A simple bathroom refresh with big impact

As an essential, everyday use kinda space, bathrooms can be tough when it comes to renovations.  Especially when you're in a home where there is only one bathroom for showering.  In addition to finding alternative showering locations, complete bathroom renovations can be messy, dusty, expensive, and long.  This bathroom in particular had been partially updated by the previous owners with new floor tile, vanity, toilet and fixtures.  Unfortunately, the original wall tile had been painted with some sort of tile paint that may have covered up the original peach color but has proven to be less than durable in the shower area.  But despite these misgivings, it's not currently an option to do a complete tearout of the space.  Instead, we focused on increasing the functionality of the space and giving it a bit more character with some new fixtures and finishes to spice up the builder-basic renovation that was previously completed. 

Below was the state of the bathroom when the home was purchased, while clean and maintained looking it was Boring with a capital B. 

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The first steps were to install a ventilation fan, because we knew that we were going to be installing wallpaper and also, it's just a darn good thing to do, because despite having a window, you really don't want to be opening that during a shower when your neighbors windows are directly across from yours (!).  The next step was to make space for a new medicine cabinet that we picked up at Restoration Hardware Outlet for a great price.  The traditional style of the cabinet is probably close to what would have originally been installed in this space. 

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Upon opening up the wall we could tell that there had previously been a medicine cabinet in the space, something bit smaller, but the remnants of the spot were there. We also found a signature on the wall stud with the year dated 1925, the year the home was built-so cool! 

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We had the electricians swing by and install an outlet in the medicine cabinet.  I encourage all of my clients to do this (and we've done it in several of our own homes), it's a great place to plug in toothbrushes and other personal care necessities that you may not want out in the open.  The electricians made the line a little longer since we hadn't yet done the wallpapering, that way we could remove the cabinet for the wallpapering rather than try and cut the paper perfectly around it.

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We also wired up the new light fixtures and primed the walls in preparation for the wallpaper. 

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The next step was installing this gorgeous wallpaper from local Philadelphia artist Carla Weeks.  It added the character we needed for this monochromatic space and was especially affordable since we needed to only paper above the tiled wainscoting. 

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And now for the reveal...we added a couple kokedamas for plant life and swapped out the handles on the vanity for some more interesting and substantial pulls

 Photo Credit: Kyle Smith Born 

Photo Credit: Kyle Smith Born 

The new brass sconces really pop against the patterned wallpaper 

 Photo Credit: Kyle Smith Born

Photo Credit: Kyle Smith Born

Kokedama's add life to the space, I like to think of them as suspended art, and they just require a once a week soak in the sink. 

 Photo Credit: Kyle Smith Born 

Photo Credit: Kyle Smith Born 

I added in a curved rod to make the shower area feel more spacious and the shower curtain is a subtle grey stripe fabric, because stripes pair so nicely with just about every other pattern. A vintage wonky legged stool holds some spare towels, a glass of wine during the bath, or magazines on the daily. 

 Photo Credit: Kyle Smith Born 

Photo Credit: Kyle Smith Born 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this refresh.  Would you attempt something similar?  You can find more of my work in my portfolio, or more before and afters here. xo, Nicole

Holiday Market with Rally

This year feels so special here in Philly as I'm co-hosting a holiday market with Rally and a curated group of some of my favorite artists and designers here in Philly.  Since living in Philly these last couple years the creative community has been so welcoming and encouraging, it feels wonderful to be celebrating the holidays with such a talented group of women!   The event will be held in the beautiful Rally space, Thursday, December 7th from 7-10 pm.  They'll be light bites, drinkies, and a raffle benefitting the People's Emergency Center.  If you're in Philly stop by for some lovely gifts and support local! 

Before the event I thought I'd share a little bit about each of incredible women who are  participating.  You can click through to each of their websites to see more of their work.  Hope to see you at the event if you're in Philly! 

Philly Love Notes 

Scientist, traveler, supporter of the arts, communications strategist and overall Philly Lover.  Emma Fried-Cassorla spent 4 months paper cutting the entire city of Philadelphia and from this endeavor, her custom, laser-cut Philly maps were born. Her made to order maps can be customized with your favorite neighborhoods, first date meetup, weddings, first homes, jobs, or anywhere else you’d like to note a favorite spot in the city.

Ron Nicole 

Philadelphia native Ronni celebrates the beauty of nature through her floral inspired fossils.  She often sources her flowers from her local flower shop, flower farms, trail walks, and her neighborhood, even venturing to knock on a stranger’s door to talk about capturing a perfect specimen from their garden.  Individually designed and cast in a concrete/plaster mix her one of a kind sculptures freeze a moment in time and highlight the subtle beauty of Mother Nature.

 Image Credit: Ronni Nicole 

Image Credit: Ronni Nicole 

Asarum Designs 

Dorene Reggiani designs and creates one of a kind jewelry pieces from her studio in Philadelphia. Her organic forms and natural materials create beautifully subtle pieces while textures created through the process of forming the piece become an integral part of the design and highlight the unique and beautiful imperfections of her craft. 

 Image Credit: Asarum Designs 

Image Credit: Asarum Designs 

Carla Weeks

British-born artist Carla Weeks’ paintings, textiles, and murals are informed by her interactions with both natural landscapes and the built environment.  Through distillation of pattern and form her 2-dimensional designs communicate a sense of place that is both graphic and serene. Her work spans a broad range including paintings, murals, wallpaper, and textile designs.  Most recently she has completed designs for a line of pillows that can mix effortlessly into your living spaces. 

Curious Clay 

Jannalyn is continually experimenting with color, pattern, and form in her ceramics line, Curious Clay.  From wearable art to mini planters, mugs, and spoons, the pursuit of creative exploration is evident in her delightful ceramic forms and glaze combinations.  Her fearlessness in experimentation makes each piece one of a kind. 

