The Lake House makeover – Kitchen edition

Ah, the lake house project. This project will always have a very special place in my heart and my career. It was an insane first year post-show and I was branching out into the “normal” design field.  I had very little experience on how to find the right clients, how to charge, how to pay employees, and generally how to not fail miserably. Some jobs were successes (like this one and a few others) and some were more ‘learning experiences’ as we like to call them (successful for the client – but we realized we weren’t charging enough to really profit – whoops). Either way I learned a ton, don’t regret a thing (isn), and can look back on this project with mostly fond and happy memories.

This client was kinda our dream client. They had good taste (she’s actually gone on to become an interior designer for HomePolish, ha!) and had a doable budget  - which will remain private because well, they aren’t me and actually have a sense of privacy, but just know that we still needed to be very budget friendly. Plus, they were fun to be around which is the key to really enjoying a job because you spend A LOT of time with them. Lastly, they were really trusting.

I chatted with them on the phone and liked them. Then we flew out to meet them and loved them. And then we looked at their house, saw the potential and committed to them.  The chemistry was just so right. Here are the pictures from Zillow that we saw before we visited:

lake house before

The space had soooo much potential. It was big, open, airy and led right out to the lake. In these photos the finishes don’t look that bad, but everything was cheap builder grade. It had been flipped 7 years before so we were dealing with a lot of post-flip problems. I know there are a lot of good flippers out there now, but man do those dudes do some ugly damage. Lets name them shall we? The ‘wood floor’ was laminate. The beams were painted chocolate-brown which is a huge ‘no no’ in my book. It’s either stained wood or painted white (or a color), but you, Mr. faux wood, are fooling no one.

I’m realizing that this post could potentially be 95 pages long, so I’m going to break it up and in this post talk just talk about the kitchen. The kitchen had like 6 different finishes; stone, tile, wood, other tile, accent tile, other stone, granite, bad wood, nickel – pretty much just whatever was left over from other jobs. There were 70′s heater boards everywhere, and the kitchen was abnormally huge and yet felt like a ton of wasted space. So first things first – design direction of the whole space:

lake house mood and feel

It’s so funny looking at these photos/mood board because it was almost 3 years ago – so all those pics above there were brand new on pinterest and now, well, they aren’t. But regardless you get the feel – bright, airy, fresh, fun, kid-friendly, warm. As far as styles they wanted a mix of “mid-century”, “japanese organic”, with a little bit of “edgy traditional” in there.  Yes. I just said ‘Edgy Traditional’ and I kinda want to burn off all my finger prints, change my name and move to Bakersfield. A similar feeling to when I uttered, ‘lifestyle moment’ the other day … but the thing is … you all know what I mean .. Oh and because it was their country house, just for weekends, we/they didn’t want to blow a ton of money on any one thing. This was not for luxury, it was just to make a nice, pretty, retreat from the city so all the finishes needed to be good quality, but simple and affordable. And here it is all blank, right before demo:

mahah 029-1

awkward kitchen

kitchen demo

Click through to see the renderings and my poorly photographed ‘after’ photos. (more…)

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Pet (cat) Friendly Design Tips

Pet Friendly Design Tips As many of you know I’m a cat and dog person. Before we got cats our only reservation was that they are kinda a lot of responsibility as you have to, you know, make sure they are cared for while you travel, come home at night to feed them, etc. This actually hasn’t proven to be too annoying because you love them enough that it doesn’t matter. But what has been annoying is the damage that they’ve done to our furniture and the mess they create in the house … and I’m not even a neat freak. They puke everywhere, spill their cat food, if we aren’t on top of the litter it wreaks up the whole house, Bearcat has a sneezing issue which we see damage from all over the house (and it is REALLY hard to clean up), etc. Obviously our love of the goes far beyond smells and stains, but it’s still kinda a bummer. So when I partnered up with Arm and Hammer Clump and Seal litter to redo the cattery I figured I’d pull together some tips for y’all as well. This is mainly for the cat owners out there, but there are some good just general tips for dogs (and kids actually). Here goes.

Consider your upholstery fabrics:

You may have noticed that I use velvet A LOT. Do you think I just really love it? Sure, but it’s also because we cat owners can’t have linen furniture. It’s a fact i’ve accepted years ago. Cats, in particular, like to claw, so skip anything with an open weave like linen. As an alternative, ultra suede, leather (although they’ve ruined one leather armed chair that they can sit on) and velvet are harder for cats to get their claws into; and commercial-grade fabrics, nylon, and polyester repel stains more easily.

Cat Fabrics

I redid our new sofa in white sunbrella (don’t worry, you’ll get a whole post on that later) and so far it has held up, but if you are nervous then get velvet or ultrasuede. Ultrasuede isn’t my most favorite fabric in the world but it is indestructible and so pet (and kid) friendly. If you are going down that route and you have a choice get the ultrasuede that has the least amount texture or modeling. One of the things I hate about it is that it leaves your exact butt mark when you stand up and the texture can be strangely busy. But when you have pets, and cats in particular, they will most likely do this to linen or anything that is woven:

Cat Upholstery

So annoying. So get yourself velvet, performance velvet (this is kinda a combo of velvet and ultrasuede and it looks pretty good and most big box stores have it as an option these days), Sunbrella or leather. Vinyl certainly works too, but pretty hard to incorporate well into a room (although I did it here and it looked good).

Streamline pet accessories:

I’m not saying get OCD about matching your cat toys to your color palette but I’m also not saying that it’s a bad idea. You want to minimize their attention and make them look more streamlined so they aren’t really noticed. There are actually some pretty awesome options out there these days. Like so:

Cat Accessories

Leaning Console Scratch Post | Cube Scratch Post

You know i’m in to wicker so these things actually work really well in my house.

Master the unattractive and smelly litter box:

Its totally normal and yet TOTALLY CRAZY to keep a box of poop in our homes at all times. Most litter boxes aren’t something we want to display prominently in our homes – but you do have some options out there. We turned the tiny hall closet in our house into their litter box room so thank god we don’t have to look at it, but if you don’t have that option, look for something a little more attractive, or a litter boxes that double as furniture (good for small spaces but if you have a big house then just get one that is simple and white or wood).

ModernLitterBox

Modern Litter Box 2

MidCentry Modern Litter Box | ModCat LitterBox | Modern Brown Litter Box

Probably the least awesome things about cats (I hate to be so negative about these furry little cuddly animals) is the litter box smell. Well I can now say that if we change the box once a week we actually don’t have this problem anymore due to Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal. When they first approached me about the cattery redo I didn’t really care about the litter to be honest – I just wanted to makeover an animal shelter. But then when we bought the litter to make sure that it was, you know, indeed good and we were very happy to report that it works and it really destroys the smell. Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal, I never predicted I’d gush about cat litter so much but yes, it works.  It guarantees a seven-day odor-free home. Since the litter easily clumps together, it also minimizes litter dust, so it doesn’t get all over your house. There is still some dust, but so much less mess.

cat-wallpaper1

Click through to read the rest of the tips and see the video.  (more…)

The Fort – Fig House’s VIP/man cave

A quick little makeover, y’all. The Fig House was finished, dunzo, opening party and all when Steve (the owner) told me that he had built a small groomsmen room on the property – a space that would be more masculine and really private where the dudes or just any VIP people could chill. Technically I wasn’t responsible for designing it but people would think that I did therefore if someone else designed it and I didn’t like it I would be bummed. I’m kinda annoying and controlling like that. So I was like, OK, lets do this real run and gun style – within two weeks and just a few thousand dollars. So we did.

Here was the empty space – it looked like a caboose – just long skinny and dark. It needed to house 10 dudes, give them a place to chill, drink, listen to music, drink, tie each others bowties and lounge. But it was a tricky space, y’all. It was just a long dark windowless box.

The Fort

So we came up with a quick rough plan:

Plan

We would do a built in bench the shape of an L, and do two small scale chairs opposite it, with some floating side tables. Then at the far end there would be a bar that comes out from the side, and a back bar behind it for glassware and booze. The built-in bench was the best way to maximize the seating because having  10 chairs in there seemed like obviously a terrible idea.

(Click through to see the after)  (more…)

Introducing Judson Studios Stained Glass

Stained glass is kale (the vegetable a la 2014) – when its good its surprisingly delicious, but otherwise it’s not really my deal/style. It gets a bad rap because it’s often associated with churches, religious art or by the beach kitschy stuff. But in theory it’s just pretty glass colors that let light through – and ain’t nothing wrong with that.

When I first got my hands on the Fig House project I immediately wanted to do some stained glass. As a designer it’s always such a fun challenge to take an art form that is typically considered not terribly modern and see how it can be used in a way that is totally fresh and conversation worthy. As soon as I had muttered the words ‘stained glass’ Steve, the owner of Fig, told me that one of his best friends was/is a stained glass artist at Judson Studios – a stained glass studio not even a mile from The Fig House. Lucky us, indeed. So I went for a visit that day and was BLOWN away by how awesome the studio was.

Stained glass

Stained Glass


stained glass

It’s a 100-year-old building that has been in the Judson Studio family for generations. It is old, beautiful and totally inspiring. It makes me want to quit my job, go back to school, learn some skills and apply for a job here.

Stained glass

They have antique glass that is pretty much priceless and totally unsourceable now (unless you buy from Austria).

stained glass

I mean the space itself is just so weird in a good way .. look at those windows up there!!!!

stained glass

stained glass

stained glass

It’s been through five generations of Judson’s and stuff like that really tickles my sentimental bone. The artists make everything in-house and their skills are insane. It’s such a long, laborious, artistic, skilled, beautiful process.

stained glass

They have rows and rows of sheets of antique glass that they pull from, plus these little swatch cards of glass in front of windows that we designed from. The whole place is just visually inspiring. Above is the artist welding our ‘came’ together (and yeah… you know we used brass came which they thought was crazy, but of course it’s just incredibly beautiful).

Stained glass

They have walls and walls of colors to choose from – its like an instragrammers/bloggers dream space.

stained glass

stained glass

That room up there has all the antique glass that is one of a kind and just so incredibly beautiful.

Typically they do a lot of religious stained glass work – they do churches all over the world, and it’s totally impressive but yeah, just not really right for a residential project. But the thing about stained glass is that it’s just pretty colored glass, that can be in any color, any pattern, any shape – so why is it normally relegated to just religious or commercial projects?  You see it all the time in more mission style homes, too, but normally not in the colors that I would have chosen.

Stained glass

What is going on here above you ask? Well, here’s the deal – for churches or any more figural work where there are people involved they actually pose in the shapes of the people, then take a photo then draw/paint on glass … the whole process is insane. So yes, you can actually have a stained glass portrait of yourself.

Typically the clients they have ask for stained glass art like s0 …

Stained glass

But naturally we shook it up.

stained glass

But what was so exciting when I worked with them is the endless options – I worked directly with Tim Carey (who is incredibly talented and fun to work with) and we designed The Fig House windows which is still the most beautiful element of the space.

Stained Glass

That handsome man up there, Tim, is our artist and he is AMAZING. He looks very serious there, but he was so easy to work with, had so many creative ideas and was just so passionate about our project.

I know that many of you might have seen The Fig House stained glass and I will be doing a post about the whole process (we took the after photos yesterday) but for now here is a sneak peek:

stained-glass-modern

Here’s my challenge for y’all – rethink stained glass. I tried to make it appropriate for our house and it just didn’t feel right and I wasn’t ready for the investment, but if I build a house or buy an older house you know I’ll be getting Judson to custom make some stained glass for me. I mean, just think about it as a room divider in a loft … ridiculous.

 

Photo Credit: Tessa Neustadt

 

Introducing Amsterdam Modern

We’ve been shooting at some pretty amazing houses for the book lately so I figured it was time to call people out, feature them and thank them. The first one is Ellen, the owner of Amsterdam Modern, a mid-century Dutch import store that I love and have purchased quite a bit from (including my new sofa, yet to be revealed). Her stuff is always beautiful and so interesting, not cheap mind you because they are the real deal (imported, well cared for, original, etc) and just oh so beautiful.

amsterdam modern

Those are some of my favorite pieces she has right now. That denim patchwork chaise is beyond words (I know many of you will think its hideous but in the right space I think its AMAZING).

Check out the rest of her inventory here, and yes she ships nationwide … Happy Tuesday y’all. xx