Design Reveal! Modern Neutrals in a Tranquil San Francisco Bathroom

Calm, relaxing, warm, peaceful… These words describe the atmosphere inside this newly designed San Francisco bathroom.  As the mother of a 3-year-old, I find even the briefest moment of  bathroom privacy to be an absolute luxury. If I could enjoy a moment of privacy in THIS bathroom I would feel like I was being pampered at a day spa.Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-008

Many San Francisco homes appear to be two stories from the outside, with a garage door at the ground level and a set of stairs leading up to the front door. Once inside, you realize that the entire livable home is on the upper level. The ground level is an unfinished garage and storage space. My client undertook the major task of turning the entire back half of her garage into a master suite / den, along with a finished laundry room and interior stairs leading up to the entryway on the main level. My help was enlisted for the bathroom design.

Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-092

Having done her homework on Pinterest, my client had a clear idea of what she wanted. She loved the look of clean, modern, large-format porcelain tiles. If you have ever shopped for porcelain tile, you know the range of options is huge. We looked at an assortment of patterns, textures, and geometries (circles, squares, ridges!) in shades of charcoal, beige, and bright white. As we considered various options, my client’s thoughts kept returning to a particular image she had seen during her research: a bold horizontal stripe constructed out of contrasting tiles. Of course, like most trends, a bold design choice can quickly become outdated. She feared that the bold contrast stripe would grow tiresome within a few years. I made it my mission to find the perfect balance of contrast and neutrality. And we did it!

Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-015

Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-021

Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-028

The solid, matte, mocha-colored tile has a smooth but slip-proof finish and is a lovely complement to the mix of cream and beige tones in the polished “marble look” tile. It stands out without screaming “look at me!”  With the perfect tiles selected, our next challenge was finding the exact sizes we needed. Both tiles were available in the large 12×24″ size that we liked, but they didn’t have many sizes beyond that. Luckily, our skilled contractor was able to cut the porcelain tile down to the dimensions required for our design. He trimmed the solid tile down to 6×24″ for the wall stripe and 6×6″ for better traction on the wet shower floor. He then trimmed the 3×24″ surface bullnose down to a quarter round for the trim, and created baseboard using the through-body matte tile. *Side note: Through-Body means that the color pigment runs through the entire material, rather than just resting on the surface. This allows you to cut and polish the tile yourself and still have a finished, color-matched edge.

Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-043

Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-064

Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-103

Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-094

We looked at a variety of paint colors in shades of blue and green, ultimately selecting the tranquil Bali color from Benjamin Moore for the walls. For fixtures, we considered polished nickel and dark, oil-rubbed bronze. Once again, my client looked past the trendier bronze option in favor of the classic, timeless look of brushed nickel. For the shower floor, my client opted for a curbless shower, which slopes down towards a slim drain along the far wall. The curbless entry and bench are fantastic features. Although they are comfortable for people of all ages, they add resale value, particularly among older buyers with decreased mobility.

Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-093

This fairly compact bathroom had to be built to fit within a typically narrow San Francisco footprint. But once inside, compact becomes cozy. And this bathroom proves, once again, that small spaces can have big style.

Photo Credits: Frederic Zerah

Design Reveal! Classic Meets Modern in a San Francisco Bathroom

Are you ready for show-and-tell? It’s as fun now as it was when I was 5! Today’s big reveal is a bathroom remodel I recently completed in San Francisco.

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-110

The home, built in the late 1920’s, falls into the classification of “Storybook” architecture prevalent in San Francisco’s Sunset District during the depression era (although it predates the fanciful peak of the Storybook period by a few years). Despite the similarly colorful facades, this period is a notable contrast to the typical Victorian architecture for which San Francisco is famous. My client wanted to incorporate classic period details with respect for the home’s distinct architectural personality. We considered a range of ceramic and marble subway tile options with various accent colors, including black, jade green, and gray. However, this particular client (who was a designer’s dream to work with!) had an eye for unusual shapes, bold colors, and modern details that simply couldn’t be ignored. We followed her instincts, and the design evolved from a traditional subway pattern into a marriage of classic forms, bright colors, and clean, modern fixtures.

