Industry in the entryway

This table is amazing!  The contrast with the simplicity of the walls and the stairway is just perfect.

image via SOM blog

You know it's bad when...

... you pull in the driveway and see your kid's tricycle and consider painting it. 

Or even getting another for Christmas...  

We found Christian's tricycle in the trash by the side of the road a couple of years ago (yes, I pick from the trash) and it's missing that cool thing in the back where we could have pushed him so it didn't get much use until he learned to pedal it on his own.  The colors are totally faded but the fact remains that it works and he loves it.   It's now parked in the front of the driveway (which is in front of our house) because he uses it so much and I have to be honest, it's irking me.  Not driving me crazy by any means, but every time I pull into the driveway and wonder if I should just spray paint the thing black or something, anything to get rid of the faded plastic and blue that just stands out like a sore thumb to me.  As much as I would love to say we could put it away in the shed every night, I know we won't.  Life just isn't like that for us right now.  

I know this is one of those things to let go, but it has my OCD-design head twitching.

We also have a toddler plastic slide/ gym thingy in our back yard...  it too makes me a little nutty and I can't wait to replace it.  

I know toys will be part of our lives for a while now...  and I have to say that I'm so much less bothered by the classic toys than the new plastic ones.  It's crazy that I care but seriously, I'm so much more okay with a bunch of cute little wooden cars on the ground than a bunch of plastic ones...

{Christian's trucks}

We try to limit the toys coming into our house...  When new stuff comes in, something else leaves.  There just isn't room and we don't want our kids to have a million toys they never use.  If something's not getting played with enough, we put it away and take it out a few months later. 

I know I sound like a freak.  What are your thoughts?   (Not on my freakishness, on toys ;)  And, any tips for spray painting a plastic bike?   Maybe just the blue parts???

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

I heart grey

Thank you so much for all of your comments yesterday!  I LOVED them!  When I came across these pictures I almost fell off of my chair.  I so need to paint a room grey in this house!  I wonder if I can do it myself.  The walls are at leas 15 feet high so I am not so sure and then there is the buffet full of goodies to contend with.  Hum may just have to break down and hire someone to do it... 

The heart is so whimsical and fantastic- don't you think?  I wish I could be that way but I am pretty picky!

images via living inside

French Farmhouse...

There is something that I noticed when I started working on this post...  I sure do love a lot of interiors..  All week I have started my posts with "I love..."   So I am going to do my best to do better!  
This gorgeous French farmhouse is where I am dreaming of spending my fall days relaxing and enjoying wine and cheese and some fresh baked baguettes..  

Images via living inside

My mom's birthday

My mom's birthday was this past weekend so we decided to do dinner at our place.  The weather was perfect and we moved the massive harvest table Dave made out of old barn wood to the center of our back yard:

{sorry about the pics but something funny was going on}
It is insanely heavy and won't be moving anywhere for a good long while...  my back still feels it.

I added pumkins & gourds and eucalyptus & hydrangeas to give it a Fall vibe even though it was so warm:

I'd never gotten fresh eucalyptus before... Trader Joe's was selling it for $6 and I love how it looks just gathered simply in an urn:

I didn't notice any bugs so I think it definitely helped keep them away.

Here's the birthday girl with Christian and my little sister Morgan (13):

My mom's a special lady.  She's the kind of mom I could always tell anything to...  even my friends would confide in her in high school.  She was a single mom (until she & my stepdad, Tom, got married when I was in 8th grade) but still managed to be super-involved & spend a lot of quality time with me: Girl Scouts, festivals & musicals & plays & events...  She's amazing with advice and rarely judges. 

We've had our battles (oh my gosh would we yell!!) but I think mostly it's because battle alike:  get it out and get over it.  (No moping or stewing here!)  She's always coming through when I need her: babysitting, food, help at home, advice and also those "mom" hugs.  We're very alike but very different.   She's lower-key than me, yet supported me going into a creative field/ being self-employed even though it's not something she would ever do and scared her when I started because she understood me.  She had my sister late in life but still manages to be as involved in her life as she was in mine  (if not more so!! :)   I love her so much and she is one of the few people I actually lean upon.   

Here's my gorgeous cousin Jen who just got engaged & will be getting married in Puerto Rico next summer!!  (I'm her maid of honor ;) ;)

And my mom informed me it was time to pull up the carrots Christian & I planted back in March.  (Um yeah, I really know nothing about growing veggies -or anything for that matter- and thought that the time was right to pull them up when they were long like you see at the grocery store.)  So as we all enjoyed some cider (I'm a huge fan of woodchuck haha) and some hummus & pita chips, Christian and I pulled up the carrots:

And they really reminded me of those screaming baby-root things from Harry Potter (mandrakes)... especially the double ones:

(Justin enjoyed the food too as you can see from the bits on his face}

I didn't get any pictures of the food (besides that beautiful bag of pita chips) but we did grilled tilapia and shish kabobs with rice & salad.  We ate just as it got dark & there's something so awesome about eating outside with candlelight.

We finished up with s'mores by the fire where I proceeded to fall asleep. 

And that's a good night for me.  Most of our meals are "normal" and don't include special flowers or table settings and I know I couldn't handle this on a nightly basis, but I would like to do a pretty/ special table at least once a week.  It encourages lingering and laughing and talking on & on.  That's interesting to me...  that our environments really do affect our experiences.  Check out my friend Seleta's recent post to see the gorgeous table setting she created last week with her kids' help. 

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

If you have a pretty table setting you'd like to share, feel free to link up!!

Heavy Hearth

I love the feeling of this fireplace... maybe just a little heavy for the room...

So simple

I love the simple use of this space and the white with just the accents..  oh how I wish my furniture could be white..  

images via Skona hem

Personal details

I love how this simple spot gives you such a lovely picture of the owner...  without ever seeing them

image via tear it out

Pretty Find

I'm loving this circa 1950 Chinoiserie ginger jar I found recently.  We've been busy photographing our finds for the new Pure Syle Home store and I'm bittersweet as usual about it.  {It's really pathetic...  Although I'm so excited that the store is about to open, I'm also strangely attached to the items we're selling.} 

I know it's weird & I'm sure I'll get over it soon enough, but I definitely love me some "stuff."  How about you??
Have a beautiful weekend & enjoy the weather!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Rustic Refined

A little French country rustic with the industrial elements I love so much...

images via Cote Sud Jan 2010

So glad I did...

I am so glad that I subscribed to Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Magazine... Loving all of the greige in it this month! It seems they were reading my mind... did you get yours yet? 

(note the dining benches and how they work so well in both spaces)

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Design Snobbery

{remember this scene from Pretty Woman?}

Design snobs.  You know the stereotype: clickity clacking heels, suits, haughty expression, a distaste for low budgets and new entries into the field.   Now, do they really exist or we are imagining it?  Have you ever walked into a store and suddenly looked down at what you were wearing and felt like you didn't belong there?  Was this because someone in the store "made" you feel that way or because of your own insecurities?

I know that a lot of people I've spoken with outside of the design industry- mainly friends & family- think that a lot of interior designers and in-store decorators/ salespeople have a "snobby" way about them.  I think a lot of this can stem from talks about budgets and brands and general nonverbal communication.

People fear someone walking into their homes and "judging" them & their house.  It's a designer's job to look critically at a space, so yes, it won't be all pats on the back when you invite a designer into your home to begin a new project (you wouldn't want to pay for that, would you?)  but it shouldn't be a barrage of judgement & cristicism either.  When I walk into a home with a new client for the first time, it's not the time to judge, it's the time to observe, and I always approach a new project knowing that I've been called in because the owner understands good design and is looking for something more in his/ her home.  I understand that designing is not his/her profession and don't expect to see a magazine-worthy space (that's my job! ;) ;)   Depending upon the budget given and the parameters of the project, I help the client determine the best level they can get their home to.  I help them figure out where best to allocate their time & money to get the best overall look.  I know many people fear telling a designer their budget because they are afraid we are going to use all of it or go way over or judge them for it.  I tell clients that yes, I will use all of the budget you 've given me, but knowing the budget up front helps me figure out how to get the best look for the amount of money you have for the project.  Money is one of the designer's tools whether we want to hear it or not.

So the question is- why do designers have a snobby rap?  I know many of us like nice things and we deal in the business of appearances.  (On one level...  For most of us, it's the business of making people feel something, but it's an appearance that elicits that feeling.)  I'm really affected by my surroundings.  Whenever I go over to my mom's house, I start OCDistically rearranging her sofa pillows the way I like them.  (my poor mom, I wouldn't do this to anyone else...  except my maybe dad!)  So I'm sure if one of her friends saw me rearranging her pillows, she might think I was ridiculous and takingo ver my mom's house, but in reality I do it because my mom's house feels like my house to me (I did used live there for a looooong time) and I treat it just like I do my own house...  Maybe I look like a design snob when I do this?  (I'll have to make sure I never do it in a suit! ;)

I've heard a story about a designer telling a client that something in her home made the designer want to throw up.  After laughing (because seriously???!! really??!) I couldn't get over that someone would say that unless he/she was on a reality show and had been coached by the producer to say it.

I have also noticed in-store design consultants (whom I personally know & really get along well with & love) come across as a bit impatient or snobbish with customers who don't know much about the product or what they want or how to communicate what they want.  I KNOW these women are great people, but I know that the customer walks away feeling not-so-good when this happens.  I think some of it comes about from the customer being uncomfortable shopping for something she's not used to shopping for & dont' know much about, and I think some of it comes from the consultant doing it day in and day out and knowing the right questions to ask but not doing it as if it were the first time for the customer.  Because the customer is stepping out of his or her comfort zone while shopping or inquiring about a product he/she doesn't know much about, he/she needs to be treated carefully & with understanding.

I myself had similar treatment when I called a fabric distributor whose samples I carry for more information on one of their velvets.   I asked him to tell me about the velvet in regard to kids & pets & durability and his response was very insulted: "Why are you asking me this?  It's a high-end commercial grade velvet; one of the best in the industry."  (reeeeeeeally huffy)

I simply responded, "I haven't used this velvet before in a project, was never formally introduced to the pros/ cons of your line by a representative, and wanted to speak with someone who had experience with it."

"Oh," he said and then nicely went on to tell me how awesome it was and how long it would last, etc.  But my point is: why that response?  I wasn't surprised because I had gotten similar responses from him before, but really, why was there a need for that?  I actually love the company and have gotten so used to his responses that I'm fine with it and am not even bothered when I get one of those splashes-of-cold-water-responses, but it would be nice not to have to deal with it. 

My intern, Meghan, used to get off the phone with showrooms sometimes and remark at how unfriendly the people on the phone were.  We actually chose our upholsterer based on his friendliness and willingness to answer questions over the phone (once price & quality were taken into account of course) and he's still one of the best people we work with.  Think about how much business went his way simply because we felt comfortable asking him questions. 

I'm not one of those people who's going to say, "why the attitude?" or let it make me feel small or intimidated(which is what I used to do) but I am going to look for other possible future alternatives.  (Unless in the case of the velvets, everyone else is really nice, the service is amazing, and I'm so used to the dude's personality and it's almost funny.)  I don't think most people are intentionally rude or snobby or brisk, but it can harm them or their company anyway.  I've realized that most of that type of treatment isn't personal, but I'd still rather not have to deal with it. 

But why designers with the snobby rap?  We deal with appearances, we critique people's homes, we're in a field that is out of many people's comfort zone...  what else?

Competition.  I've noticed that there are a couple of different types of designers: those who share and those who compete.  There's no ifs-ands-or-buts about it, some designers view all other designers as competitors.  To some extent, I guess this is healthy, but to another extent there can be some cattiness in it.  I have lot of designer friends and believe that we all bring different styles & skills to the table.  The client that's right for me is not the client who might be right for my friend and vice versa.  The better my friends do, the better I can do.  If I can send over a client for a friend who might not be right for me but right for them, they might do the same for me one day.  There are designers out there who view other designers as competitors and as a reslt, just aren't really very friendly when meeting them.  I've even had a situation pretty recently, when I came accross an old family friend who is also a designer and I felt her hackles raise.  This is someone I've known since I was 5 and who has been designing a decade longer than me.  But I felt it and to be honest, even writing it now, it feels weird to me because I care about this person.      

Why else do designers have the snobby rap?

Thinking you're somebody.  This is a biggie.  I think it's important to never assume that someone knows who you are or what you do.  I was at a designer showhouse once and remarked to the designer of the room how much I loved it.  I introduced myself and put out my hand to shake hers after our conversation began and when she didn't offer her name, I asked her.  Eyebrows raised and clearly insulted, "I am ______________  _____________."  I felt embarrassed myself and realized that she was annoyed that I asked her name, but I didn't have a program on me and had wandered into the room without seeing a name anywhere.  I was honestly just loving her work and wanted to know who she was/ make a proper introduction.  (I won't make that mistake again because it was awkward.)  But I promised myself then that if I'm ever in a position like that, that I'll remember that -however awesome I think I am- there's a whole world of people out there who don't know me.  Humility is a virtue.

ASIDE: On that humility note though, I do think you can go too far- one of my best friends said to me a month or so ago on the phone that she thought I'd looked great after having the baby but had been afraid to tell me in person because I'm "so weird about compliments."  This definitely made me laugh, but I felt kind of bad.  I recounted a a conversatioon I'd recently had when I'd met someone at a party and he said "Oh my gosh your skin is just glowing!" and instead of saying "thanks" I said something like "yeah , I guess the sun'll do that" and it was just kind of awkward because there was a group of us & it came off as sarcastic (I think) when I didn't mean it that way at all.   So I do know that there's also a point when you have to learn to accept praise or a compliment gracefully. 

