Thursday, June 30, 2011

A New Desk for the Man Cave

My husband loves his 'man cave', which isn't very cave-like at all, but in keeping with the times, it's called a Man Cave.  :)

He has his workout equipment up there as well as a couch where he can spend time reading. He decided he would like a desk up there too as he works on the computer at home quite often in the evenings.  Well, it doesn't take him long between deciding he would like a new piece of furniture to completing something.

He started with alder boards.

It took him two weekends to design and build it.

(If you're wondering what those ugly green things are stapled to the wall, they are foam pieces that protect my car doors from hitting the wall.  They are ugly, but they work!)

I think he did an absolutely beautiful job.  It is so pretty in person.  :)

He still needs to get a chair and some accessories.  I'm sure that will happen this weekend!

Thank you for visiting!


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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Playing in the Creek

A couple of weeks ago, photographer Vy Koenig took photos of our kids.  Vy is a good friend of a client & friend of mine & offered us a complimentary photo shoot.  We were so excited for the opportunity, but I had no idea how awesome the photos would be.   

{Justin, 18 months}

We brought the boys in their rain boots & we all ventured into the woods for a hike to the creek.

{Christian, almost 4!}

They started out timidly, stepping on stones & splashing lightly in the water...  Vy had sailboats ready for them to play with and she even made newspaper sailboats which they looooooved. 

Their favorite part was the "pirate" ship that Vy's husband made:

{It was a flat boat front staked into the ground = so adorable... very Little Rascalish}

Once they got comfortable, the shirts came off and the real splashing began:

{Christian is so proud of this pic}

We all got a little wet...

Vy captured my little guys perfectly...

...And my big one too:

{Justin loves getting "eaten"}

It was honestly just such a fun time...

We got to spend quality time with each other & have a little adventure while Vy captured it all:

{Dave & I weren't planning on being in the pictures but I'm so glad now Vy got some of us with the boys}

 I really CANNOT believe I have a picture of my little guys being NICE to each other!!:

{Makes me happy}

...And nothing's better than this feeling:

I really can't thank Vy enough for this gift.  We will definitely be doing it again!!

If you're in the Northern Virginia area and are interested in Vy's services:
Check out her website here to book an appointment.  She's AMAZING!!!!!
(And if you're not in the area, check it out anyway... there are so many cutie pies on there!!!)  I was so excited to see all of the creativity & effort Vy had put into preparing the shoot & she's so sweet that the kids warmed up instantly.

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Choosing the Right Colour Scheme for Your Home

Choosing the right colour scheme for your home can be extremely enjoyable. It can also be a bit intimidating. The sheer number of colour choices available may leave you wondering where to begin. Remember that decorating a home is an expression of your own personality. Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. You will be most comfortable living with a colour scheme that reflects your own personal style and taste.

Making a preliminary list of favourite colours can be a good place to start the process. One option when choosing colour schemes is take a cue from your furnishings. Look for a colour palette in a favourite painting, cushion or drapery. Once you’ve chosen a few colours, take them on a tour. To avoid jarring changes in style and ambiance, you’ll want a palette that takes the whole home into consideration. Take note of how the light at various times of the day affects the colours. A trip outside may inspire you as well.

There are a variety of types of colour palettes to consider for your home’s colour scheme. An analogous palette features colours next to each other on the color wheel, such as greens and blues. A monochromatic colour palette consists of varying shades of a single colour. A complementary color palette includes colours in opposite sides of the color wheel. You need not feel bound by any one particular type of palette. A monochromatic room in deepening shades of sage green may benefit from a pop of a complementary-hued coral.

White and black hold unique roles in a colour palette. White has a cohesive effect, connecting incongruent colours. White can also subdue dramatic shades. White trim is a popular option for achieving a unified effect. While the drama of the colour black can be overwhelming to some decorating styles, touches of black, such as a black ottoman or end table, can add a feeling of solidity or gravitas to any d├ęcor.

Once you've chosen a base color, purchase some sample jars of paint. Since paint always changes colour when it dries, it is a good idea to paint several sample squares of a colour in various shades on a wall. Wait a day or two before committing a colour to a whole room.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Achieving the Home You Want on a Budget?

For many people, interior decorating is something that is rarely done. Many people may feel that the inside of their home is not well decorated and to get the look and layout desired would be an excessive expense. This is certainly not the case as there are a number of inexpensive and simple things that can be done to update and improve the interior look of any home.

When it comes to furniture in the home, there is no need to purchase brand new and expensive items to get the desired look. Existing furniture may be able to be repurposed and revitalized. By simply stripping and repainting an item such as a wardrobe, this can be repurposed and utilized in the home in a new and exciting way. Living room furniture also does not need to be replaced. With a well fitting cover, any sofa can regain new life. If different pieces of furniture are desired, there may be great finds available at the local thrift store. Antique furniture or pieces that simply need a little bit of attention and work may be perfect for the home.