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom_142

Classic white subway tile covers the walls in keeping with the original concept. We took a more playful approach with the floor, choosing an Ann Sacks arabesque pattern in custom handmade-to-order Robin’s Egg Blue, with glossy blue liners to match. We wrapped the liner around the perimeter of the entire room, so that wherever you turn you get a glimpse of the lovely shade.

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-134

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-191

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-211

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-165

My client took her unique taste one step further with the fixture and furniture selection. Although we looked at more traditional options of the Restoration Hardware variety, she ultimately settled on clean, crisp, angular pieces from Duravit in a dark walnut finish. They serve as an unexpected, yet surprisingly pleasing, contrast to the curvy floor tile. The walls are painted a subtle, barely-there blue that changes with the light and keeps the room from feeling too stark or overwhelmingly saturated.

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-147

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-153

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-188

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-164

Last but not least, you may be wondering where the toilet is located. In keeping with the time period, the bathroom layout features a separate water closet. We kept the original toilet, but refreshed the small room with the same floor and wall tile as the main bathroom.

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-217

Heather Zerah blue white bathroom-214

The bathroom feels fresh, bright, and contemporary with just a cheerful nod towards the home’s historic roots. Most importantly, it brings my client’s unique design style to life.

Photo Credits: Frederic Zerah

Color Craze: Radiant Orchid

If you follow the world of design, you most likely heard Pantone’s big announcement in December: Radiant Orchid (Pantone color 18-3224) is the official color of 2014.  Pantone’s 2013 color, Emerald Green, symbolic of growth, renewal and prosperity, has retired to make way for an enchanting blend of fuchsia and purple with pink undertones.  The complex color, described as beguiling, captivating, and magical, was chosen for it’s ability to inspire creativity and innovation.  A historically significant color, purple is familiar to the eye, yet atypical and unexpected in interior design.  Purple is a color that inspires either love or hate, and thus tends to be used sparingly and with great intentionality.  I’ll admit, I was not all that excited about Radiant Orchid when I first heard the news.  However, just as Pantone predicted, it has grown on me.  When used correctly, it can add originality, beauty and vitality to a space.

Pantone Radiant Orchid

The simplest way to add a new color to your home is by painting the walls.  If you choose to go this route, Radiant Orchid is an appropriate choice for the soft, feminine aesthetic of the bedroom.  For a clean, classic look, pair it with white and other neutrals.  If you take a more daring approach to color trends, make Radiant Orchid a focal point by using it in a high traffic area of your home, as exemplified in the stunning stairway image below.

lavender wall paint bedroom

radiant orchid stairway

Given the unique nature of this pinkish-purple hue, I prefer designs that take a more creative approach than basic wall paint.  I love the way Radiant Orchid adds energy and interest to a room when used as a bold accent color, in artwork, or in a striking and unusual pattern.

bedroom purple striped ceiling

john robshaw purple wallpaper

lavender dining chairs

lavender pink artwork

purple floral headboard

Of course, it’s not realistic to overhaul the color scheme of your home every year, no matter how alluring Pantone’s latest selection may be.  If you’ve been dreaming of incorporating lavender into your home but you just haven’t had the courage or inspiration, then now is the time to go for it.  But if you simply want to dabble with Radiant Orchid during it’s moment of glory, I suggest you buy an actual orchid and enjoy it while it lasts.

orchid in gold and white bedroom

For more interior color inspiration visit my Pinterest page:

Photo Credits: Pantone, Irideeen, Philipp Klinger, Project Nursery, John Robshaw, Traditional Home, Simple Details, William McIntosh Design, Adventures of an Almost 40 Year Old Intern

Get The Look: Ombre Wood Paneling

Ever since spotting this photo on Pinterest last Fall, I have been daydreaming about this room with it’s charming wood paneled walls painted in pink ombre.  It’s the kind of space where I can imagine myself doing utterly relaxing, feminine things, like painting my nails whilst sipping lemonade and flipping through a magazine.

pink ombre wood paneling

So imagine my surprise when I was reading the latest issue of House Beautiful (February 2014) and discovered that this wall was created using wallpaper produced by a Dutch company called Eijffinger. Not only does the wallpaper method sound easier than adjusting the tint of your pink paint one wood panel at a time, but it also makes the look accessible to those who don’t have wood panel homes.  It would be especially lovely in a sloped attic (imagine a sunny office or a little girl’s playroom up there!) or a sunroom, or even just a cheerfully casual kitchen.  Better yet, this beachy style is available not only in pink, but in yellow, too.

yellow ombre wood paneling

Visit, or follow this direct link to the Degrado Ombre Painted Wood page on their website for more details.  The suggested retail price is $240 per roll, but you can start by ordering an 8″ x 10″ sample for just $1.99.  They also offer tools to help you find a local retailer and to calculate the quantity your space requires.

