Tonal Stripe Birth Announcement, One and Two

Posted 29 January 2011 at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

The stimulus for the Marsh* family’s birth announcement was an imaginary nursery. I imagined walls with a yellow-tonal stripe on top, solid blue on bottom, and white chair rail in the middle. Our first draft was essentially a simplified version of just that:

Tonal Stripe Birth Announcement Draft

The Marshes loved the classic, happy-baby look but wanted it stronger and more elegant, so we changed the colors to blue and brown:

Tonal Stripe Birth Announcement Final

I like how it turned out but am reconsidering the diaper pin detail. I didn’t integrate it as well as I could have. Maybe each photo should have been pinned? Or at least pinned together? Maybe I should have dropped the pin altogether and kept it simpler? Or stretched the nursery concept and turned it into push-pins instead?

Another thing on my mind is baby Griffin’s adorable foot. Well, not his foot exactly, but his sock. Had we planned better, we could have ensured that his clothes matched his announcement, because when I look at the little red and black stripes, I can’t help but wonder what we could have done to echo those colors elsewhere.

*Names and details have been changed.

Field Guide to a Charmed Life

Posted 28 January 2011 at 8:40 PM | Comments (1)

I was just flipping through the premiere issue of Matchbook magazine and came across decorator Miles Redd’s “10 secrets to a charmed life.” It’s a good list. My favorite item—which I absolutely agree with and always implement in my living space—is #3.

“Embrace different heights. I love something tall and something low in every room.” –Miles Redd

To create balance, I even like to have something tall on at least two sides of a room. Sometimes, for example, this means moving a bookcase so that it’s opposite a window rather than on the same wall.

Here’s the page from Matchbook:

Matchbook Magazine February 2011 Ten Secrets to a Charmed Life

By the way, Matchbook: so far, so good. It’s a delightful little read. There are some great photographs, too—like these of blogger Haleigh Walsworth in Paris—that might inspire both my work and my style (i.e. bright red skirt on a gray, rainy day).

Matchbook Magazine February 2011 Haleigh Walsworth Photos

Flat-Brimmed Hats at Paris’ Men’s Shows

Posted 27 January 2011 at 11:29 PM | Comments (1)

Sure, I follow fashion, but I didn’t save this photo for fashion. I saved it for the photography.

Flat-Brimmed Hats at Lanvin, Paris Men's Shows 2011

From the Lanvin show, photographed by Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times.

Save Water

Posted 26 January 2011 at 10:52 AM | Comments (1)

I recently designed a series of nine e-mail announcements for an organization trying to raise water conservation awareness among its employees.

My execution was simple. Background images of water were blown up and overlaid with images of swirls and flowers, colors were kept in shades of blue, and text was basic and legible. I know it’s not the sexiest design project, but I’m posting it because it may inspire you to conserve water at home!

Water Saving Tips

Water Saving Tips

Water Saving Tips

Water Saving Tips

Water Saving Tips

Water Saving Tips

Water Saving Tips

Water Saving Tips

Water Saving Tips

A Beautifully Unmatched Bedroom

Posted 25 January 2011 at 10:46 PM | Comments (4)

Anyone can match well. If you can not match well—

hey, that’s talent.

How this principle translates to your home is perhaps the most exciting thing about decorating. Let me tell you why.

There’s nothing more unappealing to me than a perfectly matched bedroom set. Matching bed, nightstand, armoire, chest, dresser—the reason they look so good next to each other in a showroom or catalog is because the rooms are completely drained of personality.

Of course some people like the idea of living in a soulless hotel room. (Ha! Please don’t be insulted. That was supposed to be funny. Plus, there are always exceptions to every rule, because Crate&Barrel’s catalog makes matchy-matchy living look pretty freaking amazing.)

If I want my home to express who I am, chances are it can’t be cut-and-pasted from a showroom, nor can it be cut-and-pasted into someone else’s home. My home, like me, should be a one-and-only. Exciting, right? Exciting, but daunting, perhaps. It sounds a lot easier to just enter a showroom, swipe a credit card, and wait for the delivery.

That’s why we hire designers (and read magazines) for ideas on how to infuse our true personalities into our homes. And today I took note of Marlien Rentmeester’s California home, designed by Hillary Thomas and featured in the latest issue of Lonny magazine. I just can’t get over this guest room.

Marlien Rentmeester's Guest Bedroom in Lonny Magazine

Marlien Rentmeester's Guest Bedroom in Lonny Magazine

I would never, in a million years, have thought to put wall-to-wall, leopard-print carpeting next to crisp, Mediterranean bed linens and almost citrus-inspired window treatments. It may not “match,” but it fills me with a certain kind of longing.

A longing which I am absolutely sure that five pieces of matching furniture delivered to my doorstep wouldn’t—couldn’t—do.


Posted 24 January 2011 at 10:51 PM | Comments (2)

I’m constantly reminded that these ridiculous thoughts taking up space in my head can do more than take up space in my head. They can take up space on my blog.

Case in point. I always make a mental list of my three favorite female looks at awards shows. Then what? Well, I’ll tell you. That mental list goes to absolute waste. Not anymore, people! Not anymore.

So here are my four favorite looks from the 2011 Golden Globe Awards. Yessssss.

Top Four Female Looks from the 2011 Golden Globe Awards

Left to right: Claire Danes in Calvin Klein, Mila Kunis in Vera Wang, Dianna Agron in J. Mendel, and Anne Hathaway in Giorgio Armani Privé.

I know I initially said three favorite looks, but I couldn’t bring myself to eliminate Claire Danes when the color and silhouette of her dress were so unique; she really was a breath of fresh air. And I couldn’t eliminate Dianna Agron because she was total perfection from head to toe. So they both made the cut.

