Rustic retreat

Going into this new year, I’m stretching my aesthetic muscles a bit! My sister is moving into a new house, and asked me for a bit of help getting it decorated. She is looking for a farmhouse sort of vibe — clean, light, a little rustic, and a lot cozy. Our styles are very different, so I’m excited to stretch myself a bit AND give her family a fresh new start. Without further ado, let me show you what we’re planning. First up, the main bedroom!

I love bold color, pattern, and modern quirk, so a more minimal and rustic look is a fun challenge. She had already picked out a bedroom set in a grey-toned wood, so I pulled in some warmer wood tones to give the room a cozy, layered feel. A patterned rug gives some interest as well as some brightness to the space, and a little hit of black in the bedside lamps adds depth. Being me, I had to add a little bit of pattern mixing — a sweet floral block print sheet set is just interesting enough with the geometric rug, and when paired with a fluffy white quilt, it feels super home-y. She also wanted some added shelving, so a low bookcase at the foot of the bed it just the ticket. Plus it can double as a bench! Win-win!

The main bedroom in their new house is much bigger than her current space, so she has room for a sitting area in here as well. A blue velvet slipper chair, an airy accent table, and a natural wood floor lamp make for a great spot to sit and read, unwind a little, and decompress from the day, or perhaps to get the day going with a cup of tea. Either way, I hope this bright, serene bedroom provides them a with lovely retreat, and a happy new place to call home!

Five fun things: stripes edition

Striped boatneck tee

There is very little I find easier or more chic than a perfectly Parisian striped shirt. Black and white stripes are graphic, sophisticated, fun, and besides being easy to wear, they are an excellent pattern for layering with your home decor to get that certain je ne sais quoi. Even a small pop of black and white stripes can bring the most considered interior to the next level. With that in mind, here are five fun ways to incorporate stripes into your home inspired by my favorite basic, the striped Breton shirt.

I haven’t been able to get this beautiful inlay side table out of my head for months. It would be a great punch of pattern in an otherwise minimal room, or equally good layered into a more maximal design, with some jewel-toned velvets and bold florals. Yes, please!

For a similar look with way less commitment, this just-funky-enough graphic pillow cover by Margo Selby is a real winner — and it’s on sale!

I love the subtle narrow stripes on this beautiful handmade box. Use it to stow keepsakes or photos within easy reach on your bookshelf, and stack it on top of a few art books. (May I suggest this and this?) Boom! Functional, easy AND stylish.

These classic serving bowls by Danish design duo Stilleben are just perfection. Inspired by a talented woman painter? Check! Free carbon offsetting on all deliveries? Check! On sale for a whopping 50% off? Check! Are they on their way to my house as we speak? Ummm…. check! Mix and match these with your existing dinnerware for an “oh, I just threw this together, *wink wink*” level of sophistication.

Last but not least, this cotton and chenille throw blanket is gorgeous. Lightweight enough to use year-round, neutral yet graphic, with cute chunky tassels to make you smile. I’d drape this over the end of my couch and cozy up with it every evening.

In the gallery

Lately I have been super inspired by bold gallery walls. The kind that are a focal point for the room, make a statement, and look collected and eclectic… like some kind of old world library, an art collector’s studio, or maybe an intimate salon (SAH-lon, if you’re fancy!). Here are some spaces I can’t help but swoon over right now:

via: Chairish, my scandinavian home, Lucky magazine, and sfgirlbybay

This week I decided to start over from scratch with my own gallery wall. I’ve had a mix of art up in my living room for quite some time, moving pieces in and out as my tastes or whims have changed. This time, instead of swapping out a piece or two, I took down everything and thought long and hard about what I really wanted for the end result. I framed several items I’ve be wanting to hang for ages, laid everything out on the floor, and then added, subtracted, rearranged, and shifted everything until I was really thrilled with the arrangement. Next, to get everything spaced out properly on the wall, I made templates out of newspaper for every frame and hung them on the wall with a bit of tape. This method works especially great when you are hanging a lot of items. Also, you can mark on the paper where you need your nails or hangers to go! Then just affix your nails while the paper is up, pull down the paper, and hang your frame. Here is my end result, and I couldn’t be happier with it!

Our living room feels fresher and even more personal now, just in time for the holidays. This Thanksgiving I’ll be giving thanks for our health and safety in my own little private gallery — I hope you can do the same!

Light it up

Let’s talk lighting! I have a healthy (unhealthy?) love for lamps. Warm, cozy lamplight is all I want for my home, especially when the days grow shorter and twilight descends earlier and earlier. This time of year I just want to curl up, my hygge-ified home aglow, and enjoy long slow evenings.

