Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

Suzani Ottoman Goodness

Meet our ottoman.

ottoman-088

It came to us at a price of zero dollars which is my favorite kind of price. (We were lucky enough to snatch it up when my parents moved on to bigger and better things.) But unfortunately, I wasn’t that into the washed red cotton skirted slipcover that came with it so it sat naked (slipcoverless) in our den for longer then I care to admit.

ottoman-091

I considered a million different options of how to cover it. A slipcover? DIY upholstery? Professional upholstery? And most importantly, what fabric?

Perhaps a suzani?

I had fallen in love with vintage suzani textiles ever since I stayed at the Colony Palms hotel in Palm Springs. “Delicious” designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard (of Million Dollar Decorators fame) plastered the hotel with suzanis–as headboards, in picture frames, as throw pillows and just draped all over everything. (Images via colonypalmshotel.com.)

colony palms

colony palms 2

Pretty fabulous, right?

Then I spotted this image over a year ago on a blog and saved it on Pinterest with the text: “I’m thinking the mid-century man cave needs a little boho printed love. Maybe cover the ottoman in a Suzani?” (Just goes to show how long brewing a makeover can be!) Note: I pinned it from another site who used it without crediting it (booo!) so I just did a little Pin-research to find the original source. It was done by a writer named Kevin Austin from Style at Home. It was originally a coffee table!

suzani ottoman

But the problem is that this crazy idea of mine was going to go into our den, a.k.a. The Mid Century Man Cave, a.k.a. Pablo’s room. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s generally very agreeable about all my design choices (see proof in I Have a Hot Pink Chair!), but this is “his” sanctuary and he wasn’t fully convinced about how the suzani would work with our Ikea black and white striped rug. Until we saw this:

hgtv

It’s the home of Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors featured in HGTV magazine. (I seem to be talking about Amber ALL the time lately, like here and here. Is this becoming a serious design crush? I would say so.)

Alas! This was the visual help I needed to convince Pablo but then came the next hurdle…how does one buy a suzani?

I considered lots of different sites and did a bunch of research and ended up finding a REALLY AFFORDABLE one on eBay. I snagged it for only $45 plus $30 shipping. (What? Do you have a cheaper shipping method from Uzbekistan? Yeah, I didn’t think so.) And considering that I looked at some that were well into the hundreds, I think $75 is a fair price to pay for something hand embroidered.

suzani

Looks pretty similar to this one on Wisteria for $900, dontcha think? (It’s no longer available. Does that mean some moron actually bought it?)

wisteria

A few weeks later, we found this little bundle of joy on our doorstep.

ottoman-079

It was sewn closed and dotted with some kind of brown doody-looking substance that had hardened to seal it up.

ottoman-082

But inside it’s unique wrapping (and two protective layers of plastic bags), there it was in all it’s hand-sewn gloriousness.

ottoman-092

Look at the detail from the back. It’s stunning!

See that seam going across the upper left corner? That’s because several women in the family will stitch different sections and then they’re joined together later. Don’t worry. You can barely tell from the other side. (But ironically, you can see the seam in the $900 Wisteria one shown above!)

ottoman-098

But I was a little sad to see that if I centered the red medallion on the ottoman, I would lose all of that beautiful detail at the edges. So, I considered covering it off-center, like this pic below so I could get at least two of the edges on it. (I now know that was dumb and would have been sacrilegious to my beautiful suzani. Don’t worry. I saw the ere of my ways.) After considering a DIY (I mean, I even had out the staple gun and some scissors), I chickened out and decided to have a pro do it. And I am so glad I did.

ottoman-093

Garwood Interiors knew just what to do to center the medallion and preserve the edges of the suzani. Isn’t it a beaut? (And soooooooo much better than what me and my staple gun would have done!) And he only charged $150. I don’t really know if that’s a lot or a little for work like this but it felt totally worth it to me.

ottoman-046

And now she’s sitting in the man cave (the most well lit one in the world) with her new friend the vintage credenza (but that’s another happy story for another day).

ottoman-022

I like how the brown embroidery around the red medallion, ties into the brown couch that–until now–had nothing to do with anything else in there.

ottoman-021

I know I owe you a lot more pictures of the room. It’s one of the places that I’ve barely shared with you (aside from a peek during the blackout after Sandy when we were dancing in the dark and when we looked at my spray painted chairs) but I promise that some “in progress” pics are coming very soon.

