The powder room, a.k.a. the half bath, is a great place to experiment with style. Due to the small size and limited assortment of fixtures (typically just a toilet and sink), powder room renovations can be opportunities to splurge on fun features that might be too costly in a larger space. And believe me, a few small splurges can go a long way. The powder room renovation shown here is a perfect example of how minor changes can have major impact. Witness the before pictures:
This bathroom had not been renovated for more than 25 years. Bright and cheerful, the room suffered very little wear and tear over the last quarter-decade and had never demanded repair. Nonetheless, the homeowners were ready for change. Down came the pastel floral wallpaper, and up went grasscloth, saturated paint, and warm metallics. The flooring, toilet, pedestal sink, toilet paper holder, and shelf stayed. We replaced the wall covering, mirror, lighting, artwork and accessories. Our goal was to give the space a hint of drama to keep things interesting, while still maintaining a cohesive color flow with the adjoining laundry room and family room.
With so little wall to cover, we were able to splurge on gorgeous grasscloth without blowing the budget.
We saw no need to replace the old hardware. Haven’t you heard? Brass is back! We enhanced the existing brass elements by adding a mirror and light fixture with complimentary warm patinas. We didn’t worry about matching the exact finish of the metals, but we kept them within the same color family.
The biggest challenge we encountered during the installation involved the light fixture. We originally had a funky double sconce with milk glass shades and Edison bulbs. The oiled bronze metal finish was lovely and the proportion of the fixture was perfect. Unfortunately, the milk glass shade was too opaque, creating a sharp line of shadow around the entire perimeter of the room. The lower 6 feet of wall glowed beautifully, but the top 2 feet and ceiling were completely dark. Other glass shades had a similar effect, either due to the shade itself or the metal hardware. We needed diffuse light on all sides of the fixture. Enter the Graydon Double Bath Light from Thomas O’Brien. Not only did it minimize the shadows, but it is a more timeless and versatile fixture than the trendy Edison bulb sconce. Stylistically our problem was solved, but one more dilemma remained. The glass of the new fixture was still more opaque than expected, and it didn’t emit enough light to offset the dark paint and grasscloth. We swapped out the original bulbs for warm LED’s, which produced a more powerful glow without exceeding the fixtures wattage limits.
So what do you think? Did we achieve major impact by changing just a handful of elements?
The grasscloth wallpaper was purchased through The Treasure Trove in Lafayette, California. The paint color is by Benjamin Moore. The mirror is the Compass Mirror from Wisteria. The light fixture is the Graydon Double Bath Light in Hand Rubbed Antique Brass, purchased through Neena’s Lighting. The hand towels, floor mat, and baskets came from Homegoods. The artwork is from my client’s personal collection.
It’s no secret that the worlds of fashion and interior design are intertwined. On a personal level, fashion and interiors effect our sense of comfort, style, self expression, and overall identity. On an industry level, they both push the envelope, constantly trying to create something new and different without losing sight of that which is classic and timeless. So while I don’t usually focus on fashion on my blog, I couldn’t resist sharing news of an exciting collaboration between two charitable design organizations: Warby Parker and Architecture for Humanity
Architecture for Humanity is celebrating 15 years of worldwide community service. From rebuilding Mississippi after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, to designing and building innovative schools in underprivileged communities across Central and South America, Architecture for Humanity has a long history of bringing sustainable design, architecture, and construction services to vulnerable people at a local, community level. Eyewear brand Warby Parker not only strives to bring beautifully crafted, high quality eyeglasses and sunglasses to the public at an affordable price, but for every pair of glasses they sell, they distribute a pair to someone in need. So how do these two charitable organizations come together? Warby Parker has designed a fabulous new eyewear collection inspired by architecture. The two frames, Aslin and Fowler, feature streamlined angles and durable materials. In addition to giving away one pair for every pair sold, they will also contribute a portion of each purchase to Architecture for Humanity.
