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Steph’s 2016 Holly-day Gift Guide



What are we, 7?  Because who in their right mind makes a Santy Claus list anytime after – oh, I dunno – 3rd grade graduation?  …Slash, let’s be honest: who doesn’t love a good gift guide?  So on that note, Karrie and I are kicking off gift guides this season with – you guessed it!  Our favorite picks.  The older we get, the tougher these are to make because – truth be told – we *kinda* already have everything we really need.  That said… here are mine… Happy Shopping Mom & Dad! fjdkjfkdlsjaklfjak;ja

1 – Kiini Pink Bikini: This particular all-pastel pink one is discontinued, so I have faint hopes of finding it on eBay someday.  But as a close second Kiini fave, I also love its bright yellow counterpart: Ro (top) + Ro (bottom).


2 – The Southerner’s Cookbook, from the Editors of Garden & Gun: Because ever moving back to the east coast / to my former homeland of Charleston is hard to imagine, but maybe I can teleport there and scratch that itch by whipping up a few ditties from this cookbook.


3 – Lips Dish, $38.  Because is there a more adorable (or incognito) way to stow your busted-looking crusty ‘ol retainer by the bedside?  I think not.

Ceramic ring cone and dishes made by hand

4 – Inlay Cushion in Lake/Natural, Susan Connor New York, $159 for 14″ x 24″ – Because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this pillow for – oh – YEARS, and have blogged about it probably 17 times.  *COUGH* a pair of these wouldn’t suck. #affluenza… but for real.  Susan Connor’s prints are amazing.


5 – Ditch Plains Surfers by Christine Flynn, 48″ x 36″, $379 $311 thru Cyber Monday! – One Kings Lane is my go-to for artwork, and this photograph reminds me of my backyard in San Diego.  Love!


6 – Paradise Ring, ca. 1910, price upon request – …”price upon request” are three REAL scary little words, I know.  But I meeeeeaan – it’s got green opals & sapphires & pearls (!!!) and it’s an antique, which means it’s got some provenance to it, and it also means every other floozy in town won’t have it.


7 – H&M Super Low / Super Skinny Jeans in Denim Blue, $39 – These are my favorite jeans, ever.  I currently have a pair at the dry cleaner being stitched up for the umpteenth time because I love them so much.  Soooooo maybe it’s time for a new pair.  *COUGH* size 29/32.


8 – Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo Deluxe with Aeroccino Plus, $209 THRU SUNDAY 11/27 – Because coffee is probably my favorite part of the morning, and I love the taste of my French pressed coffee, but hate how long it takes to make.  And if more than 1 person wants a cup you gotta boil the whole thing all over again.  Love the instant grat of this bad boy, and the fact that it makes coffee AND espresso. Whatever tickles your pickle.  NOTE TO SANTA: THIS CONTRAPTION IS THE MVP ON THIS LIST.  UPDATE: THIS HAS BEEN PURCHASED BY SANTA.


9 – Vina Electric Salt & Pepper Mill (Pack of 2), $25 – Manually grinding enough pepper for most recipes takes eons – ain’t nobody got time for that.  The most important feature on this thing (imo) is the adjustable grind.  The price for the pair of these is also AMAZING, and the reviews are spot on.  #yesplease


10 – Buttery Leather Mac Book Air Portfolio, $175 – I think I put this guy on my list every year.  Totally not a necessity, but I do love the simple, subtly sophisticated utility of it.



11 – Grey & Fur Pom Slouchy Beanie, $40 – The 7-year old inside of me NEEDS this.


I also love this one from Kate Spade… very Fraggle Rock chic, and sure to keep my dome toasty in the mountains this winter.

kate spade colorblock beanie

12 – Pomengranate Citrus Candle, $32 – I bought this last year for a friend and then totally wanted to steal it.  Looks so pretty lit up because of the faceted pink glass, and smells like heaven.


13 – Magnetic iPhone Ring, $20 – These were all the rage with our friends in NYC a few weeks ago, and I didn’t get it at first… and then I realized that it’s a handy way to hang onto it without dropping it, that you can set it up on its side whenever you need to (I dunno, read a recipe while you’re cooking or watch Hulu online).  Also mounts to your dashboard so you can be hands-free.  Which you know yo mama loves.


