Sunday, February 26, 2012

Refinishing a Dining Table

A few months ago I purchased a set of mid-century dining chairs from the flea market that had really great style, but needed some major TLC. The chairs came with a table and when I first saw it the legs were detached and it was in super shabby condition, not to mention that there were a bunch of what looked like old dental tools scattered on top of it, which sort of grossed me out. I didn't really want the table, I was really only in it for the chairs, but I begrudgingly hauled it to my car anyway.

I need a lot of furniture for my new apartment and naturally I'm on a budget. The dining chairs that I thought would work in my new space ended up being too big and I didn't want to over crowd the dining area because it is the only pathway to the kitchen. Then I got to thinking about that crusty old legless table and I thought....this is so crazy, it just might work.

Crazy for a couple of reasons. 1. The table needed a major overhaul (I apologize for not taking a before picture, apparently I was just super anxious to give it a make over that I forgot.) and 2. I am sort of anti DIY. I think in theory DIY projects are great, and if you have the time, talent, and patience to pull it off...more power to you. But I am not one of those people. I want things done right, especially when it comes to furniture, and I know my limitations. Nothing I do would ever come close to the beauty and precision I get when I take something to my upholstery shop to my wood finisher.

But with this ratty old table, I decided to give it a go just to see if I could do it. Of course I would need the help of my father, who is basically good at everything and also a licensed general contractor (although he had only refinished one other table before), and a step by step tutorial that I found online here. I skipped the first few steps and went straight to the sanding because our original surface was already pretty weathered and stripped. Then we stained and added 3 coats of clear finish. I let it dry for a day or 2 and then moved her in to my new place!

I was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out. It's not perfect and the stain is a little splotchy in areas, but I think it's the kind of thing that only I would notice. My new, smaller scaled chairs should be arriving this week. And with that, my dining area is one step closer to accommodating dinner guests.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Today on Craigslist

People have told me that I have an eye for seeing diamonds in the ruff when it comes to home furnishings. I don't think that I've always had that knack, it's definitely something that I've developed over the years of observing good design. I shop on Craigslist, eBay, thrift stores, and flea markets regularly, but my treasure hunting has sort of been on overdrive now that I'm trying to furnish my new place.

I'm entertaining the thought of getting a new vanity to give me a little more storage and counter space in my little bathroom. I came across this beauty in my search. It's a little too big to fit into my space so one of you should snatch it up. Straight out of Whittier California, it is made of an antique side board and fitted with a carerra marble top and Kohler sink. At $1200 (and it's Craigslist so you can most definitely haggle for a little better price) you can't go wrong. I can't tell you how much more character this will add to your bathroom than something like this that is more expensive. And check out the same look from Restoration Hardware for double the price.

Snag it here.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I've decided that unpacking is significantly more fun than packing. Something about a clean slate and a fresh start and the chance to purge excess stuff that has been weighing you down for, in my case, 8 years. I only took things with me to my new apartment that I really love and need. Everything else was given away to friends and neighbors or hauled away to Goodwill in one of my 5 different drop offs. 

I spent a good 2 hours putting my dishes into their proper place in my cupboards, mostly because I kept stopping to stare in amazement at how neat and organized everything was. (I'd show you a photo of the cupboards at my last home, but you would most definitely think less of me.)

My sister asked me to text her photos of my unpacking progress so these are 2 of the photos I took with my phone, all featuring things that I love and most definitely can't live without: vintage goblets and glasses, everyday glasses, cute serving bowls, industrial mixing bowls, my moccasins, and about 1/4 of my design magazine collection. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Influencial Designer / Tim Clarke

If I was giving advice to someone trying to find their way in the interior design profession (not that I'm an expert), one thing I would suggest, that I didn't do and sort of regret, is to work for a designer that you really admire. There are so many designers out there that create such beautiful interiors, each with their own unique take on design. I got a little over-anxious to start my own business shortly after graduating from design school and didn't take the opportunity to intern or assist for one of my favorite designers. To make up for it I devour design magazines, books, and designers' online portfolios and analyze every detail. I note everything from the color palette to textures and finishes, to furniture styles and layout, to the overall feel of the space.

I can honestly learn something new from every designer, even if I don't relate to their personal style, but there are a few who stand out that I constantly go back to for inspiration. I want to highlight those who have been the most influential for me here on my blog.

Today I wanted to share a few interiors by Tim Clarke, a Santa Monica based designer. His interiors are so pretty - I just don't know how else to describe them. They are put together so well and his palettes are always so soothing, but his spaces are never boring. His rooms seem to always have a comfortable beachy feel, which is so applicable to me since so many of my clients' homes are along the coasts of Southern California.

interiors by Tim Clarke

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I'm moving to a new apartment and couldn't be more excited at the thought of decorating my new home. My last place had fairly bold painted walls in both the main living area and in my bedroom. It was fun while it lasted but I'm ready for something completely different. My new abode was freshly painted white right before I moved in, and instead of busting out the paint deck... I'm embracing my bright and clean canvas.

