2011 DC Design House

After almost completely convincing myself that I wouldn't make it in the Washington DC Design House, (I tend to do that when it gets down to the wire & I get really nervous) I got a call today from one of the Design House Committee members letting me know I'd been accepted.  I was kind of in shock and just so insanely happy when I listened to her voicemail.
I can't even express how truly honored & grateful I am to be able to participate in the Design House.  Here's a photo from the DC Design House facbooke page of the outside of the 2011 home:

The DC Design House benefites The Childrens National Medical Center which is "the largest non-governmental provider of pediatric care in the District of Columbia and treats all patients regardless of their families' ability to pay. Each year Children's provides more than $50 million in uncompensated care.   As a nonprofit hospital, Children's National relies on the generous support of individuals, corporations, and foundations to meet the health needs of children..."

I'll keep you posted as the date nears, but it's set to run April 9th - May8th.
The address is 3134 Ellicott St, NW

 Do you remember this succulent that had me all excited a while back?

It was growing in the garden room of the design house. 
It completely embodies the feeling I'm after for the space I have (an upstair bedroom/ sitting room) and I just love how fresh and luminous it is.  I'll definitely keep you posted on everything and if you're in the area, hopefully you'll be able to make it to see for yourself!  I'm teaming up with some amazing people including local artist John Matthew Moore

I'm thrilled & honored to be joining a super-talented group of designers for this year's Design House: 

James Rill (Rill Architects), Liz Levin, Patrick Sutton, Erin Paige Pitts, Nadia Subaran (Aidan Design), Whitney Stewart, Gary Lovejoy, Nancy Colbert, Camille Saum, Denise Willard, Barbara Franceski, Samantha Friedman, Jason Hodges, Cindy McClure, David Mitchell and Iantha Carley

A huge congratulations to the other designers selected and cheers to the 2011 House!

xoxo, Lauren

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


{new cubbies in my office studio...  "studio" sounds so much better, doesn't it?}

Just enjoying the last spec of the loooong snow-filled weekend before bed. Last week was such a nutty week that I totally forgot to post that I was a guest blogger/ designer over at Room Remix! PK's going a great series on paint with some of my favorite blog friends so check it out if you have a minute:


Many of you asked about the driftwood hanging above the cubbies.  My dad found it 20 or so years ago while fishing in Georgia.  It's a cypress tree root.  There used to be bass mounted on it but he gave it to me  so they're gone :)  It used to be in the shape of a star but a piece of it fell off over the years.  He's wants me to reattach it but then I wouldn't have room for my cubbies!

Also, you might have noticed a few changes around here. My blog's been getting a few tweaks including a some new buttons on the sidebar. I haven't linked everything up yet but as soon as I do, I'll be sure to give you a little tour.

Is anyone going to the design bloggers' conference in LA? I'm all signed up so let me know if you're in!

And... I find out tomorrow yes or no for the design house. Am so nervous and can't wait for the pit in my stomach to leave. ( it has to go away whether we get it or not, right?? ;). I might be in need of virtual hugs so I'll keep you posted. Finger crossed.

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

New Concept House Plans Unveiled!

Simply Elegant Home Designs has added a new Concept Plans gallery page at Concept Plans and Custom Home Design.  The page has a flash gallery of home designs that we have started, but are just waiting for the right client to fully develop.  These concept plans basically represent a starting point towards the design of a new custom home.

A shingled cottage home design that could serve as a great mountain cabin plan or beach house.  

A modern cottage with an open floor plan and a beautiful front porch.  The roof lines are simple, yet dramatic.

A mountain lodge with wrap around porch!

Simple yet unique farmhouse plan with a wrap around porch and a main floor master bedroom.  Classic Midwest Living

An elegant cottage home design with a welcoming front porch.
You can check out more of the gallery at  Concept Plans and Custom Home Design

Modern Cottage House Plan Update - The Afton

Simply Elegant Home Designs has updated the design of our Modern Cottage House Plan - The Afton.  We liked the old design for it's modern simplicity, but wanted to provide a fresh version for those with a bit more traditional sensibilities.  I've highlighted some of the changes below.

Here is our previous design.  Nice - so we just wanted to add a few touches to make it a bit more traditional.

The new front elevation.  We added a an "eyebrow roof" above the wrap around porch, added muntins to the windows and changed the color tones of the exterior.  These changes give the home design a more soothing feeling and give it more of a beach cottage aesthetic.  By the way you can check out an exterior animation at Modern Cottage Exterior Video
View from rear yard.  We added a wrap around porch that connects to the screen porch.  This is a great home plan for outdoor living

Interior image from dining area through kitchen to living room.  We updated materials and color tones.   And we have added a great video that walks you through the main floor spaces.  You can check that out at Modern Cottage Interior Video
 All in all I think you can see that a few subtle changes can make a significant difference in a home design.  So let us know if you think.  Do you like the "before" or the "after"?

By the way - you can see more information on this plan at Modern Cottage House Plan! 