One Room Challenge-Great Room Roundup

Earlier this month over 200 guest participants and 20 featured bloggers revamped spaces in just seven weeks during the One Room Challenge.  As part of the challenge, I  finished up my Office/Guest Room that had sat relatively empty for almost two years and there were so many great rooms I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. 

This master bath renovation from The Grit & Polish has such a great mix of traditional and modern design elements.  I love the bench near the shower area, it always gives an extra bit of luxury when you are able to have a piece of furniture in a bathroom.

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On our "forever house bucket list" is a library space and this home library from Natasha Habermann is giving me all the feels.  The dark blue bookshelves and green leather Chesterfield (which is also a pullout!) give the space a warm and welcoming feel. 

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This narrow sunroom turned breakfast nook has my heart skipping a beat.  First of all, THOSE WINDOWS!!! Secondly, stenciled floors!  After living in the south a blue ceiling always catches my eye. I admire the clever use of this narrow space off the kitchen as a breakfast nook and I wouldn't mind enjoying a cup of coffee and croissant while gazing out those windows on a quiet morning.

For you fellow mural lovers out there, Ashley's office makeover included this incredible mural that she hand painted over most of the seven weeks of the challenge.  I'm digging the graphic look against the traditional wood craftsman trim in her San Diego home.  Ashley also put together some great Ikea hacks and offered some smart solutions for office storage. 

Coco & Jack's ultra cozy living room makeover complete with fireplace feels just perfect for this upcoming winter season.  The white oak built ins flanking the fireplace are minimalist, yet warm, and the shiplap peeking from behind adds the perfect amount of texture.  I'm swooning over the Triplo sofa from Article and am pinning it for future client projects. 

The bold blue walls and teal furnishings in Old Home Love's living room space make for a rich and inviting feel.  They carried the bold blue into their kitchen as well and I love how it pops against the original finishes and textures of their old home. 

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Megan always has a great eye for eclectic design and I'm constantly eating up everything she puts out into the world hoping that I'll absorb some of her good eye for style.  She purchased a lodge in upstate New York earlier this year and took on the task of renovating the living space for the ORC.  One of my favorite parts of the design was her solution for this simple record storage, and I'm always a sucker for a Windsor chair. 

Another blue-hued beauty of a room.  Kirsten from Simply Grove made over her in-laws living space.  Her use of a partial wall of paneling on the walls add some interest and detail without overwhelming the room in blue and her choice of furnishings and accessories add richness and texture to the space.

This soft and soothing bedroom palette from Brittany of Brittany Makes feels like a vacation every day.  Her mix of vintage textiles and modern elements made the space feel fresh, yet cozy.

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I you want to take a peek at the full list of reveals, check out the guest participants and the featured designers and stay turned for the next challenge coming spring 2018! 


Roasted Cauliflower with Olives and Raisins

If you're looking for that easy, go to recipe for the numerous potluck and holiday events you'll be attending over the next month, this dish is a great option.  My friend Grace and I spent an afternoon cooking and styling this delicious meal that takes advantage of the cool seasons bounty of the cruciferous veggies that are plentiful this time of year. 


1 lg. head of cauliflower (around 8 cups of  florets, chopped) 

1/2 lg. red onion coarsely chopped 

1/4. cup slivered almonds 

1/4 cup sliced (quartered) olives (garlic-stuffed, if possible)

1/4 cup raisins 

Salt and pepper

Olive oil 

2 Tbsp. parsley 


Heat oven to 425F. Place parchment paper or aluminum foil on a large rimmed baking sheet and lightly coat with olive oil. 

Cut cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Spread cauliflower and chopped onion across the baking sheet. Drizzle and toss with olive oil, until lightly coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to season.

Roast 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway, until the edges are browned and the cauliflower is fork-tender.


While the cauliflower and onions are roasting, toss the almonds into a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring regularly, until almonds are golden brown and give off a rich, toasty fragrance. 


When the roasted cauliflower and onion are done cooking, place in a large bowl.  Mix in the olives, raisins and parsley. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Serves 4-5 as a side dish.


Photographs courtesy of GraceD Photos

For more delicious, seasonally inspired dishes, check out my friend Grace's blog Food, Fitness, Fresh Air

One Room Challenge-Week Seven

Today's the day, it's finally here, the guest room/office space that I've been working on the past six weeks for the One Room Challenge is complete!  I'm so excited to finally have a space that is functional,  cozy and inviting.  We've already dubbed it the "upstairs living room" and have had two guests stay in the space, one this past weekend and currently my brother.  If you remember waaaaay back in the beginning the room was pretty much a boring white box....



The room had good bones and nice details, but it was definitely lacking personality and style.  Looking back at these pictures this room doesn't even feel like the same space.  What a difference color, some fun fixtures, and layering of great pieces can make!  So without further ado, let's get to the pretty pictures. 

 Image Credit: Kyle Born

Image Credit: Kyle Born

And here's the completed space! The last layers of details and accessories make it feel so cozy.  I can't say enough about Benjamin Moore's Rainy Afternoon, the perfect moody green that shifts throughout the day and is so soothing.  

 Image Credit: Kyle Born

Image Credit: Kyle Born

The Anewall mural is the perfect backdrop with the green walls. To bring some additional color into the room I added a smattering of pillows in various colors and textures, as well as a little pop of pattern.  The lamp is a vintage find from my friend Tara over at Scout & Annie.  I love it's simple swoop and textured rectangular shade for a bit of interest.  It's a great reading light for the other side of the seating area. 

 Image Credit: Kyle Born

Image Credit: Kyle Born

I was so excited to finally have the right project to use one of Made of Cloth's gorgeous screen printed pillows on a project!  I chose the Splotches pattern with Silver on Oyster and I love how it mixes so effortlessly with everything else in the room.  A cozy wool throw in soft colors is perfect for snuggling up with on these cold days ahead.  


