Merry Merry

I can't believe Christmas is almost here!!!

{our Christmas tree...  my mom has given me an ornament every year of my life
& now I have a treefull!  ...thanks ma!}

.....And I swear I'm not 200 years old.. I've also been given many others & bought some myself over the years ;)

 We finished up the work year with a condo installation today and are now totally ready to veg.   Tomorrow is our last-minute shopping day & I'm also hoping for some downtime reading & cuddling by the tree (if at all possible) before the holiday rush of parties.   I'm off for the night, but: a very merry holiday - whichever it is you're celebrating!!- to you & yours!!!
Big hug.

xoxo, Lauren

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

If you're interested in browsing &/ or purchasing my line of textiles, please visit

Blogger Secret Santa: Who are you???!!

This year I'm in a Secret Santa exchange with some blogger friends -arranged by Stefanie of Brooklyn Limestone- and I have NO IDEA who my {AWESOME} Secret Santa is!!!

Here is the list of possible culprits:

My Santa seems to know me so well!!  (Or maybe I'm really obvious to figure out????  hahaha)  But, really, when my first package arrived I was thrilled.  She's the best.  It was an itunes gift card (yipeeeeeeee-  I love to dance in the kitchen - or anywhere- to new music) and the most adorable little box of GREEN notecards.:

They'll stay in my kitchen where I'm always scrounging around for a piece of paper for grocery lists or notes.   (It's so funny but I can't believe how having this little box of pretty note paper has made life easier for me...  I know it should be common sense to keep paper in the kitchen but I never wanted to because I never had any that was pretty enough to keep out.  All the rest always felt like clutter.  So no more running around through the house looking for scrap paper to make lists for me!!)

Anyway, I was all happy thinking that was it.  But THEN, another package arrived.  ( !!! ) I tore open the package like a six year-old....  (getting gifts in the mail is awesome.) It was a beautiful Stella & Dot box...

{I'm using stella & dot as a clue...  I know some of those Santa culprits above are stella & dot ladies so I'm narrowing down my guessing pool.}

And this is what was inside:

{Seriously Santa???  You are amazing!!!  I LOVE YOU!!}

How did she know??!!  It's perfect and with green being my favorite color, I am going to wear this baby all the time.  (It is more green in person than in the pic if that didn't make sense ;)  It's so beautiful and (maybe it's the pregnancy hormones) but it made me a teensy bit teary.  Santa, thank you for being so generous & thoughtful. 

So...  now that you have seen the list of Secret Santas,  any guesses as to who sent me my package?  Also, I sent a little Santa package myself over to one of those Santas...  You can click these posts below to see the other gifts & make guesses.  If you follow the link to Brooklyn Limestone, you can also enter a contest with your guesses.  Have fun & I would really love some help as to who you think sent me mine so be sure to enter a guess in the comments section!! :)

Thank you again to my Secret Santa.

xoxo, Lauren

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

The Holiday Whirlwind

I guess it probably seems like this every year, but this year seems extremely whirlwindish in terms of the holidays coming up quickly. 
At work, our past month (or 2) has been jam-packed with client installations & presentations and it has floooown: 

{mid-installation day in a living room}

{a dining room}

{sneakity peek of the adjoining living room}

{a master bedrom}

{a sliver of a family room}

{the neighboring breafast room with kids' art gallery}

{an almost-finished master bedroom...  will be sure to post a new pic with artwork, styling & new bedding}

...And there are a few more that I just can't post quite yet... but it's been ca-razy.  (And thank God for my assistant, Meghan.)

At home though, we've tried to take it easy and we've been leaving our weekends fairly open so we have time with each other.  I've been coming out of the first-trimester pregnancy coma and am almost halfway there till baby arrives.  (NOT that I'm wishing this time away...  I know this is the probably the easiest my life is going to be for a loooooong time ;)  But we've been slowly adding Christmas around our house.  One of my favorite simple ways to make the house feel festive is to put hack cut white poinsettias & place them in containers around the house:

{I mentioned last year that I'd seen it in an old Better Homes & Gardens article & it really is sooo fast & pretty.  It's the perfect 1-minute centerpiece.}

We also strung up COLORED LIGHTS outside our house.  I know, I know.  But the kids love them...  And I sort of do too.  (shhhhhhhh ;)

I'm extremely behind on Christmas shopping, as always.

..And...  we celebrated Justin's 2nd birthday last night with my parents & grandparents.   
 I can't believe how big my baby got!! 

{This is a picture of him just after triumphantly annoucing to the table "I'm two!"}

Above, that's his Pop Pop/ my step dad Tom  is making sure he doesn't dive off :)

We celebrated with a caramel cake sent to us by our friends at John Rosselli in Georgetown.  My mom topped it with rice krispy treat snowmen- oh my:

{As you can see, it's tough to have to blow out two whole candles.}
My little sister, "Auntie Morgan," is on the left holding Christian.
Anyway, I hope you're enjoying your own whirlwind.  I've realized that life never really does seem to slow down so you have to make your own moments to savor.  We've been trying ourselves & I hope you've gotten some in at your house too!!

xoxo, Lauren

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

The House in My Head

I always have a dream house or "future" house in my head.  I keep a file with floorplans that I've drawn of it and exterior & interior inspiration pics.  I always find myself thinking about what would make a house perfect for me & my family.  I think about it more frequently sometimes than others.  When I lived in my parents' basement with my husband & our first baby a couple of years ago (to recover financially from buying a townhome at the height of the market & selling almost at the low) I used to think about it so much my heart would literally ache.  (Honestly I thought about ANY house at that time, but my dream house got me excited.)  This was a bit what it looked like:  (from Cottage Living)

But after we moved into our 70s bilevel fixer-upper, my idea of our dream house started to change.  (Don't get me wrong, I'm in looooove with the house above, but it's not where the house in my head is at anymore.)  I started to appreciate & crave a more modern feeling for my dream house yet I still wanted the charm of an older house.  I love the walls of windows in our house now, and wish they were even bigger.  I know that I now want glass walls leading straight outdoors all over my future house.  Even though my 70s house is architecturally uninteresting, I started to appreciate its "plain box" qualities & have reimagined how I might have something similar in a new home one day:  

{Our "box" before we moved in.... It feels like we're almost outside or in a tree house.}

I also love the easy living of its floorplan.  All of our main rooms are on one level and our addittional spaces like family room, office & guest room are all on the lower level.  I love this one-floor living and definitely want to keep this easy way of living in our new place.  (In our townhouse I used to leave piles of things at the top and bottom of all the stairs to go up & down...  I used to feel like keeping the house neat was a series of moving things up and down the stairs.)  My husband, who used to be super-traditional is now craving something simple & modern.  (more than me!)  He loves the Cullens' house from Twilight.  (I made him watch it ;)

Every once in a while my husband & I will read a book that makes us think about architecture & we talk about what we want in a house & how we can make our own house better.  When we read Bobby McAlpine's The Home Within Us I really started to think of architecture a bit differently.  I started realizing that it didn't have to be something we'd seen before & that we could one day make something that was really "us."  The thatched roof idea is one I can't shake.

I recently read Ayn Rand's Fountainhead and it really got me excited about our "dream house" again so I decided to hit the drawing board with all of the ideas that had been floating around in my head, unformed, for the past year or so.  I haven't quite finished working out the floorplan but the main living areas are all on the first floor and the back of the house U-shaped and almost all steel floor-to-celing glass windows & doors opening to the yard.   I want the front of the house to have a crazily-pitched roof that swings low onto the front door & windows & I want more privacy in the front than in the back.   And I want the look of a thatched roof:

{We did a little research on thatched roofs & probably will never be able to have one.  They're hard to insure (due to perceived risk of fire) and expensive if you live in an area where they're not done.}  But I'm open to other materials that I can get a similar look from.  I want that old, natural & quaint feeling but mixed with a modern & seamless edge. 

{Bobby McAlpine's first home built by his firm...  I can't get over it or its roof.  I think maybe it's slate & even though it's not thatched, it has the feeling I'm after.  I wonder if you can encourage moss to grow on your slate roof without it hurting anything??  ****  UPDATE:  Greg Tankersley of McAlpine Tankersley Architecture let me know that the roof is actually handsplit cedar shingle, and yes, moss does grow on it!!  Thanks so much Greg!! }

Like I mentioned before, I want the back of my house to be almost completely open so it will definitely be a challenge to mix these two styles without making a total mess.

{love this feeling - oh my goodness!!!!}

I want it to feel as if you're almost outside when you're inside.

I know these two styles are totally different but I think "where there's a will there's a way" and I have a LOT of time to figure it out before we can actually have a dream home anyway. ;)

... The windows in most of these modern homes are mostly glass without the interruption of the steel...

But I'm thinking I like the charm of the paned windows and I'd like a sort of modern conservatory-feeling...

