Bloomingdale’s Big Window Challenge

Bloomingdale’s Big Window Challenge

I have been a huge fan of Eddie Ross since he appeared on Top Design – the "Top Chef" equivalent for interior designers.  Most recently, Eddie was asked to participate in another challenge – The Big Window Challenge at Bloomingdale's flagship New York City store.  Three designers were asked to create a living room for an imaginary New York City dweller of their choosing.  Eddie represented ELLE DECOR Magazine. The other two participants are from and Bloomingdale's.  

The voting is currently underway and ends on January 28th!  You can vote (hopefully for Eddie – the clear and deserving winner!) by clicking here OR by texting 1 to the number 89800.   As you go through the images of Eddie's gorgeous living room on the above link, I encourage you to read the entertaining captions he wrote about the woman who lives there.  This is just a snippet: "As the founder and President of her own fashion Public Relations firm with offices in Paris and New York, our inhabitant has fashioned a space for herself and her family just as she lives – boldly, joyously and with fearless panache."

Here is Eddie's room:

Eddie ross2 

The layered details are what sets his room above the other two.  What I love about this room, is that the color comes from the accessories.  Eddie demonstrates that by investing in good quality, classic, neutral colored furniture there are infinite creative possibilities with the interchangeable pieces.

Eddie ross3 

This was a daring choice, but it SO works.  The blue speckled Jackson Pollack-esque walls are actually wallpaper!  The addition of the blue molding to break up the wall space was so clever.  A DIY option would be to paint a canvas yourself then frame it!  The frame could be painted to match the speckles just like Eddie did.  If you have a large wall to fill, a triptych would be great.

Eddie ross4 

Eddie ross 5 

Even the floors are painted the same color blue as the trim and molding.

Eddie ross 6 

Eddie ross7 

A great lesson in how to style shelving.  I love that it reflects a personal collection, and items that are used by the occupants rather than artistic fillers.

Eddie ross 8 

Putting the brass flower arrangement and vase along side of the silver tray and goblets, shows how mixing metals can work beautifully!

Eddie ross 9 

Another inspiration.  The combination of the pillow styles and colors is just brilliant. 

Eddie ross 10 

I love this vignette and the story behind it.  I hope you go visit and read it for yourself and don't forget to vote for Eddie!



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Never judge a house by…

Never judge a house by…

When we were house hunting, we told our real estate agent we only wanted to see 'fixers'.  We figured, we'd had fun with the previous two, we have a system for how to handle those times when we don't agree (if my husband could interject, he'd say he just acquiesces, but I'd actually call it – deciding who cares more about that item, then letting that person make the decision.  For example, all matters concerning the garage I kept quiet about), and last, there is a huge sense of satisfaction gained from turning that stone into a gem (your gem!). 

There aren't that many fixers in our area, so when we heard about a house that was labeled 'tear-down' we were intrigued, but didn't know if we were up for the task.  I vividly remember seeing it for the first time and both of us immediately loving it.  I've mentioned in a previous post, the aspects of the interior that we found so appealing, but it was the property itself that stole our hearts.

So, here's what it looks like from the outside.  


The above photo is taken from the front yard and is what is seen first as you come up the driveway.


This is taken a bit farther up the driveway and faces the kitchen door which we use as the main entry.


This is my favorite angle of the house.  It was overcast when I took this (and has been for the past few weeks) so it doesn't reflect our first impression on that beautiful sunny winter afternoon. The driveway actually curves around the house and continues along the back to an entry at the far end of the property.  We don't use it, so we put our outside furniture there.  Also, you can see the screen doors that enclose the front door and small brick courtyard.  Kinda hard to find, don't ya think?

Our terrific architect, Max Crome came up with some renderings for the exterior that I want to share.  At first I thought it was too early to post them, since they are the first drawings we've seen, but, they are so close to perfect and if anyone reading this has a comment or suggestion, I would love to hear it!


Ext_Rend_2What I love most, is that the house now has a distinct entry.  There are small details to tweak, some window placement, materials, etc, but for the most part this is it!  What do you think?

