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design plan

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well, friends, better late than never, right? way back at the beginning of this summer, when i first introduced you to allie’s house (known on the ‘gram as #alliesetownhouse), i asked you what questions you had about the project, figuring i’d start off with a giant ol’ FAQ post.

obviously, that post didn’t come to fruition. at least, not right away. BUT, before we dive into the install stage of things, i want to talk about the basics. as i said, better late than never!

let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we? here’s a sampling of what you guys wanted to know about allie’s house.

where is the apartment/your sister’s house/is it NYC? allie lives on the top floor of a two-family house that my parents bought about 5 years ago in easthampton, massachusetts (the town next to my hometown!). easthampton is a bit more “up and coming” and therefore, less expensive than northampton (where we grew up and where my parents still live). the home was purchased as an investment property.

does she own the bottom floor too? allie rents the top floor (yes, my parents are her landlords. yes, that is complicated.), and they rent out the bottom floor. the first year they owned the home, my BFF joia and her husband lived in the bottom floor (!!), now, it’s rented out to a local woman who is around my age. the home was built in the early 1900s (i think? maybe 1920?), so there’s charm to be found here and there. it was initially a single family home, but was turned into a two family by the previous owners, who lived on the bottom and rented out the top. there’s a large unfinished attic that i’m DYING to have my parents renovate (master suite! with a clawfoot tub! OBVI), and the house is pretty large overall, but there are certain layout things that i’d fix if we could.

are you renovating it? we are not. my parents did a few light renovations (allie’s bathroom, for one) when they bought the house, but that’s it. the downstairs kitchen was renovated in the 90s (i think), but allie’s hasn’t been in some time. the layout is SUPER wonky, the cabinets old, the floors linoleum, etc. i’m dying to gut it, but that would take money that my parents don’t want to pour into a rental property at this time (it’s perfectly functional, with updated appliances, as of now). this particular project is a redecoration, not a renovation.

what’s your process? do you plan and then find furniture, or find furniture then plan? a little bit of both! i definitely had a vision for how i wanted the space to look and feel (light, bright, simple, airy, modern, less cluttered, comfortable), but i started with furniture. more specifically, i started by searching my favorite affordable online shops (cb2, urban outfitters, target, article, west elm, wayfair, etsy, etc.) and pinned the SHIZ outta things. then, i began assembling design boards with my various options (one for the bedroom, and one for the living/dining area), swapping items in and out until things felt right. once we all felt good about the design plans (me and allie, as well as my parents, who have kindly offered to sponsor the makeover–more on that later!), i began ordering.

what’s your budget? $4k for the entire place. as briefly mentioned above, my parents are kindly sponsoring this makeover. i have been keeping detailed budget spreadsheets that i’ll likely share at a later date, so you can all see exactly how that $4k nets out across the various spaces (it doesn’t go as far as you’d think when you’re effectively starting from scratch, furniture-wise). those who have been following along/reading here for a while may recall that my parents helped me buy my place (they gave me a lump sum that i used for my down payment and my renovation; i have a 30-year mortgage for the rest).

i would not call my family rich, but that’s all relative, and most certainly in the eye of the beholder. what i will say is that my parents have worked really hard for their entire adult lives, and are very smart savers and investors. they also grew up solidly upper middle class. this has resulted in allie and i being able to go to college with minimal loans, and never once having to worry about the roof over our heads or the food on our plates. we are incredibly, amazingly lucky. while i don’t consider us spoiled brats, we have certainly been afforded opportunities that others have not.

in short: we are privileged to have grown up the way we have (and so too are my parents!), and i don’t for a second forget that privilege is to thank for most, if not all of the opportunities i’ve had, and the life i have. also: i’m white, which adds to that privilege.

i’ll admit, i’m nervous to talk about this so openly. but i feel like not talking about it does you all a disservice. i respect you, and i think (hope) you respect me, and respect my honesty. it is an incredible achievement to buy a place in NYC, and not one i take lightly. i have a solid income and a solid job–and i still could not have saved up the kind of down payment i needed to buy my place without help.

