A cool jacket for cool weather and a special offer for you!

A cool jacket for cool weather and a special offer for you!

Hello loves. Besides the crazy weather we all have experienced this week, it’s been relatively quiet around here, which is nice. I’ve been on an organizing and purging spree. I cleaned out my garage (partly) then my closet and ended up with three huge bags of clothes to take to the consignment store, which are now in the garage :). It always feels so good to de-clutter. The highlight at the end of the week – an absolutely fantastic weekend spent in Carmel Valley at this heavenly place.

xo,

Serena

I find that layering is the way to go when it comes to cold weather and in-between-season temperature fluctuations. Even though I live in California, I’m pretty much always cold and when I go someplace really cold I look like the Michelin Tire guy because my parkas are all so huge and bulky. Enter my Seattle friend Elizabeth Roberts… I’m so excited to share this with you all… who has designed the most fun and stylish jackets!  Elizabeth very generously sent me the stunner below which I absolutely LOVE! I’m playing around with styling it from the perfect apres yoga outerwear (this morning) to a casual girls night out (tonight). In the meantime, here are photos of the jacket from Elizabeth’s incredible lookbook. She has also graciously offered my readers 20% off of any product with the Promo Code:  SERENA20. 

Enter her site here.

lightweight chic puffer - aubergine

Layering leather jacket over light puffer

Layers don’t have to mean only sweaters. This leather jacket over lightweight jacket look is so super cool.

What to wear over workout clothes and look chic

Jacket to wear from gym to errands

 

 

You might also like:

A New Shoe Discovery: Flats

Hello loves and happy new week to you!  I’m thrilled to report that Lily and I survived our ski adventure! Yes, completely injury free! After just one lesson, Lily was up and skiing, which is excellent because she has just made her decision to attend the University of Denver in the fall, so skiing will probably be a big part of her future. Tahoe experienced record amounts of snow this year even before the gigantic storm that took place while we were there. Fortunately we were still able to ski everyday except for one, when the lifts were closed due to high winds. These are from the day after the storm… 

Squaw skiing

Alpine Meadows

Skiing on powder

Have a wonderful week!

xo

serena

 

 

 

 

So, how do you feel about flats? I recently had a conversation at the gym with a woman around my same age (very late forties/early fifties) who told me she thought flats made women look matronly and aged us beyond our years. As I listened to her share her perspective, I reflected to myself that not only had I never thought that, but I actually think flats can be very flattering (no pun intended). I try to steer away from absolutes regarding fashion (or anything else for that matter), but I really don’t buy into to the school of thought that dictates that a woman should dress according to her age, or that age should factor into our clothing decisions. The way we take care of ourselves, our genetic composition, body type, lifestyle and other factors all affect our clothing decisions and what does or does not look appropriate.

When I got home I looked at the shoes in my closet and realized I actually had not worn flats (other than sandals, sneakers and boots) for some time. Why was that? Because the flats I have – mostly ballerina’s, while timeless and classic, just don’t inspire me. So I went on a little online retail excursion and discovered that there are some fabulous new styles -in particular:  pointy toe and strappy –  both of which I find extremely flattering AND dare I say it – sexy.

Valentino flats

Alexa Chung in flats

Incidentally, I think that all of the above looks can be worn by women my age. If the skirt length feels to short, a slightly longer silhouette would work or adding tights. The ripped jeans can be replaced with non-ripped (personally I don’t wear ripped jeans because they always rip more and then the shape gets distorted). Anyway, after trolling around my favorite online shops, I narrowed down my favorites to these (the pair I chose are the last photo).

From here

From here

From here

From here

From here

I’ll share photos, when they arrive…

 

You might also like:

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

Maybe it’s because Lily and I are headed out-of-town for a week of skiing in a few days (I can’t wait!!!), but all I can think about are cabins. Truth be told, I started fantasizing about them this past summer – lake cabins in particular – and the ever-so-slight departure I noticed away from the farmhouse/barn design trend of the past 5+ years. I still firmly believe in the permanence of this style and love it (obviously) but if I were to spot an aesthetic trend in interior design emerging, I would say that ‘cabin chic’ might be next. Just a prediction 🙂

On an administrative note: There are still a few tweaks, additions and modifications to the site in progress, I’m working diligently on fixing them with the help of Luke over the phone from college when he’s available, Our highly skilled and efficient tech department is on it! and you will see improvements made in the days to come. Thank you for your patience.

xo

serena

ps – ski trip photos will be on Instagram!

log cabin

Barn doors covering double doors on a rustic home

Notice the double sets of doors. I have been seeing this done quite a bit lately and think it’s just brilliant. It allows for privacy and weather protection when you want, light and openness when you prefer that.

Wood beams and stone wall in kitchen

I would love to know more about that counter piece on the left… It looks like it’s a vintage piece of furniture and melds beautifully with the other elements in the room. Sometimes clients are apprehensive about mixing woods. This is a great example of how well it works and is actually better than having all the wood match exactly. It looks like there are five wood components to this space and they’re all different.

Rustic style reading nook in a cabin

What a nice place to read or take a nap.

Gallery wall covering painted shiplap

I really like the gallery wall but what caught my eye is the painted shiplap. Typically we see it in white, and in cabins wood-paneled walls are often kept natural, but painting one in a rich gray to create a focal wall I think compliments all the other wood details in the space beautifully.

Ralph Lauren U-shaped sofa

I want to be right here! Doesn’t this room draw you in? Especially in a vacation/second home environment where family members and friends are likely to gather, a comfortable seating arrangement to pile into is so inviting.

Monochrome blankets and pillows displayed in antique cabinet

Stacks of blankets and pillows are decor by themselves.

Rustic elegance in a master bedroom

All wood cabin bedroom

Modern cabin style kids bunk room

Ralph Lauren furniture on cabin porch

The cabin essentials kit:

Faux fur blankets – can’t have enough of these lying around. From here.

Beautiful art from here.

Black painted corner cabinet from here.

Coffee table from here.

Delicious wool blankets are from here.

Both log-style bunk beds are from here.

Windsor chairs look great next to a fireplace even in a modern setting. They are classic and iconic. This one is from here.

For more cabin style inspiration, click here.

 

You might also like:

What is love anyway?

What is love anyway?

There is only one kind worth having in my opinion… I’m referring to the category of romantic love and within that, to the madly passionately in love variety. In contrast, the comfortable, play it safe kind of love is nice, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the other. The challenge with the former is that it comes with risk. The stakes are high because there is no greater vulnerability one can possess than opening your purest self to another in a romantic way. It’s a huge risk. The operative words in these two kinds of love: safe and risk. I’m not suggesting that the madly passionately in love be ‘risky’ or ‘unsafe’ – just the opposite. In order to let ones self get to the deepest feeling and connection with another human being – a connection of mind, body and soul – feeling safe with them and creating safety for them is essential. So why do we so often choose the coasting comfortable love? Because it’s the path of least resistance. It comes without the potential of hurt. Did you know that the opposite of love isn’t hate? It’s fear. When I learned that, it really opened my eyes and my awareness. The other element that makes the madly passionately in love, so incredibly wonderful is that you have little or no control when or with whom it will happen. But you do have to be 100% open to it appearing . It doesn’t develop in time with someone, or by aggressive (or passive aggressive) manipulation or jealous trapping. It comes innocently out of the blue and all of a sudden your world is magically different than it was the day before. This person is now within your cells and contained in every thought and vice versa. Cupid is elusive and he may never shoot his arrow in your direction, but if he does, embrace it and don’t look back, because there is no better love in the entire universe.

These photos represent to me, this kind of love and those little moments we don’t often pay much attention to but are the ones that matter the most.

With my love, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Xo

Serena

_____________________________________________________________________________

holding hands

Holding hands is actually beneficial to our heath. All kinds of good chemicals get released when we hold hands.

holding hands in the car

Sometimes a romantic gesture can convey more than any words.

I wish there was another word for this instead of spooning or cuddling, but TheBestFeelingInTheWorld seems a bit too long.

couple lying in a camper

Having shared hobbies or interests that were established before but then become blended makes for the most fun experiences together. The role fun and laughter play in a passionate relationship can’t be underestimated.

being carried into the waves

Couple skiing together

I didn’t realize how much dancing with someone you love enhances your bond- whether it be on the dance floor or kitchen – things only get better after a night of dancing. By the way, this is David Bowie and his wife Iman.

