Inspiration for a Bright and Cozy Loft

Earlier this summer, a friend of mine let me know that she and her husband were moving to a new city. They’d already signed the lease to an open-concept loft in a converted building. She reached out to me for some inspiration in arranging the floor plan and some jumping-off points as to decorating the new place.

I simply love putting together inspiration boards, so I was eager to help out! After a few emails back and forth I got an idea for the space and for a few looks that she likes.


Given this information, I put together a rough floor plan (I couldn’t be totally detailed since I didn’t have measurements to work with) and an inspiration board to be used to start furnishing the living room and dining bar. I provided a list of links for items to buy, but oftentimes it’s just as useful to look at an inspiration board and purchase similar items things along the way.


Sofa | Leather Stools | Media Unit | Pillow 1 (similar) 2 3 | Art Prints 1 2

Since the brick wall was already painted white, and the wood floor was finished in a light-to-medium tone, I decided to bring in color using a vibrant sofa and cool accessories. This isn’t really surprising considering it’s my usual design strategy! Not knowing if the lease allowed for hanging items on the brick, I picked inexpensive prints that could fit in light frames and attached using extra-durable 3M hooks. I love TV, so I don’t shy away from including TVs in inspiration boards, but I do like to make the area a little more interesting. I thought a media unit with a shelf up top could be accessorized in a way so that the focal point would still be attractive even with the big black box turned off. I also included a lighting solution involving a long white cord and paper lampshade (the kind found at IKEA or World Market) so lights could be hung from the ceiling without being hard-wired.

I didn’t have a lot of detail to go on regarding the bedroom and bathroom half of the loft (behind the amazing sliding barn door), so I just imagined what the layout might be like.

basic loft layout.jpg

I don’t have any afters since the couple didn’t move in until fairly recently. I am confident that however they decide to decorate, it will look great, and I’m so happy I was tapped to lend a helping hand.

If you are ever stumped for design inspiration you can always email me for some brainstorming! I would be happy and honored to help out. 

Lorelai’s Living Room (Gilmore Girls)

I’m re-watching Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the new special coming out this fall. In a way, coming back to Stars Hollow feels like coming back to a home-away-from-home. Lorelai’s place has always had a special homey feeling, especially among TV houses—I think the reason for that is that it really has the accessible, lived-in feeling that comes from a bit of clutter (like most of our homes!).

The other thing I like about this room in particular is that this effect can be achieved cheaply through thrift stores and craigslist. The story of the character is one who ran from her wealthy family and brought herself up by her bootstraps, and the thrifted, antique, collected-over-time look reflects that.

Gilmore Girls

(Photo by Patrick Ecclesine/Warner Bros./Getty Images)

So, I decided to make an inspiration board of a room that has had such a deep connection for me! To pull this inspiration board together, I went shopping on, a site that’s like a fancy craigslist with items that have been vetted (you won’t find junky stuff on there). If you want, you can narrow the search to your geographical area. Or, you can search anywhere in the nation, if you must have that item (and want to pay freight).


First and foremost, Lorelai’s sofa. In the show, it’s famously old and uncomfortable. You can transform your own old and uncomfortable sofa by using a slipcover, or you can check out this option from Pottery Barn. Slipcovers are great because even though they’re white, you can wash them and keep the whole couch looking fresh.

Lorelai’s coffee table is not special, and I like that about it. It looks like it was all-wood, and painted green or teal on the bottom half of it. If you’re inspired by this room I encourage you to look for something at a local thrift shop and make it your own. But, since this is the internet, I chose this one from Overstock and “painted” it in photoshop. (winning!) The couch and coffee table are anchored by one of those woven rag rugs that I am super into lately, in a 90s kind of way.

The Gilmore girls watch a lot of TV and movies. An eagle eye can spot a couple different TV solutions (media units) in a few shots. In some seasons it’s kind of a tall 90s style TV armoire, and in others it’s an antique sewing table (sturdy, to hold an old deep TV). For this, I brought the 90s armoire into the 2010’s. This one from Home Decorators Collection has the same look, but is shorter and wider to house movies, the cable box, and a DVD/Blu-Ray player. Now that most of our TV’s are widescreen instead of the old, more square configuration, a flatscreen will look better on top of this low, wide unit, or hung on the wall above it. (I like to think that 2016 Lorelai is more open to the idea of a wall-mounted TV than 2006 Lorelai was).


