Design Ideas - Special Fireplace

I ran across this sculpture installation that really caught my eye.  A really simple fireplace wall composition with one spectacular piece of art.  The glass wheat sculpture is designed by Canlis Glass out of Seattle, Washington.  Check it out.

Simple composition of the fireplace wall.  A contemporary fire box and open display niche sit side by side.  Wheat sculpture centered above.

Lighting is important here as it really emphasizes the overall texture of the glass.

The stems of glass are set into the base of the sculpture; which in this case also serves as the fireplace mantel.

I don't want to know how much this costs.
I would imagine that this unique glass sculpture is cost prohibitive.  But the idea of the fireplace wall can be borrowed.  Keep the composition very simple.  No need for a fancy fireplace surround with expensive stone and and an ornate mantel.  Instead just place one interesting piece of art above.  Beautiful idea.

really modern really old house design

I ran across some photos of this house I thought interesting.  Actually, I love it.  The home located in Yport in Normandy, France was designed by Franklin Azzi Architecture in Paris.

I have for some time been very interested in the blending and contrasting of old and new - of traditional and modern.  Here the focal point for the design composition is a simple brick and stone box.  This emulates old fashioned rural farm structures that can be seen throughout the French countryside.  
The ends of the box have been completely opened up - providing access to a modern flat roof covered patio.  The design of the roof clearly contrasts with the gable form.

The rear of the home has a clearly modern "addition".  The gable form itself is repeated however the design clearly distinguishes itself from the traditional box.
Ridiculous views of countryside.  The roof deck we could never do in the USA because building codes would not allow it.  Someone could fall off.
Clean and simple interior bedroom space with exposed timber framework.  The old and new again coming together.

Christmas Present

I'm so sorry if I'm totally driving you crazy with our Better Homes & Gardens article but I've been meaning to share the article on here for readers who weren't able to get a copy.  (And, it really was the hi-light of our year; I'm not gonna lie.)  If you click on the pics (photos by Helen Norman), you should be able to see them larger. 

{Stockings by Handmade Pretties on etsy...  I loved the title of the article because "Christmas present" applies to living in the present moment which we really try to do and also to our baby Justin who was born on December 22nd just 3 days before Christmas... Go Joanna! }

{I'm always walking into the house carrying beautiful flowers with my cutie sitting there waiting on the stairs for me;) ;)  .. hee hee I wish.  I've gotten lots of emails/ calls about my bag & boots.  The bag is by UGG and the boots I'm wearing are MUDD... both from a few years ago.}

{You might notice they brought in a new coffee table by Wisteria to replace our lucite one & my cow hide rug wasn't in the shot.  We filled one of my glass lamps with glass ornaments. } 

Here's a photo to compare: 

{A year later at our house means changes...  Obviously I've rearranged the floorplan since then.  (This happens a lot.)  I've also replaced the Arteriors glass table lamp with the Arteriors glass floor lamp.  (It actually took over 4 months to get to me and was once of the first things I ordered for our living room but wasn't here in time for the shoot.)  I've also moved our cow hide into our bedroom and reaplaced it with an antiqued wool rug.}

{I love how beautifully these gifts were wrapped and I love that they were able to use so many of our own things in the shoot.}

{Isn't it funny to read your own quotes???   hahaha  I think I meant that nothing's really set in stone around here, that we're picking thigns up and adding traditions as we go each year.  I took the photo of Dave & Christian making the showman last January during one of the snowstorms before the photo shoot in February.  }

{looooooove this pic...  On the shelves, they brought in some copper to add to my white ware which was so pretty & warm.  Of course now I want some.  We borrowed the ironstone platters & cakestand from my friend Donna at On a Whim Antiques in Lucketts, VA for the shoot. The rest of the pieces are mine and I found the ceiling medallion I propped up on the shelves for only $1 at Goodwill five or so years ago.}

{and they were able to sneak an extra little page in at the end which I love...  Christian had such a blast opening the bulldozer toy over & over.  what a champ.  The food was beautiful and we used a milk glass urn turned upside down with a plate above & below for a makeshift cakestand.}

And here's a close-up of the beautiful table Jessica Thomas did:

She used my silverware & china over my Pottery Barn plates and little polar bear Christmas ornaments for name tags.  - my handwriting on them- yay! ha    The vintage fabric draped over the parsons chairs really added something.  I found it at Goodwill years ago as a set of curtains and it's gotten a lot of use.  I even made a blanket out of some of it for Justin's room. 