David Bowie and Iman slow dancing

Him reading to her in the bath

Selfless gestures, care taking and those little moments in between the big ones. Those are the best.

kissing on tip toes

Passion, romance and physical intimacy are vital for any love relationship. Without them it’s friendship.

Kissing in an alley

Kissing

 

The Tale of Four Chairs: the transformation from old to new

The Tale of Four Chairs: the transformation from old to new

Hi to you. I am writing from the airplane on my way back home from Washington, DC. It was a last minute trip to help take care of my sweet 94 year-old grandmother. Every time I visit, I am struck with such nostalgia… Mostly the memories are from the year I spent living with them right after college and starting my first ‘real’ job. Coming home each night to my cute grandparents, a home cooked meal and the pink and green bedroom my grandmother had wallpapered for me prior to my arrival, was the icing on the cake for my not-so-worldly twenty-one year-old self. Spending these recent few days with her knowing they may be our last, was so special. 

xo 

s

ps -will this rain ever stop?

Several years ago, on one of my pursuits for cast away vintage treasures which often nets zero results, I hit the mother lode. I found four chairs that at first glance looked rather sad and lacking potential. Thankfully I went back, took another look and saw past the chipped orange shellac finish and ugly roses. The wheels began to turn.  Below is a photo from that day.

Vintage Chair - 'Before'

Needless to say, I bought the four chairs. The first step was to remove the finish. I had no idea what the wood underneath would reveal, but if it was good, the plan as to what to do next would start to unfold. The photo below was after the first stripping.

The ugly roses had to go, Another few rounds of sanding revealed the most beautiful natural wood. Despite the strong opinion of the wood refinisher, I opted to not put any finish or paint on them.

The next step was the upholstery. We created a stripe by using charcoal gray and natural linen on the front, and all charcoal on the back. The visual of them facing each other and seeing the back of one and front of another looks really nice.

At the time, I was about to open my first pop-up shop, so I put them in the window. They sold the first day.

Vintage chair recovered in natural and charcoal Belgian Linen.

With the other two chairs I tried something a little different, but in my opinion, just as beautiful.

Vintage chair recovered with tufted back in French teal fabric

I have not had the opportunity to show these beauties off in the last few pop-up shops because they were in the back of my storage unit. I just went through it and am sorting out gems to put on the shop website and what to pass along. When I saw these chairs once again, I was struck with how truly spectacular they are. Please email me directly to inquire.

Next post is all about Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

You might also like:

A New Year, A New Look and A New Favorite Word

A New Year, A New Look and A New Favorite Word


Hello sweet readers and Happy New Year to each and every one of you!  I’m back at long last. The reason for the extended hiatus is that I wanted to wait until the new site was fully functioning and ready for you. That day has finally arrived, so I’m thrilled to introduce the new and improved FarmHouseUrban!

Besides switching platforms from Typepad to WordPress, there were several changes made to the site both aesthetically and structurally. The most notable — larger images, pin buttons on each photo, new navigation tabs that make it easier (and hopefully more fun) to find exactly what you are interested in and inspired by and social media buttons all over the place so we can stay connected. I sincerely hope you like it and welcome your feedback.

On an administrative note* if you are a subscriber and are not receiving your posts anymore, I suggest that you re-subscribe. The switching over of subscribers is not as straightforward as one would hope, and as such, I suspect that some feeds might get lost in the transfer process. The subscribe box is located above under the “Connect” tab and also at the bottom of the page.

Many thanks and much love,

xo

serena

I’ve been noticing the Danish word Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) cropping up everywhere lately and was intrigued to learn more. Afterall, the Danes are considered the happiest people on earth and in such a cold climate too, so I wanted to know how they kept their spirits up during the dark, chilly days of winter. While there is no exact English translation, the closest (and my favorites) are:

Coziness of the soul

The art of creating intimacy

Taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things

Cozy togetherness

In case you’ve been inspired to create your own little hygge, here are some ideas to get you jumpstarted..

Faux Sheepskin Rugs

Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cake. Recipe here.

I can’t stop thinking about these hand knit socks… the way the flowers wrap around. So cute!

Get them here.

100% pure beeswax – the best. 

Chunky Blanket

No matter where we are in the world, we can all use a little hygge. I think anyway 🙂

If you want to read more about Hygge, here are some recent articles:  NY Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Washington Post

 

You might also like:

Composition and the Art of Placement

Composition and the Art of Placement

A selection of interior spaces that illustrate composition in design.

