Client's Traditional Living Room: Before & After

I just got photos back from a recent photo shoot with my good friend & photographer Helen Norman & her assistant, F.J. Hughes.  Remember the install I wrote about a couple of weeks ago here?   Well, my clients went on a family vacation & while they were gone, we installed the living room so they got to come home to it {almost} finished. (Minus the delayed sofa.)  Here is what the living room looked like at our first meeting:

{Now also remember my photography skills are nowhere near Helen's}

It's one of those long rooms that can be tricky with furniture-arranging. 

My client's style is traditional and she was looking for sort of a fresh, comfortable "traditional"/ for their Colonial home.  She's attracted to architectural drawings and Colonial fabrics and blues, and there's a real "Virginia" feeling about their house.  We were keeping the existing end tables, chest and bookcase and everything else would be new (or atleast new for the space.) 

For clients' designs, I typically start with a general floorplan and then get started on soft goods, which inspire me the most, and in this case it was the fabrics.  I knew I wanted to do something fairly bold on the plan's settee, and I fell in love with this overscale floral chintz, "Hollyhock," by Schumacher:        

From there we started pulling other fabrics to develop a general palette.  We selected a combination of neutral velvets and some patterned linens & cottons.  I spec'd a beautiful antique-washed wool rug that I'd seen the previous summer & couldn't get out of my mind. 

Being so overscale, and being a floral, doing the Hollyhock on a settee was a stretch for my client, but I urged her to mull it over.  It was our linchpin & I'd based the entire palette around it.  If we switched the fabric to a safer one, I knew the results wouldn't make her as happy.  {Presenting plans with a bit of "risk" in them to your clients can be challenging.  I think a designer's job is to push his or her clients a bit outside of their box, but not so far that they don't love the end results.  It's walking this line that creates a room clients really love...  I find that lots of clients push back a little on one or two presented items, which I think is good.  On items like these, I like to give my clients time to think & let the new idea sink in before we axe it all together.  Sometimes it just takes finishing up the presentation and sometimes is takes weeks to get used to an unexpected idea, but I feel that we all need to go a bit outside of our comfort zones a bit in our homes to get a really special result that will excite us...  }  My client was very willing to think on the fabric and I was thrilled when she decided to go for it.       

Here's one last pic of what the living room looked like before:

And here it is now:

We rearranged the long room so that the sofa now faces the windows and a pair of chocolate-milk-colored velvet wing chairs.  The walls were painted a soft cream to lighten up the space and we had a seagrass rug custom made (by Tolvin at the Carpet Customizer-  he's THE BEST) and layered the antique-washed wool rug over it.    

We layered the coffee table with a wooden tray holding pretties like this clay pot by Lindsey Augustine, a pair of old brass candlesticks, and an "M" candle:

I placed a large console behind the sofa and used a pair of  blue lamps by John Rosselli on top:

{The basket under the table holds a coiled snakeskin my clients found}

There are a couple of areas we didn't get photos of.  I layered in artwork - both new & old (found at Spurgeon Lewis Antiques in Old Town/ 1st Dibs).   I also created a gallery wall of my clients' collected family photos.   It's such a large wall & it has photos that span years so it really tells a story about them & who they are.   Here's a close-up of the neutral/ wheat-colored fabrics on the english arm sofa:

{The pillows are by Schumacher and the paisley throw is from my line of textiles} 

This next photo is my favorite one.  I had this image in my mind long before the room even came together & was so excited to see it in person!!  

(A couple of weeks before the room was installed -ie months after we'd ordered the furniture & selected the fabrics, I was looking through old House Beautiful Magazines and I came accross a project by Albert Hadley titled "Colonial Design"  using this exact same fabric 40 years ago in a living room and reusing the same pieces again in a 2009 project when the same clients moved to another Colonial...  I was at once both thrilled and disappointed.  Thrilled because it's Albert Hadley and because I got the instant gratification of seeing what the fabric would look like on a settee when before, I'd only imagined it, and disappointed because I felt extremely unoriginal & slow on the uptake.)

Anyway, here's what the foyer looked like before:

Small drawings were placed around the foyer on different walls.

And here's an after shot:

I reunited the collection of drawings all in a row above the chair my client found.  We restyled the table/ print in the background for this shot because we couldn't get a good one of them in their original position. (I've learned so much working with Helen!)

Without knowing about the Hadley project, F.J. dubbed the project "Colonial Chic"  which is hysterical, especially if you knew F.J.   

Anyway, I hope you liked the before & afters, and getting details of the in-between. 
Thank you so much to my very patient clients who were a dream to work with!
Have a great SUMMA weekend!

xoxo, Lauren

We're taking on new clients for this Fall!  If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.  We work locally around the DC area and travel for select projects.  :)

Now & Then

Today I'm over at Emily Clark sharing a picture from my very first apartment in college & comparing it to my current house.  Emily's series "Now & Then" invites bloggers to talk about their evolving design style & what makes them cringe when looking back.   (There's a lot to cringe about with me ;) 

I'll give you a hint that my first college apartment looked like THIS:

I wonder what happened to that wooden owl?? 
I have this weird feeling his head came off during a party...

Thanks so much to Emily for inviting me to participate in her series!  It's been a lot of fun to read!!
 Emily is such a talented & kind-hearted blogger & designer who seems to balance it all, so hop on over if you can!  Click here to read and see more of the room.

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Summer Food

I love eating.  It's definitely one of my top three favorite things to do.  I try as much as I can not to gorge, but it's just so much fun.  In the summer, I'm more in the mood for lighter/ fresh foods.  I had to take a picture of the fruit platter my husband put together the other day:

We've been really into kiwi lately.  A friend mentioned how much he liked kiwi a few weeks back and it was almost like our forgotten fruit and we remembered how good it was so we've been eating it like crazy.  And I love summer cherries!!  We found one smeared all over one of our white chairs the other day-  awesome.  Not sure who did it or how he/ she got away from the kitchen with it, but it actually did come out. 

Could it have been this sweet little girl?:

{I just snapped this pic- what a rough life!}

Or this masked man??:

...Or this toddler in a ridiculous onesy?:

...I'm betting on the toddler. 

So another easy summer meal we made recently was this grilled steak with a cilantro puree.  (pic below) I made the puree out of onions, garlic, line juice and cilantro & salt and I'm IN LOVE.  I'd had a Cuban steak at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Cactus Cantina and copied it.  It was so easy & seriously good.   Dave did the lime shrimp on grill and I made fresh guacamole and lime rice:

(I'm not going to mention the fish because it wasn't that great.  Very 'meh' without much flavor.)

Anyway, I would eat this for breakfast if I could.  I love a fresh summer meal.  I think I need it again tonight.  mmmm mmmm mmm!

Ok, I'm off for the day!!

But on a really random note- Can I tell you that the funniest spam comments I get on this blog is an ad saying to "Boycott American Women" and marry a bride from overseas???  hahaha 

I love that whoever is putting it on there thinks that young single men are reading my blog.  

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Queen Anne's Bouquet

Just wanted to share a quick peek of another one of my newest textile designs, Queen Anne's Bouquet, which I'm using on curtains in my bedroom at my dad's cottage in Antioch.  It's in an ivory linen & reminds me so much of our little field of wildflowers (including a ton of Queen Anne's Lace) growing right across the street from the house:  

{The kids picking wildflowers last summer}

I can't wait wake up to these in the mornings:

{It's actually a pretty large repeat but looks much smaller in this pic}

Here's a picture I took (color is off) of a print-out of my original drawing:

As soon as I have pics of the actual fabric/ curtains, I'll be sure to share!!
Have a great weekend & stay cool!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Summer Cottage Curtains

My family (my dad's side) has had a summer cottage outside of Chicago since the 50s.  My grandparents used to take my dad & my aunt & my uncle out every weekend to play on the lake & get away from the Chicago daily grind.  My grandfather was a knife sharpener & both he & my grandma immigrated to the US from Italy. 

{My Nanoo in the middle of his brothers & sisters}

My Grandma Maestranzi used to make my Nanoo stop the car along fields on the way to Antioch so she could pick raddichio for salads for the weekend.  (Raddichio is also known as Italian Chicory & is super-bitter but she'd make a dressing of oil & vinegar, onions & salt&pepper to take the bite out of it.)

{Image from}

When they bought the house, they bought the antique dining room furniture with it & it's still there today, although we've put it through some serious abuse & some of it has broken. (My dad's a big guy)

{My grandma's dining chair after all of these years...  I love its lines}

I remember going out there on summer weekends as a kid & the whole family would be piled in.  I remember staying up late at night with my cousins & aunt and falling asleep listening to the AC window units roar.  We'd spend the days on the lake: up early fishing, then home for breakfast & then back again for boating & skiing.  My grandma did big Sunday dinners (always prime rib in my family: "Where's the beef?!" probably came from them) with salads & pasta & minestrone soup.  I remember picking flowers & putting them in tiny vases around the house and apples in late summer .  My grandma died when I was 8 but the family still went out to Antioch.  Now, all of these years later, my dad has renovated the house from top to bottom and moved there, wanting a more relaxed pace for himself.   

{The next generation of cousins at Antioch...  minus Justin}
Anyway, my dad's single and decorating the house has been a sloooow process.  It's been years.  My dad loves doing anything architectural (like adding moldings or staining floors) but it's been such a battle for me to get him to let me furnish the house & finish it.  (He's also sort of a "more is more" guy so we've definitely had our battles.  I'll share more about this when I'm out there this summer so you can see pics.)  BUT he's finally letting me do curtains and I'm pumped!!   

Over the years I've done things to get around not having curtains.  Here's a pic of garlands I hung at Christmastime:

I love the house so much and some of the fabrics from my line sprang pretty much directly from the wildflowers that grow around Antioch in the summer: Wild Chicory, Queen Anne's Lace & Thistle & Clover .  (They pretty much grow everywhere on roadsides, but I'll always associate them with my childhood summers in Illinois.)  I finished one yesterday called Queen Anne's Bouquet & I cannot wait to see it up in the very place I think of whenever I see Queen Anne's lace.  I placed order yesterday for over 100 yards of fabrics for curtains.  I cannot WAIT to hang them!!

In the kitchen, I've displayed some of my grandma's china in glass cabinets:

She used her china on a daily basis & mixed and matched everything.  I remember when I was 4 or 5 trading plates with people because I would want a certain floral pattern.  (I always wanted the one I thought was prettiest on the table ;)

The china pattern I've hung throughout the kitchen is a fairly common one in thrift/ antique shops but I think it's just right for Antioch.  It works perfectly with all of the wild flowers that grow around there.  For the curtains in the dining room & adjoining living room/ kitchen, I wanted to go neutral and overscale so I could really mix it up & use any of my grandmas's china, which consists of small florals.  I decided to use one of my newest designs, "Live Paisley" in Antique Beige, which made up of a series of leaves & vines:

Here's a close-up of it.  It's puposefully mottled for an antique look, it's made of 4 colors, and if you'll look really closely, I hid a small inscription that says "Live your life."

{It's hard to see in this pic but it's on the inner right area}

I wrote "live your life" on the paisley (which I orginally drew as a doodle thinking I would need to hire someone to actually draw it for me) just on a whim, but it's a saying that really resonates with me.  To me it means: following your dreams, keeping your eyes on "your own paper" and focusing on what you can do & not on judging others, and loving what you have and your life & making the best of it.  Forgetting about the things you can't control & just living & giving your best to every day.  Letting go.

I didn't really have much confidence in myself or in my ability to draw at all when I drew this pattern.  (I still really don't) But I was completely shocked with the results.  Since this pattern arrived at my door, I've drawn a few more & I sort of feel like I'm getting into a groove, developing my style a bit.  It's really difficult for me, as drawing is not something that I'm good at or that comes naturally, but it's really rewarding when I see the designs on fabric & in my clients' homes. 

Anyway, I'll be sure to take pics of the curtains in Antioch.  I'm doing 4 rooms & fingers crossed that they look good!!

***Also, many of you have asked how  you can purchase the fabrics.  And, as far as selling the fabrics go... I've sort of hit a crossroads.  The more I learn about the industry, the more I learn that there are paths you have to choose that can really change everything.  I'm a bit undecided as of right now as far as how I'm looking to approach selling fabric line.  Price points & means of production are determining factors in how the line is sold/ where it's sold/ who sells it, etc.,  and I'm not quite sure yet how I want to go about it.  I have an online store all set up & ready to go, but time-wise I'm not sure we're ready for it.  I also don't know how I feel about posting pricing on the fabric online because that will affect things in the future.  (Ie where it's sold, etc.)  I started this whole thing because I was passionate about the designs but not because I had a plan.  (That's a bit nutty, I now.)

