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Get The Look: Master Bedroom

IMG_1630 copyGet the look…Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 8.16.26 AM

1. Wallpaper: Y’all know I am fond of this print, as we have it on our dining room chairs, and here it actually has a lot of the same qualities and colors in our paper for much less. Available here.

2. Headboard: Queen, call Biscuit for price and availability.

3. Lamps

4. Side Tables

5. Duvet, Euros, boudoirs, standard shams, bed cover.

ALSO! I whipped up not one but TWO nursery inspiration boards for Christine of Bijou and Boheme’s new bubble that you should probably see.

Before & After: Entry Hall & Powder Room.

Now a little mini-renovation…hr2924042-20

The entry hall.

Ok, so how do I explain this.

The gray door you see is the entry hall closet which was the only storage space in the house for cleaning supplies etc. The stairs in the house were on the other side of that entry hall closet, so the closet was really cavernous because it included all of the space under the stairs.

Then on the stairway side, right off the hallway linking our kitchen, powder room, stairs, and living room there was a really tiny closet with a stacked washer/dryer.Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 7.45.03 AM

A few of you requested I show the floor plans to the house…I don’t have any on my comp but this is basically the layout.

I didn’t think this made sense because I didn’t want all of the cleaning supplies and storage for the house to be right there at the front door. Not so pretty to see when you walk in the house.IMG_1123

And then having a stacked washer dryer (right behind that door) in the most high traffic hallway in the house, without room for an ironing board, or folding table…that just seemed really messy too.hr2924042-20 copy 2

Those notes are kind of hard to read but they say “replace coat closet door with cowhide upholstered door. Look in to redoing coat closet to be a reach in, and give that space to the laundry room behind it”.

Initially, I had thought we could make a smaller coat closet for the entry hall, and expand the space where the washer dryer was behind it. The architect suggested just closing up the closet door from the entry hall- you don’t really have much need for a coat closet in Houston- and having one big closet accessible from the door by the staircase that would be laundry and storage.


This was a fantastic plan and I so wish it would have worked. In every renovation there are things you just can’t make happen and this was one of them. We still closed up the front closet door, which is great because now we have a place for a table for all our mail etc. but we weren’t able to make the closet a laundry room. Access to the pier and beam space under the house was located in that closet, and we couldn’t close that off. So we had to move the laundry to the garage, which is much more practical for doing actual laundry but is in the garage.

photo 1-1The same view of the entry before, now.


This vintage table was in our entryway in Chicago and Austin, and now here. We added the rug from Amber’s shoppe, and are constantly moving furniture and accessories around in there trying to figure out what works best. Currently we have a chair, the table, and coatrack.


We also did a little mini-reno in the powder room. The finishes weren’t my favorite, but they were new and perfectly fine and it seemed like a waste to tear everything out in such a small space.

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So I painted the cabinet, wallpapered, changed out the mirror and lighting. We are thinking about having a piece of seagrass cut to lay over the tile to cover it- but it wouldn’t be full on carpeting. Kind of like a perfectly tailored, removable rug.

Small changes, big impacts.

Some people have asked how I consider the changes I make with resale, and if our past houses have sold. Our house in Chicago was on the market for 10 months. We had tons of people come through with architects and talk about what they were going to change and give us crazy low offers. And then one day we got a full price offer from a great family who loved everything exactly the way it was. Now I know not everyone can afford to wait for the right buyer, but I had faith someone would walk in and just get it and decided to wait it out. We visited the house when we were in Chicago this past summer, and the new owners repainted a bit, but all of our wallpapers and fixtures are still in place.

I think when redoing a house you have to somewhat limit your concerns about resale. Shows on HGTV have made us all fancy ourselves house-flippers, but unless you are Jeff Lewis, that shouldn’t be your main focus. Here is why:

1. Design with mass appeal has it’s mass appeal because it has been watered down so much that it is non-offensive to the majority, but that usually means it also isn’t reflective of any individual taste. If you are going to spend the money and time on a renovation, it should at least be something you really love.

2. The renovations that give the most on return are the ones that got you a lower price on the property when you bought it. So, for instance, a house with a kitchen that hasn’t been updated in 30 years. Or adding a bathroom to a 1 bathroom house. Typically you don’t get huge returns on cosmetic renovations. This is totally different at different price points, and also if you are a talented DIYer, but in my experience, and my friends and families, you don’t put $1000 into a bathroom and get $20,000 out. Sorry HGTV.

3. Unless you are renovating expressly to flip the house and are an industry professional/have done a lot of research, you don’t know who your buyer is going to be. No matter how neutral your choice- someone could always come in and have another idea.

I mean consider our house now. Did I mention that the people we bought it from had not even lived here a year? This is what the house looked like when our sellers purchased it.

