what I do

what I do

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Visiting St. Patrick's

"At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."
Soloman answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
"Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 
So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of you enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be."
1 Kings 3:5-12 
{photo from here}

One of my favorite things about visiting New York is seeing the beautiful architecture. The buildings have a history that we lack here in Southern California. One of my favorite buildings is St. Patrick's Cathedral which is across from another of my favorite spots, Rockefeller Center. I had not had a chance to go by it yet on this trip but I had wanted to.

A little history for you (excerpt taken from here):
The St Patrick's Cathedral, at 50th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, is the largest decorated Neo-Gothic style Catholic cathedral in North America. It is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. The St Patrick's Cathedral is located just across from Rockefeller Center.

The Diocese of New York was created in 1808. It was made an Archdiocese by Pope Pius IX on 19 July 1850. Following that, Archbishop John Joseph Hughes announced his intention to build a new cathedral, to replace the old St Patrick's at Prince and Mott Streets. Work started on the new cathedral in 1858. It was designed by James Renwick Jr in the Gothic Revival Style. 

The American Civil War interrupted construction of the cathedral, but work resumed in 1865 and it was completed in 1878. The towers on the west facade were added in 1888. Work on Lady Chapel began in 1901. Its stained glass windows were made in England between 1912 and 1930, when the great organ was installed.

{photo from here}

{via NY Times}

{photo from here}

{photo from here}

Last Sunday, my last day in NY, as I was leisurely walking back from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to my hotel in mid-town, I spotted it across the street. I crossed 5th avenue, walked up the steps and went inside. I had no idea what time it was but decided to go in and sit down for a bit. I needed to rest. Just as I sat down the beautiful pipe organ began to play. It turned out I was right on time for the 5:30 mass. It was just beautiful.

photo taken with my blackberry

The priest was young - he said he had only been a priest for 3 years and it was his first month at St. Patrick's. The reading he chose was from 1 Kings and it was about Solomon asking the Lord for wisdom. The priest said that the passage resonated with him as he could relate to what Solomon was feeling; the inadequacy he felt being so young and inexperienced. He mentioned bumping into the columns. And he said what he loved about the passage was that it reminded him that many of us feel that way - that we feel immature and unsure of what we should be doing and yet this passage tells us that we all have this Spirit - God's Holy Spirit who will guide us if we will just listen.

photo taken with my blackberry

It was a beautiful moment for me. Sitting inside this awesome place just feet from the hustle of the streets of NY yet for that hour it felt like it was worlds away.  Being reminded of God's great power and wisdom, which is mine if I just ask, was exactly what I needed.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Transforming an oak staircase & reinventing a fireplace, for starters

The majority of my clients come from referrals from other clients. Which means that usually when someone hires me they are somewhat familiar with my work. And most of the time that gives them a certain level of trust. But sometimes I get a new client who does not know anything about me at all. And that can be hard because they really have no idea of what I can do.

Leonardo Chair & Loring Sofa - Room & Board, Parsons Table - Crate & Barrel, Franco Table - Drexel Heritage Postebello Collection

Which is what happened this Spring when a painter I work with referred me to a client of his to help select their interior paint colors. It was one of those jobs that was supposed to be easy and quick; or so I thought.

Sausalito Chandelier - Troy Lighting, Ella Side Chair - Drexel Heritage Postebello Collection, Cambria Table  & Dresser - Thomasville

When I first met with the client, she told me they also wanted new flooring and carpet. And as I was trying to select a carpet color that would not conflict with their fireplace tiles, the client informed me she never really liked the fireplace in the first place and suggested maybe we should re-do it. And the job quickly changed from a simple color and materials consult to a full house makeover.

              Hush AF-95            Coastal Path AF-380         Meditation AF-395       Atmospheric AF-500      Swiss Coffee DEW 341

What surprised me was the incredible amount of trust they had in me from the beginning. They let me do my job and although they had input, they allowed me guide them, educated them and push them forward and even challenge them a bit. It has turned out to be one of my most enjoyable projects.

Cyprus Extension Dining Table - Room & Board, Pillar Candle Chandelier - Restoration Hardware, Klismos Dining Chair - Crate & Barrel

When we started the house had a lot of oak. And the client made it very clear that she loved her oak. But as she trusted me to make a few changes (starting with the fireplace) little by little I was able to show her how a little bit of white paint can make a huge difference.

Here is what the living room fireplace look like on my first visit:

The raised hearth and extra width really cut into the room's space and made it difficult to make a nice seating arrangement. When the client suggested she was okay with changing the materials I knew this was my chance to create a more appropriate sized surround and eliminate the raised hearth.

I cut the surround down by two feet and had a mantle constructed to give it some architectural interest.

Here is the room before:

And here is the room now (patiently waiting for the furniture delivery):

Another issue for me was the staircase. It was heavy and unexciting.

