DIY 99 cent doily bowl

The words ’99 cent store’ and ‘doily’ might be two of Brian’s least favorite things to hear, and they certainly aren’t getting me that romatic impromptu date night i was promised,  but asked me to take the DIY challenge with ingredients ONLY from the 99 cent store, i said, ‘Did you meet me in college?Have you any idea how broke i used to be?’.  I’m VERY comortable, nay, happy shopping in junk stores. Hell, i love shopping at the dump.  


The challenge: to take something that is 99 cents and make it look like a million dollars.  Possible? Um, NO, definitely not. But maybe I could make it look like $18 – $37.  So that’s what i shot for.

So introducing:  a 99 cent DIY cloth doily bowl/sculpture.  


Wax paper, blue cloth doilies (they come in packs of 2),  2 plastic bowls to create the mold, a paintbrush and a little cheap bowl for the glue/water mixture.  So easy.  All of that was at the 99 cent store, for like $5 total.

Step 1.  Coat the doily in watery glue.  

Put the glue in a bowl add some water (equal parts maybe) and brush it on.  Just make the water runny, not totally watery but almost watery.  Sorry, that is totally abstract and certainly not detailed at all. This is why i’m a terrible cook – i ‘eye’ everything and ruin most meals.  Deal with it.   I’d be the worst bomb disarmer ever.  

Line the bowl with wax paper then put the wet with glue cloth doily in said bowl.  

Add another layer of wax paper and another identical bowl to fully create the ‘bowl’ shape.  Press down firmly but not too aggressive. 

Let it dry overnight, or just til its totally dry. It could be 4 – 12 hours or less…..

I’d be the worst doctor. I’d be all ‘hey maybe take some of these pills, 1 – 4 or so a day, i don’t really care, for a couple days, or more, depending on stuff’.  

But this thing is so easy to make that you kinda can’t mess it up.  I mean, i didn’t. I actually really like it. 

Viola!  Kinda pretty and sculptural, and since its in navy blue (instead of white or something more predictabe) it isn’t overly ‘crazy grandma’.  It’s like that hip grandma that looks like she was once a PBS art teacher, but she also wears structured jackets and sexy camisoles.  

So what do you use it for? Not watermelons.  Not bowling balls. Maybe pretty thread, hair accessories?  What i use it for is my collection of vintage matchbooks that i’ve been hoarding.  As one does.   

I know i didn’t invent the doily bowl, but i did make it myself and i actually love how it turned out.  Its like when you dress up the understated indie nerd and put him in a vintage slasher t-shirt, worn levi’s and a cardigan with patches on the elbows.  He turns cute (and hot) really, really fast.  


Before and After of Glee creator’s Ian Brennan’s Comfy TV room.

Name drop much? Emily? Whatever do you mean?

Here’s the 2nd to last installment of my friend Ian Brennan’s house.  Yes, co-creator of Glee and yes, i want people to google ‘Glee’ and for this post to come up, i’m kinda shameless and transparent like that. But don’t worry, I’ve also given him permission to drop my name in gross ways as well, perhaps even on an episode of Glee, in his Emmy thank you speech, or even on The Ellen Show, if need be.  I mean, whatever is best for him and the show, that’s really all i think about.  In fact that’s really why i’m doing this, to get more people to watch Glee. It’s grass roots marketing, people, but i’m pretty sure that this blog is why 11 million people watch the show, Glee. You are welcome, Ryan Murphy. 

For those just tuning in, Ian is a good friend of mine and when he moved into his new bungalow a couple years ago i designed it for the pilot episode of Secrets from a Stylist. But i never took proper, well styled photos of it, which bummed me out every time i was over there.  So photographer Bethany Nauert and i went back and she shot it and I styled it all up a couple weeks ago.  Check out the Living/dining room, and a sneak into the master bedroom, plus here is the episode itself if you want some vintage SFAS.  

But some rooms REALLY changed since the show.  Like the Den, for instance:

When he first moved into the house he didn’t really have anything to put in this room. So we had to stage the before look.  I think we even bought him this furniture so that there was something actually in the room to show on camera and to give the viewers a proper ‘before’ and ‘after’.  There’s a secret from a stylist for you.  This is the only picture i can find, sadly, but it gives you an idea of what the space was like before. 

THEN, when i redid it on the show i turned it into this:

Its obviously widly better, although that photo looks so sad.  But here is some behind the scenes info – some real riveting stuff:

Ian and i really didn’t like this white furniture. It was his old furniture from his starter apartment in Los Angeles. It was faux leather and just way too ‘contemporary’ for him (and me). Plus not nearly comfortable enough for the tv room.  

They look nice in these photos, i admit. But ultimately we wanted something better.  

So before the show we went to HD Buttercup and bought a very comfortable sectional.  The plan was to use these in the first look and then to bring the sectional in for the second look. But the producers thought that these looked nice enough, and that it would look silly to the viewers to replace them and we would get criticism for being wasteful.  I think they were right.  So we left these for the final look and kept the sectional in storage til after the show.  Then we sold these on craigslist.  

I like this room. Its masculine and ‘dude’.  I like the gray grasscloth a lot, and as you can see we replaced the carpet to simple gray commercial grade carpet, added a hyde, vintage trunk for a coffee table and installed goose neck lamps on the wall as sconces.  

But then a couple bad things happened:

1. The grasscloth installer for the show (that we never used again) was NOT up to par and thats putting it real nicely.  The seams in grasscloth are always going to show more than in wallpaper and normally it doesn’t bother me, but it was really bad and uneven and messy.  Then he got a lot of the wallpaper paste on the front of the grasscloth so there were these huge stains all over the front of it. Awesome.  We shot around it and vowed to Ian that we would fix it afterwards with a better installer, one that knew how to YOU KNOW, install it properly. Luckily grasscloth is cheap compared to wallpaper so it wasn’t that big of a pain.  I buy my grasscloth at  It can be as cheap as $35 a roll (wallpaper starts at $60 – $150 a roll, to give you a comparison).  

2. We replaced the grasscloth just in time for Ian’s basement to flood. The entire basement was practically underwater and had to be gutted.  MASSIVE bummer. I felt SOOO terrible for him.  This was his first year into home ownership so needless to say it sucked. Everything had to be replaced and i tried to help as much as i could.  I’ve always felt slightly responsible for his house because he bought it really quickly just so he could be on the show which obviously was great for him, but also so good for me. So i do feel slighly emotionally tied to it.  

ANYWAYS, this room did feel a bit masculine and cold for him (and me) so when we had to opportunity/were forced to replace the grasscloth AGAIN i swatched new colors and we realized that a really warm dark ochre would make the room WAY more inviting. This space doesn’t get a lot of light and its sole purpose is for cuddling, so it needed to be more inviting. If the floors were wood it might have helped, but i always knew deep down that the charcoal walls and the heather gray carpet wasn’t the best idea.  But it was approved by me, him, the producers and HGTV so I stuck with it.  This is the main difference between designing for TV and designing for real life – you have to make decisions really fast and you have to stick to them even though you might change your mind. Too many people are involved, and the ball gets rolling too fast so its hard to change your mind in so many ways.  

But look at her now:

The room is now WAY more cozy and inviting. The beautiful ochre grasscloth made all the difference in the world. Plus there is a cute dog, and people love pinning cute pictures of dogs, right?


So here is one of the first lessons i learned as a designer (rather than just a stylist):

A room with too many cool tones will just feel COLD.  Gray walls, gray sofa and gray floor = masculine, but cold. 

Now we have warm ochre grasscloth walls, a warm wood coffee table/trunk, an ochre and cream patterned rug (from Ikea), BUT the sofa is still a warm gray and the carpet is still gray so it feels balanced. Sometimes  a room with too many warm neutrals can look dated and kinda 90’s, so it needs to have some cooler tones.  But i love that there isn’t a lot of high contrast in this room – its tonal and quiet which makes it feel bigger, calmer and more inviting.  

Again, thanks to Bethany Nauert for shooting the real AFTERS, she did an awesome job.  Again check out his living room and mini-office here. 

So which do you prefer – the gray grasscloth or the ochre grasscloth?  Be honest folks and let er rip. 

A pretty Vintage desk Moment

I styled my friend Ian’s house (remember the pilot episode and this post and this recent post of his living room) a couple weeks ago, shot by Bethany Nauert.  In the last year since i designed this room they added this desk in the corner which i totally love. They got it online at an antique store in the middle of the country and had it shipped. Meanwhile i styled it and made it all pretty and generally am taking credit for their good purchase.  

The clock is from Inheritance (one of my favorite vintage/antique/awesome new shit stores in Los Angeles).  Everything else i just kinda had in my inventory – aka my closet-o-hoarding, which had dimished very quickly due to the recent OKL tastemaker sale, but is growing rapidly due to my Palm Springs thrifting trip last weekend. Don’t worry you guys, i’ll soon have so much unnecessary stuff again!

I’m in New York, gallavanting around for a bunch of press stuff, pitching stories to magazine, doing a ton of tv and radio interviews and going to the West Elm Market Grand Opening party last night, which was totally awesome and i’ll be definitely buying and featuring their new products VERY soon.  

So before i go meet with People magazine in a few minutes (i’m pretty sure up for chicest hoarder in America) i’ll just leave you with that desk shot, which i love.  That overscaled pocket watch kills me.  Bethany (the photographer) killed it.  

Best Planter Roundup

You’ve all heard my rant about planters, lampshades and frames – all things that tend to cost way more than the actual plant, lamp and artwork that you originally bought them for. I’m going to make MILLIONS, nay BILLIONS of dollars with my planter, shade and frame empire someday.  

But at the same time the right planter can be a total conversation piece and absolutely worth throwing down some cash for. You can use it over and over again, change out the plant if you kill them and often, on their own they can also be great sculptural elements.  




1. Male and Female Busts, $300,  My friend Joy has these and I LOVE them.  Great with succulents or flowers or just on their own. They aren’t cheap, but such a great gift.  

2. Dinosaur, $14.50,  Cute and cheap.

3. Glass Tripod,  So beautiful

4. Wig Planter,  I can’t find where to buy these, but they are so awesome.  

5. Pocket Beastie Planter

6. Flower Me Happy Pot, $79  YES. In so many ways.  



1. Blue and White, $60.  This company has a lot of great handmade planters. 

2. White Beaded Planter, $92,  LOVE.  

3. Wood and Leather Planter Holder,  I’m not sure if this is still for sale, but i love them.  

4. White Drop Hanging, $150

5. Vintage Mid Century Planter,  Where can i get my grubby little hands on these. 

6. Faceted White Planter, $76   From Pigeon Toe Ceramics, a Portland company that i love and sell on Opensky.



1. Geometric White Planter, $68

2. Yellow Pod Planter, $186,  I’m most likely buying these for a client soon.  

3. Blue Okura Planter, $895,  I mean, if you have an extra $900 grab yourself this Jonathan Adler planter

4. White Wall Planter, $72, So simple and pretty.

5. Marbled Planters

6. Bloombox  For the equal lover of tech and plants.  

7. Striped Planters baskets. These are so fun, colorful and smart.  

Top 5 most affordable online art resources

A good piece of art  can elevate even the most generic of furniture and make your space look as interesting as you are.  A generic piece of art can really be decorating suicide.  It’s serious, people.

After you read this post and check out these sites you really have no excuse for buying generic art. Forget about the ‘art section’ of the big box store, skip all the wannabe high-art at the Tuesday Morning.  Sure, it can be cheap but it also looks cheap and can dumb down your whole space instantly.  There are so many amazing artists out there that are making their work affordable, and we need to support them.  30 years ago it would have been so much harder for an artist to make a living as an artist, but thanks to these companies below many artists can now pay their bills.  And paying the bills shouldn’t be a luxury.    

