Thanks for the Hug

I laughed out loud when I read my friend Linda's (at Lime in the Coconut) comment about the "group hug" I'd received though the comments to yesterday's post.  She's so right.  Thank you all so much for the kindness.  When I wrote the post yesterday, I was feeling as close to tears as I've felt in a really long time (I joked with my assistant Meghan that I was going to jump in her lap for a good cry.)  I honestly didn't write it looking for anything... In a way I use this blog as a journal, usually keeping off the drama/ boring / too personal stuff, but there are times when it comes out anyway.  (After I hit "publish" I thought I sounded like a whiny complainer.)  But I did end up getting something.  So many of you are in the same boat and somehow knowing that we're not alone-  faaaaar from it it- makes me feel better. 

Thanks for the hug.
{pic via pinterest via piccsy}

And there are so many different sides to it.  Many commenters are in completely different careers and it seems they still struggle with the same issues.  There are those moms who do decide to stay home and love it although can't help wondering "what if" just the way moms who go to work wonder "what if?  There are stay-at-home moms who feel like people think they are on easy street.  (Can I just say I can' disagree with this more??  Staying at home with children to me is the toughest job.  (I'm sure it's very rewarding but it is exhausting and those parents deserve a LOT of credit.)  Then there's the guilt that seems to be associated with all sides of motherhood.  One commenter raised a really interesting issue that in her workplace history, there has always been a "mommy" who she felt used her children as an excuse to get out of things and put more work on others.  Another mother commenting mentioned that she realized she had judged those decorators without children. thinking about what would happen to their careers once they did have kids.  I also realized I was judging the people who judged the "mommy" decorators.  (And just to clarify for any of those who asked, this isn't something imagined, I've actually heard of specific decorators using these terms in reference to others in a very negative way.)  My mom (who was a single parent for most of my childhood) said that childcare was always one of the toughest part about raising kids. 

When it comes down to it, I think we all have insecurities and questions ourselves sometimes.  I find that when I get really frazzled/ upset about something with my kids (such as the daycare situation yesterday morning) I start to question myself.  On normal days, things roll off my back & I'm even able to laugh or roll my eyes when I hear about haters, but when I'm emotionally charged like that, it all seems like it's tumbling down.

With Justin's case yesterday, I took him back to his existing daycare, which had turned over most of its teachers & its director over the summer.  We were less than thrilled to be taking him back to the center as we didn't love it last year & were planning on using it temporarily until we could find Mary Poppins, but when I got back to the daycare yesterday, it was worse than it had been the previous year.  The two ladies we looved -who had taken such good care of Justin- happened to be coming in later that day and those that were left seemed unconcerned that Justin was crying for so long.  I'd fully expected him to cry, I just expected he'd be picked up and comforted. 

Anyway, I have two kidinkies up right now so we're off for breakfast, but thanks for the shoulders yesterday.  I promise I'll get back to good stuff later this week.

{NOT a picture of our breakfast - i wish!!- image from the Awkward Bird}

On another note, we are installing a new project tomorrow.  (Thank goodness for my mom babysitting!!) My clients' house underwent a major renovation and all of the pretties are going in tomorrow!!

xoxo, Lauren

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

"Mommy" Decorators

This morning we planned to have our kids start back up at daycare & a new school.  As you might remember from last year, it's kind of a tough time.  Our boys are 4 years old and 20 months old and finding the right kind of care that's best for us all has been tough, both emotionally and on the wallet.  This morning I went to drop Justin off (our 20 month old) at his old daycare and after I left the room I watched as he stood there and wailed for 5-10 minutes.  The caregiver had set him down the second I left the room and as I waited to fill out forms in the main office I could hear my baby crying his lungs out.  I peeked in and still no one was holding him...  I watched as a woman picked him up for a minute or so and then I came back again and he was standing there, balling alone.  They were crazy busy and I could see that there was so much going on, but still, it just felt wrong in my gut.  I told the director as much and left.  They tried to be nice but it just didn't feel right. 

...SO now I'm at home with Justin and no childcare, the day off, and a search for Mary Poppins. 

