Give Handmade

Mother’s Day is coming up. Give handmade! I’m quite a few years past bringing home artwork from school for my mom, so this year I’m substituting lovely things handmade by someone with actual talent.


Above are beautiful hand printed note cards I recently gave a friend as a birthday gift. They are, of course, from Etsy – my favorite source for handmade goods and gift giving. My mom reads this blog, so I can’t reveal what she’s getting until after Mother’s Day!

Note Cards:


The Kids Lounge

The Kids Lounge. We don’t ever call it the Playroom. The Playroom was the space that made me crazya room filled to the brim with toys that were always all over the floor even though no one ever seemed to be playing with them. I felt like I spent every waking moment cleaning it up and still it always looked cluttered. When my youngest went to kindergarten, I quickly set to work erasing the Playroom. I got rid of a ton of stuff (the kids never even noticed!) and relocated the few remaining things to their bedrooms and one designated cabinet for games and art supplies. Then I set about making them a space they could use that wouldn’t make me nuts. I didn’t want to spend a fortune, as I knew full well that it was the Kids Lounge and things were likely to be used and abused and that someone was probably going to be eating yogurt on the sofa when I wasn’t looking.

I’ve already shown the workspace side of the room here. This side is for TV watching, reading, and some occasional hijinks involving the ottoman on wheels.


All the furniture had a life elsewhere before it ended up here – the Crate and Barrel couch and chair were a lucky hand-me-down from my mom. They are about 15 years old but in great shape. (A steam clean once in a while does wonders.) I laughed this week when I opened the Design Within Reach Catalog and saw almost the exact same design:

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The leather ottoman on wheels was part of a living room configuration from a previous house and makes a great kid-friendly coffee table – free of corners and hard edges. If Ottoman Gymnastics ever becomes an Olympic sport, my kids are sure to win gold medals.

Across the room is a cabinet that we originally purchased in 2000 as a dining room sideboard to hold our dishes. At the time we lived in an adorable house in Denver that was so small there was actually no room in the kitchen for dishes! It now holds TV components and DVDs. Across the room a matching tall cabinet holds games and art supplies. The TV is a Dell, from the days when Dell actually made TVs.


I decided on graphic black and white accents to pull the couch and ottoman and silver cabinets and pale blue walls together and connect it to all to the black cabinetry in the adjoining dining room.


I looked at tons of rugs and discovered that is a great source for wool rugs at really good prices. This 8×10 rug and a nice pad to go underneath totaled $311 with free shipping! It does a wonderful job of defining the space and making a statement all at the same time.



The pillows are an Etsy find – covers made to order in the fabrics of my choice for $15 each. And washable to boot!


The mirrored wall art has hung in several different rooms over the years – it fits nicely in the space between the windows.


The orange clock we purchased on a whim at CB2 a few years ago but it sat in the box for a  long time until we figured out what to do with it. It rotates – one side says GO and the other says IDLE. I have to admit neither side ever displays the correct time. I love it, but I tend to forget it’s a clock.

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The side table is actually a box that my Eames Elephant came in. It was so great looking and so sturdy that no one wanted to get rid of it. It became a side table and also a place to stash stuff.


The kids love their space and now finally I do too!

Sources (not mentioned above):

Ottoman: Room and Board

Remote Control Knit Basket: Container Store

Mirrored Wall Art: West Elm

Elephant Plate: Thomas Paul,

Throw Pillows: Etsy, Castaway Cove Decor

Blanket: IKEA

Wall Color: A Breath of Fresh Air, Benjamin Moore






Hanging With Our Shelf

Hello! I know I’ve been sharing a lot about my recent trip to London, and I’m not done yet, but I wanted to show you a project that I  did before I left.

We had a big empty wall in our living room:


The wall is between the laundry room (where we enter the house via the garage) and the front hall (where guests enter the house). I wanted a place to drop the mail, and a mirror so we can see our beautiful selves and also to give some depth and interest to the space, which is right next to the new kitchen. I started out by shopping for console tables, but was having trouble committing to one for some reason. Then my husband suggested the idea of using a shelf instead. I turned to my trusty friend,, and found something that fit the bill perfectly – a thick substantial shelf of reclaimed wood with amazing industrial chic hardware. The wood was reclaimed fir, just like our dining table, which you can see here. I emailed the craftsman (Kevin Anderson of Silicate Studio) and he agreed to make me one in the custom length I was looking for. I love working directly with craftspeople – not only do you support small businesses and get unique products, you can get exactly what you need because things can be easily customized.

And now comes the part where I am so grateful for my husband, who has hung one zillion things for me over the years. I could not make any of my ideas come to life without him!



Using one of our adjustable kitchen stools to hold the shelf at the perfect height!


Installing the hanging hardware.


Here it is! (Before cleaning up the drywall dust.) It doesn’t show too well in my pictures, but the wood has a lovely sheen and beautiful depth of color. It also has wonderful markings – great reminders of its previous life. I just love reclaimed wood.


After the shelf was hung, we added the mirror, basket, and hurricanes.


The basket is a vintage industrial wire basket, and it’s where we now put the mail. The hurricanes are filled with black glass beads, which hide the battery packs for the lights!





We could not be more pleased with how it turned out!



Mirror: Pottery Barn

Glass Hurricanes: Homegoods

Glass Beads: Michael’s

Lights: Starry Lights – Restoration Hardware

Wire Basket: East End Trading Co. at Lucketts Store

Kitchen Stool: Design Within Reach

If you’d like to see how we covered up the black hole in the wall in the first photo, see here.




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.


Etsy is Your Friend, #1

Etsy is hands down my favorite source for all things handmade. I have found so many amazing and perfect things on Etsy, and I love being able to support artists and small businesses. If you haven’t explored Etsy, I urge you to check it out. Etsy is also a great source for vintage items. Etsy is Your Friend will be a recurring feature in which  I share my favorite Etsy Design Finds.

I love when something old is given new life instead of being thrown away. These fantastic knobs are made from old water valves. Our closet doors are very boring, and these make them so much more interesting and fun. The kids both have them in their rooms – one room has turquoise and the other one has pink. The silver ones are on the linen closet. I think they would also look fantastic on a dresser or in a row as coat hooks.

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