Patience Is A Virtue … That I Don’t Want

It’s only 8 in the morning and I’m already having one of those days. I’m working with a vendor that is seriously testing my patience My desire to tell them what to do with their product is so strong that I can barely stand it. I wish I was more like this:


But I’m much more like this:


And deep down in the gut of my Chicago belly, I wish this patience would meet the vendor in the alley:


But alas, I will sit back and just hope that everything works out while trying my best not to explode.

Hope your day is starting out better!!

Design Files: Bedroom Makeover

I recently completed a bedroom project which has to be one of my favorite to date. My client is a very stylish nonprofit executive. His bedroom was definitely not a true reflection of his style or class. He has lived in this apartment for years and had never really gotten around to doing anything to the bedroom. He wanted a stylish, sultry, and adult bedroom space. Here are a few before pictures:

Ignore the mess…he’s going to kill me for posting these before images.

Great bay window but completely ignored now.

And this is how it looks now:

The first thing I wanted to do was get more use out of the bay window. We created a window bench and added curtains in front of the bench to create a nook for laying in the window. The curtains were the first thing in the room that we picked so we used that as the jumping off point for the color scheme. My seamstress included blackout lining on the curtains so that at night he could close off the entire nook and have a very dark room for sleeping.

Window nook with bench and curtains

Bay window nook closed with blackout curtains

The room is a decent size so we painted the room (including the ugly closet doors) a rich deep teal (SW Tempe Star). It reads much more navy in the pics but it’s so yummy on the walls in the room (our contractor actually used it in his bedroom after applying it to this room).

Lastly, I wanted to bring in some brass/gold accents. I’m in love with the light fixture that is brass but has a pop of teal inside the fixture. For such a statement piece, it was super inexpensive!

Hanging pendant

To bring in more brass accents, we included it in the curtain rod and changed out the knobs on the dresser, nightstand, and bench.

In-progress Instagram pic

With the addition of a painting purchased by my client, I think the room really comes together. It feels warm and inviting. I definitely wanted to take a nap that day!

All “after” photos taken by Samantha Cooper Photography.

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

Obsess Much: Entry Foyer

I’ve never lived in a house/apartment that had a true entry foyer/area.  For the most part, I’ve always walked straight into my living area.  In my next house, I hope to have an entry foyer if only to use some of the ideas presented in these inspiration images:

Great ornate floor mirror and graphic x-benches.

Ceilings, Console, Lighting Fixtures…oh my!

Love the floor and the light fixture. Feels very open and inviting.

This is compact but stylish and functional.

Hopefully if you ever come to visit, I’ll be able to greet you with a wonderful entry hall. 🙂

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Lovely Weather Changes Everything

For years, I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with San Francisco. The city is unbelievably gorgeous with iconic bridges, water views, and European cityscapes.

The food is top notch with a small population serving up a diverse mix of cuisine ranging from Peruvian to Burmese and everything in between. (I must admit that the barbecue and soul food in San Francisco is very disappointing and requires me to go home to Chicago to get that fix.)  The people are interesting and there are social activities (museums, plays, clubs, bars, etc.) to keep you occupied.

Ok…enough gushing about SF.  My biggest complaint about San Francisco was the weather…it sucks!  On any given day, it could be 10 degrees warmer. Even on the warm days, you’re chasing the sun to really enjoy it. San Francisco rarely gets a real summer and NEVER gets summer nights.  I can count on my hands the number of times in 10 years that I left the house without bringing a jacket.

So while I still miss San Francisco for a variety of reasons, I am in heaven right now in Los Angeles.  We actually get a summer and summer nights!  I’ve worn shorts for the first time in 10 years (not sure this is a good thing).  I have sundresses that I just don’t wear when I’m on vacation.  It’s all very new and exciting for me.  I’m not sure how long this weather will last so I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible.

So I guess I’ll deal with the smog and traffic if I can continue to enjoy this type of weather.  I think people tend to discount how much having the sun on your face improves your mood. Even on a bad day here, I still feel lucky to live in a place with amazing weather and usually perk up a little.

Hope you’re enjoying your summer!

**The pictures of San Francisco were taken by my good friend and fantastic photographer Idris.**

Craftastic Vanity

I don’t consider myself to be especially crafty.  I’m very handy and love any kind of power tool but have never been interested in crafty endeavors like scrapbooking or things that require Mod Podge.  (I’m not sure if sewing would count as crafty…not that it matters because I also suck at that but I’ve been trying to learn more.)  Anyway, we had a good amount of space on the side of the bed and our nightstands were too small.  I had hoped to buy this vanity from West Elm for the space but it was actually (a stupid) 2″ too big for the space.

So I had the crazy idea to just revamp a Craigslist dresser into a similar vanity.  It started with this $50 dresser and then turned into this craft-like experiment.

I “simply” cut the top off, painted it, attached hinges, changed the knobs, découpaged the inside of the drawers, and added a mirror.

I thought this project would be super easy – a can of paint and a mirror – but due to other commitments, it took me almost six months to actually finish it.  If I wasn’t glutton for punishment, I would figure out that I seem to often underestimate how long a DIY project will take.  But instead, I’m always super excited.

Anyway, once the vanity was finished, we moved and didn’t need such a specific size nightstand.  To make matters even worse, I don’t need a vanity.  I don’t wear much makeup and can usually just apply it while in the bathroom like a normal person.  Kudos to me for wasting my time. 🙂  I think we will now be putting this on Craigslist to try to at least recoup some of the money.  Good times!!