Another area where an inexpensive change can be made is the flooring. If a room is carpeted, by pulling up some carpets, the homeowner may find that there is a nice wooden floor underneath. With a simple polish, nice hardwood floors may be achieved. For carpeting that simply needs to be revitalized, having a company professionally clean the house will breathe new life into the carpeting.

Painting is something that can be easily done by the homeowner and does not have to be a major expense. When it comes to painting multiple rooms, it is always wise to use colours that are in the same colour palettes or colour family. Having traditional and tasteful colours will insure that time and money does not need to be spent in the near future when one decides to repaint the walls.

With a few simple touches and some thoughtful planning, interior decorating in the home can be done inexpensively and give the house a fresh and revitalize look.

How we do Floor Plans

A few of you emailed yesterday asking about how we do our floorplans.  We draw them by hand.  When we're surveying a room, we photograph it and measure it.  Everything is measured & noted: windows, ceiling height, baseboards, electrical, etc.  

Back at the office, my design assistant, Meghan, creates a scaled drawing of the room & makes a couple of copies of it.  They're then placed in the client's binder for me to work on.  I'll play around with different furniture arrangements.  Like I mentioned yesterday, some furniture plans are obvious while others have many solutions and can be tricky.

I'm not a big tech-lover and am very visual & tactile, so I prefer to move little furniture pieces around & draw on the empty floorplans myself.   One of my favorite tools is  "The Board."   It's a magnetic furniture plan kit.  I attach the floorplan to a magnetic board and the pieces of furniture are magnetic.  Once I've decided upon a furniture arrangement, I trace around the magnets in pencil or draw in the pieces and it goes back into the binder. 

I create a list of everything on the floorplan that needs to be found for the room.  Once I have the list & the floorplan, I can start specifiying products for the room.  I like to use a mix of new & vintage or antique pieces in most spaces so it's a time-consuming process.  At this point the floorplan is more of a guidline for what we're looking to do, and as I find the right pieces- in showrooms, shops, online, etc-  the exact dimensions are noted & the "messy" pencil floorplan is edited for the final floorplan.

Once I've finalized everything that will go into the room and where it is, Meg draws the final floorplan for the client's presentation.  We give our clients a design folder to keep and everything on the floorplan corresponds with the photos on the design board:

As you've probably noticed, much of this could happen in CAD, but for now it's all done by hand here. There's a certain charm to hand-drawn plans that I love.  I'm not sure we'll ever make the switch but if we do, I know I'll still be printing out the floorplans and using the board and drawing on them myself.  It's just part of how I work.

Anyway, I'd love to hear about your process for furniture plans & let me know if you have any other questions!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Furniture Arrangement Series {Very Irregular of Course!}

Furniture arrangement can be challenging.  There are so many things that need to be taken into account:  traffic patterns, focal points, activities, seating needs, lighting, etc.  The last thing most people want is a crowded room, but it's important to walk the line between having a room with too much stuff in it, and having a room that doesn't have enough furniture/ functions.  Fear of overcrowding often keeps floorplans (and as a results rooms!) a bit dull.  I thought it might be helpful to do a series (irregular of course!- don't want to feel like it's homework ;) of posts with examples & tips on floorplans & furntiure arrangements that work and cases in which the "rules" are beautifully broken. 

When I walk into a room for a job, I typically mentally begin rearranging it and I have an idea of how I think it will work best, but I still take the measurements back to the office and we draw it out to scale.  Some flooplans are much more obvious than others and are "easy" while others can be seriously tricky.  There are usually mulitple ways to create a good floorplan, and sometimes it seems there's only one right one.  We "play" with different furniture arrangements until we come up with one that will work best for the room & for our clients.   

I thought it might be helpful for me (and hopefully you too ;)  to outline some of the thought processes, "rules" and ideas/ tips that are rolling around in my head when I'm working on floorplans.  I'm starting out with walkways/ traffic patterns & then get a teensy bit into seating placement & bookshelves.  (This is by no means comprehensive but I thought it might be fun to share.)

1.  Traffic Patterns are important but so is the room's function:
I find that I always want just a little more room when working on floorplans.  Living rooms & family rooms are some of my favorite rooms to do but they often have multiple doorways/ trafficways cutting through them which can make furniture arrangement tricky.  The rule of thumb is to allow at least 3 feet for walkways, which can really take off a lot of space in a smaller room.   (Following the rule would often mean not including certain necessary pieces of furniture.)  

For example, in the room below, there isn't a clear-cut traffic way through the TV area to get to the {amazing} nook area in the back.  For that traffic lane to be open, they would have to remove the chair in the left, which I think would really take a way from the room. 

