Mill Valley Project: Chapter 1

Have you tried furnishing a home in around 30 days? My advice: don't try it if it can be helped. But if not, below you'll find some before/after photos of how we did it and some tips if you're in a similar situation.. 

My former clients called me and said they had just closed on a house. They absolutely needed to move in 30 days because the newest addition to the family was expected in about 50 days. In addition to the short turnaround, there were other challenges. The current sellers were still living in the house (so we had to schedule furniture deliveries and visits carefully), and we needed to buy a ton of furniture since their square footage had tripled in size.  As you might guess my first reaction was like....I need to take a seat. But since I had done something similar before (story here). I felt more than up to the challenge. Thankfully Mill Valley is much closer than Las Vegas!

Because of the tight timeline and numerous logistical challenges, I decided we would try to order as much furniture as we could, have the house move-in ready as possible and then refine the design in September. As such, this project is still ongoing. We're filling out some of the spaces and waiting for some final deliveries, but there are a couple of finished rooms I can't wait to share with you. The main living area is a lovely open space. First up, the formal living room. Below is a before photo with the furniture from the stagers. 

The floor plan essentially remained the same and we used all the furniture my clients had in their prior living room which I helped them decorate a couple years ago. 

To me, this room is so very Mill Valley to me - classic, clean and inviting.  Moving on from the living room, we head directly into my favorite room, the dining room. 

Yup, I want a closer look too but before we do, here is the obligatory before photo. 

The clients decided to leave their old dining set behind.  They were ready for a change, a mix of style with a modern bent, my speciality.  And below is the after! 

Stunning. The blue bohemian rug adds that unexpected element and the tension it creates against the more traditional table and chairs is ideal. The built-in bar saves spaces and pares down the furniture in the room, letting the table take center stage. A closer look below. 

Follow me over to the kitchen which needed just a bit of styling. Again, here is the before. 


Just some small changes and decluttering to leave the clients with a kitchen that will make anyone envious. 

Can I move in? The island is perfect for entertaining and some quick meals. The reclaimed wood accents throughout warm up the space and brings in the cozy.  Right next to the kitchen is the kitchen nook.  Below is the before. 

The previous wallpaper was in good condition but didn't really go with my clients' style and was a bit too contemporary compared to the rest of the furniture in the house. We changed it up and chose dining furniture that was more aligned with the style of the kitchen. See below for the after! 

This kitchen nook before/after is a great lesson in how wallpaper and furniture can literally transform the style of a space completely. Where the before photo shows a more contemporary industrial nook, the after space exudes a sense of classic modern living at its best. Last room? The adjacent family room. Below is the before photo with the staging furniture. 

This room is still in progress. We're still waiting for the delivery of the sectional, but here is a sneak peek of how it looks now.  

A child-friendly room that invites you to lounge, relax and kick your heels back. Can't wait for the sectional to get delivered, which is expected at the end of this month.

All of the furniture in the dining room, kitchen nook and various other pieces throughout the rest of the house were ordered and delivered in around 30 days, all from different vendors. If you've ordered furniture recently, you will know that 30 days is an incredibly short lead time. For upholstered pieces, 6 to 8 weeks is often the minimum.  Even tables, rugs, etc. can take close to two months depending on inventory and shipping speed.  If you're under a tight deadline and need to have a home furnished asap, here are some tips:

- Look for quick ship options, especially for upholstered items.

- Check the inventory of items prior to purchasing. 

- Ask detailed questions re shipping timelines. 

- Stay flexible and if possible consider ordering as many items as you can from one vendor to reduce delivery appointments and further logistical challenges. 

- Try to schedule all your deliveries on one day if possible to keep you sane. 

- Be nice but relentless with customer service, they can often bump up your delivery appointments if you press. I had West Elm on speed dial. 

I'm doing a second smaller install mid-September since we're still waiting for deliveries for the guest room, master bedroom, nursery and TV room. So keep your eyes out for the next installment of this amazing project. 



An Utterly Fantastic Holiday Surprise (Part 2)

Shall we continue?  if you've been following my posts, you know the details: crazy big house in Las Vegas, furnish in two months, and surprise a new mom who also happens to be one of my closest friends with a fully furnished new home.  And if you're like, "what? I'm lost," please rewind, read Part 1 and come back! 

