Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rustic + Glamorous Living Room

It's been a while since I've posted a mood board so I'm very happy to get this post up today. This living room is meant to capture a rustic glamorous feeling--to incorporate some of the glamorous elements popular in today's trends but use more rustic elements to make it a comfortable, accessible space. 

The elements in this space are definitely a mix of high and low. The sofa is about $1,300 (which really isn't all that high when it comes to sofas, but it is on my budget) and the side chairs are only $169 each. Some of the decorative boxes are in the $50 - $70 range while other decorative items are less than $20. Although the items aren't all inexpensive, they are definitely on the lower end of investment in a space using retail pieces, and it's a space that someone on a budget could build over time. There are also elements like the media stand that you might be able to find vintage or used. The artwork is a print from Minted and can be printed and purchased in a range of sizes. This room actually makes me wish the boy and I were moving into our own place sooner because we both totally love this look. Here's a list of sources if you want to replicate it:






Sofa: Phulkari Embroidered Chevron Pillow in Marine Blue - Pottery Barn
Sofa: Tryst 16" Pillow - CB2
Side Chairs: Jacquard Leaf Silk Pillow Cover in Light Pool - West Elm


Picture Frame: Nate Berkus Glass Frame, 3"x3" Gold - Target
Decorative Box: Eduardo Garza Crystal Box - West Elm
Succulent: Potted 4" Succulent - Crate & Barrel 
Coasters: Agate Coasters in Natural - West Elm
Tray: Nate Berkus Wood and Resin Hexagon Tray - Target
Decorative Box: Nate Berkus Decorative Tortoise Shell Box - Gold
Decorative Box: Agate Jewelry Box, Small in Natural - West Elm

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Design-Savvy Art Prints and Stationary at Minted

Thanks again for all your kind comments and well wishes after our big announcement last week! We feel so lucky to have so many wonderful friends and family supporting us.

Before we really dive into wedding details, there's something else I'm excited to plan for in the nearer future. The boy and I plan to move into his parents' basement when our leases are up so we can save some money while we're engaged. Part of the moving in together/getting married business is that for the first time in my entire life, I have to share a bedroom with a boy. That aqua paint and fashion print wall gallery in my current bedroom that I love so much? Yeah, probably won't translate well in our new digs. And I'm a little bit regretting buying him Americana artwork over the years...

So I was pleasantly surprised when Minted approached me to review their new collection of art prints. Minted is a website that sells stationary-type products that are designed by independent designers all over the world. I still plan to have a gallery wall in our new room, but it will need to be a better balance of masculine and feminine styles. Minted has a great collection of design-savvy limited edition art prints, photography, and typography art that could easily work their way into our new space. Here are a few prints I'm eyeing for our new room:

1 - 2 - 3
In addition to their art prints, Minted sells tons of great stationary and I'm hoping I'll get to use one of their great designs when we choose some save the date cards. I'm especially loving the place-based designs.

Minted also writes a blog, Julep, that has some really cute Valentine's Day craft ideas in addition to a bunch of other fun paper/graphic ideas.

Painted Hearts Valentine
Valentine Present Toppers
Be sure to check out Minted next time your in the market for some graphic goodness!

This post has been sponsored by Minted.com. All opinions included in this post are my own. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Big News!

Big news, friends -- I'm engaged!

I debated writing this, at first thinking I should maybe keep it between the boy and me, but this blog  functions as a journal of sorts for me and I want to look back in a year and read this again. I also know that most of the people reading it are my friends, many of whom I won't get to see or talk to very soon, so it's nice to be able to spread the word this way.

Oh, there's also the fact that the boy did a really great job putting together a memorable weekend for the two of us. He planned everything perfectly and was so thoughtful and he kind of deserves to have all our friends and family know just how wonderful he is. Sorry, am I gushing? Anyway, let's get to the story.

