The built-in bookcase design


There wasn’t a lot that we needed to do structurally to the house. No walls to knock out or rooms to build – just flooring, painting and changing out all the finishes and fixtures. But it lacked any storage for books, or built-ins, etc, and I have books and pots and vessels galore over here and I want to show them off. I didn’t want to just have a bunch of random bookcases all over the house, because I promised that I wouldn’t over clutter this house. So I decided to do one big built-in bookcase in the main space. Behind that black gate above is the walkway to the family room/kitchen area and that wall seemed like the perfect place to put it. Besides then it would be the massive, beautiful focal point when you walk in. I could style them out to my hearts content every day.

So I started trolling for inspiration.

Bookshelf Ideas

I knew I wanted something that looked original to the house. I wanted the shelves to be tall enough to house art and lamps inside as well as books. And I wanted it to be an interesting/fresh design. So then I found the inspiration, y’all. This dude:


Ah yeah. We had the beams in the ceiling to make it make sense. It was functional, and interesting without being trendy. Now we just needed to actually design it … which involves measuring, numbers, drawing … I just fell asleep between measuring and drawing ….

Here was the space that we were living with:


And in case you thought it was easy to design these things it ain’t. It’s just hours and hours of work, playing with numbers, making sure you’ve thought about everything you can, and making sure that it looked as amazing as it could. Ginny started jumping into it and she did a bang up job. It was tricky figuring out what the widths of the fronts should be  - should they be the thickness of the beam? thinner? how much thinner? thin enough that it looks intentional, but thick enough that it holds the space – that wall was big and tall, so It needed to feel proportioned. And then you’ll notice the top left had a weird indention that was just lovely to work with that we didn’t account for at first. Anyway, click through to read the whole process and see the result.


Kitchen backsplash tile design – a fail

Ok y’all. Its update time (although no reveal, sorry!).

To recap:

When we moved into the kitchen it was OK, considering it was from the 60′s with very few updates (thank god). We planned on refinishing the cabinets (boy was that a mistake, more on that when we’re allowed to show the pics) and I knew we would get these beautiful handles from School House Electric to update them, so everything was pretty simple, clean, and classic midcentury so far. The place that I could go crazy and do something interesting was the backsplash. So the amount of hours I thought about this stupid backsplash was ridiculous.

Here’s a reminder of what it looked like when we moved in:


A pretty great layout, simple cabinetry and just needed updates on appliances, countertop. sink, faucets, lighting, etc.

Designing for yourself (and fast) is actually really difficult when you have a large audience that is going to see it, share it (or not) like it, hate on it, etc, etc. Here is what i’ve been battling:

I want to do something amazing, but also something that is a “good idea” and something that might inspire other good ideas in you – aka I could have just called up some super expensive and beautiful tile company and gotten tons of handmade tile for free (and yes, I was tempted), but what is the ‘idea’ in that? Its like “here’s a tip, folks!- spend 5K on your backsplash tile!”

But at the same time I really wanted it to be amazing and generally anything that is common and relatively inexpensive is just not amazing. And I wanted it to be simple and mid-century because a. we are going to sell the house in probably in a year so as much as I wanted to bring in a weird color palette, its just not good for resale. And b, I don’t want to get sick of looking at this thing because its attached to the family room so its the room that we spend most of our time in.

I even met with ceramic artist Bari Zipperstein because I love her work and thought I could commission tiles from her but again the tip is ‘collaborate with an amazing artist that is going to give you a deal for exposure!!’

And then part of me was like,”just do whatever you want and screw the fact that it may or may not be pinned for the rest of eternity!!!!”

Anyway, to recap, here’s what I wanted: 1. something midcentury-inspired, 2. a good ‘idea’ (in other words do something creative with something common), 3. something relatively inexpensive (EVERYTHING was just adding up so I really had to think about budget), and 4. something that you/I haven’t seen before (but still good for resale).

No pressure. Here’s are some patterns that I LOVE that helped get the inspiration going:

Tiling Inspiration

My first idea was to create an interesting pattern/design with penny tile or small 1″ square tiles (which is super common and cheap). I thought about doing a watercolor effect in tile, something organic and soft, but ultimately there just weren’t enough different soft colors of penny tile to make that look good.

So then I thought maybe its all about a graphic pattern. Stripes seemed a bit uninteresting (although classic), but something diagonal could be cool, I thought. I really wanted to bring in ‘Oregon’ somewhere since Brian and I both have ties to it. So my first idea that I really pursued was doing a mountainscape along the back wall. It would be mainly white, taupes, grays, blues and gold tile forming the shape of the mountains. Maybe there were multiple colors in each mountain or maybe each mountain would be a different tone. A la so:

mountain motif

So we ordered a sheet of each color that we kinda liked and started playing:

Kitchen tiles

Hmm. It was looking bathroom-y and just kinda bad. So what if it was just the outline of the mountain and what if it was more abstract? I thought … So we turned to our blue tape friend and just taped it up.

