Crushing On: Nanawall Doors

Sorry to have been away this week.  (Not sure if anyone gives a damn but I care :))  I got pretty sick over the weekend and just didn’t feel like doing much of anything design-related for the last few days.  But now I’m feeling better and ready to get back into the swing of things.

Sometimes I think being a designer is a negative thing when looking for a new house. It’s great that I can see potential in places that look like crap but I also never think that anything is fine as it is now.  (Technically, I shouldn’t blame this inability to be content on our recent house hunting trip as my hubby used to tell me all the time that our last home was not a fixer-upper so I needed to stop coming up with projects.  He was right but I needed things to do…)

Here’s a great example: One of the houses we saw included sliding glass doors that opened to the pool.

These sliding doors needed to be updated but there was really nothing wrong with them. Instead I decided that we needed to make it feel more open and apply a wall of windows/doors.

Enter my current crush of NanaWall doors.  These doors are simply amazing.

These doors are also ridiculously expensive.  It’s probably not a big deal when the home’s value is million(s) of dollars.  However, we are not looking for houses anywhere near that range so it’s clearly not happening.  After a little research, I realized that the doors might costs as much as the house (just kidding).  So I’ll continue to just dream (about the doors and the views) 🙂

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Design Files: Modern Home Office

I had the pleasure of working on a home office project that allowed me to use different products to deal with a tricky wall of mirrors. This client was really fun but truly had no clue about the type of design she wanted in the room.  The only direction she gave me was that she wanted a modern design and a large desk.  Here are the before pictures:

This room was the gym in the model home and included a “lovely” wall of mirrors.  The mirrors helped make the small room feel much larger but most non-narcissistic people don’t want to stare at their reflection while they sit at the desk.  The homeowner didn’t want to get rid of the mirrors for a variety of reasons (including costs and potential resale value) which required us to come up with an idea for how to hide it.  I researched a variety of ideas including attaching fabric to the wall or adding a full wall of storage or a built-in desk solution.  Eventually I decided that these awesome wall graphic decals from Blik would be an inexpensive way to hide the mirrors and add visual interest to the small room.  (Unfortunately, it looks like they don’t carry the color that we used for this design but they have introduced new colorways.)

So let’s look at some of the after pictures: 

Because the space was so small and the homeowner wanted a very large desk (it is an office after all), we kept the other parts of the room open and bright.  The walls are painted a soft gray (Popular Gray – SW 607) and the window treatments were white.  We also installed a new drum shade light fixture and kept most of the other furnishings white.

A fun part of the room was the bedroom closet.  We took the doors off the closet and painted the inside of the closet a dark grey.  We then created a little nook for the printer and bookshelves.

Besides the wall decal, my favorite part of the room is the vintage orange chair.  This chair was originally owned by the homeowner’s grandfather and she was using it in another room.  We moved it to the office and used that as the pop of color to bring more personality into the fairly neutral room.

One last pretty image…I love that wall tile!

If you would like help creating a space you love, please contact me for design services.

House Hunters LA

For our first year in LA, the hubby and I decided to rent an apartment so that we could figure out the landscape and neighborhoods (since we heard you can lose friends by moving too far away). We have been renting a great apartment on Ocean Blvd in Long Beach (the LBC as it’s commonly called…ha!). We are across the street from the ocean, have amazing views, and great outdoor space.

The only problem (other than the absurd rent) is that Long Beach is extremely far from Los Angeles. Actually, it’s only approximately 25 miles from downtown LA but in LA traffic, I might as well have stayed in San Francisco. It’s been great experiencing life in Long Beach. We’ve met interesting and nice people and have had the opportunity to live in a place we are in no position to buy. But now it’s time to move on.

Since the beginning of June, we’ve been looking for a house. One of the perks of being an attorney in California is that you can sit for the real estate brokers license exam without satisfying the education and work experience requirements. So I decided to get my brokers license earlier this year to save the 2-3% fee charged by a broker (or in the case of buying-to make the 2-3% fee). This sounds great until you account for the fact that I have no damn idea what I’m doing most days. This fact coupled with my ignorance of LA neighborhoods has led to some very interesting house hunting trips in suspect neighborhoods.

I considered getting an experienced broker for the help and to just have someone to go to the houses with me (the hubby generally only visits those houses that make the initial cut). But then a friend (who shall remain nameless) said that I was essentially going to be paying $15K to have a friend (!) and I should suck it up, learn what I needed, and do it. I don’t agree with the characterization but I sucked it up and have been learning as I go (and bothering my friends who do this for a living…thanks!!).

I’ve seen over 40 houses (with my own eyeballs) and its amazing what passes as appropriate these days. I’ll leave you with some of the “best” images from a few homes.

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Lovely updated bathroom


Yummy knotty paneling in the bedroom with 6′ 9″ ceilings

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Someone hold me back from jumping in this refreshing pool! #iwantapool

P.S. This is my first post on a mobile device, so please excuse any formatting errors.

Obsess Much: Colored Kitchen Cabinets

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about kitchen cabinets and my ideal kitchen. Our kitchen on Joy Street and the kitchen in our rental in Long Beach contained the same shaker style maple cabinets with darker granite counters.

Long Beach Kitchen

These cabinets are perfectly fine but I am a little tired of blond cabinets and speckled granite. I’m dreaming of something with a little more individual character and I definitely want white stone counter tops.

In general, I’ve never been the biggest fan of white kitchens. I know that most people love white kitchens and I understand that there is something serene about an all-white space.  However, I find that all-white kitchens often lack personality and result in a fairly boring room. (Interestingly enough, I’d take an all-white bathroom in a minute. I’m weird.)

Great kitchen but don’t you feel like you’ve seen it a million times (without that amazing chandelier).

This kitchen has more interest with the marble backsplash and gorgeous pendants but still doesn’t resonate with me personally.

I think it helps considerably when wood is added to the mix in a white kitchen. It warms up the space and creates more visual interest.

Gorgeous kitchen by Kate Prevedello

Wood accents provide warmth in an otherwise stark white space.

I’ve also considered darker wood cabinets. There is no denying how a kitchen with dark wood cabinets looks sophisticated and traditional. My biggest concern with dark cabinets is that the kitchen will feel heavy and dark without a ton of natural light.

Gorgeous wood cabinets with an interesting tile accent wall and picture window. By Artistic Designs for Living.

Good mix of dark wood and white cabinets.

So in thinking about other options, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with cabinets that are painted a unique color. These images are just so dreamy:

Dark navy cabinets

Navy blue lower cabinets with a mix of white upper cabinets. Love!

Gray lower cabinets. (I wonder if my love of this kitchen has more to do with the lovely large window.)

Colored cabinets look great when paired with white cabinets. I think it’s also important that the colors used are neutral in nature – navy blue and gray are considered neutrals and can be mixed with almost any color – as opposed to a red or teal kitchen that would probably annoy you after a few years.

So now it looks like I’ll be spending some time looking into Los Angeles resources for professionally painting cabinets. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make this obsession happen in my own home soon!

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Almost Good As New

While my hubby spent the weekend in Vegas, I enjoyed the time at home playing with Nala and finishing/beginning a few home projects.

Hi Nala!

Several years ago, I bought an inexpensive ottoman in brown “leather” for use as a coffee table in our living room.  It served its purpose well but recently it started to show its wear and tear.

Brown Leather Ottoman (ignore the hubby’s sexy legs)

After we aggravated the tear…

Instead of buying a new ottoman (and because I couldn’t find one that I really liked), I bought a few yards of faux ostrich fabric and planned to recover the ottoman.  There are so many tutorials on the interwebs that I won’t waste time showing exactly what I did.  (Some good ones can be found here and here).  It was a fairly simple process of removing the original fabric and stapling/folding/cajoling the new fabric into place.  The problem that I have with most of the tutorials is that they only require you to fold the corners and try to make it look neat.  I think the corners look more professional when they are actually sewn together as opposed to folding them over.  This opinion might have to do with the fact that I’m horrible at folding the corners over.  Case in point:

Piss poor folding of the ottoman corners. It looked even worse on some of the other corners.

So after living with (and hating) the folded corners for a few weeks, I decided to take the damn ottoman apart again and sew the corners properly.  It was a fairly easy process (even for a beginner sewer like me) and took approximately 30 minutes to complete.

I think the finished corners look so much better…

I’m happy I did it because now I feel much better about it being in the house.

Try to ignore the mess around the ottoman…

Full disclosure: It took me almost 1 hour to get the stupid top of the ottoman off the base and then another 30 minutes to try to put it back on after I finished sewing.  Sometimes I think the D in DIY is for Dummy because only a dummy really tries this stuff.  And to make matters worse, I then started another upholstery project the next day.  I still haven’t figured out what’s wrong with me.  If you have any insight, let me know 🙂

To Live and Design In L.A.: Fabric Resources

One of the biggest problems with moving to a new area is the lack of knowledge about the resources available.  This is especially a problem when starting a new business and trying to figure out where to shop for clients.  While everyone now spends a good amount of time with online shopping, there is still nothing better than walking into a wonderfully curated store and seeing/touching/loving items for a design.

Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve been trying to learn more about the hundreds of design stores and the various neighborhoods where the bulk of the stores are located.  It’s a slow process but I’ve gotten a ton of help from other bloggers who have been gracious enough to mention their favorite LA places.  (Here are a few great posts from Emily Henderson and Design Sponge.)

The first (and obvious) stop when I arrived was the Pacific Design Center.  Interestingly, I found it much less engaging and interesting than the SF Design Center.  It’s a little dark and there are ton of empty showroom spaces.   Luckily, I was able to purchase awesome curtain fabric for a client.

Pacific Design Center

Over the last few days, I also finally made it to a few other stores that I’ve been dying to visit.

Heath Ceramics to crush on tile that I probably can’t afford. This store is much smaller than the Northern California store but still makes you swoon for their wares.

Michael Levine Fabric. Fabric seemed to be a little overpriced but I discovered some new patterns that may work for contrast welting.

Here is my list of LA fabric stores I’ve compiled from various resources.  I haven’t had the chance to visit most of them yet but thought it would be very helpful to others looking for suggestions.

  • Michael Levine
  • Mood Fabrics
  • F & S Fabrics
  • Diamond Foam and Fabric
  • Home Fabrics
  • Bella Fabrics
  • International Silks & Woolens
  • Deco Home

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Obsess Much: Herringbone Hardwood Floors

My current obsession is herringbone hardwood floors.  Herringbone floors are composed of pieces of wood of equal size arranged in a zig-zag pattern.  They are fairly traditional in Europe but are used less rarely in the U.S.  The key to the beauty of these floors is the fact that they are installed piece-by-piece in various configurations.  The size of the boards can vary and can be stained any color (or multiple colors).  I think they look better when stained a medium to dark tone.

Light modern version of herringbone floors

Wider planks, darker, and more rustic

Dark and rich herringbone floors

Alternating colors in a chevron pattern (a variation on herringbone pattern)

Given the difficulty in installing these floors, they are considerably more expensive than simple hardwood floor planks.  The likelihood of having this anytime soon in my house is slim…but  a girl can dream.

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Rose Bowl Flea Market

Yesterday, I spent the morning at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, “one of the most famous markets in the world” (as stated on their website).  It’s a very large space with some interesting characters (clowns walking on stilts) and vendors selling everything from furniture, accessories, art, decor, and antiques.

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The idea of going to a flea market is always exciting but then I get there and reality sets in.  There are (at least) two reasons that I’m not well suited to enjoy flea markets.  First, I’m a bit of a germaphobe.  For example, you couldn’t pay me to touch one thing in this pile:

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I don’t care if it $1 or free…No way in hell I’m putting my hands in this pile.

And second, I don’t like to haggle.  If I want it, tell me how much it is and I’ll decide if I want to pay for it.  I’m a dream to a flea market vendor (is there a specific name for that?).  When we travel to countries where it’s expected that you haggle, I absolutely hate it.  I usually get over and do my best…meaning I just give in and pay the second quoted price to make it seem like I haggled.

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Who came up with this nonsense in the first place?

Anyway, I enjoyed myself and would gladly go back in the future.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the market for anything right now so didn’t pull the trigger on anything but hibiscus tea.

Vendors ranged from the extra weird:

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$1 Clothes/Vendor selling photos of naked fat women/Metal “sculptures”$1 Clothes/Vendor selling photos of naked fat women/Metal “sculptures”

To the pretty and colorful:

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Ceramic Tiles (maybe hand-painted)/Jewelry/Plants

And great pieces of furniture and interior decor:

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These chairs were delicious…wood was in great condition and would look great with a new fabric on the seat. Price: $350 for the set. (Obviously I didn’t try to haggle down :))

Bar Cart

Everyone’s favorite obsession…bar cart that needs some work but I think it was only $15.

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Sofa was in great condition and just needed to be reupholstered in a different fabric. I think it was $500 but maybe it was more.

Chandeliers, pillows, and rugs were everywhere. I would definitely come here first before looking for a chandelier anywhere else.

