Mill Valley Project, Part Deux

Finally here! Mill Valley Project, Part Deux. If you want the background, rewind and read all about it here.  It feels like we've been working on this project for a while, but not so. We tackled this large transformation and completed it about two months. Whew. Just tired thinking about it.

Quick recap? The family was moving into this new home within 30 days because the newest addition to the family was dying to come into this world, basically 2 weeks after move-in. We tried to accomplish as much as we could in a month despite a host of logistical hurdles. And for the most part we did! But as is the case with projects like this, we needed more time to perfect things. This post is about my second installation where we finished the rest of the rooms and put finishing touches on others. 

We saved the best for last, ready? Here we go. 

Let's start with the kids' rooms. Here is the before of C's room with the staging furniture. 

Granted this was with the staged furniture and staging is a very hard job, but I definitely wasn't feeling the curtains or the red pendant light, especially for the cutest girl I know. With good bones and a clean canvas, this room was relatively easy in terms of design. We wanted to make sure it was a room that C could grow into. So for curtains and lighting we chose items that were slightly more traditional. For accessories, we had more fun.  Below are the after photos. 

Decor above cribs can be challenging. I long to hang a gallery wall or even just a nice framed print but in California I would never dare. Earthquakes are a reality. A great solution? A colorful garland can cover that bare wall in a beautiful way.  Here, C can stand in her crib now so I hung it a bit higher so she can't reach and pull it down. Safety first. 

This guy's name is Floppy and he's just perfect. He was just a digital file that I printed out so nothing too valuable or precious. Floppy's monochrome colors tone down the cuteness level just a bit to the right level of sophistication. 

Onward! Let's move on to H's room. Below are the before photos with the staging furniture. 

LIke C's room, very much a blank canvas that was crying for some fun and personality. Here are the after photos. 

As most of you know, for the first few months, a nursery may remain empty while the baby stays with mom and dad. I wanted to make sure H had a room he would enjoy and love when he was ready. Adhering to the minimalist theme throughout the house, I kept things clean, bright and modern. Mom and dad can fill things out with all the baby necessities when H is ready for his own room. 

On to the TV room. This room sits outside the kids' room and will be primarily be used for family hangouts and play. Accordingly, we chose comfortable and kid-friendly seating along with minimal accessories to keep things clutter free. Here is the before again furnished by the stagers.  

We can do better right? We want a kid friendly lounge area but not one that is literally screaming that this is for kids only. 

The coziest corner. I kept everything neutral and soothing so that when there is a huge pile of toys on the floor, it won't be so bad. The long bench cushions also keep things visually clean and attractive. 

With no coffee table, it was important to provide as much landing spaces as possible for coffee, water and wine. These nesting tables were an ideal solution. A secret? These aren't actually marble but they look so real. Even better for a space dominated by kids, right? No need to worry about watermarks or etching. 

Last but not least, let's head upstairs to the master suite. Below is the before, again with the staging furniture. 

The clients were ready for a change. Their old bedroom furniture was dark wood that felt a bit heavier. We wanted to start with a clean slate, bring in some modernity with a mix of classic. Below is the after. 

So fresh and so clean. That about sums it up. With those beams and all that natural light pouring in, I would never get out of bed if I lived here. The neutral headboard and nightstands are mainstays, a good foundation for any bedding. The lamps are different in both shape and color and add interest. The ideal sanctuary for busy parents. 

Thanks for joining me on this Mill Valley journey. Hope you had as much fun as I did!

Looking Lovely in La La Land. Part Deux.

If you have been following for a while, you may remember I finished Looking Lovely in La La Land (Part 1) almost a year ago. Thrilled with the final product, the clients kept me on to start work on the bedrooms and the guest bathroom. I was happy to oblige. 

What is the big takeaway from this project? Bringing character into any space can be done even if you're on a budget and even if your home isn't blessed with the many architectural details we often lust after. This home was built in the 1970's ranch style, complete with popcorn ceilings. The bedrooms are white boxes that were dying for some personality. 