Kitchen Tiling

I liked that, I did … in the blue tape. So we tried taping up tiles … Sure, you can spend hours on renderings or you can just sample it.

Kitchen Tiling

Meh. I also wanted more of a solid color in the tiles – not where the edges are lighter (I actually don’t mind that normally, but i wanted the line to be more solid and look more like one piece). So I went out tile shopping again. I found a lot more tile options (some awesome, some not) but it still wasn’t there. My camera was FULL of tile photo after tile photo.

tile options

And then I started thinking that triangles (a classic geometric shape) are having a moment right now and I was scared that it would look super “2014″, and while I don’t mind things referencing the era that they are designed in, I didn’t want it to be “Emily’s Super Hipster Kitchen” redo.

Besides, the installation of this could be really difficult to relay properly to our tiler who doesn’t speak perfect english (I mean, it was difficult to explain to Brian) and the idea of doing a rendering for this sounded so daunting and boring and I don’t know how accurate it would be anyway because you have to account for grout lines and just normal irregularities. The tile dude at Classic Tile thought that the installation for that small wall would be around $1500 and thats just the installation. Ugh.

Kitchen Tiling 05

I couldn’t seem to pull the trigger on it. I just didn’t feel confidant about it and it was risking too much money (and the horror of it being hideous) to just go for it. Some people who I trusted agreed that with the right tile it could be awesome. And some other people were against the idea completely. I felt like if I could find the perfect carerra marble tile (or sheets) for the background and the perfect gold and gray tile or strips for the mountain scape that it could look amazing, but time was running out and finding those elements (and making sure their depth and size matched for installation so they really needed to be from the same company) was proving very difficult.

So on the way home from the tile place I got the idea, THEE IDEA, that we ended up doing, one that I felt extremely confidant about immediately. Unfortunately (I know its annoying, i’m sorry) I can’t reveal what it is until it comes out in Domino (september issue, comes out mid-august) but I will say that I’m 98% in love with it and i’ll show you how you can do it and avoid that mistake and make you 100% in love with it.

But again … when the magazine drops in August. So rude, I know.

For now, what do you guys think of the mountain scape plan? Can you see how it could be amazing if done right? Or are you terrified?


House update | A very sneak peek

The house is dunzo (well besides the bathroom and landscaping). I can’t show you much because the next Domino Magazine issue (with a lot of the new fall Target pieces that are awesome) drops in August so its only like 5 weeks away.

But here are some sneak peaks with many, many, many, many more to follow.

Bookcase Paint Colors Carerra Tile

Artwork Caesar Stone

Sneak Peek 1
That hanging wood sculpture piece is a beautiful wood mobile by FortMakers. Its kinda perfect.

Sneak Peek 2

All photos by Ginny and Brady (and not necessarily styled in my house). That amazing string art piece/sculpture is by Nike Schroeder. While you can’t really tell what its like, in person its one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life – I just didn’t want to give too much of it away so its kinda a weird shot.

Now I must go and take turns with Brian who has been trying to get Charlie down to bed for a while…. And then watch the bachelorette while I style out the kitchen with autumnal vegetables that I have no idea how to cook … as you do.

The nursery mirror debate …

Sometimes you do fancy renderings that take hours on fancy computers with fancy software programs and fancy measurements and sometimes you just put paper and tape on the walls and stare at it. This is that time.

Here’s the issue – my little angel, sir Charles, is just dying to pee all over my beautiful wallpapered walls. So to combat such urine we are going to put a mirror there – one that is attached on the wall. Plus I guess its good for their eye-site and brain development (or so my doula said) to have the mirror in view (so they aren’t just looking at you and are developing their left eye as well).  ANYWAY, we wanted to do a fun shape since it’s a kids room, but something graphic since there is a lot of busy-ness on the walls already:

Template and Blue Tape

So first we tried this circle (which we loved) with a neck (which we kinda didnt).

circle with tape

There is something playful about it, sure, but the neck didn’t give us much pee-ing real estate and widening it would look kinda chunky and heavy.


circle template

But then we remembered that we had these tent things that we customized left over from the sip ‘n see that are just ADORABLE so we decided to hang that there and then put a mirror underneath it in a simple rectangle.

We are debating two different ways:

#1 – the mirror inset about 4″ on either side like so:

Skinny Template Mirror

OR #2 the mirror the exact same size as the tent, like so:

Wide Mirror Template

Now you vote: #1 or #2 (pun intended)?????