{crazy over the steel windows & doors in Jill Brinson Sharp's home}

It's one detail (of many) I'm still thinking on...  I don't know if we'd feel caged with an entire back wall in them or if it could work for what I want.  I came across this house when searching for inspiration images:

I'd never seen anything like it & am definitely intrigued.  It's not what I'm looking to do but I think it's really interesting in how it combined what reminds me of a barn with a glass contemporary house. 

I was floored when I came across this thatched-roof house:

{image via}

...It is so close to what I want in style.  The back is all open just like I'd envisioned and it even has a thatched roof!!  The feeling I'm after is a different though.  (This is so pretty & fresh & white & modern-feeling whereas I want a more textured, natural, aged feeling.  If you look to the right where you see a more private space with smaller windows... I like that a lot.  I definitely want some "cozy" & private spaces towards the front of the house.)

And finally, I came across this old house which combines my windows with the thatched crazy-sloped roof & this embodies a bit more of the feeling I'm after:

{I would probably want it a little more seamless -without the diagonal bars  btwen the roof & windows- but I think it shows how the glass walls can actually work beautifully with a low roofline.}

Anyway, by the time we're actually able to build this house, I'm sure it will have changed considerably, but for now, I'm really excited about getting this house in my head all figured out.  (Or as figured out as it would need to be before getting an architect involved ;)   I'm always happiest when I have a dream.

What about you:  Do you have a house in your head or a dream house that you think of?  (And if you've written a post on yours, be sure to link to it in the comments section!! :)

xoxo, Lauren

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

ps- I found all of these images on pinterest & listed original sources where I had them.

AND... I wrote this entire post yesterday (which took hours) & when I hit "Publish" on blogger, the WHOLE THING DELETED....  ahhhhh!!!!! :)

Bungalow Dining Room: Before & After

A client of mine purchased an adorable bungalow in a great neighborhood around here & I have been so excited about her project.  We're just finishing up the main level.  She's young & single and has a really great style: relaxed & fresh yet cozy with a tiny vintage-rustic edge.  After talking with her about what she was looking for & pouring over inspiration images, we decided on a mix of woods & aged finished with fresh, happy turquoisey-blues.

{The gorgeous paisley is by Raoul Textiles available through John Rosselli}

We installed the dining room & final rouches in the other rooms earlier this week so I wanted to share a couple quick {unstyled} shots of the dining room.  My camera battery died on installation day (boo hoo!!!) but I will definitely be back to share more & pics of the other spaces.  My client entertains frequently & I can't wait for her have some guests over to enjoy the finished dining room!  Here it is a few days after she moved in.  (You can spy moving boxes)--

...And here it is now:

The artwork is a set of 3 oversized prints (out of 16 total) made out of an antique children's game where the kids could mix and match the landscapes to create different stories.  It's hard to see in this photo but the landscapes line up and we chose a tree, a mountain and a crumbling old building flanked by a super tall pair of alabaster lamps.  The curtains (which are sadly so hard to see in this pic!!) are in a Raoul Textiles linen paisley and I want them. 

The host chairs are slipcovered in a  robin's egg linen and I love their lines.  I'll be sure to share close-ups eventually, but the vintage-styled spindled side chairs are in black with oatmeal linen seats.  The reclaimed wood parsons table is custom by one of our favorite companies -The Lorimer Workshop - and its finish is incredible.  (If you're looking to for the perfect table, I can't recommend them enough.  The owner, David Ellison, is so helpful & knowledgable & you will end up with an amazing piece. Check it out here.)  The sideboard in the background is a painstaking reproduction & it has the most incredible rat-tail hinges.   (by Sarried Ltd.)

Everything is simple & functional and I know my client will serve up some amazing gourmet meals in here.  (She loves to cook & could write a blog on entertaining/ creative meals & drinks:)  I can't thank my client enough for such a fun & rewarding project.   (I don't want it to be over!! ;)

I'm off for the day but have a great weekend & good luck if you're braving the stores for Christmas shopping!!  I am going to try to get a fire going this weekend!

xoxo, Lauren

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

Guest Blogger: Emily of emmarie Web Design

When I started the process of looking for a web designer to do my online store, I looked far & wide.  I was nervous and totally got what it felt like being on the other side of things.  (A client looking for a designer = kind of scary)  I know NOTHING about web design and was looking for someone who could translate my style into a website which is no easy task.  My language is interiors .. but web design???  I had no idea how to get "me" into my website.   It was a long search to find "the one."  (Emily!)  Even once I found her, it was hard for me to covey to her what I wanted because I didn't quite know what it was, but she helped me get there. 