Let's start with the guest room. Here are some before photos sent by my clients. 


As you can see, the guest room was being used as an office. It was also a catch-all for leftover furniture throughout the rest of the house. In a smaller space, there was a ton of furniture in here. But I could see the potential. We removed the blue carpet for something more neutral and also removed the popcorn ceiling. 

Photo by Clara Jung

Photo by Clara Jung

The clients are considering renting out this room periodically so I kept that in mind when drafting the design concept for this room. I absolutely adore this tomato soup colored headboard. Everything else in the room is soft and serene, I wanted to put something in this room that made it memorable and fun so guests would want to return!  After the removal of the popcorn ceiling we painted it a very light blue to add another subtle but distinctive touch. 

There is a petite workspace that is functional and inviting. Since the window has a less-than-optimal driveway view, I installed this vibrant cactus print as an alternative. Also, because we had to squeeze in a work area and a queen size bed, there was little room left for a nightstand. It's true, a nightstand isn't a need to have item but it's definitely nice to have. This "nightstand" may only hold a glass of water and/or your phone but gets the job done. 

And for any guests who are lucky to stay in this room, also have the continued good luck to have the use of a renovated guest bath. Below is the before. 

A pretty drastic transformation. The clients really miss their seashell shaped sink . . . nope, that's not even remotely true. The freshly-painted blue walls capture the essence of what every bathroom should be, a serene and clean environment. We painted which made the biggest impact but we also replaced the vanity, lighting and fixtures which only helped. 

Moving on to the Sailor Moon room.  


If you can look closely you can see at least three Sailor moon posters strewn throughout the walls. Many a girl growing up in the 90's can appreciate the power of Sailor Moon. And although I was sad to bring these posters down, they had seen better days.  This room was now going to be a game room for the hubby. A retreat for him to play board and video games with his friends. 

Playful and colorful, this room strikes the right tone for some long game nights with perhaps a finger of whiskey. Creating a design that was very "man cave" yet appealing to everyone was my primary focus. Do you spy the homage to some classic video games?  When I found those I was over the moon. These prints are simultaneously artistic and encapsulate the entire theme and purpose of the room. 

Last but certainly not least the master bedroom. Here are some before photos. 

There were some challenges to this space. The biggest one being the burgundy colored carpet. The clients had just installed it so weren't replacing it but coming up with a design scheme that downplayed the redness in the carpet took some creative thinking. Below is the Cinderella like makeover. 

Master Bedroom.jpg
Photo by Clara Jung

Photo by Clara Jung

Like all the other rooms in this project, this master bedroom was also a straightforward blank box with no details that immediately jumped out. To bring in character and charm, we used wallpaper with a subtle shimmer to bring in that bit of oomph every room needs. 

The natural jute rug breaks up that burgundy carpet a bit, softening it so it's not terribly obvious or dominant. The blue bedframe juxtaposed to the gold wallpaper is a classic color combination. The simple mid-century nightstands contribute to this sophisticated and curated feel.

When you're confronted with a room that has very little to say in terms of its architecture, take that as an opportunity to be a bit more adventurous than you normally would. Spin it, there are no historical details holding you back, it's literally a blank canvas and like some things in life, the bolder the better. 

Photography by Jen Sosa unless otherwise noted.

Midcentury Millbrae

This is a story about a room . . . well, to be more exact, this is a story about two rooms in one. I'll explain more below.

In a house with two busy working parents, it is often the case that the master bedroom becomes neglected. With the impending arrival of a new addition to the family, these clients realized that their master bedroom needed a makeover. In its existing state, the master bedroom would be unable to accommodate a small nursery setup, a necessity until the new baby was old enough to move in with her big sister. I know this is a common problem that confronts many of my clients who live in smaller spaces, especially in San Francisco and New York. I hope this before/after shows you that it can not only be done but done stylishly! 