Hi loves. I hope Thanksgiving was wonderful for those of you who celebrated. Ours was cozy and joyful. Luke was home, which always makes the household feel even more festive. There certainly is a lot for which to be grateful.

I tested a few new versions of the usual favorites with positive reviews. Instead of the tried and true apple pie with a top crust, I made a deep dish version with a crumb/streusel topping. The pie is baked in a spring form pan, so the crust-to-apples ratio is perfect. The recipe (below) I used is from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (so great!). Her blog with many more apple dessert recipes is here.

My second twist on the traditional was with the pumpkin pie – daring – I know! I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for pumpkin cream pie with a gingersnap crust which I found in a old edition of her magazine. Essentially, the pumpkin part is creamy delicious pumpkin pudding with a mound of whipped cream on top. The smooth light flavor in contrast to the spicy crunchy cookie crust was sooo good! 

Deep Dish Apple Pie
Serves 12-16
Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Pie dough:

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and diced
1/2 cup ice cold water

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Add the diced butter and pulse just until you have pea-sized pieces of dough. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Drizzle the water over the dry mixture and work it together with your hands. Knead briefly then form into a large disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for two hours.

Apple pie:

Ingredients:

1 recipe of above pie crust

Filing:
4 lbs apples, 1/2 green apples and 1/2 Fuji apples
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Streusel topping:
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoon butter, melted

Vanilla ice cream

Directions:

1. Prepare crust: coat a 9-inch springform pan with oil. On a floured surface, roll out chilled pie crust into a 16-inch round – 1/4 inch thick. Place the dish into the fridge while you prepare the apples.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core and chop apples into 1/4″ slices. Place them all into a large bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice. In a separate small bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and then mix into apples.

3. Spoon apples into prepared crust and spread them as flat and evenly as possible. Bake pie for 30 minutes (if the tips of the apples begin to brown and burn, cover the top with foil).

4. While pie is baking, make the streusel topping. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, cinnamon, salt, flour, oats and baking powder. Pour in the melted butter and mix to combine. Stick in freezer until pie has baked for 30 minutes.

5. After 30 minutes, remove the pie from the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 325 and then spoon the streusel onto the top of the pie – pressing gently into apples. Return to the oven and bake for an additional hour. Cover with foil if the streusel begins to brown too quickly.

6. When the pie has finished baking, remove it from the oven and let cool to lukewarm. Run a knife around the crust to loosen the edges from the pan. Carefully loosen the clamp on the springform and slide it over the top and off the pie.

———————————————————————————————————————————————

Lately I have been paying attention to what makes a space ‘just work’ and what doesn’t. Have you ever been drawn to a room or vignette and even if it is not your personal aesthetic, it feels like it has a certain satisfying affect? Me too! I think this is what is meant by composition – when texture, color, pattern and materials are in perfect equilibrium. Here are a few examples that I think are perfectly executed:

Composition3

Composition4

Composition5

Composition6

Composition7

Composition8

Composition9

Composition10

 Happy weekend to you!

xo

s

 

You might also like:

Rustic Accents for Your Holiday Table & What I’ve Been Up To Lately

Rustic Accents for Your Holiday Table & What I’ve Been Up To Lately

Rustic chic Holiday Tabletop inspiration

I’m excited to share with you, my sweet readers, a new professional venture I embarked upon almost one year ago… I’ve taken a slight departure from my residential and hospitality interior design focus to develop and execute creative direction for several start-up and interior + lifestyle brands. I fell into the first position by happy accident (well, there really are no accidents as everything happens for a reason – I am a firm believer in that!) and one position led to the next and so on. The FarmHouseUrban brand, however is still ever present! I temporarily turned off access to my online store www.shopfarmhouseurban.com, but it will be back in the New Year and better than ever along with other exciting happenings! 

I was recently approached by the exquisite home furnishings company – Europe 2 You to partner on a project for the launch of their new e-commerce site – EtuHome. For those not familiar, Europe 2 You is a wholesale-only maker of gorgeous vintage inspired products for the home. EtuHome is the new retail branch of their company – making their products accessible to absolutely everyone!

