A few of my favorite things…in January

29 01 2010

So I have been reading some general blogs for a while now and have found a few that I really enjoy reading.  Dusty at All Things G&D has a regular post at the end of each month where she recounts all the things she has found/enjoyed/experienced in the past month.  I thought I would try my hand at a similar post so…here it goes.

1. I had been mourning the collapse of such great publications for a while now. Great magazines that had been around for a long time were screeching to a halt such as House & Garden, Domino (not such a long production run but EVERYONE loved it), and most recently Metropolitan Home.  Then, out of nowhere, I found a new magazine this month, Fresh Home Magazine.  It is still pretty new to the newsstands and I found my copy at a local Home Depot, but I have to say I think we are going to have a great relationship.  They cover topics for the DIY’er about decorating, furniture building, the outdoors as well as what is new to design.  Pick up a copy, I think you will really enjoy the read.

2. Surfing Etsy the other day, I came across a simple necklace called, Two Names-One Love.  Now, I love the simplicity of the necklace with the little gem.  Beautiful.  The jeweler is named Simag and she specializes in personalized jewelry written in either Hebrew or English.  I have already printed a picture, hung it on the fridge and hinted at John that I would love this for Valentine’s Day.  We’ll see what he thinks and I will stand by with my fingers crossed!

3. This is quite a personal thing but I tried pad thai for the first time in January and am crazy about it.  Poor John has had to eat it several times this month already and I don’t see that stopping for a while.  I have always been a rice kinda gal and generally think long noodles can be a pain in the butt to eat.  However, I didn’t totally understand the power of the sauce.  YUM!

4.  Project Runway is back in all its glory-in New York!  I think they had an off season last fall and I got tired of watching, but when I heard they were moving production back to New York I was excited for the return.  The new pad they live in is spectacular (what cool walls they have), the cast seems to be fresh, and the fashions are going the distance.  Plus, what lady out there doesn’t love sitting on your sofa, glass of wine in hand, screaming at the television ripping on the designer’s right along with Tim and Heidi?!  I still can’t believe the dress above started out as a burlap sack!  I think this is going to be a great season and just a little guilty pleasure of mine.

5. Last but not least, speaking of guilty pleasures, the Winter X games are back (this weekend on ESPN).  As you know from Monday’s post, I am an absolute extreme sports junkie.  So you can only imagine what my weekend will be like watching snowmobiles doing back flips, Shaun White working the snowboard superpipe and tons of skiers doing some wicked tricks.  I can’t wait!


Megan’s Super Chic High/Low Quickie

27 01 2010

So a while back I was brainstorming some ideas for projects and mentioned to a friend that I was thinking I would try my hand at some high/low quickies.  When she asked what that was, I referred to a regular post in Metropolitan Home Magazine called the High/Low.  Knowing that they folded print a couple months ago I was missing seeing how they accomplished a similar look to a vignette they set up with a less pricy option.  Most of the time it was maybe a really, really fancy breakfast nook for let’s say $34,000 and they got it down to 5 or 6 thousand bucks.  I was thinking I could take a magazine photograph, research and find a similar look at a much decreased price as a quickie board.  Well I guess I had her at hello, because within a week I had this picture waiting in my inbox.

Now a little background: my friend doesn’t have a place of her own yet.  So what does that mean, you ask?  Well, that means since she is still in an apartment but will soon be laying ground in a new home it will be a perfect time to start looking for furniture pieces.  She figures this way she will have awesome furniture already when she moves into her, “suck the money right out of your wallet,” own home!  However, this does mean that there are no before photos and no space restrictions for this project.

Back to how this works, she had seen this picture in a House Beautiful Magazine back in July and had fallen in love with it knowing she would never be able to accomplish it in her budget.  That is where I step in and suggest this board chock full of ideas to help her achieve this look, all without breaking the bank.  Now how exciting is that?!

So here is how the quickie board breaks down.

  1. Our color palette for this quickie is a mix of celadon, apple green, turquoise, and red.  The piece that really brought this look together is #6 the patterned chair.  The original room has lacquered walls, but the walls need to be pretty much perfect for them to look smooth and brilliant as well that lacquering is a time consuming project, so a similar option would be to use high gloss paint on the walls.  They won’t be quite as shiny, but they still should give a dramatic effect.  This quickie is quite unusual because we ALWAYS have an opinion if the wall should be dark or light but since we haven’t see the space we thought we would offer up a couple paint options for the walls.  We suggest if you want a lighter color to go with, Dunn Edwards Paints #DE5521 Grass Root, which is more of a light celadon.  If you want a darker color you could either go with Dunn Edwards #DE5888 Luna Pier which is almost a navy or Dunn Edwards #DEC756 Weathered Brown.
  2. As for the sofa, this one is so modern and crisp we just couldn’t resist using it as the main statement piece.  The color sure gives it a pop and we think it will stand the test of time in terms of being used in years to come.
  3. This lamp is so pretty and almost matches the sofa to a tee.  We were thinking you could either leave the shade the way it is as white or you could switch it out for one that matches closer to the curtains.  If you are super crafty you might even be able to get some dye and do the job yourself.
  4. This side table for next to the sofa will look great with the lamp on it.  The metal base reflects a bit of modern while the wood warms up the room and makes this a great complement to this chic, cheeky room!
  5. Now we think this red chair is a great base for a somewhat surprising color palette.  The heaviness of the chair really weights it properly for the room since there is just a little pop of it on the chair next to it plus it give an extra cushy spot to sit.
  6. Speaking of the pop of red, don’t you think the cherries are great?!  This chair’s pattern really brought the room’s colors together.  We think that it has a fun modern shape and colors but it still has a nice sophistication with the pattern that was used, so it really spoke to us as the center piece of the space.
  7. This coffee table mimics the oriental shape of the original table but we used a muted brown since we had so much red going on within the space.  We liked this Nix piece but if the price tag scares you off check your local Craigslist and if you find one but it happens to be patterned, get out the paint, give it a prime and a couple coats and you would be good to go.
  8. This chair is a fun, classic piece that will help to balance out the room since the two chairs across from it tend to be larger.  But again that fun pop of red is not typical to this style of chair so adds a nice unexpected bang.
  9. To help ground the somewhat petite chair next to it we thought we would put this little metal side table next door.  We thought it was a fun piece as well since it too has feet.
  10. The pillows are kind of like the bow that helps to tie the whole room together.  With a couple of the geometric pillows (dk. brown and green) in the back and stacked with the Asian inspired dark brown pillow in front that has all the room colors incorporated as well as a botanical motif, these pillows certainly do their job!  This will help to pull the sofa back into the rest of the room.  We thought the little striped pillow could go on the upholstered red lounge chair (#5) to give it a little extra cush as well as blend all the colors together a bit more.
  11. These are the curtains we ware suggesting as they again take their color from a couple leafs in the patterned chair and really will look great with any of the paint options for the wall.  Our suggestion would be to mount them on a simple metal rod with classic stylized finials and either in a bronzed or brushed nickel finish.
  12. Lastly, we needed a big, circular mirror on the wall and think this one is great.  The wood is warm and looks wonderful with the sofa.

So there you have our scheme for our first ever high/low quickie.  If you like what you see stop over and get one for yourself.

Getting to Know Me

25 01 2010

My name is Sharon and I am excited about design. Can you tell?!

I realized the other day that you have been patiently listening to me ramble, but hardly know anything about me.  So a little background: I am a designer, a wife, and mother to a golden retriever named Gracie. I am passionate about design, but also love fashion, jewelry, music and extreme sports. I struggle to grow flowers, but have a great herb garden (now if only the cooking came naturally!) I grew up in a somewhat rural area of Iowa, leading a very charmed life, while being taught strong values by my family. I attended college at Iowa State University, where I was able to study abroad for a semester in Rome, before graduating with my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Interior Design. Since graduation, I have worked in several disciplines of interior design ranging from model homes to specialty restaurants and have found them all to be creative, enjoyable experiences.

After marrying my husband in 2005, I moved to Southern California to be with him. A couple years later we decided to buy our first place, a 1960’s townhome that was really showing it’s age. Armed with a little bit of know-how and a lot of enthusiasm we started gutting! Within a month we had changed the layout from a 4 bedroom to a 3, removed all the popcorn on the ceilings throughout the house and even replacing a few ceilings along the way. We revived all the walls with a fresh coat of paint and laid new flooring throughout the place, all while maintaining our 40-hour a week jobs. At the end of the month we moved in, but we were far from finished. Since then we have taken on a slue of new projects including re-doing both bathrooms, painted the kitchen cabinets, built organization into the garage and have installed all new lighting. We still keep busy with our DIY obsession but the house is nearing completion after 2 ½ years. Trust us when we say it has been a lot of time and hard work, but we get a satisfied feeling upon completion of each new project.

When I’m not working on my home, I’m working on my business; MA-DE (pronounced mād) specializes in online custom home interiors. We range from small, inexpensive “spruce up your room” design boards we call Quickies, to full service detailed designs that a client can implement on their own. To see an example of a full service design click here to launch the MA-DE website. We feature Design Quickies right here on the blog so check them out to see examples of our boards and their detailed explination of how to pull the design together. You can even link directly to the website to purchase if something strikes your fancy.

So there you have a run down of who I am and what what makes me tick.  Hopefully, it gave you insight into what I find interesting and what you can expect to find on this site.  I will try my best to keep you up to date on new happenings in the world of design, MA-DE, and my life while having a few laughs along the way.  Stay tuned…

Quality Craftsmanship: The Sofa Edition

22 01 2010

When looking for a quality, high-end sofa we have gathered some suggestions for you to take to the store with you.  Remember, this is an investment piece that will live in your home for many, many years to come so in the words of Tim Gunn, “edit, edit, edit.”  Also, remember that this item should be something that you can see evolving with your personal style and not something that will be here today and gone tomorrow.  Think of a sofa as the basic collection of your wardrobe (the little black dress, if you will) and the throw pillows as the trendy part (the killer red heels.)  Make certain this is the anchor to your room that will be able to go many directions once you get it home.

Here are some tips for looking into the construction:

  1. Frame: A good sofa should have a hardwood frame (like hickory or maple) that’s kiln-dried, so it won’t warp or bend over time.  If the leg frame is metal, check all the weld joints and make sure they’re clean and smooth.
  2. Padding: Sit on the sofa, and feel underneath and behind your knees.  The whole area should be soft-you shouldn’t detect the frame at all.
  3. Springs: Eight-way hand-tied coils are the best-they’re securely attached to the frame and can therefore recover from movement in all directions.
  4. Cushions: The highest quality options are dense, blue foam core or spring-down cushions (coils wrapped in synthetic filling, with a layer of down on top.)  Cushions filled with just down are very comfortable but require fluffing up.
  5. Corner Blocks: Check under the sofa for these angled pieces of wood that are glued and screwed to each corner.  They help disperse the weight along the back and side equally, so the sofa is more sturdy and durable.

Quality sofa examples: Tan Tuffed; Red; Leather; Blue.

Sarah’s Modern Kid-Friendly Guest Bathroom Quickie

20 01 2010

When Sarah emailed us her request to have a refreshed upstairs bath that both her kids and guests could use we were excited to whip up something modern and kid-friendly.  Here’s her letter:

I have been excited to use this new design service since I heard about it.  We moved into our new house about a year ago and would love to update the upstairs bathroom.  It is the room that both our child Elijah, who is 6, uses as well as guests while they are visiting.  Our house is pretty modern, using warm grays and light neutrals mixed with dark wood stains for the walls and furniture. We have used satin nickel metal finishes throughout the house with exception to the door hardware that we would like to update as well. If you could suggest an option for the bathroom we will make the rest of the house match and that will be one more thing checked off the list.  Changes we would like to see include an inexpensive change to the double sink, vanity lights, curtains, and towel racks.  We think the room should have a fresh coat of paint as well and the bathroom is carpeted so we will rip out the carpet and replace with tile floors. We are looking forward to hearing your ideas. –Sarah.

