Monday, April 30, 2012

Changes at out House...

Being so focused on the interior of my home has left our outside a bit less than desirable.  When we moved into our house, we set priorities &  so the poor outside had to wait.  We fell for our house because it has a large, private back yard...  the back of it sort of turns into a mini forest and a stream runs behind our fence. 

I like that the woods in the back feel really natural and a little out of control (wild roses, honey suckle, clematis, black berries & a ton of other things spill out the edges of it into our grass) but I've always imagined that one day it would be a tad more manicured & purposeful...

{See how crazy it gets back there??}

Last year (and the year before) we made a few garden beds around the yard like the one below for dwarf holly (which looks sooooo much like boxwood) and herbs...

  But we never edged them properly and they've gotten a bit out of control... 

{Here's the beginning of our vegetable garden last year...  THAT's how we edge....  It's more like:

me- "Hey Dav, let's make a veggie garden today."  (I've never mentioned this but I actually call my husband "Dav"...  an old college joke where we used to call him "Daveed" and "Dav" stuck)

him- Big sigh... "Okay."

And he starts digging...  But before he can finish, I'm in his way planting stuff and saying, "Forget about the edges... And don't worry about turning up all that dirt.... Yeah, it's fine that it's clay."

SO... as a result, my garden beds are full of weeds and the grass runs right into them.  I sort of have Scarlett O'Hara's "I'll think about that tomorrow" attitude with my yard. 

{Can I tell you how much I love this fabric???!!!!}

BUT we found some great guys through a friend & got a superdeal on having our entire yard edged & mulched.  I AM OVER THE MOON!!!!  They came yesterday and went to town...  They're back today and are working on edges like this:

{not my yard...  image from   They're still working so I'll post pics as soon as I can}

I am soooooo  excited.  Then...  we were at our friend-neighbor's house borrowing a wheelbarrow for the guys and she mentioned she was planning on getting rid of her kids' swing set now that they're getting older and so they gave it to us!!  My 4 year old is giddy beyond belief. 

...And....  (ok, truly nesting here; I have issues) I think I'm ready to change up our downstairs family room again...  I love the blue that's on the walls but I've always felt that it doesn't really fit with the feeling of our house & surroundings (with the blue walls and some of our accessories, it feels kind of coastal...  I originally had it REALLY coastal with this old painting... 

But it was driving me crazy...  so I switched pillows & accessories to ones with more of the green I crave:

{the room's pretty trashed in this pic...  sorry!}

...But I stole the rug, educational chart & lamp for other areas of the house & now my room's back to blank and blue... 

I'll be a little sad to say goodbye to the blue walls but I think I'm ready for the change.  We're keeping all of our furniture and I'll just rearrange rugs & artwork we already, have but the big change will be painting it white...  I sort of want it to feel more like my boys' playhouse:

I want it to be a more casual version of what we have upstairs & I'm hoping we can buy the paint today.  (I am aware this is nuts to do with our life/ schedule right now...  but I'm okay with that.)  Will be back with pics!!

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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Peony in Bloom

We have a beautiful tree peony right by our front door.  It is heavenly in spring when it blooms!

There are six blooms on it right now and all of them are huge!

Just a few days ago one of the buds looked like this.

What a difference a few days make.

Peonies were my Mom's favorite flowers, so it always touches my heart to see these.  She would've loved them!

Thanks for your visit. 


I am linking to the following parties:

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Cottage Garden Party

Friday, April 27, 2012

Delicious and Easy Artisan Bread

I saw this picture on Pinterest and knew I had to check it out.

Janet @ Simply So Good shared this amazingly easy recipe.

Delicious bread using only 4 ingredients!

You'll need a cast iron dutch oven with a lid.  I immediately logged on to Amazon and ordered this 7 quart one.  You will need one that is at least  5.5 quarts for this recipe.

Janet uses a LeCreuset for her bread.  I'm not in her league as a cook, so this cheaper cast iron pot is fine for me.

I did wash it and wipe it with vegetable oil first, as that's what the manufacturer recommends for this dutch oven.  Janet does not put any oil or sprays or anything in her LeCreuset first.