Thanks to my parents (who are celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary today! Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!) for giving us the ottoman. And thanks to you for reading this way-too-long post!

XO

Sue at Home

Decor, Home, My house, Shopping

Batik Pillows from Etsy

I’ve got a problem. It’s an obsession really. You see, I need new pillows for my living room couch and once I saw these beauties from Amber Interiors I couldn’t think of anything else.

amber

They’re dark blue batik with hot pink stitching and that pretty much means they’ve got my name written all over them. But there’s a problem. Let’s take a closer a look at this pillow named Sally.

sally pillow

Do you see the problem? That’s right. She’s $195! Oh Amber, I love your shoppe but I do not have $600 to spend on three pillows. So, I did what any smart shopper (AKA poor shopper) would do: I went to etsy. It didn’t take much–just a quick “batik pillow” search–to find a couple great shops.

First I spied SiameseDreamDesign which has lots of batik pillows (and bonus: their prices are more in the $28 range)! There were lots that I liked and I highly considered these two.  (Click pics for direct links.)

siamesedreamdesign1

siamesdreamdesign2

But I kept searching and finally hit the jackpot with OrientalTribe11.  A little pricier (the 16×16 ones are $40 and the 20x20s are $60) but I felt like they were closer to the Amber ones that I so coveted. I bought these two but there are lots more like them:

orientaltribe111

orientaltribe112

Hmmm…that second one looks kinda similar to our old friend Sally. Let’s take a closer look.

pillow compare

Damn, I love Etsy.

And yes, I know I said I was buying three but I think I’m going to wait until I get the first two and then figure out what else I need. As excited as I am about my cheaper find, I still think Amber (interior designer and seller of the $195 pillows) is a genius so I’m going to follow her lead and make sure my pillows aren’t all too matchy.  I mean, did you see this beautiful pillow pile when her place was featured on Style Me Pretty Living last week?

amber pillows

You’ve just got to check it out. Her whole place is a study in contrasts. It’s all crisp and clean with beautiful ethnic accessories.

amber dining

amber bedroom

amber patio

Can I move in?

Stay tuned to see how the living room shapes up when my new pillows arrive! More on the living room here.)

All Amber Interiors home pictures via Style Me Pretty Living photographed by Bryce Covey.

XO

Sue at Home

Decor, Home, Shopping

Haven’s Kitchen

I first visited Haven’s Kitchen about a year ago for a Keri Levitt Communications event but, for whatever reason, I never wrote a post about it. Well…wait no more, dear readers. Here it is!

Haven’s Kitchen is (according to their website) a “recreational cooking school, specialty food shop, and event space” in Manhattan on West 17th Street. I love the place because their homemade granola is crack in a bag but the reason I wanted to share it with you is the fun decor. Let’s take a look. (Apologies in advance for the iphone pics.)

One step in the door and you’re greeted by lights in little jam jars.

havens-kitchen (28)

Next you’ll see industrial shelves with all of Haven’s yummy food products.  (I’ll take this opportunity to mention that granola again. I promise, it’s worth the $11 you’ll pay for a 1 lb bag.)

havens-kitchen- (25)

havens-kitchen- (26)

In the back is the kitchen where they host cooking classes. One of the most popular classes: Boozy Brunch.

havens-kitchen- (23)

There are so many cute things on the walls.

havens-kitchen- (24)

havens-kitchen- (27)

Now, let’s go upstairs to the event space. I love the art on the way up.

havens-kitchen- (13)

And the marble steps aren’t too bad either.

havens-kitchen- (22)

Isn’t the striped sofa in this little seating area just amazing?

havens-kitchen- (15)

And right next to that is this beautiful bar.

havens-kitchen- (17)

Oh, hello little pops of yellow.

havens-kitchen- (18)

The best has got to be this sweet this sentiment by the bathroom mirror.

havens-kitchen- (20)

Oh…and did I mention the granola? I know, I know. But believe me, if you try it, you’ll undrestand why I had to tell you about it three times.  You’ll thank me. (Photo via havenskitchen.com)

havens-granola

Thanks to Keri and Jillian for introducing to this amazing place!