Degrado Ombre Painted Wood Pink Degrado Ombre Painted Wood Yellow

Get ready to enjoy some beachside charm year round!

For more creative wall ideas visit my Pinterest page:

Photo Credits: Pinterest and Brewster Home Fashions

Festive Thanksgiving Table Decor

When it comes to holiday preparations, I tend to underestimate the time it takes to get things done.  I wake up on Thanksgiving morning full of holiday cheer and ease into my day with a hot cup of coffee and a bit of parade-viewing on TV.  Inevitably, Thanksgiving dinner, although delicious, is ready about 3 hours late. (Confession: The first time I ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner it took me FOUR HOURS to prepare my apple pie!  That didn’t even include cooking time.  If apple slicing was a necessary life skill, I’d be in trouble.)  So, with Thanksgiving just three weeks away, I decided to start preparations “early” this year.  Festive table decor, an essential element of the Thanksgiving feast, is one of the easiest things to plan in advance.  If you have a separate dining room, you can even set your table a few days ahead of time to avoid last minute stress.  With that in mind, I’ve gathered some Thanksgiving table inspiration:

In my dream world, my fall-inspired Thanksgiving table would look something like this: aglow with candle light, flowers the color of fallen leaves, pops of teal and green, and furniture with rustic charm.

teal and rust table decor

In reality, I need something far more simple and achievable, but with ambiance worthy of one of my favorite holidays.  Here are a few possibilities:

mini pumpkin votive candle holders

I absolutely love this idea, and it is definitely a DIY project I can handle.  Although I’m not a major do-it-yourselfer, I can totally envision my 2-year-old daughter and I selecting an assortment of mini pumpkins for this colorful arrangement.  Hollow them out, drop in a votive candle, and voila… a colorful, easy, affordable, and completely pilgrim-appropriate tabletop scheme.

mini pumpkins stuffed with flowers

Like the previous idea, this one also involves hollowing out a few mini pumpkins.  Stuffing each pumpkin with marigolds is a bit more polished and sophisticated than the candle idea, but still quite simple.  Even if you don’t have twig-placemats and blue ceramic plates, marigold-stuffed-pumpkins are sure to complement a variety of settings.  Depending on where you live, the branches and red berries can likely be found in your own backyard or a nearby park.  I imagine that a bit of water in the base of the pumpkins helps keep the flowers looking fresh, particularly if your feast tends to run behind schedule like mine does.

white pumpkins mums and white pumpkins

The contrast of these white pumpkins against the oranges and reds of the tablecloth and flowers (mums, if you are wondering) is quite lovely. Painting pumpkins white is another DIY project that I could turn into some quality craft-time with my toddler.

pumpkin and vine table decor

This tablescape looks fancy, but it is really quite simple.  You can probably find an equally diverse assortment of pumpkins and squash at your local grocery store or farmers market.  The center of the miniature cream-colored pumpkins have been hollowed out to hold elegant tapered candles.  (For step-by-step instructions on how to do this, click the Jenny Steffens link below in the Photo Credits.)  The brown berries placed on each white napkin are a nice touch.

gourd flower vase

Last but not least, this goard-turned-vase is charming and creative.  To achieve this look, simply slice off the stem and widen the opening with a knife.

So, do you have a favorite?  My daughter will be decorating kraft-paper placemats for our table,  so I think the mini pumpkin candle holders will be the best choice to complete our Thanksgiving tablescape.

Image Souce: Style Me Pretty, Revel Blog, Pinterest, Your Cozy Home, Pinterest, Jenny Steffens, Better Homes & Gardens.

