A Ghost in the Attic: A Mystery!

When we were getting down the Christmas decorations from the attic last week we scrounged around a little farther in than we usually do and propped up on one of the joists was this fine gentleman:

He has obviously had some water damage.  We think the workers must have found him when they were doing our roof a few years ago and just propped him up.  The roof had many leaks when we first moved in so I think he must have been on the receiving in of one of them.


And of course now we are so curious who he is!  Our house was built in 1902 and since we moved in I have been meaning to visit the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association and get some info on it.  Many homes in our neighborhood were built by notable craftsman architects like Julia Morgan, John Hudson Thomas and Edward Seely and I’ve always wanted to find out if ours had any interesting origins.   Was this mustachioed gentleman one of its early inhabitants?  It looks to be from about the right time period.

I would also love to have this portrait restored and displayed–what an exciting connection to have to our home!

Maybe after the holidays I will find the time to register at the BAHA and try to get some info.  I’ll keep you posted.

Tablescape For The Season

Just a few shots of our Christmas table.  This is an easy and low maintenance setting that will last through the season.

The little rosemary tree came from Whole Foods or maybe Trader Joe’s.  (I love Trader Joe’s for inexpensive plants and flowers!).  I added a scrap of ticking stripe fabric I had leftover from another project around the planter.  The bay leaf garlands I purchased last Christmas after the holidays were over at Pottery Barn for a deep discount.  I love a simple green table this year!    And the textile on the table is a 19th century French tapestry I scored a couple of years ago at the antiques faire.  I had planned to hang it but never found the right place for it and now it serves as a table covering during the holidays.  I pull it back a little when we have our regular family dinners every night just to avoid a milk spill or something like that.  It doesn’t cover the whole table though so it’s not too much of an issue.  The bits of mercury glass help add a little sparkle.

What is your table like this season?  Have you already gotten your decorations up?  We are getting them up slowly but surely around here…

Living Room Redo Sneak Peek

For the last several months I have been slowly redoing our living room bit by bit.  I still have much to do (I think I’m going to use some of my flea market earnings to recover our wingback) but I have some sneak peeks of some things that are taking shape.


First, here are some photos of the old living room when it was decorated for Christmas last year:

And here’s the fireplace now after the room has gotten some new paint and some simplified Christmas decorations:

The main thing that took so long for this room was retexturing the walls.  They had “knock down” texture which is apparently the worst and we skim coated them but it was a slow and painful process!  We also have coved ceilings in here and those are just going to have to wait to get smooth like the walls.  You can kind of see it in this old picture of our vintage buffalo skull:

Here’s a close up of the wall now with the new paint and oh so smooth!:

It’s hard to tell but the walls are a warm white with a darker trim and darker mullions.  This is the hardest room to get the color right in that I have ever worked on!  It has been a good learning process for me though.  I think I’ve painted it 5 times in the 4.5 years we’ve lived here.

And the textured walls have bothered me since we first walked through the door!  I’m so happy to have smooth walls even if no one else ever really notices.  I still have to get the ceiling painted and do some other projects in here before I do a reveal but wanted to share so far.

Also, wanted to announce that Camille of The Vintique Object, her partner Wendy and I will be having a studio sale for Christmas this weekend.  If you’re in the Bay Area come by 2648 Stuart Street at the corner of College Ave in Berkeley and see what we are offering–some at deep discounts!  It will be postponed in case of rain though.

Thanks for stopping by!

Neighborhood Renovation Before and After

I hope all my stateside readers had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying the rest of the weekend.  We had a lovely time with friends and have been busy this weekend putting up some Christmas decorations as well as painting and rearranging some rooms.  But more on that later…


I wanted to do a quick post to show a before and after of a beautiful fixer upper in our neighborhood.  I only have a quick exterior shot as this is a house as I passed by on my morning walk.  You may remember it from my previous post about Beaux Arts architecture from earlier this year.  Here’s the before picture of the house:


I wish I could see the inside of this house and see how much it has transformed.  It was totally gutted and the exterior has gotten new stucco and a new roof as well as new windows, doors, landscaping, etc.  Here’s what it looks like now:

Too bad the lighting wasn’t as good when I took these after photos!  And there is still a lot of landscaping left to do but those palm trees make such a dramatic statement.  In looking at these photos now I also realize they got rid of the little portico on the front door–perhaps it was a later addition?  It’s feeling a little flat to me without it but perhaps they plan to fill in with landscaping.  A beautiful climbing vine would be lovely over the door.  The stucco is a little peachy-pink for me and I miss the decorative detail on that one large stairwell window diagonally to the right of the front door.  Also, I think when those palm trees get a bit taller they will be a lovely but now they seem massive on that tiny sliver of a front yard.  What do you think?

And, completely unrelated, right after I passed this house on my morning walk, I saw this ficus on the curb needing a home:

With this note:

So home it came with me and now I need to find a pretty pot for it–as well as just the right place.  I’ve been wanting to add more greenery to the house and sometimes when you put things like that out to the universe, you’d be surprised at what you get!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and thanks for stopping by!

HouseTour: Boys Bedroom

Just a quick addition of an update of the boys’ room to my house tour.  I still have things to do in here but realistically, I’m done for now. :)

Their room has a little entryway before you actually turn right and enter it.  It’s been a wasted space but it’s just large enough for their little chair.  It’s a good quiet place for reading so I gave them my Elvis Reads print–and their metal initials hang on the wall.  I also have corkboards to add here for art, homework, etc., but want to cover them with fabric first.


And you walk in and turn right:


Below is the little entryway looking from their room:


And here’s the updated art wall.  These are vintage prints of The Hobbit from a 1970s calendar.  I went to the dollar store and got these frames:

Here’s a close up–I love these prints!

And here’s a close up of their shelf.  The brass dinosaur is my FIL’s from when he was a kid.  The plant is a carnivore–like a Venus Flytrap but called a Saracenia I think.   My mom got it for the boys and it was fun to watch it eat flies over the summer.

And here’s an art project the boys and I did last week.  It was fun to all work together on it. I drew the lines and the boys colored them in.

Another shot of the dresser with the vintage and antique maps:

And here are the boys beds a bit more made up.  I still need to work on bedding but I do like these wool blankets I got for $15 a piece at the army surplus store.  They are very warm but a bit scratchy.  They would be good to go on top of another comforter or something like that…

And the bay window with the light fixture and more pillows:

I love these ticking stripe pillows from Ikea.

They are called the Margareta and with a down insert they are great.

I paired the gray one with these called the Sanela:

It’s a faux velvet but is really nice.

Here’s a detail of the pillows:

And because I love a good before and after, here is the before:

And After:

And finally, thank you so much to everyone who left such sweet and touching comments on my last post.  I am so often amazed and honored by the compassion and friendships I have found through blogging.  It is an unexpected benefit of joining the blogging world but has quickly become the most important to me.  I hope one day to actually “meet” all the wonderful people I have gotten to know through this blog and say thank you in person!  Our family is starting a new chapter without Uncle James and although we miss him, the busy-ness of our lives at this stage brings into stark relief the fact that life really does go on.  I know it will be a very different one for the Stalters though.  Thanks again to all my blog-friends for your kindness!


Thanks to everyone who sent well-wishes to me and my family last week as we struggled with the loss of a dear family member.  You may remember my post from back in February about my in-law James Stalter.  He lost his 2 year battle with ALS last Wednesday at the age of 38 leaving his wife and two young children.  His final moments were further evidence of his good nature as he worried about those around him and even made jokes to put Kelsey and his mother at ease with what they all knew was coming.  We were out of town to be with family this past weekend and attend the funeral.  Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers–he was such a good man and is already so missed.  I’m so grateful I got to know him for so many years.

I’ll be back to regular posting later this week.  Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers.

Knowing When To Be Quiet


The art of silence.  This is an important skill in life, in almost any situation.  Knowing when to speak up and make your voice heard and when to hold your tongue can make or break a conversation and can often get you into or keep you out of trouble.    This is also true for a well-designed room.  Choosing what aspects of a room you want to let be the stars of the show and which ones you want to take more of a supporting role can be a difficult decision.






I don’t often have clients who want wild patterns everywhere and lots of bold color with lots of statement furniture pieces, etc.  But what I do often encounter is clients falling in love with several different fabrics, or several different furniture pieces, or several different trends, or who have a few different favorite colors and who are at first, reluctant to settle for what complements instead.   And it’s completely understandable–a subtle stripe or textural linen can’t really compete with a graphic lattice or colorful floral when it comes to wow factor when flipping through a fabric book, but getting clients to see the whole picture and how it will fit together is part of being a good designer.



It’s true when putting your own room together too and I have often made an impulse purchase for myself because I loved the color/lines/fabric of a piece but didn’t really think through how it would fit into a space.  That’s why my house is ever-evolving…

But most clients want to do it once and do it right, so many designers pick a rug or a fabric, etc and go from there.  And the idea of highlighting certain aspects of a visual is a theme that carries through so many parts of good design such as lighting: If you light everything, you light nothing (whoever first said that–so true!) and if you throw all your favorite fabrics into a room, eventually you will probably dislike them all.  To quote/paraphrase Dash from The Incredibles “If everyone is special, that’s just another way of saying no one is.”