You'll only need 4 ingredients:

3 cups All Purpose Unbleached Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt (Janet used Kosher salt, so I did too!)
1/2 teaspoon yeast

Whisk those together in a large bowl
Add 1 1/2 cups water, mixing together with a rubber spatula

When it's all mixed, put plastic wrap over the bowl and leave it on the counter for 12-18 hours. 
(this is what it looked like this morning after 14 hours)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees

Once it's at 450, put your dutch oven with the lid on in the oven.  Leave it in there for 30 minutes.

Take your dough and put it on a heavily floured surface.  I used my pastry cloth with way too much flour.  :)

Shape it into a ball.  It'll lose some of its size, but don't worry.  Put the plastic that you had over the bowl over the dough until the cast iron pan is ready.

BE VERY CAREFUL when you pull the
dutch oven out.  It's HOT!

Lift the dough up (without the plastic!)   Put some flour on your hands as it'll be really sticky.  Set it in the dutch oven.  Put the lid back on and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Here it is after 30 minutes:

Remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes.

I was afraid it might stick, but it popped right out.

Leave it on a cooling rack for a few minutes. 

We could only wait for about 10 minutes...


I will definitely be making this again; in fact, I will probably prepare another batch tonight!

Please go to Janet's blog to get lots of ideas for different ways to make it. 

Thanks to Janet for the recipe and great tips and thanks to you for your visit!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Home Visit: Bringin' It to Brooklyn

I’ve been waiting for these pictures to be uploaded and just finally got some time this morning to get them up and sort through them. We finished 98% of the work on this Brooklyn home earlier this year but have been working on some exterior wiring problems the last few weeks. Regardless, the interior work is completely finished and here’s a look at what we’ve been up to in BK.

Our major areas of focus were the kitchen, the dining room and the basement. The for the basement, we ripped up the floors and laid down new tiles, fixed up the walls and gave it a whole new paint job. There was also extensive cleaning and clearing of old debris before we were able to do all this work, but the result speaks for itself. We also installed a new washer/dryer and ran new lines for them, as well as new wiring and lighting fixtures. 

The kitchen was a complete overhaul. Those are brand new wood cabinets, granite countertops, and tiled floors as well. We helped the customer pick out new appliances, including the stainless steel stove. We did some fixing up on the walls, and then put in a nice tiled backsplash. We also put in some new wiring and lighting fixtures in here. The dishwasher and fridge are new as well, and both are Energy Star certified. Very happy with this.

The dining room has yet to be fully designed, but we put in new cupboard doors, laid down new tile flooring, and fixed-up and repainted the walls. That’s it for now but we’ll be posting some finished jobs next week, one of which is a follow-up from the “before” pictures I posted a few weeks ago.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Room in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

April has been a super-busy month so I'm a little late on sharing ,but I am thrilled about the article published in this month's (April's) Better Homes & Gardens Magazine!   The photo shoot took place last May in my room, at the 2011 DC Design House and my good friend, photographer Helen Norman took the photos. 

{The little aqua "one line a day" book is now mine & I use it to record funny things my kids say & little family stories.}

Here's a really pretty shot of the window seat we had custom-made by our go-to builders, CarrMichael Construction with custom layered cushions fabricated by Paul David Designs (our workroom, who we absolutely love.)

{The window seat is a mix of fabrics by Peter Dunham Textiles who generously donated their fabrics for the showhouse and some of my new fabrics.  The distressed silver llama sconces were donated by Porta Romana.}

Here's a shot of most of the room which shows off the grasscloth walls & diamond-patterned sisal rug (by Stark, fabricates by the Carpet Customizer)...

The article is by BHG editor Joanna Linberg {who is one of the kindest & most genuinely sweet people I've ever met} and I love how she broke everything down for the article & delved into the concept of "perfectly imperfect ." 

She listed a few of the must-haves I like to include when designing a room:

The oversize painting is by my good friend John Matthew Moore and I arranged the leather parsons desk (by Edelman Leather) so that was askew from the painting for a slightly "off" and more casual look.  I tucked the glass lamp with bright green tin shade (donated by Stray Dog Designs) right next to the painting to compensate for the assymetical desk arrangement.  I'm always really awkward in photos by myself and so I curled up in one of my Madhatter Chairs & it made me feel much better.  :)  The curtains are my Happikat in black & white and the Fabric on the back of the chair is by Michael Smith.