ACS_1375but back to allie’s place!

is it hard to be on the same page about budget? like i said above, my parents are, and have always been, incredibly generous. but i can’t lie – working through the budget with them has been tough at times. they prioritize different things than i do, financially, and while they have been amazing at letting me “do my thing” there have been more than a few conversations around what’s “worth the money” and what’s not. one thing that i think has saved us throughout this process (which has been a bit rocky at times) is the idea that the budget has been set from day 1. we had $4,000 to redesign an entire apartment: living room, dining room, bedroom. so long as i stayed within that budget, my parents and sister mostly let me decide what money went where.

how do you design for smaller spaces/rooms that will serve multiple purposes? it remains to be seen if i will pull off doing this well, but because allie effectively lives her life within 3 rooms (as do i here in NYC!), those 3 rooms need to work REALLY hard. in talking with her about what she wanted for her home, a few things became clear: her bedroom needed to be a safe space, a haven that was, for the most part, just for sleeping, TV watching (though i discourage even this!), dressing, etc. allie has an (almost) full time job in IT, and has been working her way through her college degree while working, so her desk space is a) ginormous and b) very important to her. such a giant workspace wouldn’t fit in the bedroom, which, while not tiny, isn’t giant. that meant it had to go in one of two other places: the living room or the dining room. allie’s never had a true dining room, and one of her big requests for this redesign was a big table where she could host friends for game nights and dinners.

if you’re following this process of elimination, there’s only one area left for her workspace to go: the living room. that means carving out a (rather large) corner of the room in which she’ll hang out, host friends, and watch movies on her (ENORMOUS) tv for her workspace. that’s a lot of boxes for one room to check, don’t you think? so, how will we do it? that leads me to your next question.

what will the ‘smart, simplified storage’ be? allie’s home has a few closets, but none of them were built out. if you’ve been following along on instagram, you know we built out a bunch of shelves in one of her bedroom closets. what i haven’t yet shared is that we’re also reorganizing a good-sized closet in her dining room. we’ve painted a pegboard that we’ll be hanging in there to organize her cleaning supplies (cleaning sprays, mops, swiffers, dusters, etc.)–which will help get stuff off the floor, and up on the wall. doing so leaves room on the floor for larger storage items (storage bins, etc.). we’ll also be “building up”: ordering a new (much taller!) bookshelf that will find its home in the dining room. then, in allie’s workspace, we’re eyeing new drawer storage (right now she just has old plastic storage, which a) doesn’t  hold up all that well and b) looks super cluttered. i also plan to install a corkboard wall in her desk area to tack up things she needs to remember (calendars, notes, etc.), which will help get the clutter off her desk.

what type/brand of paint will you use? i’m admittedly not an expert in this, but happy to tell you what we used! we only repainted her bedroom, partially due to time and partially due to the fact that the grey walls in her living and dining area (which we painted when she moved in) are still in relatively good shape. in that room, we used benjamin moore swiss coffee on the wainscoting (a warm beige tone that appears grey in certain light) and went for a satin finish (just the tiniest) bit of sheen. on the walls, we used benjamin moore in simply white, and went for a matte finish.  i used matte paint throughout my entire apartment here in NYC, and while it doesn’t wipe clean as easily, it hides imperfections way better than a glossier paint would (the old guard would’ve used eggshell for the walls, semi-gloss for the wainscoting). i’ve heard great things about other brands, like sherwin williams, dunn edwards, and obvi, farrow and ball (which i’m dying to use someday!), but my man ben moore has never let me down.

what is up with the ceiling tho?! this was my FAVE question, because honestly, guys, SAME. like i said above, this house was sort of renovated from its early 1900s roots over time, but not particularly well, and not particularly recently. that means that a few of the “updates” are, in not so many words, NOT CHIC. allie’s bedroom ceiling, while not beautiful, is relatively normal, but in the kitchen and dining areas (aka almost everywhere else), the ceiling has these weird office space-esque tiles that a) can’t support much weight and b) are very ugly. that said, as stated above, this is not a renovation, nor is it a project with an unlimited budget. so, we’re making the best of what we have, and trying to work with the space and money we’ve been given. my hope is that we’ll have so much good stuff “on the ground” that people won’t look up. but to all of you who sent me this question, I FEEL YOU.

ok, this feels like a good place to end. after all, i doubt any of you have read this far (shoutout to those who have! you are true champions!). if you have indeed made it to the end, and you have more questions, drop them in the comments below, or shoot me a message on instagram. i’ve loved interacting with you all throughout this project, and can’t wait to show you the finished result.

hi, friends. wow, two posts in one week?!  i don’t even recognize myself. is this what i look like when i have a project to write about? i’m like a changed woman over here. {editor’s note: i started this post on july 16th. it’s now august 1st. OOPS}

just kidding. {editor’s note: CLEARLY}

but only kind of – i really do feel like this project has gotten my creative juices flowing again. i hate that phrase, but it’s true. my day job got really crazy for about 6 months straight (though it’s been way more chill the last few months! advertising ebbs and flows), and i think working pretty much all the time just kind of zapped my energy. i never wanted to bring my laptop home, let alone open it to write or design or do any of the fun creative things i generally like to do.