But there’s a growing trend that makes this general rule full of exceptions–eclecticism:  What about when clutter becomes texture?  We’ve all seen and probably fallen in love with an eclectic room on Pinterest where boho fabrics and textiles are so artfully layered that instead of distracting, they become a backdrop for some amazing piece of furniture.  Or a bold wall color that actually recedes behind a collection of colorful china.  It’s quite a skill to make something that at first glance seems loud and bold actually appear quieter and calmer just by how it relates to the items around it.




Source: delightbydesign.blogspot.com via The Urban Orchard on Pinterest

  In so many of these images the patterns become textural and what should be a bold color choice actually recedes and becomes a backdrop.  The consistency seems to be allowing for a place for the eye to rest.   For so long, when I was attempting to achieve a quiet place in design it was done instinctively but the more I design the more it becomes a choice.  I think this is also why displaying collections together in a grouping has become a trend that works.  Scattered about they lose their impact and read as clutter but in a grouping they read as a textural whole, impactful but not busy.


What about you?  How do you plan your designs?  Do you think about texture and quiet when incorporating your favorite finds?


And an aside, please send our family your thoughts and prayers today as we go through a difficult time.  Thank you so much and all the best to yours.

Boys’ Room Progress

A couple of weeks ago I posted about some changes I had made to the boys’ bedroom.  Some paint, some new window treatments, etc and it was starting to look better.  I added some more updates–throw pillows, a light fixture and made a new cushion for the window seat–and it’s coming together even more.  Here’s where I started a month or so ago (these before photos are pretty embarrassing!  I wish I could say their room wasn’t always this messy–but it basically was):

And here’s the bay window now:

In addition to the window seat, I framed the vintage Hobbit prints and painted the back of the bookshelf.  I’ll get some more pics of progress soon.  Also, check me out on Twitter to see a fun art project the boys and I did on the chalkboard wall–it was so fun and turned out pretty cool!  Just click here or on the Twitter link on my sidebar and check out my recent tweets.

I have some sick kids and John is out of town so I might be away from blogging this weekend.   Hope everyone has a good Veteran’s Day and thank you to all our veterans!


What a week!  With the flea market and the election I am worn out!  The flea market was so much fun on Sunday.  We had gorgeous weather (a little too hot actually) and turnout was quite good.  Even though I did sell three large pieces and lots of pillows, linens and other small things, I have to admit after the August flea market, my expectations were really high and bringing home two large pieces was not what I wanted to do!  I will just have to come up with some other way to sell them.  I feel like I need  a shop…

The big pieces I sold were the white dresser, the black buffet, and the pedestal table from August.  I also sold the chalkboard door which was a relief since John told me I absolutely could not bring that one back home. :)  Coming back home with me was the huge mirrored buffet and the bird’s eye maple dresser.  There was a lot of interest but I think getting them home seemed a bit daunting to people.  Lesson learned for me: next time bring fewer large items!

Camille and Wendy of Claremont Finders Keepers, my partners for the day, had some gorgeous chairs, all with original upholstery in great condition.  The barrel chairs above are one set.  They sold pretty quickly.

They also sold so many cute pillows.  I love the animal pillows Wendy made–above is one of her horses.


And some art pieces by Wendy–I love the whale on the blue background!

Above next to my dresser you can see Wendy and Camille’s bowling pin inspired table–so cute!  That one also sold quickly.

We also had so much fun meeting Laura of Elegant Nest and her new partner Carrie of Hip Chick Designs.  They are a fun pair and it was so sweet that they stopped by.  Be sure to check out their websites–I have followed Laura’s blog for a while and am loving Carrie’s creations.  Laura has a cute post about her day at the flea market here.

Final Push To The Antiques Faire

Just a quick update as I rush around trying to do all the last minute things before the flea market on Sunday.  Here’s my living room as of this afternoon:

And this is less than half of the items I’m bringing.  Here are some others you may recognize:

Plus some odds and ends leftover from the last flea market like a pedestal table, chairs, etc.  And I have baskets full of vintage linens as well as all the pillows you see in the first photo and a gorgeous antique mirror.  The black painted buffet in the first image is one of my favorites for this event.  It is large and has a finished wood top.  I meant to have it staged with before and afters but just ran out of time.  Here is a close up of the detail:

It’s hard to tell in the pictures but there is ASCP Olive and Florence peeking through underneath the Graphite.  It has all original hardware and is in great condition.  It would make a fantastic entertainment center!

The white bentwood chair in the above photo has a mate and I am in love with its lines.  You can also see a real vintage green barn light on top of the buffet.

If you can’t tell, I am totally excited about this faire!  If you are in the Bay Area this weekend, please come see me and Camille at booth Q 03 at the Alameda Pointe Antiques Faire.  Our booth is about halfway back and to the left.  I would love to meet you and have a chance to say “hi” in person!