Posts Tagged ‘West Elm’

Fast Work // A Fresh, Eclectic Entry Hall and Living Room

1This is a living room and adjacent entry hall that I turned around fast for some clients on a small budget (less than $5K) last year. Their rented 1940’s bungalow had some cool vintage character, including a working fireplace and original windows. Unfortunately, all the walls had been newly painted beige…and my clients were not beige kind of people! They agreed that changing the character of these front rooms with paint was going to be a worthy investment, even for just a year or two.

With some projects, the art is a part of the finishing touches. With this one, we looked to it as a starting point for color. These clients had become engaged on a ski trip to the Swiss Alps, which I considered a sexy jumping-off point for the design! I showed them reproduction vintage travel posters that could reflect their history – and also be framed and shipped fast. The one that really resonated with them featured black and white with deep blues, which gave us an interesting palette to mix with grays and wood tones.

Sampling blue paints for this project was my happy place!
The one we picked very inexpensively defines the entry, and gives the tiny space a presence in the living room by drawing your eye there. These clients love sailing, so this was a bold color that didn’t feel too crazy for them. I tried out this black dresser from their bedroom to ground the blue a bit further, and it turned out to be a perfect fit as an entry piece with storage.

The contrast of the deep blue in the entry with white walls in the living room made the space feel instantly fresh.
My clients wanted to keep some of the Traditional furniture that they had been given by their parents, but were ready to jettison an overstuffed gingham sofa and a few ornate tables for some pieces with cleaner lines and a more low-slung Mid-century style.


Everyone’s favorite new piece is the vintage dresser, found at a flea market and used here as a credenza. While its wood had an ugly grain and looked terribly beat-up, I was sold on the distinctive brass hardware, which was miraculously all intact. It was also a well-made piece, with the scale and storage we were seeking. We patched up the wood in places, and painted the dresser a sophisticated blue in a durable glossy finish to make the hardware shine.

The sofa was custom-made, but most of the other pieces in this space were either sourced online and delivered fast, or picked up on a World Market / Ikea / Target styling haul. Many are still available.

All photos by Tessa Neustadt

Ralph Lauren Paint – Harbor Blue in Entry, Picket Fence in Living Room, Rue Royale on credenza in Living Room
World Market - Riveted table lamp bases, Tribal Drum shades, Deer Departed canvas, Leila sunburst mirror, glass vase, pillows, candle holders, frames
Ikea - Llapljung Ruta rug, Hektar floor lamp, Fejka potted plan
Crate and Barrel – Pastis walnut and white lacquer nesting tables
West Elm – Nook coffee table, Martini table in brass, throw blanket
Urban Outfitters – Moda leather chairs, hand sculpture
Target – Small floor lamp, trio of brass wall decorations, tall wood vase – Zermatt by Pierre Kroenig print, framed
Huset Shop – Hay tray table
Melrose Trading Post – vintage credenza (restored and custom painted by Natasha Jansz Design)
(Clients’ own – Leaning mirror; black dresser; Edison glass cloche table lamp – similar at World Market)

Show Me 3 // Shaggy Stool

HARK!! It’s a room, calling out for a fuzzy little perch.

How can you not smile when you see one of these sheepskin-covered stools? A shot of texture and a dash of whimsy that can be moved anywhere in a house where an extra seat is needed. These three can skew earthy or glamorous, depending on your design.


HIGH // Bianca Stool // Overstock // $660



MID // Mongolian Lamb Stool // West Elm // $399



LOW // Natural Flokati Stool // World Market // $80

I like to imagine a pair of these stools under a lucite console table for a textural contrast…or a single one sitting beside a free-standing bath-tub.

Take Me Away // Napa Valley Working Vacation Weekend

A design project in the Napa Valley had been a long-held little dream of mine, and in 2015 it has come true twice! Earlier this year, it was the tasting room for a small winery in St. Helena. And then this Fall, I started collaborating with a dear friend on her lovely new cottage in Napa. This is a picture of the bungalow where Emily used to live. So charming, and the scene of many good times over the years. We want more of that feel with the new place – an unpretentious warmth.


Emily’s new house doesn’t come with quite this much vintage character, but it is on its way to revealing its own charms. After a few weeks of Pinterest back-and-forth based on floor-plans and pictures, last weekend I made an overnight trip of it and finally met the house in person. Amid the beautiful distractions of the Napa Valley and time with my friend, the mission was to review design progress, develop some ideas further, and of course get some good shopping done.

IMG_4876I was very pleased about some key pieces of new furniture that had arrived. It’s no secret that I am obsessed with these dhurrie chairs, and this is my favorite colorway.  I adore these hues and that texture paired with the copper Martini table. Emily was initially a bit skeptical when I pinned this chair, but now it’s true love.

IMG_4877This gem of a bentwood rocker was picked up at an estate sale, and Emily is in the midst of re-finishing it. We decided on a rich black stain to contrast with some of the other furniture in more naturally finished woods. It is such a gorgeously sculptural chair, and is going to look great next to a big plant.

