A Comfortable and Cozy Castro Cottage

You know what's important in life? Mentors! That's not where you thought I was going did you? I only bring this up because this client happened to be one of my mentors when I summered at a firm during law school. And while working with him recently, I've had the opportunity to reflect how important and valuable mentor relationships are. He was not only a great mentor but an incredible client, trusting and flexible, making the whole process smooth sailing. 

You know the drill, here we go!  My client has lived in this Castro Cottage for several years and it's just perfect. It's in the midst of the action but still set back from the street creating a little oasis. He had been wanting to update the space for a while and had already purchased a new couch and dining table. He needed my help to implement a cohesive design scheme and bring all the different elements together. We wanted to lighten the space up a bit and optimize it for entertaining and relaxing.  

When I first walked into the space, I immediately knew what could be changed. It was the color tones imbued throughout the room. The lovely green walls were accented by orange, brown and darker tones throughout. Orange and brown can and often do play well with green. Here, the orange/brown tones weren't bold and bright but more muted which just wasn't working with everything else. Below is the before. 

As important as color choice is, also remember the tone of a color is just as crucial and can make or break a room. The coffee table was a bit heavy and too large for the space. But do you spy that lovely leather couch? Just beautiful, it actually glistens. I knew we could give it a better backdrop so its full potential could shine. See below!  

Scroll back up to the before, then back down to the after, then do it again.  Do you see/feel the difference? The rich blue rug against the black and white throw pillows on the sofa brings completes this very sophisticated color palette. This living room isn't trying hard, it knows it's cool and everyone wants to be its friend. The lightness of this new glass coffee table makes the space feel a thousand times bigger. The wood legs and midcentury silhouette is in harmony with the clean lines of the sofa, floor lamp and the adjacent dining room (which you'll get to see below). Let's change perspectives and see what's on the other side of the living space. Below is the before. 

That TV stand was sad. This living space is fairly petite so every inch needed to be used in purposeful way. I can't say it enough but closed storage is everyone's best friend! Below is the after. 

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Great right? I love that media stand and I've been eyeing it for a while, hoping to use it in the perfect space for the right client. The brightness of the white plays against the soft green walls so well. And I know you've been appreciating the floor lamp. The faux bois pattern on the shade brings in interest. 

Did someone say art? I don't purchase art for my clients but rather give them a list of sources. This client gave me a list of artwork he liked and I helped him whittle it down. This fabulous wall is what we ended with. That raven print makes such a bold and sophisticated statement. 

The layering of the artwork behind the floor lamp creates depth which is often a forgotten aspect of design. Depth is a good thing in both design and people. :) 

One last close up below. 

A magazine holder never looked so good. I tend to understyle all my projects, allowing the client to bring in meaningful pieces over time. The accessories I do bring into a room are things that are timeless like this magazine holder. It brings some elegance to the otherwise boring profile view of this sofa.

Shall we move onto the dining room? Just take one step backwards and you're there, here is the before! 

There is the beautiful marble dining table the client purchased prior to hiring me. It needed some chairs. The sideboard behind the table was the catchall surface that needed some love. Below is the after! 

Those chairs. Maybe you've seen something similar before, but these are the real deal. Made from walnut and covered in the softest leather, they should last forever. The wood grain on the curve of these chairs are just incredible. Below is a closer look. Also note the low profile of the chair which is crucial for this open concept space. When you walk into the home this is the first space that greets you and it was important to me that the line of sight remained clear to preserve that airy feel. 

Where to next? The adjacent sideboard. It just needed some organization and pieces to help the client keep it organized even when busy. The before below. 

Just a little sprucing up is what this area needed. I also wanted to replace the torchiere floor lamp with something more modern and off the floor to create more space for foot traffic. Here is the after! 

Let's start left and move from there. The plant is one of my favorites, mistletoe! Low maintenance, hardy and their round leaves contrast nicely with the straight lines on the adjacent tray. Don't forget to clean off leaves with a moist paper towel when you bring one home as I did here. It helps the plant to absorb the sun better! 

The textured light green tray gathers everything neatly. The marble teardrop bowl is for spare change and keys. The black vase for flowers and when empty can be used to hold sunglasses or pens. The brass bookends are another one of my favorites, Last but not least, this cement table lamp, super modern and beautiful. 

A little insight into my design process, when I come to do an installation, I come armed with numerous plan Bs, Cs, etc. Hence, the wagon and the 17,000+ steps on installation days. The first choice in my head may not always work in the actual space. Design is definitely something that requires hands-on work and attention. For example, I brought two table lamps with me, the cement one above and the wood one below. Both lamps are beautiful but clearly the winner here is the cement one.  

The wood lamp is sleek and warm but the rough surface of the concrete table lamp brings in modernity and something unexpected. 

One more close up before because those dahlias are glorious. 

You might have noticed the addition of the giraffe. I was washing my hands and spotted in in the kitchen, immediately grabbed it knowing that it had a new home here. 

If you think we're done you're mistaken. One last stop. This client has some amazing outdoor space, especially in one of the most crowded cities in the country! Here is the before. 


San Francisco doesn't have LA weather for sure, but when it does get warm everyone embraces it. I knew that if we brought in some patio furniture, it would be used. Since the client was throwing a Halloween party shortly after the install, I thought it would only appropriate to do a tablescape as well. Scroll down for the after. 

And that's all! I hope you enjoyed viewing this project as much as I enjoyed working on it! Have a great Halloween!

A Light Filled Sanctuary

It's still early in October but already this month has proven to be crazy busy. When it starts to feel a little overwhelming I conjure the image of this home I just finished. It's the epitome of serenity.

The client's home was a wonderful canvas to work with. It had an abundance of natural light, rich wood ceilings and beams. Even the entrance to the home was enchanting. 

Background. The client and her husband and moved from Brooklyn into this adorable Bay Area cottage earlier this year. She sought my assistance for her home because she just couldn't figure out how to bring it together. I do have my own personal style, but I sincerely believe that when I'm designing for a client, my job is to help guide and edit my client's style. That is what I have done here. This client is a true minimalist, and preferred to bring in color through plants and accessories. The less there is in a room, the better it has to be since the eye will easily pick out flaws. Here we go! Below is the before of the living area.  

This home has so many windows and gets the most lovely natural light throughout the day. The original plan was to replace the sectional. However, in the end, the client decided to get the existing sectional a facelift with a new cover and legs. Here is the after! 

The real challenge for me was to adhere to the client's minimalist preferences while making sure the house felt like a home by bringing in warmth and life. To achieve this, my plan was to bring a healthy number of plants, a variety of different textures and a neutral foundation. Like many of my clients nowadays, this client decided to forgo a traditional coffee table and instead opted for a fun pouf. The console table behind the sectional can also serve as a landing space for beverages. And there can never be enough plants - here is a closer view. 

When a room has a neutral palette, one way to draw the eye's interest is to diversify the textures in the space. This is something that is often overlooked in most homes. Look closely at the plant containers, we have many different kinds of containers (woven, ceramic, metal, etc.) all in the same color palette to keep things cohesive. I've done the same with the throw pillows on the section by including a number of different fabrics (velvet, textured wool, silk, cotton). 

Since we didn't have a coffee table in the space, I found this great side table ON WHEELS! So the client and her husband can move this around as needed, this table is functional and beautiful! 

On the other side of the living room is the TV area. The client already had a vintage dresser we were planning on using. To complete the area, we decided on a gallery wall which I installed. See below for the before. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, installing gallery walls are difficult and painstaking. But I've never been disappointed after finishing one, you can achieve so much impact at relatively little cost. Scroll down for the after! 

It's the ideal blend of vintage and modern. You may notice something different with this media area compared to most you see on the blogosphere where gallery walls are used to "hide" the TV. The TV here is not centered. The clients are not big TV watchers, actually they rarely use this TV. Instead of building a gallery wall around a permanent fixture in their room that they rarely use, I gave them the option of moving the screen completely when not in use. If I had hung the gallery wall solely around the TV, there would be large unattractive wall space when the TV was removed. 

The lamp was from a pair that the client had on her nightstands. The black frames allow the colors from the prints to jump off the wall and catch your eye. 

Let's move on to the console area. Here is the before, basically an empty canvas waiting to be filled with something great! Here is the before. 

Yup, a sad empty corner. Nothing really to say. Here is the after!

I love this landing space, it's practical and beautiful. The basket to hold whatever you need on hand. The blue velvet ottoman is perfect for taking your shoes on/off or plopping down your bag after a long day at work. We reused the second lamp from the bedroom here. A closer look below. 

And finally our last stop, the bedroom. If it's chaos everywhere else in your home, at the very least, your bedroom should be a sanctuary. I am a believer that your atmosphere truly affects your productivity and well-being and that rings true especially in the bedroom. Here is the before.  

Excuse the extra fabric on the bed, the client was showing me some additional bedding. As you can see, this room was craving for just a hint of color, a bed frame and a little bit of polish. Like magic, we were able to make things happen, see below! 

You can't go wrong with that rich navy bed frame, especially against the warmness of the wood in the nightstands and ceiling. The small bud print on the sheets bring in that little something, the extra detail that makes a room from good to great. To keep things airy and simple per the client's wishes, I chose prints that were smaller in scale as can be seen in the bedding here and the rug below. 

I know, how cute is this kitty? I believe his name is Crispy. His face may not say it, but he's a fan of the new bedroom. 

And one of my favorite parts of this house is this hearth. I added some plants to border it, bringing in some green.  I absolutely loved worked with this client and her home. In some ways, going over the top can be easy, there can be so much going on there is more to hide behind. When designing with the utmost restraint, everything must be placed with intention and thought. which is what we did for this light filled sanctuary.

Thanks for reading!