We agree that a little color and some updated style would go a long way to making this room refreshed.  With a little elbow grease on your part and some stunning new finishes this room will really become the modern haven you so desire.  Here is the material board:

For the material board breakdown:

  1. We are going to refer to the bathroom as rooms since it has a main public area that the sinks are located in as well as a private area that the shower and toilet are in.  Our color palette features some light, dark and bold colors,  We start with a creamy base color for the overall rooms as Ralph Lauren’s Antique Lace (#VM77).  This has a subtle tint of beige to bring warmth to the room and we propose using a much darker chocolate brown (Ralph Lauren’s Starry Night #VM80) on the lower half of the walls (you’ll see the technique we suggest in step #2.)  This stark contrast is to add both whimsy and drama to the room while maintaining the modern feel that the rest of the house has.  The other color accents that we will use in the room with tile and accessories are a spanish olive green and a dusty turquoise blue.
  2. The technique that we would love to see for the lower half of the wall begins with a stencil.  We can already hear the moans of isn’t that sooo the ‘90s?!  Well with this updated stencil from theapt.com we can already hear the whoosh of the birds and butterflies hitting the walls.  Not only is the pattern modern which brings the outdated technique into the new millennium, but we would love to see the dark color on the bottom as a colored version of chalk board paint.  While looking around for a recipe to make such a paint we found this article that makes it look easy and fun.  The bonus to making it a wipeable surface is that the kids will love leaving their “art” on the walls as well as a great place to list the older kids schedule the night before so they have some reading-er should we say sounding out material for morning?!  If you are interested in getting a stencil please contact me directly and I will get it made for you.
  3. So we were a little embarrassed to ask but we were thinking you might need a new throne.  New toilets always make a space sparkle in a good way.  It seems like the older they are the harder to get and keep clean they can be.  So we thought we would throw this one your way.  This model is very linear in design and the price won’t break the bank so it could be a great time to replace since you are ripping out the flooring.
  4. Isn’t this light fixture breathtaking?  Not only is it a light but also doubles as an exhaust fan to air out a foggy room after your shower.
  5. You asked for a new door knob that would match all of the other finishes so we pulled this lockable brushed nickel knob.  It sports clean lines and we think if you run this throughout the rest of the house it sure will make a big difference to the details of making a modern house.
  6. Here is a faucet that is easy for children to use and keeps the sleek sophistication of the room at the same time.  We love the look of the right angles along with the appearance of the widespread handles.
  7. This is one area that we like to get on our soapbox and shout that this solid surface countertop material is GREAT!  It is easy to keep clean since it is non-porous and if by chance that it gets scratched (who knows how kids do the things they do) you can have a technician come out and fix it!  We selected the Dupont version known as Zodiaq in Saddle Brown.  This should add a rich color to contrast the painted reused cabinet (Ralph Lauren’s Antique Lace #VM77) that the room already has.  We think that putting in a new vanity would be expensive and this one seems to have nice clean bones so painting what you already have and adding a new top would give you the new feel you really want.  If you would rather go with a lighter countertop another color option for you would be Flax in the same Zodiaq material.
  8. The flooring in the bathroom needs to be something that is highly cleanable and so we suggest going with a nice tile that will lay the groundwork to the entire room in a warm grey color with accents of cream, dark brown and dark grey.  This tile comes in a 12” x 24” rectangle that we suggest laying in a running bond pattern, running the 24” side with the length of the room.
  9. This valance is so chic!  It is simple and inexpensive but will really pull that dark chalk board paint up the wall to help anchor the window in place.  I would suggest having a blind hidden underneath to protect the privacy of your guests.
  10. When we saw this glass tile we thought, WOW!  That will certainly make a pop on the vanity wall.  While the price tag is a bit pricy we were thinking you can get away with running it as the backsplash to the custom countertop as a 6” strip on the top edge of the counter and wrap it around the sides just to the edge of the countertop.  Then paint above the color with the standard room cream or if you want to add a punch make the wall dark brown but in regular semi-gloss.
  11. These mirrors from Ikea are only $29.99 so we thought that was a great price for the 2 you will need for your double sink vanity.  They are outlined with the brushed nickel finish that will help them incorporate into the space well and the overall size of 27.5” diameter gives plenty of coverage for the variety of heights they will serve.
  12. These vanity lights from Lamps Plus are a great deal and we love that they have globes with both frosted and non-frosted glass.  This really lends to a modern feel and with the 4 lamps per unit will really light up the public space.  You will want one above each mirror.
  13. Last, but certainly not least the hardware and accessories for the space.  First, we think that your shower curtain is perfect with this look as it is.  We think that this hardware collection from Target is great.  They come in a wide range of accessories from short and long towel bars, hooks and toilet paper holders they have you covered.  The towels we thought had a nice punch of color to add to the walls and any other accessories can range from cream and teal ceramics to stainless steel for a more edgy look.