(Amazing wallpaper by Minukani)

Time to get organized, folks …

If I could ask a magic genie for one trait it would be to be more organized … well that and the ability to tan. Not really dark, just a light golden glow that would cover all my bruising, veins and make me look a little less like Sissy Spacek in Carrie and a little more like Cate Blanchett.

Anyway, amongst many other new years resolutions (that I didn’t exactly succeed at) I resolved to put my business credit card in a slot in my wallet after using it. My little sausage fingers LOVE nothing more, apparently, than shoving it in the side pocket of my purse, throwing it in the vortex that is my diaper bag, sliding it in my back pocket or even just leaving it on the counter of the store. The amount of avoidable stress it causes me is insane (it gets lost, I have to cancel and relink all of my accounts all the time), and its such a small  easy thing to do – just put it back! You have your wallet out, just put it back!!!!

Point being organizing isn’t my thing so any sort of elaborate organizing system would be lost on me. It would be like a fast food eating child all of a sudden being asked to go paleo; It might last a day or two but ultimately its not the right fit. I’m actually WAY more organized when it comes to business stuff (well, I have Ginny and Brady to help) then with home stuff (like paying bills, dealing with mail, parking tickets, etc) so clients out there, don’t worry. I got you. I just need help on the home front.

blue waterfall desk

So, when 3m showed me their new Home Collection (by Post-it® Brand, Scotch® Brand and Command™ Brands) I was interested but skeptical; The design is simple, sure, including gray and blue colored products (amongst other options) which I appreciate, obviously. What I found out later was that it is based off of a ton of consumer (mostly mom) testing about what they needed and what they felt wasn’t out there. Well, I’m a mom, and kinda a messy/scattered one at that so any help I can get I’ll take.


post-it home collection

So, I started playing with the pieces (namely the Display Rail and the Grip Board) and I was surprised how smart they were. I’ve realized that in order for me to keep my every day (and timely) paperwork (bills, invitations, parking tickets) from getting lost (and then me getting sent to collections) I need to be able to see it and access it really easily. Previously I had just piles of paperwork on my dining table but the pieces on the bottom were really never to be seen again.

For the shoot we set up this desk scenario  in the living room (I actually deal with all of this stuff in the studio, but its a TOTAL disaster right now as we are shooting like 9 things down there right now).

blue lacquer desk

I had been hoarding this desk for a while (for sale soon, via Chairish, probably $375) and have wanted to shoot it for the blog before I sell it – you know, so I can hoard the photo of it instead. Its an 80′s waterfall style table and we had it lacquered this awesome blue. So we set up a cute little desk scenario for the post and started playing with the Home Collection (from Post-it® Brand, Scotch® Brand and Command™ Brands).

3m display

At first I thought, “why would you use this Grip Board instead of a bulletin board?” and then I realized that a. I always put things NEAR my bulletin board, but they rarely get actually pinned to them because inevitably I don’t have any extra push pins and b. these take up way less space so you can have them in more accessible areas – while still making everything visible. The Grip Board is soooo easy, guys, you just shove any paperwork in there and it sticks, without a puncture or getting lost on your board. You could have one near your door and then put your outgoing mail or shopping lists there, or on your fridge or even a few in your office area, you could do one per kid or divide it up on subject – like one for social things (invites), kids stuff, home and bills.

3m home collection

The idea is to get things off of your surfaces and in view – to not pile paperwork on top of each other because everything gets lost – namely business cards, tickets, parking tickets, checks that need to be deposited, bills, dr. reminders, etc. The Post-it Grip Board and the Display Rail (again, my two favorites that I found to be extremely smart) are just so easy to throw things into and keep them visible and accessible.

3m home collection2

Next to the Grip Board is a pad of Post-it Full Adhesive Notes that you can write things like: ‘Don’t kill your plants’ or ‘Put on eye cream!!!!!’, two things that I consistently forget to do.

3m office

You can shove things on the bottom of the Display Rail, too, so that items can be displayed on the top and the bottom. And by things I mean your vintage stamps, polaroids, Gerard postcards and perfectly collected business cards – you know, your ephemera that you’ve been hoarding for years from every flea market you go to. Duh. If you want to create a collage of a few items, you can use the Post-it® Display Cards (above) and slip them in the Scotch® Display Rail. Either option works.

desk organizing

And that, folks is The Home Collection by Post-it® Brand, Scotch® Brand and Command™ Brands, check out the whole collection here. May we all stay a little more organized this summer – and therefore a little more sane. xx

Photos: Zeke Ruelas, Styled by me. Thanks Amsterdam Modern for letting me borrow that amazing office chair for the day.

*This post was in partnership with 3M, but all content ideas, creation and words are mine. Thank you very much for supporting the brands/posts that keep us creating original content.