On to the most used areas of the home: family room, kitchen dining area and kitchen.  These areas are the heart of every home, and in most modern homes or renovated homes, they are the areas where families spend 90% of their time.  These spaces need to be warm and functional, but should still be stylish.  If you're going to spend most of the time in one area of the house, it should be a pleasant experience. Don't you agree?

Here is the before of the family room and kitchen eating area.  

I know there are moving boxes but that doesn't take any shine and sparkle from that brand new kitchen and appliances.  I love old houses.  I'm lucky to live in one that was built in the 1930's, and the charm can't be replicated, but I have to say, an absolutely never used kitchen?!  Amazing. I've even cooked in this kitchen and it's so much fun. 

Here is the new kitchen dining area!

You can see how even the sun loves this new arrangement as it casts some sunbeams on this beautiful trestle table. I knew the clients had a strong preference for white coastal-style furniture.  However, since the kitchen cabinets were so dark, I thought bringing anything too stark white would look slightly odd.  Instead, I chose a dark wood trestle table to match the kitchen cabinets while opting for a ivory linen chairs to bring some lightness in.  This table is not only beautiful but durable and the perfect height for a high chair on either end.  The evergreen garland was leftover from the night before when I arranged some snacks for the mini surprise party.  See below!

Quick Tip - Do you see the cake stand being used as a veggie platter?  Great way to use your cake stand more than once a year and not purchase additional serve ware.  And how does this relate to being more organized? Less stuff = less clutter! 

Quick Tip - Do you see the cake stand being used as a veggie platter?  Great way to use your cake stand more than once a year and not purchase additional serve ware.  And how does this relate to being more organized? Less stuff = less clutter! 

Marching onwards to the adjacent family room.  Here is the before. 

Beautiful foundation to work with.  It's a blank slate.  The clients love watching college sports, so I knew the seating in this room had to be comfortable, but since the rest of the house was furnished a touch on the more formal side, I didn't want the family room to deviate too far from that.  Objective achieved I think. 

It's cozy but classy. The throw pillows add color but can be quickly changed out if the clients want to go in a different direction.  Since this was a surprise and I had no client input, I went safe with whites, grays and blues for the accent pillows.  Having different sizes and textures brings a curated look to the room.  

The coffee table is the perfect size and the glass top brings the visual lightness you need here because of all the furniture in this room. The clients just had a baby so for future childproofing purposes, I recommended that they either temporarily store the table for a while when the baby becomes a toddler and starts walking or use these nifty things called corner bumpers which will protect their adorable baby boy from those sharper corners. 

And you're thinking, wait, Clara, isn't there a piece missing in the sectional?  Good eye.  Due to the time constraints, the corner piece did not arrive in time, but the clients generously forwarded me a photo of the completed sectional. See below!

Sectionals are hard.  They are so comfortable, but it's often difficult to find one that looks tailored and streamlined.  I love this one.  It's modern but not too much so and would work in a number of different type of styles.  And it's really, really comfortable.  Promise. 

Wait, don't forget the kitchen counter stools.  You can kind of spot the kitchen counter stools in the above photos but here is a closer look. 

The counter stools echo the look of the kitchen dining room chairs but are not identical.  No one likes being their furniture too matchy. So instead, we have sister chairs here, which provides a cohesive look throughout the entire space. 

And my favorite part of this area of the house? The walk-in kitchen pantry.  Truth.  I see them on House Hunters and I'm always thinking if I had a walk in pantry the things I could do!  I don't foresee one in my future, but it was fun pretending this was my pantry while I shopped to fill it up for the clients. 

It's like having your own general store. So much space. I just can't get over it.  The baskets with chalkboard labels are great for labeling and corralling the smaller items to keep things organized. And the large airtight glass canisters are perfect for storing dry goods you use often so you don't have to deal with the mess associated with opening and closing paper bags of flour, sugar, and salt. 

Last tip? Dish soap advice.  Yup, you heard right.  Pour and use your dish soap using a bathroom soap dispenser as seen below.  First, it's practical, it's easier than picking up your dish soap with every use to apply to your sponge. You can now apply soap with one hand! Second, yes, it's prettier. Please don't downplay this second benefit.  I am a firm believer that when things are arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way, there's more of an incentive to maintain better organization in the house. Every little bit counts, and no detail should be too small.  And this is something that takes almost no effort! 

And that's it folks. I hope you enjoyed this second installation.  This family room/kitchen area has the perfect balance of sophistication and comfort, a solid foundation for both entertaining and everyday living.   Stay tuned for the final installation which will be published next week!