The Best Laid Plans…

Sometimes you think you know just where life is going to take you. You plan it out in your head, start to lay the groundwork for how life is going to play out because you took the time to make the plan. And then? Well, sometimes that’s just not how things go. And yet, somehow, I’m a firm believer that we end up where we’re meant to be anyway…sometimes the path to getting there is just lined with a few more life lessons than we ever planned on experiencing.

My client, San, was a teacher at my boys’ preschool, though she’s since retired to focus on her career as a novelist. She contacted me in the spring after seeing a mood board I’d posted on Facebook. I had put it together just for fun, based on a color palate I’d been inspired by and some super fun mid-century modern furniture. My original mood board was a living room, but she asked me to help her to adapt it to a home office/ writing space, using her daughter’s bedroom after she left for college (we were keeping it flexible, with a daybed and trundle so her daughter could still use the space when she came home on school breaks).

The inspiration board that started it all…
…and its evolution to a home office

Over the summer, the plan changed, moving the office space from the bedroom to an upstairs loft space. Because the rest of the house has a masculine, rustic/cottage feel, and the loft is open and visible from the front door, we had to tone down the very feminine plan we had started with in order to keep the flow of the home. We still needed to introduce some more feminine elements though, and what piece of furniture screams “FEMININE” more than a chaise lounge?

The loft space isn’t large enough for a full sofa, and the sloped ceilings wouldn’t allow for anything with a high back and arms, so this Juliette chaise from Wayfair was the perfect choice. The blue velvet upholstery is soft and feminine enough, and the chaise will offer extra seating, be a great place to sit and curl up with a book and a cup of coffee, and even offer a place for an extra friend to crash overnight. The fluffy pillow adds more texture and a more feminine touch, and the equestrian pillow is a nod to her daughter’s favorite past time. San has the chaise angled so she can sit and see out the balcony doors; she’ll have a perfect view when our region’s notorious record-breaking snowfalls start.

Wayfair Juliette chaise lounge

San also wants to be able to use her loft space as an entertaining space; as a creative-minded individual, she wants to have a space where she can collaborate with other creatives to brainstorm ideas or just get together for a glass of wine and some good company. The chaise adds seating, but we wanted to provide some occasional tables to sit drinks or books. These nesting tables were a great solution, because they can stack together to save space (very important in such a narrow area), or they can be spread out when needed.

Tommy Hilfiger Berkshire nesting tables via Wayfair

The desk was the first piece of furniture we purchased for the space, way back when we were planning on using the bedroom. I found it when I was shopping for myself, and San loved it so much we each ordered one! It’s a secretary-style, so when it’s not in use, the lid closes to hide all the “stuff” that accumulates on a desk. We found some desk accessories at nearby antiques shops to add personality- a pottery pitcher to serve as a pencil cup; a stationary organizer for envelopes and notepads; and a beautiful set of heavy antique (we think handmade) horse head bookends. The chair, lovingly dubbed “Lydia,” (actually the “Rissa” dining chair from Pier One) has a similar texture to the chaise lounge, and provides great support for when San is spending endless hours writing.

The decision to use a round rug was inspired by the round nesting tables. And because the loft space is, architecturally, very angular, the round rug and tables (in addition to the pattern on Lydia) softens the angles and emphasizes the beautiful round knots in the wood on the floors and ceiling.

The colors in the space were all inspired by pottery from a local artisan who creates beautiful pieces in all shapes and sizes. This piece was one San already had and wasn’t using downstairs. She has a beautiful collection of vases and serving pieces displayed above her kitchen cabinets; this is one way to tie the two spaces together while keeping her sanctuary truly hers through the furniture, fabric, and accessory choices we made.

Campbell Pottery

While the design for San’s writing space didn’t turn out the way we envisioned it when we started this process, I have no doubt it came together exactly as it was meant to. A conversation she and I had during one of our meetings was about how your home is not meant to stay as it is forever. When she and her husband purchased their home, they were in a very different phase of their life, with two young children and a lot of life to juggle. They wanted a small, cozy home to keep them all present in one another’s lives, without too much space to spread out and separate.

Their children are teenagers now, one a freshman in high school and the other a freshman in college, and while the concept of keeping close remains a priority, the way they use their home now is vastly different from when they moved in all those years ago. It was my job to help them to achieve the same closeness in an evolved way, and I’ve been so honored to have had the opportunity to help them to do so.

Cheers!

~d

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Joanna Gaines

Rustic farmhouse is the decorating style that’s all the rage these days. I blame Joanna Gaines.  And not in a bad way; that woman is my spirit animal.  Not necessarily in a decor-style kind of way, though I certainly see the appeal.  But more in a, “I love this chick because she can do it all without breaking a sweat and everything she touches is gold” kind of way.  Basically, for Christmas this year I asked for ALL of the Joanna Gaines things: her new book, “Homebody,” her cookbook, a subscription to Magnolia Journal.   We also bought her children’s book, “We Are the Gardeners,” because my kids also love “Jo.”Because the woman is a very classy genius.

Every day my inbox is full of emails advertising the widest array of rustic farmhouse decor from every store imaginable.  It’s lovely.  It’s fresh, airy, reminiscent of wide open spaces, clean air, and days gone by, with a little modern twist. Colors are crisp, light and neutral, and fabrics are the same.  Jute, burlap, sisal, denim, linen, and cotton offer looks so crisp and clean you can almost smell the “fresh.”   It’s comfortable, easy to picture kids running down the hallways,  bustling around the kitchen, lounging in the living room for a football game, or gathering around a big old farmhouse table with a worn wood top, laden with a big Sunday supper of pot roast and mashed potatoes and a big layered cake slathered in fluffy white frosting for dessert. And maybe a goat peeking through a window.

But what of other design styles?  I’m having a big moment with mid-century modern right now.  I’m loving the clean lines and the metallic hardware, and fabrics with bold, bright colors in fun patterns.  Last summer, I walked away from an antique mid-century desk that was priced at, well, basically nothing.  I could easily picture that desk in my house, in any of about six different areas.  Alas, by the time I made the decision, someone else had bought it.  Sad face.  Another life lesson learned the hard way.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, inspiration struck at a strange time (sitting in a chair, waiting at a hair salon), and in my mind I saw a tufted sofa in a rich, succulent green velvet, accented with shades of pink and off-white and pops of metallic gold. I went home that afternoon and assembled a concept board for the fun of it, and posted it to my Instagram and Facebook pages.

Last week, a teacher from my kids’ preschool (who is also a gifted published author, and someone I often turn to for inspiration and editing on this blog) sent me a message that she loved the board so much she wanted me to help her to convert her daughter’s bedroom to a home office using the same style. Her daughter will be graduating from high school soon and then moving on to college. Converting the room from an empty kid’s room to a pretty, feminine space where her daughter can still crash during school breaks, but also a sanctuary for her to relax and write her best work, makes the pain of graduation a little more bearable.

Here’s the living room concept board I posted


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And here’s the plan for the office!


What about you? What’s your design style? What object inspires your creativity, or sparks your best memories, or makes you feel comfortable and like your best self?

xoxo,

~d