 Image Credit: Kyle Born

Image Credit: Kyle Born

My big-haired lady that I've been toting around since we lived Jacksonville finally found her home above the pegboard I built using the custom hooks made by my brother, Omnitasker Design.  Hanging it above the rail draws your eye up in a room that doesn't have particularly tall ceilings and the asymmetrical placement adds a bit of unexpectedness in a room that could start feeling a bit formal and stuffy.  And can we talk about THAT WEAVING??!!!  I feel so grateful to have an original piece from my friend Sara of The Forest Fern hanging in a space that will serve as a creative workspace for me.  I love the texture and subtle colors that complement the overall vibe in the room. 

 Image Credit: Kyle Born

Image Credit: Kyle Born

I hadn't originally planned to add pegboard to this side of the wall, but I felt that it needed it to draw the eye completely across the room and also offers a little spot to hang a mirror for guests to check their hair/makeup.  The mirror is from my little vintage stash and I used a piece of the fabric twill tape that the rugs were rolled up with to hang it from the hook (cheers to improvising!) My favorite way to elevate a simple planter to something special is with a stool and I  was able to find this yellow-green vintage piece that perfectly complemented the other colors in the room.  The soft, silver grey of the Senecio plant pops against the green walls and its soft texture catches the light from the window magically...

 Image Credit: Kyle Born

Image Credit: Kyle Born

The 1940's secretary that I searched months for and ended up finding at one of my favorite shopping haunts seems almost radiant against these green walls!  A vintage Hoffman armchair slung with a cozy sheepskin is the perfect spot to sit at my computer or do some writing in the morning.  The white pottery on the top of the secretary is a collection of vintage, new/mass market, and handmade pieces that I've been collecting.  I recently purchased the remaining pieces to create a simple vignette that stands in contrast against the wall color and traditional style of the secretary. 

 Image Credit: Kyle Born

Image Credit: Kyle Born

A close up of the display space in the secretary.  I have a feeling I am going to be adding to this over time, but some of my favorite design and art books made their way in, a notecard with one of my favorite quotes by J. R. R. Tolkein that reads "Little by little, one travels far", and a dried fern frond from our garden. 

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I left the wall over by the desk blank so that I could use it for inspiration, design boards, etc.  Simple wasabi tape makes things easy to pin up and take down without damaging the walls.  

Here'a a couple more views of the space. 

 Image Credit: Kyle Born

Image Credit: Kyle Born

 Image Credit: Kyle Born 

Image Credit: Kyle Born 

And this ingenious VALLENTUNA pullout bed from Ikea.

 Image Credit: Kyle Born 

Image Credit: Kyle Born 

 Image Credit: Kyle Born

Image Credit: Kyle Born

And now it's time to get down into snuggling and relaxing and creating more great rooms for clients in this space!  Thank you guys so, so much for all your kind words and encouragement along the way.  I heard from many of you who told me you were inspired to undertake your own makeovers in your spaces and that is so thrilling because that is what this is ALL about!  Since this is my first year participating I'd love to hear what you think about the blog posts, did you find them helpful?  Was there something more you wanted to know about?  Were the photos sufficient?  I would appreciate any feedback you have. 

Thank you to Linda from Calling It Home for creating and hosting this design challenge for so many years and to House Beautiful for sponsoring the event.  I hope to be able to participate again next spring, so stay tuned for more!  And don't forget to hope over to the other guest participants pages and see what their final reveals look like and you can also check out the great group of featured designers as well.  So much juicy design goodness folks!  And if you're interested in seeing more of my interior design work, you can find it here. xo, nicole 

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MURAL: Anewall 

RUG: west elm 





WOOL THROW: Home Goods 

ARC LAMP: vintage, Scout & Annie

SIDE TABLE: vintage/repurposed 


WEAVING: The Forest Fern


SECRETARY: vintage 


CEILING LIGHT: west elm (from a few years back) 

PAINT COLOR: Rainy Afternoon from Benjamin Moore








One Room Challenge-Week Six

We're almost to the finish line at week six of the One Room Challenge! Thank goodness for an extra week to pull everything together.   In all honesty, the room is pretty much done as I had to have it complete for my awesome photographer to come and capture the space earlier this week.  If you're just checking in your can see the progression via week one, week two, week three, week four, and week five.  This week I'm sharing those last major pieces to go into the room before all the finishing pretty touches are added for the reveal...

First up was getting the new Ikea VALLENTUNA piece into the room.  Since we are going to use this space as a multifunctional room, I thought this was a versatile piece that could function as a nice lounging piece or a bed for guests.  It's a modular system that is slipcovered, so all the parts can be easily washed and it comes apart in smaller pieces, which was also important since we're in an older home with smaller staircases and doorways. 

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I chose the light grey slipcover that complemented the mural well and also looks great against the green walls.  I love the modern lines of the piece, they add a little tension against some of the more traditional elements in the room.  The piece went together easily and seems really sturdy.  I've already been snuggling myself into those high arms. And of course Shelby thinks that we're just doing the whole room up for her :) 

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The bottom portions of the sofa slide out like a drawer to reveal a support that the cushion then unfolds on to create the bed.  This simple design is ingenious!

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Down came the boob light and up went and older West Elm fixture that we've moved from two other houses...we've typically have had it in our dining room, but I thought it would be fun to have it in this room.  It adds more of the modern element that I want to infuse into the space. The fixture didn't always have the gold interior shades, I got a wild hair years ago when I first bought it and gold leafed the insides of the shades for some contrast.  

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Ultimately I think I'll have to have a smaller down rod made for it as it hangs a tad lower than I'd like it to (we only have 8' ceilings).  At 6 feet tall I can walk under it ok, but anyone much taller might bump their head...good thing this is not a high traffic space! 

