Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Christmas Gift Guide for the Design Junkie in your life

We thought it might be fun to compile an epic-sized gift guide for the people in your life that love home decor as much as we do. It can be tricky to pick things out when people have specific styles, but here are a few tried and true options that should be a slam dunk with any style (we hope)! Get on your cozy pants, this post is a doozy!

Without further ado, we present Ten Top Gifts for the Design Lover

1. Flamelike Candles

Have you seen these Flamelike Candles? They are faux candles, but the wick moves and flickers-- they honestly do look SO real! These are great for the holidays especially, and people are always amazed once they find out that they are fake!

 2. Also big for Christmas decorating this year? Buffalo check



This pattern goes with a variety of style types, and has a masculine feel that makes a room feel cozy and woodsy. Try either this cozy throw blanket or these fantastically priced pillow covers for a quick living room update. (You can click on any pictures in this post to be taken to the products!)



3. Not into patterns this year, but into cozy? How about a Fur Throw. This is the SOFTEST blanket we've ever felt. It's definitely a splurge, but people will fight over who gets this blanket during movie night, and it's very pretty too!


4. Another great option that you might not be able to keep secret is a RUG.

We know...it sounds a little weird. But Black Friday is absolutely the best time to buy a large-sized rug! Our favorite site is Rugs USA. Their prices are amazing, and they have a great return policy. The only thing is you have to be quick--the sizes 8x10 and larger can go quickly!

Here are some favorites we picked out--






(We spotted this rug in Nicole Schiffler's house and loved how it looked. Nicole is definitely a trend setter!)






5. What about the person who has been dying to update their kitchen, but aren't super handy? How about Peel and Stick Backsplashes!



 (No really, and they are cool!) They are heat and water resistant and antibacterial and anti-microbial! Better yet, no grouting or tile saw needed! We especially love this classic white subway tile, which shows no signs of going out of style anytime soon. The marble-inspired hex tile is a updated version of a classic motif as well!

6. Speaking of the kitchen, if the person you're buying for loves home decor, chances are they would also flip over the chance to have some pretty Kitchen Appliances.


These are definitely more splurgey, but are sure to please a wide variety of style types. Like this adorable Smeg toaster (lots of colors to pick from!) or this Kitchenaid electric kettle in Pistachio that we have a major crush on. (And of course you can't go wrong with one of their stand mixers in a million amazing colors too!) I'm partial to the Aqua Sky color found here. And if we're talking about pretty things that are also useful in the kitchen, (ok and technically NOT appliances, but we can't resist) how about a cake stand?


 They are great for so much more than cakes--we use our cake stands instead of cookie jars. They also are pretty much necessary for entertaining and parties to layer food options for a buffet or potluck. This marble and wood option suits a variety of styles, and we love the price of Pioneer Woman's retro inspired jadeite stand as well.

7. As far as we're concerned, if you want to knock it out of the park this Christmas, number 7 is a surefire winner. It's a little known fact that the way to any true design junkie's heart is gorgeous Lighting.

Good lighting is no doubt the single most overlooked item that can take a room from just "meh" to stunning. I used these lights in my school room makeover, and they were not only easy to install, but get lots of compliments. We LOVE them! Other pendant lights that I am loving these days?


seen used in this amazing edesign by our design crushes Studio McGee

Vintage Clear Glass Shade, great for kitchens


These textured glass shades have also become popular. This is a great price for a set of two!


This Kichler Lighting pendant was used by one of our favorite stylists Heather Bullard in her home. Understated but beautiful, and a good price for high style!






If you're a lighting fan, then you've no doubt seen the Darlana lantern popping up all over the place lately. This is a knock off version for MUCH cheaper!



8. Last, but not least, you can always get them some Design Books.

Pinterest is all well and good, but sometimes you just want to cozy up in bed with a book instead of your laptop. There are lots of really fun books out there that range from helping someone find their style, to helping de-clutter. Here are some of our favorites:

Emily Henderson's book Styled. Great for those that are trying to identify their style and then gives great tips on how to style bookcases and tables. Plus, she's just fun to read.