Color Craze: Pretty in Pink

I’ve been noticing a lot of pink in home decor lately.  I’m not sure if I’ve been noticing pink because it is a growing trend, or if pink rooms simply catch my eye because I think they are pretty.  Regardless, this lovely color deserves a shout-out.  Often overlooked as too feminine, girly, or childish, pink rarely plays a prominent role in home design outside of little girl’s bedrooms.   However, one look at the images below and I think you’ll see pink as a diverse color worthy of attention.  Whether soft and sophisticated or bright and playful, pink adds an unexpected freshness to the home.

pale pink midcentury modern

mint green walls pink chairs

pink radiator


pink resin kitchen countertop



rose pink walls and sofa

pink walls colorful art

So, what do you think?  Is pink fabulous or too feminine?  You know my vote, but I’d love to hear yours.

Design Trends: Saturated Paint Colors

I recently noticed that more and more of my clients were expressing a desire for deep, saturated wall color.  A trend tends to start small, gradually growing as the idea gains exposure, until one day you realize that it is all around you.   I knew this trend had gone mainstream when I received the Crate & Barrel catalog last month.  I flipped the catalog open to an image of a living room with charcoal gray walls, chartreuse furniture, and teal accents.  Nothing drab there!  As a designer, I love to see people experimenting with color.  Whites and neutrals can be absolutely gorgeous, but they all too often become the safe (a.k.a. plain, boring…) choice for those who simply don’t know what else to choose.  Contrary to common fears, dark paint can actually open up a space, adding depth and visual impact.

Photo Credit: A Beautiful Mess

There has been a lot of buzz about gray being the “new neutral” as taupe and beige fall out of favor.  Gray can be found in a wide range of shades from light to dark, but charcoal seems to be especially popular.  Charcoal is a sophisticated color that complements a variety of styles from modern to traditional and acts as a rich backdrop for bold pops of color, such as the spicy oranges, warm whites, and vibrant yellow-greens in the images below.

Photo Credit: Ann Lowengart Interiors LLC
Photo Credit: Rue Magazine

While gray is establishing itself as a modern classic, blue stands out as a popular choice for those with a more adventurous approach to home design.  Blue has long been a staple of fashion and design, but the rich royal blues and teals arriving on the paint scene today signal a turn towards the dramatic.  Like charcoal, saturated blues allow white and vibrant colors like mustard and coral to pop.

Photo Credit: Ashley Whittaker Design
Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue
Photo Credit: Farrow & Ball
Photo Credit: Eric Cohler Design

Still unsure of whether this trend will work for you?  It should be a safe bet if your room has large windows and a lot of natural light.  To emphasize the bright natural light, contrast the dark paint with bright white window and door trim or wainscoting, white accessories and fixtures, and sheer window treatments.

Photo Credit: House Beautiful
Photo Credit: Traditional Home
Photo Credit: House Beautiful

The entryway is one of the easiest places to experiment with color.  Although it literally makes the first impression for anyone entering your home, it is not an area where people linger for long periods of time and thus doesn’t have to follow the same rules as other rooms.  Have fun with it.  Choose a color you love, that you want to see when you leave for work every morning and when you come home every night.

Photo Credit: House Beautiful
Photo Credit: Punt
Photo Credit: Sheila Bridges

Deep, saturated color may be a growing trend, but that doesn’t mean that you have to follow anyone else’s lead.  The beauty of color lies in the variety of options.  Trust your instincts and create a mood that feels fresh and new.  And remember, the best thing about paint is that you can always paint over it again if you don’t love the results!

Photo Credit: Traditional Home
Photo Credit: Steven Gambrel
Photo Credit: William-Christopher Design

To see more paint colors, wallpapers, and murals, visit my Winsome Walls board on Pinterest:

Creative Wall Ideas: Peel & Stick Wallpaper

I love patterned walls, but as a renter, I have long been stuck with dull, boring off-white walls in every room of my home.  From New York’s East Village to the Upper East Side, and from Roosevelt Island to Lafayette, California, these plain walls have followed me.  Imagine my excitement when I discovered the growing trend of Peel & Stick Wallpaper.  Perfect for renters or anyone else who wants temporary, easy-to-install AND remove patterned wall decor, peel-and-stick wallpaper is constructed with the same adhesive backing that we usually associate with wall decals for kids rooms.  A quick search online will present a number of manufacturers and styles, ranging from childish to sophisticated, neutral to edgy.

