FAVORITE NEW BLOGS

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When I first started reading blogs I used to spend hours--and I mean HOURS--reading blogs and commenting. I found blogs that I loved and have stayed with most of them over the years, but there's nothing like finding good new (to me) blogs. Here are a few of my new faves:
Danny & Mara Kofoed are quite possibly, the cutest couple evah. They were set up by a mutual friend and exchanged emails for 3 weeks during which time they fell in love--without ever hearing each other's voice or meeting in person!! Fast forward and they're now married and recently did a blog series where they shared many of the original emails to document the path of their relationship (and share their story in the most authentic way possible!). Reading them felt like a sneaking a peek into such an intimate part of their life but it was so inspiring! Their blog is all about positive love--for your husband, your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, family, friends, but most importantly, love for yourself. How can you not love them already?? Check them out here.
Charmaine's blog isn't new to me--I've actually been following her for about 2 years (which included a blog break) but she's back and just completed a pretty sweet bathroom renovation for her kids! I wanted to blog about it this week but since I'm already on the subject, here's a preview:
And here's the before:
Ok, ok, no more! Charmaine is a girl after my own heart 'cause she's got great design taste and is an ace vintage shopper. Love her blog! Go here to see for yourself. (Oh, and her best friend Craig? I think his last name is List.)
Ok, so B@T is definitely not a new blog but I just stumbled across it earlier this year in conjunction with The Everygirl. Danielle Moss is a graphic designer, professional photographer , co-founder of The Everygirl and I can always count on finding great photography on her blog. My favorite type of lifestyle blog is one with an entrepreneurial edge because I'm always fascinated at seeing how other people live and reading about the successes, struggles, and lessons in their businesses. Danielle's home has been featured in Rue but she just signed a lease on a new place last week, so I'm excited to see how she fixes up her new digs.  See more of Danielle (and her work) here!
How can I name-drop The Everygirl without including it here? Though it's not a blog, The Everygirl is fully of daily inspiration & motivation focusing on career, finance, food, living and the like. To ensure I don't miss a thing, I get my updates sent directly to my email and always look forward to reading the career features. Don't miss it!
I just found this blog! Michelle is an Interior Design student who keeps it funky and fresh on all things Interior Design & fashion-related. She even has an Etsy shop that has some gorgeous custom pillows made out of vintage quilts. See more of Michelle here. 
Jessica's  blog is another I recently found and by recently, I mean Friday. Her blog is chocked full of gorgeous spaces, but what really sealed the deal for me was a group Twitter conversation we had over the weekend with a few other ladies + a gentleman about what other than Fifty Shades of Grey? She wrote this hilarious post about not liking the book (the graphics are so funny) and I reached out to her on Twitter to tell I loved her blog but was also a FSOG fan which resulted in an international Twitter movie casting with some naughty new lingo to top it off. It was one of the best nights I've had on Twitter in awhile, so I know she's my kinda girl. Check out The Aestate here (and see her guide to Louis-style chairs here).
Round 2 coming soon!

Designer's Challenge 101: Tips for Decorating Like A Pro On A Budget

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A few weeks ago I was asked by my good friend, Amanda Burdge of AB Home Interiors to join several fabulous bloggers in participating in a "Designer's Challenge".  I didn't hesitate to say "yes"--not only because Amanda is my friend, but also because she's always cooking up some great ideas (like this bootcamp). I thought this would be a great way to get to know new bloggers and see what I could really accomplish with $6k, so I signed myself right up!  The rules for this challenge were simple and brief--the space had to be a living room, and the design budget was set at $6000 (which isn't pennies, but isn't cheddar either).  She included this floor plan:

These dimensions:

And set us free to design to our heart's content, with the goal of going live today!  Here's what I came up with:

KARLSTAD
$599 - ikea.com


Empire Mirror | Z Gallerie
$449 - zgallerie.com


Wood Leg White Accent Chairs (Set of 2) | Overstock.com
$197 - overstock.com  (client's own)


Nate Berkus™ Handcrafted Hourglass Table at HSN.com
$150 - home-decor.hsn.com (2 @ $150)


BÖJA
$60 - ikea.com


AINA
$50 - ikea.com (client's own)


Zigzag Rug, 2.5'x7', Ivory/Espresso/Flax | west elm
$39 - westelm.com  (**the rug is actually supposed to be an 8x10, so the price is $459, and not $39.)


