Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dream Driven Design: A How-To

Last week I was introduced to the gorgeous treasures at If you haven't visited, you must do so today! Especially if you're looking for high-end home furnishings that won't bust your budget. The site is filled with tons of upscale vintage furnishings. Even the most sparse, drab interiors can be transformed by the fabulous finds at, and I have proof . . .  
Only hours before I first found online, I was standing in one of the most awkward spaces I've ever seen. The owner kept referring to it as a master suite, but the vibe I got was more like a bleak suite. Scant furnishings and lack of personality were just one issue. The real challenge was odd architecture and poor space planning.
Here is a rendering of how it looked:
View from room entrance
View from bath
The builder of this home has dotted our area with plenty of these designs, but this was the first time my partner and I had seen the master suite built like this. In a word, it was strange. Typically with this model, the bedroom area is larger and has wall space to accommodate a king size bed, night stands, a dresser, and accessories.

In this room, though, that was not possible. For some reason the builder put a wall and pair of side-by-side closets where much of the bedroom would normally be. Then, walls in the middle of the room were oddly bumped out and the master bath placed where a large closet usually sits. The result: a very narrow, pinched, choppy design.

Existing floor plan
Because of its narrow design, placing the bed on any of the three large walls made the room feel choppy. Plus, those options lacked the wall space to accommodate a bed and two side tables. To improve style and functionality, it was clear we would have to do something we almost always try to avoid. We had no choice but to place the bed in front of the windows. And while we were at it, we decided it was time to move the baby to its own room. Look at what happened when we did those things . . . 
Proposed floor plan
With a new floor plan established, it was time to start thinking like a kid by making a wish list where nothing was off the table. was a great source of inspiration for my list. For the first time since seeing that bedroom, I could imagine a beautiful, functional, and on-trend master suite. Take a look at the fabulous finds from that served as impetus for the new master suite . . .
Amazing vintage furniture & accessory finds from
At, I found:
  • A pair of gilded French commodes flanking the new bed sets the tone for the entire design; offering an eclectically chic style.
  • The vintage Victorian mirror adds subtle bling without overpowering other elements in the room.
  • The black & gold French desk is a gorgeous and functional statement piece.
  • Blue & green silk vintage ottomans helped establish the color palette. So pretty.
With those pieces in mind, I started dreaming of how the room could look. Here's the potential I saw in that master suite . . .
Improved master suite design
Closer view of bedroom side of the suite
Closer view of sitting area & workspace
Can you believe it? Hardly even resembles the old room. The blend of beautiful and functional elements help to transform the once awkward space into a true master suite.
What's even better is that almost anyone can do this. Just start by composing a check list and/or a design board of items needed to create your dream room. A design board (sometimes called a "mood board") looks something like this:
Examples of furniture & fabric pieces needed to achieve the desired look

Light & Art Element examples found at
With your list of furnishings and accessories complete, you can start shopping -- even if you have a tight budget. Determine the look you want, then shop for dream-like items that your wallet can handle. I'm not promising the shopping part will be easy -- it won't! But it will be easier than winging it with the hope that things will miraculously fall in place.
A design board and wish list can also help you decide on which unique and one-of-a-kind items you should splurge. In the case of our room, I found lots of splurge-worthy elements at like these fabulous finds (pictured above):
  • A pair of Arteriors Home gilded floor lamps for the sitting area
  • A pair of vintage crackle glaze ginger jar lamps for the bedside tables
  • 3 Bernard Buffet lithographs, ca. 1968
  • A vintage 1930s Chase Co. chrome desk lamp
  • Linda Colletta "Spring Blush" abstract painting
  • An oil on canvas painting of the Lahinch seaside is my new go-to for extraordinary pieces to add serious panache to bland spaces!
So the next time you find yourself dealing with a difficult space, don't fret. Seek inspiration from places like and start dreaming. Then let those dreams drive your design.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

Challenge Accepted

Brace yourselves. I've got big news.

The amazing team over at has invited me. . . yes, ME. . . to take part in an online design challenge featuring some of their fabulous vintage furniture and accessories. I'm so excited. Here's Carlton doing an impression of me right now . . .

If you haven't visited, you should. They have incredible vintage furnishings and accessories -- stuff you probably won't find anywhere else. We're talking authentic statement pieces that can help make your designs totally unique. In fact, I just found an original Eames rocker from 1948 in the most perfect Tennessee orange. Go Vols!

Can you just imagine how spectacular that would look in my son's new UT apartment?
So here's the challenge: I've been sent a selection of 17 vintage furnishings and accessories to use as inspiration for a design board & blog article. If the team at likes my ideas, they will feature it on their site and social media network. Whoop! Whoop!
My mind is already churning with ideas inspired by many of the one-of-a-kind items that sent me to use in the challenge. Also serving as impetus for this project: the unbelievably horrible architecture of a bedroom suite I consulted on yesterday.
That's all I can tell you right now, but I will leave you with a little taste of what's to come in my next blog article where I accept the design challenge. This Gilded French Commode will definitely be starring in the project.