So there you have it.  Sarah’s chic and modern children’s bathroom makeover.  We can’t wait to see what you guy’s think!  And if anyone else out there is in need of a custom makeover of their very own, click here for some decorating advice.

Creating a Realistic Budget…

18 01 2010

The beginning of the year tends to be when we work on our budgets.  We make lists of what we would like to accomplish in the year, a timeline of when we want to get it done and the dreaded-where is the money going to come from conversation.  These days the purse strings are tighter than ever so we need to be making good, sound financial decisions when it comes to our homes and improving them.  I have set up some guidelines to begin estimating the cost of improving your room.

Determine the scope of the project. Are you planning to gut the space or just replace a few of the elements.  Make a list of everything you want to do within the space to spruce it up.

  • A Thing to Consider: The Value of your Home. How much is your house worth?  The project should be in line with that number.  Putting $100,000 into a kitchen remodel in a $200,000 home just doesn’t make financial sense.

Next determine how much you have to spend. Figure out where you are going to pull the money from. Are you going to save up for your project and do it all at once or maybe you already have it in a savings account waiting for a rainy day.  Maybe you plan to do bits and pieces like purchase something new and do a little project once a month.

Once you have a list of all the items, take a field trip to a store or hop on the computer and do some research. How much are the main things going for these days?  Did you know that a quality sofa goes for around $1000?  Sure, there are more and less expensive options out there and plenty of ways around spending a big wad of cash like that, but make yourself aware of the “real” cost associated with your next project and maybe the ways in which you can save.

Think about the return on your investment. How long are you planning on staying in your home?  If you are planning on staying at least another 5 years, you should receive a great return on your investment.  However, if you’re not planning on staying that long, consider a less involved project.

  • A Thing to Consider: Simple Updates for Your Kitchen. Refinish or reface your cabinets, change hardware, replace appliances, install a tile backsplash, upgrade countertops and improve lighting.  These are just a handful of ideas that don’t cost a ton of money, but certainly make a difference in the overall appearance.  Simple little fixes can make a bigger difference than you think.

So this leaves us wondering, what do you want to get done around your house in the coming year?  Any big plans in the works?  Share your vision with us.  We love to hear about new wonderful projects other people are working on.

Rainbow Brite-n Your Weekend!

15 01 2010

“Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.”         -john shirley

Kids have the amazing ability to live in the moment and we as adults don’t do that enough.  I think this weekend we should take a moment and reflect on how they maintain spontaneous gestures.  We should be inspired by their imagination, how they can freely daydream and play in vivid color.  Children’s ability to see the beauty in any object and carefree nature should be something all adults should strive for.

Be Inspired.