I also made some progress on this little side table.  It's an old bubble gum stand that I've had for years, I think I bought it for $20 at an antique festival in Florida.  I gave it a fresh coat of matte black paint and bought a pre-made top at Lowes (don't judge) that I gave a quick whitewash treatment to. 

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We also installed a dimmer control switch in the space.  Whenever possible I think it's a little luxury to add a dimmer to a space so that the lighting can be controlled throughout the day.  We ended up going with Lutron's Caseta dimmer which can be controlled via a remote as well as smart devices like iPhones or even the Alexa device.  We primarily did this so that we can control the lights when we are out of town instead of adding timers to our outlets, but it will also be nice to be able to adjust the lighting without having to get up every time.  Plus, our guest can use the remote (or their iPhones) for turning off the lights without having to get out of bed. A little luxury  that will hopefully go a long way in the space.  We hope to add more of these switches to other rooms as time goes by. 

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All the little details for the room are coming together as well, here's a little sneak peek of some of the pieces coming in....

Beautiful weaving from my friend Sara of The Forest Fern.

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Some midcentury glass goodness from Scout and Annie

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All the cozy pillows...including the beautiful printed one from fellow artist Made of Cloth.

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And of course....plants :) 

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That's it for this week!  Thanks so much for following along and be sure to catch up with the progress  with the featured designers here and all the other guest participants spaces via the One Room Challenge Blog.  Hope to see you for the final reveal next week! 

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One Room Challenge-Week Five

Hey guys!  We're in week five of the One Room Challenge and man how does time fly!  If you're just tuning in, you can see the progress via week one, week two, week three, and week four.  I've been working this week to layer in some more elements to the room and it's starting to get the cozy, layered feeling that I had planned for.  I wrapped up on some details like reattaching all the door hardware that I had removed the paint from in week three.  I'm really loving how it turned out, like little bits of jewelery for the doors.  One of my favorite parts of an older home is the originally hardware and now I feel like it can really shine without being coated in white paint. 


How crazy is this color shift too?  These images are of the same wall of the room and show how different the color can look depending on the light (which I love)....also, all these photos have been taken with my iPhone and lack any color correction....I'll have the wait for my photographer to get the best shots of the room.   For now, you get the point on the hardware :) 

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I also finished adding the hardware to the vintage secretary 

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If you follow along on Instagram stories you may have seen me working on the peg rail late last week.  

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I finished the liming treatment and attached the custom hooks that I had my super talented brother Luke forge out of steel for me.

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I love the way the teeny bit of spalting plays with the green in the walls....

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And the liming and lighter color draws the eye out from the mural.

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This will be a great spot for displaying some decorative items as well give our guests a spot to hang towels or jackets since since our shared bathroom has limited room for this...I've always felt like this wall needed a peg rail, for YEARS...I'm so happy to see one finally up in the space!

Finally, as you may have seen in the photos above, I also added the rug to the space.  I had a few different options I was considering for the space, but ultimately, this one felt just right.  Cozy underfoot, warm color,  soft to the touch, and the bit of viscose that was added to the wool gives it a bit of a shimmer which moves some light around the room. 

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That's it for this week!  We've got one more week and then the reveal.  A few more major pieces including lighting going in next week and then all the cozy layers and pretty accessories.  Be sure to check out the other participants progress on the space on the ORC website. 

And thank you guys for all your comments and encouraging words! I'd love to know what your thoughts are on the space.  xo, Nicole 

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One Room Challenge-Week Four

A wallpapering we'll go!  That was the focus of this week.  As someone who hasn't wallpapered but only once before with a product that is *slightly* different than true wallpaper, I wanted to tackle the wallpaper project for the room as soon as possible.  As I mentioned in the post from the second week I knew that I wanted to go with a mural for the room, but floated around to several different options before settling on Anewall's Clouded Mural.  I've been pinning wallpaper in general for the last few months (you can see my "stash" here), there are so many good options!  Anewall had excellent customer service.  Since their papers are from Canada, I wasn't sure that it would arrive in time to support the One Room Challenge, so I sent them an email and they replied promptly with timelines (that would work-yay!) and also sent over some great samples so that I could choose a paint before the full mural arrived.  

Since I was doing full length walls in this room, I thought it would be a good idea to have a second set of hands so I had my studio assistant come in from the woodshop for the day and help me out with the papering.  It was so great to have another person to help move those wet, drippy sheets of wallpaper and maneuver the paper in place to line up the pattern.  Here's the progress after the first couple panels went up.

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We had a slight snafu on that second panel that required a bit of quick, slightly panic thinking.  I had painted a couple of the dark green samples on that wall....I am not really sure why, because I always planned to put a mural on it, but when we put that second piece up over the paint sample swatch IT SHOWED THROUGH THE PAPER (!!!!!) I'm not sure why I didn't think to prime over it...I was so diligent about priming over the walls in the bathroom wallpapering project....I blame it on having a lot of irons in the fire right now.  But at any rate, this was a problem, it looked really bad.  Now we had this wet wallpaper that we had started hanging, heck, mostly smoothing it on the wall and it had something bad behind it....yikes!  

Luckily, I already had a wet primer roller stored at the ready from some other projects and we quickly (and gently) removed the strip of wallpaper from the wall, wetted it a little more with a sprayer and re-booked it to keep it from drying out.  I then rolled out the painted sections with the primer and Caira took the hairdryer to them to quickly dry each coat...as we were doing this, I kept checking in on the paper and giving it light spritzes of water wherever I saw it starting to dry out. 

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After three coats of primer it looked like we had covered most of the dark green paint and we gently repositioned that second piece back into place.  It seemed like it was behaving a little different that it had before, but after some deep, calming breaths, and slowly and gently working it into place, all seemed fine.  I'm happy to report after being up on the wall almost a week, the paper seems just as secure as the others! Whew! 