Here are some before photos to give you a sense of the space. 

The room isn't small by any means, but it is shaped a bit awkwardly. Directly across the bed is a sliding door which sounds nice in theory. But it made the bedroom visible to the entire rest of the house due to the home's layout, making it necessary for the curtains covering it to remain closed most of the time to preserve privacy. The storage furniture in the room felt a bit oversized and was making the room feel smaller than it was. And somehow I didn't grab a picture of the long row of glass closet doors that covered the entire length of the wall. (Note to self, take better before photos.) The glass closet doors made the entire room feel somewhat dated,. The paint color was an off-white with yellow undertones, which contributed to this dated feeling. We like midcentury, but we want the 2016 version of midcentury if you get my meaning. Here we go! 

To bring in modernity, richness and interest in this room, we wallpapered! See below. 

An improvement, I would say. Remember I mentioned the glass closet doors that extended through the entire length of the room? We replaced them with these off-white heavy curtains.  I was slightly concerned that it might be too much fabric but it turned out so well. Due to the height of this closet, standard closet doors would not fit, and custom doors were outside the budget. This is a great long-term temporary solution. 

I work really, really hard to collaborate with my clients and find compromise wherever possible.  I also don't push for something unless I feel very strongly about it. This wallpaper was one such suggestion. There was some hesitancy on the clients' part but I knew this blue grasscloth would work so well here and I'm so glad they trusted me. The wallpaper has a sheen and richness that the camera can't truly capture, it adds so much to this otherwise blank canvas of a room. 

We replaced the rug with one that was bigger and more appropriately sized to the space. Grounding the space with the right sized rug is a principle that is often overlooked but it's really important in creating the right balance in a room. The warmness of the walnut bedframe and nightstands seriously pops against the wallpaper. And there are touches of gold and brass detail throughout the room including these wall-mounted sconces which allow for more surface space on the nightstands. 

Let's move on. This is a very sad corner, secretly dreaming to be brighter and better. 

I think we did this corner justice. We tucked the glider in the corner, as can be seen below. 

Such a sweet corner. Don't worry, the clients are purchasing a roman shade for that window to make sure the newest addition of the family gets proper shut-eye. The bassinet will be placed between the glider and bed, making things slightly tight for a little while but there is still room to move around. 

We just wallpapered the one wall, getting a lot of bang for our buck. We repainted the other walls Grey Owl by Benjamin Moore. It's such a small change but makes such a difference. The cooler tones offset the warm wood floors and create this beautiful contrast. 

Should we move to the other side of the room? Directly opposite the bed is a slider door as I mentioned above. Here is the before. 

Due to privacy issues, and the fact that the clients never used this sliding door, they placed storage furniture in front of it. I thought the situation could be improved. Below is the after. 

Photo by  @mrgregma

Photo by @mrgregma

The existing heavier silk curtains were just not working for the room or the clients. The room felt very dark since these curtains were always closed to maintain privacy. We replaced them with these curtain panels which are the perfect solution. The panels allow some natural light to come in yet preserve a sense of privacy since this area is the primary dressing area.  And before you get up in arms about blocking the sliding door, don't worry, this is a temporary floorplan. Once the glider moves out, the dresser can be relocated to that corner.

As I always do, I brought some plants in to bring in some life and energy. Pro tip? I swear that plants from Ikea are hardier than most. Since I knew my clients are insanely busy, juggling their careers and household, watering plants falls to the bottom of the list. Fingers crossed that these survive. 

Sconces above your nightstand are so on trend right now and you can see why below. They create the coziest and most inviting bedroom lighting. 

Photo by  @mrgregma

Photo by @mrgregma

All you parents out there, I know you're busy and you work really hard. You really deserve to come home to a master bedroom that is truly a retreat. Don't forget to take care of your needs as well as your kids. Even the smallest changes can make a big difference as this before/after demonstrates. Let me know if you're interested in changing your bedroom into a sanctuary you deserve. Thanks for reading!