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Apparently our sellers weren’t trying to flip, but had bought our house after an offer on their dream home was rejected. Six months later those owners reached out and accepted our sellers’ initial offer, and our sellers put this house on the market.

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Point being…I would have bought the house whether it looked like this or the way they bought it. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if there were crazy ass paintings on the ceiling, or if it was pure tasteful beige and belgium.


I was going to do my thing either way.

Like in the kitchen.hr2705314-9 copy

I am assuming they did this reno because that is how they wanted to live.

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And good for them, even if it was for resale in Houston this should have been a sure thing. But the changes they made didn’t matter to me because…bailey-quin-mccarthy-matchbook-magazine-7

I was going to come in and do this.

Right? You could do a perfectly lovely neutral reno- and then I could come buy it and crazy it up again. And I am not going to pay for someone else’s taste. Some people will. But you don’t know who is going to be out there buying when you are selling, who is going to want your house and for what reasons, and what offers you are going to get.

So unless you are Jeff Lewis, balance the desire to “flip” with what you really want and love.

That said, if you know you are doing the house as an investment and aren’t going to be there for a long time, try not to make the permanent and expensive changes too personal. So in a bathroom, for instance, maybe do white and black subway tile/marble/penny rounds and classic fixtures and then go crazy with paint/wallpaper that can be easily changed.

Try not to make structural changes that could be too specific to how your family lives. Like, maybe, what I did by taking out the laundry room. We aren’t trying to flip the house, and I am hoping over time we can figure out a new solution for the space, but I fully anticipate when it comes time to sell someone is going to have a problem with the laundry in the garage.

Our house is great, but I know the way the Houston market is we have as much a chance of someone calling us tomorrow and giving us some ridiculously high offer, as there is that when we actually go to sell someone is going to tear it all down and build a lot line to lot line McMansion. And after going through two renovations that I lived in for less time than I spent renovating, I just wanted to be happy here. I know enough now about best laid plans, and who knows how long we will be here and why, so at this point I just want to enjoy it.

That is just my experience and perspective, I know things are very different in different markets, and everyone has a great real estate story about how someone they knew made a kazillion dollars on lipstick renovations. There are buyers at every price point looking for “move in ready” and who are looking for a fixer upper to make their own. And you don’t know who is going to be looking when you are on the market. But my view is that a renovation is stressful and expensive either way, and since you don’t know who is going to be out there buying when you are selling, so (within reason) live in the now and do you.

p.s. though.

How crazy is it to see those spaces done by three different owners?


A few weeks ago a reader (hayyy Sharon!) left a comment on my post that her sister was a photographer and that I might like her work.

“Like” would be a HUGE understatement.

Ladies and Gentleman, I bring you, Julie Blackmon.JB.MovieNightNight MovieJB.LostMittenLost MittenJB.TheAfterpartyAfter Party


The Power of NowJB.queen


I love her work so much. Totally reminds me of the classic weirdness and interest I am drawn to in Donald Roller Wilson’s work. I could stare at them for hours. They don’t even look like photography to me, the lighting and colors and composition look like beautiful oil paintings.

According to her artist statement:

 “The Dutch proverb “a Jan Steen household” originated in the 17th century and is used today to refer to a home in disarray, full of rowdy children and boisterous family gatherings.  The paintings of Steen, along with those of other Dutch and Flemish genre painters, helped inspire this body of work.  I am the oldest of nine children and now the mother of three.  As Steen’s personal narratives of family life depicted nearly 400 yrs. ago, the conflation of art and life is an area I have explored in photographing the everyday life of my family and the lives of my sisters and their families at home.  These images are both fictional and auto-biographical, and reflect not only our lives today and as children growing up in a large family, but also move beyond the documentary to explore the fantastic elements of our everyday lives, both imagined and real.

The stress, the chaos, and the need to simultaneously escape and connect are issue that I investigate in this body of work.  We live in a culture where we are both “child centered” and “self-obsessed.”  The struggle between living in the moment versus escaping to another reality is intense since these two opposites strive to dominate.  Caught in the swirl of soccer practices, play dates, work, and trying to find our way in our “make-over” culture, we must still create the space to find ourselves.  The expectations of family life have never been more at odds with each other.  These issues, as well as the relationship between the domestic landscape of the past and present, are issues I have explored in these photographs.  I believe there are moments that can be found throughout any given day that bring sanctuary.  It is in finding these moments amidst the stress of the everyday that my life as a mother parallels my work as an artist, and where the dynamics of family life throughout time seem remarkably unchanged.  As an artist and as a mother, I believe life’s most poignant moments come from the ability to fuse fantasy and reality:  to see the mythic amidst the chaos.

Y’all, check out Julie Blackmon.

I can’t get her work out of my head.

And I must have been sleepy when I hit publish this morning, because I failed to mention that her sister, Sharon, who gave me the heads up in the first place is also a completely fantastic designer herself.Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 2.30.21 PM

Room design by Sharon featuring Julie’s The Power of Now. Sisterz sticking together!

Talented family.

Do you love?

Before & After: The Den

Today I am going to give you the before & after on the sunroom, bar, tv room, den.

This room always leads to a bit of a “who’s on first” situation for me and Pete.

“Pete, can you get Gracie’s shoes from the sunroom?” -me

“What room is the sunroom?”-pete

“The TV room!”-me

“Oh! You mean the Den!!”-pete

the very next day

“Pete, are my keys in the den?”-me

“You mean the sunroom?”-pete

I think part of our confusion is because of how totally the whole feel of the room changed in our renovation, it was definitely a sunroom when we bought it:

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And well now…
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Not so sunny.

photo 1

Cozy and handsome and sexy, but a whole different feel.IMG_1470 copy

So why did we choose to go in the complete opposite direction of what was here?

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Like I have said before, the house to me just felt like it was in drag, or something, when we bought it. The decor before was lovely and pure, and VERY “Houston”, but the actual architectural style of the house and the exterior is a sort of olive green/gray and it just felt like a cozy sort of gentlemanly house to me.

The kind of home that is cool and shady in the summer and warm and snuggly in the winter.

(citing george stanley banks for that description)

Also- The cabinetry in here was kind of crazy.hr2924042-26 copy 2

It isn’t even that I mind the paneling, though that certainly was not ideal. It’s just like…what the what? There was no real structural reason why the shelves/cabinets were all lopsided like that. There was a slight bump-out from the living room fireplace that meant you couldn’t have full depth shelves or cabinets, but put a faux door on it people! That is why we had to do the two levels of cabinet doors, because the second level can only be about 4 inches deep. Too shallow for shelves, so we put doors on it and now they hide lots of little junk. And are symmetrical.

And the old furniture layout?

What, were you supposed to sit in on your couch 6 feet away, crane your neck up, and contemplate literacy?

It made no sense.

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But then OHay! There is the Tv! Way…Up there…In that corner?

So we knew immediately that we would be redoing the cabinetry. And then it was suggested that we rip out the paneling, and then I thought…lacquer.IMG_1496 copy

And because I am such a visionary genius, I thought BROWN lacquer!!

Inspired, right?Miles Redd-6

Oh. Yeah, well.

It is hard to be completely original and fabulous when Miles is out there doin’ the damn thang.

I didn’t actually start with the Miles inspiration, though. I ROYGBIV’D it. We wanted something a little grayer and muddier to work with the olive green and other muted colors we were doing in here.

photo 2-1

And if you have been reading here for any period of time (except for the 9 months I was housing Grace) you know that Pete and I avail ourselves of a beverage regularly. So we obviously put a bar in 3-1You can see here our backyard which is about to get ripped apart. You can’t see the guns on the chairs because I just can’t handle them right now. I go back and forth constantly of what they mean now, but that is a whole different discussion.

Opposite the bar we put a game table that folds out. Day to day it is Pete’s catchall table.

Seriously, how do boys have so many ITEMS!? Our house is filled to the brim with keys, golf tees, pens in various states of malfunction, golf balls, wads of $1 dollar bills, chapsticks. Is it because they don’t have purses? That these items find themselves all around? It is incomprehensible.

NOT day to day, like fancy entertaining days, it folds out and can be a card table for all those cards we play.
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The bar.

I kind of pride myself on my bars. People tell me I should specialize in kitchens and baths. But what about BARS?

Do most people not build shrines to alcohol in their homes?


Let’s do a little retrospective, shall we?38943980cbdf25f87856a9a9009cd7d9

Chicago. We really used this bar so much, probably because we were younger and childless and drank more, but I loved that we had wine and bottle storage built in. The mirrored backsplash added some sparkle.


Austin. Carried over the mirrored backsplash and some super sparkly wallpaper. We had the wine fridge and the ice machine, but no sink.

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My favorite.

That would be green leather on the countertop. Don’t even try to tell me that’s a Design Don’t. And the tortoiseshell wallpaper backing. And the brass. And the ‘cessories.

I am a self-proclaimed non-beige(r) but I really loved the challenge in this house of working within the neutrals and seeing if I could bring the same interest and sparkle that I am drawn to in colorful spaces in that palette. I think while working with neutrals and monochromatic spaces it is essential to bring it with different textures and patterns. Even though Kelly Wearstler can work a color like a boss, she is the queen of texture.interiors_hillcrest

I mean…Look at that biscuit. Narry a dollop of color, and yet so vibrant and lush and exciting. Wood paneling, brass accents, leather, velvet, silk.interiors_evergreen

Again, just a lot of black/gray/brown, but you have leather, and stone and matte and shiny and diamonds and stripes and wood and metal and marble and brass and metal. Not your average neutral.interiors_evergreen_4

Oops, she did it again.