We continued hanging the remaining panels, moving across the wall.  Below is a quick snapshot of the booking process.  After soaking the panels in a tub of water for about 15 seconds, we would unroll the panels and then fold them adhesive sides together to let the paper "relax" for about a minute before hanging it on the wall.

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Getting closer! I love how the clouds have a luminosity about them, we could start to see the colors shifting and changing throughout the day....so pretty! 

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And then one more panel and around the corner of the wall....and done! 

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Instead of trying to cut the edge on that corner by the door, which would probably seem really awkward, I decided to wrap it around the corner to meet the doorframe.  This would also allow for a peek of the paper from the hallway which I thought was a pretty touch and would encourage the eye around the corner since the mural is not on a wall facing the doorway. 

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The print quality on the paper is a really nice, watercolor feel. 

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I'm loving how it works with the green walls...

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Beyond the wallpaper I didn't accomplish much else this week except for ordering a few more items that we need.   But I have a couple ideas brewing for details in the room....this green charcoal portrait that I picked up when I lived in Jacksonville, FL four years ago has yet to find a spot in this house....I think she'd be lovely in here...

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I've also had this old bubblegum machine base that I picked up years ago #hoarder and I'm toying around with the idea of making a wood top for it as a side table to the loveseat/pullout bed...I'll likely change the color of the base to something that jives better with the colors in the room.  I love the old-fashioned details on this piece and I think it would provide a nice contrast to the more modern lines of the loveseat. 

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That's it for this weeks progress!  We also received word that due to the storms and fires that have plagued so many over the last month and a half and their impact on timelines, scheduling, shipping, etc, the One Room Challenge is being extended a week so that everyone can finish strong! The new reveal date will be Thursday, November 16th.  

Thanks again for following along!  Your kind words mean so much to me.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on wallpaper or anything else, I so enjoy hearing what everyone else has been up to.  

Check out what the other guest participants have been up to here, there are so many great transformations going on, it's a great way to get inspired!  And if you missed the previous weeks posts, you can can up here. xo, Nicole

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One Room Challenge Week Three

Hey guys! Ever have that feeling like you're just not where you'd hoped to be on a project?  That's been my week with the One Room Challenge guest room/office space.  Between photoshoots for other interiors projects, planning for holiday and workshops, filling orders and getting ready for a show on Saturday it felt like I was working at a snails pace.  After the dramatic push to get the space painted, working on a bunch of small stuff this week felt a little less dramatic.  But nonetheless important, 'cause it's all in the details, right!? So let's dive in! 

I'm apparently having a little early American moment, maybe it's the fact I'm surrounded by so may influences here in Philly, I'm nostalgic for my childhood (I grew up with lots of early American style pieces), or I just wanted a cool desk with all sorts of nooks and crannies to stash my treasures.  I've been thinking about getting an antique secretary for a while.  I'd actually seen a really cool one when I was down in Fredericksburg last December and I've wistfully thought about how I should have bought it at the time these last months.  Perhaps they might still have it?  I almost made the 10-hour round trip drive to check #obsessed. So I turned to my resources  Craigslist and Ebay and trolled them for MONTHS searching for the perfect old secretary.  I don't have a lot of time to go shopping in person, so I like to check out these sites in the evening when I am looking for vintage/antique furniture.  After months of searching, nothing.  I was trying not to get discouraged because you can't rush a good vintage piece, but the One Room Challenge was quickly approaching and I was feeling a little bummed that I wouldn't have THE PIECE.

On a whim one afternoon after swinging by one of my favorite nurseries, I stopped by a great vintage/junk shop a few doors down.  I have found a few things here and there before and just wanted to pop in to see what they had going on.  I never expected to find a secretary, but there it was, buried behind frames, mirrors, and an old sled.  My heart skipped a beat and I quickly pulled the items away from it to get a closer look.  "Good lines, yes...oh, I like those little spindle legs...and no ornate details at the top...good, very good" I thought to myself.   The color was a little more orange-y than I preferred, but I could look past that because the form was the closest to what I was wanting. Sold. 

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She's missing a little hardware but that's an easy fix.  I spent some time earlier this week cleaning off years of grime with Murphy's Oil Soap.  The color still wasn't quite to my liking and  I thought about using a refinishing product to darken the color a bit but after talking to some other folks and thinking about it a little more I'm gonna keep it as is.  I don't want to loose the wonderful patina it's developed over the years, plus with the dark green walls I think it might get lost if it was too much darker. 

Here's a closer look at the lovely interior....I'm imagining I'll be super organized with those little drawers and cubbies-ha! A girl can dream....

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I really love buying older furniture because a lot of times it is more well made than new, and oftentimes at a much better price.  Check out these dovetailed drawers!  The case of the piece is solid maple (SO HEAVY!) and the sides of the drawers are sycamore. Also, the wall looks aqua in this photo, it's not that color at all...what can I say, I'm lazy and use my iPhone for these shots...

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The piece is stamped with a Conant Ball Makers Mark. At the shop where I bought it they told me that it was likely manufactured in the 1940's.  Conant Ball was established in the late 1800's in Gardner, Massachusetts and specialized in crafting Colonial furniture reproductions and cane seat chairs.  Russel Wright was a designer for Conant Ball and designed many of their most popular furniture items, I wasn't really able to find anything in my brief search on this particular secretary but I wonder if Mr. Wright had a hand in it's design.  

Since some of that hardware is missing and I think it could be modernized a bit anyway, I'm planning on replacing the drawer hardware and knobs.  I'm still waiting on one more option to be delivered, but I'm liking the way these are bin pulls are looking. 

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Ok, I've definitely drawn out the story of this secretary long enough.  One to a couple other things. I removed all the hardware from the closet and bedroom doors and followed Manhattan Nests magical formula to remove those old layers of paint to reveal the brassy layers beneath as seen on the back side of this hinge.