{Oh Mary...  we need you!!}

Being a working parent & having your own business has its own set of challenges.  I've actually heard people (without kids) talk down about working-designing-moms as if their businesses are somewhat of a joke.  I'm sure you're familiar with the terms "mommy decorators" or "mommy bloggers."  Does being a parent truly take away some sort of credibility in the design world?  Or does also being a blogger in addition to being a decorator mean that you don't deserve to be where you are?  (Clearly I don't think so, but sadly I've heard about people making this implication in general...  )

It's at times like this though- when I'm dealing with childcare issues and sit typing with a toddler on my lap- that I honestly start to wonder if these people are right???  I feel lucky to have gotten a shower in & to be dressed in normal clothes.  It's sometimes hard not to lose all confidence and wonder what in the world I'm doing or trying to do.  Am I just a "mommy" decorator faking it in the real world of suited interior designers? 

I'm clearly in a low spot right now to be even going on this rant, but I wish anyone thinking this way knew & understood all of the effort it takes to be where they are at 9 AM.  They might show up fresh & ready to rock, whereas the parent has been up for hours, having fed, bathed & dressed her kids for school and dropped them off and that's if everything went smoothly.  What exactly am I asking for? No it's not sympathy, but maybe a little understanding.  Because anyone who has to have someone else look after his or her children so he or she can go to work, is very serious about his or her career.  I think it's easy to quick-judge people and put them in a box.    (it's CLEAR that  I am ranting.. running from one working parent issue to the next.  please forgive me...  But I have to say, it is making me feel better ;)

Anyway, I'm off to go pick up Christian from his new school.  Fingers crossed all went well.   Sorry about the sort of down & out post. 
I'd love to hear your thoughts though as bloggers & readers on the "mommy blogger" / "mommy decorator issue."  Has anyone experienced what I'm talking about?

xoxo, Lauren

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

My Dad's Dining Room: Finally {Almost} Finished!

You might remember this project from way-back-when but my dad's dining room at the lake cottage started out looking like this:

The room was actually taken down to its studs prior to this picture being taken but I don't have any shots of that. 

Over the years, we added the table & light fixure & built-in cabinetry.  It's finally almost totally finished (with the exception of maybe a rug for the cooler months and shades on the windows) so I wanted to share a few pics I took:

{The boys use the table more than anyone for coloring & projects and of course eating (ie making a HUGE mess with food for Justin.)

I wanted the kitchen & dining room to feel simple & practical and carry a bit of nostalgia for my Grandma (who died 20 years ago but is still somehow a driving force in my family) with it.  It cleans up so easily & there's no stress with messes.   (Crayons came right off of the chairs- don't worry Dad!) 

I used my Live Paisley linen in dusty blue on the curtains because of the colors of my Grandma's china (now displayed in the built-in cabinetry)

Here's a very crooked picture of the cabinetry:

{I forgot to get a straight photo of this spot with the new hardware on- oops!- atleast you get the idea}

This cottage has been in our family since 1958, with the dining room & open kitchen at its heart.  So many meals have taken place here and for my family, eating is a BIG deal.  In reality, any room is just the backdrop for the life that's going on there, but it makes me so happy that the backdrop here finally feels right.  My Grandma & Nanoo loved this house and truly made it into a home.  My Grandma had a very disctinct style:  She loved flowery details and was pretty frilly, but also a very simple woman.  Function & practicality were always first.  I like to think of the house as an updated, tiny-bit-more-masculine version of my Grandma and I think she'd love it if she could see it now.  

{Queen Anne's lace on the table thrills me to no end...  seriously.}

One of my favorite things about visiting the old house is picking flowers from our field and bringing them inside.  My grandma always used to ask me to pick flowers & bring them in when I was a little girl.  It's such a simple thing, but when we go out & pick flowers, I'm in Heaven. 

Also, I've received a lot of questions about my textile line & how to order, so I just wanted to clarify a little bit. In September, I will be selling the fabrics online (in my new online store - Pure Style Home) for those who don't live in Virginia or those who don't have access to the Design Center of Northern Virginia.  It's an online store where you will be able to view all of the fabrics & colorways, and purchase sample memos & yardage right there at the site if you need to.  (I'm waiting until September to debut the line because the fabrics have not yet been photographed so without, pictures, there's no way for me to really sell them online.  My good friend & photographer Helen Norman and my family & I are doing a photoshoot at Helen's farm for the fabrics in a couple of weeks and I can't wait to share them with you!!  Not only will we be photographing the fabrics themselves but we're putting them in lifestyle settings that embody the feeling I hope that the fabrics convey: classic fresh, simple & carefree, and in some cases a little vintage or bohemian.)

