Dreamy Denver Project

I finished this project last year, which feels like forever ago, but went back and had it shot in September of this year.  It's very much a classic house, a home you want to visit for a holiday party, so I think it's especially apt to share it now. Plus it's in Denver which reminds me of snow and seasons . . . things we lack in California, not that I'm complaining. It's always nice to VISIT snow, anyway. 

These clients recently moved from Manhattan to Denver. Not only were they dramatically changing their scenery, they had also purchased a new house and needed help with decorating and furnishing. Their aesthetic preferences leaned a bit more traditional than what I usually do, but I was more than up for the challenge.  Ready? I apologize in advance, I only have grainy real estate before photos of the home since I didn't do an initial site visit.  Here we go. Below is the before/after of the living room.

As you can see, although we adhered to a more traditional style, we lightened everything up. The beautiful woodwork framing the doorways and windows in this room are the highlight and we wanted to make sure nothing detracted from that. Since this also serves as the formal living room and the family room, it was important to keep toys hidden but easily accessible. Do you spy those baskets in the bookcase? A bounty of toys lie just behind that wicker, which makes everyone happy. 

Paint does wonders, right? Before, it was very much a beige box with layers of neutrals that didn't really allow this room to shine or allow the special details such as the gilded iron work to stand out. A coat of gray paint with some weathered yet elegant dining furniture transforms this room into one made for holiday dinners and celebrations. The chandelier is statement-making and shimmers so nicely when turned on. My favorite touch is the abstract art, something unexpected that elevates this room nicely. 

Paint does wonders, right? Before, it was very much a beige box with layers of neutrals that didn't really allow this room to shine or allow the special details such as the gilded iron work to stand out. A coat of gray paint with some weathered yet elegant dining furniture transforms this room into one made for holiday dinners and celebrations. The chandelier is statement-making and shimmers so nicely when turned on. My favorite touch is the abstract art, something unexpected that elevates this room nicely. 

For our last room, let's head upstairs to the master bedroom. 

Photography by  Chandler Kim

Photography by Chandler Kim

Moving on to the dining room. Below are the before and after photos. 
A true master retreat, complete with a sitting area! It's interesting to see the staged photos of the room and compare it to the current state. The traditional style was implemented in both instances. However, you can see how different the room looks from the before/after photos. It illustrates how interpretations of a style can vary widely. With a soft palette of neutrals and tufting, we've created a master bedroom that is romantic and serene. 

I hope you enjoyed this before and after and I hope you have a great holiday season! 

A Dreamy Denver Project. A Progress Report

It's been a bit quiet on the blog, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been busy, it's more of a sign that I've been too busy. But I'm happy to be busy when it's with things like the Dreamy Denver Project. 

I'm so unbelievably excited to share this project with you. The lowdown, these clients bought their new home last fall. Prior to purchasing this home, they made do with furniture that was past its prime. These clients decided that moving into this new home meant it was time to invest in furniture that they loved. 

We've already ordered the majority of the furniture. And because I'm always candid here and about the process, the first four deliveries from different vendors arrived damaged! Proof that the before/after posts you see on this and many other blogs don't convey how long and stressful a redesign process can be. It looks like magic online, but trust me, it doesn't always work that way. I've been told that it must be easy to be a designer since I'm neither spending money that is mine nor designing for a space that is mine. This couldn't be further from the truth. For my own home, I'm happy to let mistakes happen, and it's actually a place where I can try out new ideas. For my clients, I know that my services are often a luxury and I try to make sure I deliver a perfect product down to the coaster. Sometimes to get there, this means a ton of phone calls, emails and negotiations with vendors/contractors, but at the end of the day I'm happy to say it's usually worth it. And I'm grateful for patient and understanding clients! 

I plan to go to Denver in late February for the final install and to apply finishing touches and styling. For now, here is a brief rundown of the design scheme for each room. Here is the exterior of the home. 

I mean talk about curb appeal. How beautiful is this home? Clearly, no improvements need to be made here. Step inside with me to the living room. 

This living room is big and open. Right off the foyer, it's the first room to greet guests. The furniture pictured in this room and the other rooms were most likely done by a staging company. Staging companies have a challenging job, they need to furnish a home in a way with the broadest appeal with their own inventory. But as you can, the room suffers from too much brown and other muted tones. It definitely needs some color and life. Below is the living room board and the design plan I created for my clients. 

There have been a few edits to this board, but largely the general feel of the room feels the same, a neutral palette with saturated pops of color in navy blue and hints of yellow. I have yet to install this room, but I'm already in love. The marble coffee table offers some texture diversity. The linen colored sofa along with the gray side chairs are cohesive and collected but doesn't feel too matchy. 

On to the dining room. 

Similar to the living room, the furniture in the room pictured above brings out the wrong tones. With the greige paint, there needs to be more contrast, and the rattan chairs are far much too casual for this elegant dining room. Although the chandelier is perfectly fine, I think this room would benefit from a light fixture that would bring in more sparkle and shine. Below is the board for the new dining room! 