{I can't remember where I found this image- sorry!}

To me, it seems more important to have the chair there rounding out the seating area, than it is to have the pathway open.  When working on floorplans, sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils.   

When I run into this I often think...  "Should this room be a destination or a pass-through?"  Most homes have rooms that need to function as both (especially homes that have additions) and of course the goal is do do both well.  But the reality is that sometimes you have to lean more towards one or the other.  Whenever possible, I like to lean towards the "destination" end of the spectrum because rooms are enjoyed the most when you're in them.  Of course we notice a room when we're passing through it or entering into it, but the most important thing is what we notice when we're in it, experiencing it. 

{I love this room above, but take a look at how much furniture is in it...  It's more than in most houses but look how enjoyable/ cozy that room would be for a  group of people.  The chairs flanking the fireplace foten wouldn't make it into the floorplan but they add interest and additional seating to be pulled into the conversation. Image source: WALDO} 

2.  Seating should face goodness and shouldn't "be" the goodness: 
Distinguishing the room as a destination vs. a "viewing room" or pass-through room affects focal points and where you place your furnishings.  I find that upon first walking into many clients living rooms/ family rooms for the first time, they often have them set up so that you can see the sofa in clear view as a focal point and it's up against a wall, and the room looks nice upon entering.  (I call this a "viewing" room.  It's pretty at first glance but not truly enjoyable once you're in it.) Once you actually sit in the sofa, your view is often out of the room to a hallway and not on an interesting focal point.  The room is better enjoyed upon enetering when you're still on your feet than it is when you actually sit in the room and use it, which isn't good.   (The sofa / chairs should not be your first focal points, because the seating is where you're sitting when you're in the room, so it should be facing your focal points.)  

3.  Bookshelves aren't sacred: (but I do loooove them!!) 
Another thing I find people are typically a little afraid of doing is placing furniture & accessories in front of bookshelves.  Bookshelves can function just like walls, and if needed (to round out a furniture grouping or to add interest) pieces can be placed in front of them.  Without seating, you won't spend much time in an area of a room.  You might stand up to browse the books & enjoy them that way, but you won't be able to sit & relax, so if your goal is to spend time in that particular area of the room, it needs some type of seating, even if it's lined with shelving.  In the photo below,  the chair looks beautiful, adds interest, and provides seating.  Yes, it does block the books a little and would need to be moved to access certain books, but here, the pros -of actually being able to sit & enjoy the books- seem to outweight the cons. 

{Design by Lars Bolander, image via Cote de Texas}

Here are a few examples of sofas being placed in front of bookshelves.  It's a gutsy move and not something your avereage homeowner would do, but I love it:

{Design by Joe Nye, featured in House Beautiful}

And here a console has been placed between the sofa and bookshelves to provide a place for lighting & pretties:
{Design by Steven Grambrel featured in House Beautiful}

And in the room below, artwork has been layered over the bookshelves:

{Design by Markham Roberts featured in House Beautiful}

Again, it's something a homeowner wouldn't typically do, but it looks amazing.  I firmly believe that to create a great room, you need to be taking at least one risk, and the painting over the bookshelves is a beautiful one.  Breaking out of the box is something you see happening in magazines all the time, but many homeowners are a little bit afraid of it. 

In the photo below, a desk has been placed in front of shelving and artwork has been layered in front of it:

{Design by Mary McGee featured in House Beautiful}

And in this photo below, a bistro table & a few chairs has been placed in front of booksleves, creating a cozy little eating/ drinking area:

{Design by Frank DelleDonne featured in House Beautiful}

I've got to run for the day but will be posting more about furniture arrangement when I can.  To me, good decorating is fearless and breaks the rules or takes a risk when it's called for.  (not just to do it, but when it's appropriate.)  A great floorplan is just one of the many ingredients that go into a well-done room, but I think outlining how to push the limits can make taking the risks a little less frightening!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Top Tips To Improve Your Home Interior

Even seasoned design experts can benefit from design advice every now and then. Whether you plan to work with a designer or tackle your decorating challenges yourself, basic design tips can help to fuel the process and offer inspiration during the process. Basic design tips that focus on balance, simplicity, impact, function, details and color can significantly improve the interior of your home.

Balance refers to the sense of proportion in a room. Symmetry in design is a reflection of balance. For instance, two identical sconces flanking either side of a fireplace gives a room balance. Balance also refers to the judicious use of pattern and color, casual and formal elements and masculine and feminine.

Keep it simple in the design of your home. Pare down your possessions to include the items you truly love. It can be very freeing, for example to remove curtains from a window to allow more light in. Remove extraneous items such as area rugs, to allow a visual focus on beautiful furniture or place floating shelves in a space for simple storage and display.

