of our kitchen cabinets. You know how it goes...you look, you think about how you want it to look, a month goes by, another month goes by, and then you get an extra 30 minutes and just start rearranging. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Now to back track a bit, we did not have a lot of wiggle room in our budget when we renovated the kitchen. And our cabinets were our biggest expense just the way they are, so adding on any type of details or extra storage components above the cabinets was not an option. So we figured we'd take advantage of some extra space and store some things up there.

Here is a before:


This turned out to be a great place to store some of the growlers that my husband has collected as well as to be able to display some more delicate pieces that are meaningful (and not within 2-year-old reach).

Ok, so points to me for at least keeping to a glass type of theme here. The mix of colors between the brown growlers and the clear glass was driving me a little crazy. So I rearranged a little bit...


Quick fixes that make an impact and don't cost anything are right up my alley.

Have you done any rearranging lately?  

Speaking of quick fixes, I was over at a client's house last week and wait until you see the improvement we made with just a quick switch of a few things. Pictures to come soon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Not Design Related: Broccoli Pasta

One of my biggest downfalls is my meal planning (especially during the week). It's something I've been working on and trying to improve upon. I make a lot of our old favorites (tacos, chicken and wild rice casserole, stir-fry), but I also like trying new things that I hope are a hit - meaning all 3 of us like the dish.

I came across this broccoli pasta dish recently on the Smitten Kitchen blog and had to share it because not only is it a big hit but it's really easy to make.


And the best part is you're getting a healthy dose of vegetables in this dish. It's flavorful, delicious, and every time I've made it I wish I had doubled the recipe (next time, next time).

Something else I'd like to try is doing some chicken medallions with it next time too.

So that's a favorite meal in our house recently that I thought I'd share.

Try it - you'll love it :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Living Room Wall

I realized that I don't think I ever showed you the start to our living room gallery wall. (And holy cow, I can't believe I wrote the original post about this wall almost a year ago!! We've changed up the wall color and the layout of the frames since my first post (and confession - I'm really tired of the window treatments but they will remain for the time being). Here is where we were about a year ago:


And some progress - here is the wall now:


Steve had the Van Gogh print in his old apartment and it's always been a favorite of mine. The birth photo of Sheila is from the hospital - she was wide awake when they took those photos and only a day old. The family sign at the bottom left was a wedding gift from a good friend of ours. And the Live in Awe print is by Katie Daisy.

**Important to keep in mind when doing a grouping like this is the spacing. I tried to stick to 2 inches between the frames, which really does help with the overall look and consistency of the grouping.

I love and have always admired Katie's work. I decided to order one of her holiday prints so that I could switch this one out for a month or so to give the wall a holiday twist.


I know I've said it before, but Katie's prints really are even better in person too.

So there you have it - just a quick switcharoo for the holidays. And that's the only holiday touch we've added so far - I've always liked to wait until December 1st to really decorate.

The long Thanksgiving weekend was wonderful as usual - lots of fun, food, and family - just how we like it.  Hope you had a good one.

(I was not compensated at all by Katie Daisy - just really like her work)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Kitchen Curtains

Ever since we had our kitchen painted over the summer, I've been wanting to switch out the curtains that we have over the sink. I wanted to bring in some warmth and really wanted to bring in more accents of red.


Here is the fabric that I chose to use. It's the Madder fabric in coral by John Robshaw for Duralee. Don't let the word coral fool you with this one. I think the photo accurately shows the true color and I would call it more of a crimson.


My Mom was over and helped me out with the new curtains. We used the original curtains as a template for the new curtains (Mom is a genius). And that is an ironing board because we used stitch witchery to bond the seams rather than a sewing machine (because I don't have one). Stitch witchery works like a charm.


One of Sheila's new favorite expressions is "Ta-Da"!!!


I love them. My Mom is so good about matching seams. Do you see how well the leading edges are matched? Thanks Mom! Here's another photo at night so you can see them completely closed.


I'm all about a quick and inexpensive update that changes the look of a room. 

Hope you had a great weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

An E-Design Color Story

I'm excited to be working with a new e-design client who lives in New Orleans. This particular client is very current on design and reads a lot of shelter magazines. She's seeking my services for helping her put it all together and making the design look and feel cohesive while at the same time create flow throughout her shot-gun style home. First up is the living/dining room area.