IMG_4933This is part of a gallery wall for which I did a preliminary lay-out. Emily has a fair amount of art that she has collected in 20 years of travel, and I love that it’s a mix of media including textiles and photography. We sorted through it all and made decisions about how to frame and hang the best pieces.

To wrap up Day One of our work, it had to be a dinner at one of my favorites in Downtown Napa, Angele Emily and I sat at the bar, where the people-watching and eavesdropping was almost as good as the food and wine!IMG_4892

And then we saw Janeane Garafolo, who I hadn’t really thought about in years, do standup at City Winery. Since Emily and I became friends in college in the 90’s (probably J.G.’s heyday, as far as high-profile work goes), nostalgia made us curious to check out her current act. Happy to say we laughed a lot – her comedy held up!

Day Two was all about shopping. The Napa-Vallejo Flea Market turned out to be NOT what we had imagined (at all!), so we quickly moved on to sourcing vintage furniture online. I introduced Emily to the world of bidding on Ebay. (We missed out on a sweet midcentury credenza, and then found an even better one and won it for a steal!)

Then Emily showed me the brick and mortar stores in Napa that she has been prowling for inspiration.  Poor House is my new favorite, with so many pieces that looked made for my aesthetic - a perfect mix of simplicity and distinctive details.IMG_4923So inspired by everything in the vignette above, from the quilted leather of the chair, to the streak of red on the desk!
IMG_4921The swooping lines and rich walnut finish of the lounge-y chair (above) caught my eye, as did these bar-stools, which hit just the right “warm industrial” note for me with the leather and the leg details.IMG_4915

Antiques on Second is a store I will return to with a truck one day.
IMG_4909I have such a weakness for campaign furniture. My current projects have no room for this folding bench, but I want somebody to give it a home in an entry hall or covered loggia. IMG_4910These chairs also deserve a good home. That green! So much character. I’m going to run with this idea sometime for sure.

Before I knew it, it was Sunday evening and time to head home to L.A.. My farewell to Napa and Emily was made less sad by the spectacular sunset we got to accompany us on the drive to the airport.


I’m not allowed to show up at home after a trip without a special little surprise for my kids, so I made sure to stop at The Roost Napa on my way out to look for gifts. Here’s one I found for myself!

IMG_5042I was going to have so much remorse if I didn’t buy this tote bag. My passion for its playful print is unbridled!! And it will always remind me of this special little trip.IMG_5027

And I didn’t forget my girls, who got these awesome finger puppets. They were only a buck each, and the details are wonderful. As expected, they were a hit with this little monster.
IMG_5022Weekend Mission Accomplished! A bit of work, a bit of play, and lots of fresh inspiration for this project and my work next year. Thanks, Emily!!

Before & After // Bathroom without Remodel

Unless you have a huge budget to remodel, when you move into a new house, you have to pick your battles. The Master Bathroom of my house is probably going to be the location of a staircase if we add a new master suite one day, so we didn’t want to spend much on this room when we moved in. On the other hand, this is the bathroom in our home that guests use. It had to be inviting! Here is what we did with a small budget.

15 New We were fortunate that the lay-out was fine, and we weren’t contending with any hideous tile. There was also hardwood flooring (not my first choice for a bathroom, but it flowed with the rest of the house), Carrera marble counter-tops, unusual mid-century faucets, and cabinetry that was well-made. All of it was in good shape. Despite all the pluses, the overall “Before” wasn’t good!  Challenges included blah paint, an off-center window, a huge unframed mirror glued to the wall, and a harsh light-strip.

15 BeforeDid I mention the suite of gray fixtures? The toilet, sinks and tub were all colored. Very 80’s!


My prescription was new paint and lighting, and an unusual mirror. The paint is two shades of gray – Flagstone on walls and Zinc on trim from Martha Stewart’s discontinued Home Depot line. Note that I did not paint the window in the trim color because I didn’t want to highlight it!

We bought a new white toilet immediately, and I didn’t care about the gray tub because I knew it was going to be covered by a jazzy shower curtain. Making peace with the gray sinks was my big compromise here. It would just wreck the marble if we took it up to install new sinks. And since I’m a bit of a Caesarstone snob, new countertops were definitely going to break the bank!
22I hesitated to post this bathroom because it already looks different (I have a new shower curtain and better accessories now!), and I’m planning on replacing the lighting with something prettier. The West Elm sconces work well enough for me design-wise, but they were largely selected for value! It’s been three years now, and I’m ready to upgrade. (These white sconces may get a second life as reading lights over my daughters’ beds!)

Show Me 3 // Bulb Lamp

I tend to like things that have a stripped-down form but are done in interesting materials, so I’m enjoying this little bulb lamp trend that’s happening right now. They are just the thing to make a diminutive design statement while illuminating a table. Look at these three – each its own cute style and price-point.
e83613a09d3f9c1e4d600ebd89459cc2HIGH // Crystal Desk Lamp // Anthropologie // $350


MID // Ion C-Series // Schoolhouse Electric // $120


LOW // Faceted Wood Bulb Lamp // West Elm // $50

OK, an exposed light-bulb seems a bit fragile, so thoughtful placement is important! I would style one by putting it on top of a stack of books, and make it a subtle focal point on a desk, bedside table or mantle.

