Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kitchen & Family Room Redesign - The Little Details

This glass base lamp is unexpected placed on the kitchen countertop, providing soft light in the early morning hours, when you want a chance to wake up with a cup of coffee before turning on the bright lights. The clear base and ivory shade blends into its surroundings. By Victoria Hagen for Target, a great bargain for the style and quality at $49.

An adorable napkin holder adds cheerful style. $19 from Anthropologie.

A little bird sits on the kitchen nook window ledge, looking out. I couldn't leave the store without him, with a broken leg I carried him away for $6 from Calico Corners. A bit of super glue mended him just fine.

Candlelight brings warmth to any room. These striking Starburst Hurricanes are on sale at Crate&Barrel, for $49, limited quantity remaining. Turn off the lights and dine in beautiful, soothing candlelight.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Family Room Furniture Plan

I am anxiously awaiting two Lisbon sofas that have been ordered for the family room. Van Gogh Designs is a new resource I've found and I am the test client!
Go to to see more offerings, from the ultra modern to traditional. Placing two large sofas here maximizes seating. Additionally, I like the impact and sense of order that two identical (and large) pieces of furniture brings to a room. Prior to buying furniture make certain it will fit in the space! Do this by drawing up a floor plan to scale or by outlining dimensions and placement of the items on the floor with tape.

For this space I had envisioned a sofa that reflected the strong lines present in the new mantel design, yet had some curves. The Lisbon sofa meets both these requirements. To stay true to the limited color palette of the redesign, the sofa fabric will be a warm taupe with chocolate lumbar pillows.

Originally a coffee table, from the Chicago apartment my husband had when I first met him, was to be refinished for this room. However a client had a beautiful coffee table, perfect for my family room, sitting unused after a move. We worked out a barter and the first option is now being used in another project. This weighty hand scraped wood table is very large, but as the floor plan shows is just the right size to function as a coffee table for both sofas. With high ceilings in the family room using larger scale furniture will make the space feel cozy.

For the side table tucked between the sofas, this wood and metal table is being brought in as a budget friendly solution. It was on sale for $59.00 at Target. I do love Target! However, if I wasn't watching the $$ to keep this project on budget, these gorgeous turquoise Mia nesting tables from Mitchell Gold would be on order! Turquoise is becoming the color of the season and would add a great dose of color here. Find the "Acacia-Top Metal Side Table" at and the "budget, what budget?!" option at

Finally, an accent chair. One possibility is this streamlined version of a wingback chair, another item from Van Gogh, perhaps in a colorful solid. Another idea is to find an interesting chair to refinish and reupholster, I will have to see what I come across when sourcing some local shops.

In the meantime, while the sofas make their way to my home, it's time for the final touches. Some fun and colorful fabrics are on order for accent pillows and I have several other small projects to help wrap up this project in high style.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Isabella!

Fun (and temporary) kitchen nook "art" by Isabella and myself, in celebration of her birthday! These delightful colors, and Isabella, inspire me.

Happy Birthday!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Designing with Televisions

Having spent a good portion of my childhood in Nome, Alaska, where there was not a TV to be found, I didn't become a fan of television until my late 20's. In the years since I have been making up for lost time! I adore HGTV, Fine Living, the occasional design series on Bravo, MSNBC for news, and CBS for our Sunday viewing of the Amazing Race. So the television has become an integral part of my daily life, like so many. This reality can often present significant design challenges when decorating a room that will house a television.

Some designers believe that televisions are best when out of sight. My take is that an 'exposed' television is just fine, it's an honest approach. I do, however, appreciate it when there is an effort to place the TV in a well thought out manner that allows it to work with its surroundings. Too often it is instead a huge piece of equipment, stacked atop piles of other equipment...taking over a space as if a truck has been parked in the room! You've seen this, right?

Several good options for TV placement are to mount it on a wall, tuck it into a built-in bookcase, place it on a media cabinet or within an armoire. I particularly like the armoire option if a television is to be placed in a bedroom. When not in use it is significantly more restful to have the TV hidden in bedrooms.

The TV in our family room redesign is the result of a debate between my husband and I. He wanted larger, I wanted smaller. This is the compromise, mounted above the fireplace. Once the furniture and accessories are in place the TV will cease to be such a large focal point. A benefit of the larger TV is that it is also easily viewed from the kitchen and nook. A possible incentive for me to spend more time cooking, while watching a favorite show?

The layout in this family room is ideal. Here one sofa faces the TV, which is set on a media cabinet. Another sofa faces the focal point of the room, the stunning fireplace. The TV is not the main feature of this room, yet it still functions wonderfully as a space to watch a movie or catch a show.

Placing the TV into a bookcase is also an excellent option, if the room has built-ins that can accommodate one. Here (in a "before" photo of a client's family room that is currently being transformed) the TV can be swiveled out from the bookcase for perfect viewing while lounging on seating in the opposite corner.

Until next time, happy TV viewing!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kitchen Nook Drapes

These drapes make such a difference in the breakfast nook, adding coziness and warmth to this corner. The drapes work very well here because the drapery rod was extended an entire foot beyond the door frame on each side, a bit wider than drapery hardware is usually installed. This was done because the extra width allows the drapery panels to be pulled back past the slider opening, allowing easy access in and out without having to push back the drape every time someone passes through.

Another issue with drapes hung at a slider is that it is hard to get the width of the drapery panel just right. If a typical 50-54" panel is hung it can look skimpy when pulled closed, but using a double width panel measuring 100" results in having too much fabric bulk when pulled open. A good solution is to have custom drapes made. For these custom drapes a 52" width of an oatmeal cotton/linen fabric was used for the center panel with 12" wide panels of brown cotton/linen sewn along each edge. The oatmeal and chocolate colors coordinate perfectly with the roman shades, while the 76" width provides just enough fullness when closed. It can be quite costly to have custom drapes made, but if that is not in the budget anyone who can sew even just a bit can probably handle a basic drapery project.

All the chairs have finally been refinished and every room can benefit from a bit of candlelight! These gorgeous 'starburst' hurricanes are currently 50% off at Crate&Barrel. I have had my eye on them for awhile, so was thrilled when I found them deeply discounted!

Another furniture option for this space, which would bring in a nice contrast to the rectangular island, would be a round table. Yet another option would be to turn the table, with its long length parallel to the nook window, and place a bench along the wall for a cozy seating alternative. Ballard Designs has an upholstered bench that would be perfect, in many fabric options, 36" or 48", from $350 to $900. To look at all the fabric options for the Coventry Bench visit

Finally, I think a series of framed photos or artwork running below the window sill would look great here...I don't know if a space is ever really done, at least in my house! I am constantly moving things around and trying out new ideas.

Next time...televisions and the reality that they are often a big part of the function and design of a room.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kitchen & Family Room Redesign - The Nook

To start the process of adding style and warmth to the kitchen nook roman shades have been made and hung, a drapery rod placed above the slider, with fabric on order for new drapes. A new light fixture has been installed and now the latest project is to refinish the old chairs.

These chairs were purchased several years ago and in addition to looking a bit worn, their black finish is too heavy to work well in this nook. I still like their shape, however, so it is definitely worth refinishing them with a new color, bringing the lightness of the painted cabinetry over to this corner.

Originally purchased for just $49 each, I was hesitant to completely remove the old paint. Made of molded plywood, I wondered just how much sanding the wood could take before the plywood starting coming apart! So, after treading lightly in the sanding phase I instead went heavy with the primer, applying two coats prior to the final layer of ivory paint. They now look great, even better than when they were new!

Two of the chairs are complete, with six to go. The process is actually quite easy and quick, so it won't be long until I have a 'new' set of chairs, for under $50! For endless advice and tips on refinishing just google "how to refinish furniture". Reworking pieces you may already own is a great way to freshen up a space on a budget!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pendant Lighting - My Favorites!

Great lighting can make a room! Originally the plan was to replace the island fixtures during the kitchen redesign, but later it was decided that the current fixtures are fine...for now. While sourcing for replacements, however, I came across the styles below and wanted to share. Perhaps someone else has a use for them!!

First, a wonderful geometric design by Jonathan Adler. I was very tempted to use these in the kitchen...find at, style G1500, around $200.

A strong classic, available at, style LC538, $329 each.

I absolutely adore this fixture, the skygardern, which has a wonderful story behind its design. It will also break the bank...on sale for $1816.!!! Dream at, by FLOS.

The hand rubbed antique brass finish is absolutely beautiful, in a simple classic shape. By Goodman, find at, item #TOB5090, small for $378.

Romantic, beautiful and delicate! Find at, by Currey&Co., style CC-9652. Also a budget buster at $959.

This caught my eye, retro glamour is what this fixture is all about. Find at, style H2695, $419.

Finally, a sweet and adorable fixture that I would love to use somewhere, someday. Designed by Maura Daniel, find at, the Chloe Chandelier with turqoise crystals, for $836.