The dining room adheres to the clients' preference for an updated classic look throughout the house. However, I've updated the look a bit with a more modern chandelier, dining room chairs with a curved silhouette, and a blue rug that should help offset the dominant brown tones in the wood molding and walls. Since this room is slightly more formal, we opted to go with all chairs instead of using a dining bench. The scalloped wall mirror adds a touch of whimsy and will help the light bounce off the new chandelier. 

Last but certainly not least, the master bedroom. 

Again, like the living and dining rooms, this room also suffers from furniture that is a bit dreary. The furniture also feels a bit dated. With such a large wonderful space, I'm excited to see the final outcome. 

So serene right? Like the furniture pictured in the master bedroom photo, the board shows a design scheme that relies on a neutral palette, but you can see/feel the difference between the two right? The furniture I have chosen although neutral utilizes more whites, especially in the rug, allowing for some brightness to seep in. Also, the gray and blue throw pillows will help change the look and feel of the room, providing great contrast between the walls and the furniture. 

Fingers crossed that the rest of the deliveries arrive safe and sound. I love that this house looks and feels so different from the homes I usually do and although long distance projects are often challenging, they are often the most rewarding. I can't wait to install this project in person!

Thanks for reading!

A Holiday Punch Party!

I'm perhaps a bit late with the plethora of holiday decor suggestions and party ideas already out there. But I propose that this post is a bit different than what is already out there - some quick tips below on how to update your existing holiday decor with a few inexpensive additions and how to throw a mostly make ahead holiday party. 

Although I love decorating for the holidays, I try not to purchase new items unless it's for something meaningful and timeless. The holidays come only once a year, and I don't have the storage space to accumulate a ton of things. And frankly, I would prefer to save money for gifts!  

I have a good foundation of ornaments and table decor that are mostly white, gold and silver, a base of neutral metallics that I've accumulated over the years. See below! 

Everything on the tree and the stockings are things I've collected gradually through the years. The $5 garland allows me to create a mantle on our mantleless fireplace. Thanks to Morgan for taking a break from her nap, sort of, to pose for this photo. 

A creative way to update your existing holiday inventory? Add some colored ribbon! Seriously. I love all our holiday items, but I like to change it up a bit each year and I've found a $12 investment in some ribbon spools can help make your things feel fresh and new. This year, I chose black ribbon accents. I wanted something a bit more modern and unexpected.  I love how it turned out, especially on our staircase.  

All I did was get a wider black grosgrain ribbon and tied it with a striped black/white ribbon atop a green garland, creating this beautiful yet simple bannister decor. If you scroll below, I also carried accents of black onto to the tablescape using slate serving platters. I'm already thinking about what accent colors I will be bringing in next year.  

We also hosted a holiday party this year which was incredibly fun. Hosting 40 people is no easy feat. I'm the first to acknowledge that I often get caught up in making sure that everything is perfect that I don't talk to my guests as much as I would like. So this time, I tried to make almost everything beforehand, which worked out so well! This allowed me to catch up with friends instead of tending to the table and bar, well most of the time at least.  See below for photos and recipes! 

Yes, that's a huge bowl of punch. I wanted to serve a drink that was fizzy, pretty and delicious, this punch did all of that and more. It is the holidays and for the holidays, it's always nice to have something special and unexpected. 

I know, that's an enormous container of popcorn. I have to thank my sister for making it for me. It's difficult to see in the photo but the popcorn has sprinkles on it! Amazing. It also had white chocolate drizzled on it which elevated popcorn to new levels.  

We also had egg salad and curry chicken mini sandwiches. Since we weren't serving dinner, I wanted to make sure we had more substantial food items to set a good base for all that punch! The egg salad and chicken salad we made the day prior, and stuffed them right before the party. Also pictured above is a pea, fava bean, and burrata spread. If you're averse to vegetables, this dish will change your mind. Promise. 

There is no party unless there is a cheese plate, charcuterie and olives in our house! And for dessert...

A tower of donuts! Those may look like normal donut holes, but they are hidden bites of sheer joy.  I'm on the fancy donut bandwagon, no doubt. We went to this donut store in Oakland at around 9 am on a Saturday morning to pick some up for the party, and they had already sold out on many of their options!  Since I do everything but bake, this was a great option to fill out the sweet end of the table. 

This was the beautiful photo of our bar, and I'm glad I took photo before it got a little crazy.  Not pictured is the keg, which I insisted on keeping outside. Yes we had a keg, my high/low philosophy doesn't stop at design although admittedly the keg was full of fancy IPA for our fancy California beer palates.

Almost everything on our table was made the day before and assembled right before the guests arrived. It was hectic just before people started arriving, but I'm so glad I did almost everything beforehand which allowed me to spend time with our guests! If you're holding a last minute holiday gathering or any party really, I highly recommend the small bites we served, so you can make everything ahead of time and enjoy your own party. 

Our home was bursting at the seams in the best way possible. Happy Holidays! 

Recipes:

Pomegranate Punch

Egg Salad

Curry Chicken

Pea, Fava Bean and Burrata Dip

Party Popcorn