Photo Credit: Blik

My personal favorite among all the patterns I’ve seen, the Fishwall pattern wall tile from Blik is vibrant, colorful, and modern.  Although it might be a bit overwhelming if applied to every wall in the room, it is perfect for an accent wall.  Goodbye boring!  For $45.00 you get two 28″x48″ panels.  The panels actually consist of self-adhesive fabric that is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and free of PVC and phthalates.    Although their “wallpaper” (described as Pattern Wall Tiles on their website) selection is limited, Blik offers some of the most unique designs on the market.

For a look that is a little less edgy but still colorful and contemporary, Tempaper has a wide selection of designs.  The oversize scale and unusual color combinations keep the more traditional patterns feeling fresh.  In addition to a wide range of florals, they also offer geometric, herringbone, and vertical stripe patterns.  Established by a family of set decorators in New York City, Tempaper has been creating temporary adhesive wallpaper since 2008.  Their website includes a short demo video depicting installation, as well as a calculator to help you determine how much paper to order for your particular space.  For those of you who are curious but may still be suffering from pattern commitment phobia, they offer inexpensive samples with free shipping.  Order a few samples and test them out at home to see which design you like best.  Keep in mind that Tempaper recommends you apply their wallpaper to clean, smooth surfaces that have been painted with an eggshell or satin finish.  It can be applied in bathrooms or areas with indirect moisture and steam.  It is water-based and will not be affected by humidity.

Photo Credit: Tempaper
Photo Credit: Tempaper
Photo Credit: Tempaper
Photo Credit: Tempaper
Photo Credit: Tempaper
Photo Credit: Tempaper
Photo Credit: Tempaper
Photo Credit: Tempaper







Wall decal manufacturers have been offering a large selection of children’s wall decals for years, but peel-and-stick wallpaper specifically for nurseries and kid’s rooms is a relatively new invention.  They make it quick and easy for you to cover an entire wall with cute and cheerful patterns that will bring instant energy to your child’s room.

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.18.50 PM
Photo Credit: Gilt
Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.21.12 PM
Photo Credit: Gilt

WallPOPs, one of the most popular wall decal brands, has just come out with a new line of peel-and-stick wallpaper.  Although I wasn’t able to find it on WallPOPs own website yet, you can currently purchase the wallpaper patterns through Gilt.

Photo Credit: Gilt
Photo Credit: Gilt
Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 3.17.31 PM
Photo Credit: Gilt

For best results when hanging peel-and-stick wallpaper, don’t remove the backing all at once. Starting at the top of the wall, remove one foot at a time and adhere that portion to the wall.  Peel away additional backing as you go, working your way down the wall.  Smooth out bubbles as you go, lifting and repositioning paper if necessary.  Use an Xacto blade or similar razor to trim away extra paper from baseboards and corners.  Once finished, roll up the backing and save it in case you need to take down the wallpaper and store it for future use.

Inspiration: Emerald Green

click image to enlarge
click image to enlarge

What’s inspiring me right now?  Emerald Green!  Pantone, the master of all colors, declared Emerald (specifically, Pantone 17-5641 Emerald) to be the 2013 Color of the Year back in early December.  Despite being the “it” color for more than three months now, emerald green home decor remains difficult to find.  The brighter shades of green, such as lime, apple, grass, and avocado, have long dominated the home furnishings market.  Nonetheless, a thorough search can lead you to some gorgeous items.  Hovering between green and blue, emerald is an enchanting and unexpected hue.  Add some simple emerald accents to your existing decor, or go full impact (wallpaper, paint, lacquered woodwork, etc.) for a genuinely bold room.

Included in this inspiration board:

Christian Fischbacher’s Spectrum sheer fabric #14237-701,

JC Penney’s Pantone Universe Emerald Ombre Square Pillow, $37,

Restoration Hardware’s Traditional Green Glass Hook, $28-$32.50,

Restoration Hardware’s Traditional Green Glass Knob, $13-$15,

Zimmer-Rohde’s Colibri silk fabric in color #1010392600,

Serena & Lily’s Emerald Crab Sheet Set, available in sizes twin, full and queen, $110-$170,

Bungalow 5’s Romano Wall Mirror in green,–ROM-670-77.php

Lamps Plus’ Emerald Narrow Zig Zag Ovo Table Lamp, $149.99,

Deco Dreams’ Mid-Century Mazzega Custom Emerald Green Chandelier,

See other recent inspirations on my website: