Tuesday, April 29

Turquoise State of Mind

On this dreary rainy day, I am beach dreaming! And one color that always says beach to me is turquoise. You know those beaches where the water is crystal clear and seems to go on forever? And when you get there on the first day of vacation you are the happiest person on earth?  And you are super nice to your kids and your husband and you think it will last forever? Yeah…that's what turquoise says to me.  If only we were there right now…

But as much as I love the idea of turquoise, I have never really been able to incorporate it into my decorating. I am afraid it is always going to come across like a bad version of Barbie's dream house.  Then I cam across this amazing blog called House of Turquoise.  The writer is a self-described turquoise addict and she finds all the best pictures and inspirations for including the color in home decor.  

Of all the houses/rooms she has profiled there is one that is one house that I keep coming back to for inspiration. The house is located in Minneapolis and was built by Great Neighborhood Homes and I am officially obsessed. In fact, you will likely recognize many of the elements of our house in these pictures (in my dreams maybe!)

Can we just talk about the built in dog "house" next to the desk? I mean….it's everything! I only wish there had been a place for us to do that in the house. And just in case you think I am Cruella Deville, our pooch LOVES, in facts demands that he be crated. He's 8 and set in his ways. And if we leave him alone in the house without being in the crate he flips out and buries his head under our pillows. Here's a pic of our little Buddy. 

Anyway, back to turquoise. What got me thinking about it today was that I have a spot at the top of our stairs and I am thinking of dipping my toe in the turquoise pool (I wish!) and putting a turquoise piece in that spot. 

But what should it look like? I love this one from One King's Lane. It's probably too big for our space but I just like love the color and I think it will brighten up our landing (where there are no windows) nicely. 

I also really like this more distressed version that I found on Etsy. Again, it's too big (and it already sold!) but if I could find a smaller version, it would be perfect. And a good place to store fluffy white towels - that by the way would never stay fluffy or white with two kids. I digress…

Last but not least, here's one that I found on Decor It Darling which is cute cute. 

But can we get back to the beach for a second? I found this private home that you can rent in Turks and Caicos. Anyone want to go? I'll bring the drinks!

Monday, April 28

Guest Bloggin! House Tour

Hello there!  This week I will be guest blogging on a site called A Stroll Thru Life where she asked me to basically show and tell.  I thought I'd share what I'll be posting over there since it gives you a somewhat full tour of the house. Still lots to finish but getting there. Check out my post below. 

A Stroll Thru Life Guest Blog:

"Hi there! I am Allie from Designing On The Side. I am so happy to be posting here on A Stroll Thru Life. Whether it’s a big event, a small dinner party, decorating our house or a friends….nothing is better than finding time for design!

A year ago we embarked on a total renovation and addition of hour home. We moved out while they completely gutted the existing house and added 1500 square feet including 3 stories on the back. When we moved back in the decorating fun began!

The first room you see when you enter our house is the living room. I really love the way it turned out! The grey board and batten and the curtains were inspired by another blogger. I built upon that adding yellows, chrome and glass elements and the fun zebra print rug to keep it light. 

The piano in the left of the picture below was an incredibly generous gift from my parents who wanted to be sure that the piano was played by their grandchildren. So nice right? You can also see that we created a front entry by adding a half-wall and a column when we renovated. We like this much better than walking right into the living room with no separation of space. 

We also added a half bath to the main floor. I chose a bright Thibaut wallpaper for the space since it does not have any natural light. 

Next to the living room is the dining room (shocking huh?).  This room is somewhat temporary in the sense that this is not our forever furniture. But we have spent so much on the renovation and the other essentials we needed when we moved back in, I decided to reuse our old dining room furniture but spruce up the room a bit.  To do that,  I repainted the chairs from red to black and added two patterned chairs at the end. I am a big fan of bargains and got these on Overstock.

Now onto my favorite room in the house....the kitchen! I swear the entire renovation was as a result of my frustration with the tiny kitchen we used to have. So we put a lot of time and energy into designing our "dream kitchen".  Here's the result!

The absolute best part about it is the Wolf range which is worth every penny if you love to cook like I do. The fact that it had red knobs had nothing to do with my decision to buy this particular brand...but they were a bonus!

