Spring Cleaning

 

Spring is emerging and I have a strong desire to barricade myself in my home without the rest of my family so I can purge my basement storage shelves, sort junk drawers, and have a pinterest moment of extreme organization. It's probably not going to happen. For several reasons, including I am currently laid up with a bad cold. So, instead, I'm salivating over other people's extremely organized homes. That counts, right?

I am dreaming of the day when I open my fridge and it looks like this.

 
 

And my pantry like this (First I need an actual pantry though...)

 
 

When it comes to home organization, I am not a huge fan of closed storage. This is just preference. I like to be able to see what I'm looking for. And I think when stuff is organized and curated well it kind of looks like art. It takes on an element that is pleasing to the eye.

The best book I've ever read on the topic of home organization is Marie Kondo's, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The thesis of the book is: Go through every single thing in your home by category and ask yourself, Does this bring me joy? If the answer is no, it goes. I love this idea that you would only be surrounded in your home by things that genuinely bring you joy.

Here are some beautifully organized spaces that really inspire me:

Happy Organizing!

 

XO Anna

 

High on Design in the Lowcountry

 

Just coming back from a trip to the Lowcountry. My new term I love to throw around which I think means marshy, beachy coastal areas with Live Oaks and lots of rocking chairs on wrap around porches. Sounds good, right? All I know is people were very friendly and I loved when they said, "Welcome to the Lowcountry," like I was from another planet. I was in Bluffton, South Carolina, which is just outside of Hilton Head Island.

I have been working with this client for over a year to help her and her husband construct their dream home. This was my first time seeing it in living color, rather than the renderings, photos, and floor plans I've been working with for all this time. The purpose of my trip was to start the process of bringing the house to life: layering in the accessories, planning artwork, tweaking, rearranging and generally giving it some love.

Nothing in the design process makes me happier than this stage. Seeing every counter top, paint color, light fixture, sofa, chair, and tile selection all come together to prepare for this last and very vital stage of finishing the home. We still have lots to do, but this is where the house stands now and I can't wait to see the final product. 

Note: These are all simple iPhone pics that I edited at about 6AM this morning on my flight, not exactly a professional photo job. But once this home is complete, art hung and every detail in place, I can't wait to see what a professional can do with actual lighting.
 

There is way too much to write about every detail, but the common paint colors here are BM Revere Pewter (custom on kitchen cabs and also on walls and some ceilings), BM white dove on most walls, BM rockport gray (custom on kitchen island and some walls), BM texas leather in the den. The ceiling height in this home is 12' in most areas which gives a great scale in the kitchen and built-in bookshelves. Still coming: rugs, artwork, and live plants. 

I also need to note that working with this client has been a complete dream. Some collaborations are meant to happen, or they are more the effort of the universe than people trying to look for opportunities. It seemed to unfold so effortlessly, although it took a lot of long hours. A great project is when your friendship is strengthened in the end and the client gets the best possible outcome because of trust, positivity, and each person playing to their strengths. This is a happy home.

XO

Anna

 

Love Your Home for What Is

 

An inspiring conversation with a friend and co-collaborator led to some interesting reflections on how to approach redecorating a space that has perceived limitations. Maybe you feel you are working against an architectural style that is just not you or you have a limited budget for the list of 108 things that all seem to be a priority.

If, like me, you often feel limited in some way by your current home situation and don't know where to begin, this one is for you.

What I've realized in living in a 1960 Colonial home that was purchased from a well-meaning couple that attempted to DIY their way through a lifetime of raising their family is, the more I embrace the style my house WANTS TO BE, the more I succeed. In other words, the less I come from a place of deficiency and the more I come from a place of abundance, the more my house begins to embody a style and aesthetic that works for IT and for ME.

Coming from a place of deficiency: My house will never be the modern bohemian oasis I have always envisioned. My house will always have chipped paint and mis-matching baseboards. My house will never be seamless and current.

Coming from a place of abundance: My house is a constantly evolving creative process and exchange of energy. The more I feed it, the more it feeds me.

Your house is a living breathing thing. It has its own energy. (I can't help it, sorry. This is the yoga in me.) Right now, think about if your house had a voice. What would it say? What would it wear? Where would it go? The more you honor the energy of your house, the more the design will take on its own life, and the less work you will have to do.

Anyone can look at a magazine and copy a design item for item. This will lead to beautiful results, but where is the fun? As with most things in life, the boundaries, limitations, and (maybe extreme) design challenges that your home presents can be the container for great creativity if you let it. And when you have a home that isn't so shiny and perfect, this is truly where the creative process begins, not at some imaginary place down the road where you win the lotto and finally get to hire the most expensive builder in town.

For example, how can you merge your love of bohemian textiles with a 1980s traditional Colonial? There is a challenge. How can you make a tiny and highly used space feel more open and airy but still be functional and supportive? How can you spend $10,000 on your house to give it the look of a full renovation? This is not easy.

All of this being said, I often get frustrated by my home. Just when we invest in something, something else breaks. Right when I feel on top of things, I notice horrible imperfections in the tile job or dings in the dry wall.

But then I remember, my home is a living, breathing thing. It supports our family and it does it well. It's not new and shiny. It's showing its age. It was built almost 60 years ago and has been added on to, renovated, and repaired multiple times.

Of course I am going to inject my style and my aesthetic, but I have to honor its history and architectural integrity. Maybe that means leaving the dinged up wall until I can get to it, unapologetically. Or infusing some traditional elements into my mid-century modern furniture pieces.

Maybe it means loving my home for what it is and stop looking at what it isn't.

