For Mod Kids

I spotted this book today and just loved the idea behind it – art projects for kids inspired by great mid-century designers and artists!

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There were lots of great ideas, but I especially loved the “Spoon Friends” project inspired by these Alexander Girard sculptures/toys – using wooden spoons rather than the carved wood shown below. Fabulous!

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Kid Made Modern by Todd Oldham, available on

Alexander Girard sculptures, Skandium, London



Old Becomes New – Katie’s Bedroom Project

My friend Katie lives in a 100+ year old home in Baltimore, Maryland, and has been working on renovating it with the help of her dad and her awesome dog Joey. She was kind enough to share her bedroom renovation with us. I just love how it turned out.

Katie found these vintage shutters for $30 at Second Chance, a great resource for architectural salvage in Baltimore.


Then she and her dad turned them into this:

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(That’s Joey peeking in there!)

The bed was made to complement the radiator covers her dad also built for the house:

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(See the close up of Joey framed on the wall?)

To make the headboard the same width as the bed, they added wood in the center and finished it with crown molding:


They then painted it to match the trim in the house and hung it on the freshly painted wall:


Isn’t it beautiful?

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The nightstand is made from a Pier One plant stand Katie found for $15 with a 12 inch marble tile from Home Depot glued on top. I love the galvanized bucket she used for the plant!

Thanks so much for sharing, Katie!


Shutters: Second Chance, (Second Chance is more than just architectural salvage store – it’s also a training and employment program. See their website for more info!)

All other materials from Home Depot.

Wall Paint: Benjamin Moore Silver Fox

Headboard Paint: Behr Pure Ultra White



How To Get Invited Back

This is my favorite little trick to make a hostess gift look great. Instead of bringing a plain bottle of wine to dinner, wrap it in a pretty tea towel. A tea towel makes a great gift – everyone uses them, no? They have many uses besides drying dishes. Drying hands! Wiping counters! Hanging prettily from the stove handle! My Partner In Finds even upholstered the seat of a chair with a particularly beautiful one. If your recipient is not a wine drinker, this trick works equally well with a nice bottle of olive oil or maple syrup, and is a great housewarming gift idea also.


Towels with an all-over pattern tend to look best – as opposed to one with a design only in the middle.


Remove the price tags and lay the towel face side down. Place the bottle in this position.


Fold the bottom of the towel up to cover the bottle of the body but not the neck.


Roll it up!


Tie a bow tightly around the neck of the bottle to secure. Here I used twine for a rustic look.


Ta da! A gift any host or hostess would be happy to receive. For a more festive look, this bold striped towel and purple raffia do the trick.

Tea towels are usually not too expensive and easy to store in order to have on hand for last minute dinner party invitations. Pick them up when you see them and you’ll be prepared to be the best guest ever.

Here are a few I spied recently:


Top photo: Crate and Barrel, Bottom left: World Market, Bottom right: Anthropologie.

Towels used in tutorial above were purchased from World Market.


Behind Closed Doors

Hello! It’s another snowy day here. I’m itching to get out and hunt down some Design Finds, but that will have to wait! Instead, I thought I’d continue to make good on my promise to show you some more of the little details that I love about our remodeled kitchen. Today – inside the cabinets!

I am a huge fan of tall pantry cabinets. Look how much you can store – and the 15″ depth of these cabinets is just the right size to fit everything in and be able to see it!


The next pantry cabinet over is customized to hold our cheese/carving boards, baking sheets and muffin tins:


We didn’t have space in our layout for a Lazy Susan, so we opted for a blind corner cabinet with Hafele LeMans pullouts:


The pullouts are S shaped and snake out of the cabinet, allowing use of the normally wasted space in the corner. The bottom shelf shown here holds the food processor and the popcorn maker.


To keep the countertop as clutter free as possible, we installed an appliance garage for the toaster:



The appliance garage cabinet also provides a great place to end the tile backsplash.

We don’t have a ton of trash, but we do seem to have a ton of recycling, so we installed separate pullouts for each. This one is for recycling:


And this one is for trash:


The trash is right next to the sink and the main prep area. I have a large drawer right there to hold my knives and cutting boards. Everything I need in one place!


