House Beautiful

Currently Loving | 3.12.18

Ohhhhh heeeyyy guys! Just popping in to do a big fat quarterly favorite things dump. Promise I mean to be better about blogging, and this little blog (just shy of her 8th birthday) is still such a great outlet… a creative one, a cathartic one; that’s what she was always meant to be. My lame excuse these days is that I have a permanently fatty pile of work, so it just never feels quite right putting clients on hold for the sake of fiddle faddling on here (even though, I swear, it’s good for the soul – and taking the time to feed my soul is what makes me better at what I do and better in general). Still, putting work on pause to blog feels like skipping school or faking sick to go to the movies, then running into your teacher in the popcorn line.. (haaaa, I can name no fewer than 6 of them currently reading this and being like, ‘where’s my so-and-so, Stephanie?!’) But I’ll try to do better balancing both. A plethora of work is a great problem to have – remind me to hire an assistant soon. Anyhow – I have SO MANY things I wanna spew at you guys and blog about, but today, the best I got is throwing my favorite things at you in no certain order… like my GG’s sweater that this ho bag stole. Just kidding, I’m sure she’s lovely. But heavens, how nubby is that sucker?

When it’s my turn, that’s what I’m doin. What else do you even need? Besides a taco truck.

These are gigantic and awesome and I’m so confused why the poor girl looks like her dog just died. I’d be STOKED if I was wearing those.

I love the Gaios from Visual Comfort (er, Circa Lighting is their retail front) so much it hurts. I think it’s the shape, and the organic quality of it, and the sheer girth – the base is about 16″ wide at its widest point.

I spent a night at Soho House in Malibu a few weeks ago and never (ever) wanted to leave. Pretty sure I might’ve been asked to leave if I’d kept molesting those barstools – they’re like a bouclé texture on the outside and a leather in the same color on the inside of the seat. In the most perfect blue you’ve ever seen. And the little lamps on the bar (!) and the light fixtures. And the playlist. And everything. I loved it because while I can normally look around any room and tell you where everything is from, I couldn’t place anything in this place. And I didn’t recognize any of the music, but every song was like my favorite song I’d never heard before. It. was. HEAVEN.

I love, love love this tile – in part because I just love it, but also cuz I haven’t seen it done more times than Debbie Does Dallas, like I have this number and all of its friends that look exactly like it. Whenever clients show me that black & white one I’m like MMMMMERRRRSAAAYYYYYYYYY! If it’s possible to overdose on a trend, then pretty sure that one’s been beaten to death ten times over. No but for realz – the blue is stunning. Can you imagine how happy you’d be to walk into your bathroom every day if you had this on the floor? Probably most at home in a Spanish style house or a historic property – I could see it in a little casa in San Diego, and I could also see it in a historic bungalow in Denver.

Case in Point: I did this tile in a little girl’s bath last year in Bloomington, IN. I’d never seen it done before, it was a smidge out there (pink and minty roses on a brown background – who knew?), but it is such a stunner! Pretty sure it’s my most liked image on Instagram in the history of ever.

Loving this. It’s a little bit Jack & Rebecca, no? *COUGH* my birthday’s a week from today **COUGH** the 24″ chain is best.

Tell me you don’t wanna eat this for dinner every night. We’re actually having people over for tacos tonight – I’ll have to post my fave taco recipe(s) soon too.


Love this. Things like this always remind me of our friend Melissa, because that’s who she is and exactly what she inherently does.

Proof that you CAN MIX YOUR METALS PEOPLE! On a case-by-case basis and within reason. But see?! Brass & Copper are besties in this scenario.

Dying to snap up a few of these for my office, but they’re apparently sold out. Until eternity.

Still the best outfit of all time.

The prettiest color palette for a teenage girl’s room, or my office, or any outfit (ever).

Loving the Keanu from Arteriors. It’s a little out there, so you can’t be afraid to get a little outta the box to use it. They would be so perfect down the hallway of white tongue-in-groove walls in my Malibu beach house.

I’ve wanted this bag since the beginning of time… a good work bag is hard to find, and I love how perfectly distressed and utilitarian (but not ugly) this guy is. But I could never find the source…

…so I drew a CAD mock-up and tweaked the dimensions for what I need and am having a dude on Etsy make it. BANG. #GSD

I haven’t tried this Lemon Truffle Cake recipe yet, but pretty sure I just gained 5 lbs looking at the picture of it.  Easter, anyone?

Happy Birthday to me? Imma ride this train all month long. How many times do you turn 29 for the 9th time? SWEET JESUS WHERE DOES THE TIME GO.

This trough sink and oversize antiqued mirror is BANANAS. Currently doing a powder bath remodel where the space is teenie weenie (shallow)… so shallow that we almost can’t do a regular depth vanity and still have room for a toilet – so we’re looking at doing a wall mount faucet to save some depth and maybe a custom sink… comme ça.

One of my new favorite tiles:

Am dying to use this guy from Lowcountry Originals in a project. I feel much the same way about the industrial design blitz as I do about that aforementioned black and white cement tile, but this is a horse of a different color… almost upscale effortless elegant industrial, in mottled copper. That’s a horsey I can saddle up. I almost just used it in a breakfast room in a cozy-farmhouse-meets-the-Hamptons style project in Chicago.

I’ll take 8, thanks.

These are perfection. I’ll take 2.

One of my clients from Hawaii (who we’re renovating a house in San Diego for) sent me this the other day as an example of the style of chests he wants flanking his fireplace – kind of a batik, tribal situation. These are STENCILED ON people. Add stencils to the list of things I’m not keen on, but DANG I can get on board with this. Can you say weekend project?

Is it summertime yet?  Also, let’s hear it for giant undapants. Scallop top is from Jessica Simpson. Bottoms are from Aunt Berneda’s box of underoos in the attic, obviously.

Loving so, so much that Leanne Ford does these days – like this dining room.

Those light fixtures – I die. I’ve seen a few on Etsy (now sold out) and while these are also out of stock, they’ll eventually be available again. Don’t tell Chris that I’m in line. He thinks they’re too beachy and not appropriate for a mountain house. I think I’m the designer in this duo and I’ll be the judge of that. I told him yesterday when he tried to veto a pair of pillows to stay in his dance space and step aside. Tehe.

YAAAAAAAS. Can you tell I miss Cali? Man, I don’t mean to but I do. I’m so lucky to still live in such a beautiful place and I do know that – but dang, SoCal was like my spirit animal / happy place / heaven on earth all in one. When I was there a few weeks ago for work and sitting on the beach one day guzzling the sweet salty air, I started looking at real estate (anywhere along the coast I’d want to live), then remembered one of the reasons why we decided Colorado was the move. Single tear.

These are INSANELY RAD (and ever-so-slightly reminiscent of something in my Grammy’s jewelry box).

I would die to put this behind a wet bar. Die. Pretty sure that’s Mosaic House, because everything they make is perfect.

TAKE ME BACK!! Actually, you can go back. For $299 at Urban Outfitters.

You can also go back via this 80’s playlist of mine:

…and this 90’s playlist. Thank me later.

Obsessed. These are 41.5″H (little taller than an average table lamp), which means they would look killer perched on either side of an entry table, flanking a pretty piece of artwork.

Swap that stuffed animal for a pink binkie and that’s my child.

LOVE this Women’s March art print. $30.

HOW did this table slip thru my fingers aka get drowned on my Pinterest board?  Via Celadon Home. I’d have a hard time settling on a dining table but this I could do. With some big plush cozy dining chairs on casters.

Take me to there.

Take me to there next.

I’m going to Round Top in a few weeks and am tickled to pieces. It’s that GIGANTIC antique festival in Texas, and (gulp) I’m driving there, because my flights and dates got all jacked… plus this way I can lug home things like this in my hooptie. A whopping 16.5 hours each way. ROAD TRIP!

This is the kind of (looks like) vintage glassware – and the kind of cocktail – I have dreams about.

OMG look how good my hair looks today.

Just kidding. It looks like this.

I would like to marry that mirror.

WHAT is this dress and where do I get one?

This calligraphy makes me wanna hire someone to redesign my website and logo:

How do I pronounce Tradescantia Fluminensis ‘Tricolor’ and where to do I get one? Looks like the rubber plant my mom had in our house in the 80’s drank some Kool-Aid.

I’m seriously considering trading one of my antique rugs for this. That blue is stunning.

I’ve long loved this shot of the mantle and that ornate mirror. Just tracked the mirror down at Anthro. Would also be really pretty above a dresser, entry table, or in a powder room.

Kristen Lam is my new fave Insta-follow. I don’t follow a lot of the fashionista people (just Interior Designers & Golden Retrievers), but this chick’s style I can get on board with. It’s always effortless and ever-so-tomboy-ish now and then.

That whole “nothing haunts you like the things you didn’t buy” thing is SO TRUE. This was the Merlat Lamp from Visual Comfort ca. a few years ago. Made of limestone and perfectly elegant but also rustic. You betta believe I have saved searches out on eBay, Chairish and every other online consignment shop.

Latest fabric obsession.  Looks like a vintage suzani, but on a smaller scale and in velvet. Ottoman, anyone? Thinking about making one… there’s a new shop in our little town (Crested Butte) where I’ve been making and selling a few thangs, just for fun. Also because there’s the tiniest part of me that wants to start making and hoarding cool stuff for clients… and maybe having them in my office and/or a small retail storefront section of my office. A big a$$ ottoman in this beauty seems like a worthwhile endeavor.

YOU GUYS. If we’re Facebook or Insta friends, you know I’ve been pining for the last living piece of this furniture known to man aka this Tramp Art reproduction for MONTHS. The owner finally agreed to strike a deal with me, and now it’s perched in our living room. It’s the prettiest most boho-licious thing I ever did see. It looks PERFECT in our little mountain place now, but it would be just as appropriate in a beach house, lakehouse, outhouse or penthouse.

This is the work of my amazingly talented friend Andrea May. I cannot even with those doors, and all the beautiful lighting just inside them. Andrea is a designer out of La Jolla, and was an active member of a group of designers I was a part of a few years back. I instantly loved her when I met her – she’s warm, wise, funny and wonderful – like your mom, your sister, and the best friend you’ve never met all rolled into one.

Her house is also the coziest eye candy you’ve ever seen. This is her kitchen. I remember standing in it and staring for a long, long time. There are so many details to love, and it almost feels old fashioned – but not in an outdated way… in a formidable, inviting way. The mix is more than whimsical – it’s magical… between the modern sconce on the antique mirror backsplash, the 2-tone hood, the layers and layers of white beadboard / tongue-in-groove on the walls and ceilings, the millwork and the hardware… you scarcely know where to start with what to love.

I mean, you guys… she’s got a crystal ship chandelier hanging over her island. You know she’s creative fairy godmother status.

Please for the love of Pete, somebody buy this dress.

Have I posted these before?? Probs. Just making sure you’re paying attention. I’d like to wear them all summer long and to every warm-weather-wedding, ever.

Show me anything Art Deco and I’ll show you my boobs.

Pretty sure I’ve posted this before… or maybe just on Insta… and it’s so simple but it always resonates with me. Maybe because I need to do a better job of it (?) so I realize how vital it is. And I think it means something different for everyone… for me, a lot of times it’s saying no to things – to work I know I don’t have the bandwidth to take on, or to things I don’t particularly want to do with the fraction of precious free time I have. Other times it’s making time for what I know I need to recharge; whether that’s a bubble bath or a Scandal binge with a glass of wine or a phone call with a girlfriend. I’m currently co-habitating with **probably** the most wonderful guy there ever was, but I don’t care if he’s Brad Pitt or the Dalai Lama himself – I’m realizing how VERY independent I was before this, and how much I relished (and still need) my alone time now and then… to recuperate so I can fire on all cylinders. Oh, my God… what am I gonna do when I have kids and don’t have time to pee without itty bitty lungs screaming and itty bitty hands reaching under the door? Lord help me! How do you guys do it?

It’s cool. I’ll have Gus babysit.

PS… I usually troll through my saved stuff on Insta to incorporate into these posts, and there’s SO MUCH MORE on there. So I’ll have to toss up another post soon with all of those goodies cuz they shouldn’t be missed.























Episode #1 Recap: Terra’s Big House (THE STUDIO)

{ photo courtesy of Lifetime }

Yooooouu GUYS!? Ahhhhhh wassup! Did you all tune in last night? And by last night I mean Wednesday night cuz I’m a day late posting. In case you’ve been living under a rock and missed my social media blitz the past week, our new show, “Terra’s Big House” premiered 2 nights ago on Lifetime. (WATCH ONLINE HERE). It’s the first of 6 episodes during which my trusty right hand contractor & partner in crime – Cory McCrummen – and I will take on a HUGE remodel for Terra Jolé (star of Little Women & DWTS) and her husband Joe Gnoffo (most hilarious dude on the planet), renovating their house ONE room at a time… Or will we? Cuz I feel like we’re always just about ONE sneeze (or fart) away from getting canned. Ya never can tell. I mean let’s be honest. Even Penny looks like she’s not so sure about us.

But apparently I’m feelin like we’re sittin pretty at this point. Cory looks like he’s about to do the Care Bear Stare to win them over.


SO – we have $150,000, and the goal is to stretch that moo as far as we can to completely tailor the house to Terra & Joe’s family’s needs and make it function and FEEL little people (“LP”) friendly, but not necessarily LOOK like we scaled everything down. Take everything “custom” out of the equation, and a whole house reno for $150k is already a lofty goal. I know, I know, it sounds like a lot – AND IT IS – but as anyone who has ever renovated any space (let alone an entire house) will tell ya, that money goes SO FAST. So in addition to staying on budget, we needed to somehow do this renovation:

a) *without* overtly shrinking everything in the house, and

b) without alienating average sized folks like yours truly.. (hey. what if I come over for pancakes one morning?), or potential buyers down the road, should they ever decide to sell. We also needed to be mindful of their littlest nugget, D’Artagnan (aka Grayson)… he’s still young enough that T&J aren’t sure if he’s going to grow up to be little or average sized, so we needed to design for both.

But imma tell you one thing: kid’s gonna be a stud with the ladies. LOOK AT THIS LITTLE MUFFIN!!

Long story long, this house needs to be comfortable and functional for EVERYONE. So, that’s the premise, and that’s a tall order (pun totally unintended). Let’s spitball about THE SHOW!


First of all, can I talk about my co-star for a sec?? I feel like we filmed so much that they probably just couldn’t squeeze everything into a wee hour, but I gotta toot C’s horn for a sec: Cory McCrummen and I have been pals for AGES (he’s married to a lovely friend of me + Karrie’s, so fan those loins, ladies!), and he’s the one contractor I know that I trust implicitly. He’s got that good ‘ol Honest Abe thing going, is genuinely the kindest person you’ll ever meet (WAY nicer than I am), is so conscientious about his work (which is impeccable) and so thoughtful and compassionate when it comes to dealing with clients… um, contractors like that don’t exist, people. What makes C really unique is that he cut his teeth in both the design AND construction fields, so he’s got killer experience on both sides, and an amazing aesthetic to show for it.. and much different than mine.  I joke that his is “moody” (code for a restrained palette) and I think he said once that my style is like my personality (e.g. like “a party”)… or like Skittles. But if you saw the shots of his work, you can tell he’s got very refined, pared down but still warm, soulful, timeless taste. So, I have the best partner in crime EVER heading into this season.

Which is also going to be like heading into battle, if you happen to have seen the Entertainment Tonight trailer… YIKES.


The Studio was like our “try out” to do the main house.  The studio space is behind the main house, and was being used as a guest house / storage area before we got our grubby little paws on it. We had $3,000 to do this space, which doesn’t go far when you need: paint, some construction materials, wallpaper, an electrician, new lighting, furniture, rugs, accessories etc. Add to that the fact that 4 people (and 3 dogs) needed to live in this space, and it had to serve as: a bedroom, a kitchen, a dining room, a baby’s room, and an office.  That’s a little something I like to call trying to ride 5 horses with one a$$. Here’s what it looked like before… The two-toned wall/ceiling thing here was distracting and just made the space feel disjointed. I knew we needed to paint the ceiling, walls AND that weird trim piece in between all the same color to unify the space and give it a seamless, clean look.

Walking thru here unscathed was like playing Operation, but in real life.

This is the scene you see when you walk in the sliding glass doors – bed against the wall, boxes peppered (everywhere else).

This was the kitchen… see how low the ceiling starts at the top of the backsplash (before it vaults)?  It’s almost as low as the bottom of the cabinetry.  So if we had wallpapered ONLY that area, and left the ceiling, the wallpaper would’ve gotten lost and looked confusing. And chopped up the room. I also really needed the kitchen to kind of have a **POW** element and to delineate it from the rest of the space, since the natural barrier – that closet (on the right) – was coming out and being replaced by an eat-in island. Also.. the boob lights – no bueno.

We weren’t given many (decor) parameters on this first project – it was early on in the process, and while I did have a grasp on Terra’s taste, I also knew this was going to revert to a Guest House later, so I was thinking about it as something they may want to AirBNB someday… something that needed to feel like an escape and have a universal appeal for guests.  So this space was kind of like a free style. I told Cory that I thought it might be fun to do a Hawaii theme, and he legit looked at me like I had 7 heads with 1 eyeball in the middle. But that idea was born of this BEAUTIFUL WALLPAPER from Hygge & West (Aja in Khaki by Justina Blakeny), which I’d been obsessing over – and figured Terra would not be into at all.

Here’s how that scene went down. She fer SHURE thinks I’m nuts.

But check it out! HUUUUUGE thanks to Hygge & West for rushing these rolls out to us! They are the tits, if you guys haven’t worked with them before. Wallcoverings are super affordable, they have a calculator on each product’s page so you can tally how much you need (this is a pain in the arse otherwise), and their patterns are so great. PS: video of the kitchen all completed at the bottom of this post!

See! Cory’s stoked.

We replaced those godawful boob / mushroom lights with these little fellas. Less than $10 at Home Depot, and we spray painted them with a dark green Rustoleum. This was one thing Terra loved.

What do you guys think??

Another big project for this space was recovering the existing bed (that velvety-teal one) to make it more gender-neutral and just a little more fresh. I found this KILLER striped upholstery fabric at Threads in San Diego for like, $15 a yard. #stealing.

C-money was nice enough to help me get the fabric stapled into place on the headboard.

HHHHAAAAAAaaaaa – ask him if he came back to nail in nailheads after this……………

After the headboard was done, I had to detach the footboard from the side rails so that I could recover those as well. This is where it gets ugly, kids.

When they wouldn’t come apart, I went all CofC vball on it and put my back into that sucker and gave the footboard a big WHAP to knock it loose from the side rail. And then it jacked me in the face SO HARD that I heard real-life birdies tweeting and saw stars for a few minutes. And then, the next morning, I hatched a Cadbury egg, right there outta my forehead. In July. Happy early Easter.

So hot. Imagine trying to ice this thing to get the swelling to go down… biggest cold-headache ever.

But check out that detail!!  That was a $5 box of antique brass nailheads from (Michael’s, I think), a little elbow grease and one near-concussion.

Here’s how the rest of the studio turned out… those cameras move so fast! I wanted you guys to see more of it, in case you missed:

Lanterns are from HOMEGOODS!  Have you ever? Console was World Market and it’s so affordable. Desk & desk chair were Terra’s existing.

One really interesting thing I learned about doing a TV show is that you can’t use ANY artwork without the written consent of the original artist.  Like, not even an iPhone pic, and certainly not any sort of artwork you’d normally think nothing about scooping up from TJ Maxx, or even a garage sale. So the night before this reveal, I went to CVS, bought a piece of posteboard and some kiddos’ paints & paintbrushes, and painted THAT pink gem below.

With the help of my trusty co-blogger and bestie, Karrie, we stayed up till 1am at the dining room table painting this guy. What you didn’t hear last night on camera was Terra saying that it looked like Penny painted it…  bahahhahahaha. And she’s not wrong! But it was the best I could do with about $20 in the budget and 12 hours left to find scrounge up some art. Covet Living Original Artwork right there, kids.

I also had to use pics from my trip to Hawaii last year for the black & whites over the bed.

Frames are IKEA!

BIG THANKS to my homegirl Lauren at Hollywood at Home for helping me with pillows!!!

And thanks to my trusty off-camera man for helping me carry them, cuz I didn’t make it far past the front door. That bag weighed about 4 zillion pounds.

Look how pretty… aaaaaand it was right around this time when Terra told me no more pink/purple.

Breakfast, anyone? Nothing tickles my pickle more than a few really gorgeous vintage pillows on an all-white bed.

We kept Terra & Joe’s existing sofa (though it was MASSIVE) to make them kind of feel at home here, and also to help out budget-wise. It’s funny – it is SO BIG and it was 1 of 4 furniture layouts I did in CAD, and it even looked massive in the drawings… like it was going to swallow up the room. But in the space in real life, it totally worked. That doesn’t always happen.

Trunk courtesy of One Eyed Willie. #gooniesneverdie

That little plug-in wall sconce was from eBay… I was looking to use one from Schoolhouse Electric, but theirs have a weeks-long lead time and they’re also around $300, give or take, so I scoured Etsy & eBay. Ended up with this guy, who is brass and ORB/black… #mixedmetals. Which I came to find that Terra was NOT a fan of, but I needed that fixture to be two-toned to tie into the other dark and brass elements in the room and add some cohesiveness. Another note… that fella was just under $100 which was great for our budget, but is a great example of “you get what you pay for.” I was afraid if I touched it, it might fall off the wall (or break) because it was VERY fragile and not well made. You guys know I will cross 7 lanes of traffic if I see a Goodwill or an Estate Sale, so I appreciate saving where you can, but there are some things where it’s better to buy quality. I would’ve swapped that sucker out if I could but we were in a hustle.

The breakfast area may’ve been my favorite. Probably because of those cute little kumquats that I had one of the producers bring from his yard (what up J!) cuz they were impossible to find. The table settings I snapped up from Homegoods LITERALLY the night before. Rocks glasses are mine (Tarjay!)  Stools are from CB2.

(More behind the scenes)

…WHAT UP CAMERA CHRIS?! Best guy ever right there.

Rug was from Rugs USA and was a &#% STEAL! That 9×12 was on sale from $379. Drapery Panels are Pottery Barn Emery Linen drapes in Oatmeal, double width. Lantern Cory actually brought from home and gave to Terra. How much do we love him?

Did you notice that we were all MELTING during that reveal?? I think Joe said his “fat was crying” at one point and I almost peed my pants. It’s because it was about 105 degrees outside and the Studio didn’t have A/C… just a little rolling unit in the bathroom. Which is where everyone would huddle in between takes.

Otherwise, this scene KILLS ME. I’ve been cackling for days.

And this one warmed my little heart. ONE POINT GRIFFENDOR!!!! SLASH yay Terra for being open and coming around! Everybody’s giving her a lotta &$#% for pushing back so much (and oh, did she ever) but it’s easier said than done having some stranger come into your house and start goin’ to town. :

This made me cackle and spit out my food a few hours before the premiere:

This text from a client after the show also had me in stitches… she’s not wrong!

More of these zingers to come… cuz my microphone was on ALL THE TIME which isn’t always a good thing. PS they ALWAYS made me sit on a chair higher than Cory’s for these interviews. Why, I ask? Am I interviewing for the role of Paul Bunyan’s wife? Also.. you guys know I don’t wear makeup in real life, but def had to for on camera, and had it professionally done for these interviews, so I look a lot like Stephanie Ballard’s distant cousin, Stacy.:

And this is DEFINITELY some foreshadowing…

Stay tuned!! The show airs every Wednesday night for the next 5 weeks in a row! 10pm East Coast Time, 9pm Central, 10pm West Coast Time, and if you have Direct TV anywhere you can watch on the East Coast schedule!

Love you guys all for watching!! Thanks so much for all the support 🙂