Sunday, August 23, 2015

it's time for college!

Its time to get my daughter off to college.  She wanted a room to reflect her personality and was a little different than the ordinary.

She also wanted to use some of the finds that she brought back from her trip to India last spring with some other students at her high school.  That's where she found that great elephant tapestry and the hanging elephants!  

I happened to have a duvet cover that was hand printed in India (its was from Saffron Marigold and they still sell it), it matched perfectly.

We added brass string lights from Urban Outfitters and turquoise and orange accents. 





Monday, August 17, 2015

Lessons on giving a Party!

Last weekend I hosted an open house party in honor of my daughter going off to college. There were over 100 people through the house; family, friends and tons of teenagers.
There was a buffet, mimosas and cold drinks.  I rented a big tent in the back yard and had valet parking. I had not hosted a party for a while so I was a bit out of practice. I had some successes and some regrets, so I thought I would share.

1. Make sure you know what you want the party to look like.

I scoured the internet, specifically Pintrest on ideas for a scheme for my party.  The college colors for Vanderbilt (where my daughter will be attending) are black and gold.  Black is an easy color to find party wear, but the gold colored plates and accessories are not so pretty. So instead I opted for black and white with a touch of gold.  I sourced napkins and plates and table runners from amazon and also from mt local Party City.  But what the guests noticed most were the fun quirky accessories like the paper straws and painted wooden spoons from Sucre Shop.  Its a big bang for not a lot of buck!



FYI, I borrowed a lot of the Vanderbilt decorations from a fellow classmates party that was held back in May!  They were glad to get some use out of it and I was happy to add it in.


2. Be specific about what you expect from your caterer.

I chose my caterer based on recommendations.  But I did not receive the same quality as others.  Ask your Caterer specific questions.  What are you going to serve that is homemade?  What food will you buy frozen and warm up?  Just because someone you know tells you that the caterer makes the best muffins does not mean they will bring those to to the party and not store bought.  

3. What is the price? 

For an open house pay for food for a specific amount of people, not the for the people who show up.
Find out what others people paid for their event.  Repeat customers may get a price break, but if you are paying full fare expect full service.
Servers are an additional cost per hour.  You need them to set up the food and replenish during the party, but should the caterer also call themselves a server and charge for their presence at your event?  I think not, but this is an expense you must clarify. 

4.What are the serving pieces that the caterer provides and what do they look like? 

Do they coordinate with your scheme and aesthetic?  Will the caterer re plate on your personal items if requested?

5. A word of advice for guests: If you have a question about the food being served before you arrive at the party, contact the host, not the caterer.  

Even if you know the caterer well, the host is in charge of the party.  If you have dietary concerns call them.  But don't expect the menu to change because of your needs.  The host may be able to accommodate you or you may just have to eat before you come by.  But this discussion should be between you and the host, not the caterer.

6. Finally, make sure your help is friendly.  

This is your party and if you feel in anyway uncomfortable that is unfortunate.  Having friends around to help and have your back is always a plus.


My party was a success. And I am sure that my guests had no idea of what drama had ensued. You can say all is well that ends well. But, next time I will be more careful.

If all else fails, pour yourself a Mimosa.




Thursday, July 30, 2015

the bedrooms


The Simon Cousins circa 1968?


















We spend more time in our bedrooms then in any other room in the house.  Unfortunately my dad did not take a lot of pictures of these rooms.  Dad didn't like candids, he liked posed pictures and preferred to take those in a more formal room.  I did manage to find a picture of my niece Dena, jumping on her grandparents bed!  I also found this picture of the Chicago and St. Louis cousins taken in my bedroom, I know because I recognize the artwork on the wall!

This house has three bedrooms.  The first is the smallest, it belonged to my brother Josh as a kid.

It became a guest room/office as the years went by. Basically it was a cramped dark mess.  It actually had this weird printed wallpaper on the closet doors which my mom added in the 1970's.  And that was the most exciting thing about the room.

My older daughter Abby, who leaves to go to college next month was awarded this room.  She was agreeable as long as we could make the room brighter and happier.




                                                              





I added white wood blinds and a antique chandelier with lots of bulbs. 


Unfortunately most of her room has been taken over stuff for college!







Ugh! This is not what my bedroom looked like when I was growing up.  It is what it became the one time my mother had an interior designer come in to transform this room.  Pink ceiling, wallpaper edging, balloon shades, all I can say is that this room was clearly the ugliest room in the house.  

The room has good bones.  Its large and has lots of lights and good closets.

This room went to Tamara and she wanted purple walls.





Tamara traded up for a queen size bed.  Her furniture is a mix of rustic wood and metal and a bit of silver metal leaf. (I did it myself)

I think the Anthropologie quilt she picked ties it all together.







Ok, one more retro picture, this one from 1962.  That's my brother and I on my parents very old bed.  The room was always set up the same way.
Here is the before.

 
I changed the position of the bed in the room so I had a wall to put the TV.  Of course I got rid of the heavy drapery.  The furniture is what I already owned.  It's sort of a British Colonial vibe. There are a couple of copper leaf pieces in this room that I also created.


Here is my tiny master bathroom. It now has a marble shower, new vanity, mirrors, medicine chest and toilet.  Just big enough to fit everything perfectly.

I kept the old floor tile. Hail to the 1950's!



                                                                                                      

Friday, July 24, 2015

Living and Dining-the big reveal

This is what most of the people that have ever been to my parents house remember, the holiday dinners.  Shabbat, Rosh Hashana, Thanksgiving and of course Peasch, and don't forget ever other holiday in between even the Jewish ones you had never heard of.  My mom cooked a delicious dinner and my dad hosted a wonderful night. I hope that I can continue that tradition.






This is what the grand living and dining room combination looked like when my mom moved out.  It is a striking room, loaded with afternoon light and with a fantastic sloped ceiling with hidden lighting. 

I decided to keep the layout similar to the original.  I just simplified color palette and got rid of the flowery wallpaper.




Before











After































Here I am about 5 years old sitting on the very long white and gold couch. The couch that was then replaced with a plain gold couch.  
Here are my parents on that couch.....

Here is my brother... Josh sorry don't hate me!








I replaced the couch with a couple of easy chairs and a very modern ethanol fireplace.  It is really cool looking.  It does not need venting , but it does not give off very much heat.
Basically its just for the ambiance. I think that it gives this room another purpose.  It is a place for entertaining and snuggling by the fire.








The built in room divider that separates the front door from the rest of the house seemed the perfect place to put a bar.  The bookcase showcases my silver candlestick collection.  The bar is housed in an old mission style dresser.  
                                                                                         
My piano is in the same place that my parents had put our old piano and the electric organ after that.






Sunday, July 12, 2015

family room-the big reveal

Call it a Family room or Den, it is the center of all family activity in the house.  Growing up this is where we gathered to watch TV at night.  Its where my mom served cut up hot dogs (hor d'oeuvres) before dinner and the adults had a cocktail.  For me it is where I began my career as an artist.  Right there on the den floor!















 Here is the way that the room looked when I got it.









My Mom occupied the recliner just as my Dad did years before.


The pictures hanging on the wall were just as they had been in 1963 after my parents trip to Europe. So, when I took them down.....
This happened!

So for the reno I had to have the wood wall painted. I replaced the two sliding glass doors  (yes, they had two sets on top of each other) with one efficient siding door. I also decided to change the whole layout of the room making the TV wall the wall opposite the window where the sofa had previously been.


One of the most noticeable transformation in this room is the window treatment on the sliding glass door wall.  Thank to Gail Schaeffer at Window Concepts for helping find these modern solar panel track shades, which transform the room.


I found this gorgeous rug at Dolnick's going out of business sale.


Great accessory tray from Home Goods.


This bunny pillow is from Local St. Louis Artist. Maggie Weelock.  I got it a Urban Matter in South St. Louis.  The sconce is from West Elm.





And my bright green painted student desk that was rescued from my brother's old bedroom is tucked away in the corner.





Tuesday, June 30, 2015

the big reveal kitchen

The kitchen is the room in the house most true to the original, and yet totally transformed.
Here is my mom in the kitchen circa mid 1970's. This is the way I most remember it growing up. The metal St. Charles cabinets were almond on the bottom and cream on the uppers. The counters were laminate with a boomerang pattern and trimmed in stainless steel. 

By the time I got a hold of the kitchen, things had changed a bit.



My parents had all the cabinets painted cream (late 70's), The cool formica was replaced with beige formica which matches the beige tile floor.  It was a symphony in beige.










I updated the back splash is a modern, but retro look. I put in a new gas range instead of the electric that was there before. I was able to keep the cool hubcap style exhaust fan.

The counter tops are Silestone quartz in expo grey.
All the appliances are new, like this cool Bosch dishwasher which is so quiet that you can't tell it's even on unless the red light on the floor is glowing!   The floors are now a dark grey rectangular tile.   










More new appliances!  A large wall oven ( my mom's was super tiny) and a pantry door frig.
















Finally a burst of color with the orange accent wall.  
The new light fixture is a sputnik type chandelier, and the eat in table and chairs are from Ikea.  Yes, they came in boxes and yes, I put them together!













Here is my daughter recreating her Grandma in the kitchen!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The big reveal-bathroom

My brother Josh and mom in the pink bathroom circa 1959
I am settling in and have decided to reveal the completed renovations room by room.  I'll start with the pink hall bathroom.  It was very pink.  I am all about saving original things but I just could not deal with all that pink.  I was never a big fan of it, the bathroom was gutted except for the tub, which was sprayed white, and toilet, which was recently replaced. 


Here is what it looked like when I got the house.......still pink!

















I replaced the pink with white subway tile with a dark gray grout. The floating vanity has a carerra marble top.  Everything from Home Depot.I saved the lighting and medicine cabinets, both of which were probably from the 80's.

A lot of people comment on the tile floor.  It is a matte black tile that looks really modern. The tile gets darker when it gets wet but dries one color. I also found this funky loopy bath rug at Tuesday Morning.


Finally I found this striped shower curtain and some funky artwork.




And the pink bathroom is history!