Emily's visiting today to talk about inspiration & how gathering it in unexpected places and using points of reference can get us to our final goal of creating whatever it is we're creating.  I didn't even know quite what she was doing when she did it but am so glad she did!!! :)

-ps- I am dying laughing out loud right now because when I first wrote this post I typo'd and wrote "online sore" ... a very sweet commenter let me know.  thank you so much!! :)   (you've probably noticed, but I don't proofread the blog so don't look too closely or you will definitely find more!! ;)

===========  Emily of emmarie Web Design:

I have always been a sucker for good design. Typography, interiors, graphics. You name it, if executed well, I will drool.

My favorite thing about designing is gathering inspiration. My favorite thing about gathering inspiration is gathering it in places you would never expect.

When working on designing Lauren's online shop, Lauren sent me inspirational pieces in the form of interior shots. She was showing me her style, and I was actually able to take these images of rooms she's designed (and her rooms definitely make me drool) and turn them into a website with the same style.
Don't get me wrong here; designing a room is far from designing websites - goodness knows the mess I've made of my own living room (though I do love my bedroom - pat on the back) - but it is very possible to pull inspiration for graphics from non-graphics.

And this works in every way possible, which is something that I think creatives sometimes forget. Designing a room? Thumb through a wedding invitation catalog. Designing a rad new typeface? Visit a fabric store for pattern overload. I'm an adamant enforcer of "get out of your studio so you can get some real work done!" Reach out of your design-y comfort zone and pull inspiration of less likely places. You might find yourself to be oh-so surprised at what comes of it.

Where are your favorite places to find inspiration?

Emily is a web designer and developer for her own studio at emmarie Web Design. You can also find her on her blog, teaching the basics of starting and running an online business at Indie Shopography, sharing small business showcases and resources at Piccola Mag, and on Twitter, where things sometimes get a little funny.

Thanks so much Emily!!!

xoxo, Lauren

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

Before & After: Happy Kids' Art Wall

This past Summer, a client of ours moved into a large newly-built home.  There were so many areas to address (we're still going) but one of the most important areas in making a house feel like a home is the kitchen.  Our client had collected a ton of her children's artwork and so we thought it would be great to make a focal point in the kitchen dining area out of it.  My client's style is bright & happy & fun so the colors were perfect.  We started out with this:

And we ended up with this:

We had so much fun creating this collage!!!   In the evening, the sconces create the prefect glow around the artwork.  We still have to do a bit of styling to do (a zebra rug was in our original plan & we need to put something pretty on the table- I'll be sure to get a final professional pic!) but I am loving the vibe!!!   The curtains are this great red medallion pattern that's happy, fresh & graphic.

This is something I've been meaning to do forevah for my boys & so my client's project gave me the get-up-and-go I needed.  It was super-easy but had such a big, personal impact on the space.  (I love easy high-impact projects.)  We picked up frames this weekend for house & I'm now scouring my house for the boys' artwork.  (I'm not as organized as my client with my kids's stuff! ;)  I'll be sure to share pics when we're done too!

My clients kids are so proud to have their artwork displayed in such a prominent spot in the house.  (They now even have plans for more walls!! :)  If you've got a spot for it, I think it's one of the coolest things you can do to make your kids feel like they've been included in "decorating" your home. 

I'm off for the day & hope you have a great one!! :)

*The paint color remained the same... it's the difference btwn cloudy & sunny & cameras.
*Curtain fabric is by John Robshaw
*Pendant & Sconces by Visual Comfort}

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

Architects Have Great Tools - Exterior Color Studies

At Ron Brenner Architects we have been working on a series of color studies for a client of ours.
I have included a number of the studies below.  The client has selected a medium gray for the base body color; however I also did a couple of non-gray variations.  The black roof is a given on all schemes.  Which one would you choose?
scheme 1 - all white horizontal clapboard siding

scheme 2 - gray board and batten siding, rusty corrugated metal inside porch and in 'link" area

scheme 3 - dark gray board and batten body color with white clapboard inside the porch and in link area

scheme 4 - gray board and batten body color with dark plum inside the porch and in the link area

scheme 5 - gray board and batten body color with white clapboard inside the porch and in the link area

scheme 6 - gray board and batten body color with dark gray shakes inside the porch and  in the link area

scheme 7 - gray board and batten body color with white shakes inside the porch and in the link area
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