14 – Rifle Paper Scarlett Birch 17-Month Planner, on sale for $24 – Because I’m one of those old schoolers who still likes to write down appointments & such vs. putting them in my phone.


15 – Chloé Hudson Small Braided Suede Saddle Bag, $-at-least-a-few-ovaries – I mean, it’s totally on sale for $1,450.  On eBay.  What kind of list would this be if I couldn’t throw a pipe dream or two in?


16 – Ahava Dermud Intensive Hand Cream, $28.50 – I feel like my hands are never not chapped – whether is from salt water or dishes or laundry or cold weather – and I’m telling ya – this hand cream will save the skin on your paws’ life.  PS did you know the skin on your face, neck and hands ages the fastest?  Take heed, people.




17 – Cape Recycled Red Wine Glasses, on sale for $24 (set of 4) – Love these. Lovelovelove.  More interesting-looking than your every day wine glasses but still totally classic.


17.5 – Vintage French champagne flutes by Luminarc, Set of 6, $41 – Perfection.


18 – American Rustic, $38 – I’ve been spending more time in the mountains this year, and I’m starting to embrace the aesthetic there… slash it’s already kinda in my bones, what with having Stevie B for a Pa & all.  Anyhow – I flipped thru this book at one of my favorite Solana Beach outposts the other day, and EVERY page was so so good.


19 – Balloon Sleeve Pullover, 30% off of $98 with code LETSGO – This is SO SOFT I CAN’T STAND IT.  And really pretty on.  The shape is ever-so-slightly 80’s.  AKA my favorite decade, ever.  Size S, Color: Blue Motif or Black.


19.5 – Madewell Ryder Cardigan, $75 with code THATSALE – This feels like BUTTAH. I repeat: buttah.  Shocking that it’s not cashmere.  I always struggle in the winter to find warm, cozy sweaters that aren’t bulky / are still mildly cute and don’t swallow you whole.  This is one of ’em.  Throw a cami under it, belt it, live in it – whatever. Looks longer & leaner in person.  Size S, Heather Fog.


19.75 – Driftweave Pullover Sweater, $75 with code THATSALE – ah balls while I’m at it this one is great too.  So adorbs.  Size S or M.


20 – Pink Beanie, $16 – For milder weather… not so much arctic tundra.


21 – Color Club Nail Polish in Poptastic Pink, $5.50 – I saw this in the nail salon in NYC the other day, and it was all I could do not to throw Fall colors to the wind and slap this on.  Maybe log this for your winter getaway – even if that getaway is a mental one when it’s negative 7 degrees outside in January.


22 – Coconut Milk Bath Soak, $32 – This stuff is DUHLICIOUS.  I snapped some up last year when I was primping for a Christmas party, and took a pre-game soak in it. It’s no joke.  I think I ran thru it in a week cuz it made me wanna take a bubble bath every night.


23 – Italian Leather Coin Purse, on sale for $18 with code HOLIDAY – I need a business card holder real bad, because I’m ALWAYS THE GIRL WHO FORGETS TO CARRY THEM.  What I like about this one (which is actually a coin purse) is that the little strap on it can hook around the strap of my work bag, so I always have it with me.  Otherwise I’ll leave it at home and/or it’ll get lost in the bottom of said bag / the abyss.


24 – Ugg Dakota Slipper in Tabacco, $99 – Because these are the warmest your feet will ever be in the winter.


25 – Spa Day, $ PRICELESS – You can pretty much throw everything on this list out the door in exchange for a SPAAAAA DAAAAYYYYY.  Haha j/k… sort of.  I’m not fancy enough that I’ve ever spent an entire day at a swanky spa, but I do know that great places in San Diego to get coiffed & buffed & such are: Beauty Lounge for mani pedis, Rhonda at Dr. Libs’ Chiropractic office for medical massage (it’s UNREAL, people), or Arcona Los Angeles for facials (Esthetician: Brandi Brown).


