Sunday, May 31, 2009

Living Room Remodel, Part One: So-fa Away

Now that you've all had a little peek inside my home, it's time to share what's REALLY going on in there. For the last year or so, I have been carefully plotting the next incarnation of my living room--god knows I can't let a sleeping dog lie, especially one that's starting to stink--and have had things pretty well figured out, with the exception of a minor detail I like to call MONEY.

Well, turns out when you launch a new business at the onset of a major economic downturn, you can benefit financially in one important way, come the following April, in the form of a little check from Uncle Sam. Who knew?

I'm not sure my husband is fully aware of this yet or not, but guess where most of our uncle's gift is going this year? Come with me for a little shopping trip, to see what will soon be making its way to South Orcas Street. And pick up a little something for yourself while we're out...after all, it's on Uncle Sam.

Remember my old couch?

This is actually a piece I bought for the shop that had been waiting in the wings (aka the garage) for months for its reimagining in grey faux-leather with chrome nailhead trim. It brings a tear to my eye, just thinking about it. One day, after sitting on this little 1990-esque number from Ligne Roset for about four years too long...

...we cleaned the vintage tufted lovely, fabric tears and all, and welcomed it into the living room. It lasted there for a good 3 weeks, until my husband retrieved the wrong $25 vintage sofa I had bought from a local thrift shop. After drying my tears of loss upon realizing the right sofa had been re-sold in the meantime, I realized what I had was also quite lovely:

At 1,300 square feet, our house is not terribly well suited for oversized furnishings (at least, according to my claustrophobic husband; I think large pieces can sometime work wonders in small spaces, but I'm trying to throw him a bone on this one). This little beauty is more than a foot smaller in width and considerably less deep as well, so after moving it in and re-orienting the layout of the room, it has now become a part of the family.

Its fate is as follows:

For the front of the sofa, an environmentally friendly, commercial-grade ivory faux leather from Architex that was designed for use indoors and out, which is pretty much what it takes to hold up to my children and Jack Russell Terrier.

For the back--and don't yell at me for this, but I can't stop loving it, no matter how ubiquitous it is--Chiang Mai Dragon in Alabaster from Schumacher:

I'm doing a contrast welt along the back in a cotton turquoise Romo and, to finish it off, painting the legs a high-gloss black.

I just placed the last of my fabric orders today, so there's no turning back now (i.e, positive feedback only).

Stay tuned for part two: Side chairs, lighting, and accessories. I know, I know: it may be hard to sleep it night, what with all the anticipation.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sponge Worthy

I was so excited to awaken this morning to a "sneak peek" of my home on the ever-popular design*sponge today! (Now that that's out of the way, can we all take a second to admire that headline? As you were.)

Being a to-the-point-of-madness perfectionist, and in consideration of the fact that design and aesthetics are my bread and butter, I was reluctant to send them photos of my far-from-complete home. We're constantly in the midst of projects, slowly making our way down the wish list as the money appears to pay for each item. In a cruel twist of fate, we were just preparing to tackle some of the more dramatic projects--wallpaper, painting, new furnishings, etc--when the fabulous design*sponge opportunity arose.

To flesh out the place, we borrowed a few items from the shop (but technically, I do own these and selected each and every one, so that's not cheating, right?) and convinced our fabulous neighbor and photographer extraordinaire Liz Ophoven to snap off some pics.

Here's what we came up with...see if you recognize anything. And, more importantly, stay tuned for some serious "after" shots in the next few months.

And in what was apparently our day for great blog coverage, the perennial favorite Decorno gave our gardening efforts a nice shout-out, though her readers were not all so sure... What do you think?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Duchess of Wallpaper

It's no secret to many of us that England has got the market cornered on bold, colorful style (David Hicks, Osborne & Little, Romo, The Rug Company, Paul Smith, girls named Gemma, etc.), so naturally a talent like Lizzie Allen (with a perfect Brit name to boot) could only have sprung from across the pond.

Cited as one of Apartment Therapy's top picks from the recent ICFF in New York, Lizzie Allen designs the most charming wallpaper we've stumbled across in many a moon. I'm afraid to read their response to my pricing inquiry, because I've already completed a few projects with it in my mind.

See for yourself....Living in a Lizzie Allen-papered room would be like awakening each day in the pages of your favorite children's book.

"London City Gents"

"Jazz in Central Park"

"Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace"

"The Royal Guards"

"St. Paul's"

I'm thinking "Jazz in Central Park" or "Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace" for a certain 3-year-old...

After all, if baby sister is getting the donkeys...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Left Behind

Just in--and on sale--carved mahogany Chinoiserie gilt mirror

So by now you know a few things:

1. We're moving. (Details forthcoming...hopefully in the next week!)
2. We're having a sale to minimize the amount of heavy lifting said move entails.
3. If heaven were a store, we would have wings. (We figured we were on a roll, so why not push the envelope?)