If you are in the DC metro area, you can view my fabric line at the Design Center of Northern Virginia.

Thanks for the support & have a great weekend!!  (Can you believe summer's almost over?? wa wa wa)

xoxo, Lauren

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

Queen Anne's Bouquet

I've got more pictures of my new fabrics/ curtains!  (I'm sorry if you're sick of them by now, but I am so insanely excited that I can't stop.)  In my bedroom at the cottage (my dad's) I decided to hang my newest design Queen Anne's Bouquet on either side of the doors to the balcony: 

I had them lined in blackout lining although I typically prefer unlined linen or a light lining for an airy feel, but the sun streams straight through the doors in the morning & we wake up around 5:30 or so every morning because of it, so function over form won out here. 

Here's a close-up of the fabric, which is a "bouquet" I drew of one of my favorite wildflowers:

The room is very much unfinished.  Although I do have a pretty white quilt I and a pair of lamps I love.  I had the ceiling paneled in pine and I haven't yet decided what I want to do with it.  My original thoughts a few years ago were to try out some type of limewash, but now I'm really undecided and have lots of thoughts floating around about it.  I do think I want to keep the walls white (a new white though) as for my own personal bedrooms, I really prefer white.  (It goes best with all of my colorful clothes strewn about! ;) ;)   

{Yeah, I know the recessed light kind of kills it, but like I said, I didn't win every battle here.}

As we make more progress here I'll be sure to share.

And many of you have asked about when the fabrics will be available for sale & how to buy them (thank you!)...  I am truly working as fast as I can to get these babies available.  There will be about fifteen different designs in the first collection with 2-7 colorways per design. (For a total of 60 or so different fabrics.)   I am still working on the final designs and we're photographing the entire collection at the end of the month so I plan to have them online soon after.  Like I mentioned before, I was a little surprised when I first started looking into the cost for the fabrics.  I've learned that high quality linens are much more expensive to make when they aren't mass-produced and we've priced the fabrics accordingly.  (Approx $120/ yard) In my own home I have my fabrics on pillows only right now ;)

When I first started designing textiles, I really had no idea where I wanted to take it.  I began more on a whim just because it excited me.  I have to say that I am now head over heels for it and am gaining more confidence with it.  I originally thought I'd have artists do the designs but now I've started doing them myself and it's really satisfyling.  I'm not an artist by any means and drawing & painting doesn't come naturally to me AT ALL, but I have actually been able to create some things that I really love and that speak to me.  I haven't quite decided yet how I want to sell these fabrics or where I want to take it, which I know sounds like an odd way to start a business.  (And I agree.)  I normally set very concrete goals for my self & my business and follow planned out steps to get there, but not this time.  The textile industry is very new to me & until I can figure out how I want to navigate the waters, I'm taking it slow.  There are those who design patterns and sell them to fabric companies for money (which is sooo not where I'm going... these designs are really personal to me and I am so not disattaching myself from them)  there are those who do books for other companies (for example Windsor Smith's collection for Kravet) and then there are those who sell fabric under their own company  and have their collections sold in showrooms (Kathryn Ireland for example also sells her fabrics at John Rosselli Showrooms) and then there are a tons of small companies who sell on their own.  I really haven't decided where I want to go with this or which way is best for me/ my family.   

The fabrics are currently only being shown & sold in one showroom in Virginia.  (And if you're a designer in Virginia, you can contact the Design Center of Northern Virginia for trade pricing.)  Like I mentioned, thery're being photographed at the end of August, so until then, I have no way to sell them without any pictures.  I will be sure to post as soon as they're online.

xoxo, Lauren

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

Lake House Peek

We got the curtains up in my dad's lake house this week and it made such a difference.  We still have a lot of work to do but it's really starting to feel good.  Curtains always seem to make a house a home.  It suddenly feels warm & lived in (in a good way.)   As you might remember, I had curtains made from my new textile line for the house and for some of these patterns, it was the first time I'd actually even seen them. 