See my point?

So we went with brown. The fabric on the couch is this awesome olive and brown houndstooth suiting type of fabric. Another texture in the same palette with the sisal carpeting. The back of the bar is an incredible tortoiseshell wallpaper from Schumacher. We have lucite, and brass, and wood, and lacquer. It all feels layered and interesting yet soothing.

But you might be like, where all dem pillars from the shoot? Those were on loan from my mom. Ours are very similar but still in sewing.

ABOUT to go into sewing. The crazy most awesomest window treatments of life.fd258_h22-e1355845025904

You knew this was coming, right?

I couldn’t keep it totally neutral forever. We went back and forth on whether or not to even do a window treatment. We have a lot of privacy from the street with our landscaping and all the lacquer looked soooo delicious. But then Pete saw this post I did on the fabric and, surprisingly, LOVED it. We are going to do shades and the birds are going to look like the ducks are flying all about the room. Plus adding in another texture in the velvet and a bit of something unexpected and beautiful.

So some takeaways from this room:

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1. Neutral can be just as exciting as balls out color, but you have to bring interest in the form of texture, pattern, and a variation of material. Here we have the lacquer on the walls contrasting with the natural seagrass. Sparkly faux tortoiseshell with leather and brass. Woven wool with velvet and silk damask.

2. A note on brown paint: I included the color that we used which was Mink by Benjamin Moore, but brown is one of those colors that changes hugely in every room. I had tried to use mink when I did the Truffleberry Market tasting room awhile back and it looked completely different with all of the light in this space.

3. I had a comment on another post asking me how lighting affects my color choices. Lighting does change the color, but I tend not to obsess over every single time of day and how the color shifts. You have to like the color in full daylight with lighting turned off since that is how you will experience the room most of the time, but make sure to come see it at night with artificial light on it. Artificial light is easier to manipulate to make the color work than natural light. There are white, yellow, pink, blue spectrum bulbs that can help with any weird tonal changes lighting brings on. And dimmers, and lamps. However, if you are carrying a color from more than one room say into hallways or on trim, you need to test it in each space. I ran into this issue upstairs with our trim color. I have always used BM white dove for trim in Chicago, Austin, clients- it never changed that much on me as a trim. We tested it in our fairly bright entry hall downstairs here and it looked great, but upstairs the hallways have no natural light and it looks straight up beige.

4. Lacquer is a ridiculous process. There is a difference between high gloss and lacquer. Lacquer in a room is hugely labor intensive and not a DIY. I believe for this room they tinted a formula from Fine Paints of Europe to match the BM Mink because FPoE has a higher gloss. They would fully spray the room, let it dry for a full day, and then come back and sand it down to be completely smooth and glassy without drips or varying thickness- but that also took a great deal of paint off. So you do it again, and again. I think they fully sprayed and sanded the room at least 6 times to get the depth of color and finish. But it totally makes the room. And in a space like this where the wall space would have otherwise been an afterthought (with so many windows and cabinets, there is ilk 1 foot of actual wall) the walls literally shine.

5. I have also received a lot of questions of finding people who can make custom furniture for you. I have gotten trade recs from friends and colleagues everywhere we have gone, but there is no substitute for doing your own research. Google, ask around, see if any fabric showrooms have people they send fabric to a lot or that they will recommend.

If you saw a pretty picture in this post, it was taken by Emily. If you saw a crappy picture, it was taken by me. If you saw some design and thought GENIUS! It was by Kelly Wearstler and/or Miles Redd.

Y’all have been asking some legit questions lately, and I appreciate that. It is helping me come up with an editorial calendar of stuff you want to see- so keep it coming! I will answer everything I can in the comments, and have been pretty good at responding to emails as well. Loving all the feedback, so keep it coming!

What do you think about this transformation? Do you miss the sunniness of the original room, or do you dig the cozy? Anything I can help you with?

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It’s our favorite room.

The Rodeo’s Back In Town.

February in Texas means my birthday (for all Texans, obviously) and Rodeo Season!

I cannot wait to take Grace to see all of the livestock- they always have some baby lambs so it is pretty exciting for me too.

We have some special new items at Biscuit for Rodeo season:Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 8.29.43 AM

cowboy mustach-if-ier, kenny cockrel, canadian sunset pony, cowboy duckie, pink pony towel, longhorn towel.

And I would be happy to wear any of these items.Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 9.09.34 AM

here, here, here, here, here

What fun plans do you have this weekend?