I am grateful that the client, even though she loved her oak, trusted me to make a few changes.

We will be adding an apron to the wall side of the staircase and replacing the carpet. Furniture arrives next week! To be continued ...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

House Beautiful's Kitchen of the Year

I am back from New York and we had a fabulous time. Except for the heat. I do not think it could have been any hotter. And actually the news reports were that it had never been any hotter - it was a record setting heatwave. Yikes!

One of the highlights of the trip was seeing House Beautiful's Kitchen of the Year 2011 designed by Tyler Florence in Rockefeller Plaza. We stumbled upon it by surprise and just happened to catch Tyler inside giving a cooking demonstration.

Prizler Photography

Prizler Photography

How fun is that?!!
The kitchen was beautiful although I have to admit I missed a lot of the features because I was busy trying to get photographs and it was very crowded. I am thankful that my sister was there with her professional camera as well.

Prizler Photography

This is the fourth year they have done the 'Kitchen of the Year' at House Beautiful and this was the largest. The kitchen extended to an outdoor area as well making it the perfect entertaining kitchen. My favorite parts of the kitchen ... the things that stood out for me, were the pot rack above the island, the black cabinets with open the shelving (very dramatic) and the dining tables both inside and out. I love how he used natural materials on the tables and outside chairs and also for the decor. It was a very relaxing and comfortable space.

The indoor dining table was spectacular. I loved how he mixed up the fabrics on the chairs, and the metal table tops (on both tables) were perfect.

{Photo from here}

{Photo from here}

The kitchen itself was dramatic and masculine with the black cabinets and black quartz counters and sinks but it did not feel too heavy as it was perfectly balanced with enough white tile and a lovely collection of white pottery on the open shelves. The use of silver accessories, sconces and the gleaming metal pots were the perfect 'jewelry' to his basic black 'dress'. I loved it.

{Photo from here}

{House Beautiful}

As we left, a gal from House Beautiful asked if she could interview me about the kitchen. I told her I was probably not the best person to talk to as I had not really seen as much of the kitchen as I wished I had but she said it was okay. I could not articulate my thoughts very well and I doubt that any of the interview will go to print but it was a fun experience!

Prizler Photography

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keeping papers off the kitchen island

Even if you are limited with space and do not have a room devoted to a home office, having a specific place to keep your papers (mail and records, receipts, invitations, kid's homework packets, etc. etc.) is so important to keep the paper clutter from piling up all over the house (or the kitchen island).

I would prefer a large surface space to work on but for an area to drop mail, keep track of appointments and invitations, this is perfect and feels happy. 


The House of Windsor via CocoCozy

And if you don't have an area to put even a small desk ...

Maybe just a wall can suffice:

Pottery Barn via {pinterest}

No go put away some of those papers! ;)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


In about 12 hours from now I will be riding in one of these ... can't wait!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Clipboard organizing

I am getting ready to take a mini (5 day) vacation to show my niece NYC (well, tagging along with my sister and her daughter)! While I am gone I thought I would leave you with some organizational ideas to inspire you. Here is the first - from who else ... Martha Stewart:

You can find directions to make your own here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Organizing your week

Happy Monday everyone! What do you have planned this week?

I am trying to get caught up with everything I can so that I can take off Wednesday for NYC!!!  I thought you'd like this clever (and cute) idea for organizing your week! Check out more fun household organizational tips at Rebecca's Soap Deli News here! My favorite is #2. What is yours?

Friday, July 15, 2011

In the company of dogs

I have quite a few interiors I am working on right now that involve dogs. People love their dogs and often let them make themselves at home wherever they want (including the furniture) and that can be hard on fabrics and flooring. And so when I start working with a client, one of the things I take into consideration when I am selecting furnishings, particularly fabrics and floor coverings, is who will be using the space and how durable I need to go.  

So when I find a product that is not only beautiful and affordable but also can weather all kinds of elements like dogs, kids, stains and sun exposure I am sold. Enter DASH and ALBERT rugs. 

Seriously, a company whose motto is, "durable, affordable & utterly lovable" has my attention. Add that their spokesman is a dog ... I am sold!

What I am loving right now are their indoor / outdoor rugs. They are made of polypropylene and according to the company, they are "hoseable, scrubbable and bleachable", which is a huge benefit when part of your family is the four-legged kind! They are also UV treated which makes them perfect for outdoor or in a space that gets a lot of sun exposure. And they come great colors and designs:

They also carry wool rugs like this one that I am considering for a family room I am working on where we are bringing in different shades of blue and turquoise:

{Kravet "31241-51", JF "Surf", Duralee "Feline", Silver State "Monaco"}

Note: I did not get any compensation for writing about these rugs ... I just wanted to share a good thing with you ;)