I’ve saved the best for last – this cabinet is in the dining room. As most of our mail sorting and bill paying gets done downstairs (even though our office space is upstairs), we installed a pullout drawer and an electrical outlet in one of our dining room cabinets so we could put the shredder downstairs. Very handy!


If you’d like to see to overall kitchen, click here.

Stay warm today – have fun in the snow!




Ladder Lighting

I love vintage wooden ladders as decor – they always manage to look great in any style of home – from country to contemporary. They can hang or lean on a wall as art, be used as a bookshelf, a place to hang quilts or towels or Christmas stockings, or even as lighting, like this:





This ladder is suspended from the ceiling, wrapped with globe lights and decorated with vintage chandelier crystals and branches. There are a million variations on this theme – and a ton of places where lighting like this would look amazing – hanging over a long dining table, a headboard, a kitchen island, or a long hallway.


Spotted: Rust and Feathers, Leesburg, VA

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






Let’s Go Visiting: Ruth

We haven’t been visiting in a while! I love to visit other people’s homes. It’s so much fun to see how people choose to organize and decorate their spaces – to see what is important to them – what they see as beautiful or memorable or comfortable or functional or fun and how they put it all together. Luckily, last week I was invited to Ruth’s house to check out her home and studio. Ruth is a painter, sculptor, collector and estate sale junkie. She lives with art all around her. Like Ruth herself, her home was intriguing and fun and full of humor and inspiration.

Ruth’s front hall is filled with mirrors and butterflies. It looks amazing! She collected countless mirrors at estate sales and painted them all gold with a white wash. The butterflies are cut from paper and hand applied. The overall effect is stunning.




(Insider tip: Ruth uses to find sales near her!)

Her home is filled with her sculptures and paintings. In her sculpture, found objects come together in marvelous ways. Each piece tells its own story.







Her art mixes beautifully with the rich wood dining room furniture she inherited:






Ruth also has some wonderful collections displayed throughout her home. I love the way she groups pottery together by color.




I loved this humorous touch – a cricket on a branch mimics the art on the wall:


Her studio is a treasure trove of orphaned objects waiting to become something amazing:



There were also stacks of Ruth’s paintings in her studio:


We unrolled the giant canvases in the above photo to reveal this:



As you can see in her studio, Ruth collects countless objects at estate sales for use in her art. When she showed me these vintage games she had been collecting, I was so inspired. What a cool wall decor idea for a child’s room or a game room!




Ruth, thanks so much for letting us visit!




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.




A Bit of a Confession

I may have mentioned how we are sort of neat freaks around here. We have our messy moments, of course, but generally things are pretty tidy at our house. Things look better that way. And then a while back, I read an interview with a famous architect (possibly Robert A. M. Stern, but for the life of me I cannot recall exactly where I read it and who in fact the architect was)  in which he was asked what the average homeowner can do to make their home more beautiful.

His advice? “Get the windows cleaned.”

I was immediately shamed. I had been a homeowner for 15 years (of various homes), but never once had I gotten the windows cleaned. And I was considered the biggest neat freak of all my friends! As soon as I read that, I really noticed how dirty the windows were. How had I missed it?

And so I got the windows cleaned. He was right! Every single room looked amazing. It was a transformation – without changing a thing. Every room looked cleaner, brighter, more beautiful. Call me converted.

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Spotted: Coffee Shop Cool

Hello! I still have several “big” posts to write about design adventures in London, but I wanted to share some little things that caught my attention as I was out and about. Inspiration can be found everywhere if you keep your eyes open! Here’s the first in a series:


This was a coffee shop that I happened to be walking by near St. Paul’s Cathedral – I loved the grouping of mismatched vintage lanterns and also the reclaimed wood patchwork wall. I saw them out of the corner of my eye and had to stop and take a picture! Either of these ideas could easily be a great design element in a home. The patchwork wall idea could be a done as a whole wall like this one but it could also be scaled down to be more like artwork. This picture is also a great reminder of how much fun chalkboards are! This one with the aged wood frame is wonderful.