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Here's the before: 

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And After! 

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I started a bit of work on the hook rail that is going to run along the wall where the closet is located.  It'll be a great spot for guest to hang things and also to display a couple special pieces. My brother fabricated the hooks and I've been working on getting the limed ash prepped for hanging, here's a sample of the general look. 

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Next up, the wallpaper mural, it just arrived this afternoon and I'm planning on installing it tomorrow-Eeeeep! Thanks for following along guys!  Don't forget to check out the progress being made by the other guest participants right here. xo, nicole 

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One Room Challenge Week Two

We've made it to week two of the One Room Challenge and I'm soo excited to start to see some changes happening in the space, it's my favorite part of the project to see the plans that I've been scheming start to take form.  Last week, I wrote about what the space had been and some general plans about what the new function for the space would be.  This week, I'm sharing more about the design and what the overall look and feel of the room will be.  

I knew I wanted to room to be green, I've been playing around with more color on the walls in this house and I was thinking that a dark, luscious green would be cozy and comforting (the perfect feeling for a guest room and office).  I also knew that I wanted to try my hand at a wallpaper mural.  I was originally looking for a black and white forest-type scene, like something you might see out of an old book...this one was particulary on my mind when I started my search.  After winding my way down the Internet rabbit hole I happened upon Canadian-based Anewall and found my fingers clicking on their "Clouded" mural; I knew immediately I had found the one :) 

Below is a mini version of the full size mural.  Within hours of contacting Anewall to discuss lead times and getting samples for paint color selection they had samples in the mail to me.  Their customer service has been excellent and I'm looking forward to putting the mural up on the wall!  Fingers crossed that it arrives next week! 

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Once I selected the mural and some paint ideas, the other pieces started to fall into place....here's a little snapshot of the inspiration board for the room. 

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I like to use these as a guide for the overall look and feel of the room.  Some of the items I may already own, some of them I plan on purchasing, and others are there as a way for me to hone in on textures and colors that I might be looking to add to the space. 

Here's a rough floorplan.

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Paint went up on the wall this week as well!  I felt like I was getting a big green hug as I rolled out the walls (insert happy blushing emoji here). 

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The color is Benjamin Moore's Rainy Afternoon.  For those of you following along on Instagram you may have seen my paint swatch debate.  Originally I thought I wanted to go with a slightly brighter green, Benjamin Moore's Caldwell Green, but after thinking more about what would go best with this house and the other tones that I have going on, I thought this slightly more muted green would work better.  I still have some touching up to do and I plan on taking the hardware off the closet door and stripping off the old paint hooooopefully this weekend. The still white wall on the right of the photo is the wall that the mural will be install on. 

I was also able to get the window frames painted in the same black paint as the rest of the house (Sherwin Williams Caviar). I'll have to leave it to a professional photographer to capture this better than I have here :) 

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So that's it for this week!  Lots going on behind the scenes to pull more of the details together as we move along.  I'll be sharing more on Instagram stories in the coming weeks.  Thanks so much for your kind words and ideas and for following along in general.  It means the world to me!        xo, Nicole 

Don't forget to check in with the other guest participants room transformations on the main One Room Challenge Homepage.


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One Room Challenge Week One

Hi friends!  Today's the first day of the One Room Challenge and I'm thrilled to be participating in my first-ever room redesign for the event!  We moved into our house here in Philly almost two years ago and the room I have chosen for this year's ORC has been struggling to have a purpose since we moved in.  Technically we call it our guest room, and it has functioned as such when folks come to town and we quickly it up from the storage room it devolves to in between the guests.  I've also used it for the majority of photography for the online shop, and on occasion it has functioned as an office for me to do interior design/admin work, but it's never really had the right pieces (or the right vibe) to make this work conducive. In the many moves and the many houses that we have lived in, I've realized that whenever a space doesn't have a purpose and it's not used on a regular basis, it tends to get pretty junked up.  That is what has been happening with this space, without a good design and half-hearted purpose, it has functioned as more of a storage closet the last two years...filled with things we didn't know what else to do with, stacks of magazines, painting supplies, etc. To further add to my angst, this room is at the top of our stairs, and I hate to close the door (because it gets great light) so I walk by it daily and see the mess accumulating-oh vey!   The time for this no mans land room  is running short now though, I'm excited to dig in and give it some style and purpose! 

This is the room when we bought the house.  An investor had renovated the home and used a builder basic beige on the walls and a boob light on the ceiling (insert eye roll). 

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About six months after we moved in I painted the room the same white as the downstairs and painted the door in the black paint that all our other doors and window frames are painted in (Sherwin Williams Cavier)

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Annnnnd that was about where I left things....there was a small table that I worked at on occasion, and we have a platform blowup mattress that we used for our guests. 

I commenced clearing out the clutter and this is where the room stands today. 

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So at this point I basically have a big white box to work with, which is a pretty great place to be starting!  I'm excited to inject some color and personality into this space with a mix of old and new furnishings and also MORE WALLPAPER! 

Here's a little peek at a bit of the feel I'm going to be going for in the room.  Calming, textural and painterly...


I'll be sharing more details about the layout and design next week Wednesday night, so stay tuned!  You can also follow along on Instagram for sneak peeks and behind the scenes. And don't forget to follow along with the other guest participants in their room transformations here. 

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A Cheery Florida Beach House

Nothing can give you a little leap in your heart or teary eyed feeling than when a client calls you up after living in their space for three years and asks if you'll do it again for them in their new place because they loved what you did before THAT MUCH. 

Never one to shy away from a road trip, the concept of driving down to Florida from Philly to help my clients with their new house on the beach seemed like a managable task.  I mean, just get on I-95 and head south, that's it, right!?  Plus, it was January and the thought of escaping briefly to sunshine and palm trees sounded pretty appealing.  

So south I headed and found myself in this sunny abode, a blank canvas with a peep views of the ocean from the top floor living spaces. 


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We talked about what the clients were looking for: a warm, cozy space with modern touches that worked for their busy lives with two young kids.  They had a few things from their old place that they wanted to reuse if possible, items from our first project which included a living room rug and velvet armchair, and a great coffee table that we scored on Craigslist three years past.  Other than that though, they were ready for some new pieces and a simple layout that would work for them and their two kiddos. 

We talked about going with a soft grey on the walls and I started in envision a palette that echoed the soft tones, layers, and textures of the north Florida beach landscape. 

My clients had mentioned wanting to have a grown up looking play area for the kids where they could keep an eye on them while cooking in the adjoining kitchen.  They also entertained a bit and were having a large group of friends and family coming in for memorial day weekend. So flexible seating was on my mind.  I developed a plan for breaking the the room into different zones for kids space, dining, and kicking back in the living/TV room and put everything together into a 3-D model. 

After some follow-up meetings with the clients they loved the layout and furniture selections but had decided to forgo the grey walls.  They had been living with the yellow for a while and it had grown on them.  They had also been experimenting with some new artwork and were beginning to be drawn to some brighter colors and they asked for those colors to be incorporated in the space.  So I worked to bring some more color and pizzaz into the space in a tasteful way that wouldn't overwhelm. 

In May I traveled back down to Florida, with a dining room table and loads of accessories in the back of my SUV ready to complete the install.  Lucky for me my parents live just a couple hours away from my clients house, so I had the added benefit of the world's best assistant for the day, Mom :) and so in a whirlwind of a day we brought months of planning into fruition. 

Considered pops of color with kid friendly fabrics, flexible furnishings, and custom details like a Horse Chestnut dining room table that I built for them (can't forget the woodworking!) and original artwork, photography, and ceramics to create a warm and welcoming space for this family.  You may notice that there are no photos of that glorious pink chaise that I specified in the design plan above.  It unfortunately did not make the delivery in time for when I was in town, so I wasn't able to capture it soft, velvety deliciousness.  I've heard that they're loving it though, and kudos for folks willing to go out on a limb with a pink chaise! 

Interested in seeing more spaces that I've worked on?  Head over to the portfolio. 



Cooking Collaboration: Spring Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds Over Rice

Last weekend my talented friend Grace came over for a little cooking collaboration.  She is not only an extremely talented photographer, but also fills her food blog, Food, Fitness, Fresh Air with healthy and delicious recipes.  We created an impromptu dish from some fresh ingredients that we just received through our CSA with the new River City Outpost in Manayunk as well as some delicious, locally grown rice from Blue Moon Acres Farm in New Jersey.  This dish came together so simply and made a great afternoon lunch.  It would also be perfect as a side dish to a larger meal. 


Spring Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds Over Rice 


1 cup black or brown rice, or a mix we used locally grown Blue Moon Acres Black and Tan Rice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups spinach, chopped

2 cups komatsuna Japanese mustard greens or baby mustard greens, chopped

1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced

1/3 lemon

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted over dry heat

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook rice according to package instructions. (For brown rice, this means 2 parts water, 1 part rice. Place in a pan, cover, and bring to a bowl. Then simmer for 45 minutes, or until rice is tender.)

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic, and saute until onions are nearly translucent. Stir in mushrooms, and cook another 3-5 minutes, until mushrooms get a nice sear.

Stir in greens, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until greens are tender, 3-4 minutes. Squeeze lemon on top, and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.

Divide rice between bowls (we used a bowl similiar to our walnut serving bowl), and top with greens. Scatter almonds across each bowl. Serve and enjoy! 

To see more of our serving and dining pieces, head to our online shop

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A big thank you to Grace for her on point photography and recipe development skills.  If you're looking for a great lifestyle and food photographer, she's your girl, you can find her portfolio here. And for more delicious recipes, check out her food blog, Food, Fitness, Fresh Air.  

Holiday Collaboration: Veak Ceramics

Collaborating, encouraging, and lifting others up has been on our minds this year and so in that vein, we reached out to three artists and designers to team up and bring you our holiday gift packages that are a combination of each of our unique skill sets. 

From the moment I saw Sarah’s work I had an instant connection. The intention with which she creates her pieces, letting the material speak to her and guide her in it’s formation is much like the pieces that we create in wood.  She has a keen interest in the human experience with art and food and strives to make work that engages the senses with it’s texture, color, and form, and most importantly, that it brings loved ones together for a meal and “merges the human appetite for both nourishment and beauty.” 

Last year Sarah reached out to us about a collaboration.  It was almost holiday at the time, and were were in the midst of moving to Philly, so we tucked the idea away as something we knew we wanted to do in the near future.  The year went on and my obsession for ceramics grew :) When the holidays started to roll around, we knew we wanted Sarah to be part of our first set of collaborative collections.  As a designer, I am continually fascinated with the mix and play of materials and thinking about combining the cool, organic feel of clay with the warm smoothness of wood felt like a perfect match.  


Sarah was born and raised in the southeast and apprenticed with studio potter Renata Wadsworth, where she learned the art of ceramics from throwing pots to building and firing a wood kiln.  Through the years, Sarah has spent time in various studios developing her work and exploration of ceramics.  Sarah recently moved to Kansas City where there is a thriving ceramics community and I’m feeling pretty excited for a meetup next time I’m in town. 

 Photo Credit: Sarah Veak Ceramics

Photo Credit: Sarah Veak Ceramics

For our holiday gift set with Sarah we have paired one of her ceramic dipping bowls and one of our hand turned round serving boards in either walnut or figured cherry. The dipping bowl is hand thrown and features a matte white glaze with etched details in a contrasting black glaze, perfect for your favorite sauces, spreads, and snacks.  The round boards make prepping snacks and serving a pleasure and they're perfect for layering with other arrangements and make a stunning display when not in use; crafted of one solid piece of wood that shimmers in the light, it can also be used as a cutting board as well.  