Myquillin Smith's (of Nester blog fame) book The Nesting Place is great for those with design paralysis. People who want to try things, but are scared of making holes in the wall. Her mantra of "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful" reassures while giving courage. 

The rest of these are books we haven't read, but are on our wish list this year too! (They all get great reviews!) 

 Great tips on loving the home you already have. The Inspired Room
Creating a New Old House: Yesterday's Charm for Today's Home.  It gives advice on how to add details to your home to give it some charm from yesteryear. 
 Not So Big Remodeling: Tailoring your Home for the Way You Really Live. These authors are known for their small house (NOT tiny house) movement. They are against Mcmansions, and tell how to make a home that works for people in a smaller size!
 Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living. Simple organizing tips that take the stress out of organization (and the perfectionism).
 Patina Farm. We just want this one for the pretty pictures. :)
Last book on the list? We've heard great things about this book that teaches how to have contentment in your home. The title says it all, Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending up with More. Always a great reminder for those of us that love to change things up. :)

9. How about a gadget to round up all of these house things? On our list is this fun little contraption called the Color Muse

What does it do, you ask? It allows you to scan anything--from your existing wall color that you've forgotten, to a favorite blanket that you want to match to a paint color--and it will store that library on an app on your phone!

10. Last-- and least original perhaps--but Gift Cards to your person's favorite store are always a great idea! Here's a list of go to stores for each style--it certainly takes the guess work out of trying to find that one perfect gift, and they'll love having some mad money.

Modern: CB2, West Elm, Allmodern, Crate and Barrel, World Market, Wayfair

Farmhouse: Pottery Barn, Birchlane, Antique Farmhouse, Wayfair, Target, Joss and Main

Midcentury: CB2, West Elm, Joybird, Article, Target, Wayfair, Pier One, World Market

Cottage: Wayfair, Home Decorators, Target, Layla Grace, Serena and Lily, Ballard Designs, Joss and Main

Rustic: Restoration Hardware, Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Target, Joss and Main

Contemporary: Pottery Barn, Serena and Lily, Target, Wayfair, Restoration Hardware, Ballard Designs, Wayfair, Joss and Main

There are lots more styles, so if you want suggestions for one we're missing, or can recommend some more stores (or gift ideas!) comment below!

Otherwise, happy shopping!!



**In the spirit of full disclosure, we have used affiliate links in this post, which means that we may get a small commissions if you decide to purchase anything. We only recommend products & systems that we use and love ourselves, so we know you’ll be in good hands.**

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Laura's Kitchen Story

Have you ever read the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? If so, you probably know that the premise of the book is that if you give an inch, they'll take you a mile.

Well, that sort of has been the case with my friend and E-design client Laura. Only she's not the mouse in this equation, I AM. :)

Let me back up a bit. Laura contacted me a few months ago about wanting to make her home feel less like just a place to be, and more like a home that really reflected her and her family. Her style is a very beautiful mix of traditional architectural elements like beadboard and molding, combined with bursts of cheerful color that keep the space from feeling too stuffy or old fashioned. She also loves a coastal feel, without getting too literal (no fake starfishes need apply).  I give nicknames to all of my clients' styles, and I dubbed Laura's style Fresh White Hampton.

She wanted to start with her family, living, and mudroom spaces. I was very happy to comply. But then, she offhandedly mentioned that someday she would like to revamp their kitchen too.

Oh boy.

So, in my defense, you see that she opened that can of worms herself, right?? Haha!

No, but honestly, I understood and wasn't going to give it another thought, but for some reason, after looking at the pictures of her kitchen and dining area and what frustrated her about those rooms (and the front family room) I realized that what was really frustrating her was...her kitchen.

Sometimes helping interior design is also identifying where people should start. Now to be fair, a kitchen is a huge undertaking, and I can understand why it wasn't on her list. Automatically we just know that kitchen makeovers are going to be pricey, so without realizing it we push those "wishes" back to "nevers" because we don't want to get our hopes up or feel frustrated with what we have.
I SO get that!

