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. 

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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. 

 

 

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. 

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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.  

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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. 

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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.

A Secret Closet Garden

When I first walk into a consult, I never judge my clients' homes. They are busy with work and family, it's understandable that things get busy and their home isn't perfect all the time. I however do judge my home constantly. Since it's my profession, it's important for me to keep it presentable at all time if at all possible. I'm just glad we can hide some things behind closed doors. For example, my closet has been an eyesore for a while. Proof below. 

No styling, no prep, this is what it used to look like. We live in an older home and actual closet space in the master bedroom is non-existent. This closet butts up against the eaves of our roof which means expansion is out of the question. And one of the few times in my life where I'm glad that I'm vertically challenged. Anyone taller than me would never be able to use this as a closet. 

As you can see the closet is technically "finished" but rather drab and seemingly dirty although I promise you it's not. I briefly considered hiring a closet professional to come and help me but then I regained my sanity and realized we have a laundry list of more important items to focus on. So what to do? Armed with $200 I decided I could make it look and feel better. Ready? 

I decided wallpaper was the way to go, the biggest impact for relatively low cost. And I chose this one by Hygge and West during a recent sale. I love the pattern, it's feminine without being overtly so. And it's just so darn cheerful and happy. It looks even better on the walls!  

First step, I cleaned out my closet and donated/removed anything I haven't worn this past year. I actually clean out my closet every 4 to 5 months. I'm not a capsule wardrobe type of girl but I do keep my closet fairly edited. 

I moved the dresser horizontally to make this tiny closet feel roomier. I had a leftover round mirror from another project and reused it here. This mirror is perfect for when I apply makeup, lotions and potions. 

The old shoe rack was no longer working for me. Since I retired my pumps, I definitely have more flat shoes which didn't grip well to the shoe rack. I also wanted a more built-in look without the cost. It's amazing how many of life's problems can be solved by a trip to Target. Hyperbole, I know but somehow true. This shoe storage unit from Target is white and fits in with the dresser fairly seamlessly. 

Not all of my clothes fit into this one dresser. I'm a minimalist but not a monk. Below is how I store my hanging clothes. 

This closet actually runs the entire length of the house and there is another entrance to it from the guest room. So a fixed closet rod was out of the question since there is no immediate wall to the left. The garment rack is the only practical way to store my hanging clothes. I wheel it forward when I need something from the rack and wheel it back when I need some shoes or an item from the dresser.  In an ideal world I would prefer a walk-in closet a la Carrie's closet in Sex in the City. Alas, this is real life. And this setup works for me for now, especially with the small updates. 

Every morning when I open up my closet doors to get ready for the day, it's an absolute pleasure to have this bright and cheery closet greet me and set me in the right mood. It's just a closet and perhaps one wouldn't normally invest some time in such a small space but like in most of my work, I'm a big believer that every detail matters. Our spaces are a vessel for not only the life we currently inhabit but also a means to create the life we wish to have. And this closet to me says there are many more fabulous and exciting things to come!