Tis The Season for Scandinavian Design

via vtwonen

via vtwonen

Good morning! It’s getting wintry here. Yes, even in Houston, we have gotten an inch of snow this month. It hasn’t snowed here since 2008. That’s a big deal y’all!

If you are ready to get in the winter spirit, look North for inspiration. Scandinavian influenced design doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s no wonder, with it’s utilitarian beauty, calm tones and natural aesthetic. Here are some of my favorite Scandinavian blogs.



The Scandinavian home. The Scandi motherload. Each page is a delight to the senses – plenty of home tours, decor and gift ideas and cultural notes on how Scandinavians do cozy all year long.



Minna Jones is the queen of minimal, so minimal that she’s just a note above austere. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a single color in her posts, other than the natural tones of the blonde wood she frequently features in her designs.  Still, I am completely in love with her sensibility.  Her rooms are clutter free, the balance of light and shadow makes her arrangements more like museum installations than home decor.  Most intriguing to me is how stark her spaces are, yet there is still something inviting about them. I can picture myself preparing tea in her kitchen and sitting to relax in the living room.



Avenue lifestyle another minimal-leaning blogger, her designs are so refreshing and full of quirky ideas. I frequent her site most often for inspiration.



Valentina (of House of Valentina) and her family have recently relocated to the US after several years in Copenhagen and their stint in Europe had a big impact on her aesthetic. All of her spaces are sleek, but approachable.  She incorporates black in unexpected ways, like kitchen cabinets, the floors, a bedroom wall, yet her rooms always look bright and inviting. 



Slow design studio is another lovely blog and shop. Her posts feature photography that is heavy on texture, like the weave of fishing ropes and grains of wood, and her writing is a bit more soulful than most design blogs. She often delves into the feeling and mood behind design.

A couple of other sources for Scandinavian design inspiration …

Fantastic Frank is actually a real estate agency but their photos are magazine-worthy.  Also, all of the properties are located in Stockholm and Berlin, so if you are like me and watch the travel channel for a vicarious peek into other peoples homes, you will love Fantastic Frank.

Vtwonen is a beautiful design magazine. Most of the articles are not in English but the images are incredible and showcase the top Scandinavian designers.                                         

It's Patio Season Y'all


It's my favorite time of year in Houston! Summer is over and we finally get a break from 90 degrees and humid. It's slightly more temperate, breezy and lovely. If you have any bit of outside space, please get outdoors. As you will see below, you don't need a yard to enjoy outdoor living.

Here is some patio inspiration for October...





Embracing the Dark Side with Abigail Ahern

Today, I have something special to share with you all.  This lady is a decor bada$$.  From saturated wall colors, to her signature mixing of textures - including, crushed velvet, leather, and foliage - to her haunting sculptures, Abigail Ahern knows how to create show-stopping rooms.

She has her own shop and blog, not to mention incredible confidence.  I don't know many business women who describe their creations as achingly cool and cutting edge, even when it is true.  Her blog includes a "biz column," which features posts on small business ownership.  The articles cover tips, as well as, glimpses behind the scenes of a successful business.

Below are some images from her home...

Seriously, who paints their entire home office and living room black?  Or every surface of the bedroom, including the ceiling, in cocoa?

Her style is bold and dramatic.  The perfect inspiration to jolt us out of a style rut.  It may not be for everyone, but now that I want to paint every room in my home a different jewel tone, I think we are done here.

Store Showroom Abigail Ahern 12-14 Essex Road London, N1 8LN

Store Showroom Abigail Ahern 12-14 Essex Road London, N1 8LN

Making Spirits Bright: Simple Holiday Decor



I have always loved this time of year.  It’s kind of interesting that when you ask anyone their favorite season, most people will say, “fall.”  Especially, if they are from the Northern Hemisphere.  There is something about this moment, when the weather turns brisk and people retreat indoors.  It’s the perfect hygge (hoogah) season.  If you’re not familiar with this word, it’s Danish, and translates to something like “coziness.”

My husband and I don’t celebrate Christmas and this year, Thanksgiving will be a simple dinner at home with a couple of friends. However, since having children, we have been inspired by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and his legacy of Waldorf schooling.  One of the mainstays of Waldorf homes is acknowledging and celebrating the uniqueness of each season.  It’s a way of giving thanks for the natural beauty and bounty that is ever-changing. 