For now, if anyone you know is interested in purchasing any of the fabrics, they can email my assistant Meghan ( for information & pricing.  I'm hoping to finish photographing all of the fabrics in the colorways this Summer & will post them online so that the line can at least be viewed.  ***
If you made it to the end, thanks for reading this long rambling post! :)  Enjoy your day!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Prettiest Island Resturant

It's easy for "themed" decor to get cheesy.  (In fact, if it's "themed" at all, you can pretty much guarantee it's bad or borderline bad.)  What keeps anything good, however, is authenticity.  It's no longer a theme, it just is what it is.  When we visited Aguadilla, Puerto Rico last week & visited this beach & beachside restaurant (above) I was in love.  It was completely and perfectly "beach."  Appropriate & real. 

The open air restaurant was right on the beach and they'd hung capiz shell chandeliers all over.  When we got there in the morning, my family hit the beach while I took these pictures.  (waitresses just staring.)

There were rustic dining tables for eating & a few different loung areas:

The loung area above was separated by hanging bamboo stalks that knocked gently into each other in the wind like wooden chimes.  It was such a beautiful detail and if I ever do an outdoor space on a tropical beach (yes someone please call!! ;) ;)  I'd love to use these:

There were hanging shelves above some of the tables layered in candles, coral, shells & rope wrapped bobbers.

For casual elegance & outdoor parties, I love stemless wine glasses (above).
A tree gew right through the resturant, below:

The hanging fishing floats were huge!!!

I could have spent all week here...

I loved the white curtains hanging throughout. 

A few hours later, a storm came right around lunch time...

...So we had lunch under the roof while the rain poured down.  On the tin roof (below)  Perfection.

Super-lush fern grew all over & to me, there's nothing better than watching a thunderstorm.
(with mojitos! ;)  I just love that energy in the air.

And...  I completely forgot the name of the resturant but it starts with an "e" and I'll ask my cousin when she gets home from her honeymoon.
***UPDATE:  It's called Eclipse!  (Thanks so much to a reader, Wendi, who googled it!!)

Later today, I'll be on Cecy J where I was interviewed about my favorite things to do in the DC area. 

Have a good one!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

"Risk And Its Rewards"

We got home from our trip to Puerto Rico last night & I was thrilled (ok, I totally squeeled) to see the article about my family & house in the Washington Post on news stands. 

{photos by Katherine Frey}

I was so excited when Terri Sapienza asked us to do the story & when they came to our house to take photos.  The story- one of its bi-lines being "Risk and Its Rewards"- is basically about us purchasing our 70s bilevel & fixing it up on a tight timeline & budget and a little bit about my career.  (Those of you who've been following this blog for a while have been along for the ride so you probably already know the story, but it's a fun read ;) 

To read the story, click here.

To see the photos taken, go here.

Buying a house we could afford & fixing it up was a dream of ours.  As a designer, I wanted to use it as a lab & portfolio.  Our house still not "finished" in my mind or at the quality level I wish it could be at, but we love it just the same.  Thanks so much to the team at the Washington Post for including us as one of their stories this week! 

Also, I'm guest posting for my friend Alison over at My Little Happy Place about something in my house that really makes me happy.  To check it out, go here.  I love Alison's colorful & fresh style.

And finally, my cousin's wedding in Puerto Rico was amazing. I'll definitely share photos as soon as I have them but check out this one the photographer, Rebecca, shared:

{Jen & Brian are so happy together}

Jen's like a sister to me & we were both maids of honor at each other's weddings. (Well, I was a "matron" - yucky word! ;)   She truly has found the perfect partner for her in Brian.

 Here's a pic of the "LBJ's" (me, Brant - her older brother & my cousin & Jen) in the cave we visited a couple of days after the wedding:

{still having our adventures}

We  are heading out again to another cousin's wedding, but I'll be done with weddings for real next week.   The vacation was pretty crazy with 2 little kids and travelling around, but we had a ton of fun and some really relaxing moments.  My favorite part was horseback riding through the forest & beach with my husband.  There was a TORRENTIAL downpour for the first hour of the ride but it was still amazing.    I'll be back soon!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.