…This is fun!

Vintage Girly Bridal Shower Invitation

Posted 23 January 2011 at 1:30 AM | Comments (0)

I found a vintage paper cut-out online that makes me want to create my own. Unfortunately it could be ages before that miraculous day comes, so in the meantime, I used it as an overlay in this girly, high-tea invitation.

I love that this puts me in the mood for a party!

Vintage Girly High-Tea Bridal Shower Invitation

San Francisco Treatment

Posted 22 January 2011 at 4:53 PM | Comments (6)

Erin and Andrew just nabbed a spacious, vintage apartment in the Bay Area and asked me for some suggestions on color schemes. Their new place is awesome, but they don’t get much direct sunlight in their living room.

I looked through hundreds of photographs that might inspire them, and then pulled color palettes from the images that gave me that young-and-fun-couple-in-a-Bay-Area-apartment kind of vibe. Considering their lack of direct sunlight—with a north-facing bay window and west-facing windows covered by an oak tree—I tried to find images that use colors with red and yellow undertones, to warm up that cool-blue northern light.

Here are my four favorites.

This set, from Benjamin Moore (a great resource for decorating ideas, by the way), is bold, bright, and fearless. The colors make me think of peacock feathers. Wisely, they’re combined with a lot of white, black, and gray.

(I’m aware this one isn’t exactly the “warm” color palette I said I’d stick to, but I couldn’t exactly eliminate these, could I??! I mean, LOOK!)

Living Room Painted in Peacock Blue, Benjamin Moore's "Lucerne"

Kitchen Painted in Lime, Benjamin Moore's "Grape Green"

Bedroom Painted in Fuchsia, Benjamin Moore's "Royal Flush"

I admit I love the connection between this urban-hippie style and San Francisco’s bohemian subculture, but the décor isn’t as important here as is the color palette, taken from Pittsburgh Paint’s color trend guide for 2011.

Pittsburgh Paints 2011 Color Trends "New Bohemia" Collection

Pittsburgh Paints 2011 Color Trends "New Bohemia" Collection

I’m in love with this living room from Benjamin Moore. It reminds me of a cool professor—think bright red shirt under a brown tweed jacket. A wall color this bright warrants neutrality in furniture and accessories, which explains why these images are actually palatable.

Living Room Painted in Bright Red, Benjamin Moore's "Claret Rose"

Living Room Painted in Bright Red, Benjamin Moore's "Claret Rose"

A white-walled room doesn’t have to be boring, as you can see in these images from Crate&Barrel and Room&Board. But since north-facing windows will cast a blue-gray light in the room, some furniture and accessories should have a warm undertone.

Crate&Barrel Living Room with the Shelter Sofa

Room&Board Living Room with the Dean Sectional

And here are the color palettes all in a row. Good luck, kids!

"Spirited" Collection Paint Swatches from Benjamin Moore's Envision Color 2011

"New Bohemia" Collection Paint Swatches from Pittsburgh Paint's Color Trends 2011

"Alternative View" Collection Paint Swatches from Benjamin Moore's Envision Color 2010

Neutral Color Palette with Warm Undertones

Modern Magenta and Gray

Posted 21 January 2011 at 6:55 AM | Comments (2)

It all started with this super-cute dress from Monique Lhuillier. How’s that for showing your wedding guests how young and fun you are?

Then I started thinking about how this bright punch of magenta could work on a cold, gray January day, and realized that if you make gray part of the ensemble, the color palette wouldn’t look so out of place. The result is fun, modern, and delightfully unexpected for midwinter.

Modern Magenta and Gray

The Compelling Story of the Illustrated “Save the Date”

Posted 20 January 2011 at 12:02 AM | Comments (8)

My clients were so happy with their engagement announcement that they came back to me for their “save the date” card. They wanted something elaborately illustrated, almost storybook-ish, and reminiscent of the unique location where their wedding would be held—Haifa, Israel.

So I came up with an interpretation of the famous Baha’i gardens in Haifa—tall cypress trees, trimmed hedges, red geraniums, and ornate lampposts—and it was a hit.

Illustrated Save the Date Announcement

Not even two minutes after I got their approval, my husband looks over my shoulder and says, “What time of the day are they getting married? Because if it’s an evening wedding, maybe you should incorporate that.” Crap. That’s a good idea.

So I quickly called the couple and asked if they wanted to see a second version, and they did. They said they’d be getting married at 6:30 pm. Sunset.

Illustrated Save the Date Announcement

So I was almost finished with that version, and then—I kid you not—my husband says, “Don’t kill me for saying this, but maybe you should consider illustrating the view from their wedding venue. I mean, wouldn’t that be nice? It’s like giving guests a preview of what they’ll actually be looking at on the night of the wedding.”


I called the couple again and asked what they thought. They were open to it. Their wedding venue would overlook all of Haifa Bay, with the glittering lights of the city and the mountains of Northern Israel in the distance. I waved an angry fist at my husband for making me do so much extra work. Of course, if I didn’t think it was worth it, I wouldn’t have done it.

And it was definitely worth it.

Illustrated Save the Date Announcement

Additional notes on technique:

The image was illustrated in Photoshop, using the brush tool. I paint in Photoshop just as you would paint on a canvas—constantly painting over the image underneath, layering color upon color until it feels right.

Once I was done with the painting, I overlaid the vintage floral pattern from their engagement announcement. It’s subtle, but it adds a nice texture. Also, since the save-the-date was such a departure from their engagement announcement, I wanted to find some way to connect the two designs.

The final design uses a couple of Photoshop filters—“paint daubs” and “rough pastels,” if I remember correctly.