now that things have calmed down (and more importantly, now that i have a project to focus on!), i feel like my brain has switched back on. there’s all sorts of stuff whirring around in there, but lest i freak you out, i’ll only share some of it. in particular, we’ll start with the bedroom design plan, which, if you’ll recall from my previous post, is currently sitting unused, because allie got uninspired and couldn’t seem to figure out how to make the room work for her.

right now, it looks like this:

IMG_7457a blank canvas of sorts, just BEGGING to be repainted and freshened up a bit. i love the wainscoting in here, and i think once we soften things up a bit (we’re going very neutral in the space), this room will feel crisp, calm, and happy. which is generally how bedrooms should feel, if you ask me. i’m all for bright colors, and fun prints, and i love how moody bedrooms look when i see them on the internet, but when it comes down to it, i just want the place i sleep to feel a bit like stepping into a cloud. allie’s mind moves a mile a minute, and i’m hoping to give her a space that helps her slow down (even just a little bit).

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so, without further adieu, here’s the plan. like i said above, we’re going deep into neutral territory. we’re switzerland, in a design board. this is more neutral than any space of mine, but with the amount of light allie’s bedroom gets, i think it’ll be beautiful.

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while i was home over july 4th, we went to the paint store and picked up sample pints of the two colors above (both benjamin moore, my main man). you’ll notice i’m proposing that we go lighter on the walls, darker on the trim. this is the opposite of what’s traditionally done, but it’s a trend i’ve been seeing a lot of lately (i’m particularly smitten with jenni yolo’s barnhouse paint choices and this kitchen from amber interiors, while not exactly the same, they show the concept has legs!). i’ve saved a bunch of inspiration shots of this look on instagram, and i’m thrilled that i was able to convince allie (and my parents, whose opinion means a lot to us!) that it’s the right way to go.

side note: does anyone else call places the “xyz store”? my friends at work recently made fun of me, HARD, for saying i was going to “the food store” after work (ie, the grocery store). i’ve just now realized this is a thing i do with lots of things. paint store, food store, drug store, etc. AM I THE ONLY ONE?!

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we started by putting the two paints up on the wall, just to see how they look next to one another. i didn’t want to go painting the wainscoting if we hated one of the colors on the wall. i’ve asked allie to take photos of the swatches at various times of day, so that we can see how it looks in the daytime vs. the nighttime. so far, we’re pretty sold. i can’t wait to see how fresh this space feels with some bright white on the walls.

the freshly painted walls will serve as the perfect crisp, clean backdrop for the other pieces we’re bringing in, while the brass accents in the lighting and curtain rods will help keep the space from reading too cold (which is often a risk when you go all white + neutrals).

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so, let’s break it down a bit, shall we? allie hasn’t had a ton of thoughts on what she likes, design-wise, but she did have a few requests when it came to the actual pieces in the room.Allie's House_Bedroom1

  1. a bed with a headboard. this is a relatively easy fix, because allie already has a box spring, mattress, and metal bed frame. a brand new bed + mattress would blow our budget, but a new headboard (the kind that attaches to a metal bed frame) is totally doable. we’re going for a simple linen option: pretty, but also comfy enough to rest her head on/sit up against.
  2. better lighting. when we moved allie into this apartment, we skimped on lighting. there’s an overhead fixture in her room right now, but it only has a single bulb, and doesn’t give off much light. the new option above will offer ALL THE LIGHT while still looking verrrry cute (if i do say so myself). we’ll also be adding bedside/reading lights (either in the form of plug in sconces, or small table lamps).
  3. more storage. as discussed in the previous post, we’ll be building out some simple shelving in allie’s closet (there are two in this room!), but we’ll also be getting smart about storage elsewhere. nightstands with drawers offer a place to shove all your inevitable bedside clutter, while pretty baskets serve as a resting place for extra blankets, shoes, etc.
  4. a full length mirror. i love the option above (from urban outfitters) because it not only provides a mirror, but also offers some hanging options. allie can pick out her clothes for the next day, or hang delicates to dry on the right side, and admire her fabulous self on the left.

in addition to those four things, we’ll be purchasing a new rug (would you believe the one above is MACHINE WASHABLE?!), new bedding (simple striped jersey from target), and new art (from my favorites over at juniper print shop). then, if the budget allows (i’m working my magic to make it so!), we’ll also splurge on an accent bench (i love the pattern of the textile on this one, and it’s a great extra seating spot in a small space), a pretty clothes hamper (so the laundry doesn’t end up on the floor), and the cutest dog bed i ever did see for her cockapoo, daisy.

i’m sure that as we start painting, ordering things, and of course, assembling them and getting them in the space, this plan will change a bit – but right now, i’m feeling pretty darn happy with how it’s coming together. the living room and dining room are presenting a bit of a challenge for me (odd angles, columns, different flooring, less natural light) but this room…this room,  i can see.