So, if you’re not celebrating the traditional American holidays this year, but still want to recognize this special time of darkening days and cool mornings.  Or if you are celebrating this season and are tired of the old colors and too muchness of past years, here are some modern, Scandinavian-inspired décor ideas. 

Try to incorporate items for all the senses.  I am obsessed with pine scented candles and room spray.  Trader Joes is a surprisingly great source for holiday scents and décor.  I went a little crazy today and chose some garlands, balsam candles, eucalyptus and dried orange slices.  Choose a variety of textures, like Eucalyptus, tree branches, and pine cones, bonus points if you gathered them yourself.  Citrus is in season; slices of dried orange are a lovely touch.  The key to this style is drawing inspiration from nature and bringing the outdoors in.  Also, stick with lesser used colors like whites, greys, pinks, pale blue, orange, or even charcoal, and of course, it’s never a party without the bling of gold and lights!!



Finally, some images of my home after today's design rampage ...



Thoughts on Kids Rooms

Hello all.  I don't like to make excuses for not posting, but recently my laptop decided to take a vacation, hence the lack of posts.  I dug up an old relic from our closet, so let's see how this goes...

If you are an avid design blog reader, there is no shortage of beautiful and inspiring kids rooms out there.  Here is one of my new favorites at Avenue Lifestyle.  See her full post here.


The trouble is that because of the sheer amount of cuteness on the web (a) it can be overwhelming to make any kind of decision, and (b) some kids (ahem, mine) don't actually use their room until about the age of two, and even then, most mornings you wake up to one, or even two, cuddle bugs in your bed.  So much for your well-thought out, sweet, yet chic nursery. 

In our case, we knew we were going to be co-sleeping for some time.  So, thankfully we didn't put time or money into the extra bedroom until our oldest was about 18 months.  I was very excited.  I came up with a mood board on pinterest.  Ok, so, it's not so much a mood board, as it is a brain dump of beautiful, monochromatic kids rooms, with a splash of color and coziness. 

We painted an accent wall, got some furniture from IKEA and DIY'd the Kura bed, probably the most posted bunk bed on Pinterest. (Thoughts on this particular piece of furniture to follow.)  And then... she didn't sleep in it. I had a toddler on top of me for the last four months of my second pregnancy.  And then, the baby came and our daughter slept in her room, but not in the bed we had so lovingly papered and painted, rather with her dad on the crooked futon that was meant for guests and took up 60% of the room when opened.  We had some hideous black out curtains that were also supposed to block sound.  The futon featured a handmade, earth-toned quilt.  The quilt is a cherished wedding gift, made by a good friend's mother, but it had nothing to do with the forest green wall and pinks I had going on.  Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the space from that time, though it is probably for the best.  Eventually, (at two and half), our daughter started sleeping in her bed and very soon after, it seemed, our son was in his own bed, as well.  We sold the futon and moved things around.

This is what it looked like at some point...

I have to share two big pet peeves that came up in this room.  Pinterest is often a source of design inspiration for me.  Like the Kura bed, those IKEA spice racks pictured on the green wall above are all over Pinterest, displaying books and cute knick knacks.  They look great in a photo!  However, this is one of few IKEA products that it not sold with hardware.  Very slowly, with much practice and just as many mistakes, I'm getting better at installing things, but I could not decide on the best hardware for these, beyond a simple, sturdy screw, and the size of the holes on the back meant that there is very little room for measuring errors.  The reality at our house was that the shelves were unstable and when the kids tried to put the books back themselves, the books often slipped right through the crack or the kids pulled the whole shelf off the wall.  Design failure!  (Maybe that's the reason these shelves are often pictured at grown up height??)

Pet peeve number two.  The Kura.  Ah the Kura.  It has so much design potential.  One problem we encountered with this bed is that neither of the kids wanted to sleep on the bottom bunk, until very recently.  Too dark and scary, perhaps?  Also, all the pictures on Pinterest with the bottom part done up like a mini lounge are really cute, but by three or four years of age, most kids are already grazing their heads, or outright bumping them, on the platform above. 

VIA  Domino

VIA Domino

See? So beautiful!! Not so functional.

The low loft seemed like a relatively safe way to make better use of the space in their 11x11 bedroom, but regular bunk beds, or even a regular loft bed, probably would have been better.  An adult cannot sit up in the lower bunk, which kills story time.