The island is one of the best parts of the room. My family congregates there every day for homework and meals and it is a great place for our guests to gather around as well when we have parties. 

The kitchen is connected to the family room to make one big open concept space and we spend most of our time in these two rooms. Here's a picture of the mantle and my favorite new chair from Crate and Barrel!

Here's a another shot of the room from the kitchen which also gives you a good image of the coffered ceilings that our builder installed. You can also see the Restoration Hardware reclaimed wood armoire we scored at the outlet for 70% off! Gotta love a bargain. 

I wanted to give the stairwell a little love and so I painted these grey and white stripes going up the stairs. 

Here's a shot of the master bathroom. It is light and airy and so high (we live on a hill) that it really feels like we are in an oasis even though we are not far from a big city. Everyone always asks me about the chandelier. I also got this on Overstock (noticing a theme here?) and it was a steal and is great quality. Highly recommend it! 

Here is the shower and some details of the tile. 

Our kids rooms were fun to decorate and I used bold colors and prints that keep them young and fun without being babyish. Here's our daughter's room. 

And this is our son's. 

Last but not least on this tour of our house is our new guest room. This was a high priority of both sets of our parents who were tired of sleeping on an air mattress every time they came to visit.  The giant reprint of Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party was a gift from an event I planned once for The Phillips Collection Museum in Washington, DC where the original lives. It is huge but I think gives a little boost to this basement room. 

So that's our home...so far! There are still a lot of rooms we haven't tackled yet like our master bedroom and the rest of the basement. But it's a good start and you can keep up with my progress at www.desigingontheside.com

Thanks for having me!!!"

Wednesday, April 23


A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about my friend Cathy McCann from our days in Chicago who had just lost her little girl Sadie to Aicardi Syndrome.  You can read that post called "What Really Matters" here.  Her loss was sudden - to me and to those that had followed her journey on her mom's blog- but her pain was familiar as I watched my sister deal with the pain of losing her little girl 5 years before Sadie died.

But like my sister and her husband before them, Cathy and her husband Adin decided that being justifiably bitter and hurt was not the path they wanted to take. Instead, they too have chosen to turn Sadie's legacy into one of kindness and generosity.

For the next several weeks, leading up to the May 3rd celebration of Sadie's life, friends and strangers from all across the country will be completing random acts of kindness in Sadie's honor. From donating food or necessities to shelters, to bringing treats to an animal rescue, to paying for a stranger's meal, to helping the homeless...it's all started to happen and you can see some of the great acts on the Friends of Sadie McCann Facebook page.

Here is the card that Cathy and Adin will use to honor Sadie and the acts of kindness she inspires.

 Cathy says she was inspired by two websites Random Acts of Kindness and The Bday Project.  

The story of Cathy and Adin's plan to honor Sadie with acts of kindness was featured on a cool website called The Mighty. 

That story was even picked up by none other than Khloe Kardashian!  How crazy is that? Check it out 

One of the things my husband and I often talk about is the lack of service and giving back our children participate in. It's something that is incredibly valuable and important to us, yet we never seem to find the time in our crazy mixed up lives to fit it in. But no more excuses.  Sadie, and my niece Zoe, are sitting on my shoulder telling me to give back, get involved and be kind. 

So whatdya say? Can you join me and make time to be kind to a stranger, a friend, someone in need? If so, post it to Sadie's Facebook page and let her, and her amazing, awesome, inspiring parents know you did it because of them. 

Here's to you sweet Sadie! And the legacy of kindness you...and your amazing parents...are giving the world. 

Sunday, April 20

All Things Outdoor!

Hello out there!  Miss me?  We are back from one fabulous spring break week at Disneyworld where it was 85 and sunny almost every day and where my kids smiled for 6 days straight.  We love love loved it!  Highly recommend it if you haven't yet ventured to the Magic Kingdom (and all the other kingdoms). Here's a pic of the hotel we stayed at The Wilderness Lodge and the glorious pool we spent considerable time in and around.

We were happily surprised to come home and find our patio construction well underway. Pictures below. It is impossible to tell from these what it will look like but it will be a flagstone patio with a knee wall most of the way around the outer edge which will create planters behind the patio. 

