Playing in the Creek

A couple of weeks ago, photographer Vy Koenig took photos of our kids.  Vy is a good friend of a client & friend of mine & offered us a complimentary photo shoot.  We were so excited for the opportunity, but I had no idea how awesome the photos would be.   

{Justin, 18 months}

We brought the boys in their rain boots & we all ventured into the woods for a hike to the creek.

{Christian, almost 4!}

They started out timidly, stepping on stones & splashing lightly in the water...  Vy had sailboats ready for them to play with and she even made newspaper sailboats which they looooooved. 

Their favorite part was the "pirate" ship that Vy's husband made:

{It was a flat boat front staked into the ground = so adorable... very Little Rascalish}

Once they got comfortable, the shirts came off and the real splashing began:

{Christian is so proud of this pic}

We all got a little wet...

Vy captured my little guys perfectly...

...And my big one too:

{Justin loves getting "eaten"}

It was honestly just such a fun time...

We got to spend quality time with each other & have a little adventure while Vy captured it all:

{Dave & I weren't planning on being in the pictures but I'm so glad now Vy got some of us with the boys}

 I really CANNOT believe I have a picture of my little guys being NICE to each other!!:

{Makes me happy}

...And nothing's better than this feeling:

I really can't thank Vy enough for this gift.  We will definitely be doing it again!!

If you're in the Northern Virginia area and are interested in Vy's services:
Check out her website here to book an appointment.  She's AMAZING!!!!!
(And if you're not in the area, check it out anyway... there are so many cutie pies on there!!!)  I was so excited to see all of the creativity & effort Vy had put into preparing the shoot & she's so sweet that the kids warmed up instantly.

xoxo, Lauren

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

How we do Floor Plans

A few of you emailed yesterday asking about how we do our floorplans.  We draw them by hand.  When we're surveying a room, we photograph it and measure it.  Everything is measured & noted: windows, ceiling height, baseboards, electrical, etc.  

Back at the office, my design assistant, Meghan, creates a scaled drawing of the room & makes a couple of copies of it.  They're then placed in the client's binder for me to work on.  I'll play around with different furniture arrangements.  Like I mentioned yesterday, some furniture plans are obvious while others have many solutions and can be tricky.

I'm not a big tech-lover and am very visual & tactile, so I prefer to move little furniture pieces around & draw on the empty floorplans myself.   One of my favorite tools is  "The Board."   It's a magnetic furniture plan kit.  I attach the floorplan to a magnetic board and the pieces of furniture are magnetic.  Once I've decided upon a furniture arrangement, I trace around the magnets in pencil or draw in the pieces and it goes back into the binder. 

I create a list of everything on the floorplan that needs to be found for the room.  Once I have the list & the floorplan, I can start specifiying products for the room.  I like to use a mix of new & vintage or antique pieces in most spaces so it's a time-consuming process.  At this point the floorplan is more of a guidline for what we're looking to do, and as I find the right pieces- in showrooms, shops, online, etc-  the exact dimensions are noted & the "messy" pencil floorplan is edited for the final floorplan.

Once I've finalized everything that will go into the room and where it is, Meg draws the final floorplan for the client's presentation.  We give our clients a design folder to keep and everything on the floorplan corresponds with the photos on the design board:

As you've probably noticed, much of this could happen in CAD, but for now it's all done by hand here. There's a certain charm to hand-drawn plans that I love.  I'm not sure we'll ever make the switch but if we do, I know I'll still be printing out the floorplans and using the board and drawing on them myself.  It's just part of how I work.

Anyway, I'd love to hear about your process for furniture plans & let me know if you have any other questions!!

xoxo, Lauren

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

Furniture Arrangement Series {Very Irregular of Course!}

Furniture arrangement can be challenging.  There are so many things that need to be taken into account:  traffic patterns, focal points, activities, seating needs, lighting, etc.  The last thing most people want is a crowded room, but it's important to walk the line between having a room with too much stuff in it, and having a room that doesn't have enough furniture/ functions.  Fear of overcrowding often keeps floorplans (and as a results rooms!) a bit dull.  I thought it might be helpful to do a series (irregular of course!- don't want to feel like it's homework ;) of posts with examples & tips on floorplans & furntiure arrangements that work and cases in which the "rules" are beautifully broken. 

When I walk into a room for a job, I typically mentally begin rearranging it and I have an idea of how I think it will work best, but I still take the measurements back to the office and we draw it out to scale.  Some flooplans are much more obvious than others and are "easy" while others can be seriously tricky.  There are usually mulitple ways to create a good floorplan, and sometimes it seems there's only one right one.  We "play" with different furniture arrangements until we come up with one that will work best for the room & for our clients.   