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me, early on in my renovation at the grand apartment

you guys ready for a real #tbt? here’s a little video i took, on my iphone, way back in the summer of 2016, when i closed on my little apartment on grand street. it’s the before tour of all before tours (at least, around these parts). i was just diving into the blogging world, i’d just started my instagram, and i was feeling a wee bit overwhelmed by the immensity of the project i’d taken on with exactly zero renovation experience.

cut to three years later, and i’m itching to do it again. luckily, my sister has asked me to help her redecorate (no, not renovate, at least, not anytime soon!) her apartment, giving me a new project to focus on, and a whole new set of “before” photos to share with you!

if you follow me on instagram, you may have seen these the other day – but i’m re-sharing them here so that i can talk you through them in a bit more detail. in the upcoming weeks, i’ll be sharing full design plans, but design plans are nothing without a little background, am i right?

let’s dive in, shall we? below, we’re standing in the kitchen, looking into the bedroom. this unit is on the top floor of an old house (built in the 1900s, i believe) that was turned into a two family home many years ago. because of this, the house has both good bones (the wainscoting in the bedroom!) and some very weird design decisions (the ceiling tile! the weird kitchen layout!). i’ll get into more detail on our budget later, but it’s a redesign/decorating budget, not a renovation one. if we have some money left over, we may do some small upgrades in the kitchen (flooring – bye linoleum!, lighting), but for now, most of it is staying as is.

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so, the bedroom! it’s my favorite room, to be honest. that wainscoting really gets me. when allie first moved in, she was really into blues and greens, so we painted this room a pretty seafoam green. over time, her tastes have changed, and so we’ll be taking the bedroom in a more neutral direction. it’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do, and we’ll be moving in the white/off white direction.

you may have noticed that there’s not really any furniture in the bedroom as of now. that’s because allie couldn’t seem to make it work, layout-wise, and instead of calling her older and wiser sister 😉 she decided to call it quits and move EVERYTHING into the living room. more on that in a minute, but suffice it to say, this room needs help. luckily for us, the fact that it’s empty means we can a) paint it ahead of time and b) store all our furniture deliveries in here ahead of install day.

IMG_7459we’ll need to patch the window frames before we add a fresh coat of paint throughout (we’ve already got the colors picked out, and allie is planning on throwing some samples up on the walls to make sure we’re headed in the right direction). we’ll also be getting rid of these curtain rods, and hanging the new ones much higher up (something 2013 sarah did not know!). new lighting will a) modernize the space and b) make more of a statement and c) light the room better (more bulbs = more light!).

IMG_7461this room has a cute set of double closets (if we were doing real construction, i’d knock down this wall to make the room larger and let the light in, but such is life!), but they need a bit of work.

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we’ll start with a fresh coat of paint, and then we’re planning on building out some simple shelving in here, so that allie can actually fold and stack her clothes (right now, they’re crammed into too-small vintage dressers). if i can find someone local and cheap enough (like a friend’s handy husband!), i may actually sketch out something beyond just 3 shelves, but that’s our starting point, at least for now. the bar will come down, as the second closet has plenty of hanging space.

IMG_7462here’s the second closet. in here, we’ll remove the front bar (allie dresses super casually, and doesn’t have a ton of stuff to hang), and find better shoe storage. i’m thinking a back of the door shoe organizer might work best, so that we can free up the space inside the closet itself. she’s in the process of sorting through the bags below – all of which are clothes she potentially no longer needs/wants – to figure out what can be donated. if anyone has any amazingly bright ideas for what to do in here, please let me know! i’m going to be looking around for good DIY closet ideas over the next few weeks.

IMG_7460i’ve also (happily) talked her into getting rid of these blinds. if she wants blinds, we’ll do bamboo ones (like i have in my kitchen), but the plan is for simple sheer white curtains in here, to let the sun shine in. it’s the little things, folks!

ok, moving on. right now, as you’ll see below, allie is using her living room as her bedroom, her dining room as her living room…things are a wee bit weird! for as long as i can remember, she’s liked crowding as much stuff as possible into her spaces, and this space is no exception. our task here is to help allie figure out what she needs in her space, functionally, and then what will make her happy, figuratively.

we painted this space a pretty grey tone when she first moved in, and we’re still pretty happy with it. for both time and budget reasons, i think we’ll leave the paint as is (though i’d love to be able to give everything a fresh coat of bright white, i’m not sure it’s in the cards right now. TBD on that front!).

this space will get, at minimum, new lighting, new window treatments, all new furniture, a new layout, new rug, and new art. so, basically everything but the paint color will change. and if i magically zoom through painting the bedroom in early august, i might just tackle this area too 🙂 i will say this paint color tends to photograph rather dark (i didn’t edit any of these photos, in hopes that they’d be true to life!); in person, it reads a much lighter.

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we’ll start by clearing everything out, and putting the bedroom back where it belongs. one thing that became immediately clear to me during my most recent walkthrough was how much allie needs better storage. this apartment has only 3 closets (but a lot of usable attic space, and a basement!). there are the two in the bedroom, and then there’s one in the dining room. the door you see above leads out into the hallway – but allie never uses that as an entry to the apartment (there’s another door from that same hallway into the kitchen, and she generally enters that way, or through the outside second floor porch (which also leads into the kitchen). that said, if i can make it work within the layout, my goal is to not block this door, just in case she ever changes her mind!

to the right of where she’s got her bed is her desk area. allie works in IT, and is a big computer person (lucky for us, she’s like having the geek squad on demand!). right now, she has two ikea desks creating an L shape for her workspace, but my goal is to figure out how to simplify it down to one. then, we’ll add drawer storage (via filing cabinets from CB2 ), and create a corkboard wall (like this!) for her to pin up art, inspiration, important notes, calendars, etc.

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see that cool looking vintage camera and globe above? those belonged to my grandma and grandpa. i told allie to hang onto them – they’ll make great styling tools when the time comes! above you can also see a mini bookshelf. allie has two of these in her apartment, and while there’s nothing WRONG with them, i want something a little sleeker, and more importantly, taller. when in doubt, follow the manhattan model: build up. we’ll actually be utilizing one of the dining room walls (where the yellow dresser is below) for a big bookshelf.

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the living room and dining room are, ostensibly, one larger, interconnected space, and i’m designing them as such (which you’ll see when i share design boards for this space). oddly, the owners covered up the beautiful wide plank hardwoods with yucky parquet at some point (but only in the dining room!). we don’t have the budget to rip these out and refinish what’s below, so for now, we’ll put a big rug in this space to try and distract from the ugly flooring.

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here’s another view of the dining room, which allie’s currently using as her living room (her couch and GINORMOUS TV are in here). a few of you commented on those ceilings in stories, and while i too wish they could go, that’s more of a renovation situation than a redecorating one. my hope is to make the rest of the space sing, and just let the ceiling tiles blend into the background. work with what you’ve got, and all that.

one thing i do love about this space is those columns. are they a little intense? sure. allie hates them and wants them gone. but i think with a fresh coat of (less shiny!) paint, fresh design, and better art on the walls, we can make this room beautiful. the door you see straight ahead in the photo above is one of the aforementioned closets, and it’s where allie stores things like air purifiers, fans, vacuums, etc. to the left is the door to the kitchen. right now, there’s absolutely zero shelving in there, too. i’d love to get some hooks to mount some of the items above (and things like brooms), and free up the floor space for some baskets or bins (to store things like games, office supplies, etc.).

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this photo is snapped from the kitchen. the closest door is to the left. this space exemplifies what i talked about in yesterday’s post: a mishmash of what was cheap, or what was comfortable, or what was available – but no real design. i’m THRILLED to say we found budget for a new couch, so this one will be getting donated. and goodbye, TV tables, i shall not miss you. we’ll patch the holes above, raise the (new!) curtain rods, and get brand new curtains (window changes will happen throughout the entire space). this room doesn’t have an overhead light, and since we don’t want to tear down the ceiling, my plan is to get a hanging plug-in pendant, and run it up the wall and over the ceiling, then dangle it down, centered over the dining table.

ok, folks – that’s the gist of it! questions? thoughts? brilliant ideas? i’m all ears.

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hello, friends! god, is this thing still on? long gone are the days of me promising to write here more, as i tend to get my kicks on instagram. but sometimes, there are stories that just don’t fit inside the grid. and those stories require resurrecting this here blog.

if you’re here, that means you’ve likely seen me talking about my new project over on the ‘gram. it’s my sister’s apartment (that’s her up at the top of this post!), and she’s been kind enough to let me have my way with it.

that sounds naughty, doesn’t it? what i mean by that is, she’s basically given me free reign to redecorate it. she’ll be weighing in on design decisions, of course, but she’s effectively a dream client in that she trusts me and my taste implicitly. before we dive into exciting things like design plans and budgets; shopping lists and mood boards, i wanted to tell you a bit about the apartment itself, and the situation allie has found herself in. because i think it’s a situation MANY of us find ourselves in in our mid-twenties (and beyond!).

quick sidebar, though: i want to preface this story by saying that i know design is a luxury, and that while you can certainly do it on a budget (which we will be!), it does, most of the time, take money. we’re privileged to have a bit of that to work with (more on our budget in upcoming posts, but it’s not huge!). i feel lucky to have the opportunity to give my sister a space she will love (and she deserves!), and i recognize that we’re lucky to be in the position to do so.

okay, now back to the story. 

recently, while i was in mexico with a few girlfriends, my sister and two of her friends came to stay at my apartment here in new york. while allie is quite familiar with my renovation (she is my sister, after all), this was the first time she’d gotten to “live” in the space for a few days without me or my parents around.

when she got back home to massachusetts, she mentioned to me that being in my home – one that feels finished and thoughtful and homey (i’m paraphrasing here) – made her realize just how much she didn’t like being in hers. i’ll pause to let that break your heart just a tiny bit like it did mine.

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see, home means different things to different people. some people don’t care what their home looks like, so long as it’s comfortable. some don’t care about trends or quote unquote “nice things.” many don’t have the privilege or the luxury to care about either. but what i think it means for almost everyone is a safe haven – a place where you open the door, and you exhale, and you know that for just a moment, all is right in the world, and you are safe.

is good design inextricably tied to that feeling? of course not. but i tend to think it doesn’t hurt.

and right now, allie’s home is missing that.

IMG_7464she’s found herself in a position that many people find themselves in post-college. her apartment is a mishmash of hand me downs, things she got on sale, things she (and i, with less design knowledge than i have now!) picked out years ago that now feel “young” and unsophisticated. nothing quite goes together, nothing quite fits, because there was no real thought put into the overall look of things (and in some cases, very little thought put into individual items). i say this not as an insult to her or any of the assorted family members to whom some of the items originally belonged – this is the way most of us furnish our first apartments!

sometimes i think about the first place i had after college: the futon in the living room that passed as a couch, the folding TV tables that we used as “coffee tables” (and more accurately, places to put our vodka sodas while we pregamed on the weekends), the “bed” i crafted from a mattress atop plastic drawers from the container store (storage!). YOU GUYS, I HAVE COME SO FAR.

and now, it’s time for allie to do the same. to have her “grown up” apartment. and i’m so excited to be helping her create it. over the next few months, i’ll be sharing the process – hopefully finishing with a week in late august in which we unbox and install and style ALL THE THINGS.

in between now and then, here’s what you can expect to see:

  • before photos
  • FAQs (feel free to leave any questions in the comments here!)
  • inspiration images
  • design boards for the bedroom, and living/dining room
  • shopping lists/budgets for each space
  • paint choices and colors
  • sneak peeks on instagram

come back tomorrow for the before tour. i can’t wait to bring you guys along for the ride!

 

ACS_0702.JPGdid you guys catch the latest on my bff’s house on instagram this weekend? i was home in massachusetts for the holiday, and went over there for dinner sunday night. joia and T are officially moved in, and while they still have lots of updates to make, the house is already starting to feel like a home.

my favorite room in the home is their bedroom (pictured above). it’s oddly shaped, and has pitched ceilings, which makes the layout a bit tough to master, but it’s got so much potential. when i first saw the house (sans furniture), i immediately pictured this room whitewashed, like this.

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or this.

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i know it’s not exactly the same, but use your imagination for a minute here. stare at the photo below, and imagine all the walls that are currently beige painted a crisp, cool white. then pictured simple, matching side tables (like these), and lighting (like these). for bedding, i’d love to see them go a little crazy with this gorgeous, ocean-themed set from rebecca atwood. joia’s dream is to have a house by the ocean, and until she gets that, this room can serve as her seaside oasis.

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like the photoshop rendering below, where i’ve faked the white walls.

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doesn’t it INSTANTLY feel lighter and brighter?! the carpet in here is new, so chance are, they’ll keep it for now (though chances are good that there are beautiful hardwoods beneath!), but joia placed an ikea sheepskin on the side of the bed, which i think is a great solve in the interim. they have lots they want to do, design-wise, to the rest of the house, and in that sense, this room is the closest to “done.” the only big update needed in here is paint (which will likely happen in the spring at this point, unless i come home for a weekend and go rogue). everything else is simple updates: nightstands, lighting, bedding, etc. all things that can wait.

Garner Master Bedroom_Design Plan_v1.jpgthoughts? comments?! can you see it?! i can.

more on the garner cape house:

the living room design plan

my best friend bought a house! (part 1)

my best friend bought a house! (part 2)

 

 

 

 

 

as you may have read last week, my best friend joia and her husband T recently bought a house! it’s in my hometown (well, sort of–the town next to it!), about a 4 minute drive from my parents, and i’m super excited about it. it’s a 1940s cape style home that was recently renovated, but more in a “let’s flip this baby” style than a “let’s really think about design” style.

as a result, joia and T have more than a few changes they’d like to make (but over time!). i’ll be helping joia choose some of the paint colors and furniture pieces, and while the design boards below may never totally come to fruition, they’re a good starting point for helping the two of them think about the space.

i have thoughts for pretty much all the rooms (you can see part 1 and part 2 of the before tour if you’re tardy to the party), but i’m starting with one of the spaces in which they’ll spend the majority of their time: the living room.

Garner Cape_Living Room Wide Shot 2as you can see, it’s a rather big space. the wall to wall carpet was put in recently, but we’ll probably cover it up with at least one area rug. joia and T already purchased a large grey sectional, so we’ll be working with that (pillow party time!). beyond those bigger elements, my overall thinking is this: it’s a large room with good light but rather low ceilings–so we want to keep it bright and airy, paint-wise, and bring the eyes up, curtain-wise. beyond that, i’m going for a collected, cozy, homey traditional vibe. think: antique pieces with soul, but nothing too old or stuffy.

in terms of the placement of things, i’m hoping to anchor the various parts of the room with little vignettes. for example, the front right wall (right by the entrance to the kitchen/eating area) is BEGGING for a bar cart. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PUT A BAR CART IN FRONT OF ME! it says.

Garner Cape_LR_Front Right Corner_Design Notes 2next to it is the perfect wall for a big art piece. speaking of art, i’m thinking mostly vintage pieces–either ones that joia and T already have, or pieces we can find at antique stores and flea markets. again: i want the room to have soul.

anyway, back to the rest of the space. so you don’t have to scroll back up, here it is again–this time with notes!

Garner Living Room_DesignNotes_1as i said above, with the lower ceilings, i think we need a bright, airy color. enter chantilly lace by benjamin moore. it’s a cooler white (blue undertones), but i think with the natural light in this room, we can totally do it. i’m worried that a warmer white will go dingy with the carpet, so blue-ish white it is!

i’m also advocating that they hang those ceilings ALL THE WAY UP, as a way to draw the eyes up, and get a large area rug to cover up some of that carpet. in a perfect world, we’d tear it up and get beautiful hardwoods (there are likely some underneath!) but that’s not in the cards right now, so we’ll make do with what we’ve got! the back corner will be the heart of the room, with the ginormous sectional that joia and T recently purchased (we’ll zhush it up with fun pillows and throws).

the biggest change (which is actually already in progress!) is tearing out that fireplace/tile surround. because, get this: it’s FAKE. like, that shiz does not work. honestly, i don’t understand people sometimes. why on earth would you tile the thing and make it a focal point when it’s not even real?? especially in new england, where MANY HOUSES have real, working fireplaces (it gets colllllldy cold in western massachusetts)?

Garner Cape_LR_Fireplace_Design Notes 3then, to the left of the fireplace, they’ve got some additional space–space that needs to be filled, either by a bookshelf, or by (my choice) a pretty vintage wood dresser like the one in the design plan below. bringing in wood elements will give the room a sense of gravitas, and best of all, can be found secondhand (without spending a fortune). the house is old and therefore, not exactly chock full of closets, so a dresser will also provide a nice home for extra table linens, china, silverware, etc. (the home doesn’t have a formal dining room).

okay, NOW FOR THE FUN PART: THE DESIGN PLAN! this is obviously just the bigger pieces, and just an idea of things–not necessarily the actual pieces.

Garner Living Room_Design Plan_v1i’m hoping that we can find a vintage rug–there’s a great dealer a few towns away that sometimes gets huge rugs for a (relative) steal (he’s where i snagged my colorful hallway runner!). we’ll need a really big one (likely a 9 by 12) to fill the space, but i’m confident we can do it. to balance out the giant sectional (which is from a big box store), i want to hunt for an overstuffed leather armchair. you know, those big snuggly ones that make you feel like you’re sitting in a british library sipping a cup of tea and smoking a giant cigar. i once found one of those on the side of the street here in new york, and stood in front of it until i could procure a man with a van on craigslist to pick it up and bring it to my apartment (worth it!).

to bring in some sparkle (because obviously), i’m eyeing a brass bar cart and brass library-style lamp (to go by the couch). the one above is a pricey one from crate & barrel, but target makes a ton of inexpensive options that i’ve seen in person and that are QUITE CUTE. the library-style lamps are pretty much everywhere these days, so it’ll be easy to find an inexpensive one.

for their coffee table, i love the idea of finding a vintage trunk–or buying the one above from CB2, which is relatively reasonable and bridges the gap between being old and too antique-y and looking big box brand spanking new. they could certainly do a wood coffee table in here, but i searched for quite some time and couldn’t find any that i really loved. ialso love the idea of a giant leather ottoman, but that may be too eclectic for their taste.

in terms of art, we’d go vintage here as well, where possible. i love the idea of finding old oil portraits (that’s def someone’s uncle up there!) for cheap, or using old botanical prints (or something similar, like the ones above) as art. we could always mix in more modern prints, but i think older pieces help give a room a layered feel.

so, now that i’ve convinced you that i’m designing a home for old people, let me say this: between their TV area (which will have built-ins for their consoles, etc.) their couch, and potential side tables (plus finishing touches like pillows, throws, tchotchkes, etc.), there will be plenty of modern elements to balance out the space. i promise!

stay tuned over the next few months for more of the garner cape house–i’ve got big plans for their master bedroom (whitewashed walls! a yoga/meditation space!) and second bedroom (BUILT-INS!).

ps: if you’ve got specific questions about the home, the design process, or anything related to the two, ask away! i’d love to structure these posts around the parts of the process you care most about.

more on the garner cape house:

my best friend bought a house (part 1)!

my best friend bought a house (part 2)!

 

 

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the swan inn in the cotswolds, england. source: the neotrad

hi, friends! i’m back at it with some exciting news! in my first true gig as an interior designer (and honestly, i hesitate to even use that term), a friend’s sister has asked me to help her design a summer house up on the coast of maine.

i’ll pause for the excited gasps of “oooh!” “a summer house!” “i love maine!” “so beautiful!” yes, i feel all those feelings too, and yes, i reacted the same way when she came over for dinner and said she’d like my help.

see, i’ve been designing a country house in my mind for years now. like, to the point that whenever i go antiquing, i look at things (and sometimes, buy them) and say, “this would look GREAT in my country house.” this tends to annoy the people around me, especially my mother, who is fond of reminding me that i do not have a country house. she’s not wrong. but what’s to stop a girl from dreaming?! perhaps someday, i will, and when that time comes, I SHALL BE READY.

in the meantime, though, i’m thrilled to be helping my client (omg, can i even call her that?!) design the one of HER dreams.

soon,i’ll be sharing some “before” pictures of the space, but suffice it to say it has REALLY good bones. we’re talking beamed ceilings, amazing exposed birchwood walls, fireplaces and exposed brick…i died and went to country house heaven when she sent them over.

as of now, all she’s done is picked paint colors (which she did entirely on her own–i just helped with sheen and gave the thumbs up), which means we’ve got lots of fun ahead of us! this home will serve as a second home for their family (they live on the west coast, but both are east coasters originally!), and may also become a vacation rental in the future.

ANYWHO, enough about the background. let’s get to the good stuff: inspiration! my goal for this home is for it to be light and airy, but still cozy with a hint of traditional new england charm. this isn’t nantucket, so the goal is less blue and white preppy, and more homey, lived-in neutrals. the kind of space where you step through the front door and immediately, your shoulders relax and your head feels less heavy and all is right in the world.

you know the kind i’m talking about, right?

something kind of like this.

or this.

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a home that’s a mix of soft white linens and old wood pieces that either have been (or look like they could have been!) in the family for decades.

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source: jersey ice cream co. (again. i love them!)

a place where flea market finds are just as at home as newly purchased pieces. where built-ins meet sink-into-me leather sofas, where eclectic textiles meet beautiful wallpaper. a place where comfort and fun reign, where the beauty is in the details.

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ahhh, built-ins!

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we’ll bring in some cool textiles to up the ante

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isn’t this kitchen to die for?

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i love this antique wardrobe

i’m thrilled that my client is taking a chance on me, and while she’s in no rush to decorate the space, i hope to have lots to share with you soon (if not soon, definitely this summer!). wish me luck!