My dad's a fisherman & I played around with a few of his things on the walls:

{Sometimes I like a touch if kitcsh and I hung my dad's old wooden fish on a nail}

I used my "Live Paisely" linen in antique beige for the living room curtains.  My dad built a fireplace out of massive stones and I brought the curtains right up to fireplace to soften it a bit and create a little more drama:

{Sorry for the grainy pictures...  The room was dark when I took these pics.}

Like I mentioned before, my dad's renovation of our family's lake cottage has been a sloooow process but it's now almost finished.  {Let the decorating begin!!}  The main areas are done and just need paint (I'm going a little bluer in the living room above and some walls have never even been painted} and the new basement is being drywalled this month.  The existing living room furniture is headed down to the new basement (sometimes I think basements are where furniture goes to die) and I'm bringing in new upholstery.  I think I'm most excited about adding new lighting to replace empty sockets & builder grade fixtures.

Like I've mentioned before, my dad and I have butted heads like CRAZY on this house.  He wants me to design it but deep down inside he thinks he's a very gifted decorator and fights me every step of the way.  He has a little old Italian lady inside him (maybe my grandma??) and mixed with his macho man attitude, it makess for very over-the-top more-is-more granny decorating:  Crown moldings can never be large enough (even when the proportions are wrong for a room) and everything needs to "POP."  Shiny is always better and any sign of age on something means it's junk.  (aaaaaahhhhh)   We fought like cats & dogs about the massive $10,000+ oak Thomasville media untit & bedroom set he owned & bought in the early 90s.  TVs don't even fit in the hole anymore but he refuses to part with it because he spent so much on it.  (The piece is now in storage...  another place I htink furniture goes to die. ;) 

My dad is my toughest client by faaaaaaaaar.  Anyway, he's always thrilled when I do something to the house & I think (hope!!) that he's finally starting to trust me & won't undo everything when I leave this time.  It always ends with "you were right," but decorating this way can be kind of expensive because I have to undo a lot.  (Why not just give up you ask?  I really don't know...  I guess it's because I love this house so much & it has so much potential.)

He finally agreed to paint over the newly installed knotty pine beadboard on the front porch ceiling and to tear down the Victorian cobwebs he'd added to the {very simple} house.  He also finally let me paint the porch spindles solid white instead of white with gray beads the way theyd' been for years and even though they "popped" so nicely.  I  removed the new red gingham cushions on the wicker furniture and replaced them with simple tan and put out an indoor-outdoor rug I'd bought years ago and I couldn't be happier:

{And my dad's happy too.}

This house has definitely been a labor of love (and war!) but it's all worth it in the end.   I'll take pictures of the other rooms & share soon!!

xoxo, Lauren

ps- love you dad even though I complain.  You're the best!

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

Changes at Home- A New Office

At our house, summertime is usually when we tackle projects at home & get the majority of things done because my husband is a teacher & is off.  When we redid our house when we first moved in, we pretty much got everything done the first summer and then kind of stopped after that.  This summer, we really didn't do much except decide what we wanted to to do with a few spaces.  yay for us.

And we did this:

Having our second little guy on the move pretty much put a stop to projects unless there's a babysitter around.  Our house has 5 bedrooms but two of them on our on lower level.  We've been using one as a guest room and the other as my husband's workout room/ our storage room.  The business is growing quickly & at this point I'm trying to avoid moving out of my house into an office (a number of reasons: schedule, expense, working in my SWEATS and I feel like I'd never see my family} SO...  we rearranged our storage (which is mostly clients' odds & ends /  furniture) and got a storage unit ,and my husband has been working out with friends out of the house daily anyway, so we stored the bench press & big weights and now have a freed up room for an additional office. yay!!

{Windsor Smith's office in House Beautiful...  Love those white board charts!!}

Anyway, unfortunately, the room has had a drop ceiling (arrggggg) so we tore it down in about 20 minutes a couple of weeks ago while the kids were napping.  It also has weird walls.  Like really weird.  I really don't know what the previous owners were thinking here...  It was some sort of painted peg board??  All over the drywall panelling??  So, we have a lot of unfun stuff to do before the pretty part.   We're tearing that down & exposing the drywall/ painting and adding in a normal ceiling.  The carpet in there is perfeectly clean/ new but I'm thinking of addding in more wall to wall seagrass.  My husband & I are worthless at drywalling, so our contractors are coming in to save the day.

I looove my current home office except it's open off of our family room so there are times when I (or my assistant- Meghan!) need to escape to quiet, so I'm excited about adding this new "quiet" space. I think it will be Meghan's office and I'll store the lamptop there & work in there half the time, but I'll probably continue working out projects on the large work table in the main office.  { I also bug Meghan all day long so she might get more work done this way ;) ;)

Suzanne Kasler's studio---- looooooove!!

Anyway, it's a very teeny space so I've been playing with floorplans & furnishings.  Another thing I'm just getting into is its mood.  Offices I tend to love are bright & large & open & airy feeling. 

{Thomas O'Brien's house.  I want this.  Really.}

This one will be more cramped cozy.

So I really want to figure out the mood here, because that open & airy thing just isn't happening.  I'm thinking of going a tad warmer & maybe a little vintage libraryish...

{Obviously still large but it has a cozier vibe}

I'll keep you posted and will be sure to post before & afters.  eeeeek can't wait!

xoxo, Lauren

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

Happy Weekend

We're doing this:

{image via pinterest}

And I might try this:

{Check out the "how to" here on maegan}

Enjoy yours!!

xoxo, Lauren

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

Good Budget Upholstery and Family Friendly Fabrics

After Monday's post - with me saying what I think doesn't work- I received a bunch of questions about what I think does work concerning upholstery on a budget and concerning kid (and pet!) -friendly fabrics & options.  I dissed microfiber (even tough I have some in my own home) and bulky silhouettes.  If your sofa is in a an often-used room, then I'd say that it's worth spending on if it's in the budget.  But if a high-quality sofa isn't in the budget, I have a few  favorites. 

I'm going to start at Ikea.  I've personally used a couple of Ikea pieces and some are more comfortable than others but most have held up pretty well for me.  (And we really beat up things in our house!)

I'm sure you've heard of Ikea's Ektorp sofa:

{Shown here in beige for $599. But it starts at $399 for a washable white slipcover and comes in multiple fabrics.  Joni from Cote de Texas hass mentioned this baby before and it really can be the perfect backdrop sofa.  If they slimmed out those roll arms just a little, it would be much betta!!}

Here's the Ektorp storage ottoman in a gray slipcover:

{I have this at home.. I think it cost me around $130 and sometimes in a tight budget I'll have my workroom do a slipcover in a custom fabric...  The slipcovers they come with start a little short & then get shorter as you wash them even if dried on low heat.  If You ditch the handles and do a waterfall skirt, this piece gets prettier. }

I think this Ektorp chaise is super cute and love it:

I haven't seen this Kivik footstool in person but it looks pretty good to me:

And this Kivik sofa looks "almost" there to me, although if it were a single cushion and there were a skirt across the bottom I'd like it a lot better.  It's $597.

I also like the Tullsta chair and have two myself.  ($129) The seat cushion is very hard for long sits and I feel a little numb in the behind when I get up.  I've considered having new seat cushions made.  The slipcovers are also too short as you can see in this picture and they're worse in person:

{But, for $129, I'm cool with that.}

Going a little bit up in the budget, there are some options I like from Pottery Barn.  I haven't checked them out in person but they look great.  My favorite is the Carlisle Sofa, their English arm sofa.  This apartment sofa (only 78") is pretty:

{Starts at $1299}

Here it is slipcovered:

{$1300- $1800}

Here's the upholstered version with loose back cushions and a 90.5" width:

{$1349- $1649...  I wish they did the tight back version in this size. I wonder if the back cushions were removed and if you did throw pillows?  It might work for tall ppl...}

Their Charleston ottoman is really pretty:

{$499- $599}

Their "PB Square" slipcovered sofa is almost there (If they slimmed out the arms a little I'd like it a lot better)
but looks okay:

( Approx $1200- $2000)

Ballard Designs' Slipcovered Hollis Sofa starts at $988:

Their Baldwin Slipcovered sofa from $1328:

And I like their Davenport Slipcovered sofa from $1279:
{I like how the rolled arms are tucked further into the sofa vs. flaring out as much as some of the others.  The two cushion seat is pretty.}

Crate & Barrel has some beautiful upholstery.  There are also some nice wallet-friendly options available.  I like this Willow sofa from $1699:

{Great arms}

I like this Lounge Slipcovered Sofa for $1999 and it's 93" long which is pretty large:

{Love its lines}

The Klyne Sofa is only $1200 but is only 80" wide:

Anyway, these are just a few of the many sofas out there, but what I like about most of them is that they have fairly nice lines.  I'm drawn more towards the piececs whose arms don't flare out as much and the ones that are a bit less bulky-looking.  I was lucky and found my own high quality sofa on craigslist for around $300.  We reupholstered it and ended up spending around $1600 total.  I did it in a green velvet and planned on having a washable slipcover made for it eventually but loved the green so much, I decided to wait.  The velvet takes a lot of abuse, but the one abuse that's really taken its toll was baby spit-up.  (Oh I know how gross this is sounding to you :)  When Justin (my second son) was born, he had acid reflux and spit up like CRAZY.  And this inclcuded on the sofa seat.  At the time we'd just grab whatever was near us - usually baby wipes- to get it up so the spit-up/ smell was gone.  Well, fast-forward to a year later and I have started to see light spots on the seat cushions where the spit up was.  The acid & baby wipe & sun combination was not good.  Thank goodness we never flipped our seat cushions so I was able to flip them to the clean sides & it's perfect again, but I've learned my lesson: Although baby wipes are AMAZING, don't use them on upholstery.  And milk is a horse of another color so be sure to get it up completely.  The acid can be really damaging to color when mixed with bright sun.  We should have properly cleaned the mishaps.  Also, I'm considering having a slipcover made for the sofa when the next baby comes in case we get another spitter. (Our #1 was also a spitter so I'm betting on another) 

As far as our velvet goes, we've had red wine spilled on the sofa and it's come out without a stain.  I've also had some chocolate on it (Yes, I know I have a problem) and the kids BEAT it up and none of this shows.  We're trying to put a stop to it but right now their favorite game is to stry to chase each other OVER the sofa. 

For kid-friendly fabrics, you can go the slipcovered route and you get the benefit of using wh.  I myself like a slightly oatmeal white slipcover because I have to wash it less, but others love pure white because they can bleach out anything and they never fear.    I have a slipcovered sofa in a twill but linens and denims work beautitfully  too.  Even painters dropcloths!  (My photographer, Helen Norman who took the photo above- uses dropcloths throughout her home on upholsery & loves it.  Brooke & Steve Giannetti (of Velvet & Linen) also wrote about this in their new book Patina Style.  (Which I'll be posting about soon.. I AM IN LOVE WITH IT!!!)  It's important to remember that not all slipcovers are loose and many are very tailored.  Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between an upholstered piece and a slipcovered one. 

If you prefer an upholstered piece, there are so many family-friendly fabrics out there.  I'm using a light poly-blend fabric right now for a client that looks like linen but is super durable.   Velvet is also very kid-friendly and there are commercial grades available.   There are linen-poly blend fabrics and cotton-poly blends that work beautifully.  Heavy-duty denims in off-white/ natural and painter's dropcloths work well and there are a ton of beautiful indoor-outdoor fabrics out there too.  Of course patterns are amazing on upholsterry for kids & pets because they hide so much.  I would never go with pure white upholstery in a room where kids will be spending a lot of time  (Only slipcovers in white.)  but there are a lot of fabrics out there that can look very pale and can read white although they are beiges, grays, naturals, oatmeals, etc.  (So  you can still get a light family-friendly look without actually going pure white.)   

I also recommend stain-treating upholstery so you can be worry-free.  (Too bad I didn't follow my own advice before my spitter came along! ;)  Upholstery also typically needs to be professionally cleaned every 2-3 years.  You should vacuum it a couple of times a month and flip the cushions ever month or so to keep it looking good & wearing evenly.    (Oh thank God I didn't do that when Justin was a baby!!)

I'm off for the day but enjoy yours!!  Hope this rundown helps!

xoxo, Lauren

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