January 17, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Get Organized & Be Productive! Step One: Inspiring Home Office

Hello Friends!  I apologize for the long hiatus in my blog entries.  It has been a busy holiday season, and a lot has happened since I last wrote.  For one, I’m pregnant! That’s right, Bryson and I will be expecting our first child (a boy!!) at the very end of May. While this is thrilling for so many reasons, (oh yes, and overwhelming and nerve wracking too, of course) perhaps one of the most immediately satisfying is from a design perspective. I officially have a new and very adorable project to keep me busy – a nursery!  I could not be more excited to dig in and create a “happy nest” for my little guy… a stimulating, cozy, and personalized place for him to come home to this spring.  This is no small task, and I’ve already spent many a sleepless night mulling over all the details.  More entries later on this, rest assured.  But first, I’m also trying to tackle another dilemma – do I have room for a home office?  As you can see from the title, one of my new year's resolutions is to have a truly productive and organized year.  Hard to have that without a productive and organized space from which to get motivated and be brilliant, right?  Right.

Particularly now with the little one about to be taking up one of our former guest rooms (and threatening to add chaos to life as we know it), I definitely don't have an extra room I can devote entirely to an office space.  So my challenge has been to figure out if a home office can seamlessly fit into the confines of my current set up.  I’ve been very inspired by a number of nifty, space saving solutions to creating a functional “work station” and I wanted to share them here.

In a closet?  Now, talk about clever.  There’s nothing like setting up shop in an abandoned closet. After your work is complete you can tuck everything back inside and shut the door.  Love this!  And wallpaper and paint combo truly works wonders on making the space feel like a room.  

Under the stairs?  Obviously, the right kind of staircase is critical here, but what a great use of otherwise dead space.  I think it’d be very fun to pay the bills in this little cozy nook.

Kitchen corner?  Many kitchens come with a built in desk which makes sense since we spend so much time there, but it's also hard to avoid clutter since it’s such a high traffic area.  By putting this office nook off to the corner, it doesn’t invade the kitchen or breakfast nook, and feels like a cheery place to make the week's grocery list.

A shed of one’s own?  How adorable is this!  Seriously makes me want to get one of those unfinished wood sheds at Home Depot, paint it, put some French doors on the front, maybe a little flag out front, a doormat, and oh yes, an office inside.  For those of us who feel like they need to get out of the house in order to get any work done, this could be a nice option with a perfect commute to the back yard?

Have some extra wall space?  Forget the clunky freestanding desk… by adhering this wall mount desk unit directly to the wall, all you need is a chair and some free space in the corner of any room. 

Of course, I also fantasize about large, full room offices too.  The spaces above just breathe productivity and organization.  Talk about all the gift wrapping, thank you note writing, sewing, and crafting you could get done in these bad boys?!  Maybe some other time, Lauren.  First things first.

Right now, we’re thinking our best set up would be the sunroom area in between our formal living room and master bedroom, otherwise known as Winston’s room.   

Poor Winston, not only is a baby coming to steal all his attention – he’s also going to loose his room!  If you remember we created an accent wall in this room a while back.  Besides a bookshelf, a chair, and Winston’s bed – the room is empty and ripe for the taking.  It’s full of windows and gets tons of natural light – which I think is key to creating an inspiring work station.  Hoping to do some reorganizing soon, but just wanted to share my path to inspiration in case you too are trying to find a “work nook” of your own. 

July 15, 2010

Simple, Sweet Shower Ideas

Tis the season for baby showers, or so it seems.  I've had so much fun planning showers this summer for some very adorable and hip parents-to-be.  Seems like there are a million and one ways to make these get togethers elaborate and splashy, but why not some simple home-grown ideas that are budget friendly, easy to do yourself, and still very sweet?  Like the effortless floral arrangements in varying sized mason jars above.  Who needs a florist when you can get a more unique no-frills look that's perfect for a casual at-home shower?

Onesies - these little bitty one-piecers are just so darn cute on their own.  String them on grosgrain ribbon along your mantel, someplace outside, or hang from a tree and your guests will be dreaming of the cute little munchkin that will one day wear them in no time.

Favors - let your guests take home a treat that's as sweet as the baby will be.  Try putting jelly beans or Jordan almonds into different sized bottles and tying festive ribbons on top.  These can be cute for tabletop decor and then guests can take them as they leave.  And who doesn't like Rice Krispie treats?!  We printed a sticker to match the invitation, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and affixed a polka dot bow to make them look like little presents.  Think brownies or cookies or any tasty pastry that you can wrap up with a bow. Find a cute place to display them, and they're instant eye candy too.

Punch - Nothing says shower like a good ol' fashioned punch.  With the plentiful supply of drink dispensers available today, displaying and pouring punch has never been so easy.  This cute idea is courtesy of my friend Brittney.  "Knocked Up" is the non-alcoholic "mama friendly" version and "Knocked Out" is the spiked variety.  Rubber duckies floating inside is like icing on the cake!

So get creative and have fun finding easy ways to add a sweet baby touch to your next shower.  Even the little details will make the moment more special and will get your guests excited about the real reason to celebrate - a wonderful new little bundle of joy that they'll soon get to meet.

