clutter or character?

You are a collector. You have a lot of stuff. It reminds you of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and who you love. This Apartment Therapy post kindly reminds us that this is OK.

The vast majority of us don’t live in pristine, precious houses where every surface is clear and toss pillows are fluffed and placed just-so. Most of us live in our houses — isn’t that what houses are for?

I believe in homes with character, decorated with items that reflect the life experiences of the people who dwell within. I don’t worry so much about everything belonging to a particular style, unless it holds meaning for the homeowner. If you love this thing and that other thing, then they go with you, and that’s what makes them “match.”

via Domino Magazine’s Facebook page

So go ahead. Place a family picture or two in your living room. Put your grandmother’s turned wood lamp on the glossy white cube table. There’s a way to make it work visually. Not convinced? I’ve found so much inspiration in Jeffrey Bilhuber’s book, The Way Home.


my first virtual mood board

I just discovered Olioboard, an online moodboard creator. I started playing around with it yesterday, and got sucked in for an hour. What do you think?

For this board, I started with the chair and the trio of bookcases, and wanted to add some fun color and whimsical florals for a feminine touch. The metallic mirror, side table, and lamp keep it contemporary, while the stone fireplace adds texture and brings us back to nature. If this were real life, I’d paint the walls a warm gray — Ben Moore’s revere pewter is my go-to neutral lately.

I also signed up for, and am thinking I’ll use these tools for client projects. What online tools do you use and love?

storage for small things

I am drawn to storage boxes with compartments, possibly a carryover from carrying around an Artbin in my art school days. Serenity for me is everything in its place.

These days it’s about Legos and craft supplies. I have yet to find the perfect, portable storage container. I made a pilgrimage to my local Container Store yesterday while my little dude was napping and found these likely candidates. They’re not the prettiest, but I dig the utilitarian, toolbox-like vibe for this sort of thing.

Busy Box – $41.99

4-drawer Storage Chest – $49.00

Large Infinite Divider Box – $16.00

This was out of stock, but looked pretty darn cool.

X-Large Smart Store System Tote – $11.00 for tote, $1.99-$5.99 for inserts

the mom-nook

A place of one’s own… isn’t that what we all want? A father wants his man-cave, a mother, at least this mother, wants her nook. A place to get cozy with a novel, design magazine, or trashy romance, a place where no one else can be, a place where you’re not allowed to be disturbed. Pure heaven. Mine would be by the fireplace, a little something like this:

with a comfy, not to big and not too small, leather armchair and ottoman. This fits the bill perfectly:

Here are a few more mom-nooks for your inspiration.

rocking chair refresh


I spotted this rocker in a local thrift shop. The curved back, carved frame, and overall proportions are lovely, not to mention incredibly comfortable. Reupholstered in this whimsical, bold floral fabric, this old lady could be made young again. I’d keep the dark wood frame, cleaned up and finished with a simple clear wax. Perfect for a reading nook.

fabric from Crate & Barrel

kitchen before-and-after

I had a lot of fun designing my first kitchen project. There is a level of detail in designing kitchens that is dizzying, but the most critical part is the floor plan. I picture myself using the space, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and the design flows from there.

This condo is on the third floor of a three family house, about 900 sq. ft. The renovation completely transformed an awkward, dark space into a light-filled, functional room. The budget was tight, since the bulk of it went towards the construction work to vault the ceiling. So I went with only 4 pieces of stock cabinetry, chose good-looking but mid-range appliances, and selected remnants for the marble countertops.

the original kitchen: no countertops, cabinets, or storage whatsoever.
the tiny separate pantry housed the kitchen sink.
sliders to deck. the roof over the deck and low ceilings made the kitchen feel small and dark.
the pantry wall and ceiling were demolished to open up the space.
opening up the ceiling to the roofline exposed the home's original stained glass window.
the original beadboard and wood trim was stripped and given and clear coat of polyurethane. the family's own shaker-style hutch and farmhouse chairs are a nice juxtaposition to the modern lighting, stainless steel, and vaulted ceiling.
we selected KraftMaid cherry cabinets, rainforest green marble counters from Gerrity Stone, porcelain farmer sink, and simple open shelves from IKEA for the former pantry.
the slanted ceiling posed a challenge for upper cabinets, but the wall-mounted pot rack and spice shelves keep the space feeling open. beams that were added to support the roof provided the perfect spot for task lighting.
benjamin moore's moonlight 2020-60 on walls, ceiling, and beams, and a custom-blended red accent wall give the room a lively and eclectic feel.