Once upon a time, Kyle was out of town for work during the week, and our plan was for me to pick him up from the airport on Friday night and then grab a bite to eat together in Old Town, Alexandria. His parents were (supposedly) out of town for the weekend, so we were going to head over to their house after dinner, something we do once in a while when we want to have a nice staycation and get out of our respective group houses.

Per usual, I was running late and hardly had time to freshen up and pack a bag before I headed to the airport to pick Kyle up. The whole way there I was stressing that the poor guy was standing out in the cold because I was late. I pulled up to our usual pick up spot at the airport, he through his bags in the car, and we headed to Old Town.

This is where I probably should've picked up on things. He told me that he had a Groupon for Jackson 20, a nice restaurant in the Hotel Monaco. In the back of my mind I was thinking, "A Groupon? Man, they must not be doing well." He was also kind of irritated about the parking situation after we circled a few times and had trouble finding a spot. I just figured he had been traveling all day and was in a bad mood so I didn't think much of it.

Once we got in front of the Hotel Monaco things started to change real quickly.  As we walked through the doors he stopped and admitted that we were actually staying there for the night. I got excited and walked towards the check-in desk, but he directed me towards the elevator bank. At that point I knew exactly what was coming. When we got to the room he had rose petals on the floor, champagne, and that's when he proposed.

Wait, what? I know you want to know how he didn't even have to check in and did this moments after stepping off the airplane. Well he actually had gotten in at 2:00 pm, picked up his car, gone to the hotel to check in and prep the room. After that he drove to his parents's house and his mom--who was in town, by the way--drove him back to the airport with a suitcase so I could pick him up at 6:00 pm like we had planned all along. He even called to tell me he got bumped to a flight that connected in Philly so that if I checked the arrivals (which I tend to do to see if there's a delay), I would see a flight that was coming in right around 6:00.

OK, back to the proposal moment.

I was thrilled! But I'm also pretty sure I was super awkward for about 30 minutes as evidenced by the photo above. During really important moments I can kind of get stuck in my head and at that point my mind was racing through thoughts like oh my gosh this is awesome and I hope I seem happy enough! Or I can't believe he did all this for me! And how can I possibly give the reaction that this deserves? And, wait a minute, he doesn't have a Groupon. For a while I just sat there asking questions and saying, "Kyle this is so sweet!"

It was fun to sit in that gorgeous room together drinking champagne and just taking in the moment between the two of us, so I kind of dragged my feet when it came to calling everyone. I wish I could explain why I don't love making phone calls to a bunch of people even when I'm super excited. I'm pretty introverted and the idea of calling people, even my own family, to tell them news that places me right in the center of everyone's attention feels overwhelming to me. I also feel like there's a lot of pressure to be reacting in the way everyone expects me too, so there's an intimidation factor there, especially when I'm constantly over-analyzing things. But I'm glad Kyle encouraged me to start making phone calls because once we called everyone, the reality of the moment set in and I was in celebration mode. Shortly afterwards we got dinner at The Wharf, a restaurant down the street. Oh yeah, funny story, Kyle had no idea until after he made the reservation that his parents ate at the Wharf the night of their engagement too. So that was cute.

Kyle surprised me with another plan he had in the works that night. In addition to our amazing room at the Hotel Monaco, he had booked a room for Saturday night at a bed & breakfast close to Charlottesville, home of my alma mater and generally one of my favorite places in the world. So on Saturday morning we briefly stopped at our houses to pack a bag and then drove to Charlottesville where we walked around UVa's Grounds and the Corner. Kyle knows how much I love Charlottesville and it always makes me happy to walk around and marvel at the Lawn, so that was a really thoughtful move.  Once we were sufficiently frozen and had picked up a few souvenirs from the bookstore, we headed to our accommodations in nearby Louisa.

We stayed at The Prospect Hill Inn, which is an historic property in Louisa, Virginia. The Inn consists of a large manor house that is home to the dining room, a few other main rooms, and the owners' family residence. The buildings on the property date from the late 1600s and the entire property is on the national register of historic places. It's also part of the Green Springs National Historic District.