Here are a few of the inspiration photos that I've been collecting.  You can see how Max's drawings reflect the look we've been admiring.

The first three are by one of my all-time favorite architects; Stuart Silk.  He is based in Seattle and I used to pass the second house on a daily basis, almost getting into a car accident as I gawked.

Ext insp Stuart silk -whidbey islad 

This one is a beach house on Whidby Island, WA.  I really like the profile – it's not symmetrical, yet remains balanced.  The arbor roof over the deck is one of my favorite details.

Stuart Silk - inspiration house Rocky Rochon int des 

There is so much to say about this house – where to start?  The molding is incredibly detailed – notice the corbels under the soffit, the curved two-story bay windows, the inset oval window on the third floor, and the stairs offset from the front door.

Stuart silk inspiration 3 rocky rochon int des 

Here is a close-up of the front entry. I plan to 'borrow' some of these ideas.  The charcoal door against the crisp white trim and brown stained shingles works beautifully.

 Exterior inspiration 

This photo I've had in my files and don't know where it's from -I think House Beautiful?  It reminds me of our house in a way and feels very California.  Never seen an in-ground trampoline before!

The following six photos are of homes in Northern California (mostly wine country) designed by renowned architect; Howard Backen of Backen Gillam Architects.  

Exterior inspiration - backen gillam (oakville, ca) 

One the signature features that I've observed in homes designed by Backen Gillam is the connection of the indoors to out.  Many of their designs have barn-style doors or sliding walls that create an integrated space with the outside.  

Another design feature they use and I am inspired by, is the use of board and batten for the exterior.  We haven't decided what material we will use, but this idea is one of our favorites.

Exterior inspiration 2- backen gillam (oakville, ca) 

Exterior inspiration 3 backen gillam 

Above is a photo of the children's playhouse.  I wouldn't mind it for a work studio!
Exterior Inspiration - Stuart Silk, susan young int des 

Hampton's + Northern California = above

Exterior inspiration 4- backen gillam 

Exterior inspiration 5 - backen gillam (st helena) 

Just want to thank any and all who read my blog!  I love getting comments, so let me know what you think!

Happy Friday!






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January has been a very gray month here in California.  I'm not complaining though.  I know that the rest of the country has been in similar or worse shape and it will all soon pass.  In light of last weeks' devastating earthquake in Haiti, one can't help but feel fortunate that bad weather is the worst we've seen of Mother Natures' wrath. I also realize that about this time every year I need a 'pick-me-up' (in addition of course, to chocolate and new shoes of some strappy sort) to remind myself that spring is right around the corner.  On my 'to-do' list this week is to pot some plants for outside the front door and make a flower arrangement or two for inside. Here's some inspiration.

Spring - martha stewart 

Green_hydrangeas scarlet and violet 

Mantle_horse scarlet and violet 

Hallway scarlet and violet

Potted garden - carlinsgardens 

2. tommy ton viviana shoes - Habitually chic 

ps-  these aren't my feet or cigarette.


I'll be posting some exterior sketches and photos of the house this week.  Until then, stay dry!


 (photo credits in order of appearance: Martha Stewart, images 2,3,4 Scarlet & Violet, Carlin's Gardens, Habitually Chic, Doni Greenberg)




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House Guests

House Guests

For the past few days I have been busy getting things ready for tomorrow's arrival of two of our favorite relatives who are driving from Washington State and staying until Wednesday.  We're all looking forward to their stay as they are the sort of relatives who just jump into the daily routine and experience life as we live it.  That said, I still want to make sure the fridge is stocked, the house is clean and a few homemade goodies await their arrival.

So, today I made Rocket muffins – a recipe from one of my favorite Seattle restaurants – Macrina Bakery.  The shop on 1st Ave (downtown) is my favorite location.  I fondly recollect many a gray Seattle morning sipping a latte and savoring a warm cinnamon and sugar covered morning roll.  Incidentally, this recipe is from Macrina's eponymous cookbook, which is chock full of delicious recipes.  I highly recommend it.


When we moved from Seattle to California, we hoped friends and relatives would visit.  And boy have they!  So, when deciding to buy this house, the fact that it had a guest room on the lower level with a plumbed space for a bathroom, sealed the deal.  The lower level also consisted of a large, semi finished space with a fireplace (there are three in the house) and lots of windows. That's where the pluses end.


The quality of the above photo is very poor, but in the dark corners were odd, mismatched closets attached to the walls, and in some places, there were no walls at all separating the furnace and highly unsightly laundry area from the rest of the room.  The floor had the original rust colored linoleum tile.

To make it livable until we could do a real renovation, we took down the closet 'attachments', painted the wood paneled walls and fireplace white, put up walls to create a laundry room and utility/pantry, and finally installed dark brown berber carpeting with the thickest pad possible underneath.


Now the kids and their friends spend all their time hanging out down there.  Of course the computer, tv, video games and music equipment help!


On to the guest room.  The space is small, but has two windowed walls allowing for lots of natural light.  In the corner of the room was a tiny bathroom (if you could call it that) with a toilet, small sink, a light bulb that hung from the ceiling and no shower or tub.  I'm sorry I don't have any photos, probably because it was just too awful to go near, but if you've seen the movie Fight Club, you get the gist.


The renovation of the bathroom was on the top of the list of priorities, and like most home projects, was more extensive than we originally thought.  The two interior walls needed to be removed, enlarging the space to accommodate a shower.  Around that time, there was a plumbing issue causing a small flood.  In addition, our contractor had a teeny personal legal snafu that resulted in him not being able to complete the job.  Three weeks before the onslaught of summer visitors, it was crunch time!  Luck was with us, and we were able to sub out the remaining unfinished items just in time.

Guest bathroom-1 

Rotated room-1

Guest shower

Here is the guest room this afternoon, ready for our visitors!



The only thing the room lacks is a closet, so last weekend I was on a mission to find hooks or something similar that would provide a means for guests to hang clothes.


I was so excited to find this antique reproduction French wire basket, I just had to share it!  The story of how and where I found it is very serendipitous.  I will fill you in soon!

Have a fantastic weekend!




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I have big plans for you!

I have big plans for you!

Choosing an architect was a looong process and in the spectrum of renovation decisions, one of the most important.  We had been spoiled by our previous architect in Seattle; Tom Schilb, who was responsible for the design of our last two house remodels.

Over the past couple of years we've received many recommendations, but finally narrowed it down to three fantastic architects (actually four, but I'm not counting the one who came to the house and then called later to say our budget was too small for him).  In the end, we chose Max Crome of Crome Architecture.

Here's Max at one of our meetings.  I'm always amazed at how architects can draw so accurately upside down!

The fact that he has the second coolest architect's name ever (the first being Rem Koolhaaspronounced: Coolhouse) as well as the fact that his mode of transportation is a vintage BMW motorcycle, which he drives with his drawings sticking out of a backpack, had nothing to do with the decision to hire him… for Geno :)  Seriously, he has great talent – he's the architect behind the new look at Restoration Hardware stores among other wonderful things.

The biggest challenge the house presented was that it lacked a front entry.  The previous owners had enclosed the front door and small brick courtyard with sliding glass doors located in the middle of the back of the house.  As a result, visitors have no idea where to enter, and end up coming in through the kitchen door which over time, has become our main entrance.


Here are the "as is" drawings:


Our other priorities were to add an attached bathroom to each of the kids' rooms, add a powder room, add a garage (we currently have a one car carport).  The things that could  wait, but are in the master plan are the kitchen/family room and master bedroom/bath.  Max sketched three different plans and we discussed the pro's and con's of each.  Geno and I immediately connected with this one.

 Plans - First Floor
Plans - basement
We are still tweaking a few minor things as the more elaborate drawings are being worked on.  In the meantime, the next step is to interview contractors and get some preliminary bids. 

Hope you had a great weekend and stayed warm!



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