You're probably thinking to yourself, "Self, why have I dithered and dathered and not yet gone to Revival Home & Garden to snap up that fab (insert piece of your dreams here)?"

Fear not, gentle customers, for there are many finds remaining, just waiting for you to come take them away from all this.

Finds like these:

Vintage pair of brass and lucite adjustable sconces

Faux python X-base bench (also in-stock in white faux croc)

Vintage swivel-base metal bamboo chair

Vintage pair of ginger jar lamps and custom black linen shade

(Personal note: These are STUNNING! Save me from myself)

Jonathan Adler side chair with custom Schumacher seat cushion

Insanely stunning and long vintage brocade sofa with ORIGINAL FABRIC

Pair of vintage lacquer armchairs

We could go on and on, or you could come by or pay us a virtual visit. Don't let a little procrastination come between you and your decorating destiny.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Charity, Tea & Me

I was very excited a few months ago to be asked to design a table for a benefit for the wonderful local charity, Childhaven. Each year they host what they call a "Butterfly Tea" for moms and children, each table designed around a popular children's book of the designer's choosing.

My selection? "It Looked Like Spilt Milk," by Charles G. Shaw, a classic from more than 40 years ago. I love the simplicity of its design and plot, with high-contrast illustrations that little ones love (a lesson I've learned firsthand).

The tea was held this year at the lovely new Arctic Hotel here in Seattle, which gave me an opportunity to finally see the fabled Dome Rome, which was part of the building's original design years and years ago. In the words of the hotel, the Dome Rome "offers Rococo gilt and original artistic frescos, ornamental cornices and stained glass dome ceiling with the effects reminiscent of the Northern Lights."

Here's a sampling (along with the top of my centerpiece peeking out from below):

Having never participated in such an event, I was quite pleased with my efforts...prior to seeing what other, more seasoned participants busted out. We're talking giant trees with life-size plush animals hanging from the branches, custom chair covers with attached butterfly wings.... Who knew?

Having opted for a more...understated...effect, I still love my floral arrangement and color scheme, but I fear the kids may have been disappointed by my lack of drama.

Check out what I came up with--kind of Kate Spade-esque.

I lined a tall clear glass canister with paper that I fashioned into stripes, and filled it with a conical foam piece covered in white miniature Carnations. I painted a pair of wooden flower rings and dowels from Michael's (and by "I," I mean my husband), and strung cut-out paper replicas of the books motifs from white thread.

I also discovered the wonder of a nifty little product called Stitch Witchery. (Have I mentioned how undomestic I am? All you crafty sorts out there are probably thinking to yourself, "Duh!") I was designing around a 72"diameter table, so I had to buy two separate pieces of fabric and join them together, a task often done by a little process known as SEWING. Due to my aforementioned lack of domestic skills, this wasn't an option. Enter Stitch Witchery. Just lay your pieces down, sandwich in a little Stitch Witchery tape, dampen and iron, and voila! One tablecloth. I felt like I just gave birth!

Here's a close-up of the floral design:

I was happy with the final product, but I'm fairly confident that Martha Stewart will still sleep well at night.

I just hope my table of kids didn't feel too slighted. Hopefully the Smencils in their gift boxes helped.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Moore to Marriage

As I have mentioned ad nauseum, one of the best perks of owning a store is all the wonderful people who come through your doors (and one of the worst is the less-than-wonderful folks, but that's another post entirely); some you chat with once and you may not meet again, others you meet and come to call friends.

A person who falls into the second group became my friend for a number of reasons, not the least of which was her wonderful (then) boyfriend, who used to serve up my coffee back in my first Seattle neighborhood and is, incidentally, one of the nicest people ever to grace the earth.

They walked into the shop a few weeks after we opened, and have since spent more time with me there than almost anyone else. (Sorry, guys, but you know it's true.)

Why do I mention these lovely folks in such a public forum? Because a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending their fabulous post-wedding, and "Seattle Bride" magazine, and "Evening Magazine," and Jean Enerson, and...well, you get the picture.

The bride was none other than lifestyle and entertaining guru Kelley Moore, seen regularly in "Seattle Magazine," on KING-5, and everywhere from "The Rachael Ray Show" to "Ellen" to "Tyra".... the girl gets around.

And that's a good thing for her husband, the equally connected Brent Martin, coffee man extraordinare and owner of the fabulous Muse Coffee Co. (Have you been? You must go.)