For this project I was sent several of EtuHome‘s top-selling pieces and my assignment was to style them in my personal aesthetic. Here’s what I came up with:

rustic tabletop styling

I pulled some things from around the house – linens, ceramic pitchers, vintage hotel silver, galvanized containers, votives and a box of acorns I just got from here, Then I went to the fridge and took out all the fruits and veggies that were still good! Last, I cut some stems from the garden.

Spanish Olive Server

The piece above is the Spanish Olive Tray which comes in three sizes. I adore this piece! Part cutting board, part serving piece, it adds a unique twist to both. As such, there are endless ways to use it. The most practical and easy – leaning on your kitchen backsplash! I have been noticing the trend of using individual-size wood pieces as serving trays, so that was my inspiration and styled mine as a coffee tray.

Coffee Tray

Next is the Bordeaux Bistro Tray which measures 20″ in diameter. The galvanized edge is 4″ high. Many of us have upholstered ottomans which are risky to set beverages on. This tray is the answer! It provides a stylish receptacle for stacking your magazines or weekly newspapers too.

Galvanized metal and wood serving tray

Above and below is the Bianca Cake Stand (short). I used the sepia filter just because 🙂 but below is the unfiltered version. I have a cake stand collection, but none are made of wood, so this is a fun addition. Now thinking of what kind of cake to make for it…. any ideas?

rustic wood and metal cake stand

The below two photos show the versatile Baguette Board. I tried to style the pieces in ways that offer an alternative to the suggested use. I played around with this piece more than any of the others and found so many places that it just looked great – including across my bathtub holding soap and a sponge. I wouldn’t suggest that it be used that way if water was in the tub as it might damage the integrity of the wood and finish. That said, when not in use or set on a table or counter holding just about anything – it will look amazing!

Babette Server

IMG_6518

The next three photos are of the Bordeaux Wine Barrel Lazy Susan. This is a fun piece and frankly a must-have if you’ve got a large round or square table. It should come with a warning to parents of teenagers and their friends who wouldn’t stop spinning it  young children – not to put breakables or spillables on it in their presence.

Rustic lazy susan

IMG_6524

IMG_6525

Last but certainly not least, is the Balon Cloche. This piece is truly stunning – even on its own.  Trimmed in tin, the shape and size sets it apart from anything else I’ve seen.  
IMG_6505

IMG_6528

IMG_6534 (1)

IMG_6533 (1)

IMG_6532

There are many many more gorgeous pieces on EtuHome’s online shop. I highly encourage you to pop over for a browse – you won’t be disappointed!

Wishing you all peace and love,

xo

s

 

 

 

You might also like:

Bathroom Styling and My New Favorite Design Book

Bathroom Styling and My New Favorite Design Book

Highlights from the new book, “The Perfect Bath” by Waterworks Co-Founder, Barbara Sallick

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to my lackluster bathroom vanity and how to make it pretty while keeping it free of clutter. Do you share this quandary? As I've said many times, when I need inspiration, or just want to free fall into a creative flow Pinterest is where I go. So, for the past couple of weeks I've been saving beautifully styled bathroom images here and here. Just a few…

Bathroom_styling6

Bathroom_styling3

Bathroom_stylng5

As luck – or serendipity – would have it, as I was pouring over bathroom images, a gorgeous design book on bathrooms arrived in the mail from the publisher! The book isn't just 'A' book about bathrooms. It's written by The Bathroom Goddess herself – Barbara Sallick, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Design for Waterworks. Let me preface my fussing and fawning by saying that I would never promote anything that I haven't personally experienced and/or seen and that I didn't adore. I adore this book. It is chock full of images all of which are absolutely breathtaking. The chapters are organized in such a way that if you are using it to help you design, you can plunge right in to those tips and resources. If eye candy and a little lift with your afternoon tea, is more your speed, you can have that too.

  PerfectBath_cover

© The Perfect Bath by Barbara Sallick, Rizzoli New York, 2016.

100927_155final

Collins bath

151021_WATERWORKS_Book_MasterClass_099

Trousdale2

PerfectBath_back cover img

If you are looking for things to put on your holiday wish list, I highly recommend "The Perfect Bath". To purchase, click here.

As I contemplate my bathroom, I will be spending time considering the beautful bath accessories found at Waterworks.  

More interior inspiration to come…

xo

s

 

You might also like: