Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Black, White and Red all over - Heights Modern Loft

This pair of empty nesters migrated south from Colorado to Texas and settled in the lovely historic Heights of Houston. With their human kids grown up and gone away (they still have two feline fur babies), they decided to downsize to a loft and upgrade to a more modern look. Lofts present some spacial challenges because they are small and relatively unstructured. In order to visually and functionally expand the space, design must be streamlined and free of clutter, with pieces strategically placed to add shape and form to the free flowing nature of many lofts. Ceilings that cap at fourteen feet definitely aid in opening up the area, and provide sufficient wall space for this couple's extensive art collection, but this tremendous downsize was still a challenge. See how we put their art on display, complemented by some old and new pieces of furniture, and gave their new home a modern, yet traditional and homey look. 

Concrete floors and exposed brick can feel a bit cold and industrial, especially paired with the contrasting color combo of red, black, and white. In order to bring in some unifying warmth, we featured several walnut pieces throughout that blended the red-brown of the brick with the black pieces that accessorize their home. 

Finding a place to sit in this living room is a nonissue. You can choose between the modern sofa bench, the pair of matching chairs, or the four red hot bar stools. To keep themselves and their fur babies happy, the couple needed to use comfy yet sturdy materials that they kitties could climb on and relax.

Speaking of seating, this modern sofa bench not only opens up the space by providing visual flow, but it also opens up the options of where to sit. The removable seat backs provide guests with endless possibilities to maximize (or even minimize!) their social interactions. 

This may seem like a simple coffee table, but it is so, SO smart-- especially for this space. Though a unique shape, the triangular with rounded corners is perfectly positioned between the living room's available seating. The base faces the sofa and the other two sides face the matching chairs that seated at nearly the same angle. Still nothing can get in the way of guests chatting and gliding from space to space.

Just beyond the sofa is the dining area. Again, the sofa allows the living and dining 'rooms' to be brought together perfectly so guests can feel free to glide from space to space. Here is a great example how to blend traditional with modern: a refinished antique dining table and chairs offsets the cool edge of the modern pieces.

Perfect for parties, we equipped the dining area with a full bar cabinet to the left, and a sideboard storage to the right that can easily serve a buffet. This loft was designed for entertaining! However, the large windows may make some nosy neighbors jealous they weren't invited... Maybe next time, neighbors!

Enough talk about the furniture- let's move on to the art and accessories! When space is limited, its crucial that displayed items are always kept organized in a way that looks deliberate. Board games, books, religious symbols, family photos, and vases can all coexist on these floating shelves in a visually appealing manner because they're grouped by color and complemented by other items to be equal in height.

You can bet that I needed a ladder to install the artwork here. Tall ceilings are lovely, elegant, and elongating especially when the walls are adorned with art. This couple had a fairly extensive collection of pieces dear to them that they wanted to put on display. Even though they downsized, there was plenty of wall space to accommodate. 

The paintings were continuous with the classic color scheme of red, black, and white featured in the furnishings, textiles, and other accessories. Fresh paintings subtly bring in more color to a space to make it overall more interesting. 

Just to brag about these ceilings one more time, we had enough height to add not just one but TWO chandeliers! In a loft, this is a big deal. One in the living space and one in the dining area bring in just enough light to the rest of the room. 

What a wonderful, fresh start for a new chapter in this couple's life together: a cool loft in a hip part of town, modern, and designed with entertaining in mind. They may be empty nesters, but their kids are sure to stop in for a visit (or maybe just a drink or two!). 

If you have a project in mind but just don't know where to start, we can help! Contact us
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

City Home Fit for a New Family!

This family with a newborn was in the market for a new home: their very first house, in fact! Since taking care of a brand new human is task enough, this family didn't want to totally start from scratch. With a few ideas in mind of what they wanted, we didn't need to gut the whole place- just update it a bit. The kitchen was the focal point of the design update, and the rest of the home flowed from there. We were even able to incorporate a lot of their existing furniture into this mid-century modern home. The family wanted to start living in their new home right away with an updated, modern style they always wanted. Take a look at how we achieved a budget-friendly home face lift!

Where light is sparse, it's imperative that you amplify the available light by using colors and sleek appliances that allow sunlight to dance around. This kitchen has a decent-sized window at the sink area as well as a glass double-door that lets enough light in. To keep the light growing, the back splash was finished with limestone tiles.

A great cost-saving measure is to keep your cabinetry and just change the doors and hardware. Here, we just replaced the plain cabinet doors with new textured glass doors. We painted the cabinets light gray to modernize it from the old oak that aged and darkened the kitchen before. The cabinets also got brand new brushed steel hardware to complete this new, modern look.

I know it's hard, but please stop staring at this gorgeous counter top. Look up! We installed a new pot rack that fits perfectly over the enormous island. No need to hide your pots, pans, spatulas, or ladles- put your tools on display! This makes for very easy access and increases your amount of storage.

One of the most fabulous upgrades to this kitchen is the sparkling quartz counter top! This shiny surface looks especially amazing on the brand-new extended peninsula. This is like going from being stranded on a desolate Florida Key isle to partying on the mainland peninsula: it's not a far or difficult trip, and it's definitely well worth it.

"Seeing red" doesn't always mean getting angry. Rather, it often just means getting energized! This couple wanted to use red as an accent color throughout their home, which otherwise maintains a soothing, calming palette. The red accent rugs in the kitchen and beneath the dining room set give warm, joyful pops of color that can be found throughout the house.

This beautiful dining room set was seamlessly transplanted into this upgraded mid-century modern home. Pro tip: chairs with larger, higher backs sometimes section off a space. To keep a 'flowing feeling,' set a bench at the side of the table adjacent to a walkway. That way, nothing 'visually blocks' a pathway to another room, which even makes the dining area even more inviting.

A home with kids doesn't have to be void of all 'adult' forms of entertainment. This four-tiered wine rack and minibar flushed against the wall is incredibly convenient when entertaining guests. Just out of reach of children, but perfectly placed for adults to open a bottle of wine, relax and easily spend time with their friends.

The living room features a gray scale color palette with pops of red in textiles. The art above the couch brings in a bit more color while keeping in line with the streamlined, modern look of the house. 

For mid-century modern houses, bringing outside elements inside the home is quintessential. For example, natural brick is generally associated with the facade of a house, but here it is featured in the family room.

The 'cozy' is strong with this one. A genuine fire place nestled inside a brick cladding makes you just want to cuddle up, doesn't it?! Here, photos of this loving family are displayed on the wooden mantle in sleek white frames.

This reading nook for two is modern yet cozy, flowing naturally from the living room. The shelving in this home library is perfect for putting books on display, or whatever else you'd like. I love the woven ottoman here! It is modern, playful, and functional (and fairly reminiscent of a giant hacky sack, which is probably the real reason I love it so much).


And last (though usually first) is the entry way! This first impression of your home is an important one. Organized and minimalist, the first few steps you take through the door are sure to give you a good idea of what else is in store. In this case, you're sure to find a blend of modernity and comfort in a neutral color scheme with pops of energizing color, fit for a new family's home.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

White and Light: Wooded Retreat Kitchen

Surrounded by woods, the plentiful windows to this home provide a beautiful view of the great outdoors, but often don’t let in enough light. However, this home is perfectly situated for a nature-loving couple with two kids under 5 years old to enjoy, escape, and explore- they just needed to let a little more light in. Our goal with this kitchen and living room renovation was to increase the presence of natural light by brightening up the space with materials that allow sunlight to bounce around. This 1980s kitchen needed to be updated with the most efficient, functional fixtures and materials. With two children who love to play outside, it was extremely important that surfaces look clean, even when they’re not entirely spotless from dirt that the kids drag in. Just in need of a slight facelift, read about the small, but significant, changes we made to illuminate the beauty of this space.

The clients loved the original cabinetry and wanted to incorporate it into the rest of the kitchen’s design. Before, the cabinets were a blonde wood which didn’t darken the kitchen, but didn’t allow light to reflect much either. So, we finished them with a white satin finish which allowed sunlight to bounce off to illuminate the rest of the kitchen.

In previous projects, clients opted to gut the cabinetry completely and have them go up all the way to the ceiling. Luckily, this client got much use and enjoyment out of the beautifully crafted original cabinets, complete with French-styled doors that allow you to safely display the dishes inside.


We didn’t replace the cabinets, but we made sure we added ample lighting underneath. After all, counter space is where you work and it should be well lit. To maximize the brightness, the backsplash is light grey glazed subway tile. This adds a streamlined, modern touch to the kitchen, and the material allows enough light to reflect onto the working surface.

Our client loves classic designs with modern touches. So, we added two shiny chrome industrial pendant lights over the island to achieve that look exactly. Once more, see how these reflect the light? Everything we did in this kitchen subtly adds glow to the entire space- in a way that is functional AND fashionable.

As for the floor, the surface needed to be easy to clean yet difficult to spot dirt. This grey-brown porcelain tile is not only a smooth finish for easy-clean up, but also helps to blend the natural granite, the breakfast area furniture, and the grey modern touches together.

Moving onto the living room, the double-sided fireplace that is meant to bring both rooms together actually poses an interesting obstacle. The previous, outdated mantle used to jut out into the walkway, making passersby duck and dodge to avoid bumping into the sharp corner. We removed this hazard, and created a custom mantle that fit perfectly into the living room side of the fireplace. We outlined the fireplace with mini brick slate tiles continuous in style with the fusion of modern, natural, and classic elements that the kitchen now features. To streamline the journey from the kitchen to the living room, we changed the structure of the doorway to an open arch, rather than a closed, blunt line. This simple structural solution opened up the entire space, allowing the kitchen to be admired from the living room. Now, the double-sided fireplace didn’t have to feel like it was two-timing the kitchen and living room: rather, with the help of the arched doorways, it was uniting the two as one. This is especially important if you are the type who loves to entertain! The happenin’ rooms are of course the space where you cook the culinary creations your guests crave, and the space where your guests gather to sit, chat, and socialize with one another. 


Monday, February 15, 2016

Mi Casa es su Casa: Designer's Home

When we purchased this original mid century home in Houston, my husband and I knew what an undertaking it would be. Of course, I loved the layout and design of the house itself, but it was in dire need of my personal TLC. Though very happy with the progress, we know we have a bit further to go in order to transform it into our ideal home. Much of the major work so far has been on an intense kitchen renovation, with all other spaces in the house getting a (less intense but still major) facelift. So, without further ado, allow me to welcome you into our home!

Let's begin where most home tours begin: the living room. First, you'll notice the neutral color palette and the blues and greens that welcome you into a state of calm. To add height to the room, we used long grommet curtains with an abstract geometric pattern, which add some interest. The large window at the front of the house allows streams of light to pour in and inundate our home with glowing warmth (by the way, our dog absolutely loves to sun bathe here!). 

In keeping with a mid century designed home, bringing outside elements inside is crucial. The wooden furnishings in our living room are made of re-purposed wood, smoothed and stained to perfection. Quality wood furnishings are harder to come by these days, but their durability, strength, and style will allow them to virtually last forever! In case you're wondering, the side table (blocks) are suuuuper heavy- looks are deceiving!
Just a few pieces I want to mention before moving on: take a quick look at the glass-globe side table lamps, the varying accent pillows, low profile couch, and the archetypal mid century modern chair. If you haven't noticed, I love incorporating original art work in the homes I work on to add an even more personal, and unique touch. This piece in particular is actually my own creation! Can you guess what it is?! It's an abstract representation of a magnified hop bud (my husband and I are avid craft beer fans)! 
Before we move into the kitchen here is a little before and after of this 1950's original kitchen!

