Tag Archives: beautiful interiors


I recently completed a commercial office for a client. In doing so, I realized that there is a multitude to know about finishes for wood. I thought I would share some insight and information on this topic.

First off, there are a variety of sealants, stains, finishes, etc., to protect wood. None are exactly alike so don’t be fooled to think that you can start with one finish product and if you run out go back to a store to get more of the same, as they may not have it!

For example, Tung oil, a nice finishing oil that is easy to apply, leaves the wood in a similar color tone to what it was originally is not sold in supplies of more than a quart these days due to environmental issues.

There is a “wax” finish, which when applied has to be buffed to a very smooth glossy finish to really protect the surface. The brand I use most is Briwax, it has a bee wax base and goes on smoothly and without mess. http://www.briwax.com/index.html

There is a Danish Oil which goes on nicely, spreads smoothly, it dries fairly glossy, which if you like, is nice!

And of course, there are the usual polyurethanes that come in a multitude of finishes, Minwax makes a stain and sealer in one, which is a time saver. http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/one-step-stain-and-finishes/

Reuse, Reclaim, Recycle… The New 3 R’s

With the controversy of Global Warming, whether you believe it or not, it certainly shouldn’t prevent you from reusing goods in the home. I recall in the eye popping book by Aldous Huxley, A Brave New World, one of the main concepts in the “New World” was to never recycle anything. It gives one the idea of a stratosphere of rubbish floating around in outer space, so much for starry nights…

I know I have said it before, but I always donate anything of value to a local charity rather than putting into the trash.

Recently, I started a design project for an office renovation and I discovered beautiful old wood behind walls that needed to be removed to make way for other things. My contractor and I, both having an eye for the art of reclamation put our heads together and decided to reuse some of that old timber.

We saved a substantial amount of wood from the early 1900′s. And the best part? We saved the client hundreds of dollars that he would have had to spend to get what we gave him out of his old walls!

I realized that there are things that don’t really get factored into reusing the old until you really look at it. So I thought I would give the savings of the reusable goods: the cost of wood, the cost of transporting the wood, the cost of the people to stock the wood, the cost of the drive to the store to procure the wood, the cost of the dump run to remove the wood from the property… I mean it goes on and on, not to mention the eco-footprint one saves in reclamation!

Also, the grade of wood from the early 1900′s is truly incomparable. It is magnificent to look at and feel! When it is all done I will post a picture.

It is a growing trend to use recycled materials, I hope it is a trend that lasts to the end of time! Not like big hair or neon t-shirts!

Make Pretty Happen!

New Flooring

After talking to multiple flooring experts, contractors, craftsmen etc., I have concluded simply one thing:

Hardwood flooring is hardwood flooring. While there are a multitude of different woods, and there are a number grades of quality, if you go with a nice quality it actually doesn’t much matter if it is engineered or conventional hardwood.

In fact, one of the kitchen experts I spoke to insists engineered is the way to go because it is more durable in that the finish is usually “fired on” or “baked on”, so it is a harder finish which means it will wear better.

So, what is “engineered flooring”? It is  several layers of wood glued and laminated together to form a wood plank. They range in thickness from 1/4″ to just over a half inch. One of the great things about engineered floors is that it can  be installed almost anywhere, including over concrete, and doesn’t require the plywood or other flex layer that traditional hardwood requires.

It is even suitable for kitchens and comes in beautiful finishes.

Another plus is that there are no harsh chemicals used inside the home to seal the flooring because it is pre-finished outside the home! The glue can be stinky that they use to adhere it though!

I would love some questions about finishes, grades of wood, types of wood, etc!

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‘Tis the Season!

This year I went with an unusual palette for Christmas.

My wrapping and decor is lime green, turquoise, red, pink, white, and silver. I have to say I LOVE IT!

In doing this, I realized people sometimes feel if there isn’t exact traditional coloring it isn’t as valid or workable, but really, decor for the season is about what makes you feel good! The one thing that IS tradition for us is to use our MANY homemade Christmas ornaments no matter what colors we do the house and tree in. That will always be a mainstay in our home.

I snapped a shot of the wrapping and a vase with some balls that I like to display. It is not a great shot – photography is not my expertise – but it does show how very festive even an unusual color can be!

Back Camera
For my labels, I despise the way gift tags look, I  printed B&W photos of each person (several for kids who will get more than one gift), onto round labels and affixed them to the hang tags, then I added an inexpensive ornament to finish the package. You can see one of them that says “Joy” in this photo.