Past Work // Kitchen Remodel – Part 1

Here are some of the details of the Kitchen remodel we did prior to moving into our home about 3 years ago. The house already had a lovely open lay-out and good flow, and I wanted to take that further with the Kitchen by expanding the depth of the bar, removing the hanging cabinets over the bar, and removing the ceiling soffet. Often soffets house electrical components and you’re stuck with them – it was a happy day when we opened up the drywall and confirmed that it was merely a design choice, and could be eliminated altogether!
beforekitchenSplurges for this kitchen were the Caesarstone (when it comes to counter-tops, I say buy the best and you’ll only cry once), the Olivieri sink (I was sure we wanted a double-bowl, stainless-steel under-mount sink with an integrated drainboard, and this was the only one I could find) and the Ann Sacks handmade tile (not a lot of wall to cover, and I was in love with the colors and pattern). We saved money by sticking with the original floors, and by selecting an inexpensive faucet, cabinet hardware and pendant lights.

1. Trim Paint // Ralph Lauren Mombasa Mist 2. Wall Paint // Glidden Parchment White 3. Backsplash // Ann Sacks 2″ x 6″ Chevron Tile in Dense Fog, London Sky and Cloud 4. Pendants // West Elm Globe Pendant 5. Faucet // Ikea Ringskar Faucet 6. Cabinets // Martha Stewart Kitchen in Maidstone Ocean Floor 7. Countertop // Caesarstone in Lagos Blue 8. Hardware // Lowes Satin Nickel Arched Cabinet Pull 9. Sink // Oliveri 274-1 Drainboard Series Sink

8 NewOne day I’ll tell you about the other side of the Kitchen, including adventures in DIY stainless steel back-splashes!

Past Work // 6th Street Living Room

For the last couple of years, I have been working with select clients across the U.S. on living spaces that I will never actually set foot in. Here is an example of one of my customized Decorating Guideline Packages. I work on them with my talented assistants, Anna and Caroline, and deliver them to my clients by email.

This one is a recent Living Room design for a young family in Washington, D.C. Their new townhouse is their first home, and all they had for this room when we started was a credenza to go under their TV. The clients and I determined together that they wanted a casual, “Coastal Modern” vibe for this room. “Ikea to West Elm” was the price point they gave me for sourcing.


To get started, my clients sent us pictures, and all the relevant measurements for the room. Next, we had a phone meeting to chat about the way they wish to use the rooms in their home, and what their style was like. The way I communicate ideas with my clients varies. In this case, a shared secret Pinterest board was key. My client, a Pinterest virgin when I first mentioned it to her, went so far as to snap pictures of their art and existing furniture pieces and upload it to the board, so we could see them laid out with the possible new pieces. It was so helpful for putting together a design that we knew would work cohesively with what they already owned and liked.

On this project, we needed a furniture plan before we did any sourcing. My team and I explored rug sizes and furniture arrangement possibilities in drawings. The one we selected was best for its reasonably baby-friendly round coffee table, and the inclusion of swivel chairs, for which my clients had expressed a fondness. It also filled out a niche in the room that would have been perfect for some custom built-in storage (which was not in the budget) with a good Ikea solution that happened to fit beautifully. I love it when that happens!

6thOf course we elevated the design by changing the hardware on the Ikea pieces to something more special (even if it is from another bargain resource!). I ALWAYS do this with Ikea furniture when I can. My clients went one better and painted the back pieces of the shelves an ocean blue before assembling them. (This kind of hack is actually one of my signature design moves, but I must give them props for coming up with the idea themselves here!)
These are the specifications for this design, which my D.C. clients have kindly agreed to let me share here on the blog. As you can see, I lay out the details in my specs so that my clients can go down the list and have all the info needed to place the orders for the things they choose to buy. I don’t get involved in any purchasing for a project like this, so it’s all very low-pressure, and clients can watch for the store sales or make substitutions according to their preferences.
Holman LR

We wrapped up this Decorating Guideline Package by inviting the clients to another secret Pinterest board with some options for art and accessories. They have placed a lot of orders in the last couple of weeks, and it is good to hear that the furniture is already rolling in.

My team and I can fit in only a couple of these Decorating Guideline Packages per month with my larger local projects, but they are so fun and satisfying to complete! If you have a room that might use some design help from afar, email me the details.

Show Me 3 // Brass Drum Table

For Living Rooms, Family Rooms and Bedrooms, I am always on the lookout for small tables to fill out my furniture arrangements. Sometimes I even use a grouping as a coffee table. A sculptural drum table shape is timeless, and brass makes it of-the-moment. There is a friendly price-point here for everyone.

HIGH // Haven Accent Table // Arteriors // $570


MID // Martini Side Table, Antique Brass // West Elm // $150


LOW // Threshold Gold Accent Table // Target // $60

Join me on Pinterest for more things I’m thinking about using sometime.