Happy Holidays from Alexandra Design Finds!

I can’t thank you enough for your support in 2013! I’ve enjoyed sharing my Design Finds with you and have lots of fun things to show you in the new year. I’ll be taking a little break for the holidays – back on Monday January 6.

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I will be sharing on Instagram over the holidays, so find me there @AlexandraDesignFinds.

Wishing you Peace this holiday season!

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Source: Peace pillow – Pottery Barn


Let’s Go Visiting: Lucy

When Lucy and I met, we were working down the hall from each other at the Denver Design Center. Now we’re both back on the East Coast, and Lucy has put her talents as a painter and an interior designer to work in Norfolk, Virginia. She loves to remodel as much as I do, and her house is beautiful! She also has some creative ideas to make the most of every space.

Come on in!


This bar tucked under the stairs is an amazing way to use the space!



This mirror makes the seating area across from the kitchen seem so much bigger:




Lucy’s own artwork adds color and texture over the mantel:


Great lighting – oversized lantern over dining table and unique lamps on sideboard:



The two-level coffee table provides extra storage, while a range of seating options make this large open room seem really cozy.


The rugs and lamp in the kitchen make it a comfortably elegant space, while the red stool adds fun color.


Thanks for letting us visit, Lucy!

Lucy Williams Interior Design – http://lucywilliamsinteriordesign.blogspot.com/



The Chairs of Childhood

In 1974, my parents returned to the US from a stint living in England and ate dinner in a restaurant. They liked the chairs they were sitting on, and asked the restaurant owner about them, as they had just purchased a house and were in need of dining chairs. The friendly restaurant owner offered to order them some from his supplier, and that is how we came by the chairs that I sat on for every childhood meal. They looked like this:

number_16_chair_2_large(Photo: http://www.bauhaus2yourhouse.com/)

I always loved that story – who buys chairs from a restaurant? Thirty-nine years later, the chairs are still in the family – they reside in my stepmother’s London home. As a child, I didn’t know that these were classic Thonet chairs, but I knew I loved them – they were comfortable and lightweight and I used to love running my fingers along the bent wood “candy canes” on the back.

I recently decided to update what is known as the Kids’ Lounge at our house to give our kids a more mature space. They no longer need a playroom full of toys. Now they need a space for crafts and homework and games and TV. As the Kids’ Lounge is open to the dining room, I wanted it to be something nice to look at. The major pieces in the room are repurposed from other rooms, but I added in some new things to make it more interesting. I thought it would be fun for the kids to have a version of the chairs I sat on as a child. I found these turquoise Thonet chairs and knew they were perfect – a little bit of history (both family history and design history), and a lot of fun color:


The more simple shape and bold color make these classic chairs work well in our modern interior. Who would believe this shape was first produced by Thonet in 1859?


I mixed in our old dining table and now the kids have a great work space:


The colored pencil holders are actually made from old shipping pallets!


The wall art is a nod to my childhood as well – my mother had a large wallhanging she made from Marimekko fabric behind her dining table in the 1970’s. My husband and I made this one from blue Marimekko “Unikko” fabric stretched and stapled over a store-bought canvas.


The kids joyfully spend hours at this table every day, so here’s to hoping they will have fond memories of this space (and the chairs)!



Chairs: Design Within Reach

Table: CB2

Table Lamp: Ikea

Colored Pencil Holders: www.FieldTreasureDesigns.com

Grey Metal Swing-out Storage Drawers: Container Store




Using Up the Leftovers

Sometimes something goes wrong in a remodel and it turns out to be a good thing. One of our cabinets arrived with double doors instead of a single door. Our cabinet maven ordered us a new single door and suggested we repurpose one of the old doors as a tray or add glass to make it a mirror. So I did a little project:


First I put leftover cabinet pulls on either side for handles. (Confession: our carpenter actually did this step!)


Then I added felt pads on the corners of the bottom side of the tray so it wouldn’t scratch the table.


Then I added mercury glass votives and faux fall leaves.


For a holiday look, I switched the leaves for silver beaded garlands:

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Tray handles: Restoration Hardware

Votives: West Elm

Leaves and Garlands: I have had these so long I can’t remember where they came from, but Pottery Barn or Michaels is my best guess!


Breaking News

As you may have read here, my husband has a hard time surprising me – I always manage to find out. But last night he did it! And the kids were in on it, too, making it that much more impressive that he pulled it off.

