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! 

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!

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!