RIBBA
$20 - ikea.com (5 @ $20--used to highlight the family's personal & travel portraits)


Discount Designer Fabric - LS Fabrics
lsfabrics.com   (2  18" x18" pillows)




Paint = La Paloma Gray, Benjamin Moore





As listed, the total comes to $4989, minus the cost of the shown items from 1st Dibs.  You'll also note that a few of the items were already owned by the client, which was totally within the rules and helped stay within budget.  As someone who sources and refinishes vintage items, I would include custom finished pieces, and have added these details (etageres & dresser) as visual guides for the client.  Estimated total cost for refinishing the client's current chest of drawers with paint and new hardware ($300) and sourcing & refinishing etageres ($550) is $850 (yes total--my prices are very reasonable!!!). After factoring in $150 in labor costs for having the drapery lined and pleated by a skilled seamstress (I would add the black trim myself), the grand total is $5989 leaving $11 to spare (but I'm sure I could find some way to spend it!).

The concept for this room design was based on a young family who was looking to upgrade their style quotient to a more sophisticated, glamourous, and yet unassuming space, while creating a design that would be welcoming to both sexes.  The beautiful thing about this room is that the whole vibe could easily be changed by swapping out the pillows (think combinations of lime green, royal blue, and/or chocolate brown) and changing the images in the Ribba frames from Ikea.  The Karstad Sofa (also Ikea) is one of my favorites because it's inexpensive, super comfortable, and the fabric is so forgiving (great for kids!).  The updated button tufting on the sofa I've selected also gives it a more detailed look, but if your short on funds, the one without tufting is just as fab (trust me--I have one in my office now). Add a few Watermelon Trellis Print pillows from Pieces  (one of my go-to Atlanta boutiques!), and some sleek new metal feet for the sofa, and you've got yourself a beautiful spot to party on a Friday night or relax on a Saturday afternoon. The white, modern Accent Chairs from Overstock can easily go from desk to kitchen table (you get 2 for $197--what a steal!), and the Empire Mirror from Z Gallerie is a great statement piece that will also allow the natural light from the single window to reflect across the room.  The Tangerine velvet Aubrey chairs from Room & Board brought a much needed "pop" to the room, but their classic, timeless style means that these chairs can be recovered for a dramatically different look time and time again, thus justifying the budget splurge.  Of course I added vintage/custom refinished pieces to the design plan, because that's what I live by! I believe that every space should feature a one of a kind piece, or something that's finished in a way that speaks to the homeowner's personality, and the thrill of finding that perfect score (see here and here) is something that I love to do for clients.

Want to see more? Here's a list of the bloggers participating in this challenge:

Traci Zeller of Traci Zeller Designs
Kelly Berg of Arte Styling
Kelly James of DesignTies 
Kathy Passarette of Creative home expressions
Amanda Burdge of Abhomeinteriors.com
Susan Snow of  Movingdesignz

Please stop by and check them out--hope you enjoyed!

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Meet My Boss.

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I'm lucky enough to not only know Brian Patrick Flynn of Decor Demon, but I get to call him boss too.  To all of you who love his work, yes--he is as fabulous in real life as he is in print!