And, I was also picked as the blogger of the month which was such a nice surprise:

The funniest thing is that I was at an antique store this Fall & almost bought that exact little squirrel nutcracker (old, not new of course)  for Christian.  He was $32 and I didn't buy him- what is wrong with me?- and had regretted it since.  When I saw it on the page I wanted to kick myself! :)

Thank you so much again to the team at Better Homes & Gardens: editor & writer Joanna Linberg, stylist/producer Jessica Thomas, and photographer Helen Norman  & her assistant F.J. Hughes. and all of the in-house people like Shelley Caldwell who put the story together and to field scout Bonnie Broten...  You guys are truly the BEST.  Thank you, thank you. 

xoxo, Lauren

ps- I'm really trying to take a break & stay off of the computer this week so you won't see much of me until Monday!! :)

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

*The caged lantern in our entryway is by Minka Lavery...  I have gotten tons of phonecalls & emails about it and I think may have been discontinued.  The wallpaper in our breakfast nook is also discontinued.  Our front door is "maple leaf" by Behr and our kitchen cabinets are "witch hazel" by Behr.  I used the book Leonardo's Notebooks for the sketches in the entry.

Ron Brenner Design to be Featured in New Book

An In-Law Apartment I designed a few years ago is to be featured in an upcoming book by Michael Litchfield.  The book is called in-laws, outlaws and granny flats; and is slated to be available in bookstores and online by late February / early March.

the book can be pre-ordered at the taunton store - in-laws-outlaws-and-granny-flats

The book features a number of case studies that illustrate ways in which homeowners are creating in-law suites.  In our case study - called "Billys Place" we converted an existing garage attic space into a beautiful live able one room studio for Grandpa.

We used the volumes created by the shape of the roof and dormers to zone distinct spaces within.

The living, sitting and entry zones lie underneath the main gable.

The kitchen zone is carved into the northern dormer.
The bed zone lies within the southern dormer.
We at Simply Elegant Home Designs have created a couple of Garage / Studio Apartment designs inspired by "Billys Place".  If interested you can check them out with the links below:

Countdown & treats

{3 more days!!!}
{The Better Homes & Gardens team made the adorable glittered construction paper chain garland over the chalkboard for us & I love it!!  It's one of those things I'd planned on making more of but didn't.  Glad we saved it.}

Yesterday our babysitter. Lizzie, surprised us with a box full of homemade cookies.  Her mother is a friend of ours and teaches at the high school with Dave -and has brought cookies in for the family before from Lizzie- which mysteriously never seem to make it home. 
So this time Lizzie brought 'em home to mama.  ahhhhhh yessss...  I was all alone when she dropped them off and got to work on them immediately:

But, unlike my husband, I didn't eat them all and saved some for my family. 
(I tried... there were too many.)

I also have a neighbor who is one of those people who seems to do it all.  (Melissa, if you're reading, this proves my point because -somehow- you even  have time to pop in here!!)  She & her daughter Claire dropped off some pumpkin bread the other week and I didn't get a picture of it because it was gobbled up too quickly but it looked like this and it was Heaven:

{photo from}

I'm always so touched (and thrilled to be the recipient!) when people bake for the holidays and share it with others.  It's just one of those fun things that I try to do every year but don't always get to.  (like this year...  although there's still time??  maybe tomorrow??  There's always Tollhouse break'n bake.)  

Do you have any special pre-holiday tradtions?

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

So Close!!

Sorry for the lack of posts - as you probably know, work's always nutty right before the holidays!  I just wanted to drop in with a little recap of what we've been up to.

{our front door}

This year we got a bit further as far as outside Christmas decorating goes than last...  We got lights up outside, but Christian wasn't happy with them because they're not the "pretty" colored lights. 

{image via}

I feel his pain... I remember thinking that way back when.  I could possibly be swayed to the colorful side...  There's something wonderful about terrible Christmas decorations.  It's definitely got to be better than the dying leyland cypresses I strung up with pretty white lights...  It's a process.  (We planted them too close to our house so the roof overhang kept rain from getting them.. ehhhhhhh.)  Maybe next year we can have alive shrubs strung with lights.   I'm also kind of craving the big vintage colored lights my grandparents have on their house. 

We got a second tree this year for our family room.  It's artificial but I'm really into it because it's flocked:

I'll attempt to take better pics later!  Dave & I camped out in the family room this weekend because I love being near the tree so much.  I wish I had one in our bedroom too.
And, whenever we can squeeze it in, we've been playing Christmas music & dancing:

{I have really big hands}

In my area it's 97.1 that plays nonstop Christmas music.  love it.  I think they probably stay in business just because of their month of Christmas music. 

Delilah anyone???

xoxo, Lauren

New House Plan Offering - The Excelsior Cottage

Simply Elegant Home Designs is very proud to offer an amazing new house plan - the Excelsior Farmhouse Cottage; designed by Ron Brenner of Ron Brenner Architects.  The design combines elements from traditional farmhouse and contemporary cottage home styles.    

Excelsior Farmhouse Cottage - Front

Excelsior Farmhouse Cottage - Side / Rear

Excelsior Farmhouse Cottage - Living Room
This home plan’s exterior is characterized by this designer’s exquisite attention to scale, proportion, window patterns, materials and all of the details. A beautifully proportioned second story front gable and graceful columns provide a striking entry to the home.  Subtle overhangs with delicate brackets provide interesting shadow lines and help to protect the windows below.

The main floor accommodates kitchen, living and dining areas within its elegant open floor plan. Upstairs the three bedrooms, including the master suite, are neatly placed beneath an interesting roof line.  An above garage bonus room provides ample space for an additional bedroom and family flex areas.

You can visit Excelsior Farmhouse Cottage to learn more about this home design.


You know when you see something ordinary that's just so beautiful?  You get excited about it, maybe take a picture if you can & file it away for the future.   This succulent I came across was one of them.  It was massive and composed of the most luminous shades of green.  It seemed to glow in the sunlight.

I love the feeling of this plant and realized it's often the mood I go for in my own house, particularly our living room.  Fresh & happy with a calmness about it.  It almost looks like a velvet.  It also reminds me a bit of a rug I found that woke up my living room when I brought it in.  Or an old oil painting...  It's that perfect blurring of color.  Ah just love it!! 

Anyway, I'm thinking I want to be better in the new year about collecting my inspiration photos & ideas.  Maybe a massive board in my office that's ever-growing??

{image via apartment therapy}

Or since I have no free walls in my office, maybe down the lonely hallway off of my office???  I might have to go start right now...  The walls are peeling anyway in there.  (One of our future projects! ;)

And...  we got snow here yesterday and so it's really starting to feel like Christmas- yay!!!  Have a great weekend!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

...** UPDATE*** 
......Ok, I'm back (10:15 :)  and my new inspiration wall has begun!! yay!!  It's small but it's a start:

{Thoughts I'd been collecting for a new project I'm working on}

Client Plan: New French Country

"Chicken with its head cut off" would hardly even describe my true state this week...  We've been running around like mad with pre-holiday final appointments and presentations and installs.   I actually love it when it's like this (haha maybe taken down one notch) but my body (more my throat) does not.  I'm one of those people who doesn't sleep well when I'm super-busy so I guess that doesn't help.  Although have you noticed that some of your best ideas come late at night?? 
Anyway, I thought I'd share a little peek of the fabrics in a client's plan we've been working on.  Although you know I'm not big on "themes," she loves French Country so we decided to do a more modern / less obvious version of  for her not-so-French home located in Northern Virginia.  The design needed to work for the here and now and not look like something trying to be what it's not, so we included some more graphic modern fabrics and are keeping the furnishings fairly classic. 

The striped dark brown velvet will go on this sofa (below) and the curtains are in the tapestry floral.  English arm chairs will be in the golden embroidered paisley and the black & brown graphic print will be on an unpholstered bench.  Other fabrics might work their way into pillows and walls are a soft beige-cream.
(Sofa available through Lauren Liess Interiors}

I looooove this pillow option.  Fringe typically isn't my thing but it will work beautifully in the room: 

{China Winds pillow also available through Lauren Liess Interiors}

On another note, over Christmas I'll be working on my design proposal for the DC Design Showhouse this Spring..   We had the walk-through and I chose my space.  I've started work with an insanely talented artist, Matthew Moore    and super-innovative lighting designer Rick Singleton (both introduced to me by Eddie Ross - thank you E!!) and am staying up late at night thinking of the space I'm competing for.  I'm seriously nervous- there was so many talented designers at the walk-through- and haven't wanted something this badly in a long time.  The panel of judges/ board will look through all of the design proposals/boards and make their selections in January.  I fell in love with the room I'm after and the house itself is just so incredible.  I've been debating about mentioning this on the blog- there is a huge chance I won't be chosen- but it's tough for me to keep anything I'm really excited about off of the blog.  At first I thought I'd be embarrassed to tell you if I didn't make it, but I pretty much lay it all out on here and figured you wouldn't hold it against me if I'm not accepted. (And send hugs my way  haha)

Anyway, let's just hope that this little door of opportunity is ready to open...  because I'm so ready.
eeeeeeeeeeeek ;)

xoxo, Lauren
If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

1st birthday party

Gooey post.. skip if you read for design ;)

Last night we had a small family birthday party for Justin who will soon be a year old.  (On Dec 22nd)  We celebrated a little early because it's so close to Christmas.  I made him a firetruck cake and dressed the boys in red & white.  We didn't tell anyone about the "theme" (we only decided on it the day or two before) but he ended up getting lots of firetrucks for gifts and the boys had a blast.

{so happy...  just before getting kicked off by big brother}

There's lots I could say about how quickly it's flying by (scary really) and how we didn't even notice as the sleepless nights turned into restful (sort of) ones... Having 2 kids & a business is definitely not a cake-walk by any means, but I have to say that Justin's made it as easy as it could possibly be for us.  He truly is a sweetie pie and is so patient and happy.  He puts up with so much abuse from big brother Christian (who loves him but also loves hurting him) and rarely complains.  He has a deep little raspy voice that makes me need to kiss him all the time and his thighs are a thing of beauty. 

{I love you my little one year old}

xoxo, Lauren/MOM
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