My early Christmas gift:


An Eames Elephant! I have really wanted one of these – under the guise of it being for the kids – but who are we kidding? Originally designed of molded plywood (like the chairs shown here)  in 1945 by Charles and Ray Eames, it never went into production because it was too complex to fabricate. Now they are made of polypropylene in fabulous colors. And the box it comes in is almost as cool as the elephant itself! Trying to decide where in the house it should go – it looks fantastic everywhere! I’ll let you know where it ends up.

Let’s Go Visiting: Christmas at Connie’s

Connie and I have lived three houses apart for over six years, but we only just met because she was really living in London and Singapore and her house here was just storing her Christmas decorations. Connie loves Christmas. Actually, she LOVES Christmas. Lower case letters do not adequately express  her love. Her collection of decorations is AMAZING (again, lower case does not suffice). Her collection reflects her Canadian-living-in-America-while-actually-living-abroad lifestyle.

Believe me when I tell you that what you see here is just a portion of Connie’s collection! Let’s start with her international Santas:





Gotta love Santa as a Mountie!



Russian nesting dolls, Christmas style:






Man down!

Here is a bit of her London collection:



Christmas pudding!


She also has a large collection of German “smokies” – (incense cone burners):






Ornament Advent calendar and hanging tree (and more Smokies!):


And of course there are nutcrackers!





Love those red trees!


And there’s more!











She even has kitchen themed decorations for the stovetop!


Although they have nothing to do with Christmas, I loved her collection of Jan Constantine pillows:



Thanks for letting us visit, Connie!








Love ‘em and Leave ‘em

Editing is an important part of design. Saying goodbye isn’t always easy, but clutter is what happens when you can’t let go. You can’t have “in with the new” if you don’t have “out with the old”!

I know it sounds funny, but I’ve always been glad our house doesn’t have a basement. That way we can’t accumulate things – it forces us to make choices about what stays and what goes. We just don’t have the luxury (is it a luxury?) of storing anything.

I thought I’d share a few great things I let go recently:



I bought this pair of vintage Herman Miller Eames DCM chairs (FYI, DCM = dining chair metal, referring to the chair’s dining height and metal legs) simply because a family friend offered to sell them to me and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. For many years they lived in the corners of the dining room – where they looked like sculpture – and we pulled them up to the table for extra seating when we had a crowd. When we remodeled the dining room/kitchen, those corners no longer existed and we had also found more of the vintage Good Form chairs mentioned in this post, so we no longer needed the extra seating, and I just didn’t have anywhere to put them. So I put them on Etsy, and now they live the twentysomething hipster life in Brooklyn. I feel pretty good knowing they went to a good home.

In addition to the DCM chairs, we also let the rest of our dining chairs go:

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These “Jake” chairs from Room and Board served us well for many years. They are reproductions of Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Series 7 chairs.

We also let our atomic dining room light fixture go. We had owned it less than a year, but the lighting configuration of our new dining room didn’t allow us to re-use it in the new space. My plan to repurpose it in one of the bedrooms didn’t pan out when we realized it hung too low to safely use in a bedroom. It did hurt a bit to see this one go, but I do feel like I tried my best to find it a home somewhere in our house before I said goodbye. So I have peace with it. And like the chairs above, it went to a good home.


The curtains and the leaves on the wall – those are gone too.

Out with the old, in with the new.


I Didn’t Know. Did You?

I happened to be shopping in Georgetown (DC) last weekend and wandered into the H&M clothing store. Much to my surprise, I discovered they have a home section! It was full of bargain-priced fun. There were tons of throw pillow cases, although no sign of pillow inserts. But those can always be easily found at a fabric store or online.

I’m not normally a fan of faux advertisements, but I liked how these looked like the faded sacks coffee beans might be shipped in.  I think these easy to wash pillows would look great in a built-in breakfast nook:



There was also some sparkle:



And some patterns:




Fun glassware and accessories:




$9.95 Mercury glass candlesticks! What a way to jazz up a holiday table at an amazing price.


Mod kitchen accessories in bold color and some with an industrial look in galvanized steel:





And adorable kids room decor:



Nothing beats an unexpected Design Find!


**Are you following me on Instagram? Follow @Alexandradesignfinds to see pictures of additional Design Finds not shown on the blog!**