This client is inspired by artwork and architecture. She already had ideas on a color palette and I was able to gain more of an understanding on her color preferences through discussion, sharing images, fabrics, etc.

After obtaining feedback from clients on goals for a space, likes/dislikes, I like to find images that are going to tell the color story for the space. I thought I'd share a few that have inspired me for this project.

Peter Dunham

Sue Ellen Gregory

Sue Ellen Gregory

In addition to the images above, my client has a beautiful collection of art that will also contribute to the color story for this space as well.


Oh how I'd love to see this art in person. Aren't they all so interesting and beautiful? The photos are a bit off relative to the color and detail that you would see in person, but you can get the idea.

Beautiful greens, corals, salmon, purples, browns are the colors we'll be working with as shown through her captivating artwork and the images that I've shown above.

One of the things that I love about this job is how much I also learn during each project. With this project, I've been exposed to new artists and was introduced to the Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans. I'm adding this gallery to my list of places to see if I ever have the opportunity to visit New Orleans (and a visit with my client of course). 

I'll share more of this project with you as the process evolves.

If you've ever been to New Orleans, what inspired you about the visit? 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Living Room E-Design - Part 2

Yesterday I had shown you two different boards that I had proposed to an e-design client.

My client really loved the look of the first design board, so we started here:


And we worked our way to here:


Not a ton of changes but a few tweaks to push this look to a BAM. Julie definitely wanted a rug to layer on top of the wall-to-wall, but she really wanted something soft to the touch so I switched that up and went with a pile. I also really like how the color and pattern in the rug works with the rest of the vibe.

We also switched up the lighting. We went from the black pharmacy lamp to a swing-arm lamp. As much as I liked the look of the pharmacy lamp, you can never go wrong with the swing-arm style. Classic. You'll also see that we added in a mercury glass table lamp. I thought this room needed a touch of the smooth and shiny, and this lamp fit the bill.

And lastly, we switched out the stools. The new stools have exactly the look we were going for - black seats with a wooden frame (and no extra DIY work needed to be done - a big plus).

So there you have it - I'm excited to see the progress that Julie makes on this room. 

What do you think of the updates?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Living Room E-Design Project

One of the highest compliments has to be a return client. Someone who I have worked with in the past and requests my services again. I really enjoyed working with this client on her two daughters' shared bedroom earlier this year and I'm so appreciative she contacted me again.

I was asked to step in and help come up with some ideas for the living room in this family's new apartment they will be renting. My client sent me a photo of the living room as is seen on the leasing company's website.


This is a light-filled space with a nice size living area and a bar-top area with seating that faces into the kitchen to be used for quick meals, computer time, homework, etc. 

Existing elements include - the wall color, a sectional, coffee table, and side table that my client already picked up for the room.

This image below was one that my client was drawn to:

Image courtesy of Arhaus

My client wanted the space to include blues, reds, greens, and mix patterns to create a fun, luxurious look for the family. She was looking for a mix of pillows, drapery, lighting, bar stools, and a rug for layering on top of the wall-to-wall in the living area. 

I took the feedback that she gave me above and sent her two different design boards for review.

Here is the first look:


The fabric at the top represents the fabric that is on the sectional. It looks like a very small animal print, so I'm treating that as a neutral and added some fun with patterns in the pillows, different textures, and color. You'll see at the top left that I've proposed painting the stools black with the exception of the rush seat and the stretchers.

And here is the second look that I presented:


You can see I played with the color palette a little bit here. It's a much different look than the first board just with the switch in textiles on the pillow patterns and drapery.

I can tell you that she chose one of these boards already and we've made a few tweaks to it. We've added a few elements and switched a few things around, which I will follow-up with in my next post.

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Everything is good here with us after Sandy paid us a visit. We had a lot of rain and high winds, but we never lost power so we are very fortunate. There are many areas without power and destruction and my thoughts are with all of you.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Local Exploring

Last Friday we were supposed to be going to Linvilla Orchard on our family fun day, but plans changed due to rain. So what did I do? Dropped Steve and Sheila off at a play arena and I went shopping at Terrain. 

Terrarium supplies were abundant...


I really wanted to come home with one of these wreaths. The smell was incredible. (what's the name of this again? the name is escaping me right now)


And then later that afternoon we went to the Brandywine River Museum, home of the Andrew Wyeth exhibition. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed inside the exhibits (bummer!), so you'll just have to visit yourself if you're ever in the Philadelphia area.


I was really taken with the work of Andrew Wyeth. There is a lot of emotion in his work.  Very personal, very powerful. 

Did you know Andrew's father, N.C. Wyeth, illustrated Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island? I didn't know that. 

There was also an exhibit on illustrations and works inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Not my thing at all, but very timely being near Halloween.

This is a view out the third floor of the museum building. To the left was the Andrew Wyeth exhibit. They suggested that we start on the third floor and make our way down (we got there around 3:30 and the museum closes at 5 so this was a beautiful late afternoon in Chadds Ford along the river).


They're also giving tours of the studio that Andrew Wyeth painted in up until 2008. The last tour leaves at 3:15 so we had just missed it. I would like to go back in the spring to take the tour. 

So just catching up on some things and wanted to give you the scoop on the BRM and a few Terrain photos. Have you ever been to Terrain? The styling and product displays are really nice. Anthropologie Inc. does a nice job with all of their brands.

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I'm off today and Sheila's school is closed. As you know, we're bracing for Sandy here in PA and all along the east coast. I wasn't really that worried up until this morning. It's scary and I hope all friends and family take care and are safe during this time.

And now I'm going back to my reading and coffee because my little one is still asleep!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Does Blue Do For You?

Hi everyone! Just thought I'd check in. I've got a few new design projects under way that are keeping me busy and that I hope to share with you soon. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few fun fabrics on my radar.

Blue is such a classic. And with the election getting closer and closer, we're going to be seeing a lot of blue and red and white. It's Americana which I love. Blue skies, the ocean blue, denim - all things that get you thinking blue.

The fabric at the very bottom I've been admiring for a while. It's bold and deep and rich with a chocolate damask on navy background. I haven't used it in a project at all yet, but it would really be great on a wingback chair.  Source: Duralee

That dotted fabric never gets old to me. It's the perfect small scale - this is also Duralee.

That moody blue fabric at the very top is very on trend right now with faux bois being so popular.

And the Schumacher Adari ikat fabric combines a darker denim blue with a softer blue. This would be a perfect pop of pattern on a pillow mixed with a large floral fabric.

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Sheila is really into letters, numbers, and colors right now.  We often have the conversation of: What is your favorite color Mommy? My favorite color is green. Sheila's is pink and Daddy's is blue.

Do you have a favorite color? Do you find a lot of your favorite color in your wardrobe and home?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Favorite Neutral Accessory

Plants are one of my favorite accessories to use in a room. There is a price point for everyone and they can transition easily from room to room depending upon size. Plants breathe life into a room - literally. Check out this article I found on the 6 house plants that improve air quality.

Plants can also be thought of as a neutral. I remember back to my color theory class where our instructor pointed out that green was a neutral. I had never really thought about green in terms of a neutral. I think most of us automatically think black or white, but green is a neutral too. Think about green in terms of nature...green can basically pair well with any color.

Below are a few of my favorite plant choices that I've added to our own home and one that I borrowed from my full-time workplace:


The air plant is a snazzy little thing. As you can see it can stand alone without having to be submerged in soil and just requires a spritz of water weekly or so. I credit Jenn and Sherry for turning me on to the air plant (how do you like your air plants ladies?). I got mine for $9.99 at a local nursery. Some may think that sounds like a lot for this, but this thing is going to last and you can move it anywhere you like. I've already moved it from standing alone to sitting in a glass container in our bedroom. The possibilities are endless.

The orchid is beautiful isn't it? There are orchids placed throughout the office at my full-time job. They are meticulously cared for as evidenced by this photo. An orchid like this one shown will cost you a pretty penny - think triple digits - but the impact is grand. This particular orchid is one of a pair that sit on a credenza in our main reception area. It's simply beautiful.

The other plant is a Fittonia which I picked up recently when I got the air plant. The Fittonia has white veining which make it really interesting. Right now it is a small plant that has some depth to it. Hopefully as it grows it will start to cascade. It requires medium light and moderate watering. It fits perfectly in a piece of milk glass my Mom had given me.

I have a few more plants that I'll post about soon.

How have you added plant life into your home?


Monday, October 15, 2012

Master Bedroom Update - The Dresser

I finally had a free afternoon to work on the big beast of a dresser that resides in our master bedroom. The dresser was left by the previous owners because it was that big and bulky. It's a beautiful piece of furniture - well made, sturdy, plenty of storage - and free. But it needed a little love (in my opinion in order to fit in with the design scheme going on in our bedroom).


This is the beast with lots of stuff thrown on top of it. I think this photo was taken over a year ago.

This is where we last stood with bedding and window treatments.


I've since removed the pillow closest to the camera (too much pattern and distraction - less is more) and moved the yellow polka shams behind the navy floral pillows (photo update soon).

And below you can catch a glimpse of the window treatments that were installed - more awesome pattern which led me to remove that pillow in the front.


Back to the dresser...I bought some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint from Phantastic Phinds (woo-hoo - took me forever to finally purchase but once PP starting stocking the paint I knew it was meant to be) because I knew it would be a huge time saver for me (no sanding or priming needed).

Pure White was the choice for paint colors - classic and neutral - and will transition well into another room or home.

Here are some Instagram photos that I took over the weekend:

Getting ready...


Details are starting to come alive...:)  This photo below is one coat. I ended up doing 2 coats. You see how some of the dark wood is stilling showing through? I like that and I'm embracing the look.


Line 'em up! (I might add it was a gorgeous fall day here in PA and perfect painting weather - although some nasty little gnats would occasionally stick to the paint).


And yes, I decided to leave the hardware as is...what do you think? I really didn't love it on the existing stained dresser, but I think it looks mighty pretty against the white - perfect patina.

I did 2 coats of Pure White and 1 coat of the clear wax. I'm still getting the hang of the wax but overall I'm thrilled with the result.

I also have the dark wax and contemplated trying it out but I like it just the way it is right now. Anyone who has tried ASCP - what do you think about trying the dark wax on this?


Reveal of the monster dresser hopefully to come soon...lighting is so tricky in our master bedroom that it's going to be a matter of finding the right time and light.

And I can't end this post without including this from our weekend...


Can you smell it? A new cheese steak place opened in our town and it was DELICIOUS. Cheesesteak, fried onions - that's Whiz on there too. Steve got American and also thoroughly enjoyed his. Oh and we also had a side of fries that were perfectly seasoned, and S had hot dog which she ate the entire thing - must have been good.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend and let's do this Monday thing.  :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall Favorites at A Home in the Making

I'm in weekend mode over here but I wanted to quickly let you know that I'm over at my friend Jenn's today, A Home in the Making. Jenn and her hubby are traveling overseas right now and she asked me and a bunch of other friends to stop by to talk about some fall favorites.

So if you have a few minutes, head on over and see what a few of my fall favorites are - there are too many to count but I managed to pick a few.

Jenn has got the eye. Check out this board she put together for a porch design inspired by John Robshaw fabrics. I love it.



Have a great weekend! And a big thanks to Jenn for inviting me over.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Morris Arboretum

I highly recommend a visit to the Morris Arboretum if you are ever in the Philadelphia area. And for my local friends I hope you have the opportunity to check out Morris sometime very soon if you haven't already had the opportunity. You just need to give yourself an hour or so of time to walk and explore and enjoy.


We're fortunate that we live only 10 minutes from the Arboretum, so we drove over this past Saturday to check out the Scarecrow Walk that started. I made the mistake of telling Sheila we were going to a "festival" and I think she may have been a little disappointed, but we had fun walking, playing, and exploring the gardens.


The gardens are fun for people of all ages. Sheila really enjoyed the fountains. I was mesmerized that gardens and land this beautiful exists in our back yard.




The photos don't really do this place justice at all. The point at which the gardens lie sits up fairly high and the view is incredible. 




The sun started to set and the way the light was coming through the gardens was so pretty.





And of course the best part about visiting the Arboretum was watching Sheila's senses ignite. We had visited about a year ago for the Garden Railway right after Thanksgiving but we haven't been back since, so this was like a brand new experience to her.


I think I'm going to get a few of these photos printed to frame because moments like these are priceless.