Unlike most TV shows, we often see all angles of this room depending on the scene. Must have been challenging for the crew to keep consistent! In the back corner she’s got an old wooden rocking chair like this one. There are a few home accessories that get mentioned by name, like a creepy clown pillow and a monkey lamp: I did my best to find similar ones! Also, if you go back up to the top photo you might notice that this room has a ton of lamps. I added a Tiffany style lamp but you could probably find something antique chic at a thrift or vintage shop.

From the most common angle, looking into the front doorway and hallway to kitchen, there is an iconic secretary desk, a colorful quilt hung on the wall (I bet you have one in your linen cabinet), and a couple cool art pieces like an antique painting. The key with vintage art is to find something you really like and that complements the colors in your home. Something ugly to one person could be just the thing you need, so be patient and check out every piece when you’re at an antique store. Also, don’t forget, you have the liberty to change out or paint the frame!

You guys, this was so much fun. Not only was it a great excuse to keep watching Gilmore Girls, but I haven’t put together an inspiration board in a while and I forgot how much I enjoy it. The one I did a few years ago for Barney Stinson’s apartment still gets some hits every day so I got inspired to make one for another living room. The polar opposite of Barney’s, apparently!

Would you live here? Let me know what you think in the comments! 

Decorating with the Jacksons

And I’m not talkin’ 20-dollar bills (although that would help).

As usual, I have been dreaming up potential living spaces more than ever. This kind of activity has only been increased by constant stalking of real estate listings, looking for the perfect bargain (sometime late summer, maybe?) My problem is that I’m phenomenally indecisive and can picture myself in many different kinds of places, decorated in many different styles. Kind of decor-induced multiple personality disorder, perhaps?

Now, since this kind of thing is my hobby, it’s a wonderful problem to have. However, at one point I entertained the idea, “What if I really didn’t like decorating? How do people who hate thinking about this kind of thing cope?” I remembered seeing pieces and sets of furniture entitled “Jackson” at all kinds of different stores, and decided it would be really funny if that was a person’s default way of decorating. Does it have my name on it? Okay then, I’ll take it! 

Jackson, no accessories

Sectional // Dining set // Bed
Desk chair // Desk

Everything here is titled “Jackson” so it’s kind of decorating no brainer. You know, this really doesn’t look like a half bad place… The modern couch and bed balance out the industrial-style dining set… the office chair lends a kind of bachelor pad look. I suppose it’s livable; it just needs some colorful accents…

Jackson, with accessories

Pull-down wall hanging // Joshua Tree pillow // Kilim pillow
Ikat pillow // Floor lamp // Plant // Desk accessories

Ahh… much better. I couldn’t resist. I really didn’t add that much, but already it looks like a person lives here! Just think how it would be with rugs, windows, lighting options…

Am I the only weirdo who entertains these kinds of fantasies? I hope not! Am I the only one who then creates inspiration boards out of them? Maybe! Hashtag design blog problems.

Barney Stinson’s Apartment

Over a year ago, I posted about creating a cohesive color scheme for our last house. I lamented the dark gray walls, gray quilt and dark brown wardrobe as looking too masculine, and I name dropped “Barney Stinson’s Apartment” from How I Met Your Mother–in all it’s gray-on-gray-on-gray glory. Surprisingly enough, in the past year I kept seeing “Barney Stinson” apartment-related terms show up under search terms that bring people to my site…. 197 times in total, to be precise.

So, it is official–I must please the masses and come up with an inspiration board based on Barney’s bachelor pad. To be honest, this was a really fun exercise for me, because as I’m sure you know, my friends, this is not my style. Sure, I have a dark gray mid-century modern couch, but I am pretty sure the similarities end there.

I started by looking at screen grabs from the show, which included his living room, bedroom, and kitchen. The color scheme is obvious: grays, metals, and a bit of brown here and there. The set designers on this show really got into the mind of the suit-wearing confirmed bachelor and committed to the motif. There are very few decorative pieces (especially when contrasted with Lily and Marshall’s eclectic abode). Let’s be honest–if his apartment was an outfit, it would be a designer three-piece suit. Here is where I ended up:

Barney Stinson's Apartment

The Paint: Unfortunately, I do not know what color the set designers chose. I do know that Farrow and Ball’s “Down Pipe” is the deep-gray of the moment around the blogosphere, and it seems fitting for this room. Benjamin Moore’s “Dark Pewter” qualifies as runner-up. Design Star Emily Henderson has a list of her favorite gray paints (with a healthy dose of Ryan Gosling) which may also be helpful.

The Couch: While the couch on TV is dark gray (choose “smoke” as color option–pictured), I would have selected a deep brown leather (amaretto) to break up the all-gray party!