I have been wearing glasses for 25 years. At age 11 I looked like a Sally Jesse Raphael groupie in my round red plastic frames. And my current pair is… another red plastic frame. I like to think that the rectangular glasses I’m sporting are a bit more stylish than my 1989 originals, but perhaps it’s time for me to try something new. I love, love, love Warby Parker’s Aslin frame in the “Oak Barrel” finish! The tortoise rim is timeless and versatile, but the deep blue contrast detailing adds just enough edge to keep things interesting. Obviously someone who wears red glasses couldn’t go completely neutral!
Added bonus: If you have asymmetrical ears (which I do), then you know that plastic rims with metal arms (is that what the side of glasses are called?) are much more flexible than all-plastic frames, resulting in a more level fit for your face.
If the pop of color isn’t for you, or if you are on the prowl for super-stylish new sunglasses in time for spring, the other two options in the Architecture for Humanity collection are equally nice. The Aslin frame in English Oak (above) is the neutral version of my personal pick. The Fowler sunglasses in Jet Silver (below) give the on-trend aviator style a new twist with tortoise and chrome.
After purchasing a new pair of Aslin frames in Oak Barrel, I will sleep easy at night knowing that A) I look really awesome and stylish, and B) I helped make the world a better place. With that in mind, it’s hard to think of a reason NOT to buy a new pair of glasses! Visit the Warby Parker website to get a pair for yourself. Their website is full of interesting information, so be sure to read about how their eyeglasses and sunglasses are designed and crafted, as well as how this innovative eyewear company came to be.
I love The Land of Nod. Color, whimsy, modernity, playfulness, organization… they get an A+ in every category. But if you are thinking “cute, yes, but I’m not a 7 year old girl,” think again. Children’s brands can be a fantastic source of grown-up style at a reduced price-point. In fact, I recently featured a Land of Nod rug in my Splurge vs. Steal: Multicolor Swirl Rug post. So, it was with great anticipation that I awaited the launch of Nod’s new collection by blogger and designer Joy Cho. As I scrolled through their website, I just couldn’t resist pulling out some of my favorite pieces to share with you.
1. The Chromatic Bamboo Wall Clock is just plain fun. I see no reason why kids should be the only ones who get to decorate with this much color.
2. The Circulation Chest actually has drawers in a variety of sizes, from single cubby, to flat row, to deep square – perfect for organizing all the different piles of stuff that accumulate in our homes.
3. Full disclosure: I actually have the Hangin’ Around Lamp hanging over my own dining room table. You would never know that it is a kid’s lamp. The style is clean and simple with nice proportions and quality detailing (like the clear cord) to rival any of the more expensive versions out there.
4. The Precious Metal Nightstand: they call it a nightstand, I call it a side table. The glossy enamel top over a trim metal base is a classic style, similar to the tables featured in my Splurge vs Steal: Red Enamel Side Table post. The Land of Nod currently offers the “nightstand” in white, navy, mint, and pink. Is the navy my favorite, or am I feeling the mint trend? They are all so cute, I just can’t decide!
5. Featuring a walnut exterior with a glossy white enamel interior, the Prairie School Desk is a versatile, functional piece that exemplifies clean mid-century modern style.
6. I have a bit of an obsession with bright yellow, and I’ve been coveting the Crystal Ball Table Lamp for some time now. Wouldn’t it look fantastic sitting on top of the Prairie School Desk?
While I was busy perusing the website, my daughter decided that Quiet Time was over, and she wandered down the stairs to see what I was doing. She was instantly enchanted (no exaggeration) by what she saw on my computer screen. Lola is decisive, opinionated, and seems to have inherited a love of decorating from her mama. As she pointed out her favorite pieces in various categories, it was clear that The Land of Nod knows their target audience: kids. It seems only appropriate that Lola should have an equal voice in this post. Here are HER favorite Land of Nod picks:
1. Yep, that’s the same Chromatic Bamboo Wall Clock that I chose for my own board. Considering she is just shy of 3 years old and can’t tell time yet, I had no idea that she even cared about clocks. I was surprised by her enthusiasm for the clocks category. Sure enough, the clock selection did not disappoint. She was quite taken with this colorful treasure.
2. The Pinwheel Rug is part of Joy Cho’s new collection. Although there were a number of rugs that caught Lola’s eye, this one was her stand-out favorite.