Can we just pause for a moment and take in how amazing it is that Virginia is dotted with little places like this, built pre-Revolutionary War and still standing and operating today? I love this place.

The guest rooms are in the smaller buildings that surround the manor house. We stayed in the second-oldest building on the property, which was originally built as a residence for the family who lived there. It's also the cabin Kyle's parents stayed in for a few nights of their honeymoon. The bedroom had no TV, no wi-fi, and a wood burning fireplace. The little cottage also had a sitting room and a bathroom, which was SO COLD. The rooms had baseboard heat, but they didn't really keep the place very warm so we were happy to get the fire up and going...which took a bit longer than we expected. But that was just part of the experience. Once it was finally roaring we sat down in front of it and talked for a while. It was so much fun to say things like "someday when we're married we should..." and "one day when we have a family I really want to..." and know that whatever we said wasn't just a hypothetical statement put out into the universe, but something that we could very easily accomplish some day together. Sitting in front of the fire together in that gorgeous little building out in the countryside was easily the most romantic part of the whole weekend.

Although the B&B part was awesome, Prospect Hill is especially well known in the area for their food. They serve a prix-fixe four course meal for dinner on the weekends, and you don't know what they'll be serving until they announce it right before they serve the first course. Guys, this meal was AMAZING (or "amazeballs" as they say in Kyle's favorite commercial). Everything was great, and the main course had the best pork medallions I've ever tasted. I highly recommend eating there even if you're not staying there, which you can totally do by the way. I think only two of the five couples in the room were actually staying at the B&B.

The next morning we had breakfast delivered to our room. It was also delicious and we felt so pampered having it delivered to us.

Sunday morning we drove home and got dinner with both our families to celebrate. I haven't really started any planning. I really wanted to make sure I focused on how meaningful the engagement was before we dive into wedding logistics. But within the next week or so we're going to start thinking about the big things so that I don't consume all my free time perusing the internet for venues and vendors in the area and actually start working towards something.

Thanks to everyone who wished us well and to our friends and family for helping Kyle orchestrate everything and keep it a secret. We are so excited for what's to come and it's so wonderful to have the support of everyone. Rest assured that this blog will not be full of wedding details, and I hope to get back to some good ol' design posts in the near future. Thanks again for your support!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Family Visit

Friday I traveled with my brother and parents to New York where we met my sister who came in from NYC. We spent the evening with my cousins and then ventured to our hotel room where we came across this weird room-width mirror over the headboard. While it actually did come in handy when my sister and I had to get ready the next morning, it still felt a little uncomfortable. My family likes to do hotels on a budget, so that generally means that I share a room with both my siblings and a bed with my sister. At least this place had two queens instead of two doubles.

Saturday we hung out all day at my cousins' house. We played a little bit of heads up and watched basketball through most of the day and ended the evening with our traditional meal of pizza and wings, and played a spirited game of Trivial Pursuit. And, by the way, my team totally lost and the winning team had everyone in my immediate family but me on it. My dad was the captain. What the heck, John? At least there were our favorite chocolate chip cookies.

Sunday morning we packed up the car and headed to about an hour west to visit my grandma and hang out at my aunt's house nearby. Last year my grandma, although confused and tired, was able to leave her assisted living facility and hang out at the house with all of us for an afternoon. This year that wasn't so much the case. Now my grandma lives in a nursing home. As a designer I think the space could be greatly improved, but the real draw of this places is that my aunt works in the same health complex and can drop in on her regularly. Seriously, how lucky are we? How many families have that luxury?

The rest of my dad's family lives closer and sees Grandma more often. They warn us, "It's really bad. Like really bad. Just be ready for it." They do a wonderful job managing my expectations because I felt like for 89 with dementia, my grandma seems way less "Is that person still breathing?" than most of the people I've seen in the two facilities she's been in. She can still kind of hobble her way through a conversation. She relies a lot on reacting sarcastically or playfully saying something like "oh phooey" to the stuff we tell her. She also likes to be silly, like hen we told her to smile and she crossed her eyes and made a silly face instead. She spent the better part of our visit asking us how we were all able to get off of work and did we all come there just to see her?? It's quite confusing to her because apparently her work schedule is pretty inflexible and she has to work weekends a lot. Her mind spends a lot of time back working as a nurse. Whatever, we roll with it.