Why else?

Nonverbal.  I had a friend in high school who people thought were snobby and she blamed it on her facial expression and she was right.  Her natural resting facial expression just looked snobby.  My mom mentioned recently that one of the kids at the school she worked at asked, "Ms.Cox, why are you always sad?"  hahaha  And she has deep, sad eyes (which have always reminded me a bit of Precious Moments) and she said she's now going to have to try to work on her resting facial position because when she walks around it looks like she's unhappy.  Not that I think we always have to go around like people are watching us, but I do think it helps to be aware of how we're being perceived.  Do we come accross as nice, pushy, sweet, polite, rude, snobby??  How do you want to be perceived?  Maybe you don't have to go as far as changing your natural resting facial position, but you can be aware of your nonverbal communication when you're engaging in some way with somebody.  Are you speaking really quickly, giving them the impression that you don't have time for them?  Are you letting them speak?  Are you showing them that you're interested in what they have to say and listening?  Even smaller things like- is your body angled toward them or away from them? Are you looking around the room for other customers or are you paying attention to the person you're speaking with?  People in our industry need a little hand-holding.  (Even I like it! :)

Clearly there comes a point of overanalyzation (And I think I might be there.. I often recount conversation from months past, thinking that something I said came across badly or that I talked too much.  I'm much more critical of myself than I am of others.) but I do think it helps to do it a little and to become aware of how you're presenting yourself.  I majored in communication in college and have always been senstitive to people's moods and behavior and the results are out there, that how you present yourself affects everything from who you marry to how much money you make. 

Experience.  Wow, I can't say enough about experience.  A year of working experience in this industry is pure gold.  Every year you get better, you learn more, you grow, you become more open-minded (hopefully!) you become more confident.  I think this in many ways explains why so many of the great designers of our day our older.  But inevitably, with that experience, comes confidence & knowledge, which are both good, but can lead to ego & cockiness & impatience with those who know less or have questions or don't understand you.  Everyone is a person and everyone deserves respect.  It doesn't matter who you are or what or who you know.  You might be speaking to the next ____________ (fill in the blank).  I think most of us know what it feels like to be underestimated and I'm sure most of us don't like it (unless we're about to win a game of pool.)  Treating "those who matter" with respect and treating "those who don't" (just by feeling this way about someone you have to realize it's wrong)  with indifference or anything less than respect just plain isn't okay.  The receptionist who lets you in the door deserves the same respect as the CEO you're visiting.  I think anyone who has been on the receiving end of a brisk "hello" and then watches that same person turn to someone else and introduce themselves and gush, immediately feels a bit dissed.  I watch this go on all the time at parties and events. 

Who's Who.  Once you really get into any industry, you realize that there are those who are industry-famous.  The rest of the world doesn't know them, but you & everyone you work with does.  There are parties and events and associations and circles just like high school!  Some people are popular and everyone loves them and some people are really good at what they do but people don't like them as much.  It's easy for someone new in the business to feel "small" when entering into everything.  I myself was really nervous when going to some of the first design things a few years ago, but was fortunate to have some really sweet people taking care of me. 

In the design industry, a lot of things have gone into creating that notion of snobbery-  judgements, money, the focus on appearances, impatience with those who don't know, competition, ego, exclusivity, narcissism, etc. and I think some of it is valid and also that a lot of the perceived snobbery is unwarranted.  There are so many people in the industry who do have incredible reputations & talents but are the most down-to-earth people when you actually talk with them.  As is often the case, many of the most successful/ talented/ celebrated people are the most real and have gotten as far as they have not only because of their talents but because of their personalities. 

I'm not sure what I accomplished by this long pictureless post but maybe by thinking a little more we can learn to not pass judgements as quickly on others who might come across as snobby or maybe we can be more aware of our own behavior and make sure we're not coming across in a way we don't want to be perceived.  Your thoughts??

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

-ps I just recently added this bit above about my design services in hopes that I get more reader-clients...  Since I've started the blog many of my clients have come directly from the blog & it's been so much fun!!

In the dark...

I love the feeling of these photos from Tine K Home..Such dark shadows.

Inspiration.. Eric Pike of Martha Stewart

Everything begins with a little bit of inspiration. I love the inspiration box for this house.  So simply greige...  

Do you have an inspiration box?  I always think that it can contain so much more than pictures and fabrics... shells that are that perfect wall color, inspired art pieces, remnants of this or that..

images via martha stewart
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