A few months back Brian, generous heart that he is, volunteered his time to partner with TeachersCount, a nonprofit organization that serves to create a culture of appreciation for teachers throughout the US.  TeachersCount was awarded a grant by the Staples Foundation, and Brian volunteered to make over a Rhode Island teacher's lounge on only $7,000.  You might think that's a lot of dough, but wait until you see the space he was working with. His design was so stunning, it was even featured in this New York Times article a few days ago.  He took one of the lounges from this . . . .

to this

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on that tiny budget, with a whole lotta goodness in-between. And oh yeah, I forgot to mention that he did it all via TEXT MESSAGE with the teachers--he never set foot in the space until install day!  I would be surprised, but then again, this is the same guy that thinks of stuff like this

and doesn't even have to put the concept down on paper.  Brian also recently joined the HGTV Design Happens team, which means you'll get to read his insightful & beautiful posts featuring gender-balanced designs on a weekly basis.  He has an amazing (and super sweet) photographer named Sarah Dorio, which means that all of his photos are newsstand (and not to mention drool) worthy.  Brian is brilliant, funny, kind, easy on the eyes, and trust me, you need to see his portfolio.  I'm so proud to know this guy!!

Click here to read his first HGTV blog post.
Click here to see one of my favorite BPF designs.

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Pardon me

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Well, I should say pardon me and my lack of blogging.  I've been a bit inundated with work, and a one or two day break  has clearly turned to a few more while I'm racing towards the finish line!  I'll still be here on Friday with an inspirational post I think you'll love, and I should be back to regular posting next week with a Fab Find, hardware update, and a boutique preview.  In the meantime, Averill from Odi Et Amo is featuring me today in her Shop Like a Design Blogger series, and if you're not familiar with it, you need to head over and check it out! It's a great place to find new resources for design, and I'd say that even if she hadn't asked me to participate!  Still, I'm so honored to be included. :)  Want to find out more about some of the resources I use to Reuse, Refinish, and Repurpose??? Click here!! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Hope everyone is having a good week!

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The Joys of Internet Dating.

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By now, you DO know that this is my term for a blogger meet-up, right??

Friendships in the blog world are amazing, and yet a bit like internet dating because the process is much of the same. Think about it--you see (or read about, in this case) someone you think you might like, start to exchange comments with that person, slowly working your way towards private emails.  Suddenly emails begin to exchange more often. Then you schedule a face-to-face "date" where you spend the hours (or minutes, in some cases) seeing if there's a connection, after which you  decide whether you want to see the person again or "keep looking".  Very similar, right?  I told you.

Well this past week(end) I was able to meet up with Nashville-based Interior Designer (and boutique owner) Amanda Burdge of AB Home Interiors, and I would have to call our meet up a successful "date". Think I'm fibbing? Here's some proof.

(Photo via David Naugle of Naugleworks; taken @ Pieces)

Amanda and I have become email/blog friends over the last few months through her blog, AB Home Interiors, and when she graciously offered to show me around the 2010 Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market (commonly known as "Market") in exchange for my showing her my fabulous city, I had an offer I couldn't pass up.

For those of you who know Amanda from her blog, she is as beautiful, smart, and witty in the flesh!  Not only did she take 2 days to show me the ins and outs of Market (the details of which I will share in the coming days), but we talked incessantly about the business of design, blogging, retail merchandising, friendships and much of the like. She's lived in several states and has a great understanding of the various geographic cultures of design, in addition to an immense knowledge of the business itself.  Not only is she a friend, but she's someone I would also consider to be a business mentor.  As a new designer painstakingly creating my own brand, I value the advice of other successful people whom I trust and with whom I feel a mutuality.  Needless to say, Amanda definitely fits the bill.

Want to know what we did for 2.5 days?  Well here's the skinny . . .

We attended a private party honoring Jonathan Adler thrown by Lee Kleinhelter from the über-fabulous Atlanta boutique, Pieces.

We ate.

(This turkey burger from Flip Burger Boutique is perhaps the best one you will taste in your life.  It even has pomegranate ketchup . . . YUM.)

We shopped.

And shopped a bit more.

And she kept me from hitting pedestrians and driving on the wrong side of the street because I was too busy trying to stay engaged in our conversation (Amanda, I really am a great driver!).