June 22, 2010

I Wish I had Thought of This First

If you are like me, you mourned the loss of Domino. You couldn't fathom how a magazine that you and so many likeminded, inspiration-seeking readers found so compelling could be in enough financial trouble to collapse. I still sigh with longing every time I see The Domino Book of Decorating sitting on my coffee table, knowing that it’s the last official communication I’ll ever have from the brand. Are the days of print publications truly dwindling?? From a non-kindle book reader, non-electronic day planner carrier, and avid magazine fan (who is still very loyal to page turning and bookshelves) – I hope not!

But, if you are like me, you may be both surprised and delighted to know that there are still equally as interesting and inspiring insights (from a former Domino employee no less) currently on the web in the form of the very chic digital magazine Lonny.

No, you cannot physically rip out magazine pages to tuck away in your “someday, maybe” design file, but instead you can enjoy different benefits that only an online publication can provide: zooming in to each photo to admire the ottoman fabric and texture, and perhaps the most intuitive - clicking on a particular item you love and being directly taken to the website where you can buy it! Brilliant!

I came across the news of Lonny by reading Stuart Elliot’s In Advertising New York Times column this week. As someone who works in advertising, this type of online publication is particularly interesting because it’s an advertiser’s dream. And sure enough, all of my favorite online brands are in full participation, many even offering discounts if you click through the ad to their site. What a seamless integration and quality ROI.

It’s a great magazine with tons of content, and it's on the list of yet another thing I really wish I had thought of  first. Kudos to Lonny creators Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline for providing accessible content and inspiring ideas in a form that’s both useful and fun. Check it out! And let me know what you think!

May 24, 2010

B&B's, yes please!

Sorry, friends!  I know it's been a while since I've last posted.  But it's for good reason!  We were on vacation.  Bryson and I just got back from a coastal and wine country adventure in California.  Though every place we visited along Route 1 from LA to Napa was beautiful, interesting and amazing in its own right, I had to take a minute and share some pictures of what I think might quite possibly be the most adorable bed and breakfast I've ever seen: The Cass House Inn in Cayucos, California.

We've always said that our goal is to retire together at 50 and open our own B&B in a quaint little town and invite all our friends to come stay with us.  We would renovate it, decorate it, and Bryson would run the restaurant while I managed the "front of the house" ensuring each guest was pampered to perfection.  Well, that's essentially what Grace and Jensen Lorenzen did.  They are recently married, very gracious, and have the B&B thing down to a science.  I think you'll agree from these pictures that this place is charming in every sense of the word.

The beautiful grounds and gardens, where they grew a lot of the veggies they served in the restaurant:


Our cozy room and porch... I really could have moved in!

And one of the best parts, The Brown Butter Baking Company right next door which makes these delicious butter cookies with sprinkled sea salt on top!

If you ever find yourself driving from LA to San Francisco and are looking for a place to stay in between, definitely check out this little gem.  You'll be happy you did!  And did I mention that dinner and breakfast were two of the best meals we had the entire week?  Delish!

May 4, 2010

Melamine Mania

Not sure about all of you, but I've been suffering from a major case of spring fever.  The only thing I want to do is tiptoe through the tulips and lose track of time with a good book in the hammock. 

With this unyielding desire to be outdoors inevitably comes thoughts of summer barbecues, citronella candles, paper lanterns, and dining al fresco.  And this year, I'm determined to buy myself an practical, affordable and stylish set of melamine dinnerware.  I love how lightweight and durable they are, and there are so many adorable patterns and styles to choose from.  I need your help deciding!  Let me know what to choose.  I love them all!

Just a few of our fabulous options:

World Market - Two Tone Cane $3.99 a dinner plate

West Elm - Black and White $15 for a set of four dinner plates
Le Cedeaux - Fiorella $189 for a 16 piece set

 Le Cadeaux - Limon $189 for a 16 piece set 

 Le Cadeaux - Madrid $189 for a 16 piece set 

 Williams-Sonoma - Marsielle $53 for a set of 4 dinner plates


Crate and Barrel - Dots $9.95 a dinner plate

Working Class Studio - Tile Pattern $40 for a set of four dinner plates

I also found this super chic website called Monkey See Boutique that creates personalized melamine platters like this one which would make the perfect hostess or thank you gift:

Another website, La Plates, also allows you to customize and monogram plates in a variety of patterns and colors.  Wouldn't a set of 6 make an truly unique wedding gift that you know the couple would actually use each summer?? So cute!

La Plates - Bamboo $22 a dinner plate

Seriously, with prices and options like this, I might just have to mix and match several sets!  And when I do, let the deck dining and mojito sipping begin!

April 28, 2010

Home Roaming for A Good Cause

This past Saturday, April 24th, was the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties' second annual "Home Roam" house tour.  We were honored to be featured as one of the seven homes in Hope Valley who opened their doors to over 250 people in the community for a great cause.  The event was a huge success this year, thanks to the help of many passionate ladies!  Here are a few fun pictures from the day. 

I have to say that the weeks leading up to the tour were only slightly terrifying (the most people I've ever hosted before in one day was maybe 20!), but it was really fun being able to interact with the tour-goers and answer questions about what we've done to the house.  I have to say, there were lots of accent wall fans!  Validation for the determination!  Hopefully we have some new blog readers as a result too.