Renter's Woes: Ugly Stairs

Congrats!! You've officially survived the Craigslist hunt of your nightmares and found the Renter's Paradise that you dreamed of!!! It has all of the 'majors'  – a dishwasher (um, WHAT!?), those to-die-for built-ins, and the right number of bedrooms with proper adult-sized-ish closets. Soon after you sign your lease, you move in and discover ALL OF THOSE annoying details that actually grind your gears every single day!! Hark – I come bearing good news!

Most people don't realize that you don't have to live with everything that you hate about your rental. I'm here to share a few of my favorite tricks & quick fixes that will make all of your renter's nightmares evaporate into thin air – kiiiinda like last week's stash of Halloween candy. OOPS.

The first installment in my new 'Renter's Woes' series involves an easy makeover for wooden stairs – correction: REALLY-REALLY-UGLY wooden stairs, like mine. When we moved into our Loft, I sat around for months hating every single trip upstairs. Oh trust me, I almost broke down and painted those suckers on multiple occasions. If you live in a renter's market like mine, though, you're probably not willing to forfeit that absurd security deposit. Thankfully, I recently discovered an amazing and truly magical product and I decided to use it to solve my Heinous Staircase Dilemma.


See what I mean? All that awful wooden-chip subfloor nonsense is just too much. The magical product that I discovered is Hygge & West's Removable Wallcovering Tiles. Hey Renter's, your keyword here is re-move-able....MAGIC! You can slap these babies on your eyesore of a staircase in a few easy steps, and easily take 'em off before you move out. I'm about to show you how...

Step 1: You're Really Gonna Need A Template. Nobody wants to sit there and hand-measure wallcovering for each and every riser. A standard template, cut to the size of your riser, will make all of this a lot easier. Tip: the riser is the 'front part' of the stair and will typically be around 7" high x 30-36" wide, but I'd pull an exact measurement using a tape measure.

  • Measure your stair riser. I guarantee that there will be one or two stubborn risers that are a little off in size. That's okay – we'll fix it later.
  • Grab a piece of cardboard. I used the hardback of a large-scale drawing pad. Shoot for a denser material – it'll make things easier when we get to the cutting process.
  • Cut the cardboard to the size of your riser. Depending on the width of your stairs and the size of the wallcovering tile you're using, you might need two pieces of wallcovering per riser. This was the case for my stairs, so my template was actually cut to fit 1/2 of my riser.

Step 2: Trace & Cut Your Wallcovering

  • Place the template over the wallcovering tile, and trace a piece for each riser.
  • Remember, if you're using two pieces of wallcovering per riser, I'd recommend matching the pattern in the center. It can get a little tricky when you start cutting, but just pace yourself and lay the pieces out on the floor.
  • Use a cutting mat and an x-acto blade, and carefully cut your wallcovering along the lines that you've drawn. This is the part where I'd be EXTRA careful. These wallcovering tiles aren't cheap, and you really don't want to mess this up.

Step 3: Get Ready For Install

  • To keep things organized, I laid out each piece before installing. My wallcovering style has a pretty intricate pattern match, and I wanted to be sure I didn't mix up the pieces.

Step 4: Peel And Stick. BE PATIENT. Here comes the frustrating part. 

  • I installed my pieces starting from the bottom riser and worked my way up the staircase. 
  • Tip: most removable tiles are multi-use. This means that if you mess up, just gently pull the piece off and re-apply. I would try not to do this multiple times, but it's going to be fine if you accidently stick something crooked the first time.
  • Be sure to apply extra pressure to the corners and work out any bubbles (there won't be many).

Step 5: Trim As Needed

  • Remember that pesky riser that I mentioned? The one that is annoyingly 1/2" shorter than the rest? Keep a pair of scissors handy and trim manually when you get to it. 

Step 6: Take A Step Back And ENJOY!

What do you think?! It makes a big difference, huh? In my own life, this is definitely one of those drab-to-fab Cinderella stories that I fully intend to recount to our grandchildren. Enjoy!

*All wallcovering was generously provided by Hygge & West.


The Sofa Series: Part I

Okay, ya'll, let's talk about furniture. Today, I want to begin addressing one of the most difficult decisions one faces when crafting a living space – selecting the right sofa. Seems relatively simple, right? I mean, it's just a sofa. Wrong.

I recently learned this, firsthand, while selecting the best sofa for my own space. Yes, even Interior Designers struggle with decision-making in their own homes. No kidding, ya'll, I lost sleep over this decision. There is an endless list of companies selling "the perfect sofa" – and then you've got to deal with size, shape, color, foam density, and the list goes on. For me, everything got easier when I found the right manufacturer, but there was still a long way to go. For Part I of this series, we're going to focus on Form. We'll get into the Pretty Nitty-Gritty (color, style, fabric, etc) in Part II. For now, let's chat about manufacturers, size, function, and shape...

Where do I even look?
If you've ever considered purchasing a sofa, you've learned that those suckers can get expensive. Unless you can afford that perfect $10,000 sofa at the name-brand luxury furniture store, you're going to have to do some hunting. Like I said – everyone is going to tell you that their sofa is superior, but most are lying. With many of the other mid- to upper-tier furniture companies,  you're dealing with the poor construction of really bad materials that happened to be wrapped in an okay-looking upholstery. From the outside, some aren't too terrible looking – especially when styled within that ideal in-store vignette.

These "value" pieces just aren't going to hold up, though, and you can bet on that one. When starting the process of designing my own home, I quickly learned that I wouldn't buy my sofa from the mass-retailers that most turn to. I began searching for something new and different, and eventually stumbled upon Interior Define. FINALLY! I know where I will buy my future sofa. Let me just tell you – finding this company was like breathing a big gulp of fresh air. The customer service is transparent and personalized, and the staff is knowledgable, accomodating, and friendly. Best of all, each sofa is completely custom and bears a price tag 30-40% lower than many comparable high-end brands. SOLD. 

Now that you know where you'd like to purchase your sofa, we need to think about sizing. Obviously, this decision hinges drastically on the size of your space. I'd begin by thinking about the focal point of your room. Do you want your sofa to serve as the main feature of the space, or would you like to include other statement pieces of furniture? If you've already invested in large-scale heavy lounge chairs, I'd consider a smaller sofa with a lighter frame. If you're like me, and already own smaller-scale lounge pieces, you're in the safe zone for a large-scale hefty sofa that demands some respect. My lounge chairs are a set of vintage Bertoia diamond chairs, so I opted for a bulky sofa that would offset the dainty frame of the chairs. It's all about balance and identifying a feature for the space.

Besides considering the shape of the room, I'd also consider your ceiling height. Most people don't weigh this major factor into their furniture selection process. Did you know that your furniture can make your ceilings look higher or lower, depending on their scale? Ultimately, you can create a room that seems bigger than it actually is – you just need to know how to choose the right furniture! What is the height of your ceiling? If you're on the lower end, I'd go with a sofa with legs and an airy frame – like the Owens or Asher. The lightness of the sofa will give your space the illusion of higher ceilings. If you've got a space with higher ceilings, like a large and open loft, I'd select a lower sofa that will deliver the illusion of a more intimate space with lower ceilings. The Ainsley and the Gray are great options for this type of space.

Knowing the desired function of your sofa will help you make decisions about the components of its construction and its orientation within the space. We'll get into upholstery options in Part II, but seat density is something that you'll want to consider early on. Fortunately, Interior Define offers countless custom options online, but they offer even more options over the phone or in person at their flagship Chicago showroom. If you want your sofa to be oriented for TV-watching and serve as a big fluffy cloud to cuddle with a bowl of popcorn, consider requesting a low-density foam with mega-softness and "give" in the seat- and back-cushions. It's a recipe for daytime naps and movie marathons. If your living room will be a place used primarily for conversation or family games, I'd request a firm high-density foam construction that will allow more upright sitting. Both construction types will be extremely comfortable, but Interior Define's high customization let you take things to the next level. Each sofa is available in 3 different cushion-fill options, so have some fun exploring and choosing the right one for you!

Finally, let's chat about shape. For this part of the series, we're not getting into "style." For now, let's talk about shape in its most simple sense We've got a few options to look at. Most sofas are made with one of three basic shapes – straight, straight with a chaise, or full-on L-shaped. Round or curved sofas our out there, but their application is far less common. The size of your space and desired function of the sofa will help you make a decision on shape, but it's good to consider a few more factors. With the right shape, a sofa can serve as a great separation between two spaces. If you're dealing with an open floorplan, use an L-shape sofa to separate the living and dining areas. The Crawford is the perfect shape to act as a divider. If you're interested in adding a collection of lounge chairs and side tables, I'd go for a clean straight-run sofa that will consume less square footage. I love the simplicity of the Sloan and the Lucy. These sofas will also prepare your landscape for the execution of almost any style. For you nappers and movie-watching moguls, a straight sofa with a chaise simply can't be beat. If you've got the space for it, this shape will deliver supreme comfort and flexibility. Shape is typically the easiest part of the sofa-selection process, especially since most of Interior Define's designs are available in 5+ configurations. Fortunately, if you've fallen in love with a style, it's likely available in many different shapes and custom sizes. 

Stay tuned for Part II, ya'll – we're going to chat about all things pretty! In my next Sofa Series post, we'll get into upholstery materials, color, and style. 


Sean Woolsey

Good morning! Today, I want to share an incredible resource with you - Sean Woolsey. I actually discovered him through my boyfriend, and have been a lover of his work (and Instagram feed) for some time now. He's a maker-extraordinaire from Southern California, and his designs are fresh & wildly unique. It's his approach to his work, though, that really captured my admiration. Sean builds each piece to last - not just for a year or two - but for generations. I also admire his quirky approach to, well, everything. How about the super cute photos of his furniture? Those might be the cutest kids I've ever seen. I've had the opportunity to discuss projects with Sean in the past, and he's very kind and insanely easy to work with. I can't wait to use his wonderful work in a project soon, and hopefully check out his studio someday. On a personal note - I'm absolutely dying over his Rosso Marble table. If I don't get to use it in a project soon, I might just have to buy it for myself. Enjoy!

All photos provided by Sean Woolsey


Friday Favorites, Fur & Copper

copper-fur-take-homeOn certain days, I look down at my desk and see a clear & consistent theme. Today, it seems that I'm especially drawn to my samples of copper and assorted fur. Somehow, they've just ended up scattered around my desk at an arm's reach. Do you have any absolute favorite finishes or materials? When it comes to clothing, what is your favorite? When you think about the perfect accent pillow for movie-watching on the sofa, which fabric comes to mind?


If you want to take this look home with you, check out these incredible copper & fur home goods:

1. Rocking Chair 2. Tibetan Fur Bench 3. Copper Shelf 4. Copper Pipe Chair + Ottoman - HURRY! 5. Mini Copper Planters 6. Mongolian Fur Pillows

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!


Stone Textile Studio

stone-textile-hero Guys, I'm thrilled to tell you about Stone Textile Studio. I'm using their accent pillows on two current design projects, and I absolutely love the monochromatic aesthetic of their products. Black, white, and gray...and a whole lot of it. What else do you need? The layered & draped details are contemporary and creative, yet timeless. I had a hard time picking my favorite pillow designs. The Tuxedo for the classy babes, The Dip for the laid-back lady, and The Square Layers for the edgy foxes. Head to their website and check out the entire collection - it's something else!

Side note: I spoke with one of the ladies of Stone Textile Studio on the phone last week. We chatted about my project and they seem like quite the lovely & down-to-Earth bunch over there. Keep it up! I love your work.




Score + Solder

score+solder-quartz-trio Typically, one of the first things that I notice when I step into someone's home is the lack of plant-life. People wonder why their space feels dim and lifeless - it's because there's nothing living there! If you're trying to keep a plant alive and thriving, you'll naturally start opening blinds and allowing light to penetrate the room. It's incredible how a single plant, housed within a gorgeous planter, possesses the power to transform an atmosphere.

Recently, I missed these gorgeous terrariums on a Dot & Bo flash sale. Devastating. However, I was able to find the same items on the maker's website. Even better! I also discovered that Score + Solder  makes a range of products from planters to lighting to delightful little table objects. I definitely recommend checking out this website. If your home is lacking plant-life, you can cover a multitude of sins by buying a stunning gem-shaped terrarium and filling the glass with life. I guarantee that it will inspire awe when guests visit!

My very favorite is the Quartz No. 2 terrarium. Go get yours!


Leather Straps

Over the last month or so, I've reflected a lot on the furniture trends that I uncovered during design week in New York. This spring & summer, I've noticed a lot of leather furniture. This doesn't seem like anything new, right? The interesting thing about the furniture isn't the leather itself, though, it's the application of the leather. This year, it's being used in strips and straps. I love the light and airy qualities of the chairs & stools that I've sourced below. They are contemporary, yet timeless, with a touch of edginess. Sometimes, a fully upholstered leather chair feels heavy and unsuitable for the space. You're going to love these sophisticated alternatives! leather-strap

1. Phloem Studio / Nadine Lounge 2. Eric Trine / Rod + Weave Chair 3. Miles & May / May Lounge Chair 4. Michael Robbins / Ranger Stool 5. Casa Midy / Punta Maroma Stool 6. Stephen Kenn / Inheritance Collection Armchair


A Swedish Apartment

web-2web-1 Every so often, I like to dig into the depths of my Evernote files and click through my list of favorite interior photographers. Once again, I caught myself spending extra time on Jonas Ingerstedt's site. His interior photography is absolutely incredible - and I've definitely mentioned him before. This particular space caught my eye because, honestly, the designer has used all of my favorite chairs. In one apartment! It's almost too much. I've been on a bit of a Herman Miller kick lately - and dream of Eames chairs on daily basis. During DWR's recent Herman Miller sale, the daydreams actually got a little uncontrollable. The colorful molded plastic side and arm chairs are the essence of perfection, and the Eames lounge chair is simply better than perfect. Aside from the incredible furniture, I also love the overall styling of this space. I'll take that pink skateboard, please!


SF Bedroom

sketchIt's time for a project share! I'm really stoked to reveal this one. I recently designed this bedroom for a friend in San Francisco - and I honestly wish it were mine. My friend is free-spirited, adventurous, and a little old-fashioned. She loves warm colors, rustic wood finishes, and vintage furniture. This was one of my favorite projects to complete in my free time. It was so much fun to work with a close friend, and help her achieve exactly what she was looking for in her San Francisco home! Enjoy!


Selections: 1.   the Adler Table / crafted in San Francisco by Ohio Design 2.  vintage suitcase nightstand / Etsy & Craigslist / image via Lonny 3.  the Gustavian Bed / Viva Terra 4.  the Otto Tibetan Fur Bench / MGBW 5.  the Copper Real Good Chair / Blu Dot 6.  the Cole Stool / Made Goods 7.  the Sophia Garment Rack / Crash Industrial 8.  the Nourmak Encore rug collection / Nourison 9.  a refinished vintage dresser / image via Natty by Design