XO

Sue at Home

Home

47 Park Avenue

Can we talk about 47 Park Avenue? It’s one of my favorite blogs and I just had to share a few pictures from it.

47 park ave mantel

It’s written by a guy named Michael in England who shares his home with a guy named Jonathan and it’s just a simply a diary of their renovations.  I can’t really tell you much else about the guys – their site doesn’t even have pictures of them – but Michael’s Blogger profile says he’s the owner of Shootfactory, a UK based location agent. (I only know their names because they each have their own private dressing rooms in the house. Yup. You read that right. Check them out here and here.)

Michael claims he’s not a professional designer/decorator but damn, does he have a good eye. He is fearless and it ALL works. The attention to detail is simply stunning. Check out some of these shocking before and after shots.

Stairs BEFORE

47 park avenue-hall

Stairs AFTER

47 park hall after

Living Room BEFORE

47 park ave reception before

Living Room AFTER

47 park reception after

As you can see, Michael loves a good black ceiling.

Check out their en suite.  (That’s known as a master bath to those of us in the US.) And yes, that’s a chandelier hanging from a metal rolling rack. You know you wish you thought of that.

47 park bathroom

One of my favorite spaces is the home office that he carved out of the upstairs hallway:

47 park ave office desk

I love the Boardwalk vintage sign – and the dog, of course.  Note to self: black floors look as awesome as black ceilings.

47 park avenue office

And if the bulldog wasn’t enough for you, there’s always this looker sitting next to a pink couch.

47 park pink couch

All images via 47 Park Avenue. Get on over there to see the rest of this room. And make sure you subscribe to be the first to hear about the forthcoming  47 Park Avenue online shop.

Good work Michael, you mysterious genius! Can’t wait to see what you do with the kitchen!

XO

Sue at Home

Before and After, Home, My house

Landscape Before and After Update

It’s been a year since we had our brand new shrubs installed so I figured it was a good time for an update, especially since it’s all looking so damn good. Before we look at the leafy prettyness, let’s see how far we’ve come. Here’s the half overgrown, half dead landscaping that we inherited on closing day.

December 2010

Closing day

Then we ripped everything out.

May 2012

removed shrubs

And then in June of last year, we had lots of beauties installed. (Read all about it here.) And as you can see, it was a huge improvement from the overgrown stuff we had before. To think, I was so thrilled with that one blue hydrangea blossom!

June 2012

shrubs after

This spring, I took a few pictures as the shrubs began to wake up from the winter freeze.

April 2013

shrubs-354

And finally, let’s take a look at how the whole thing is filling in. (Note: there are pink rose bushes in the middle of each side but some recent storms knocked most of the petals off. I hope we get more soon!)

June 2013

shrubs-022

shrubs-034

shrubs-029

This was the first year (of many, I hope!) that I got to enjoy all the splendor of my weeping cherry in it’s pinktastic glory. (This pic was taken a couple months ago. )

shrubs-358

During the spring months, I had a couple pots of ranunculus on the front steps and I was thrilled with them! They just kept blooming and blooming…until one day they just didn’t bloom anymore. It was a quick and sudden death but they were so beautiful up to that point, I would certainly get them again next spring.

shrubs-351

The best part of the rainbow is the amazing blue hydrangeas. I’m so thrilled with how they’re blooming. They just keep getting bigger and brighter every day.

shrubs-024

And it would be wrong if I didn’t mention that beautiful lawn. It’s like Pablo’s third child. He takes of care of it obsessively.

shrubs-018

I’ll give you an update on the backyard soon but just so you can get an idea of how well his efforts have paid off, check out this comparison on the backyard during our first spring here and the backyard this month.

backyard collage dates

More on that green carpet goodness soon!

XO

Sue at Home

Home, Travel

Travel: Iberostar Grand, Montego Bay

For Memorial Day weekend, Pablo and I got away with some friends (that’s right! no kids!) to the Iberostar Grand all-inclusive adults-only resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

It being an all-inclusive, my expectations were low but the resort was exactly what we needed: sun, sand, lots of frosty beverages, and good times with friends.

Since I was busy enjoying my vacay, I didn’t photograph everything but I did get some nice shots of our trip.

The view from a balcony off of the lobby.

iberostar-048

The pool was huge: it was like several cascading infinity pools pouring into each other.

iberostar-049

This was pretty much my view for 4 days.

iberostar-050

The swim up pool bar. (The food was just ehh–it’s an all inclusive, what did you expect?–but the drinks were delish. I recommend the Jamaica Smile. It’s like a combination of a pina colada, a banana daquiri, and a strawberry daquiri and there is nothing wrong with that.)

iberostar-045

A view of the resort from the pool area.

iberostar-044

The water.

iberostar-076

Some of our friends scored ocean front rooms over there on the right. And one couple even got  a room over on the side that shared a small semi-private pool with about 5 other rooms. You walked out to your balcony and then straight into the pool.

iberostar-077

Pablo and I got a basic pool view room but it was very nicely appointed.

iberostar-035

I’ll describe the decor as “decent with touches of kinda weird” but the beds were super comfortable (they even had a menu so you could pick your pillow) and the room was huge and laid out very nicely.

iberostar-033

I loved these deep two-person swings on all the balconies. I kinda want my mom to put one on the porch in their new house!

iberostar-036

The bathrooms were all marble and glass and they were enormous. This is only half of it. The other side has the same layout but the shower is where the toilet is in this pic. Please note that means that not only are their two sinks but they’re on opposite sides of the bathroom. I mean, isn’t that the perfect master bath layout?

iberostar-040

Happy 40th!

So, here’s my 30 second hotel review:

Pros: beautiful resort, not crowded even though it was full, yummy cocktails, all-inclusive so you don’t have to worry about every bottle of water you take from the mini bar, accommodating staff, golf at a surrounding club was included, no kids allowed (including mine!), and close to the airport.

Cons: Food is just “okay” (not bad but not amazing). Restaurants are painfully quiet. (Not only could we hear every word the person at the other end of the table was saying, so could everyone else in the restaurant.)

Overall, it felt very luxurious and upscale. And you gotta love a place that has lots of cushy lounge chairs, plenty of plush towels (take as many as you like) and complimentary sunscreen so you don’t have to bring it yourself!

iberostar-074

XO

Sue at Home

 

crafts, Entertaining, Family, Home

Luau Birthday Party

We recently celebrated Lily’s 5th Birthday with a luau at our house. Let’s take a peek at how we put it all together.

As you saw in last week’s post, I created an umbrella wreath for the front door out of paper parasols.

wreath-154

 I bought two hibiscus plants that I put in some pots that I had painted last year.

luau-125

They added the perfect tropical touch.

luau-126In the foyer, I put tons of leis in a bucket and displayed the invitation that I made on PicMonkey.

luau-118

For the favors, I got sunglasses from The Children’s Place, some Swedish Fish (Lily loves “sweetest fish”!) a hibiscus tattoo, and either a Hello Kitty necklace for the girls or a foam plane of the boys (both from the One Spot at Target).

luau-250

I just put all the goodies into white paper bags and added a little tag–that said “Thanks for coming to Lily’s Luau”– thanks to Picmonkey again. (I “borrowed” some of Sophia’s fun tape to attach them to the bags.)

Some grass skirts for the girls were laid out the back of the couch so kids could grab them as they came in.

luau-122I usually don’t like a matching set of paper plates but when I saw these at Ikea, I had to have them. I got the straws eons ago at Pottery Barn outlet and they’ve been sitting in a party bin in the attic just waiting for a luau!

luau-176

I kept the food pretty simple: pizza for dinner, tortilla chips and homemade guacamole, and lots of fruit. I had to include some pineapple, of course! (more cute napkins from Ikea)

luau-109

As for the cupcakes, I made them at home and used blue frosting to represent water, crunched up graham crackers for sand, gummy flip flops and a paper parasol.