Impact is another area of design that is often overlooked. While you may have a beautiful space with many lovely pieces, does one piece in particular stand out? If not, you are missing visual impact in your design. Creating visual impact can be as simple as painting one wall in a room a bold color, or hanging a huge painting over the fireplace.

Function refers to the "usability" of your space. Do all the pieces serve a function? Think about adding durable upholstery fabric, smart storage solutions and surfaces such as scratch-resistant stone. Utilize nooks and crannies to create reading, office or storage space to improve the functionality of your home.

Pay attention to detail in your design. This may include delicate tassels hanging from a curtain panel or nail head trim on a camelback sofa. Recover old pillows with elegant silk or add a luscious piece of fringe as trim to a bedspread or comforter. These small touches personalize your home with elegance and detail.

Another tip for designing your home is to use injections of color. When choosing a color palette, consider not only the look you want to achieve, but the colors that please you. Think about the color of the clothes you like to wear and go from there. A favorite painting may also be a way to launch your color scheme.

The Basics in Home Decor

Home is the place that everyone wants to get back to. However, not every house becomes a home, at least until those who are living in it become comfortable. If your living space is not quite as welcoming and cozy as you would like it to be, some decorating may be in order. A house, or an apartment, or an office space, can be made homey by making it a desired destination. Here, to that end then, are the basics in home decor.

There are three things to consider and discuss when decorating or redecorating any living area in any place. They will be related to whether of not the space is aesthetically pleasing, whether or not it is physically comfortable, and whether or not one can afford it. Considering these ideas will help to make the whole process less stressful and more enjoyable.

Of course, you are going to want a space that is nice to look at. When entertaining others, or enjoying it on your own, having an aesthetically appealing space is vital to well being. Use colors you truly enjoy, and textures that are calming. Use a style that you will want to spend time with day after day.

The same consideration will be necessary in regard to physical comfort. If the new furniture is not comfortable to sit on, you will not be happy at all. The room needs to be easy to access and move around in, too. Comfort is about more than just soft seats. It is about how easily one can move about the room in order to enjoy the amenities within it.

And as with anything else, the bottom line must be taken into consideration. If you are spending time in a room that has put you in debt, you will not enjoy it as much as something you can afford. Quality furnishings can be found at reasonable prices, but you will need to do the required research and comparison shopping.

Ultimately, the basics in home decor will come down to these three things. Do you like the way it looks? Do you like the way it feels? Can you afford it? If the answer to these three questions is yes, then you are well on your way to creating an enviable home environment for yourself as well as for others.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home Design - Tips and Ideas

The green revolution is an excellent new trend that is impacting many different areas of modern life with environmental wherewithal and consciousness. One of these areas is home design. People that are having their houses custom built or who are building houses themselves are getting in on the green trend and incorporating it into the designs they are using. The following are some tips concerning green home design and construction:

Counter Tops

Counter tops are always an important part of a house’s design. They are found in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of the house. You can investigate using ceramics, recycled glass, or bamboo for counter tops, thus reducing the amount of conventional wood you use. Bamboo is the latest thing in sustainable wood, being a quickly self renewing and easily harvested wood type. You might also consider using reclaimed wooden or marble counters here.


An interesting and encouraging fact is that one in four recycled plastic bottles is made into carpeting. Look for carpets made from recycled materials to encourage this green trend. You can also simply purchase used carpets rather than buying them new.


There is an increasing selection of eco friendly paints available for painting both the interior and exterior of a house. These paints often do not contain toxic materials or volatile organic compounds. You can use these sorts of paints on both the interior and exterior of your house. They look great and help the environment at the same time.


Even lights and light bulbs are going green. New energy efficient bulbs are available that can save a homeowner a lot of money on energy bills. Another idea is to install dimmer lights. You can reduce the lighting as needed to economize still more.

Curtain Poles

Curtain poles come in a variety of options, including metal, wooden, brass, and composite styles. There are many styles of designer curtain poles that of course span a wide variety of colors, finishes, and embellishments. More than one option can perfectly suit your room, so serious attention to curtain poles is crucial to proper interior decorating.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Simple Garden Themed Tablescape

I hate to admit it, but sometimes it's just too hot to eat outside here during the summer.  When it is, we eat in the dining room.  I love anything with birds or garden themes, so it was fun to put this tablescape together.

I used a birdcage, some plants and several cast iron birds in the center.

I found these adorable garden plates and bowls at The Dollar Tree several years ago.  I only bought four of each and am now so disappointed that I didn't buy more.  A friend gave me the little napkin holder pots and napkins.  I think they are so cute!  I got the placemats at Kohl's.  I love the texture of them.

I was in Pottery Barn last week and they had these bird nest place card holders for $1.87 for four.  I bought the last two sets.  I'm not sure if I'll keep all eight as place card holders or maybe just use some as bird nests. 

I am looking forward to serving dinner in here tonight!

Thanks so much for visiting.


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