 Passing through the living room, we enter the heart of our home: the kitchen. Because we love to cook and entertain so much, we had to extend our kitchen three whole feet! We wanted a strategic, clean design with maximum storage space. Our next phase in the renovation is to gut the flooring in the entire house, which needless to say will be a huge project. So, ignore the floor and take a look at everything else! 
Since storage is of utmost importance, we removed the bulkhead (also known as a fur head) which is the useless gap between the tops of cabinets and the ceiling that is only inhabitable by dust bunnies and spiders. I don't understand why kitchens were so popularly designed with bulkheads, but I made sure to promptly remove it from my own. Now, these large cabinets flushed with the ceiling store everything we have and will acquire in the future. 
Next to the fridge (which was moved down for better accessed), we installed a pullout pantry cabinet that runs the height of the kitchen. Without this nifty pantry, this would have just been an empty little nook. Because the shape, size, and design of kitchens and large kitchen appliances don't always cooperate, it's important to utilize whatever leftover space there may be, especially if you want ample storage and a clean, streamlined design. 

Though you see a lot of black in this chic kitchen, we were sure to install LED lights under the cabinets to illuminate the counter work space. The recessed can light above the sink replaced the old fluorescent lights that yellow a room and damper the mood. To bring in more light, our kitchen came equipped with a pleasant little greenhouse window above the sink as well. The earthy, stacked limestone tiled back splash softens the image of our edgy black and stainless steel kitchen which helps to brighten up the space, along with chrome accents scattered throughout the kitchen. 
Now, let's shine the spotlight on our lovely composite sink, equipped with a professional-grade faucet. No nobs, no hoses, no problem: we love the simple, streamlined design of this heavy duty faucet! The sink reaches the depths we need, all in stylish black granite. This contrasts beautifully with the white quartz counters, all illuminated by the chrome industrial style pendant hung from above.
Moving on to the guest room: a space where visitors can relax in style. All furnishings are new, except the velveteen yellow tufted chair: it was an heirloom piece from my abuela! With mostly calming neutral colors, the yellow was incorporated in order to blend the chair in with the rest of the room.

Coincidentally, the yellow chair and neutral color palette also worked perfectly with this beautiful Japanese fan, which was a gift to me from my father from his travels. Coordinating colors and keeping consistency is easy to achieve by employing various patterns in throw pillows and other textiles. 
This guest room has a perfectly placed window that lets in all the sun. It's not even on the same side of the house as our front room, but there's just as much sunlight pouring in! Again, we used the elegantly elongated curtains here to shield some of the light, and offer a gorgeous glow to the room. 
Before we reach our final destination of the tour, take a look at this gray-scale hallway. This was such a fun project, and actually my husband's suggestion! On the wall, we donned custom art from the two places we've lived together: Texas and Philadelphia. 
Last stop of the tour is our master bedroom. We wanted a space that was truly ours, with bright colors calmed by gray textiles and wooden furnishings. The series of paintings above the bed are my personal creations, and combine all the colors featured in this room: the green from the walls, sunny orange from the medium toned wood, and gray from the bed spread.
Symmetry is a symbol of order, and we wanted our room to be a place where we could find balance. The bed side tables and cylinder lamps are smaller furnishings that complete this feeling of centrality. In addition, the bed frame is fashioned in a way that showcases its beautiful wood and smooth lines.
And with that, my home tour is concluded! I am incredibly thankful to have a place where I can always find my inner peace, and where guests can always feel welcomed and entertained: that's the beautiful balance found in mixing a calming, neutral palette with pops of color and intriguing designs.
 We have quite a bit more to do in our home, so keep checking back to see our future projects!
If you have a project in mind but just don't know where to start, we can help! Contact us
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