But after I looked at her kitchen and what she said was frustrating her about the rooms surrounding her kitchen, I realized that it wouldn't make sense to do over those rooms without addressing the room that connects all of the other rooms. Even if she couldn't do it first, having a plan in mind for it eventually would, I thought, help give her focus and excitement to finishing those other spaces--knowing that she was getting furniture and such for a space that would work once the other space was renovated.


Let's see a few pictures and I'll tell you how I came to that conclusion.

Laura is like me, she LOVES the light. This room is at the front of her home and that front window is HUGE and beautiful. You'll notice her kids love to play in the corner and she entertains friends with their kids in this space quite often as well.


Here is the room from the other direction.


Behind this long wall is her kitchen. This is an issue for a couple of reasons.


1. It is cut off from this front room where her kids play and her guests sit. So when she is in her kitchen, she feels too separated. I would too.


Her dining room is pretty and right off the kitchen as well. Lots of great light with the two windows.



 This wall between the kitchen and dining room is our nemesis too. It blocks off tons of light from reaching that kitchen.


This is the "eat-in" portion of her kitchen. But it is so small and dark that she can't use except for a kid play area.


The offending door and strangely short window....


You can see that Laura's cabinets are actually in very nice shape--the door style is pretty, and granite is always nice! But you can also see that this portion of her kitchen is very cramped, and the kitchen overall is a little dark (the cabinet color and backsplash are probably contributing to this feeling).


 This is what is on the other side. Remember that long wall behind the couch in the family room? This is what is on that wall.


Again, these cabinets could look great updated with paint, and she has stainless appliances on this side, all pluses!

So without her knowing, I started playing around with her kitchen with my partner Katie one afternoon. We both realized there were several ways she could make over her kitchen, that could actually be cost effective. So....even though Laura hadn't asked for a kitchen layout change, I emailed her and told her that I had done one and she was free to ignore it and it could just be for fun if nothing else.

She was a little surprised at first I think, but once she saw the idea, she started getting excited, and together we played around with the layout until we came up with something she was completely excited about--not just because it would make her kitchen work much better and be more to her style, but because it fixed the issues she she had with all of her other rooms!

Let's look at one of the first versions I did for her.


In this version we just took out the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. Since this was where her stove currently is, we had to play musical chairs with a few other items...like her door outside. Since she already had a large window in the dining room, we knew it wouldn't cost as much to change that from a window to a door! Cost savings one (although we thought a set of french doors would be beautiful, so that would add some cost), but the increase in light would be amazing.


In this version we walled up the door and extra window and put her stove in its place, while adding additional cabinets on the wall that used to be her eat in kitchen.


Trying to save money, we suggested that keeping this wall here originally.


Once Laura and her husband saw these plans (which could be executed using their current cabinets, plus adding a few and having them all painted to look uniform)--and would only require a few "big" changes (like moving one wall and a gas line which isn't bad), they started to get excited and see the possibilities.

But they still were bothered by that wall being in the way. I told them I could remove it in my layout, but it would probably be expensive as I was guessing it was structural.

I then had another idea come to me, what if we left a couple of columns (not roman columns or anything cheesy like that!) but basically exposed support beams sort of thing to keep the structural support (and it may still require a beam above), but it should cut down on the cost!

So I did a mock up of that and they loved it!

 Now Laura would be able to see her kiddos playing, have tons of extra light, but still have her sink looking out over the backyard. From this vantage point you can see we kept out the wall between her dining and kitchen. You can see our plan for her mini playroom space in the corner. :)




 We kept the french doors idea.



As you can see, the design process is exactly that, a process! Now that Laura has decided on what she wants to do with her kitchen in the future, it has helped us to narrow down the proper sizing of couches, and all of the other furniture. It has also given her a sense of excitement knowing that many of these changes are actually within reach.

And that's why we love doing what we do! We'll keep you updated as Laura makes progress on her spaces over time. Can't wait to show you our plans for her living room in addition to the ideas for her mudroom and laundry we are working on as we speak!