If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift created with consideration and intention and will offer lasting service to your gatherings for years to come, this is it.  Head to our online shop to see more and happy, happy, holidays, we’re glad you’re here! 

Holiday Collaboration: Claire Sommers Buck Jewelry

Collaborating, encouraging, and lifting others up has been on our minds this year and so in that vein, we reached out to three artists and designers to team up and bring you our holiday gift packages that are a combination of each of our unique skill sets.

Two moves ago we lived in Jacksonville, Florida and at the time, so did Claire.  I didn’t know her personally, only through her work which I had seen in some local boutiques.  I was just starting out in going more full time in my creative endeavors and I’m pretty sure I was in awe of her being a “real” artist.  At some point, Claire moved back to be near her family in Austin, and we move another one, no, make that two times.  I kept up with her work via social media and last year she reached out about a collaboration.  It was almost holiday at the time, and we were in the midst of moving to Philly, so we tucked it in our back pockets as an idea for the near future.  When we started thinking about working on these collaborative projects for this holiday season, I couldn’t help but think how beautiful Claire’s jewelry pieces would look with our wooden wares, she had recently released her Lanna collection which pays homage to Thailand, also known as the ‘Land of Smiles’.  The pieces unique lines, colors and charms use materials that honor the spirit and love radiating from this beautiful country.  This collection feels both of the moment and timeless with its warm silver and gold and black spinel and turquoise gemstones, a perfect pairing with our pieces.

Claire grew up surrounded by a handmade culture with her parents both being ceramics artists.  She attended Penland School of Crafts in 2009 where she fell in love with the many aspects of metalsmithing.  Her work evokes ancient aesthetics and global culture with attention to detail. 

I love the timeless simplicity to all of her pieces where one can let the eye rest and contemplate the intention that went into the piece.  The forms are versatile for both everyday wear and special occasions.  

 Image Credits: Claire Sommers Buck

Image Credits: Claire Sommers Buck

For our holiday gift set we’re pairing a set of Claire’s Wasana stud earrings with a special edition skipping stone catchall dish. We’re offering them in turquoise and black spinel gemstone options with limed ash and black speckled hand turned catchall dishes; the perfect place to corral these precious pieces at the end of the day, as well as your rings or other jewelry.  In Thai, Wasana means ‘lucky’ of ‘bringing good fortune’—a fitting name for an everyday stud and who wouldn’t be lucky to own a pair!? 

If you’re looking for that perfect Christmas gift that will be cherished and absolutely delight your loved one, this is it.  Head to our online shop to see more.   We'll be highlighting all of our collaborators this week in our journal, we hope you'll stop by to learn about their unique stories as well. 

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Holiday Collaboration: Made of Cloth

Celebrating, collaborating, encouraging, and lifting others up has been on our minds this year and so in that vein, we reached out to three artists and designers to team up and bring you our holiday gift packages that are a combination of each of our unique skill sets. 

I “met” Marta in an online class about a year a half ago.  It was a business class and when I went to her website to learn more about her business, I saw her organic, modern patterns and read about her commitment to living with purpose and was immediately smitten.  Over the next year and a half we’ve been Insta-friends you could say, connecting over a shared bit of humor or design aesthetic.  In the past eighteen months I have watched Marta’s work grow and evolve, I’m always looking forward to see where she is going to take things, she has an impeccable eye. So naturally, when I was thinking about working with some designers for collaborations, she was one of the first people that came to mind.  

Marta is self-taught and believes in living with purpose and surrounding yourself with well designed, high quality objects that make a house a home.  She hand draws and paints her designs and with sneak peeks of the process through Instagram, it’s always such a treat to see! What I really love about Marta’s work is that her designs mix effortlessly with other patterns in the home and she just recently launched her first line of fabric by the yard (so exciting!)….I’m already envisioning what upcoming interior design projects I can incorporate her textiles into. 

 Image Credits: Made of Cloth

Image Credits: Made of Cloth

Marta was born and raised in Poland; her European roots greatly influence her style and aesthetic.  Her willingness to leave her home and move across the ocean to a different country AND pursue a challenging career in owning her own small creative business is incredible and admirable.  

 Image Credit: Made of Cloth

Image Credit: Made of Cloth

For our holiday gift set we decided that a pairing of a baguette board and set of hand-printed napkins would be the perfect gift for the entertainer or anyone looking to elevate their everyday rituals.  Marta and I matched just the right patterns with some of our favorite woods for a perfect blend of wood and textile.  The board is great for serving and makes and artful piece in your kitchen when not in use, either hanging on the wall or leaning against a cabinet or backsplash. The linen napkins are a great eco-friendly alternative to paper and wash up beautifully.  We've been converts to everyday cloth napkins for years now in our home and find that they are so much more substantial than the paper style, and it's fun to have different patterns that you can mix and match.  With Marta's versatile patterns, you know that's going to be a breeze too :)  Our gift sets are available in limited quantities, so hurry and order yours today in our online shop. We'll be highlighting the rest of our collaborators this week in our journal, we hope you'll stop by to learn about their unique stories as well. 

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Our recent gift guide features!

The holiday season is kicking off and we're so honored to be featured in several gift guides around the web this year.  Thank you for supporting our small business! 

Lindsay from Maker's Workshop featured our blue/black dyed salt cellar in her gift guide for holiday dining. 

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The Washington Post featured our Spalted Sycamore Round Cut/Serve board as part of their Holiday Gift Guide.

Our friends at Made with Love Journal featured our pieces alongside other great makers as great items for stocking stuffers. 

 Image Credit: Made with Love Journal

Image Credit: Made with Love Journal