Sounds like fun times, right? You bet.  Stay tuned for more details about our "date" and the tips you must know before attending any wholesale gift/home furnishings market!

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An Important Warning for Thrifters!

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I recently read an excellent, but sad, post from my good friend, Beth (of The Stories of A to Z) about bedbugs.  Gross, right?  I know, but if there’s one thing I’ve always loved about her, it’s her commitment to being open and honest on her blog.  I've been meaning to share it here because I wanted to get the word out about something that could really happen to any of us! She shared that her home has undergone an infestation of bed bugs, that she suspects came in from one of the many items she brings home thrifting---furniture, clothes, do-das, and thingamagigs.

Even if you don’t buy clothes and/or blankets from the thrift store (or any second-hand shops, like consignment shops, for that matter), don’t think you’re out of the woods!  All it takes is hauling that one must-have item into your house before those little pests take over, and from what she’s detailed here and here, it’s quite expensive (and painful!) to get rid of them.  Beth has had so much going on this year, I hate for this to be another thing added to her plate, but she’s definitely been proactive about getting them eradicated.  She actually had to throw away her mattress and purchase a new one, and while she says her mattress was old anyway, I’m sure she would’ve liked the purchase to be on her (and her husband's) own time.

You have to read all of the details and see her photos, but let me serve as a second warning to protect yourself when buying second hand items for your home.  I leave most of my things in my garage when I bring them home, but from time to time I’ve been known to haul in some lamps or a stool to see how it looks--not anymore.  These things will have to be thoroughly cleaned before they enter the house.

For those of you in apartments I would recommend having all upholstered furniture immediately steam cleaned if you plan on using it right away, because all it takes is one culprit to leave your wallet (and your body) in pain.  If you love second-hand furniture (and items) like I do, you really need to read this.  

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Glamour Girls at the Ritz Carlton--WRAP UP

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I had the most fabulous time at the Glamour Girls Brunch at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead.  I know the event was almost 2 Sundays ago, it wouldn't be right if I didn't share my experiences!
  OMG, when I walked into the dining room I felt like I was walking into the chocolate Factory for the first time (Willy Wonka, 99-44-100% pure)—the food looked amazing, and it was just as delicious (if not more!) than it looked. And the bacon!!! Oh the bacon!  Everyone at my table rved about how it was cooked to perfection, and if you’re a bacon lover like I am, you know that means slightly crispy, but not crunchy, and thick, if you can get it.  The bacon at the Ritz was absolutely perfect—I wish I would’ve taken a picture of it, but while I didn’t get the bacon, I did snap a few photos of some of what they served.  They had traditional breakfast food (grits, sausage BACON, waffles,), cooked-to-order eggs, omlets & waffles, plus an assortment of rip, fresh fruit (stawberries, figs, watermelon, oranges, etc), assorted breads (delicious muffins & croissants!), seafood (cocktail prawns, raw oysters, mussels, & crab), salmon wellington, prime rib, goat cheese ravioli with duck confit, and a host of imported cheeses, specialty meats, caviar, pate, and the list goes on.  Did I already say it was delicious???  My photos do not do this justice . . . .

Clearly I need to improve on my photography skills . . . .
 I had a blast meeting new friends and visiting with old ones, including Ava Roxanne Stritt from My Skin Concierge, Laura Scholtz from The Weary Publicist , Lakeitha Duncan (Home to Three Duncan Boys) and Erika Ward (BluLabel Bungalow).  The service at the Ritz was impeccable, but of course you would expect nothing less from them.  I had an opportunity to meet the head chef and hotel manager, and the each went out of their way to make sure I was satisfied and taken care of during the brunch.  All I have to say is, if you’re in the Atlanta area , you have to make it to the Ritz Carlton Buckhead before June 20th to experience the Glamour Girls Brunch!  And if you can’t make it before June 20th (or don’t live in the Atlanta-area) you have to grab your favorite group of people and make it a date with brunch at the Ritz-Carlton—trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed!

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