Home Design Ideas - Crazy with Tile!

I recently ran into a photo of a simple bathroom design that I wanted to share with you.  It's a really skinny, small, simple, unique and fantastic powder room within a 1910 Georgian Mansion in San Francisco.  Check it out below.
This powder room is a contrast of the very modern and the very ornate.  It starts off as a very spare space with almost awkward proportions.  Add to that the modern wood vanity, vessel sink and faucet.  This is contrasted by the "crazy" - but well designed tile pattern, reinforced by the stained glass window and the ornate mirror. 
Detail view of the tile pattern.  I cannot imagine the man-hours that went into this.   But you have to admit it's very cool.
All in all a very quirky but beautiful powder room.  So todays lesson is this:
  1. Keep it simple but pay attention to the details.
  2. A contrast of styles can be very dramatic.

If you want to learn more about this bathroom you can check out the link where I found it:

My Office & a Snow Day

We've been snowed in today with no electricity and I'm really glad we kept our wood-burning stove:

The power went out last night & we sleep in a pretty cool house so we didn't really notice it until this morning.  We got a fire going in the wood-burning stove and it toasted up our entire lower level, where the family-room-combination-office is.  We had breakfast (cereal with MILK! ;) at my work table and got all cozy by the fire.  I took the pic above with my cell phone & thought I could beat the power outage and post from my ipad but I couldn't figure out how to get the pic up from the ipad!  ah vell.

We took the kids out in the snow & Justin (above, 1) loooved it.   He was watching a snowball fight between Daddy & Christian:

{Yes, that's a snowball pelted at my 3 year-old's head.  My husband's a bit like Dumb & Dumber in the snow.  He hit me with one and it was seriously like a baseball...  I guess it makes us tough??? }

Anyway, onto the office.  I've been needing more storage and we have the room for it so on a whim we decided to go for these shelves (from Target) last night.  (We've beein toying with the idea of built-ins but want to keep the room open for alternate arrangements)  Dave made it home just before things got really crazy around here snow-traffic-wise. I'm thrilled with the results:

I haven't really organized it yet and I still have some empty cubbies.    Much of my gear is in our laundry room & Dave's work-out room so I'm going to bring out only the most-used items. 

(empty cubby hiding behind Schumacher bag ;)

I put my ink pads & stamps in this old hammered ice bucket and I know I'm just begging for little Justin to come explore.  (He loves to carry things with handles.) 

I've never really shown you what all is in my office so I thought I'd share some peeks.  Inside this little closet (which is next to the new cubby shelves) I keep some of my smaller fabric samples in color-coded clear plastic bins.  I prefer to pull my fabric swatches from their books unless it's a book of solids like linens or velvets:

{The printer & a bunch of other junk also lives in here.}

Larger fabric samples go in the hallway (most of them are Schumacher in case anyone spies anything they have to have in the pic;)  and are grommeted and attached with shower rings to curtain rods we hung: 

looooove my pretties...

...And just to keep it real, here's the view I never show:

I'm working on this spot.  I want to add more shelving up to the top and turn the whole area into the spot for my active client boxes, which store swatches & samples for each invidual client.  Completed job boxes go in a less-accessible area.  And that poor thing hanging on the wall is one big mess.  For now it houses all of the miscellaneous pads & notebooks I've accumulated so that I remember to use them...  but there's definitely a better way to use this space.   I'm getting there ;)

..Okay, and because I like to end positively, here's one last look at my new cubbies:

{Do you spy our candle collection??  Leftover from the power outage}

This little addition gave us some much-needed breathing room and I just love that feeling. 
I think I'll leave a couple cubbies empty for quick "mess stashes.." 
And I'm going to go now because I'm doing more organizing.  ahhhhh so happy.


xoxo, Lauren

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

Umm yeah...

...That's cereal with water.

When we opened the fridge for breakfast this morning, I realized we were out of milk. 
It happens. 
But it happened after we'd poured the puffins in the bowl. 
And his heart was set on that bowl of puffins. 
I told him it wouldn't be good, but he had to try the water in the cereal. 

You only try this once. 
I remember when I did.

It's really not the end of the world, but it's really not good.

... But thanks to Gramma for showing up an hour or so later & fixing things:

love you mom.

xoxo, Lauren

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

Textiles Shmextiles

My textile line is finally coming together and it's been a crazy past couple of weeks.  I've been meeting with various artists to go over the designs for screenprinting.  They're insanely talented and I feel so lucky to be able to work with them.  We're starting with 10 or so designs and will hopefully expand the line from there.  The designs are all over the map and the connecting thread is that they're all somehow personal to me.  (as fabrics tend to be.)

It's been an interesting process.  In my head, I know exactly what I want but I have to communicate that to the artists through my seriously rough sketches and various photos.  I can't imagine how awesome it would feel to be able to draw what's in your brain on paper.  I'm jealous. :)  

Since fabric's on the brain, I've been drawn to it even more than usual.  I just found & bought this beautiful robe on etsy from Pretty Plumb Sugar whose things I loooooove:

I also picked up this antique thistle print (hint! hint! ;) from Bananastrudel:

...Like I've mentioned before, I have a little obsession with weeds & wildflowers so they will definitely be making appearances in the line. 

The one design I actually drew myself is this overscale wild chicory blockprint-esque print:

It will be available in several colorways, one of them being a "true" colorway with the flowers in periwinkle blue. 

I'll keep you posted on our progress but as of right now the line is set to come out this Spring around the same time as my furniture line.  Then of course I'll have to photograph the textiles in use so that'll take a little longer.  I'm definitely going to be lining my closet in one of them (They'll be sold as fabric or wallcoverings) and I can't wait to not mind when our closet door is open.

Nothing is set in stone right now so I'd love any thoughts and/or ideas you have to share.  Anything you're dying to see? 

xoxo, Lauren

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

Column Love

I've always loved this photo of my mom with my paternal grandparents, Grandma Maestranzi and Nanoo.  (I know I'm not spelling "Nanoo" the correct way, but it's how I've spelled it my entire life & I'm not changing it now ;)  I'm not sure where they are but I can't get over the columns & all the intricate stone & metalwork.  I think my mom looks so beautiful and her pale yellow dress always reminded me a bit of the lady in Annie.  (the movie)

There's something so awe-inspiring about big white columns.  Do you remember learning the 3 types of columns in art class?  They used to drill it into our heads:

{image via chalk.richomond.edu}

How beautiful???  I've never visited Greece but am dying to...

{Temple of Zeus photo by DeClan McCullagh Photography}

This is my dream:

{by Bobby McAlpine...  if you haven't read his book, The Home Within Us, get to the bookstore now.  It's probably the one of the best I've ever read.  It was so good & so true, I got teary; no joke.  I have been wanting to write a post since I read it last Spring but I really need to do it justice and it'll require a lot of thinking.  It will change your outlook and/or totally verbalize all those stray thoughts you had running around in your head that you couldn't make sense of.  It's done perfectly.}

I love drawings of columns & architectural details and could fill my walls & home with a collection of them.   Check out this ancient book:

I'm considering this drawing originally by Sir William Chambers for a client:
One of my favorite paintings is by artist & friend John Matthew Moore

{I love the glimpse of ruins on the mountain in the background.  }

And...  getting funny, is this drawing by Marc Johns:

{Drawing by Marc Johns}

Speaking of columns I don't own, below is a photo of my dad's house in Barrington Hills, Illinois when I was growing up.  He designed it & learned a ton in the process.  I spent summers, every other holiday and random vacations there.  (My parents divorced when I was 2 years old and my mom & I moved to Virginia when I was 4 to be near my grandparents and my dad stayed in Illinois.)  My dad remarried a woman who had two kids near my age (whom I absolutely adored) when I was 7 and built the house for us all.  Without getting all into the crazy very sad details, my dad & my stepmom divorced seven years later and my dad eventually sold the property when I was in college.   But I've always loved this house.  Seeing it built from the ground up, watching my stepmom decorate it and doing my bedroom (eek- spongepainting!! :)  all made me love the design process. My dad built us the best 3-story treehouse in the world and I still dream about it.  I could go on & on so I'll save it for another day.  (I have video tours I made when I was a kid so I'm going to try to upload them if I can.)  But anyway, I remember playing on the front porch, marching around and around the big white columns singing songs with my stepsister.
{This house is like my Tara hahah...  I really do miss it.}

Anyway, I'm off to start the day but have a great weekend!  Stay warm!!!

xoxo, Lauren

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

Home Design Ideas - Drop the Ceiling!

My design philosophy is all about getting big design impact from simple ideas.  After all good design ought not to be expensive.  So here is a simple trick that I have been using for years - "Drop the Ceiling".  Take a look at the examples below and I think you will agree.  Simple Idea - Big Impact!

Here I added a gypsum board "bulkhead" to help define the spaces on either side of the kitchen.  Making the walls extra thick allowed space for ductwork in this otherwise wide open floor plan.
This home design offered for sale at Deephaven Modern Cottage
Here is the same bulkhead idea as seen from the dining area.
This home design offered for sale at Deephaven Modern Cottage

In this home I again utilized the dropped ceiling theme to define the space between kitchen and dining.  Here the client wanted a little more segregation of the spaces, so we crafted a beautiful buffet cabinet and anchored it at the bulkhead.

Here you can see a subtle drop in ceiling above the foyer.  The crown molding and color tone differences help to emphasize the edges of the space.
This home design offered for sale at Lakeland Cape Cod

Similar to above we positioned dropped "soffits"along the circulation lines between rooms.  Simple gypsum board "columns" marked the corners of the spaces.  We took advantage of the soffits by placing the main ductwork runs within.
This home design offered for sale at Apple Valley Foursquare
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