The Tables: Barney’s side tables and coffee table feature the same look–metal straight lines with a wood or glass top. Cubes or rectangular box shapes are the key here. Men–you are in luck. This design is everywhere right now. The ones I chose are from CB2–console and side table. IKEA also has some similar options.

The TV: Sure, it’s not a 300-inch screen, taking up an entire wall, but at 90 inches–yes, that’s 7.5 feet–diagonal, this Sharp Aquos LED TV is one of the biggest on the market.

The Extras: Man-cave decor like Samurai swords or tribal masks make the man seem adventurous, while the few art pieces that hang on the wall are reminiscent of quirky movie posters or book covers. The Voyage and Lord Vader Prints from Society6. Duo table lamp from Room & Board.

Extra Credit: If you are in the market for Stinson-approved bedding, you are in luck. If you want your tabletop to reflect the motif, these are the dishes for you.

This was fun–I may make a series of inspiration boards inspired my my favorite TV sets. For more of my inspiration boards, click here

My Dream Office

Sorry I didn’t get a post up yesterday (my loosely-adhered to schedule is MWF). I was going to continue that sentence with a “but it’s because I…” excuse, but I don’t have any! I spent yesterday cleaning up after having a friend over this weekend and ordering our family Christmas cards.  One of the nice things about being a blogger is being able to set my own schedule… and that includes staying up late at night putting together my dream office on Pinterest!

Quiana at Harlem Love Birds has touched on the idea of multiple profit centers and I love the idea. Perhaps you could call it restlessness,  but I have always liked multitasking and the idea of doing a few different jobs (some from home) has appealed to me more and more in the past year or two.

And if that’s the case… well then, don’t I need a fabulous office to spend my waking hours in?

I daydreamed about it all day, then I went on the internet and pulled all the elements together, and now I’m ready to show the world! …Of course, in my fantasy, I have a whole room to set my office up in, instead of my current nook.

Desk: I love the sturdy simplicity of this Crate & Barrel Sentry work table. I know that according to Pinterest, bloggers should have white parsons desks, but I think the medium-toned wood would hide scuffs and dings better, and continue looking good for the long haul.

Chair: I have been pining away for this West Elm Spindle chair for months, and it is currently marked down. Perhaps I should me-gift it to myself sooner rather than later…

Supply cart: I’ve checked out this IKEA RÅSKOG in person– it seems sturdy and the wheels roll smoothly. The teal color is just beautiful. It will be perfect for holding note cards, design catalogs, and other items that would otherwise clutter up my desk top.

Couch: I will use the couch given to me by my grandma. The one pictured is similar. (This will allow us to get a more nap-friendly couch for the living room).

Storage Cases: I have long promised myself that when I have an office, my college textbooks (which I can’t bear to part with) will live in a smart-looking storage setup like this. I’ll keep books in the bottom part and pretty seasonal decor items in the top part, ready to be pulled out and distributed around the house on any whim.

Rug: I have had my eye on this fluffy Istanbul rug for some time now. I am not a shoe-wearer if I can help it, and I think the yummy texture would be just the trick to keep my creativity flowing.

Paint: It is so hard to tell paint colors over the computer screen, so I’m not going to tell you what brand and shade this yellow is. To pick the perfect color, the best plan of action is to buy a couple test pots and paint swatches in the room. Evaluate how it looks with other items and make your decision after careful consideration.

Accessories: Curtains, Clock, Nespresso machine (wink), Rifle Paper Co. calendar, Sputnik Chandelier, Art.

I think in an office like this, I could be very productive indeed!

PS: If you want an inspiration board to get the ball rolling on a room of your own, be sure to check out the Design Services page! 

Bohemian Direction

I got a great question (from my mom) in the comment section on last week’s State of the Home post.

What kind of vibe are you going for in the new place? Will you keep the eclectic mid-century/urban look, or go for something else?

It has been a real head-scratcher as to why I can’t seem to catch my last place’s mojo and infuse it into the new place. I have the same furniture and the last place had all white walls. Should be easy to translate to an all-white apartment, right?


I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. We just moved in three weeks ago? Anyway I was trying to put my finger on it and I realized a few things.

  1. The old place was oozing architectural details–the fireplace, vaulted ceilings, arched doorways, to name a few.
  2. The old place was broken up in a much more chunky way.
  3. With lots more windows (see #1) there was more opportunity for texture- like lots of different curtains and the bamboo shades.
  4. While I thought the last place was dark (and it was compared to our light-soaked loft apt) this place is even darker! In order to put a positive spin on it, I’m going to call it “moody.”