I thought it might be helpful for me (and hopefully you too ;)  to outline some of the thought processes, "rules" and ideas/ tips that are rolling around in my head when I'm working on floorplans.  I'm starting out with walkways/ traffic patterns & then get a teensy bit into seating placement & bookshelves.  (This is by no means comprehensive but I thought it might be fun to share.)

1.  Traffic Patterns are important but so is the room's function:
I find that I always want just a little more room when working on floorplans.  Living rooms & family rooms are some of my favorite rooms to do but they often have multiple doorways/ trafficways cutting through them which can make furniture arrangement tricky.  The rule of thumb is to allow at least 3 feet for walkways, which can really take off a lot of space in a smaller room.   (Following the rule would often mean not including certain necessary pieces of furniture.)  

For example, in the room below, there isn't a clear-cut traffic way through the TV area to get to the {amazing} nook area in the back.  For that traffic lane to be open, they would have to remove the chair in the left, which I think would really take a way from the room. 

{I can't remember where I found this image- sorry!}

To me, it seems more important to have the chair there rounding out the seating area, than it is to have the pathway open.  When working on floorplans, sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils.   

When I run into this I often think...  "Should this room be a destination or a pass-through?"  Most homes have rooms that need to function as both (especially homes that have additions) and of course the goal is do do both well.  But the reality is that sometimes you have to lean more towards one or the other.  Whenever possible, I like to lean towards the "destination" end of the spectrum because rooms are enjoyed the most when you're in them.  Of course we notice a room when we're passing through it or entering into it, but the most important thing is what we notice when we're in it, experiencing it. 

{I love this room above, but take a look at how much furniture is in it...  It's more than in most houses but look how enjoyable/ cozy that room would be for a  group of people.  The chairs flanking the fireplace foten wouldn't make it into the floorplan but they add interest and additional seating to be pulled into the conversation. Image source: WALDO} 

2.  Seating should face goodness and shouldn't "be" the goodness: 
Distinguishing the room as a destination vs. a "viewing room" or pass-through room affects focal points and where you place your furnishings.  I find that upon first walking into many clients living rooms/ family rooms for the first time, they often have them set up so that you can see the sofa in clear view as a focal point and it's up against a wall, and the room looks nice upon entering.  (I call this a "viewing" room.  It's pretty at first glance but not truly enjoyable once you're in it.) Once you actually sit in the sofa, your view is often out of the room to a hallway and not on an interesting focal point.  The room is better enjoyed upon enetering when you're still on your feet than it is when you actually sit in the room and use it, which isn't good.   (The sofa / chairs should not be your first focal points, because the seating is where you're sitting when you're in the room, so it should be facing your focal points.)  

3.  Bookshelves aren't sacred: (but I do loooove them!!) 
Another thing I find people are typically a little afraid of doing is placing furniture & accessories in front of bookshelves.  Bookshelves can function just like walls, and if needed (to round out a furniture grouping or to add interest) pieces can be placed in front of them.  Without seating, you won't spend much time in an area of a room.  You might stand up to browse the books & enjoy them that way, but you won't be able to sit & relax, so if your goal is to spend time in that particular area of the room, it needs some type of seating, even if it's lined with shelving.  In the photo below,  the chair looks beautiful, adds interest, and provides seating.  Yes, it does block the books a little and would need to be moved to access certain books, but here, the pros -of actually being able to sit & enjoy the books- seem to outweight the cons. 

{Design by Lars Bolander, image via Cote de Texas}

Here are a few examples of sofas being placed in front of bookshelves.  It's a gutsy move and not something your avereage homeowner would do, but I love it:

{Design by Joe Nye, featured in House Beautiful}

And here a console has been placed between the sofa and bookshelves to provide a place for lighting & pretties:
{Design by Steven Grambrel featured in House Beautiful}

And in the room below, artwork has been layered over the bookshelves:

{Design by Markham Roberts featured in House Beautiful}

Again, it's something a homeowner wouldn't typically do, but it looks amazing.  I firmly believe that to create a great room, you need to be taking at least one risk, and the painting over the bookshelves is a beautiful one.  Breaking out of the box is something you see happening in magazines all the time, but many homeowners are a little bit afraid of it. 

In the photo below, a desk has been placed in front of shelving and artwork has been layered in front of it:

{Design by Mary McGee featured in House Beautiful}

And in this photo below, a bistro table & a few chairs has been placed in front of booksleves, creating a cozy little eating/ drinking area:

{Design by Frank DelleDonne featured in House Beautiful}

I've got to run for the day but will be posting more about furniture arrangement when I can.  To me, good decorating is fearless and breaks the rules or takes a risk when it's called for.  (not just to do it, but when it's appropriate.)  A great floorplan is just one of the many ingredients that go into a well-done room, but I think outlining how to push the limits can make taking the risks a little less frightening!

xoxo, Lauren

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


When I saw this photo of an antique suzani hanging in Lindsay Reid's home featured in House Beautiful's June issue, I thought, 'That's it.  Love."

