The importance of utilizing every inch of decorating space in a small bedroom

Domino Magazine recently published a series of ideas and photographs of nightstand options for small bedrooms.  This article prompted me to share a solution we recently used in the redecorating of a home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This lower level guestroom was dominated by mirrored closet doors on one side and a sliding glass door on the other side, leaving only one wall for the bed and very limited space for a bedside table.  We placed a queen size bed against that wall and hung two shelf/drawer style units from CB2 on either side. This simple nightstand solution provides a spot for an alarm clock (does anyone use a clock anymore?), glass of water or a book and eye glasses and the single drawer is more functional than just a floating shelf.  Reading lights were hung on the wall above the bed.  Opposite the bed is a small chest of drawers, TV and a chair that provides a comfortable spot to sit and tie your shoes.  Guests never have to leave which could be a good thing or a bad thing!

DH Design San Diego CA 92111

DH Design
San Diego CA 92111

doyle guest room after with rug

We hung wood panel artwork above the bed that the homeowner already had and added a fluffy rug for both visual and physical warmth and comfort.  The bedding is a gender neutral stripe with colors that are picked up in the wall paint and the gray of the floating nightstands.  I love the juxtaposition of rough and earthy wood next to the shiny lacquered finish of the nightstands and chrome of the wall lamps.  Small details like crown molding and trim on the lampshades, updated window treatments and a few throw pillows will complete the look, but always remember that decorating is a process that evolves over time.

While these are not professional photos and the lighting washes out the true colors, I think you can clearly see what an inviting and comfortable space this is for overnight guests.

And while you are reading the Domino article be sure and check out my article on apple picking in southern California!

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7 things every house needs to become a home

I have seen lots of blog posts and magazine articles lately with lists of what a home needs to be whatever…elegant, cozy, updated etc.  While I always enjoy and am inspired by other designers ideas I have always stuck to my own design mantra that each home is different and no single list of items will satisfy everyone.  So here is my take on items that will help make your ordinary house an extraordinary home for your family:

  1. Family photos.  Many designers feel that family photos should be relegated to private spaces and kept out of public areas like the entry, living room etc.  I disagree!  Family photos tell a story about the people who occupy the space and, more importantly, bring joy to the occupants (you and your family) of that space.
  2. Live plants.  While I do understand that in certain circumstances beautiful silk flowers are the best choice, nothing captures my attention when I walk into a room more than an arrangement of fresh flowers.  If you are lucky enough to have a garden, pick them yourself.  Or maybe you have a generous neighbor (who might sleep late and you can pick some yourself–you did not hear that from me!)  Or purchase them from the grocery store–I promise they will not break the bank, and soon you will begin to miss the color and life they add when you do not have them in your home.
  3. Books.  I love a wall full of books but that is not always possible.  However,  every home has room for some coffee table books.  Select those with topics that interest you, not just something to fill the space on a coffee table, and you will add personality to your living or family room.  Or use a stack of your favorite titles as bookends on a side table or in a curio cabinet.

    designer Simon Doonan via Domino Magazine

    designer Simon Doonan via Domino Magazine

  4. Artwork.  The artwork you choose to hang on your walls tells so much about you as a person, a homeowner etc.  Hang only those pieces that you love and do not worry about whether the colors match your decor etc.
  5. Family heirlooms.  I always enjoy visiting a home that has an occasional piece on display that simply begs you to ask “Where did this come from?”  A dining room hutch filled with your parent’s wedding china, an end table that was hand-crafted by your father when he was a teenager, a chair that has been in the family for generations or a vase your Mom made in ceramics class when she was pregnant with you, are items that are unique to your home.  I have actually seen all of the above items in client’s homes.
  6. Pets.  A doggie bed tucked into the corner of the family room or a set of food and water dishes in the kitchen instantly tells you that a beloved pet is a member of the family.  And what makes a house a home more than a pet?!
  7. Collections.  Whether you collect valuable mid-century pottery or inexpensive Star Trek figurines, these personal touches make your ordinary tract house a home for you and your family.  Try to avoid scattering them all over the house which makes it difficult to identify them as a collection but rather, group them on a tabletop, bookshelf or custom cabinet designed to properly display and protect your treasures.

What do you have in your house that makes you feel at home as soon as you walk in?

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Ten things that made me happy in August 2015



The dog days of summer are upon us and that is apparent by the heat wave that seems to be gripping most of the nation.  But, hey, that’s what summer is all about, isn’t it?  Here are ten things that made me happy during this very hot and dry month of August:

  •  While serving on a week long jury trial did not make me particularly happy, I was pleased at how serious each juror took their responsibility.  I am certain the defendant was not happy with our verdict but he can rest assured that he was given every fair consideration.  Makes the lawyer’s wife in me happy to see our justice system (flawed as it may be) intact and working.
  • Hokey and predictable but every time this spirited little thing runs and jumps into my arms when she sees me makes me extraordinarily happy!
  • ella in ballet recital costume july 2015Trying on wedding gowns for the first time.  Not sure exactly how happy this made me but it did make me extremely proud!  How does the mother of the bride overcome her mixed feelings of sadness and happiness?  I’m working on it!
  • Dozens and dozens of unique champagne glasses! The bride wants each place setting to have a different champagne glass for the toast so we hit the thrift stores and oh what fun it was searching for these and looking at the ones others found for us. Anyone need 120 champagne glasses after the ceremony?  Free for the taking…champagne glasses
  • Baskets, baskets and more baskets.  These woven beauties were a design must back in the seventies and I am seeing them more and more in room settings and magazines. Makes this old hippie very happy and I love the texture they add to a wall, table setting or when grouped together on the floor.
beautiful basket selection from Crate and Barrel

beautiful basket selection from Crate and Barrel

7.  An article from that listed the 5 friends you need in life made me happy because I discovered I have these types of friends in my life and they are all so special to me in their own unique ways.  Here are a couple of mine:

*  Comic Relief—how could I choose anyone but Kate who makes me laugh until I wet my pants, but then again, so does Sharon and Colette and Bowlin and Lisa and……oh the laughs we have had.

*  Risk Taker—I often envy the things Lisa is so willing and able to do, like dive with moray eels!  I dive with no one!

*Loyalist—everyone should have a friend like Sandy who always takes my side and is caring and giving to a fault.  Sometimes you just don’t want to hear the practical side of things–am I right?

8.   A one year olds birthday party.  While I am not big on over the top birthday parties for kids, there is something special about celebrating the very first one.  And is there anything cuter than a one year old cowboy?

DH Design San Diego CA  92111

DH Design
San Diego CA 92111

9. The smell of fall in the air.  No doubt it is subtle in San Diego but it is there, especially in the early mornings.  I am so over summer and ready for a new season to begin!

10. Planning a road trip.   This is my favorite type of travel made even more special as it is planned around hooking up with our besties Ron and Sheryl and Lee and Suzy in Montana and Idaho.  May even schedule a trip to Flagstaff Arizona to see our friends new vacation home.  And I would be the happiest girl in the world if I saw beautiful fall colors and maybe even a little bit of snow!!

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ten things that made me happy in July



Someone recently asked me if it was difficult to come up with 10 things every month.  I answered quickly that, yes, in fact it was very difficult. It would be easy to fill the list with lots of standards things like my daughter, my husband, food on the table etc but that does not require a lot of soul searching.  I explained that when I use the word ‘happy” I am not necessarily referring to the jumping up and down screaming with delight happiness, although that could be the case, but more those “things” that gave me joy if even for just a moment.  It does take time and the ability to be mindful of your surroundings and in the moment each and every day and that was the whole purpose of this exercise for me, to focus on the positive in order to compensate for all the negativity that surrounds each and every one of us every single day.  So give it a try and let me know how easy it was for you to come up with ten things and please, feel free to share with me as I am interested in what happy things happened to you.    Now–on with this month’s list:

1.  4th of July.  The unofficial start of summer.  Even as a kid this was always one of my favorite holidays.  Parades, barbecues and, of course, fireworks.

2.  Submitting my kitchen design in a contest and having it come in #79 out of thousands of entries.  While I did not win or even become one of the top 5 finalists I was thrilled by the recognition. (apologies for the blurry pic)

What a difference knocking out a wall and adding see through cabinetry makes in a dark 1980's kitchen.

What a difference knocking out a wall and adding see through cabinetry makes in a dark 1980’s kitchen.

3.  Sun, glorious warm sun, finally broke through after May Gray and June Gloom.  Keep your fingers crossed that May Gray disappears for May of 2016!!

4.  Christmas in July everywhere you look makes this believer in Santa very happy

5.  Taking care of this little granddog.  She is suffering from renal failure so we are not sure how much longer we will have her but she is a real sweetie and found a comfy spot for her afternoon nap on my bed while staying with us for a few days.

nellie sleeping on bed july 20156.  Marking items off the incredibly long and complicated to-do list for my daughter’s wedding next May.  With each tick I feel like I have accompished something and one step closer to being ready for the big day.  Got the venue, DJ, violinist for ceremony and bridesmaid dresses and made decisions on colors, table settings etc.  Now all that is left is photographer, florist, wedding dress, my dress, hotel resos, bridal luncheon arrangements, reception tent lighting, photo booth rental, save the date cards, invitations… as the King says in “The King and I”  etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…HELP!

7.  Sending out a cry for help (sort of) and having it answered by my incredible friends.  I sent out a plea for help in locating 120 champagne flutes all in different designs at thrift stores and garage sales and everyone came through.  Kate you are incredible as is Sandy and her bingo buddies who do not even know me.  In less than two weeks we are 2/3 of the way there!  Love the power of women!!!

8.  Rain, rain and more rain in San Diego!  While the sunshine makes me happy this rain makes me even happier as we may just end this drought after all.  Plenty of flooded streets and overrun rivers and even these little raccoon babies had to climb on top of a freeway sign to get away from rushing water that washed away their home.

courtesy of WPXI

courtesy of WPXI

8.  A successful redecorating project!  It is so rewarding for me to see the excitement on the face of friends and clients when they see their rooms come together after all the work they have done.  I will share photos once all the artwork is hung so you can see what can be done by adding to and updating your already existing furnishings and treasures.

9.  Friends recovering nicely from some pretty serious health problems.

10.  Being selected for a week long + jury trial…you decide if this made me happy or not!

What made you happy in July of 2015?

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The lure of black and white striped interiors

I have always been attracted to to the graphic punch of black and white, in particular, black and white stripes.  I am drawn to this combination in my wardrobe and in interior design.  And it appears I have passed on the B+W stripe gene to my daughter as that is the accent combo she is using in her upcoming wedding.  The black and white striped apple does not fall far from the tree!

Take a look at these interiors and tell me if you are not falling in love with this combo as well:

This all white kitchen pops with the addition of a black and white striped rug and check out that vase/pitcher on the counter….love it!

Black and white striped rug in kitchen via south shore decorating blog

Black and white striped rug in kitchen via south shore decorating blog

This rug from Ikea has been popular for a couple of years now and is an affordable way to add this energetic look to any room in your home.

Stockholm rug from Ikea

Stockholm rug from Ikea

Throw pillows are always the easiest and most affordable way to introduce a specific color, pattern or trend into your interiors.

design black and white striped pillowsAre you hooked yet?  Maybe this will be the inspiration you need–

Not as graphic as the bold wide stripes but certainly chic and sophisticated. Lamp from Currey & Co.

Not as graphic as the bold wide stripes but certainly chic and sophisticated.
Exton Lamp from Currey & Co.

And here is a sneak peek at how it will be used in our daughter’s wedding next May

Are you hooked yet? more try–

Photo by William Abranowicz via elle decor featuring Madeline Weinrib rug, Ralph lauren wallcovering

Photo by William Abranowicz via elle decor featuring Madeline Weinrib rug, Ralph lauren wallcovering

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10 things that made me happy in June

Summer is here offering plenty of reasons to be happy!  Here are ten things that made me happy during the first month of summer—June:

1.  Winning the naming contest for a new tile pattern from Susan Jablon Mosaics tile.  Wouldn’t this be fun in a teen’s bathroom or a fun powder room?  winning name–Sweet Sixteen.

2.  The Del Mar Fair.  We go every year on a mid-week evening and do the exact same things—visit the woodworking exhibit, walk through and smell the cows, ooh and ahhh at the baby animals, look in amazement at the beautiful flower specimens, Rick eats corn on the cob and I eat a cinnamon roll (or two) and best of all, the Swifty Swine pig races!!!! High class all the way!

3.  Two third place and one first place awards for one of my design client’s submissions in fiber art at the fair.  You can read about her form of art here.

4. The look of surprise on my girlfriend’s face at her birthday party.  And it is always fun and interesting to meet new people since Rick and I knew no one at the party except the guest of honor…and ,truth be told, were probably the oldest ones in the room.

5.  A good before and after design project.  In this case we simply reupholstered and rearranged and repurposed furniture and artwork she already had to create an updated and move livable space.  Will share more of this project in a future post but here is a look at part of the “before”

Ethan Allen chair that just needs an introduction into the new millenium!  And boy did she get it!

Ethan Allen chair dressed for the eighties.  This classic style is still available!

And the incredible “after” reupholstered in a Robert Allen fabric that is no longer available and upholstered by the amazing Pat at All American Upholsterers.  We also painted those eighties oak legs in a semi-matte finish to add some contrast and visual “weight” to the chair.  Wait until you see photos of the entire room!!

sharon ladd chair after

6.  Family vacay!  Our entire immediate family packed up the cars and headed to Palm Desert for 4 days of swimming, laughing and relaxing in the HOT sun.  Nothing like vacationing with a 10 month old and a 3 and 1/2 year old!  A good time was had by all even if it was 113 degrees!!!

ella at pool in palm springs june 2015

7.  Evenings warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a drink and plenty of conversation with friends.

8.  Padres baseball games.  While the team is not exactly living up to all the hype delivered at the beginning of the season it is always fun to spend an evening at Petco Park.  And my favorite part, besides the hot dogs and soft pretzels, is during the 3rd inning when all of the vets and active duty military fans are asked to stand and be recognized.  I am always so proud of all of them, including my Air Force vet husband.

9.  I don’t care how bad a day you are having, taking 2 minutes to watch this video will put a smile on your face and bring a joyful tear to your eye.  If there is anyone out there who sees this and is not positively affected, please contact me because I would like to know why!  My gift to you:

10.  Watching my adult kids get along with each other.  I think every parent hopes but wonders if their kids will be close as adults.  And our daughter Jenna has always been extremely close to her half-brother and a weekend away allowed brother and sister to interact as adults, along with their significant others.  Makes a mother proud!

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I love a good foot rub—and a good footstool

A footstool by any other name is also known as an ottoman or a hassock.  And in my humble opinion, I think a foot stool is one of the most versatile pieces of furniture you can own.  Depending on the size, it can act as an ottoman to rest your feet, provide additional seating during a party or perform double duty as an end table next to a chair or sofa.

Probably the most commonly used footstool is a matching ottoman placed at the foot of the coordinating easy chair as seen in this photo.  It creates a very inviting look.

A more stylish arrangement might be to use an ottoman in a different design style than the chair, making for a more eclectic but still inviting arrangement as seen here.

or for personal use:

or  serious:

suede, velvet, plaid or solid–a footstool should be a staple in your home’s decor.  You can find these workhorses of design in pretty much any store that sells furniture from low-priced retailers like Target and Walmart to higher end stores like Ethan Allen or have one custom made to meet your exacting needs by contacting your interior designer.

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