luau-105

luau-106

I pulled out all my cake stands and decorated some of them to look like they had grass skirts on.  I just cut up a piece of green craft paper and taped it all the way around. Then I cut apart one of the leis and glued flowers around the paper with fabric glue.

luau-098

I also wrapped one of the cake stands with a lei.

luau-096

The little tissue paper decorations are from Oriental Trading –where I got just about everything I needed–and they came in really handy to give some height to the cupcake displays. (I just stuck them on top of a plastic cup turned upside down.)

luau-101

As for activities, we kinda just winged it. I was nervous because we don’t have a swingset anymore (remember how I told you that Hurricane Sandy took it out?) But we just put out all of our frisbees, wiffle balls and bats, and bubbles and let the kids have fun in the yard.  They loved it and there wasn’t a dull moment.

It was a perfect day with lots of good friends, good food and drinks, and good times!

Happy 5th Birthday Lily!

XO

Sue at Home

Decor, Home

Designer Rachael Goddard

My dear friend Rachael recently relocated from NYC to LA with her young family and after searching for a neighborhood that felt right to her, she finally found one in Calabasas. Problem is…the house needs a little decorating love. Luckily for her, she has found Rachael Goddard of Paint Design Decor. When I saw Goddard’s website, I was gasping. Her work is so so so simple but just so so so perfect. It’s all livable (kids allowed!) but still very elegant. She’s known for her stencil work but I’m dying over every room (stencil or not). I know my friend Rachael will be in great hands with Rachael (Yes – they’re both named Rachael and they both spell it with the extra “a”)! My Rach has promised to share some before and afters of the design process as it goes along but in the meantime, let’s drool over some of Goddard’s work.

First up, a beautiful striped ceiling.

rachael-goddard-dining

This is such a perfect example of how to update a “builder basic” house with moldings and details, like those stunning black stairs.

rachael-goddard-entry

I love the curves of the table with the pattern on the rug.

rachael goddard LR

I mean, this is pretty much my dream kitchen.

rachael-goddard-kitchen

Again, this is insanely simple but the restraint shown here is very difficult to pull off.

rachael-goddard-bedroom

And lest you think she only works in black and white, check out these fun kids’ rooms.

rachael-goddard-kids-1

Even with these bold patterns, this room seems so subtle.

rachael-goddard-kids-2

Oh, yes…I’ll come right over.

rachael-goddard-outdoor

All images via Paint Design Decor.

Good luck Rach! Can’t wait to come and visit again!

XO

Sue at Home

Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

Spray Painted Thrift Shop Chairs

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we? Back in January I took place in the Young House Love Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge – with great success if I might say so myself.

thrft-store-challenge-chairs-2

I spent my $20 on four busted looking chairs and I had some pretty grand plans for them. Ya know – something like this where mismatched chairs become a cohesive set thanks to some spray paint and some love.

But as I said back then, I was going to have to wait because freezing cold temperatures don’t work with spray painting.  So at the first signs of spring, I took to the driveway with my chairs, some sandpaper and lots and lots of spray paint.

You may have noticed that one of the chairs was replaced from the original post. I just found one to be too wimpy. (Keep your eyes peeled – it happens again! Still, the total spent on chairs was under $30.)

chairs-007

Step one was to give each chair a light sanding with fine grade (220) sandpaper. I was using a spray primer first so I didn’t make myself crazy with this step. Just a little roughing up.

chairs-013

Next, I built myself a little area to paint with cardboard boxes and some duct tape. Obviously, I completely underestimated how much the fine mist of paint would travel and my driveway ended getting a little redish but it actually washed right off. (Note that I started with them upside-down first so I had less chance of getting any sticky marks on the parts that show by doing it the other way around.)

chairs-014

As for my spray paint, I went with a three product method: Krylon Primer in Gray, Krylon Gloss in Banner Red, and Krylon Crystal Clear protective coat. I’m a Krylon addict ever since it performed so well in my gold spray paint test.

chairs-022

It took a lot more coats than I anticipated but finally, it started to look red. I think during the process, I wiped out all the Banner Red in the tri-state area. I’m kidding of course but I did have to try 5 or 6  local stores to track down all the paint I needed. After I was done, I think I used a total of 3 cans of primer, 9 cans of color and 3 cans of top coat for the four chairs. I used every Michael’s coupon I could get my hands on and I bought a bunch at my local hardware store so I saved when I could but it definitely ended up costing more for the paint then I ever imagined. Lucky for me, the chairs were cheap!

chairs-023

Here’s a look at three chairs: 1 primed, 1 with a couple coats of color, and 1 all done. Yay for the all done!

chairs-028

Now, before I show you how cute the finished chairs look in our den, let’s take a peek at the sad spot that so badly needed them.  Poor little Docksta!

thrift-store-challenge-016

And now…

chairs-505

Now it’s a happy place!

chairs-508

chairs-513

The chairs fit perfectly around the table and add some much needed color to the room. Check out how much better my view is from the kitchen “window”.

chairs-523

I didn’t sand them like crazy so they’re not perfect but I do like the slight glossyness of the finish.

chairs-527

chairs-515

Now that the weather is nicer and this room is no longer freezing, I’m thrilled to get to sit here for lots of lunches and dinners.

chairs-535

And I think the red works so well with lots of other things in the room.  (I know this picture doesn’t show much. I promise to take more pictures of this room soon. Really! I promise!)

chairs-510

One thing I will point out is the little vintage Piano Teacher sign I got on Ebay. It was a birthday gift for Pablo. This room is the closest thing he has to a “man cave” so I wanted to add something personal. And since playing the piano is one of his loves, I figured it was fitting. It’s small but we both love it.

chairs-517

So, what do you think? I’m really happy with how they came out. They’ve got a lot more personality than something store bought and they’re a LOT cheaper!

XO

Sue at Home

paint chair collage

crafts, Entertaining, Family, Home

40 Envelopes with 40 Memories for a 40th Birthday

birthday-460

Yup. It’s that time again…the Pinterest Challenge. For those not in the know, here are the deets. Sherry from Young House Love, Katie from Bower Power, Emily from Sparkle Meets Pop, and Renee from Red Bird Blue are the hosts for this 4-way link party. The challenge is to simply pick something creative that you’ve pinned on Pinterest and finally get around to doing it.

And this time, I created a project for Pablo’s 40th celebration. (Maybe next time, I’ll do something for myself!) When I had seen this birthday envelope surprise on Oh Happy Day I knew it was the perfect way to present Pablo with the sweet notes that I was planning for his birthday.

37

The first step was to get the memories. Lucky for me, Pablo is very loved so even though I started this the day before his birthday (!), all I had to do was send one group message on Facebook and one group email for the non-Facebookers and the memories came flooding in. There were a few people I couldn’t find but I managed to get over 35 messages. (I simply asked everyone to send me a memory of a time they spent with Pablo. I filled in the last few from me and the girls.) Once I got them all, I cut and pasted them into a word document, formatted them, and printed them on bright colored paper. Some were long and some were short but that worked perfectly for my purposes.

birthday-466

Next I found some random envelopes in my stationary stash and laid them out to spell 40. First on the floor (to get a layout I liked) and then up on the wall of the dining room.

birthday-459

The girls helped me stuff the envelopes…
birthday-427

…until each envelope – all 40 of them! – had a personal note from a friend or relative.

birthday-424

When he came home and we surprised him with it, he was a little perplexed at first. (I think he may have been wondering if this was a permanent installation!)

But once he started reading through all the memories with the girls (with a little bit of editing to take out any mature subjects!), he loved it.

birthday-447

I think it was a perfect gift for him (because he loves reminiscing) and for this year (because with me working part time now, there are no extra funds for a grand gift so I needed to make a grand gesture instead.)

We did get him a few little goodies, though, because everyone needs to open some gifts on their birthday.

birthday-434

birthday-451

As you can see, he had a great time. Thanks to everyone who contributed memories to this project. I couldn’t have done it without you.

On Wednesday, don’t forget to check back in with Sherry from Young House Love, Katie from Bower Power, Emily from Sparkle Meets Pop, and Renee from Red Bird Blue to see all the amazing projects that everyone made – plus all the linked ones!

XO

Sue at Home