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Olympics Fever

For the last few days, I have been sitting on the couch consumed with watching the Olympics.  There are some sports I love to watch – gymnastics, track (not so much the field part), and swimming/diving.  Then there are sports that really make you question the governing body that determines what is an Olympic sport.  Here are a few examples:

Really….we need two people on each side to play table tennis. The table is so small that it’s comical.

Handball…no need to dribble, kick, or show any real skill other than running and throwing the ball. This seems like a backyard game with 6-year-olds and no rules.

Canoe Sprint…I just don’t get it. It’s clearly just a show of brute strength but it might be the most boring thing I’ve seen since Spielberg’s A.I.

I know everyone won’t agree with me on this but I think beach volleyball is a tad bit ridiculous as an Olympic sport. I believe if the women wore more clothes, there is no way that anyone but potheads on the beach would give a damn about this “sport” (and rightfully so :)).  

Even with the horrible coverage of the Olympics by NBC and the most asinine commentators in the world, I’m really enjoying the determination, strength, and excitement from the athletes.  Let’s end this post on a more positive note…here are my favorites winners so far:

McKayla Maroney … didn’t know who she was before this week but her vault in the team final might have been the best thing I’ve seen this Olympics.

Usain Bolt … in a crowded field of super cocky track stars, Bolt is my total favorite 🙂

And of course…Gabby Douglas.

Hope you’re enjoying the Olympics as much as we are!

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P.S. Last night there was an earthquake and neither the hubby or I moved because we were watching the Olympics.  We should probably sit down and have a discussion about priorities :).


Custom Shelving: A Reluctant DIY (Part Deux)

When we last visited my saga with the custom shelving, I was sitting pretty having just completed my shoe closet.

Oh Sweet Joy!

After finishing the closet successfully, it was time to tackle the much larger project of the living room shelves.

Fireplace Nook (Pre-Purchase Staging)

First, we had the entire room painted with a contrasting color for the fireplace and nook.

You can see the lovely large television we planned to use in the space 🙂

The plan for the living room was essentially the same as the shoe closet except these shelves would need much more support.  Therefore, I added cleats on the side wall as well as the back wall.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of how I constructed the shelves but it was a pain in the ass.  Given the span of the shelves, there is no way I could have used a solid piece of wood (with the necessary routed space for the cleats) without sagging from the heaviness of the books.  So instead I used two pieces of plywood connected with an oak 1×4 to create the illusion of a solid piece of wood.  I built the shelves in our loft office space.  It required several trips to the hardware store, nailing (by hand), setting the nails, patching, painting and more painting, etc. and took almost 2 months.  It was a lot of tedious work but (possibly due to a false sense of competency and drinking) I kept the faith and believed it would work.  I also did a dry run of the first shelf before continuing on.

Hubby = manual labor 🙂

After months of work, here is the final product:

At some point, we added a massive television and styling to the shelves but for a while we just marveled at the completed project.  These shelves have now been in the house with no issues of sagging or lack of support for almost 7 years.  Not to tout my own horn but I was very very proud of this work.  I won’t ever do this again but I’m still very proud :).

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Custom Shoe Closet: A Reluctant DIY

In our previous home, the living room had 19′ ceilings with loads of natural light and a fireplace.  It was a fantastic room and the only room we had available to relax and watch television.

Living Room (Staged)

The fireplace wall was screaming for shelves to bring in storage and add definition to the space.  We also decided to mount the television to the fireplace and would need somewhere to house the electronic components.    As this was our first house and neither my hubby nor I were very knowledgeable about ANYTHING, we decided to get quotes from contractors for this project.

Fireplace Nook (Staged)

It’s important that I explain what exactly we wanted.  I thought it was a fairly simple job.  We want four thick floating shelves on each side of the fireplace for a total of 8 shelves.  We contacted three different contractors and the lowest quote we received was $8,000! $8,000!!! Are you kidding me?  That’s essentially $1,000 per shelf.  I’ve since realized that I was naive because every time that I have custom cabinetry quoted, my jaw hits the floor and I end up having to come up with some drastically different plan.

I would guess by now, it’s fairly obvious that I hate not getting what I want (some negative people have names for this :)).  So I decided to research the work required to get the shelves that I wanted.  In all seriousness, I went to the home improvement store, purchased a book on woodworking, and read the book from cover to over to get a basic understanding of how the process would work.  Based on my new expertise (ha!) in the area, I realized that the length of the shelves would be problematic when trying to support a heavy load.  I was also concerned about my ability to build something that would actually be presentable.  Sooooo….I decided to do a “test” run on a small closet in my bedroom.

Small closet on the right

When I say “test” run, I intended to use the same technique that would be required for the living room shelves but in a smaller area to create a shoe closet.  This was my SUPER technical drawing:

Without getting into the details of the basic cleat and shelving system, I changed the closet from looking like this:

Empty closet (shelving and pole removed)

To this:

Cleats in place

Shelves attached (different heights to accommodate different types of shoes)

And finally:

I was a very happy girl this day

This closet was fairly tiny (less than 30″ wide) and I would like to say it was easy to get this done but it actually sucked.  This was our first DIY in the house and we did not have power tools.  All of the wood cuts were done by the home improvement store and required several trips back and forth.  I honestly don’t remember how long it took to complete this project but it was definitely more than a weekend.  (I could probably do this project now in a half a day with the right tools).  Nonetheless, I was very happy with the outcome and proud of myself for completing it.

If I thought this small project sucked, I would be wishing and dreaming for that “sucky project over the next few months as I tried to complete the living room shelves.  I’ll be back tomorrow to finish that story. (Story updated here)

P.S. You’ll notice that there is very little discussion of my hubby during these projects.  He generally chooses not to participate in my insanity and is simply the manual labor in the sense of carrying things that are too heavy for me.  We all have our role to play :).