Have you ever had a friend unexpectedly stop over and you find yourself blabbering on excuses as though you are ashamed of your home, ie., "We are in the process of renovating and that room is going to be painted soon...Don't even look downstairs, we haven't gotten to that yet and it's a disaster...The furniture looks like this because I'm trying to figure out a new configuration and we can't get it to work....The walls are completely bare because I haven't had time to look for art....."

Guilty.

But when I stand in awareness I realize every time I do this I am demeaning and devaluing my home instead of accepting it right where it is and showing it some love and gratitude. Yes, I believe you can and should show your home some gratitude. It doesn't like to be talked down to or made to feel ashamed or not good enough.

I once was invited to a friend's home and when I got there is was a disaster. A very refreshing kind of disaster that was showing a lot of signs of life. You know this look, right? But she opened the door in a breeze and ushered me around as though it was a beautiful showroom. And you know what? I still think of her home to this day. It was cozy, lived in, just right. It felt good. But most of all, she didn't make one excuse and all of a sudden that house stood proud. It did. The wear and tear almost seemed intentional, and kind of cool. It was a very inspiring message for me.

So without rambling on any further, here are some of my very favorite homes that are showing signs of life. You might not find them on the cover of Elle Decor but they seem to be saying, "I'm here. I'm proud. I'm a work in progress but I love who I am. Won't you??"

XO

Anna

 

 

 

 

 

Color Correcting my Home

 

I am slowly trying to neutralize all the honey/beige/warm tones in my house and it has taken quite some time. I'm so excited to finally be ripping out the horrible beige, chipped tile that covers over half of my first floor (foyer, powder room, kitchen, back addition area).

 
My orange kitchen.

My orange kitchen.

I use rugs to cover the beige tile as much as possible.

I use rugs to cover the beige tile as much as possible.

 

I'm doing hardwood to match what is existing in my living and dining room.

Hardwoods in living/dining area. And a room that is not orange!

Hardwoods in living/dining area. And a room that is not orange!

Then patterned tile in the kitchen (can you imagine all that honey colored wood together??), penny rounds in the powder room, and a charcoal colored "looks like wood" tile for back entry way area.

I often feel like I am digging myself out of a bottomless hole when it comes to my house. And I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, because I like the work. But it's one of those...If I replace the flooring, then what about these baseboards? And how can I touch up paint that I want to change? And how can we NOT replace this toilet and wallpaper that is peeling off? And do I really want to match tile to this granite which I will eventually replace? And so on.

It's a work in progress and I'm not sure it will ever be done. And I'm kind of OK with that. Our previous homeowners left us plenty of work to dig our way out of. They made some odd choices.

Like, "Let's match the kitchen cabinetry to the hardwood floor stain to the tile color. Everything will look orange! What a great idea!"

I swear to you when we bought the house the kitchen was even painted orange. Oh wait! I found the photo. My apologies in advance.

 
My home as furnished by previous home owners. Their other furniture was purple and leather. A nice compliment to the orange.

My home as furnished by previous home owners. Their other furniture was purple and leather. A nice compliment to the orange.

 

As a designer, I think it's fun to work with distinct boundaries. If you gave me a plot of grass to build on my head would spin (with excitement but still....where to begin?!!?). But give me an old 1960 center-staircase colonial with a bad addition, too many soffits all over the place, bad flooring but still a good, sweet soul...I can work with that.

So, I knew I wanted to neutralize the warm bieges so I decided to go with a patterned tile in the kitchen. I wanted that updated Spanish tile feeling.

Here are my inspiration pics for this look.

Ultimately, I decided I really was attracted to black/white/neutrals so I zero'd in on the above pattern above as one of my favorites and then went searching and found the tile on the below right as my kitchen choice.

Inspiration Pic / Actual tile select

Inspiration Pic / Actual tile select

I like that it has a taupe that plays off the flecks of warmer tones in the granite. And I also thought, let's stay the hell away from orange or honey tones for God's sake.

Here is the select pictured in kitchen.

It's almost beginning to look like a kitchen that was done after the millenium. Pretty exciting.

This is the tile for the back area of my house that was, yes, also beige.

And cream penny rounds for the powder room. (The wallpaper in there is also orange-y and leopard print. I will spare you.)

 
 
 

I will post when finished! Nothing excites me like new flooring!!!

 

Happy Decorating.

xx

Anna

Good French Doors (And One Window).

 

My list of greatest hits in Paris is probably a little different than most. In nine days in central Paris, I did not set foot in Le Louvre or go to the top of Le Tour Eiffel.

I did eat about 47 macaroons, pounded miles and miles of cobblestone pavement in my Adidas, and paid close attention to the details. I guess rather than staring at Monet or Cezanne, I peeked into courtyards and took a few extra seconds to take in the wonder.

The beauty of Paris is truly in the not so obvious. It's in the speckles of green in a green tea macaroon. Or in a Parisian woman's bun, perfectly messy (always bobby-pinned). It's in the way they plate carrots (always buy vegetables with dirt, our Parisian friend tells us).

It's in the discreetness of children's balloons sitting alone on a winding street.

It's the flower shops in Le Marais pouring over with abundant green.

It's the slow pour of a thick hot chocolate and the little spoon to stir. It's the old wooden boxes that hold the tiny bobbins at Clignancourt.

And the cat that wanders by leading me to a hidden jazz bar in between two stalls selling leather hides.

The beauty of Paris is in its doors. And the pale gray windows of Isle Saint Louie.

 

The beauty of Paris is nothing for words, it's an ache in my heart, a sense of familiarity in what should be a totally unknown planet.

XO

Anna