Lastly, I have a tendency to go to “events” such as flea markets, sporting events, concerts, etc. simply to eat.  I LOVE street food in all its variation.  So instead of spending time shopping yesterday, I made my way to the overpriced breakfast burrito carts, the super-overpriced frozen lemonade stand, and a few other vendors.  This can’t be good for my goal to look like this woman…

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Sort of hate you…

If you follow me on Instagram (@joystreetdesign) or Facebook or Twitter, you would have seen these pics in real time.  I’m also spending way too much time on Pinterest, so come see me there too.

What’s In A Name?

One question I often get is why is the name of my business is Joy Street Design.  My husband and I bought our first home in San Francisco about six years ago.  It is located on a 1-block “street” named Joy Street in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Joy Street was one of those great San Francisco weirdo things that only someone who truly loves San Francisco thinks is great.  Specifically, Joy Street isn’t an actual street but instead a set of 100+ stairs along a steep hill that leads you to 12 different houses.  Interestingly, these stairs didn’t exist until about 10 years ago when the builder of our house installed them as a condition to build on the empty lot (evidently people used to drive up the hill to their house like they were hillbillies in the country).

Joy Street

Infamous Stairs (as my grandmother probably refers to them)

Anyway, our house on Joy Street was/is awesome. Without getting into too much of our “first-world” problems, my husband actually bought the house without me ever stepping foot inside.  Needless to say I took a huge leap of faith and trusted the process to him. (I’m currently getting credit for that while we look for a house in LA but that’s for another post.)  Luckily, he did a fantastic job.  When I stepped into the house, it was love at first sight. My husband loved the stairs and the sight lines from the loft. I loved the layout (bedrooms on one floor, entertaining/communal space on another) as well as the ceiling heights in the living room.  This love is what sparked my interest in interior design and encouraged me to go to my first interior design class.  Over the years as I learned more about design, read more blogs, magazines, etc, I constantly experimented with our house.  So as we were deciding on what to name this business, we thought it was fitting to include the name of the house that was the inspiration for the new adventure.

This post is much longer than I expected to simply discuss a name so let’s end with some pictures of the house as it was staged when we bought it.  While I loved everything, I obviously made several changes to different parts of the house to make it our house, some big and some small. In later posts, I’ll do my best to show most of those changes as I’m not sure how many pictures I took was during that time (pre-blog reading and writing).

Living Room

Kitchen

Loft

Backyard

Master Bedroom

Internal Stairs (Sight line from loft looking down)

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To Boldly Go Where Everyone Has Already Gone….

I’m finally jumping on the blogging bandwagon (albeit so late it might have already jumped the shark). In the last few months, there has been a tremendous amount of change in my life and I figured what better way to document it than a blog. Furthermore, I left all my friends in San Francisco and need to think that someone is listening to me talk.  🙂

I anticipate that this blog will focus on interior design and learning to love & live in Southern California. I recently left my career as a corporate attorney to begin an interior design firm, Joy Street Design, and moved to Los Angeles (after being in San Francisco for almost 10 years).

When agreeing to the move, I imagined my life would be filled with looking at pretty fabrics and furniture, sun/beach, and drinking (the last part being a common theme around these parts). Essentially, I thought I would look like this:

And live in a house like this:

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While doing this:

Mel B sipping champagne by the pool.

Life was going to be good. I wasn’t going to be an attorney, I’d have a perpetual tan, and I’d sip champagne by the pool in our new house.

IF ONLY!! I now know that I didn’t really think this fantasy through (which my hubby probably isn’t surprised by). I definitely don’t have a body like that and don’t have the funds to live in a house like that or a life that allows me to drink champagne by the pool daily (or weekly, monthly, etc.).

So far, my life has looked more like this:

Traffic.

Sweatpants.

More Traffic.

With a little bit of the fun stuff:

Nala frolicking on the beach.

Memorial Day BBQ.

So all is not lost…haha!

I’m slowly beginning to like Los Angeles, getting out of the house and exploring more, searching for that house with a pool, and getting back to normal.

This blog will follow me through the trials and tribulations as I navigate this new world. The posts will focus mainly on interior design but will also probably include the random musings of the day. I hope it’ll be informative and helpful but also very entertaining. As I’ve been said to lack a verbal filter, I would guess the entertaining part may be easier than the other promises.

Join me…I’ll do my best to make it fun.

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