The Lake House, post #2

Here she is:


Oh yes, she is very, very cute indeed.  I love that she is kinda barn-like and super country, it just screams ‘i’m casual and kinda playful’. Once we get a new fun front door and lots of foliage, this girl will have great curb appeal.  


here’s the back:


It’s wayyyyy cute and the layout is totally open and awesome.  


And there’s the lake. Just right out the back.  I’m 100% a lake and river person.  Probably from growing up the Coos River in Oregon. Ocean’s are so big and open and full of sharks, but lakes are calm and cozy and unthreatening.  

After the first meeting I created a package for them – inspiration pics, moodboards, color palettes, fabrics, etc, but started it out with a mission statement: 

Pictures always paint a good picture, but i like to kinda write the story, too.  


How very ‘Emily’ i know. But here’s the thing about the designer/client relationship – we are attracted to eachother for a reason. I would be shocked if i got a client that said, ‘i want everything stark and modern and minimalist’.  They wouldn’t hire me and i wouldn’t necessarily want to do the job (unless it paid like A LOT of money, please, bearcat needs a new pair of shoes).  I approach every job as if its my house, whilst obviously keeping the needs and wants of the client in mind.  But if i dont really like beige and brown that much, then unless they ask for it, i’m not terribly inclined to do it.  So yes, this house is pretty much going to look like my dream house.  

It’s super satisfying and will be totally heartbreaking when its over. 

Here was the first mood board for the living room.  SOOOO much has changed since this, but it gives you (and the client) a good idea of what it will look like. The sofa, rugs, sconces, coffee table and leather chair have all been substituted after shopping and finding more appropriate options…..but here you go:

The sofa was from Room and board (hutton sofa) and its one of my favorites, but the client wasn’t its biggest fan for this house, so we have shopped around and around and we think we’ve found it (stay tuned).  I wanted something modern, but super comfy and we all know that those two things don’t go hand in hand that often so it was a challenge to find.  Oh and kid friendly…..

The rug and wood stool are from West Elm

The ‘amazing leather chair’ is from Organic Modernism, but we decided that we wanted something more comfortable so we are actually going with the Dwell Jensen chair instead.  The scale is way better and its more inviting than the leather. 

Plus it has attitude.  The new sofa we are getting doesn’t really, so this chair is making the sofa look cooler.   

The hanging chair is vintage, but we are ordering one from two’s company.

The lamp was Nate Berkus for HSN, i think, but i bought it on EBAY for $130. We are using a white shade, though. 

The gold stump is insane and from ABC carpet and home.  It’s a splurge at $700, but it’s 100% worth it because its impact in the space is HUGE.  It’s an organic shape in a super high gloss metallic finish – oh the tension.  

My shopping plan is a mix of thrift store, big box, flea market stuff with occasional huge splurges to make it look more high end.  You need a few amazing pieces that will elevate the whole space. In this room its the Dwell chair and the gold stump.    

I’m working on a new mood board for the living room, so stay tuned for an updated version. Meanwhile, how are you feling about the Lake House? Any comments or questions?

Knock off.

Dear vintage furniture,

I shop for you a lot and you are all i really want to ever buy. Sometimes you are across the country, so far away and it pains me that i can’t have you.  Too much luck is involved and i’m getting sick of it.  

So I’ve started compiling pictures of pieces that i think i want to reproduce for the masses.  Pieces that just aren’t out there.  Slightly over the top.  Not so danish mid-century.  More crazy midentury.  

My favorite thing to do in the world is finding sofas like this:

And then turning it into this:  

$100 from the flea market.  Nobody even looked at it.  The guy was practically giving it away.


It’s an extremely rewarding hobby. 

These guys are pieces i want to reinvent (yes, ill put my spin on it, but not directly rip anyone off, don’t worry). Some of the pics i took myself, some are from random craigslist throughout the country, but all are unique enough that i feel like there is a market for it.  

What a pretty back you have. And such pretty scallop woodwork for me to enjoy.  Even that velvet is dope, but it could use an update in the finish of the wood.  Not so mid-century.  But my goodness you could be part of my pretty collection.  I love me some art deco furniture, always have.  

I know.  Its sooooo amazing.  It looks comfortable and has a ‘i’m grand and i need a grand chair’ kind of vibe, BUT it is still feminine in shape, but masculine in finish (worn leather).  I will call you ‘hug me, i’m special’ chair.  No i won’t.

I am constantly, nay, obsessively collecting, nay, hoarding vintage fabrics for interesting reupholstering jobs.  I have crazy embroidered tapestries and quilts and anything that screams ‘i’m one of a kind and i’m going to turn a boring room into a crazy amazing room instantly’ is what i hoard.  When you want these kinds of fabrics, you can’t find them, so you really do have to hoard them.  

Shut your mouth.  

These chairs belong to me, figuratively.  Reproducing these is going to be expensive, but i’ll forge the brass myself, you can’t stop me.  

I know you are crazy, but so am I.  Gimme that fringe on the bottom of any sofa.  Here’s the thing; there are a TON of mid-century inspired new sofas that are all straight and modern and masculine, but there aren’t a ton of crazy lady vintage sofas out there.  And yes, i would do it in a more sophisticated fabric.  

These look cheap, but i love the shape of the metal.  If they had quality metal legs, great velvet or linen upholstery and pretty rosewood….oh man……

I know this seems like a whole different direction but i have a thing for folding leather/wood chairs.  Maybe even navy leather…..yes…..

I have a whole pinboard on pinterest of things i wish i had designed if you want to check it out HERE.  

And i’m selling two new items on opensky:

These awesome salt and pepper shakers (brushed gold, wood top, so modern yet with that vintage vibe)

And the baby shower gift of the year:

A flying piggy bank.  You are very very cute.  To purchase (for a discount) click here.


Which pieces would you be interested in buying? Any of these scream out to you?????

Coming at you from New York

Thank you all so much for your nice comments/personal stories the last few days.  It makes me feel really good.  So thank you. 

Right now i’m in NYC checking in on the Lake House renovations and generally gallavanting around town.  I’m staying at Gild Hall hotel downtown, and totally loving it.  Probaby because it looks like this:

You know i love the sofa and chairs. And this is my room:

There are leather strappy things everywhere – no, not in that way, but in a way that reminds me of my new chairs at home that i can’t sit in enough:

Plus its downtown which makes it extremely easy to shop and meet clients (i usually stay in time square) And its in the financial district on Gold street, which has cobblestone streets in a herringbone pattern that makes me instantly think of this guy: 

It’s pretty close to the South Street Seaport, which is where Mr. Feivel first landed.  

Oh and last night we ate at Perla, a new restaurant in the West Village that was perfect.  Its by the same guy that does Jeffrey’s grocery and Fedora (all extremely good food, in beautfiul old buildings and PERFECT ambience with delicious drinks). Plus my friend manages them and when i go i get treated like i’m special which never hurts.  

AND this is their font which i’m obsessed with:

All in all a great trip.  I’m headed out to a meeting, but i have some Lake House updates for you with some pretty compelling before and afters to post in a bit.  

Meanwhile i’ll be singing ‘Somewhere out there’ to Orlando who is holding down the fort in L.A.  

And shoot me some more restaurant recommendations, friends.  I want to get my cozy New York restaurant grub on…..


New Design Tips for Sunrise Senior Living

When i was 12 my parents told us that ‘Aunt Flossy’ was coming to live with us.  I hadn’t exactly heard of her and we already had 7 people living in the house, but i was excited that her name was ‘Flossy’, because its awesome.  Then it was explained to me that she was a distant great aunt of my mom’s who couldn’t take care of herself any longer and we were the only people left that were even remotely related to her.  So, my parents (because they are saints) took in and cared for a pretty grumpy 92 year old stranger. (not surprising, we had taken in many foster kids growing up).  

Aunt Flossy had alzheimers and was 80% deaf and 80% blind.   She was born in 1892, i think, and had stories to tell. Crazy stories. She had lived through the booming 20’s, the great depression, World war 1, 2, Korea, Vietnam….she had stories.  She lived with us for 10 years.  And while at times it was hard to have an emotional connection to her while she was here, she was such a presence in our house for so long that she was very missed when she finally passed at 102 years old. My grandma just passed away two weeks ago, and visiting her in the nursing home a few months ago in Wyoming was totally heartbreaking.  

I have a soft spot for the seniors, and i know i’m not alone in this.  

More importantly i’m a HUGE proponent of end of life happiness and dignity.  If my parents hadn’t existed i have no idea where Aunt Flossy would have lived.  She lived a full life, she volunteered to be a nurse during 2 wars, she was an elementary school teacher for like 40 years, raised 4 step-children as her own, she even got her college degree in the 1940’s  which was crazy for a woman back then….. she deserved to be as happy as possible.  But, SO DOES EVERYONE.

So when Sunrise Senior Living approached me about being a design consultant for their communities, i was definitely intrigued, and after going to one of the centers myself to check it out, i was convinced.  I’m a HUGE fan of communal living.  My friends and I talk about it all the time – we’ll buy a ranch in Topanga canyon, raise our kids and animals together, garden, make furniture, yadda yadda….the husbands think we are nutso, but they will be into it, i’m sure.   So the idea of living in someplace like Sunrise (after visiting) sounds kinda awesome.  They aren’t ‘old folks homes’ from the movies, they are very happy, warm, fun, places to live.  I met soooo many residents and asked them point blank, ‘Do you like living here?’ and all of them were emphatic about how much they loved it.  That was super important to me.  

I liken it to college – the social schedule is packed, you don’t have to work,  you can party every night if you want to, you can come and go as you please, have pets, but you never have to make a meal for yourself (and i had the food there and it was really good, i’m serious), or take a foreign language class (although you could if you wanted to).  Yes, i’m being paid to design and consult, but i’m not being paid to say any of this.  

Mary, above, and i played duets for a while – she killed me, although she was a piano bar singer for 30 years in San Francisco, so i didn’t have a chance.  They let her bring her white lacquer grand piano to the center when she moved in because they didn’t have one and she loves music so much, which i thought was extremely lovely of them.  

Plus there is a house dog, which is totally spoiled because it has 60 owners that want to walk it, play with it, and feed it every day.  

It’s awesome.    I mean, there are like 10 activities to choose from a day – games, movies, art classes, music, dances…there’s even a salon that you can get your hair/makeup/nails done for free by volunteers.  And everything is about dignity and respect.  

So my job was to come up with 10 design tips for family members or seniors to help design their apartments in the Sunrise Community.  

Because you are never to old to have a space that looks like ‘you’ and makes you happy every day. 

Here’s the problems i had to address:  

1. Downsizing – most seniors move from a house they’ve had for 30 years and have accumulated a LOT of stuff, so one has to figure out what to keep, hand down, or donate.  My rule that every piece of yours needs to be either 1. functional, 2. beautiful or 3, sentimental. So when downsizing take the pieces that have at least 2 of those things in common (if not three) and then hand down or donate the others. That beautiful side table with two drawers that you bought in Paris whilst on your honeymoon is a keeper – but the side table that is kinda rickety, that you bought from a big box store in 1992 and is dated and chipped – that goes.

2. Safety and comfort. Things need to be low-maintenance and safe for people with weakening vision or achey bones.  Crazy small/busy patterned wallpaper is not exactly invited and that low, deep sofa that we all love just won’t do here if grandma can’t get out of it.  

3. Style.  It doesn’t have to look like a commercial apartment, it can still be fun and eclectic and look like ‘you’. 

You can read the 10 tips on Sunrise’s website and blog – and please share them, i think they are extremely helpful for anyone downsizing and thinking about the needs of elderly.  I researched a ton to come up with these tips with the hope that it makes everything so much easier for seniors.  

For instance, one of the tips is to use stronger contrasting colors because as vision weakens, you need to be able to see the difference between the top sheet and the bottom sheet, or the difference between the wall color and the floor color.  Some things were obvious – don’t buy huge rectangular glass top tables – they are just begging to be be knocked daily by hips or shins but some weren’t as obvious and everybody designing for a senior should know. 

I created a moodboard of products that fit into all my tips, to help them visualize what it could look like. 

They are suggested pieces that i think are functional, stylish and safe.  They are affordable and from national retailers so if people actually wanted to buy them, they could order them (but i have no affiliation with the companies, i just like them).  I didn’t want to suggest awesome vintage pieces that would be hard to find or afford.  I wanted it to be easy and enjoyable no matter who is doing it.  

I wanted it to feel more traditional, less modern, because most seniors are attracted to traditional design more, but still hip, so i threw in some eclectic pieces.  And i needed it to feel warm, so i chose this beautiful ochre for the walls (Benjamin Moore ‘Leap of Faith’) for the top half, added a chair rail (which is actually disguising a handrail, check out the tips to read about that one) and painted the bottom half white .  As vision weakens, warmer colors are easier to see than cooler colors.  They suggested browns, beiges, yellows or reds so i liked this ochre a lot. 

Here are the pieces that i suggested, at least for inspiration:

Sofa:  ‘Landon’ Not too low, not too deep, but arm height is tall enough to help get in and out of easily.  From Pottery Barn, HERE.  

Dual purpose skirted storage bench:  Add a tray and its a table, or it could be extra seating and always extra storage. $259. (actually on sale right now, $191) HERE

Sconces:  they free up space on your night stand and are easy to turn on and off from bed – less in and out of the bed.  From West Elm, $79.99 (on sale right now)  HERE 

Upholstered Ottomon:  no sharp edges to bang shins, and move it close to the sofa and you’ve got yourself a very comfy seat to stretch out on.  West Elm, HERE

Carved wood side table – its round so no sharp edges, allows for easy flow through the apartment, and is chunky and sturdy.  West Elm HERE

Recliner – Yes, you know you secretly want one.  They are obviously super functional, comfortable and relaxing. And this one doesn’t look 1/2 bad either.  West Elm, HERE

Upholstered headboard – comfy, cozy, inexpensive, ($399).  From Home HERE

Memory wall:  Obviously pictures of family/friends is such an easy way to personalize a space, and there is a decent amount of wall space in the apartments to fill. I like this ‘gallery in a box’ by Pottery Barn that makes it easy for you, $189.00 HERE. 

Bedside table – adds storage, obviously.  From Pottery Barn, HERE. 

Storage side table:  Pottery Barn, $299 HERE. 

Accessories – throws, boxes, lamp, etc to add comfort, color, and personality all from West Elm. 

As somebody who claims i can do any style, i was psyched for this challenge.  I loved the company, could absolutely see my relatives living there happily, and it just felt good.  Aunt Flossy would have loved it.  

So here’s the scoop:

If you have somebody in your life that might potentially be living in an assisted community like this, i strongly suggest you tour Sunrise next week.  Basically from March 18 – March 24th they are having a ‘Tour of Homes’ event throughout 250 of their senior living communities and they are open to the public.  Everyone will receive my ‘Design Guide’ that isn’t available online,  which is chock full of tips and information.  

Check it out, let me know what you think and leave a comment if any of this is helpful at all to you or if you know somebody that has had an experience at Sunrise.


Matters of Bidness.

Some fun announcements:

1. I’ll be at the Lowe’s on Pico blvd in Los Angeles TODAY talking about using lowe’s products to style outside.  I would love for any and all of you to come and say ‘hi’.  I’m not bringing in a ton of props, so its not a massive style how-to, and its certainly not a lecture, but maybe i’ll tell you some inappropriate stories from Design Star.  Stuff i can’t talk about on the blog……maybe.

4550 W Pico Blvd  Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 617-9570



2. If you haven’t signed up for Open Sky to follow me, you are in for a treat.  It’s basically an expert curated shopping site.  My first collection was called ‘Gold Rush’ and its a ton of affordable gold/brass/painted gold accessories. 

You can click HERE to follow me.  It includes all this stuff:

My first collection is called ‘Gold Rush’ because i’m extremely rich and i only own things plated in gold. Click HERE, (and then tell your friends…please).  


My next ‘collection’ is “Made in Oregon” and i want to find more home design companies that are out of Oregon to shop from, to feature/sell their products.  Obviously i love Pendleton, Schoolhouse Electric and Rejuvenation…but i’m forgetting all the rest of you who make large quanitites of home stuff.

It could be textiles, rugs, pillows, boxes, furniture, lighting – anything for the home.  Unfortunately i’m not doing fashion or jewelry right now, so think ‘home’.   Yes, it can be etsy sellers as long as they can make HUGE quantities.  

PLEASE leave it in the comments, not in an email  – its so much easier to peruse. I hate gmail, by the way. And this way other people can see the companies and they can get even more exposure.  

3. You are in for a treat, my Los Angeles Friends.  The best hair stylist/cutter from New York just moved here. And he’s insanely good.  He’s cut and colored my hair for years (except the really short one that i got last year in Woodland Hills that i’m still growing out and he’s still mad at me for).  

His name is Christophe and he works at John Freida in West Hollywood.  He is so effing good you have no idea. There are hair cutters, then their are people like him who will TELL you what your hair should be like – how you will look best.  He’s told me before that my hair was dated, too dark, too bright, or circa Jennifer Anniston on Friends in ’97, but all in a nice way when i’ve asked.  It’s like hiring a designer for your hair, not just someone who you tell what to do.  You are only getting half the service of the price with those people.  Plus he styles it so well that afterwards you look like you stepped out of French Vogue – you feel like you look amazing.

Plus for you guys he’s doing $50 off for your first hair cut (not just a blow-out).  Spread the word. 

Here’s his info:  

 8440 Melrose Place  Los Angeles, CA 90069

(323) 653-4040

Ask for Christophe (christ-off)

Plus he’s hot and french (and gay and taken):

In case you are worried that he doesn’t do celebrities, don’t worry he does.  And he is also dating one of my best friends in the world, Scott horne, who is my next announcement.

4. The prop stylist Scott Horne is officially bi-coastal.  He is an incredible New York style stylist,  who is now living in Los Angeles.  So all of you who know i’m not styling anymore and are struggling to find good stylist here (because yes, there are VERY few that can compete with New York stylist) you’ll be so pleased to know that he’s officially styling in Los Angeles….until he opens a store which i’m hoping will be sooner than later because his taste is insane and his eye is better than anyone i know.   His website is HERE

Here’s some of his work:


I’m pretty sure these are all from Martha Stewart.  Cause she loves herself some Scott Horne.

Announcements officially over. 

Come see me at Lowe’s!!