Loving My Kantha Throws

I recently picked up a few kantha throws made of vintage Indian saris quilted together and I am super enchanted with their lightweight, summery, global goodness.

I bought 3 thinking each bed would get one, but my children rejected the ones I bought for them so those are on the etsy shop now. They are all super neat though with their handmade patchwork of storied fabric faded to pastel perfection.  

Just look at that embroidery work. So pretty. I'll be keeping mine at the foot of my bed until its chilly enough to switch it out for wool, holding onto summer as long as I can. 

A (Kid Friendly) Day at the Museum

This being Lev's last week of summer vacation before he starts kindergarten, I'm trying to go out with a bang. One of our favorite things to do is visit LACMA. Did you know they have the Nexgen program that allows kids to be accompanied by an adult through the museum for free. Two kids means a family can gain entrance gratis. Amazing right? EVen if you don't think your kids can handle walking through the exhibits without pawing the art, running, or yelling - the guards are pretty ferocious there, the LACMA grounds are really wonderful for kids.

The first thing my kids run to is the outdoor sculpture we call the spaghetti sculpture. I'm sure it has an actual title. They love running through, gathering, and stroking the hanging rubber cords. I like to grab a coffee at the Coffee & Milk Bar across the paviliion while I watch them run around.

Next up we paint at the Boone Children's gallery. Unlimited paper and paints for the kids to let the inspiration from the museum flow. There is soothing music and its a pleasant place to stop.

Right outside the Boone gallery is a fountain good for the kids to get the wiggles out and the museum gift shop for me to browse. Don't you find that all art museums have super well designed and inspiring shops? Look at those color blocked shelves and the blue stained concrete floor. 


Walking through the Ahmanson building into what is actually the grand entrance, we like to run through the lamp posts of the Urban Light outdoor exhibit then chill out at the many tables of the Ray's and Stark bar. The kids have their own snacks and its nice to sit in the shade and people watch. Or order more substantial food if you like.


On our way out we like to wander past the Levitated Mass. It gets brutally hot in this area during the summer so we leave it to the tourists and don't stay too long. 

The final stop for us is Pit 91, an excavation site that is part of the La Brea Tar Pits. Its a self guided viewing post to see the work that is being done to unearth fossils of saber toothed tigers, dire wolves, wild horses, and the like. The kids love seeing the sticky smelly tar an dthe fossils. I like the newly revamped look of the site. They did a great job modernizing the exhibits with contemporary graphics and color schemes. The tar pit is actually their favorite part. 

At the end of the day, I came home with a few art books on sale at the gift shop for $5 each - photographs of the American West and paintings of Southern California. Besides the books and the coffee I bought, our entire visit and all teh activities mentioned were absolutely free. Amazing right? Gotta love LA.

Ellendale Staging

One of the units at the Ellendale complex was especially tricky to furnish. The only open plan kitchen and living area is on the small side yet this is the unit that will house the baseball team so the living area had to be comfortable enough for plenty of hanging out. Most apartments are furnished by the students themselves but we didn't think they were up to the challenge of this one so we decided to furnish it. Then stage it for the photos so the students could have an idea of how it could look.

This view gives you an idea of how narrow the living room is before you walk into the kitchen. I found just the right sized sectional sofa at Plummers. It fit within an inch of the kitchen floor, almost like it was meant to be. I thought the dark gray color would be good for hiding the wear and tear a large group of collegiate boys might have on the sofa as well as tone down the intensely red accent wall.

Here you get a better feel for the living room set up, contemporary with vintage details. As I do.

The TV had to be wall mounted so there was enough floor space and room for storage.

All photography by Amy Bartlam. Doesn't she have a wonderful eye for details? And now, the source list if you want to get the look at home: sofa, coffee table, gray pillows, kilim pillow, kilim lumbar pillow, Oriental rug pillow, side table/storage trunk, rug, geo planter, vintage camera, fish tray, serape blanket, disco ball.

Ellendale Student Housing

I just wrapped up a large (the largest in Veneer's history to date) housing complex with SC Student Housing. We did 10 units in 2 and 3 bedroom configurations. We applied 3 unique color schemes throughout but kept the design consistently modern. The super great part about working with the guys at SC Student Housing is that they enjoy trying new ideas, using new materials, and pushing the envelope while sticking to their budgets. It would be easy for them to pick one beige color scheme and buy every component as builder special off the shelf. Instead, we worked together to make a truly unique luxury living complex for the students at USC. Here are some photos to give you a sense of the complex. 

The kitchens are two toned cabinetry made of thermofoil. For such a large scale, the thermofoil was the cost effective way to go and the wood finish was surprisingly life like. The fun part was doing white glossy uppers with weathered teak or American walnut.

The bathrooms make a big design statement with the floating vanities, vessel sinks, graphic wood grain porcelain tile, and saturated colored walls and counter tops. Of course, my favorite white subway tiles in the shower help keep the high end look on budget.

All photography by Amy Bartlam

All photography by Amy Bartlam

Engineered hardwood floors, white walls, and dark colored walls reflect the look of all the bedrooms. This one was unique with its ceiling lines. Overall, these elements came together to create a certain branded look that hopefully all the students will associate with an SC Student Housing building. I'm working with SC Student Housing to create a cohesive portfolio so with time all their buildings are different, but share an overall design aesthetic. Seriously, how many owners do you know who would allow their designer to specify pale pink kitchens with mismatched cabinets, blue or lime green counter tops, black doors, and high graphic wood grain tile. Love these guys and looking forward to more unique applications on future student housing units.

Linday Cowles Fine Art Wallpaper

I recently got an email from the artist Lindsay Cowles about her new wallpaper line inspired by her abstract paintings and I am smitten. I want to find a place to use them STAT.

These remind me of the Eskayel wallpapers, as seen below, in their Rorschach test beauty, but they are their own unique presentation. Wouldn't any of these look amazing in a powder room or as an accent wall in a dining room or bedroom. I covet.

image via Remodelista

image via Remodelista

Weekend Mini Project

Here's a super easy weekend project for you to try at home and all it involves is a little spray paint.

image via Erika Brechtel

image via Erika Brechtel

A couple of months ago I went to the Lulu & Georgia Pop-Up shop in West Hollywood and I couldn't get this Bertoia diamond chair knock off out of my mind. It was simply spray painted gold for display purposes, but it was beyond great. I knew it was really easy to achieve on my own but there was no corner of my house that needed another chair so I just let the idea marinate. 

Cut to a visit to the blog Little Green Notebook. I am consistently floored by Jenny's tireless creativity - the woman makes her own lighting, lays her own wood floors, reupholsters chairs, etc. Most of it I would never dare to try, but a little spray paint, I can do. After seeing this post for her two tone kitchen counter stools, I had an aha moment and thought why not for our little Zuo Modern children's wire chairs?

I followed her directions, but I found that laying the metal bases on the cloth tarp lead to patches of paint sticking to the cloth when I moved them. Blurgh. So I changed to craft paper (newspaper would do I imagine) and sprayed on more coats to even out the black paint. The white seats went smooth as can be thankfully. I also learned to let the paint dry completely, overnight, before trying to reassemble the chairs.

The kids little craft/snack table has gotten a little more spirit. Whether you decide to do this on a grown up chair or a kiddo version, in gold or two tones or any fun color, its a fast and satisfying upgrade that anyone can do.



Field Trip: Sunset Mag Idea House

This past weekend I popped into the Sunset Magazine Idea House in Manhattan Beach. We go to the beach down there very often that it was easy enough to detour at the show house once it opened to the public August 1. Its different than other show houses where every room is assigned to a different designer in that the buzzworthy DISC Interiors was charged with the entire home. I'll walk you through my favorite spaces.

The casual dining area immediately upon walking in was hands down the most innovative space I saw. I loved the extra long modern farm table and the Elsa stools as laid back seating on a flat woven striped rug. Coupled with the tall ceilings, extra long linen curtains, and a sophisticated lighting fixture, it was an excellent example of what graceful beachside living should look like.

Immediately adjacent to the dining area was the living room, loosely configured by a pair of arm chairs and throw pillows. The textiles used were the main draw for me - a collaboration between DISC and Smith and Noble. I appreciated the restrained use of a neutral palette and natural textures like leather, jute, linen, etc. throughout the house. I don't know that I would have so much self restraint, but the end product was  consistently pleasing. 

photo (6).JPG

In the study, a custom wallpaper by Design Your Wall conjured from a photograph by Laure Joliet was an excellent take away idea. I think it would be better in a commercial application. For here though, it totally worked.

It was all in the details for me. I liked the earthy ceramics by Heather Rosenman displayed throughout the house in interesting vignettes. I adored the wide plank French Oak floors and a marble stair tread, just because.

The laundry room of my dreams. Storage and plenty of horizontal surfaces for folding and sorting. The white cabinetry offset by Cle 2x8 glazed brick tile back splash. Just gorgeous. 

There were 5 bathrooms in this house and 4 of them had white subway tile with black grout - an application I have used A LOT because it packs a graphic punch, is low maintenance and super budget friendly, and just looks great with any floor tile. On one hand I was disappointed that white subway tile with black grout was used extensively in the idea house because its not a very unique idea. On the other hand, I was kind of delighted that something I use so much was "good enough" for the DISC team which I admire so much. On the third hand I started to worry that this look was becoming too ubiquitous and maybe even played out. Can I use it again or will it start looking dated? On the fourth hand, maybe this is a modern classic. I am so CONFUSED. A First World dilema people. Seriously.

image via DISC

image via DISC

Other than that I thought the kitchen, great room, and bedrooms to be kind of boring. I was surprised espresso stained wood was used as much as it was for the cabinetry and built ins since to me that is pretty dated. They were very nice, don't get me wrong, but not much nicer than any high end open house I have seen - nothing ground breaking or stimulating of ideas. I really appreciated that every resource for every room was specified. You didn't have to guess on how to make your own version at home, it was all spelled out and the guess work was eliminated. 

image via DISC

image via DISC

As it turns out, I was invited to an evening at the Idea House for a design trend discussion with DISC and Sunbrella later this month so I will report back if I gather any new insights. 

Wall Weavings for All

Did your parents hang one of these fiber art wall hangings in their psuedo-bohemian late 70s/early 80s house? Was it big, textured, ripe with earth tones and one of your first memories of home decor? Well mine did and at the time I thought what the what is THAT?! But now I am coming around to the modern interpretation of the boho wall weaving, cousin to the macrame wall hanging. I blogged about it here previously and its seems like the niche market has exploded with options for those of us who would like to dabble in the trend.

First up is the DIY version for those that have minimal resources to spend on this trend but lots of crafty time. 1) A Beautiful Mess 2) Honestly WTF  3) DIY Decor Projects 4) Fall for DIY

Or you can leave it to the pros who are churning it stunning modern interpretations. 5) Maryanne Moodie 6) Habit Studio 7) Warped Threads 8) Amber Interiors. 9) If you are short on time and cash then the remaining option is to go vintage, like the affordable weaving I currently have in my shop.