Still, I will say that the Kura is versatile.  For the past year, we have had it set up like a regular twin bed for my daughter and my son's mattress was on the floor.  A month or so ago, I flipped the bed over and my daughter is now mature enough to handle the top bunk. In other words, after about a week of jumping from the top to the floor, instead of using the ladder, she seems to have gotten it out of her system, for the most part.  My son also no longer seems perturbed to be sleeping in the cave-like lower bunk.  And we have more floor space!

This is the current setup:

I often consider adding a reading corner or adding new wall art, but just as quickly I have a new idea, and never make a decision.  In photos, it's pretty barebones, but in person it's bright, fresh, and most important, functional.  What has your experience been with decorationg kids rooms?  Have you encountered any decision paralysis?  How does your nursery reality match up with the vision you had in your head?

Big Bedroom Reveal

I've been dreaming about this day for months!  I first posted about my bedroom makeover plans around April, but my Pinterest board began months before that.  Here is photo to remind you of its former state...

Flash forward to the present. Here is the complete look. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Below is a picture just after painting.  You can see the lanterns that were previously hanging near the windows.

I removed the lanterns and switched to a more industrial look, with bulbs and cords from IKEA.  The nightstands, or rather stools turned nightstands, are also IKEA.  Paint is non-VOC paint from local store, New Living.  The beauty of non-VOC is no fumes, no toxins.  I slept in my room right after I finished painting, at midnight.  Add some plants and throw pillows from World Market and Target and the rooms feels bright and vibrant. 

Some other corners in the room...

Office nook...

Cozy reading bench (also IKEA, pillows from Target, photos taken in Istanbul at Suleymaniye Mosque)...

A quick budget breakdown: bench $90, side tables $15/each, paint $50, plants $20, planters, $20, pillows $50, lights: bulbs, cords, hooks $54.  Oh, and the beautiful grey vase, featured in the first pic was made locally by John Delafield, and cost $15.  Total cost of new items: $330.

I'm finally inspired to spend time in this room and work at my beautiful desk.  Thank you for reading along.  I would love to hear what you think.

Master Bedroom Revamp

Ever since I stumbled upon Decor8blog, my design world/taste has changed. I've always been drawn to global, clean rooms, ala West Elm.  Once I started following German, Nordic and Finnish blogs I've been hooked on the simple, yet homey vibe these homes have to offer.  Maybe it's because I'm from the chilly Northeast of the US and a fur throw makes me feel all fuzzy inside, or maybe it's because the soft angle of the declining winter sun feels so familiar.  Whatever it is, I love it.

When we moved from our two bedroom, 1100 sq foot apartment to our 2100 sq foot town home we approached decorating one room at a time, trying to utilize what we had as much as possible.  We purchased a bed for our master, but apart from that, our room got all the hand me downs, all the random side tables, a buffet that is now being used as a diaper changing table... Although in theory, I don't like tech stuff in the bedroom, our room is larger than necessary for just a sleeping space.  So, one nook is a messy office/sewing corning, we have a reading nook and of course, a bed.

About a year ago, I painted the back wall a warm orange. I've always wanted to try this color in a bedroom, it reminds me of beautiful stone walls you might see in the Mediterranean.  Initially, I loved it.  However, when I thought about styling the rest of the room, pillows, side tables, etc.  I realized, I'm really over the Moroccan vibe, and want to go in a completely different direction. Here are some inspo pics for the moody blue vibe I'm currently drooling over...

The original inspiration.  However, because I don't have that much confidence in my artsy painting abilities. I went on the hunt for a more matte look...

via draugiem.LV

via draugiem.LV

And for the accessories. I love this stool-turned-side-table and the industrial bulb.  Coincidentally, the bulb was already on my shopping list.

Via the nice nest

Via the nice nest

I'm thinking of continuing the blue theme with the textiles, as well. But those will have to wait. No space in the budget at the moment.

via trendvee.com

via trendvee.com

I think I can get this done with a relatively small budget.  And I will need to. We are saving for a big family escape overseas, so every penny counts.  I'm thinking I can get new paint for $30-40 (it's non-VOC, hence the price tag), the IKEA stools pictured, at $15 a piece, IKEA's new beautiful industrial chic bulbs, at $12 a piece for the bulb and cord, a plant and pot, also from IKEA, for around $30 and a target table I've been eyeing for $85. Total: $200.  If I manage to sell my current side tables, I might only have to come out of pocket for about $50.  Will follow up when we've finished!