How can I make my house glow-y and cozy, you ask? Try lamps over overhead lighting, and swap out your bulbs! What should I look for, you ask? Well, here we go!

Most commonly we think of wattage when looking for lightbulbs. When bulbs were universally incandescent, wattage sort of interchangeably described both electrical power and bulb brightness. With LED, incandescent, and fluorescent bulbs all on the market now, there are actually three main factors to keep in mind when buying light bulbs: wattage, lumens, and Kelvin rating.

Wattage actually refers to the electrical power the bulb needs to operate. You should make sure to only use bulbs that require a wattage less than or equal to what your fixture is built for. Easy, right? And with so many energy-saving bulbs on the market these days, you’ll likely be using a bulb far lower than what your lamp lists as its maximum.

Lumens refer to the brightness of your light source. The higher the lumens, the brighter your light bulb. Here is a handy list to give you an idea of what brightness you can expect, based on the wattage of traditional incandescent bulbs.

  • To replace a 100 watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

Lastly, Kelvin (K) refers to your bulb’s color/temperature. By far the most important factor for me these days is my bulb’s Kelvin rating. Warmer Kelvin ratings feel cozier, and while dimmers allow you to control how bright you’d like your light to be depending on your need or mood, Kelvin can’t be changed unless you buy a smart bulb that allows you to change its colors. Kelvin is measured on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000, with most lightbulbs falling between 2000-6500K. For a cozy feel in your living spaces, 2700K is a nice, warm-feeling Kelvin rating. 3000K will give you a whiter light, and anything above 3500K is bluer and can feel rather “sterile” or harsh to me. 3500K or above is usually best suited for hospital or other commercial applications. Bulbs labeled “daylight” often fall into this category, and while they may be less desirable for spaces you want to feel home-y or cozy, they can come in handy for task lighting, kitchens, or workspaces where bright light is needed. For “warm” vs. “cool” lighting, think about the glow of candlelight vs. the bright white of an operating room. The lower the Kelvin, the more amber your light will be.

Recently I swapped out the cooler LED bulbs in this lamp with these warmer Edison bulbs, and I am so happy with the result! They are 4 watt bulbs, but because they are LED, they compare roughly to the lumens output of a traditional 40 watt bulb. 2700K is a good Kelvin sweet spot for me, so I love the warmth of these bulbs in my living room.

Here are a few of my favorite lamps right now to get you going, some that I have and others that I’d love to:

Directional

The Domes black marble table lamp from CB2 is sculptural and stunning, and lucky for me, it came with a pair of 2700K bulbs. It catches my eye every time I walk into my living room, in the best way.

When I was a kid I had a banker-style green lamp on my desk that I loved. I’d turn it on to do homework, and it had such a satisfying *click*. This olive Clive desk lamp has all the same vibes with a more modern sensibility, and would look just as good on an end table as on your desk. Give it a low Kelvin bulb for a sweet glow, or swap in a higher Kelvin option for a great task light.

Floor lamps

The Harriet floor lamp from Anthropologie had me at hello, with it’s graceful modern curves and stylish pleated shade. If I had space for a floor lamp, she’d already be mine. The pleated paper shade will give any room a lovely, diffuse light.

Likewise, the Yoji floor lamp at Urban Outfitters would be mine in a heartbeat if I had a place for it. These frosted glass globes paired with some warm light bulbs would make for a gorgeous ambient glow.

Table lamps

I know I already posted about these, but my Snake table lamps from CB2 are still making me super happy. I have them sitting on my console flanking a gallery wall, and they are just the right mix of antique and glam. The off-white linen shade gives a nicely diffuse light.

This adorable little Danish modern lamp by &tradition comes with a 2700K LED AND has a built-in dimmer switch. Perfect on a mantel, side table, bookshelf — anywhere! I would expect nothing less from the country that brought us the hygge concept. Plus, I can’t get over that chic rust and slate-y blue color combo. Love.

I love all of these Modern Totem table lamps from West Elm, although if I HAD to choose, I think I’d go with the blue black blue black. The shapes are clean and interesting, and would go with a wide variety of styles. Again, a linen shade is a great option for a luminous glow.

And here we are! Beautiful lighting and some cozy vibes — what could be better? Happy hygge-fying!

Delightfully spooky

It’s spooky season! Normally I don’t do a lot of decorating for holidays other than Christmas (small house = small amount of storage!), but with all of us staying at home so much more this year, it seemed like a fun way to get into the spirit of things. I love John Derian’s aesthetic, so his collection for Target was a delightful surprise. Some skeletal branches on the table, a few John Derian trays and eyeball coasters, and some floating candles? Poof! Spooky, creepy, Gothic-y good fun.

I tried Mallory Fletchalls floating candle DIY idea as featured in Domino, and it was well worth the effort. I used these battery-powered candles, and hung them from the ceiling in my dining room with this clear fishing line. Now I feel like I’m in a haunted house and/or the great hall at Hogwarts — both of which are a total win this time of year, don’t you think? I especially like that these candles come with a remote control, which makes turning them on and off a breeze.

Even though Halloween will look different this year, I hope you all have a spooky good time this weekend. Pop some popcorn, get dressed up, and watch Hocus Pocus! And may I also suggest this awesomely witchy cocktail? Happy Halloween!

Best of: Makers I ❤️

Some of the makers I love have been up to fun new somethings, and I just had to share!

Block Shop is offering a free VOTE pin with every order shipped from their studio this month, and it is seriously the cutest version of this hugely important message I have seen so far. Also, if their Instagram is any indication, they will have masks back in stock next week! All mask profits go directly to support meals for garment workers in LA, plus they are super stylish and adorable. Win-win.

Heath Ceramics just debuted their 2020 Winter Seasonal Collection, and I couldn’t love it more. Dubbed “The Season of Hope & Love,” it is full of stunning icy whites and greys along with the happiest buttery yellows and a hint of wildflower purple. Gradations in glazes are meant to signify transition, which I find beautifully poetic for this tumultuous time. I think we can all use some hope and love right about now, and the gradient yellow trays and vases in particular are perfectly sunny and delightful.

Finally, Baleen Jewelry has some beautiful new arrivals to peruse. I am in love with the organic simplicity of the pebble necklace, and want to add the sweet little XYZ studs to my rotation immediately. As always, all of their pieces are sustainably handmade in the USA, with zero-waste manufacturing and recycled materials.

Enjoy!

Shelter and place

Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege of hearing truly luminous readings from an incredible line-up of California poets: Dana Gioia, Garret Hongo, Robin Coste Lewis, Luis J. Rodriguez, David St. John, and Gail Wronsky. Cartography of Poets, a virtual poetry event presented by Visions and Voices at USC, centered around the ways history and place shape the poetic experience. The idea that writers and their work are shaped by their environments is certainly not groundbreaking — what would Henry David Thoreau be without Walden Pond? — but this event got me thinking about things in a more contemporary, more personal way.

Fires are still raging in the West. California is on fire, breaking records and breaking apart lives. Amidst this landscape, this small reflection by Dana Gioia reminded me of the beauty of our summers:

I can imagine someone who found
these fields unbearable, who climbed
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
wishing a few more trees for shade.
An Easterner especially, who would scorn
the meagerness of summer, the dry
twisted shapes of black elm,
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
August has already drained of green.
. . .
And yet how gentle it seems to someone
raised in a landscape short of rain—
the skyline of a hill broken by no more
trees than one can count, the grass,
the empty sky, the wish for water.

from “CALIFORNIA HILLS IN AUGUST”
by DANA GIOIA

We continue to shelter in place, and meanwhile, I am contemplating shelter and place, and the way we inhabit both those spaces. Our shelters — the homes we have been confined to and seek succor in. Our places — the solidarity of New York on 9/11, the orange glow of San Francisco’s skies, the hazy rain of ash in Los Angeles, and the ways we shape and are shaped by them. I think of how we are all nesting, all trying to make our homes work better for us — dining rooms becoming offices, offices becoming playrooms, kitchen tables becoming classrooms — and how beautiful the adaptability of the human spirit really is. The way we keep working, toiling, and finding joy in between.

I put up new lamps this week that I love. Something to bring a small joy in a small way. I think I am puttering, not doing much of import, and yet my friend exclaims over how productive I have been. And I think, well yes, I suppose I have. To shelter and find small joys is no small thing, today, yesterday, or tomorrow. I am here in this place, California sunshine streaming through my windows, and I think, I am lucky. I am of this place, I have shelter, and I am learning to find joy.

Yippee, chinoiserie!

Heron wallpaper in green via Gucci

I think I might be a little late to the party on the “grandmillenial” design trend, but I am here now — albeit with my own twist. I have always been a fan of mixing styles, and lately, my “old-meets-new” aesthetic is skewing decidedly 18th century, with dashes of Victorian and Belle Époque for good measure. Think less granny, more great great great great granny.

Chinoiserie is not so much actual Chinese style as a European imagining of Chinese decorative style. It originated in the 17th century with a Western fascination with the Far East, and became wildly popular through the 18th century. The fanciful designs featuring plants, birds, fruit, and animals in stunning colorways make for beautiful companions to the glamour of Hollywood regency, or a sumptuous counterpoint to clean mid-century modern furnishings. And I am HERE for it.