Here's a page they included at the end of the article about botanicals (which you know I'm pretty much obsessed with) and I'm loving the black backgrounds on a few of the botanicals & that pattern on the journal.  (#3)

The article itself includes all of our resources, but I want to be sure to mention that we borrowed antiques & artwork from some of our favorite local shops:  John Rosselli, Spurgeon Lewis and German Favorite Antiques.  Being a part of the DC Design House, which benefits Children's Hospital in Georgetown, was really such an amazing experience & through it, I made friends I know I'll have for life.  The 2012 House is open right now, so if you're in the area, be sure to go check it out!!

And finally, I turned 30 yesterday!!!!!  My 20s were over & I have to say they did not go out with a bang- 8+ months pregnant just doesn't put you in the partying mood ;) - but I will be sure to make up for it when I'm out of Baby #3 haze. 

xoxo, Lauren

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

Monday, April 23, 2012

Before & After: Client's Dining Room

Last year, we began working with our clients who were undergoing a major renovation to their home.  The renovation was a thoughtful reworking of the existing space with the only addition to the house's footprint being the new screened-in porch.  The entire floorplan of the first floor was reworked and my clients created a massive open kitchen with an attached dining room and entry out of what once was the kitchen, dining room, living room and entry.  The wife likes bold fresh colors & has slightly modern taste while the husband is pretty traditional so we were really after a blending of the two.

We did the full house but I thought I'd start out by sharing the dining room with you.  Here's a photo of the dining room "before" which was at the back of the house:

And here's the dining room now:

Like me, my client loves botanicals & we couldn't resist these two massive ones by Natural Curiosities.  I flanked them with large bright green lamps to balance out their size.  The trestle table is paired with lighter carved chairs and I love the detail on the seat backs.   We found the neutral Greek key rug at Stark.  On the table, I used modern garden cloches on the table filled with ferns and orchids.  

We had the existing sideboard laquered white and my client had the GENIUS idea of adding a wooden board painted with chalkboard paint to the top of it:

It looks like slate but was super-inexpensive.  (I know, I know, chalkboard is EVERYWHERE... but I still love it in enexpected places!!)  We had planned to use honed granite or concrete & I'm so happy she did this instead!!!  It's so convenient now to label food & drinks set out on the bar.

For curtains, we used an overscale blue paisley by Schumacher and throughout the house we used a combination of bright blues & greens.  This project was particularly special for us to work on for a number of reasons and the "big reveal" had me teary... I want to thank my clients so much for letting us into your home &  your lives. 

I'm off for the day- am having contractions and am heading in to doc to check it out & am doubting this is "it" but they make you come in anyway so we'll see.  I'll keep you posted!!
UPDATE:  I'm home from doc and all is good & contractions will be coming & going but they aren't painful enough yet to be very productive!  Will keep you posted & hopefully I still have a couple mroe weeks to go :)

xoxo, Lauren

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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ladder for the Garden

Last fall I found this ladder at a garage sale for $1 (!)  Since it was so late in the season, I left it in the garage until today. 

We started by making boxes out of fence boards for two of the shelves. 

My trusty aging technique of Apple Cider Vinegar and Steel Wool made them look older within an hour. Directions for this process are HERE

We secured them to the ladder and added drainage holes to the back where the box wasn't resting on the ladder step.  (you can see here how different the box looks just one hour later)

You may remember my post last December about the 93mph winds here that blew 60' trees down.  I don't anticipate winds that strong again anytime soon, but we do live right by the mountains and get windy days. I put 24" stakes in and we secured the ladder to them.  You can see them right now, but once everything starts blooming, they will not be seen.

I know it's early to be planting annuals, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have too many freezes from now on.  I planted these wave petunias in the boxes.

We secured this birdhouse to the center step.

And the potted geranium on top.  We'll see if the geranium is a keeper as the season goes on... Right now I like it, but may change it later.  :)  I didn't put anything on the bottom step because it'll be hidden very soon when the spirea in front starts blooming.

 I'm excited that there are daisies and coneflowers underneath that should envelope the bottom of the ladder soon.   I'll be sure to take more pictures as everything comes back to life.

Thanks for your visit!


I am linking to the following parties:

Home Stories A2Z
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Rooted In ThymeCottage Garden PartyFunky Junk Interiors