Thursday, April 30, 2009

Master Bedroom Retreat - Lighting

Finding just the right lighting for this master bedroom has been key in achieving the design goals for this room. This room is to be a crisp and modern space, while at the same time containing a sense of warmth through its organic elements.

With that in mind, I was absolutely thrilled when I spotted a pair of lamps at Home Goods that captured both modern and organic design aspects. They remind me of a wonderfully unique item you'd find at some chic boutique, such as Cielo Home at, a delightful store here in Portland. It was with mixed emotions I sent this photo to the client for approval, if they weren't so perfect for this bedroom I would have been very tempted to keep them myself!

For the ceiling light fixture we have selected the Criss Cross pendant by George Nelson. The experience of choosing this fixture reminds me of the understanding that you are not supposed to pick the first item seen when shopping, whether the desired object is a dress or a house. This classic bubble lamp was the client's original choice, but prior to making a final decision we looked at another dozen or more fixtures. It was a worthwhile experience, I discovered new fixtures that I can't wait to use elsewhere and we know for certain the right decision has been made. This pendant is very modern yet has a natural feel, the shape conveys the sense that its design was inspired by a shell or flower.

While at Home Goods, I also found this large sunburst mirror that will be hung over the dresser. The size and shape are ideal for this room. The gold finish...not so ideal. But why should this minor detail stop progress. Just imagine the mirror with a finish similar to the lamp base, perfect! So, no guessing required to figure out what my next project is going to be...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Girl's Dream Bedroom - Paint

Again, the amazing abilities of paint. What else can you spend less than $100 on and see such a change in a room? (Labor not included!)

This beautiful turquoise color is from Sherwin-Williams, Watery 6478. This color choice was inspired by the colorful fabrics selected for the room. (All from Calico Corners: 'Shalini' floral print by Anne Selke, 'Lock' geometric print in both Hot Pink and Splash, 'Lovely Lattice' in Jungle, and 'Key West' in White/Pink). The original plan was to apply a silvery glaze over the paint, but with all the pattern and color planned for the room it was decided this step was simply not necessary. I love decisions that eliminate work!

Prior to painting, Frogtape painters tape was run four inches below the ceiling line. After painting the walls turquoise, this tape was removed and another line of tape was applied just a fraction below the new paint line. The white ceiling color was then extended down over the top four inches of the wall surface. This adds very little work to a paint project, but brings a lot of interest to the room, visually creating the effect of a crown molding. And by the way, I am in love with this new (for me) Frogtape product by Shurtape! The sales person at Sherwin-Williams suggested I try it, claiming the paint lines would be much sharper with little to no bleeding of the paint. They were right. It certainly made a project such as this one much more successful with less effort.

Below the trim line a pattern, designed to mirror the look of crystals hanging from a chandelier, is being painted throughout the room. The pattern is being traced and hand painting onto the wall, but the same effect could be achieved by using a stencil or by applying decorative wall decals.

Next, I am on the hunt for white drapery rods to hang the exuberant pink and white drapes, and I'll show you the lighting decisions made for the master bedroom retreat. Until then...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Power of Paint - Master Bedroom Retreat

Did you know paint can lift ceilings? I am thrilled with the first step in the master bedroom retreat project. The decision to continue the Mocha Accent paint beyond the line where the walls meet the tray ceiling, up to the crown molding, has visually added more than a foot of height to this room. Measuring 17x16, this is a good sized bedroom, but when I first visited the space it felt smaller because the ceilings appeared low. It was as if the ceiling height stopped where the wall color stopped. Deciding to leave the remaining ceiling surface white also helps to expand the height of the room and helps to keep the space from feeling dark. As a bonus, the corner windows also appear less crowded now that there is visually more room above them.

So success on task one, next lighting!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Girl's Dream Bedroom - No Boys Allowed

Another new project I have just jumped into is inspired by happy colors and lively patterns. It is my daughter Isabella's room and I am thrilled to finally be designing this space for her. Initially we lived in a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco and there was no room for a nursery. Over the years we moved on to homes with enough bedrooms for everyone, but other projects took priority...oh, and then came the Disney princess phase, I just couldn't get inspired to put that room together! Now Isabella and I actually seem to be on the same (design) page. While sourcing fabrics we put together a story for the room that we both got excited about. I do, however, expect some differences of opinion as the project proceeds. She has a great eye and her own opinions that don't always agree with mine!

This before picture was not staged (to look worse)...I shot it today as we were running out the door to meet friends at a park. It's a bit of a mess to say the least, though to quote her "if there was more storage I would have a place to put things!" True, so more storage is one of the goals for the space. Yet I think before we 'break ground' I should have her sign a contract, pledging to make an effort to keep the room clean once it has been completed!

Projects for this room are:

1) Cover the walls with pale turquoise paint followed by a watery silver glaze
2) Paint a chandelier inspired motif border at the ceiling
3) Bring in side tables with storage
4) Place a desk and chair at the end of the bed
5) Hang drapes made from the pink and white lattice fabric
6) Make bedding from the various other fabrics shown in the photo
7) Hang a chandelier
8) Find new lampshades and rewire the vintage table lamps (my grandmother's)
9) Hang mirrors and a framed cork board to pin all her various drawings, notes and papers

Additionally, I plan to upholster a headboard, add a rug to brighten the floor and bins for more storage in the closet. Okay, I'm tired just writing about it because I know who is going to be doing all the work!

This is a room inspired not only by Isabella but the arrival of spring and its gorgeous riot of color. It is the type of project you look forward to working on through the warm summer months, and I suspect it will require the length of summer to complete. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Creating a Master Bedroom Retreat

With the busy lives most of us lead, creating a master bedroom retreat that welcomes you at the end of the day is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. The room doesn't have to be large or grand, but should contain elements that will relax and recharge you for another day.

I recently began working on a client's master bedroom. The words the client gave me to describe the desired look and feel for the finished space were: Modern, Crisp, White, Serene, Spa/Zen-like and...Indonesian. A clean space with warm organic elements to balance the cool and modern selections. This is a somewhat tricky balance, but we are working together diligently to bring about the transformation! Below is the before picture, a very nice room...but our aim is create something a bit more special and inspiring.

The various planned projects and changes are:

1)Paint, wrapping up to the crown molding to bring a sense of height to the room. After considering many good choices we selected this rich mid-tone brown with beautiful grey undertones. Mocha Accent by Behr.

2)Add a junction box to the ceiling for an overhead chandelier or light fixture...we have considered so many options I could open a store with all the great finds! Here is one possibility, by Jonathan Adler at

3)Bring in this beautifully simplistic and modern bed frame, (the Kubix by Lazar Industries, found at in a rich dark chocolate fabric with wooden feet.

4)Bedding. West Elm has some wonderful bedding, including the chosen white pin-tuck duvet and shams. The design is very simple, yet textural with its lines and shadows.

5)Dresser. By Brownstone Furniture, the Townsend dresser is stunning with its sculptural organic lines, at www.brownstonefurniture. com.

And all the rest that is yet to be determined...artwork above the bed, an accent chair, night stands, a rug, accessories and color through pillows or a coverlet. This is a project that will evolve and probably change with each step of the most projects do!! I'll keep you posted...Janell

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kitchen & Family Room Redesign - Complete!

I am thrilled to announce the Kitchen and Family Room Redesign has been completed...just one week past its due date. The outcome has exceeded my expectations. The goal was to bring a sophisticated calm to the space, a dose of style and to correct the cabinetry, mantel and built-in issues. I happily anticipate enjoying this space with friends and family, and on rare occasion to have a few moments alone here as well!

Next, upcoming projects I'll be following on this blog are: A client's master bedroom, my own Isabella's bedroom...(am I ready for this, she has her OWN opinions!) And I have also been working on the living room of our home. Have you heard, living rooms are apparently back in style! Until next time...Janell

P.S. Here are a couple 'before' pictures, and perhaps the project is not 100% done. I still need an occasional chair in the corner. I'll add a picture when it is found!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kitchen & Family Room Redesign...Almost Done!

The plan was to make a few pillows, in a spring color, for the new sofas. Then I found these linen pillows at Pottery Barn, in exactly the color I had in mind, for about the same price as they would have cost to make. So I snatched up a few. I do, however, have this habit of wanting to reinvent things. These pillows ended up being no exception.

It started with their existing faux-horn buttons...wasn't thrilled with them but decided to just turn this side of the pillow towards the back of the sofa. Then I remembered a bin of buttons left over from a collection of tailored jackets I designed quite a few years ago. In the bin were these wonderful rose and leaf buttons (more like jewelry than buttons!) and I used them to replace the originals.

Nice improvement. Then I woke up this morning with the idea of sewing a band of fabric (Thomas Paul) to wrap a couple of the pillows, for a bit more color and interest. This project required less than a yard of leftover fabric...these 'wraps' can be removed or switched with another fabric for a quick change of scenery.

The new Lisbon sofas are being delivered tomorrow and with them comes the completion of this project! Finally I can post photos of the finished rooms...and then I plan to sit back and relax while enjoying a nice glass of wine!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Setting a budget...

So you have decided to renovate or decorate, you know what you want, have collected photos of rooms that have inspired you and may have even started shopping for materials or furniture...STOP! Before you go any further, grab a pen and paper (or open a spread sheet on your computer) and put together a budget. It is very tempting to skip this step, but having a budget is an indispensable guideline that will help you move through your project, with hopes and a chance of making it to the end with enough money to buy the lightbulbs for that fabulous new chandelier!

Prior to moving forward with the Kitchen & Family Room Redesign it was important to understand the cost of everything I hoped to accomplish. I made a list of all the projects and their associated material costs, in addition to furniture and accessory cost estimates. Afterwards, I met with the contractors I was considering hiring and secured quotes. With these quotes and estimated costs for everything else I had an initial budget in hand. Numbers add up fast and it was necessary to cross out a few lines on the wish list. But after all this planning I was finally ready to move forward with confidence, knowing I wouldn't find myself in a situation where I had torn something up only to find there was no money to put it back together!!

During these past three months I have tracked every expense associated with the project. There have been happy moments when costs came in under budget, and others when costs inched up past expectations. To keep the budget on track adjustments were made along the way. For example, if I wanted to have money left over for new sofas I needed to cut corners elsewhere. I chose to save substantially on the window treatments, making the roman shades and drapes myself rather than have the pleasure of having them made for me. In addition, I passed by the gorgeous Liam sofas I had my eye on, (well over the allowed budget even with my Mitchell Gold discount) and found a less expensive source for a similar style.

Happily this project ended up slightly under budget. This is partly due to finding it unnecessary to replace the cabinetry hardware and pendant lighting (until I stumble across something irresistible!), but mostly due to not encountering any major surprises along the way.

So, dream away but don't forget to add up the numbers...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Accessorizing the Built-Ins...Finally!

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

As I wait for the sofas to arrive, they are being shipped next week, I have no more excuses to put off accessorizing the built-ins. I have been avoiding this task because there isn't, as far as I know, a set of guidelines to follow that will ensure success. However, I knew I wanted to use things I already owned and for the end result to be interesting yet simple, highlighting items with meaning for myself and my family. So, with these goals I got to work.

The plan was to 'shop' my house, going from room to room, collecting items that might work well on the shelves. Again, I didn't want to go out and buy things simply to fill up the built-ins. So off I went, gathering up everything that had potential and laid them out on the coffee table.

Next I cleared everything from the shelves to be able to start with a clean canvas. Then I started placing things here and there, seeing what looked good and what didn't and kept moving things around until I was happy with the result. (Took about an hour...seemed like a long time to spend placing things on a shelf only to take them off!) This approach (of shopping your home and selecting from your gathered finds) can be used to accessorize any surface...side and coffee tables, an entry console, a mantel or your dresser .

These built-ins have been mostly empty since they were completed, so seeing them filled feels a bit odd. But I like the result, and see I am being inspired by the arrival of spring, with all the greens and blues. This makes me realize that these shelves will continue to evolve, as I find a new treasure or with a change of the season.

I still don't have a set of guidelines for fail proof accessorizing but I can offer these tips. Do bring objects into your home that you love...(if you love the item it has a chance of looking good regardless of how you place it!) Then create layers, balance a visually heavy item with another one elsewhere, place a box or vase on a stack of books, bring in fresh flowers and remember empty space also plays an important role!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Adore Turquoise!

The budget forced a pass on the Mia nesting tables, (see "floor plan" entry below) but their gorgeous turquoise color inspired me to find another way to bring this happy color into the family room. With a simple palette of creams and browns, a splash of turquoise will look great in this space.

With a paint deck in hand, off I went to the paint store and came away with a quart of Sherwin-Williams Drizzle 6479. Looking for something to paint I found an unused tray tucked away in a cabinet, originally black, that had the potential to be transformed.

First the tray was sanded and primed, then two layers of the new color were brushed on. I wasn't exactly sure where this project was going. One idea was to cover the turquoise paint with a layer of silver leaf, rubbing away some for a chic rustic look (is there such a thing?!) Then I remember the "wallpaper" pattern I recently worked on and it was traced onto the surface of the tray. A mixture of Sherwin-Williams Universal Khaki and silver paint filled in the pattern, followed by a very thin wash of the turquoise and silver paint (mixed) to give the entire surface a soft sheen.

Perhaps this tray will find a home on the coffee table. Trays are a great place to stack magazines, books...and remotes. Attractive AND neat! This tray also works lining the back of one of the shelves. (I need to get started on accessorizing the bookcases!) A short glass vase filled with white flowers, placed in front of the tray, would look beautiful here and bring a bit of spring inside.