Perhaps my favorite moment of the entire trip was seeing her light up when my dad walked in while she said to him with a big smile "hey, there's my son!" I suspect that within minutes of us leaving she forgot we were even there, but for the time we were there she seemed happy and even touched by the idea that we all came just to see her.

Sunday afternoon we did more visiting with family. I got to play with my cousin's son who is six and wildly imaginative. I cracked up when he said things like , "Mommy, can I have a pretend blanket to tuck in Monkey?" and (to my mom) "And you know what? I love you." We did lots of "exercising" and I'm pretty sure my mom caught many lovely photos of me crawling around on the floor.

Monday morning we packed up and, after dealing with a pretty major train delay with my sister, headed back to VA.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Art Collection: Favorite Fashion & Figurative Prints

My hands-down favorite part of my bedroom is the gallery wall over my dresser. I pieced it together over the years with everything from notecards to antique artwork to framed fabric swatches, but my favorite pieces are the fashion/figurative artwork. My sister liked one of the prints by Leigh Viner so much that she asked for a set of three of her prints to put over her bed for Christmas.

I'm kind of picky when it comes to figurative artwork. I don't really like to see open eyes illustrated. I think there's something about the eyes closed or the back turned that makes the featured woman a bit of a mystery and lets you fill in the blanks about who she is and what she's thinking and feeling. I also find it makes it a little easier to see yourself in the artwork, which is nice when you are bringing feminine artwork into one of the most person and feminine places in your home (well, at least if you are still living sans boy like I am). 

Here are some of my favorite prints by my go-to artists for fashion illustrations. Most of these artists sell their items via Etsy. If you don't see a size you like, it's always worth it to message the artist directly - most of the time they will print anything in a custom size for you. Enjoy!

Row 1: 

Row 2: 

Row 3: 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Semester in Review: Fall 2013

Since grad school is a huge part of my life, I thought I'd share what  a semester of an Interior Design Master's program entails. Interior Design is a field that is often shrugged off as something that involves "picking pillows" or a field that is just so "artsy" that it's not something you can study. I'll admit, sometimes it does involve picking pillows, but Interior Design is much more analytical than most might think and that's why I'm drawn to it. It is involves concept development, careful space planning, lighting considerations, and a whole host of furnishings and finishes that must function well in addition to supporting the design concept. Studying interior design at most university levels is similar to pursuing a degree in architecture, so much so that many undergrad programs throw architects, interior designers, and industrial designers in the same classes and studios during their first year of study, and many interior design professors are architects by training.

This semester I took four classes. That's one more than a typical full-time grad school load. I did this for one primary reason: One of the classes I took was at NOVA--an undergrad prereq that I was allowed to satisfy at the much cheaper community college in the area--and I needed 9 credits at Marymount in order to get health insurance through the university. So I had to take three classes at MU whether I was taking the class at NOVA or not. Oh, health insurance. It's fun being a grown up, isn't it?

My favorite class that I took this semester was my graduate level hospitality design studio (hotel design). The professor was wonderful. She was respectful of us as adults and let us develop a project and work on it throughout the entire semester, so we all got really invested in our hypothetical hotel designs and connected with our work.

I designed this entire floor plan within the constraints of the outer building walls and columns. We had requirements for minimum room square footage, number of fire stairs, certain distances from doors, and a number of other things.
The assignment was to design the first floor of a hotel. We picked the location of our hotel and then created a concept inspired by that location to carry through the space. I decided to place my hotel in Nome, Alaska. Nome is most notable for being the finish point to the Iditarod sled dog race, and my concept capitalized on the idea that virtually everyone staying at a hotel in Nome had traveled for a long time and weathered the elements to get there.  Whether they came by sled or by plane, this hotel would be a beacon guiding them to the end of their long journey. I also knew that a race like the Iditarod brings people of all ages and cultures together in this small town for a brief period in time, and I wanted to create spaces for people to develop relationships both in one-on-one settings and group settings. I called the hotel "Tribe"-- a nod to tradition of the native cultures of the region and the idea that the long journey to Nome and the experience there lays the foundation for people to create and nurture their own informal tribes.

We had to create a finishes board as part of our final presentation. I love the feel that this board gives off but it's a little too crowded and would be easier to understand with labels.
I supported my concept by creating pockets of warm and cool color contrast--the warm glow of a fireplace surrounded by soft navy and aqua upholstery, copper/rust-colored table tops surrounded by grey banquette seating--to draw attention to gathering points throughout the space. I also used directed light to draw people through a space--a dropped ceiling with lights peaking out from underneath it to light a path through the space and directed pendant lighting to call attention to stationary seating areas. Finally, I chose furniture and finishes that have a modern twist on traditional tribal motifs. Although some of those motifs are admittedly are more Native American-inspired than Inuit, the overall palette created the feel I wanted in the space.

This is a hand rendered elevation of my lobby space done with design markers and ink. The chairs you see are surrounding a low trough-style fireplace enclosed in glass and surrounded by granite with a metal arch drawing attention to the feature from across the room. The darker blue you see is actually a curved banquette on the other side of the fireplace and the walls are supposed to be leather.
Guys, my renderings (that's what we call pictures of our spaces in the design world) are TERRIBLE. I actually took an entire prerequisite undergrad level class in rendering this semester and they were still awful. While I plan to work on beefing up my hand rendering skills, I'm really hoping that we are able to learn more about digital rendering because there is no way I can have a portfolio of images that look like this. Also, it's 2014 people.  From what I've heard, hand rendering is fine for the ideation phase, but in the real world, unless you hire a watercolor artist to render a fancy hotel or residential interior, your renderings are almost always digital.

I was actually most happy with this rendered floorplan of my hotel lobby. The feature in the middle of the space is the one you see in the elevation above. The goal of rendering a floor plan or an elevation is to bring a third dimension, depth, to a style of ink drawing that is flat--only reflective of length and width. I was best able to achieve that goal in the floorplan above.
The other two classes I took at Marymount were Revit and Sketching for Ideation. I briefly mentioned my sketching/rendering class already. Revit is a really cool type of computer program called "Building Information Modeling" software (BIM for short) that stores all kinds of information about building modeling, so when you go to build construction documents, all the specification information like wall types, door types, light fixtures, flooring, etc. can be easily generated into lists that are a critical portion of construction documents. It also creates pretty awesome 3-D models that I hope to get more experience with over my remaining semesters in the program. Oh, and you can also build your own furniture models in it.

This is a model of the Jett Chair by Bright Chair Company that I created as a family in Revit and placed in my floor plan so that I could generate 3-D images of the furniture in the space.
The class I took at NOVA was Materials and Sources, the focus of which was textiles. After learning about various textile construction and materials, I had to create a binder that inventoried all kinds of fabrics, and included samples of each type. I also had to do a report on two textile designers (I choose Lauren Liess and Caitlin Wilson), and I had to design four textile patterns and apply them to a piece of furniture. Here's one of my designs, which I called "antlers" (really creative) created using an antler silhouette flipped and arranged in a repeated pattern. I created the design in Photoshop Elements and applied to image to a piece of furniture from the 3-D warehouse in SketchUp. I might get a yard or two printed through Spoonflower but I'm kind of low on funds right now so that's a back pocket project.

The next semester starts in a weeks and I'm again taking four classes in an effort not to be a graduate student forever. I'm taking a commercial office design studio, a lighting class, a history of architecture and interior design class, and a research class to lay the foundation for my thesis project. It will be a lot of work, but I'm already excited about what I get to learn this spring!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas Wrap Up

I gave my last presentation and took a final exam at 8:30 am on Monday, December 16, so I really didn't get to do much Christmas stuff until then. I was able to put up all our decorations immediately after I got off the plane from Florida on Black Friday and did as much shopping online as I could so I wasn't totally behind by the time school was over. My decorating was very similar to last year since I was on a limited budget and didn't have much time to dedicate to rethinking the process.

I can't even begin to describe the feeling of freedom that I have when school isn't in session. I work part time so I go from basically working/being in class for 12 hours a day, four days a week to having Mondays completely to myself and getting off of work at 3:30 pm during the rest of the week. The Monday school was over I spent the afternoon baking a family favorite: English Muffin Bread. My dad makes it every year at Christmas to give friends and family. I grew up eating it every time we visited my grandparents in New York, so I have a definite sense of pride when I bake up my own batch and give it to friends.

The other thing my dad makes every year is English Butter Toffee. I decided to try my hand at it this year and I actually did a pretty good job if I do say so myself!

Bro Brennan and I went Christmas shopping together to pick up some gifts for the family and spend some quality sibling time together. Here he is lamenting the fact that Lego Bionicles are so much cooler now than when he was a kid. 

The boy and I checked out the National Christmas Tree in President's Park, something we did the first Christmas we were together but haven't done since. A few things have changed since then...

I had most of my wrapping done by Saturday afternoon and finished wrapping some gifts that trickled in the night before Christmas Eve. I used leftover silver and gold wrapping paper and picked up an extra roll from Target to finish things up. 

On Christmas Eve I headed over to my parents' house after picking my dad up from work (my, how times have changed). We went over to my grandma's house like we have done every year since I was a little kid. We also did something new this year: my family went over to the boy's parents' house and we spent the rest of the evening there with a couple other families. Our families haven't really hung out together thus far (kind of crazy considering how long we've dated) so it was nice to get everyone together and have a good time. And I was able to offload some leftover Sweet Clover merchandise during the white elephant gift exchange. 

The boy and I each spent Christmas morning at our parents' homes opening presents with family. In the afternoon my family went over to my grandma's where we had dinner and opened more presents. The boy joined us there which was a lot of fun. My mom picked up some musical Christmas Crackers from the Christmas Attic. I'm not sure what she expected would happen when she gave eight people whistles, but these two certainly had a good time:

Afterwards the boy and I went over to his house to spend the last few hours of Christmas together and exchange our gifts. The boy knows I'm a huge fan of Kate Spade Jewelry so he got me a couple gorgeous necklaces, including this statement necklace. 

via Piperlime
The boy also knows that if I could live on two foods for the rest of my life they would be tacos and macaroni and cheese. Being the thoughtful guy he is, he gave me these silly TacoPropers (microwave safe!) and this awesome mac & cheese cookbook written by the owners of a Homeroom, a Mac & Cheese restaurant in the San Francisco Bay area. I already cooked the most basic recipe, and it was delicious! It's definitely an indulgence, but I'm looking forward to trying more of the recipes. 

via Amazon.com

via Amazon.com
Both of us were off of work between Christmas and New Years. We used the time to lounge around and have a good time with friends and family that were in town. For New Years we decided to forego the expensive parties downtown and instead went out to a nice dinner together followed by wine at home by the fire (there may have even been a couple rounds of Battleship). It was by far the most low-key New Years celebration we've had together to date, but we enjoyed it and saved about $250 (probably closer to $300 with cab fare), so I'd say it was a success. 

Yesterday I dragged the boy to the U.S. Botanic Gardens so I could see their exhibit of DC landmarks and World's Fair structures completely made out of plants. The detail was amazing.

They also had a clever sculptural exhibit that showcased various spices and dried plants that you could lean over and smell. I love a good interactive installation!

Today the boy is back to work and I am trying to get all the things done that I wanted to get done before I have to go back to work and school starts. We'll see how that goes. Tomorrow I'll take down the decorations, but since it snowed overnight I think the outdoor ones will stay up for a little while longer. I kind of hope everyone else decides to keep their lights on in the snow!

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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