Friday, May 28, 2010

Holiday Weekend

Let the summer begin!  It's time for us to head back to the beach and I'm so ready for it.

A friend of mine reminded me the other day of this photo my husband took of our early morning beach set up... he was so proud he just had to document it.  I have to say it was pretty sweet arriving at the water with a good spot all ready for us with hardly a soul on the beach.  

A lot of people ask about our umbrellas.  We ordered them online at Frankford Umbrellas.  Little did we know that the company is located not far from my mom's childhood home in Philadelphia.  I think it was quite a find as they are great quality (many umbrellas have flown by us on the beach while ours stands tall). They come in a bunch of vibrant colors too... I never have any trouble finding our party on the beach!

Hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend wherever you go!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


A few blocks from my house is a delightful little cupcake shop called Sweet.  It's appropriately located next to a park teaming with wide eyed kids looking for a sugar fix and desperate moms and dads looking for a caffeine boost.  It's one of those local establishments that makes me love living here.  Not only do they make beautifully delicious treats but the space is just as sweet. Right down to the typeface of their logo, they've created a good feeling place.

So what brought me to Sweet with my fancy shmancy camera on a sunny spring morning?  The chairs!  Yes, they have the chairs I love that I talked about in my post Outdoor Dining. You can get them at Pottery Barn, DWR and Sundance.  They look great in white, giving them a fresh finished look.  A friend of mine talked about using them at her dining table with the kids and then she plans to move them outside when they grow up.  Seeing them here, I think it's a great idea...

The far wall has a fun tree and bird mural offering an eye catching backdrop. I realized later that the same wallpaper from Cavern was used in the bathroom of one of the houses I talked about in my last post.   As you can see here, wallpaper has come a long way and is an easy way to make a dramatic accent wall.

The marble counter looks fresh and feels cool and smooth to the touch.   And they didn't forget the ceiling... the tin adds texture and an old world charm.  It's comfortable and reminds us of grandma's kitchen.  I like the square globe ceiling fixtures too. Lighting can be tough and they got it right... simple, timeless and effective.

Under the windows, is a banquette for efficient wall seating.  It's a great spot for all the squirmy kids to sit and nosh on their treats.

And I really should mention the cupcakes!  They are almost too pretty to eat... 


I get the pumpkin or carrot cupcakes for the kids thinking they are somehow good for them?!  (Well, whatever makes you feel better, right?)  As for me, my favorite is the chocolate cake with the peanut butter icing...yum! 

Are there any places in your town that you go to because they make you feel good?  You may not know it, but a well designed space can lift your mood... it's not just the sweets!  

Friday, May 14, 2010


I'm really excited about a current project of mine...but you might think I'm joking, 'cause it's a split-level!  Yes, that ubiquitous housing type that was created during the suburban sprawl boom of the 50's and 60's.   Here's one we all know and love...

Brady Bunch house as of 1995        Photo: Flickr

Actually this house is much more interesting than the split-levels we have back here on the east coast; most of our look more like this...

 Photo © Kenneth Sponsler /

I found this picture on where they catalog images of a different styles of residential architecture. You might want to check it out if you ever wondered what's a 'raised ranch' or a 'shotgun house'? 

Well, now all the split-level housing stock is coming of age and is ripe for renovation with lots of young families trying to make them their own. So yeah, I'm excited... and intrigued by the thought of reinventing something that is everywhere and needs reinventing!

I decided to see if anyone else had taken on the challenge and I found a nice example from a back issue of Dwell. Their approach is similar to one that I want to take... open up the interior and introduce big windows.  Sounds simple but I think it could make a huge difference.  Also in the article they talk about trying not to disguise or alter the configuration of the split level... make it something it's not.  I like the idea of preserving its form and just rethinking how it might feel and work for a modern family.

All these images and more can be found on the Dwell website article, 'On the Level'.

Photos by: João Canziani

These giant sliders really open up the space and because the rooms are open to one another you get light from all sides making it feel even bigger.  Lesson don't need more square footages just larger windows!

The minimal detailing also makes the space feel light...not weighed down with trim.  I particularly appreciate how the sheetrock meets the concrete stair.

I found the following image from another Dwell article, Bellemo & Cat's Cradle.  I thought this illustrated how opening up the wall between the levels will create a more expansive space... and a fun place to hang out too!

Photo by: Prue Ruscoe

Here's another split level that has been given a new life; and lots of light too...

Can you believe this brilliantly bright space can be found in Oregon?  A feature on this home can be found on Portland Monthly.  The kitchen feels great too.  I think it's because there are no upper cabinets so the kitchen feels like part of the living space.  All you need is a wall of cabinets to the side and you've got plenty of storage.  (hint, hint to my clients... ditch the upper cabinets!)

All these bright airy images make me want to move to the burbs and buy a split-level. Well, almost... maybe for a weekend home?!  

A good childhood friend of mine grew up in a split-level... I spent many hours playing games on that shag rug in the lower level!  I won't go into the scary adolescent details, but... maybe you have some fond split-level experiences you'd like to share?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wall of Curtain

I took this photo the other day of the kids hanging out in the windows.  It's their favorite spot and rightfully so. 

Even though I snapped it on a whim to capture a childhood moment, it also happens to document the first 'design move' I made on our house.  It's a simple one, but bears mentioning... the Wall of Curtain. 

Here's a photo we took when the realtor first showed us the house.  Hard to believe it's the same space!

You can see how the built-in bookcases remediate a bump in the wall but then this offsets the windows... this bugged me.   The quick remedy... cover the whole wall with sheers to keep the light coming in but take the attention away for the openings themselves.  And thanks to West Elm's linen panels, the solution was an economical one too!

It's such a beautiful sunny morning here; I just had to take another photo. I should also mention that I wanted to use a rich color on the wall (Benjamin Moore- Davenport Tan) but didn't want to darken the space. The sheer curtain lightens up the wall and offers a nice contrast.

To all you moms out there... I pushed the toys to the other side of the room! 

Hope you have a fun house project planned for the weekend.  We're going shopping for a kitchen counter....Happy Mother's Day to me!