26 – Distressed Oushak Runner, 4’7″ x 10’8″, $3915 – Again, it’s a pipe dream people.  I scour an AWFUL lotta oushaks for clients, and I’m telling ya: this one is a stunner.  It’s also slightly overpriced (but honestly, only slightly).  The thing that doesn’t suck about antique rugs is that unless you let your kids drop trow & pee on them and then never clean the things, they increase in value over time.  So I mean, it’s basically like an investment………….


27 – Beyond Yoga Spacedye Performance Essential Long Leggings, on sale for $62 – Pretty sure I wouldn’t take these off till Springtime.  For inquiring minds: Color – Black/Steel or Black/Cobalt or Black/White.  Size M.


That’s all I got!  And by that I mean, just wait till I read everybody else’s gift guides this coming week then pluck stuff off theirs that I never knew I always needed and edit this list.  HAAAAAA, I’m kidding.  I totally need nothing in real life.  Except immortality for GusGus and green juice and my hot yoga class and my people.  And also – that Nespresso.


Steph's Scanned Signature

Casa Covet Living: She’s all done, folks!

Kitchen | Interior Design by Stephanie Ballard | Casa Covet Living
Kitchen, After | Interior Design by Stephanie Ballard | Casa Covet Living

It’s been so long since we last posted about our beloved dollhouse project / labor of love that I don’t even know where to start…  I could break this up into about 10 different posts, entitled things like:

  • Hardware is a real b*tch” (for how tricky it is to find inexpensive hardware that isn’t heinous… especially brass.)
  • Couldah Shouldah Wouldah” (for the things we may’ve done differently if we had ’em to do over… but for every one of those, there’s also a ‘this fortunate accident actually turned out way better than we’d expected.’)
  • Ohhhhhhhhh F**********dge” (for the mistakes we caught just in time that could’ve been REAL ugly.)
  • Fifty (million) shades of grey” (for the daunting paint selection process… because no matter how many ‘these are the 5 best no-fail neutrals’ posts that are out there on Pinterest, the truth is that EVERY paint color looks different in EVERY individual house, and sometimes you have to just have to slap a bunch of ’em on the wall and stare at them for a few days until you’re cross-eyed. Slash, I say that, and yet there are actually a few neutrals I’ll keep in my arsenal from now on.
  • Splurge & Save” (for what not to skimp on, and where you can cut corners).
  • Timing is Everything” (aka a good solid order of operations / checklist you need to have in place when you’re approaching a renovation.)
  • Talk to me, Goose” (for how ABSOLUTELY VITAL it is to have a solid working relationship and open line of communication with your contractor, because the second that breaks down is the second something slips through the cracks. And while we have spatted (is it spat or spat-ted?) like brother & sister a few times – he yanked my pigtails, I’ve def put him in timeout more than once, etc – I do adore, have the utmost respect for and have been incredibly lucky to have been able to work with Karrie & Tim’s contractor, Joe Borci.  Who really is the absolute best at what he does.  And who – bless his heart – we legit tortured with things like hilariously inappropriate group texts, April Fools jokes, endless intricate details for him to implement that probably made him want to lose my #…



We also tortured him delivering weekly payments delivered in envelopes like this:

poor joe | casa covet living
poor joe | casa covet living

And wardrobe razzing like this:


But I’ll save all those tangent posts for another day, cuz this sucker’ll be long enough.  Probably best to go take a bathroom break now before you settle in and start reading.  But I bet y’all just wanna see some before & afters & some highlights, right??!  Welp, here you go!  We’ll start back at the beginning… remember this chopped up, super vintage fixer upper it seemed there was no hope for?


BEFORE Floor Plan | Casa Covet Living


The idea was to open the space up, which basically required blowing out most of the interior walls in the main living area and kitchen.  The major challenges were then that we needed: a) a long wall to put a built-in media center on, b) a home for the washer/dryer, and c) an office for Tim.

blowing out walls | casa covet living


This is where we landed… After we blew out those interior walls (and had to bring in a few huge support beams), I extended the hall bath wall to create an office for Tim where the “bar” once was, which gave us a spot for the entertainment center.  We also decided to house the W/D inside of cabinetry in the office.  AND reconfigured the master suite some – removing that giant heinous fireplace wall

AFTER Floor Plan | Casa Covet Living


before kitchen 3
before kitchen 1

before kitchen 2

{ DEMO }

…To sum up all of us during the demo / design process, I was kinda like this:

Interior Designer Stephanie Ballard | Casa Covet Living


And Karrie was kinda like this: (“…hey girl, a little to the right.  Waiiiiiit, whaaaaaat?  Timeout – could somebody bring me a mai tai?”)