I have had a design crush on Theobert Pot for some time, and his sunroom always makes me swoon. The Gucci heron-print wallpaper panels, the paper lantern, the Danish modern elements, that glorious green Togo lounge? Perfection. He has an amazing eye for color and style. More and more lately, other jewel-tone florals have been catching my eye, too, as well as patterned lamp shades and animal-themed lamps. House of Hackney, for example, can do no wrong for me at present. How stunning is this cheetah lamp?! My heart! Also cue the sound of my wallet screaming, but I digress.

So, what’s a girl to do? I’ve scouted around and come up with my own shortlist of items to make my Victorian and chinoiserie dreams come true, at a much lower price point.

I also have a few items I have added to my decor: a had-to-snag-it vintage painting, a lovely tray my mom stitched years ago, and a pair of small reproductions painted on wood (hi, Pinky and Blue Boy!). Emily Henderson says vintage and antique items help give soul to a space, and I couldn’t agree more.

I am planning to custom frame a few wallpaper panels for a chinoiserie feel in our living room, mix in the snake lamp near a 1970s-esque round mirror, and hang that gorgeous heron wallpaper behind my bed. Wish me luck, and yippee for chinoiserie!

A little oasis

August means long summer days, a slower pace, warm sunshine — and trying to keep cool. I was inspired to update our small outdoor space, and managed to create a sweet little oasis for us to kick back and relax, sip a cool beverage, and float our cares away.

A couple comfy chairs are great for sipping something cool while enjoying the sunshine. I love the modern shape of these — style without sacrificing comfort.

Our biggest update is this small pool that packs a big punch. This is the deepest inflatable pool I could find at or under 6 feet in diameter, and it is big enough for me to float in on this without touching the edges or the bottom. With my eyes closed, I could be anywhere from Hawaii to Bali.

Our hammock we bought years ago is still going strong, and we love to hang out (wink wink) and relax. This one doesn’t take up much space, and it is sturdy enough to allow two adults to lounge together.

A ceramic stool or two can be versatile as well as beautiful. These make a ideal spot for your aforementioned cool drink, magazine, or in a pinch, extra seating.

A mosquito net over our little pool gives a dreamy cabana feel, plus it keeps the bugs away. A set of solar string lights makes it even dreamier at night.

Leaf-print outdoor pillows make our outdoor space feel extra tropical.

And some beautiful planters make the perfect finishing touch. What would an oasis be without greenery? I love the sophisticated shape and subtle geometric designs on these.

Go forth, relax, and have a great weekend!

Five fun decor items: birthday edition

This weekend is my birthday, so just for fun, I thought I’d share some of the home items I’ve had my eye on lately. Our house is an eclectic mix of 19th-century-Paris-apartment-meets-relaxed-California-chic vibes, and here are five things I have or would love to have in our space. We are home these days for work and play, celebration and everyday alike, so we might as well make it a place we love to be.

We have been home SO MUCH in the past several months that a new couch has become a necessity. Our old one is cute but not all that comfortable for the long haul, unfortunately. This beauty, the Maxwell from Interior Define, was customizable in so many ways — fabric, cushion type and fill, size, legs — everything! I can’t wait for it to arrive. And besides their lovely furniture offerings, their customer service staff has been nothing short of amazing.

I ordered this chair from CB2 about a million years ago (you know, back in February), and it finally arrived a couple weeks ago after a pandemic-related delay. It is super comfortable, and I love the look so much! It’s the perfect addition to our mix of dining chairs.

EQ3’s adorable Bingo Bango Bongo stools are all finally in back in stock, and they are on sale to boot! Bingo has had my heart for months, so you’d better believe I ordered it as soon as I could. Indoor or outdoor, stool, side table, plant stand, alone or as a set — these earthenware beauties are super versatile. Decorative AND functional.

This burlwood cabinet in CB2’s newest catalog had me at “hello.” I have zero need for a new cabinet, but if I did, this would be at the top of my list. Curvy edges with that gorgeous texture and the brass accents? Hel-lo. I’ll just lean here and casually sip a cocktail, thankyouverymuch.

Lastly, I am intrigued by this year’s pleated lamp shade trend. These gorgeous shades from Danish shop LeKrazyHorse are beautiful, come in amazing colors, and they offer pretty much any size you might need. New shade = easy way to snazz up whatever lamp you’d like to give a bit more personality. Bonus: this vintage Mads Caprani lamp is AMAZING.