You can see in the above two pictures that our enormous tree that used to be in our backyard is back to haunt us yet again. The roots are massive and likely will end up costing us even MORE money to deal with (as if we haven't spent enough taking it down and grinding the stump). Here's what it used to look like before we took it down. It was a gorgeous 110 foot tulip poplar (two side by side actually). We were very sad to take it down, but every time we had a storm, we would hide in our basement. After too many trees fell in our neighborhood narrowly missing killing people each time, we decided it had to come down. 

The evergreen trees in this pic took a beating in the construction and will be fixed or replaced and the fence is being power washed and stained this week. The barrels are what we grow all of our herbs in. 

Since the back yard is a hill, they are having to dig down a little deeper at the top of the yard to level the patio.  

Here you can see where the knee wall will go with the planters behind it - up against the fence. 

Here are some inspiration shots I found on Houzz that give you an idea of what the planters up against the fence will look like. 

We hope it will be finished in the next week or two and be ready for our first bbq of the summer (ok so it's still spring but ya know what i mean). 

Of course this will provide me with an opportunity to decorate….MY FAVORITE thing to do right?  We have a table and a small sofa and chair that our friend has graciously babysat for us while the house we under construction that will fit really nicely on our new patio.  I am thinking of getting a new umbrella and cushions for it and like the idea of a navy blue and white market umbrella like this one from Pottery Barn (I only wish the beach came with it!)

We also want to get a small fire pit too.  Something like this I found on Wayfair for $375. 

Our plan is to fill the planters with lots of tall grasses and flowering plants that will soften all of the hard scape and provide lots of color. Hopefully we can figure out how to do that (no promises). 

Lots of work going on to make our outside match the inside. Can't wait to show you the results! Glad to be home….but dreaming of Disney!

Saturday, April 12

Saturday Morning Musings: Angry Cat, Aaron Carter and Japan

As I mentioned in my last post, it is Cherry Blossom time in DC and they are more popular than ever. They say that 1.5 million people see the trees every year. That's incredible when you think about it. In a world gone high-tech mad, TREES still draw more than a million people to get in a car, on a plane, in a crowded bus to come see flowers on trees. Two other things that confirm their popularity: Aaron Carter is performing in the blossom parade this year and there are ton of pictures of cats in front of the trees on the internet. Enough said.

I digress. The real purpose of this post is to share with you another great party from my past. Next up in this series is the 2011 Trust for the National Mall Benefit Luncheon. Each year we would select a partner country to honor and highlight at the event. In 2011, to launch the year long 100th anniversary celebration of the cherry trees, we selected Japan and after a year of planning, here is how the tent turned out that year. Pretty amazing!

photo from imaglink

You can see that we used a lot of Japanese elements including the obvious ones like the chopsticks and the color scheme, but we also included some cool other things like wrapping the tent poles in faux bamboo and adding large shoji screens on either side of the podium. You can also see hanging paper cranes from the ceiling in the main tent and hanging paper parasols from the reception/dinner tent.

 One thing I love to do at events is vary the tables and the place settings. Here is one style we used. 

The flower arrangements were all minimalist and incorporated Japanese elements in some way. These were my favorite because of the bamboo shoots and bold orange color. 

Here's another one of the table arrangements that was inspired by bento boxes. They were low and filled with unusual flowers.  All the flowers were created by the amazing Philippa Tarrant

At the Luncheon, Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki spoke and gave a moving tribute to his country which had just experienced the devastating earthquake and tsunami. There were not many dry eyes in the tent that afternoon. 

Two days after the Luncheon, we once again transformed the tent for the Ball on the Mall.  Here's the dinner tent (which was the reception tent for the Luncheon). 

And here is how the Ball tent transformed. It was really incredible. 

This was the last Luncheon and Ball that I planned before leaving the Trust and I must say, they were my favorite. I still have my black and red TNM umbrella (the giveaway that year). This year's events are coming up in a few weeks and I can't wait to see what they have come up with this year.

Angry Cat says get outside and stop blogging…it's a beautiful day.  Chat later!