LAWD.  Which prompted me to stop and refuel at the West Hollywood mothership (Gracias Madre) a few times – and by refuel I mean wash down a hill of nachos with a margarita or 3.

working lunch, gracias madre | casa covet living

nachos, gracias madre | casa covet living

gracias madre margarita | casa covet living

And, Tim – bless his heart – was all posted up in a suit and serious at all the Friday a.m. construction meetings to get materials like the sand bags we much needed, trying to reign me & Karrie in and (unsuccessfully) trying to put the smack down on things like the mint pineapple hall bath wallpaper.  Ask him how that turned out for him.

There are some materials that when used together make up a good and durable combination, and then there are some materials that have been in use for long enough that they have started to lose their effectiveness. In order to make the best decision on which materials you want to use for your projects, you need to do a durable materials review first. Superdurable will definitely help you with that, it is a great source of reviews on the topic. A good durable materials review should tell you not only how durable the materials are, but also what it takes to maintain the durability of materials as well. This article will give you the answers to these questions so that you can make the best decision possible on the materials that you use for your projects. With the answers to these questions, you will be able to make the best decision possible.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.43.38 AM


We did a few extra custom details to make Karrie & Tim’s house extra warm & fuzzy.  Behold: the X wine rack over the refrigerator… because wtf does anyone ever really do with that space??  Other good options would’ve been to do a top hinge, so that the door lifts upward and it’s easier to access what’s inside… or to have added vertical dividers and stored baking pans / cookie sheets up there, since it’s 26″ deep and there’s plenty of space for lesser-used items.  But we wanted to open the space up some, so this was a perfect solution.  Also… a moment of silence, please, for Henri – Tim’s godawful life-size-wine-rack-man that used to sit in their breakfast nook in Santa Monica.  And that I always wanted to chuck over the balcony.  He’s currently sleeping peacfully in a dumpster behind their old apartment.

x-wine rack over refrigerator | casa covet living x-wine rack over refrigerator | casa covet living


We sprung for the most beautiful tarnished brass hardware on the island (look at the x-detail on those sweet aztec knobs – color: light bronze | hex pull – color: light bronze), and cut a major corner by scoring cheapie and fabulous ORB hardware for the perimeter cabinetry.

Brass Cabinet Hardware | Casa Covet Living

ORB Hardware | Casa Covet Living

Master Bath got glass knobs & pulls, courtesy of Home Depot (again – we needed hardware on that vanity that would “go away” and not detract from that gorgeous finish):

Master Bath Glass Pulls | Casa Covet Living

And for the Hall Bath, we recycled the perfectly gaudy vintage cut glass golf ball knobs that were there when Karrie & Tim bought the place:

vintage hardware | casa covet living

hall bath | casa covet living


scalloped toe kicks | casa covet living


x-detail, master vanity | casa covet living


It’s almost got a bluish undertone, which I love with the lagoon glass shower tile.

master vanity | casa covet living


Sidenote: chalk this up as maybe the first thing in history we’ve ever agreed on.

master bath | casa covet living

The sconces in the master bath were also a huge score… the finish is “brown nickel” – which I have never seen done before and which is super baller in person.  We needed something that wasn’t too matchy to the polished nickel plumbing, but brass (albeit amazing) wasn’t the right call either.  These are perfect… even Joe thought so.

master bath | casa covet living

polaris sconce, arteries | casa covet living


Shower Tile Going In | Casa Covet Living

master shower, blue glass tile | casa covet living
master shower, blue glass tile | casa covet living

Karrie | Casa Covet Living


before master bath



I'm an aunt! | Casa Covet Living


island pendants | casa covet living
island pendants | casa covet living

island pendants | casa covet living

kitchen AFTER | casa covet living


I sourced the open shelving from Reclaimed Wood San Diego, from this giant hill of lumber.  The best pieces were on the bottom… whoops slash HUGE thanks to the amazing folks who work there who heave-ho’d it out for me.  I grabbed 2 long planks of White Oak that we had cut into 27″ shelves.

reclaimed wood san diego | casa covet living


Their lead time was too long so we had to have it custom stained in LA.  And buzzang – did they come out PERFECT:

reclaimed shelving | Casa Covet Living


PS: Amiel for President.

tabarka inset | casa covet living


kitchen AFTER | casa covet living

kitchen AFTER | casa covet living


* sink *

before hall bath

hall bath | stephanie ballard interiors | casa covet living

* shower *

before hall bath shower

brass hall bath shower | casa covet living

hall bath | casa covet living
…don’t worry – I already christened this bad boy with a bubble bath the other night.

hall bath | casa covet living

* I can’t take it. *

before hall bath 3

hygge and west mint pineapple wallpaper | casa covet living

hygge and west mint pineapple wallpaper | casa covet living

* Look at our boy Javier go! *

hygge and west mint pineapple wallpaper | casa covet living

hygge and west mint pineapple wallpaper | casa covet living


kitchen sink | casa covet living

kitchen sink | casa covet living

kitchen sink | casa covet living


PS, this is about the coziest dang situation I’ve ever seen in person.




GYAH IT’S JUST NOT UGLY.  The construction / design portion is finished, and Karrie & Tim are merrily unpacking boxes as we speak, but we still have SO MUCH work to do on the decorating end it’s not even funny.  Starting with barstools… and we’re using this stunning Carolina Irving fabric:

Carolina Irving Aegean Stripe | Casa Covet Living

And for the breakfast nook / dining area, which currently looks like this…



We’re in the process of making nook seat cushions…


Using the NUBBIEST EVER Thibaut Crypton fabric for the bench cushion seats… that way ain’t nobody can ever screw ’em up. Crypton is amazingly pet / kid / Pig Pen Karrie friendly, because of its stain, moisture and odor resistance.  The fabric literally has an integrated moisture barrier, so most stains come up with a damp cloth and water, or if they’re super stubborn, mild soap and water.  Bing bang boom.

thibaut crypton juno in flax | casa covet living

Also in the process of choosing throw pillow fabrics.  Which is basically like trying to choose a favorite piece of candy from Candy Land.  And by Candy Land, we mean Nicky Rising & Hollywood at Home.

Interior Designer Stephanie Ballard | Covet Living Interiors | Casa Covet Living

We’re leaning somewhere towards here – for one, because we’ve both loved this Tulu Textiles fabric since the beginning of time, but also because it’ll show fewer spaghetti sauce / red wine stains.  Jury’s out but we’re percolating… hard.

Breakfast Nook Fabrics | Casa Covet Living

One more time for good measure. Cuz this post isn’t long enough:

Before & After | Interior Design: Stephanie Ballard | Casa Covet Living

Before & After | Interior Design: Stephanie Ballard | Casa Covet Living

Before & After | Interior Design: Stephanie Ballard | Casa Covet Living

Before & After | Interior Design: Stephanie Ballard | Casa Covet Living

Before & After | Interior Design: Stephanie Ballard | Casa Covet Living

Last but not least, this is about how we all feel about the house at this point… all a little bit deliriously happy.  I don’t think it translates via pictures or even video, but it is magical in person.  So cozy, and exactly what we wanted.



{ TEEM }

{ ME }

stephanie ballard | casa covet living

Also – totally holding Karrie to this:

And this was the scene last week when I popped up to shack up at Casa Covet Living. Home sweet home.

done! | Casa Covet Living
We’ll keep you posted as we continue to layer goodness into Karrie & Tim’s happy new abode!!!  Thanks for following along with the renovation and helping us make decisions along the way and cheering us on!!  You guys are the BEST! Sidenote:

don't quit your daydream

PS: Steph’s Interior Design website is currently under construction, so in the meantime, stay tuned here and over on her insta for updates! She’s currently booking out projects for the Fall of 2016 – email: with inquiries.


Steph & Karrie