I have BIG plans for these white walls. BIG I'm telling you. I almost can't sleep at night because I'm thinking about all of the wonderful things that I'm going to do with them. I've always been more of a product rather than a process kind of person. Don't get me wrong, I love the design process, but absolutely nothing beats an installation day when I get to see a room all come together. 

So yes, I am very anxious to have my apartment fully decorated, down to the vase of flowers on the coffee table (seriously, I can't sleep over this stuff), but I'm not going to make any hasty design decisions just because I can't wait to see the finished product. A lot of thought and time is going to go into what frame to put on what piece of artwork and where to hang it. Do I hang my oil seascape that I snagged at the flea market for $20, solo above my vintage sofa? Or do I hang it in a grouping? And is that grouping an organized grid? Or a mis-mash pattern that makes it look like I didn't think about the placement at all (when really, once again, I stayed up many a sleepless night thinking about it)? 

My blog is having an identity crisis, hence the lack of posting as of late. After attending the Alt blogger conference for designers in mid-January (won a free ticket!), I learned a ton about blogging, but perhaps the most important thing that I learned is that I'm not a blogger. I'm a designer. I like to write, and I like to collect and share my thoughts about design in a blogging format, and I especially love when that leads to an increase in design business, but I'm not a blogger; I'm a designer who blogs. I thought for a second that I was a blogger, or that I wanted to be, but I don't. I am, however, really really excited to have a place to share with you my design projects and my latest obsession of my new white walls. 

images 1, 2, 3

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

California Gift Show

I tried to post my progress of visual merchandising for the California Gift Show on Twitter and instagram, but here is a more complete documentation of the exhibit hall via my iPhone camera and its handy filter apps. During the Gift Show, the 2nd floor is full of exhibitor booths featuring all kinds of cool product. If you aren't a retailer who attends the show, many people wonder what the "gift" show is all about. The best way I know how to describe it is anything that doesn't fall into the categories of traditional clothing, food, or furniture, can be found at the gift show. It is where wholesalers bring their new product to show retailers, specifically more boutique type shops.

Beckman's is a handcrafted show that exhibits at the Ca Gift Show. It is for creative and artistic handmade wholesalers looking to connect with retail establishments. The exhibit hall is full of Beckman's participants, and I was given a few of those companies to work with to use their product for my displays in the lobby area. In these photos you can see that I had everything from hand made pottery to dog collars. It was such a fun mix of product!

Not gonna lie, it's a bit of a challenge to design and install a space like this. The ceilings are high and the space between the elevators is pretty wide. The space needed to feel inviting to make people want to get off the elevators, and my own personal requirement was for it to feel fun and cheery. At the same time the space couldn't be too cluttered or crowded because there is a lot of traffic in this space during the show and people need to be able to move around easily and the product  had to be displayed in a way that it wouldn't impede walking paths or get pushed or bumped on to the floor. 

Canopies seem to be my go to for an easy but big impact these days (see post here). Although they take some time to install, it really is a pretty easy project. The canopy was perfect for this particular project because it added a lot of drama to the space without getting in the way. 

Stay tuned for the photos of the displays that I designed and installed on the other floors for the gift show. I was so happy to have my photographer Stacey Sutherland take professional photos for me and I can't wait to share them with you!

featured product // J. Johnson & Co., cdd Silhouettes, Nell & Mary, Hilary Lamon, Jackpots!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Master Bedroom

The highlight of my week was completing this master bedroom install for one of my clients in Orange County. They aren't really the type to pick out that Navajo print used for their bed cover on their own, but that's what they have me for! They love neutrals and soothing tones, but I encouraged them to add in this one punch of color and pattern to give the room a little personality.

I love love love accessories. These small details can make or break a room. When I do an install and my client sees the room before it is properly accessorized, they are often underwhelmed. No matter how beautiful and expensive the upholstery is, or how exotic the wood on the coffee table may be...without interesting artwork and thoughtful accessories, the space feels sterile and unfinished. My number one favorite accessory if you couldn't tell from the photos above...books. My motto has become, "When in doubt, stack up some books."

I suppose my love of bookcases is probably a result of my love of books. They are such amazing avenues to display collections of anything. Built-in, leaning, open, wood, metal, you name it, I'm all about bookcases. 

I have the best clients. I love collaborating with them on their homes and designing rooms that neither of us would have come up with on our own.
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