So here are the five best online affordable art resources that i’ve found and that i use often.  These web-sites are killing it and making my job so much easier.  

1. 20×200  

The pros:  Jen Bekman has curated a huge selection of really amazing photos, illustrations, drawing, collages and prints of paintings. They have options of sizing starting at 8×10 for $20 and ranging up to 30×40 for $2400. Most prints have limited editions so you know they won’t be ubiqutious and you can feel confident you won’t get sick of seeing it everywhere. Plus artists make a decent cut from them.  

The cons:  a 16×20 print is $200 which is a lot for a unframed print so make sure that you love it and that its not too trendy.  In general i choose prints of photos or illustrations not abstract paintings.   A print of a painting looks obviously less authentic than a print of a photo which can look like an original photo.  


1. Jeremy Kohm 11×14, $60 unframed, $185 framed.  

2. Sharon Montrose  11×14 $60 unframed $185 framed.

3. Matthew Tischler 11×14 $60, $185 framed.

4. Kent Rogowski 11×14 $60 unframed, $185 framed


2. Little Paper Planes.  I love this site VERY much.

The pros:  They have art, sculptures, objects, fashion and accessories. They push their artists to be more creative and do videos about their artwork. They have a huge variety, it is VERY affordable, and they introduce me to new artists all the time.  Lots of inexpensive HUGE weird photographs that can ground a whole wall.  

The cons:  None really. As far as i can tell framing isn’t an option, but that isn’t that big of a con to me at all – i like to frame my own to make it either custom or inexpensive. 


1. David Barclay  ‘Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg, i thought they were the same guy for 2 years.’ Yes, thats what the drawing is called. 18×24″ for $20  

2. Anthony Zinonos 8×10 $22

3. Jazmin Berakha i love to stare at this abstract illustration. 

4. Lulu Wolf This is large scale 36×48 for $40. AMAZING deal. 


3. Mammoth and Company

The pros: This company is artist run so i’m assuming they are getting a good cut of the profits which is awesome. They have pretty edgy weird art and a wide selection.  They have the same model as 20×200 with limited editions of 8×10 ($20), 11×14 ($50), 16×20 ($200).  They also have original pieces as an option, which i love. 

The cons:  None really, except framing isn’t an option.

1. Raina Kirn,  Olive

2. Eric Warner, Sun Medallion

3. Carolin Loebbert, Alfred Brehm

4. Lauren Bahr,  Cradle


4. Society 6

The pros:  SOOOO much variety and very ‘guy’ friendly.  Anyone can basically sell their art on this site and every piece can be turned into an iphone case, totes, t-shirts, etc. I’m collecting art for a ‘best guy friendly art’ post coming up and this site has the best. Brian loved so many pieces.

The cons:  such a big variety that you do end up having to work through some that aren’t so awesome. And no, i don’t always want a piece of art of mine that i love to end up on my neighbors iphone case.  

1. Steven Womack, Scales 26×22 $30 (comes in different sizes and prices)

2. Kevin Russ, Forks Washington 8×8 $15

3. Kevin Russ, Street Walker 17×17 $23 

4. Terry Fan, Moby 17×22 $30 (comes in different sizes and prices as)


5. The Calm gallery

The pros:  They have some great typography (like the smile below that i’ve bought for a client and myself).  It’s affordable and they are limited editions. Often the numbered edition is written in pencil in the lower right corner which is a nice touch and makes it feel more luxurious.

The cons:  Some of the pieces can get cheesy and overly sentimental.  You have to be careful with inspirational quotes, make sure its a phrase that you really like. 


1. The Lepolas, SMILE 20×28 $55.66

2. Alyson Fox, Lace People 11×14 $28.63

3. Double Merrick, Planets 23×16 $63.62

4. Amy Ross Bird Heart, $79.52 12×12


Check these sites out, support these artists, make your house more interesting.

And for the best affordable ready-made frames roundup go HERE 

For some of my favorite etsy artists and pieces check HERE and HERE