Instead of clinging to the light and airy eclectic-meets-mid-century-mod feel of the old place (what a mouthful!), I think I need to make a slight shift to the bohemian side of things. Obviously I can’t just ditch all the existing furniture, but I can reuse items in ways that seem more laid-back and incorporate more fabrics–getting more creative than just curtains on windows to add texture, and bring in more aged objects (maps, etc). I live in California now, after all, I should be able to find tons of old hippie cast-offs at area thrift stores.

Naturally, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I have written before about my technique. I do not look for inspiration by searching Pinterest for a key word, nor do I look at old pins, but I look at what I have pinned in the past and what images I am still drawn to even now, a few months or even a year later.

I have a bright white dresser acting as buffet/sideboard–it is the first thing one sees when entering the apartment. Gotta soften that corner somehow. I also have three bright white bookcases now (post coming on those soon!). So the place is leaning a bit towards “mod” at the moment and I need to lean it back toward “boho.” There: a goal has been set.

Images: Please click through for the full tours and much more!

  1. Giovan & Chloe’s Handmade Honeymoon Home on Apartment Therapy
  2. Tommy & Todd’s Bohemian Chic Collection on Apartment Therapy
  3. Michael’s Masculine & Modern Open Studio on Apartment Therapy
  4. Justina Blakeney’s Bohemian Bedroom <$1000 
  5. A room Julianne Moore decorated, photo linked by Emily Henderson

So, in conclusion: 

  • I’m going to fill up the walls.
  • I’m going to find some kind of awesome brass accent.
  • I’m going to dial down the colors a bit from bright to muted.
  • I’m going to hang way more curtains than necessary.
  • I’m going to layer rugs on top of carpet.
  • I’m going to get a plant and try to keep it alive!
  • I’m going to make the open layout work for me not against me!

And with that, I have created myself a compass to look at while making decisions! Do you have a decor compass you use when you’re stumped? 

Madeline Kids’ Room

For my final post in Paris Week, I’ve pulled inspiration from a children’s book series (and TV show) that takes place in Paris. The lovable heroine who lives in a house covered in vines… Madeline!

Wallpaper: Well, the beginning of the poem says that the house is covered in vines, and if you watch the video you will notice the walls inside have wallpaper on them… I have combined those two aspects with this wallpaper. To keep it from getting too crazy, I only wallpapered one wall, and plucked a pale yellow out of the pattern for the other walls. This is so outside of my comfort zone, but is perfect for a feminine girls’ room while at the same time staying away from Pink Overkill (like all the Pottery Barn Kids girl’s rooms suffer from).

Floor: Here I’ve got a limed hardwood, which is totally gorgeous but I know isn’t that common. Regardless, you can see how a builder-installed, neutral-colored carpet would look with an area rug on it creating a central “play zone.”

Shutters: Growing up, I had shutters on the inside of my windows and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Functional or non-functional, placing these deep blue shutters on the window (in the middle of the wallpapered wall, nonetheless) breaks up the pattern and adds architectural interest. Even if they don’t open and close, they’re sure to add “age” to the room and make the girl who lives here feel like she’s been transported to France.

Bed: In Madeline, the girls live in a boarding school, and the 12 beds are all matching hospital-style iron beds. This one is a twin size (as opposed to a toddler bed) and the classic design will never go out of style, which is perfect for the girl to adapt with as she grows and tastes change. Better yet, if there are two girls who share a room, the multiple twin beds can even more closely imitate the book ;)

Bedding: Classic white completes the “boarding school” look and, since there is no color, can be bleached when kids get anything on it. Bring in dark red or navy blue accent pillows, if you’d like.

Rug: I chose this braided rug for durability and cushion. The navy blue color adds a much-needed dark dimension to the room and plays up the blue shutters. I went with a denim or tweed look (instead of solid navy) to add another layer of texture and visual interest. Juxtaposed against the feminine wallpaper and with classic furniture, the denim rug does not look too “country.”

Easel: The girl who lives here has a wild imagination. When not pretending she lives in Madeline’s house, she loves to be creative and the easel provides a place to corral art supplies and a large work surface for drawing with chalk or painting (the other side has paper on it).

Bookcase: Naturally, any child who chooses to theme a room around a storybook character must be really into books. This Parsons tower is pricey, but provides ample space for books and toys, and will never go out of style. It can adapt to any room in the house, so in my mind it’s a worthy investment. In this inspiration board I loaded it up with kids’ books and a few Paris-inspired models. 

Think back to when you were a child. What character would you base a room on?

My other Paris-inspired inspiration boards focused on a half-bath and a balcony