The party celebrated their fairytale-like (secret) wedding at an Ice Hotel in Quebec City (apparently our invitation got lost in the mail or something) and was, unsurprisingly, completely lovely. Our favorite aspect--though we are admittedly biased--was the "Kelley-ized" art installation utilizing many of the best items from the shop to illustrate the feminine and masculine sides of their union, all displayed artfully on a giant teeter totter. That's right: teeter totter.

Watch some of the highlights of the party here, if only to see my husband and I wandering aimlessly behind Kelley at the end. Too funny.

We love you, Kelley and Brent. Congratulations, and best wishes for years of happiness and success....and not just because you will then buy more furniture from us. Honest.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not a Goose in Sight

"Stencil." What do you think of when you hear that word? If, like me, you grew up in or around the '80s, you may conjure images of weathered wood with pastel-colored checkerboard patterns, with a smattering of geese for good measure.

I was disabused of this notion by the insanely knowledgeable Emily Evans Eerdmans in one of her first blog posts, dedicated to the amazing stencil she used for her home to simulate antique Chinese wallpaper. I bookmarked her stencil source, The Stencil Library, and promptly failed to give it another thought until recently, when I decided I wanted to paint oversized black and white stripes in my bathroom, and perhaps something for the entry, too.

Like almost everyone these days, I am fixated on wallpaper, but unfortunately the entry and bath are not such suitable spots for its application-- my entry takes more of a beating than perhaps any other room in the house, between my Jack Russell's near-pathological hatred of the incoming mail through our slot and my 3-year-old's affinity for sidewalk chalk. And with all the moisture in the bathroom, wallpaper wouldn't be long for the world.

In this season of sweeping changes, I am also reworking my downstairs at home, and have somehow* found a renewed enthusiasm for getting it done. Enter The Stencil Library.

I remembered them after seeing some stenciled stripes on a wall in "Country Living" (I decided to give it a shot after Eddie Ross's recent touting....yeah, not so much.) Today I pulled them up and dove in, and here's what I found: 5" wide stripes for the bathroom, and the chevron (oriented horizontally) for the entry in charcoal grey and white.

Can you picture it?

I'll let you know how it goes.

* tax refund

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Motherly Love

This is my mom. As you can see, she is kind of, well, awesome. And not just because she is holding what appears to be the world's largest (empty) bottle of wine. Here are some other reasons:

She makes me laugh.

She still talks to me after I told her her I hated her about three billion times during adolescence.

She does things for me that I know she doesn't want to do, just because.

She is wicked smart and could do anything she wanted to, and chose to make motherhood her full-time profession.

She taught me an appreciation for beautiful things and good manners but was not above driving a Delta 88 when the need arose.

She is beautiful.

Until I became a mom myself, I never fully appreciated what moms have to give up (or, in turn, what they get in return) in exchange for motherhood.

Thank you, Mom, for what you gave up for us. It hasn't gone unnoticed.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, the true unsung heroes of the world.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Spring is finally upon us here in the Pacific Northwest (well, sort of), and in that spirit of renewal, we've decided to do some re-imagining of our own.

You may not have heard (she said sarcastically), but there's a recession underway, one that began, oh, around the same month we opened last year....the same month I was six months pregnant. Yes, we've always had impeccable timing.

In spite of aforementioned economic hardships, we've had a successful initial year--received to-die-for press coverage, met incredible people, designed lovely spaces, and sourced some fabulous finds. But we've had to face the realization that, over the last year, people's buying habits have changed, and as a result, we're redirecting the focus of our business.

Over the passing months, we've observed more and more that customers continue to seek out one-of-a-kind vintage treasures, and they value the investment of time and resources in redesigning their homes, in small or large degrees. But random (albeit cool) tchotchkes? Not so much.

In light of this, we've taken a hard look at ourselves and realized these two most successful areas of our business are also the ones we most enjoy. This realization, paired with our desire to stay lean and mean, means something great for us both: WE'RE MOVING!

Where are we moving, we ask? We don't exactly know just yet. But we promise you will be the first (or at least in the top ten) we tell.

One thing we do know about our new location? It will be much smaller, to enable us to be more intentional with our product offering (with a nice side benefit of keeping our overhead down). And because of this, we are clearing out the shop with merchandise priced to move.

Beginning Friday, May 8, all items in the store (except for a few pieces on consignment we can't discount) will be 30% off. Yes, that's right: almost EVERYTHING. Design books? Yep. Kenneth Jay Lane jewelry? You betcha. Vintage furniture? Uh huh.

So, if you've had your eye on anything, now's the time to act. There will be an additional markdown or two with passing weeks, but many of you will recall from our last big sale the sadness of discovering your beloved items snatched out from under you by someone more risk-averse. Don't let it happen again!

Those of you who know us know how much we love Georgetown, and we have mixed feelings about closing our doors there, but we are also so excited to discover what lies ahead. We hope you are, too.
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