3. La Pina – This artistic print of a pineapple really struck a chord with my daughter. She likes fruit and she likes art. It’s the best of both worlds! I asked her where we should display it. She thoughtfully looked around the family room and found just the right spot on the wall behind our arched floor lamp. Like I said, decorating is in her genes.
4. Oh, the pillows… I could have dedicated an entire post just to Lola’s pillow picks. The Ice Cream Pillow easily took first place, but the adorable Elephants in the Room throw pillow wasn’t far behind. Alphabet pillows are obviously very exciting for a 2 year old, and the Ruched Throw Pillows are just plain pretty. The list could go on, but I won’t subject you to it.
5. Pink Balloon Bedding: they might as well have crawled into her dreams and pulled this image out. She LOVES balloons and she LOVES pink and she absolutely loves this bed. It’s not just about the balloons, though. According to Lola, the blue stripes really complete the look. I think the sheets are actually black, but Lola interpreted them as navy blue, and I have to admit, I like her color scheme better.
There you have it. Whether you are almost 3 or in your thirties, The Land of Nod is full of treasures and treats. I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of one of my favorite online stores.
Whether blended seamlessly into a rustic setting or implemented into a formal space for texture and contrast, solid wood end tables and stools can be a fun and versatile addition to your home. Placed next to a lounge chair, lined up along the wall as extra seating for guests, or used in a bedroom as a nightstand, natural wood pieces are casually chic. Although these tables are often comprised of a simple tree trunk, the two examples shown here exemplify the more polished side of the “solid wood log” category. The symmetry and smoothness of the square shape serves as a nice contrast to the “natural” look of the wood.
You may think that $398 for a stool is hardly a steal, but a neutral, compact piece such as this one from DWR will last a lifetime. The Teak Stool, designed by Rama Watana for Design Within Reach, was created with the intention of utilizing sustainable teak remnants that are too weak to be used in other applications. You can enjoy the beauty of natural wood in your home without compromising your eco-concious ideals! For a true statement piece, however, I absolutely love the “Sherwood” square side table from Horchow. It shares many of the same versatile and eco-friendly characteristics, but with a bit of unexpected shine. Artisans handcraft each unique table, blending acrylic into the teak for a look that is both whimsical and modern. The combination of materials creates a sturdy, durable table that can support up to 200 pounds.
Are you sold on the appeal of these wood tables and stools? Here is one more option to tempt you. Slightly cheaper than the DWR version, the Zuvan Side Table from Anthropologie (shown below) is truly budget friendly at $198. The low price and metallic finish make it a perfect option for anyone who seeking a playful hint of glam. Available in silver or gold, the Zuvan table is made of recycled wood.
To purchase the “Sherwood” Square Side Table visit Horchow.
Decorative knobs are a fun and easy way to spruce up your existing cabinetry and furniture. Although it may seem like a small detail, switching out standard knobs for a more unique style can take standard furnishings from merely functional to pretty and polished. I particularly like the look of colored glass knobs, which add a fun punch of color to a cabinet or dresser. Rejuvenation describes their pressed-glass and nickel knobs as reproductions based on styles popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, and prized by collectors today. The knobs are available in 13 different Depression-era colors. While $5.00 might not seem like much of a splurge, the cost of knobs can add up quickly. The typical dresser drawer has two knobs, and one dresser may have as many as 8 or 10 drawers. Ikea’s Satta knobs offer the same easy-to-install pop of color at a fraction of the price. Ikea’s knobs are plastic rather than glass, and they have a simple, streamlined silhouette as opposed to the historic detailing of the Rejuvenation knobs. But at a mere 33 cents per knob (they are sold in packs of 6), they are perfect for kids rooms, playrooms, or wherever you need an inexpensive update. Personally, I would splurge on the Rejuvenation knobs for “adult” spaces like the kitchen, bathroom, or master bedroom, but I’d opt for the cheaper Ikea knobs anywhere else.
To see the full range of colors for the Hexagonal Glass Knobs visit Rejuvenation.
The vibrant Swirl rug designed by British fashion designer Paul Smith for The Rug Company is a real stunner, but at $134 per square foot it is a major investment that most of us cannot afford. Although it lacks the graceful curves of Paul Smith’s original pattern, the Tectonic Floor Rug from Land of Nod is an absolute steal at just $299 for THE ENTIRE RUG! If you are wondering, that comes out to $12.46 per square foot for the 4’x6′ size, and less than $10 per square foot for the larger 5’x8′ size. Both rugs are 100% wool. The Nod version is a blend of Indian and New Zealand wool with 100% cotton backing, whereas the Rug Company version is hand-crafted of 100% Tibetan wool by master weavers in the vicinity of Kathmandu. And while the Swirl rug surely has superior fiber and craftsmanship befitting it’s price, The Land of Nod does provide an 18-year quality guarantee on all of it’s products, as well as offers complimentary swatches if you contact their customer service department. One important difference between the two rugs is the range of sizes. The Tectonic Rug is only available in 4’x6′ and 5’x8′, whereas the Swirl rug is available in 10 sizes ranging from 3’x5′ all the way up to 12’x18′. If the lovely Swirl rug is within your budget, then by all means, invest in this gem of tactile artwork. But if you want to add a pop of color and energy to your home without going broke or living in constant fear of muddy shoes and grape juice, go for the playful Tectonic Floor Rug from The Land of Nod.
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 FOURHOURS 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you who haven’t heard, E-Design (also known as E-Decorating) is a new way of providing design-savvy DIY clients with professionally designed interiors at an affordable price. Because the clients do some of the work themselves and the designer never actually meets the client or sees their space in person, interior designers are able to offer e-design services at just a fraction of the cost of traditional full-service design. The designer saves time by focusing only on the design portion of the project, and the client saves money.
As a relatively new concept, the e-design process is still evolving. Through trial and error, designers and clients are discovering what works, what doesn’t, and how best to handle long-distance communication effectively. Through my own business, E-Interiors by Heather Zerah, as well as through my work with the e-decorating website Tastemaker, I have found one element to be essential in the communication process: Mood Boards.
A Mood Board is a collage of images that represent the interior designer’s vision for a particular space. Mood boards often combine photos of rooms from design magazines and blogs, abstract images, and photos of furniture or decor that may eventually be used in the design. The designer’s vision is based upon the client’s initial description of their style, needs, and goals for their room. Usually presented in the early stages of the design process, the mood board is essential to ensure that the designer and client understand the direction a design is headed. Words can mean different things to different people. For example, a client and designer might have completely different perceptions of what the word “traditional” means, or what the color “green” actually looks like. By gathering images together in a mood board, a designer can paint a clear picture to convey style, mood, color scheme, and more. The client and designer can then discuss specific details of the mood board, whether good or bad, to make sure that all parties are in agreement. The end result is a hassle-free process where the designer knows what the client wants, and the client doesn’t receive any unwelcome surprises in the final design box.
Due to the creative nature of interior design, you will find that mood board styles vary widely from one designer to the next. Personally, I like to incorporate a lot of text among my images. Just as the word “traditional” can mean different things to different people, images can be perceived differently. While I might include an image because I love the shade of blue paint on the walls, a client might only see an unattractive coffee table, thus missing the point of the image. By incorporating text I can call out specific details to help the client understand which elements of an image pertain to their room. Because every new room design is unique and personalized, it can be challenging to find images that truly capture a designer’s goal for a particular project. However, by incorporating verbal and visual information into a mood board and then listening closely to the client’s feedback, a designer can produce a one-of-a-kind look that fits the client perfectly.
To find out more about E-Interiors by Heather Zerah, visit my website:
There is a new trend in interior design. Correction: There is a new way of doing business. The word “trendy” implies that something is of the moment but not permanent. Although it may seem like a trend right now, I think E-Design is here to stay.
The best ideas are often born of necessity, and E-Design (also called E-Decorating, Virtual Design, Online Decorating, or Online Design) is no exception. The recent economic recession forced both individuals and businesses to reassess their way of doing things. As a luxury service, the profession of interior design was hit particularly hard. Personal spending, home improvements, and the construction industry are intrinsic to the success of interior design, and each of those sectors suffered major losses following the housing collapse and economic fallout. Luckily, interior designers are trained problem solvers. From this struggle to keep the industry alive, innovative minds came up with a new system, one that opens up the possibility of professional interior design service to a whole new array of clients.
If you are not familiar with it, allow me to introduce you to the concept of E-Design. E-Design or E-Decorating services are typically offered for a flat fee based on room type (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc.) or room size (small, medium, large, extra-large). The client is responsible for measuring the space (most designers will provide detailed instructions on how to do this), gathering images that represent the mood or style they want for the room, and filling out a questionnaire to help the designer identify the most suitable design direction based on the client’s preferences and lifestyle. Correspondence is conducted via email and, in some cases, the phone. It is not necessary for the designer and client to live in the same geographic area. The interior designer analyzes all of the client’s information to create a design specifically suited to the client’s personal style, practical needs, and architectural details. It is then the client’s responsibility to purchase and install all of the specified elements (furniture, paint, etc.) based on detailed instructions from the designer.
The specific elements included in the fee vary by designer. Some interior designers do everything online, sending floor plans and realistic renderings of the room, along with a shopping guide for all items specified in the design, via email. Other designers, such as myself, send the client an actual package in the mail that includes floor plans, drawings, material samples, shopping lists, instructions, or whatever elements the designer deems useful. Every designer has their own way of doing things, so it is important to compare options to make sure you get the type of service that suits you best. Personally, I like to touch and hold things in my hands, so I prefer to receive a design package in the mail. Similarly, E-Design and E-Decorating fees vary by designer, so its important to find a designer who fits within your budget. You can find everything from inexpensive a-la-carte options that allow you to target specific problems or questions, to the most expensive E-Design packages offered by “celebrity” designers.
Regardless of whether you select the cheapest a-la-carte option or the most expensive celebrity-style re-design, you will find that the cost is significantly lower than that of full-service interior design. It is this cost difference that opens up E-Design service to a whole new array of clients. Whereas many full-service interior designers won’t even sign a contract without a retainer of several thousand dollars, a typical E-Design package fee may be anywhere from $600 for a tiny bathroom or entryway, to $2500 for a kitchen or great room.
Besides accommodating a wider range of budgets, E-Design and E-Decorating also appeal to a new design-savvy client. The abundance of home-improvement shows, design magazines, and stylish furniture stores offering local and online purchasing and deliveries has led to a more style-conscious population. An attractive and comfortable home no longer seems out of reach to the average person. We all want to live in rooms that resemble those we see on TV or in our favorite home furnishing catalogs. Unfortunately, accessibility does not always equate to time or good taste. Most people simply can’t find enough time in their hectic schedules to search through the huge assortment of options, and with so many to choose from, they may find it difficult to make a decision. What initially seems like an exciting new weekend project becomes exhausting and overwhelming. With E-Design, these people are able to do the fun brainstorming part where they tear out magazine pages, but then they hand the process over to the professional who will be able to sift through the multitude of retailers to design a unified, cohesive space. It is then up to the client to order furniture and implement the design scheme at their own pace, without having to hand over a big check for furniture and services all at once.
As an interior designer, I’m excited about the potential of E-Design. The concept is fairly new, but I think it will catch on in a big way. I have added E-Design to my own list of services, but I can’t take credit for the idea. I was quite content doing business the old way for many years. I was lucky enough not to be significantly touched by the recession while I was working as an interior designer in New York City. It wasn’t until I moved to California following the birth of my daughter in 2011 that I saw just how hard the interior design industry had been hit in the San Francisco Bay Area. I realized that if I was going to work in this tough business climate, I needed to find a new way of doing things. After reading an article about E-Decorating in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, I began noticing E-Design popping up all over the place, in a wide range of forms, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.
I absolutely think that full-service interior design is a valuable service for the right client. A major home renovation can entail a huge scope of work that many people simply don’t have the time or skill to oversee. In these cases, a full-service interior designer is worth every penny. I myself continue to offer full design services, as well as E-Design services, with the understanding that projects of all scope, size, and budget deserve professional attention. However, for those individuals with a DIY attitude but glossy magazine aspirations, E-Design may be the perfect solution for achieving a professional look with minimal hassle at a reasonable cost.
To see what the E-Interiors by Heather Zerah E-Design package includes, visit my website: