Category Archives: mood boards

Now I’m walking again to the beat of a drum…*

*Lyrics from the Hey Now (Don’t Dream It’s Over) remake as sung by Lolo (aka: Lauren Pritchard). I heard this song in the movie I Give It A Year (the movie is NOT worth seeing, btw) and really liked the quality that her voice gave to this older song. I can’t find the song available for purchase, but it’s listenable on last fm. Her voice is really something special.

The office: a mix of chic accessories, industrial touches, modern amenities, and limited space.

The office: a mix of chic accessories, industrial touches, modern amenities, and limited space.

So, a short while ago, my sister’s non-profit company found some office space to rent. They had been without a dedicated space for much of the holiday season, and had been on a desperate hunt for a better situation. The move means shorter commute times for my sister, and a more centrally located spot for her and her boss, and it’s located in a more bustling area of the city. The only problem/challenge is that it’s a shared space, and their co-tentant is already in place.

Luckily, the co-tenant, an event planner, is very open to sharing (it’s a reality in NYC for many small businesses), and was very happy to have some input from someone (me) who might just have a few ideas on how to best meet everyone’s needs, while maintaining a stylish and affordable office. Easy, right?

Enter: IKEA. Seriously, despite all of the misses that they make, and the hassle/effort of having to build things yourself, this is one of the best resources for cheap, durable and attractive office furniture. (That is, if you’re willing to think about everything they make as office appropriate. Don’t overlook dining tables as desk spaces, bedroom armoires as storage units, and kitchenware as office supply caddies.) With an eye toward spending as little as possible — non-profit + self-employed small business owner = budget? what budget? — and with a nod to the things they already had (including plenty of chic accessories), I whipped up a little moodboard for them to get inspired by.

Inspiration via Pinterest (see board: dual office), and via IKEA, Target, and Overstock.

Inspiration via Pinterest (see board: dual office), and via IKEA, Target, and Overstock.

I also sketched up some potential floor plans (with some expert help from my computer savvy husband). Objectives: desk space for three; meeting space for clients for both the event/wedding planning AND volunteer training; seating area (existing) for clients or staff alike; and, visual harmony/limited clutter. While I know they would all love it if they had more money to spend, or more space to use, they’re all happy to make the best of bright, sunlit, clean office that even sports a herringbone floor.



This floor plan intended to save the most on the budget, and use the existing items to their best advantage.


This floor plan focuses on the need for chic meeting space, and creates a more open layout.

I included two options for them to mull over. Each plan tries to make the best use of the space they have, while allowing for things to serve as double-duty. Since meeting with non-staff/clients will be a minimal event (several times per month, but not necessarily daily), I focused on making sure they had space for their day-to-day items, while allowing them access to any files/paperwork they might need. And, since I know my sister pretty well, I tried to anticipate her need to have tidiness as an option. Everyone appreciates a clean work surface, so having spaces for messes (read: piles) to go is a must. And, I know the space will evolve with time, so I tried not to fill up the entire room with stuff. Air, and light is important which is why I fought for the seating area to stay (one of the three didn’t think it was necessary, and I’ll let you have one guess as to who it was {it might have been the only male who will be using the space}).

In the end, I think we have a solid plan. I hope to help them ‘install’ the space over the next few weeks, perhaps with a few runs to Target and HomeGoods to round out the accessories, lighting, and soft touches. Once we get a finished look, I’ll share the transformation.

My first real “job” in NYC, and it feels so good to start to make some connections. Woo hoo!


Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room…*

*Lyrics reluctantly from a Taylor Swift song, Never Grow Up. Reason one: the younger of the two Project W kids, and the one who was most interested in the whole design process, LOVES her, or at least did the last I heard. Reason two: the song I really wanted to use was, well, a bit of a downer, and not at all representative of the beautiful and loving family that I was honored to work with. But, in my defense, the lyrics I was going to pick out from the rejected song (Jeff thought I should leave it out of the post entirely) were the (sweetly, sad, yet) positive bits: “Kid, have your say, ’cause I still love you, even if I don’t see you again.” So, instead I give you vapid tweenie-bop music. You may choose to listen as your mood dictates, but know that the second, deeper one by Neko Case is brutally beautiful, and will probably make you cry. (The first one might make your ears bleed. You have been warned.)

Now it’s time for another installment of Project W: The AFTER tour! When we last left off, we were sneaking around the master bedroom and bath, basking in the improved flow and potential for timeless style. Let’s move into the kids’ wing of the upper floor, shall we?

BEFORE: This space started out as a strange pass-through with a skylight and a spiral staircase. AFTER: This little corner will now become a reading nook, or a homework zone if the kids need some quiet space.

BEFORE: This space started out as a strange pass-through with a skylight and a spiral staircase. AFTER: This little corner will now become a reading nook, or a homework zone if the kids need some quiet space.

Just off the area where the spiral staircase used to be (we nixed it in an effort to gain more usable space in the kitchen), is the kids’ wing. It’s private, away from the parents’ master suite, and has its own family bathroom (still to be renovated). While the hallway boasts the same color as all of the transitional spaces in the home – foyer, mudroom, hallways, stairwell all in Toque White (early on my builder asked me to choose only Sherwin Williams colors) – the kids’ rooms depart from the main thrust of the home to reveal individual and personality-based spaces perfect for the rejuvenation of young minds.

read on…

You can’t cross the line, but you can’t stop trying…*

*Lyrics from S.O.S. in Bel Air by Pheonix from their album Bankrupt!. Since we’re definitely still in summer-music-mode, and I’m looking for new exercise music, I poked around the recent releases and discovered that Phoenix had a new, very catchy album, perfect for summer ears, and running (ok, trotting) feet. And even though my clients moved into their house in late June, they needed some time to settle in before I could take proper pictures. You other homeowners know that it takes quite a bit of time after a move to feel at home, so I didn’t want to rush my clients into being ‘done’ before they were ready. Hoping to get some final after photos in the fall. Until then, more summer, please!

The original plan included salvaging the original cast iron tub, using an old dresser for a vanity, and putting a marble mosaic on the floor for luxury.

Every designer starts out with the best intentions: make something beautiful that functions really well, and keep it within a reasonable budget. Ok, I guess some people don’t have to worry about budgets, but I don’t know them, and I doubt I’d want to. We all have to work within realistic parameters, while keeping our eye on the big picture. Problem is, when those parameters are constantly changing, it’s harder to grab ahold of that vision and steer toward it. Sometimes, as with driving a car in a winter storm, you need to steer into the skid to keep from crashing, despite the fact that you won’t end up where you wanted in the first place.

Inevitably, due to situations outside of my control, I had to dramatically re-think a design concept for my clients on Project W. Despite my best intentions, and my rigorous adherence to my initial budget, my budget dollars were suddenly diverted toward other things, and I was left to scramble to come up with a new plan. Unpleasant, yes. Impossible, no. It’s how the cookie crumbles, and is a good exercise in adapting, going with the flow, and remaining fluid. I wrote about my first (and most painful) lesson in that here, and this was nowhere near that experience (thankfully), but not unrelated. There are times when someone will rip apart your idea, and your only course of action is to shift your perspective.

read on…

What you only dream about, wild women do…*

*Lyrics from Wild Women Do as performed by Natalie Cole from the hit 1990 movie Pretty Woman. Those of you too young to know, the late 1980’s were a time of great sexual empowerment of women (note the sarcasm dripping from these words – there was no other empowerment allowed), and a time of great artistic achievement in music video technology where incorporating the film that the song was written for in the background (and sometimes foreground) of the video was the height of sophistication. Also, Pretty Woman has been in rotation on cable, most likely for the parallels between Richard Gere’s character and Mitt Romney’s stint as a ruthless businessman who bought companies only to chop them up and sell them during that same time period. It was de rigueur for the time, I guess, just like terrible perms, lip liner, and super-tight spandex everything. But I digress.

So, okay, so the house hasn’t sold yet. Which is to be expected, I suppose (summer is slow, historically, for selling houses). I’ve never sold a house before, and every market is different, and every home is different (just like every buyer), so, well, we’re waiting. Turns out impatiently waiting. So we decided to go ahead and rent a small apartment – may we call it a pied-à-terre? mais oui! – in Brooklyn, in the neighborhood where we’re aiming to eventually move to permanently. Or at least as permanently as can be.

Shocked? I am, and I was part of the decision-making process! We’re going forward with the next phase of our life, despite the obvious obstacle of having not sold our home yet, and not knowing how long it will take to do so. Clearly, we have the most beautiful home on earth (duh), but clearly we are waiting for just the right person(s) to claim this home in the name of their god and country (ok, or just their family).

read on…

Honey, I’ve been really struggling to see this thing through to the end…*

*Lyrics from Camera Obscura‘s Careless Love off their album My Maudlin Career. I just discovered (read: found, I certainly did NOT discover anyone) them the other day and I really enjoyed this album. Have a listen – it’s nice.

Additonal living space mood board. Full furniture credits available on olioboard - see the link toward the end of the post for more info.

So, recently my oldest friends in the world – who I don’t get to see very often due to schedules, locations and our own family commitments – let on that they had been making over their kitchen and main floor of their house for the past six months. By themselves. Gulp. You got that right. Holy crap! Now, these are not un-busy people – two kids, demanding jobs, lots of family spread out around the entirety of New England, you name it, they’re doing it. I was flabbergasted, impressed and nervous for them all at once. I would have loved to help them in the planning stages, but it was one of those things… first the sink needed to be replaced, and, well, if we’re going to have to hire a plumber anyway… and we want to add some outlets eventually, and the walls have to be opened up… and we could really use some more counter space, plus these counters will never survive the new sinkthese floors are really not working anymore, and this carpeting has to go… you get the idea. Snowball effect. I’ve lived through it, but not the DIY version. It’s hard enough with seasoned pros at your side, let alone tackling it yourself on weekends. With small children. For six months! Phew.

read on…