{Lindsay Reid's house featured in House Beautiful Magazine's June issue}

First of all, I'm crazy about layering large pieces of artwork/ textiles behind other pieces of furniture.  I love the layering, the overlap, the defiance of rules... 
And second, I've been collecting pictures of crewel work & suzani for a while now, and I have to admit that they've grown on me in the strangest way.  They were definitely a huge trend and it wasn't love at first sight for me, but definitely intrigue.  The pattens themselves didn't completely float my boat right away, but I did love the handmade nature & detail & colors.   Once I saw this suzani used such a practical & perfect situation, it became love.  (I'm really not very good at paying attention to whether trends are in or out, I end up just liking what I like, not knowing/ wanting to know if it's in or out.)

"Suzani is a type of embroidered decorative tribal textile made in certain Central Asian countries.  Suzani comes from the Persian word "suzan" which means needle.  Popular design motifs include sun and moon disks, flowers, leaves and vines, fruits (especially pomegranates), and occasional fish and birds.  The oldest surviving suzanis are from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but it seems likely that they were in use long before that. " (info via wikipedia)  It entails stitching one fabric on top of another groundcloth.

I've always been a bit foggy about the difference between suzanis and crewelwork designs so I looked into it.

Here's a close-up of a crewelwork pillow used by Peter Dunham:

... In this dining area I mentioned last week:

{Design by Peter Dunham featured in House Beautiful}

Crewelwork is an embroidery technique that is at least a thousand years old and suzanis are just type of textile that are created using crewelwork.  (Other crewelwork textiles include Jacobean embroidery & Quaker Tapestry and the list goes on & on.)

Crwelwork runs gamut from Traditional English textiles to Eastern Tribal textiles.

Anyway, one of the most common suzani themes is the medallions/ discs...

Here's another of my favorite spaces using a suzani layered over a settee paired with a (gorgeous!!) framed antique ikat.  (Again, I love the layering of the piece behind the settee.)  This was the first photo I saw (in March of 2009) that really piqued my interest in suzanis.

{Anne Becker's apartment featured in Elle Decor}

Here are some rooms featuring suzanis in unique ways.  Here it's used as a room divider:

{From Domino via}

I love the fresh pink & aqua scheme & it's used as a rug:

{Elle Decor}

They are particularly gorgeous framed:

{IMage via In Every Corner}

And I love them layered on beds:

{Domino via Little Green Notebook}

..And one last picture of a suzani as a hanging tapestry:

{Image via Laura U}

Hope you're having a great week!  (This is my husband's last week of school- yay!!!)  Also, thanks so much for all of the sweet comments about the Home & Design feature.  I really apreciate it!!

For some more posts on suzanis, check out:
Cote de Texas- Written in '07 with serious detail & sources
Little Green Notebook - has some great framing ideas & sources for purchasing

xoxo, Lauren

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

Home & Design Magazine: Designers to Watch

Home & Design Magazine recently came out with an article on four "Designers to Watch" in the DC area.  Thanks so much to Home & Design Magazine for including me in this group!!    Here's a cell phone picture I took of the article:

{Clockwide from left:  Marika Meyer, H.Alex Sanchez, me, and Jason Hodges}

We had a GREAT time at the photo shoot for this article last month.  Sharon Dan of Home & Design had champagne & lunch for us and it was honestly hysterical.  I loved meeting these new friends!  Jason & I worked together at the DC Design House and got along really well and Marika & Alex were so much fun too!  (We've since hung out and it's been really great getting to know them!!)   I wish I had some of the outtake photos where we're all just cracking up, but for now, the serious one will have to do.   

If you're in the area, check out the July/ August issue to read the full article, which features work from all of us.  Here's another cell phone shot of my page:

The photos on this page were by Helen Norman.

I thought I'd share the clear photos & some other photos of the project with you that Helen took.  (I've shared photos of this project before but Helen's photos are so much better.)

This belongs to the Hart family and I loooooved working with them on home.  The family uses their formal living room as more of a hangout where they can do homework, pay bills, play music and relax:

The botanicals in the background are images of leaves that the kids & I found outside in their yard.  I had them blown up onto canvas.

I also took photos of the Harts playing outside in the Fall & framed them for a large gallery wall: 

Here's a shot of the whole room:

I lvoe this close-up Helen took of the wheat grass on the coffee table:

The dining room is relaxed and natural:

I borrowed my grandmother's samovar for the shoot:

Anyway, I'm off to work again but have a great weekend!!

Thanks again to Home & Design Magazine!!

xoxo, Lauren

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