I like to take normal items for the season, like pine cones, or plastic icicles, and spray paint them in the same color scheme that I have going to keep the traditional nostalgia, but give it an updated fun twist.

Holidays can be a great way to make your home feel different with decorating and it doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars to make it fantastic or unique!

Make Pretty Happen!

How to Keep the Perfect Home

The other day a friend came over and said to me “How do you keep your house clean all the time?!”

I laughed. Then I pointed out that I have a three-year-old and there are only momentary points in any given day where there are no messes in my house. Generally there are Legos, Tonkas, and a variety of other big toys, and little, strewn from one end to the other!

She told me that every time she comes over, even unannounced, the house always looks orderly and put together.

Ahhh, I know why that is: because I have a place for everything I own. EVERYTHING. If I don’t have a place for it I know that the home God clearly did not want me to have it. That is why my house is always orderly. And, as a designer, I always bear this in mind when designing for a client. Does everything have a place? If no, do they need it? If yes, make a place for it!!

Let me ‘splain: I have a fetish for fabulous pitchers. Years ago I had the most beautiful pink Depression Glass pitcher with a very feminine shape and someone dropped it. Ever since I have been buying this one and that in hopes it will somehow make up for the broken one. Alas, it never does!

So I came to realize that the second to last pitcher I bought (which is a deep crimson, fat bottomed, round, dotted delight) at a yard sale was the last space I had in my pitcher cabinet… Sorrow owned me.

I then made an affirmation that IF I HAD to buy a new pitcher I would just have to give up an old one! Easy enough. Mostly.

In my mind, I have an inventory of my pitchers and I basically weigh the potential new candidate against the inventory. If it seems a good trade I take the plunge! And my house stays clutter free! I do this with most things in my house.

The great news is, my girlfriends’ have the joy of receiving my pitchers that have out grown the cabinet. Last week I gave away a celery toned Italian pitcher and my friend was in heaven because she could fill it with hydrangea! Oish – now I want it back!

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The Quest for the Perfect Kitchen

Recently I surveyed dozens of people about their kitchens, likes, loves, dislikes, hates, in my quest for the perfect kitchen for a design project I am doing.

The most outstanding dislike was: Not enough storage space!! Resoundingly the number one complaint about kitchens, no doubt! Whether the cabinets are too high, not deep enough, not wide enough, or just plainly – not enough!

The least wanted item: A second dishwasher for entertaining, even those who would have entertaining as one of the priorities in their life would rather have more storage than a second dishwasher!

I found that pot racks are a MUST! Those who didn’t have them wanted them, those who had them love them! A tiny percentage felt they were untidy… Not mine!

So, here is some of my own advice about the perfect kitchen.

1. Be innovative, almost no one had a compost container and no one had a built-in composting bin, which is a small circular bin with a carbon filter, like one you would get at a Fish Store, cut out and shoved into the top of the bin which has tiny holes to let the food waste “breathe”. It should be used like a built in rubbish bin. I like this one for counter top: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/ceramic-countertop-compost-pail/?pkey=ctrash-recycling|hkgtrsrcy and they have replacement filters.

Composting, which is to say, collecting food waste (no animal products, please) separately from other waste and either having a composter somewhere out of the house or putting the food waste into your “green waste” bin provided in many cities, by the city, will cut down on land fill waste anywhere from 35% to 85%.

2. Build in a recycling bin for bottles, cans and plastics, it will force you to recycle. I am not trying to be too granola girl here, but it is about the planet for our children and future generations and it makes a HUGE difference! The movie Idiocracy (which isn’t a word- which is even funnier) shows these massive trash heaps everywhere, and truly, it could happen!! So recycle!

3. When thinking of a new kitchen, the counter top is the MOST USED space in the kitchen, if you are going to splurge on anything, splurge on a solid stone counter top. It is more cost effective in the long run than tile and it is far easier to keep clean which cuts down on illness causing bacteria growth in grout lines. There are multiple choices for solid surfaces in a variety of budgets, go to your local hardware store and peruse! You will undoubtedly find something you love!

4. Attend a Kitchen and Bath Expo, they are held in major cities several times a year, this is where you can get FANTASTIC ideas that are ingenious, innovative and totally new! A designer or contractor can help to locate shows for you and arrange for purchases after the show!

Make Pretty Happen!