Not Going Out Like That


Getting Your Backyard Ready for Entertaining

A few weeks ago I hosted a small ladies gathering in my backyard as a baby sprinkle (as opposed to a “shower”). It was a warm April weekend and a great opportunity to spruce up the backyard for Spring & Summer. We spent 4+ weeks re-landscaping our front and backyards last summer and only enjoyed the end result for a month or two post re-design. The new plants from last summer have matured a bit, the bougainvillea is back in bloom and the jasmine smells delicious. Here are a few pics of what the seating / dining area of our yard looks like.

yard 2

Teak is expensive but the best option for an outdoor wood table because of the natural oil found in teak. To protect it, try to keep it covered all week and in the winter, when the table is not in use. Much easier than sanding and sealing the table every year. Also be careful to select solid teak and not “other” wood that has been just treated with teak oil. If you see a large teak table priced under $1,000, it’s probably not solid teak and may warp over time.

yard 3

A few design recommendations if you like this look … don’t buy an outdoor table with matching chairs. Our yard has a “paved” area in gray concrete so I wanted some color against the wood table. I found these awesome yellow chairs at Pier 1 and bought a couple of two-sided cushions for the end chairs. The cushion is floral on one side and striped on the other (my husband prefers the stripes)

yard 5

We have bright turqouise lanterns against the posts of the pergola (hard to see in these pics) so I picked out these turquoise tissue-paper pom poms on-line. They are made by Martha Stewart. After seeing how simple it is to make them myself, I could see going the DIY route next time but these pom poms lasted several weeks outside … until it rained ūüė¶

Lastly – if you have a pergola or something that can accommodate a shade cloth, it’s a great way to diffuse light and block harsh sunlight without using¬†a solid canopy. I found a shade cloth on-line that was installed on top of the pergola by our landscaping guys. It makes our seating area so much more useful.

To view more of my backyard inspiration, check out my Pinterest board here.

Chairs РPier 1 (stacking chair and larger chair). Table РPottery Barn. Pom Poms РMartha Stewart. Tablecloth Рgift from friend. Flowers РWhite hydrangeas and irises. Inexpensive outdoor furniture covers can be found here.  We paid a little more for a large table cover from Pottery Barn.

Linking up with Style Sessions, Rolled Up Pretty, any My Thrifty Chic



How to Style a Mantle


We have a “formal living room” in my house. Formal in the sense that it is it’s own room, and not part of an open floor plan, like many newer and renovated homes are. This is one of the few rooms in the house, where the kids don’t play and there are NO toys. It’s the most traditional room in my house in terms of decor, although there is a mix of styles in the room. The great thing is that my husband & I get to enjoy this room all the time, because the main TV in the house is in here. As much as I like the idea of no TV in the living room, I am also willing to admit that 30-60 minutes of TV is part of my regular daily routine and I am not willing to watch TV in some small dark room while a beautiful, bright living room goes unused. So why am I ranting about TVs in living rooms ? I don’t know. My mantle is in the same room and that is what today’s post is about. It took me a long time to figure out what to do with my mantle in terms of decorating it. I started a Pinterest board just for mantles. And after a few different attempts, I finally settled on something I like, which you can see in these pics below.


There are certain design accessories that are very popular right now such as antlers or urns, and mercury vases, but I felt no personal connection with any of these.  I liked the way many of these things look but they had no connection with my life so I wanted to find objects with significance. I settled on seashells, coral and other sea insipired pieces because I grew up at the beach in Miami. My husband and I are both certified divers and we love the ocean. The piece of coral on top of the stacked books was actually given to my husband by his Grandmother.




As you can see, we have lucite nesting tables and modern architecture books in our home, coupled with regency style tufted chairs, and Chippendale inspired chairs. The rug is a hand woven oriental rug that is pretty traditional but feels updated because of the modern pale palate. I love mixing styles in one room, and there is no formula for this other than trying out different combinations until you find one that works.


Seashells on mantle РEtsy. Stands for shells РEtsy. Purple vases on mantle РZ Gallerie. Nesting tables РCB2. Mirro above mantle РMortise & Tenon on La Brea in Los Angeles. Purple chairs Рvintage and re-upholstered. Bamboo chairs РBallard Designs but with my own cushions.

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One of my favorite parts of my house is my entryway. It’s a space that is often neglected, but it’s the first part of the house that you see, so I want it to be a cheerful welcome to my home. This was one of the first parts of the house that I decorated when we moved in 3 1/2 years ago. It called for a very specific piece of furniture as I needed something slim enough to fit the small recessed space and wanted something with small drawers that can be used for keys, sunglasses and such.


I fell in love with the idea of a painted, distressed piece when I came across some Asian furniture for another part of the house. We painted the walls a French blue and I thought the red would look great against a pale blue. The lines of this piece are very modern but the distressed finish and Asian styling make it a perfect cross-over between modern and antique. To accessorize the area, ¬†I used a brass owl (thrifted), and some metal fruit sculptures that I already owned. Then I found this great blue bird canister at Room Service LA. It pairs perfectly with the walls and the limited edition print above. I don’t really like birds (the live kind) but I love decorating with images and sculptures of them. Strange, huh ?


To save money on framing this print, I asked the local frame store to make me a custom mat that would fit into an  off-the-shelf frame that I bought for $30. Wish I could remember where the print was from. I had found a great list for on-line art dealers from Design Sponge but since then, DS has removed all these lists from their site.



These drawers are perfect for keys, sunglasses and anything else you don’t want out in the open. We live in a permit parking area so we keep all of our visitor parking passes in the center of this table.


Entry table – Legend of Asia. Blue bird canister – Room Service LA. Frame – Aaron Bros. Brass owl and fruit sculptures – old.


Mini Moments

These are just some random mini-moments I captured of things that make me happy, and wanted to share in one post, as there was not enough time to make each one a dedicated post.

Nothing says Spring more than the arrival of Daffodils. They are so bright and cheery, I have to buy several bunches each time I see them at the market.

I don’t know how Trader Joe’s does it but they come up with some amazing products. Who doesn’t love bacon (vegetarians aside) ? Now your whole house doesn’t have to smell like the stuff because this pre-cooked bacon takes 15 seconds to warm up in the microwave. I sprinkled some in my potato salad and my egg frittata this weekend.
mini moments bacon

I did a blog post with these plaid (tartan) pants and love the contrast of the print with my leopard Be&D bag.
mini moments plaid

Always wanted a house with a red door and love this red front gate that I walked by in my neighborhood. If you have read up on Feng Shui, you know that a red door brings good luck.

That’s it for today folks. We are experiencing some unusually warm weather in Southern California this week. Wednesday promises a high of 81 so I have to start applying the self tanner now, before I let my winter legs out for show.

Linking up with Real Girl Glam


How to Buy a Rug

If you have ever bought a hand knotted wool rug, you know the prices vary greatly and it’s hard to tell what a special rug like this should cost. I recently did some research on the subject and wanted to share it with you.

What is a Hand-Knotted Rug? A hand-knotted rug is often referred to as an “oriental” and they are typically made in Iran (Persia), India, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Romania, Egypt or Nepal. The country of origin does not determine quality.¬†A skilled¬†weaver individually ties every knot, creating a one-of-a-kind rug. Rugs¬†are made of¬†natural fibers such as wool, silk, or cotton.

There are two types of hand-knotted¬†rugs –¬†flatweave and pile. I personally prefer the look of flatweave rugs myself. Within the flatweave category you can purchase a Dhurry (often most economical), a Soumak (more plus in feel) or a Kilim.¬† Pile rugs are more plush and also have a few variety of weaves.

What makes a hand-knotted rug so expensive ? Well … they are hand made by a person or persons who have passed down the tradition from generation to generation for hundreds of years. It could take YEARS to make a large rug that is 10 X 12 or larger. Often times, natural dyes are used to dye the wool yarn that is being used, which makes it even more expensive. There is also cost associated with the quality of the wool being used,¬† and the level of detail in the design.

KPSI (knots per square inch) affect the cost of a rug too.  Typical KPSI is 50 to 160,  400 per square inch is remarkable. The KPSI will affect how long the rug will last. Keep in mind that silk does not hold up as well as wool so for high traffic areas like hallways, wool rugs are recommended. Also, silk threads are thinner so a rug with more silk content will have more KPSI but may not hold up as well as a rug that is entirely wool.

When buying a hand-knotted rug, look for the following:

– The pattern of the rug is almost as clear on the back as it is on the front.

– The fringe is part of the rug and not sewn on.

– The rug is wool

– Ask what the KPSI is, keeping in mind the 50-160 range.

Hand TUFTED rugs are totally different. Hand-tufted rugs are made with a tufting hook or pneumatic tufting gun. First, a foundation fabric with an imprinted design is stretched onto a frame. Wool is then punched back and forth through the fabric, leaving loops on the face. For a really interesting article on hand tufted rugs, check this out.

Where to Buy Rugs: Choose a store that has been in business in your area for many years. Trustworthy, well-run businesses endure. The best dealers will show you a sampling of everything available today, and will recommend the best type of rug for your purpose and budget. Be wary of stores that go out of business and pop up years later in a different location. They may not be around later when you need them.

When you are ready to shop, you can narrow down the time spent looking by simply telling a rug dealer the following (as an example):

I am looking for a hand knotted flatweave rug that is approximately 5 x 8, and has a lot of ____ color.

Sometimes I think it is best NOT to share your budget because you might find a rug that is below your¬†allowable spend¬†and you¬†want to be able to negotiate on that price, without the seller knowing that it’s well within your budget.

Here are a few inspiration photos of rugs in beautiful spaces. I especially love the combination of modern pieces with an old world piece such as an Oriental rug.

rug 4

rug 1

rug 5

rug 6

rug 2


More Flowers That Last

One of my very first posts was on why I love fresh flowers in the house and how to select the flowers that will last and give you the most bang for your buck. Now that the holidays are over, I felt inspired to pick out some colorful (almost Spring like) flowers to brighten up my house. Sometimes when all the trimmings are put away and the excitement of the holidays ends, all we are left with is a few extra pounds and life back in high gear. Here are some simple and inexpensive flowers I picked up at my the market this weekend. I hope it inspires you to brighten up your home with flowers as well !

orange gerber daisies


For more ideas on how to help your flowers last longer, check out this list from Readers Digest or go to my original post for more ideas on helping them last. Changing out the water every day or as often as you can is a good way to prevent bacteria in the water and will help your flowers last longer.

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Catalog Finds for the Home

I get LOADS of catalogs in the mail and most of them get immediately pitched in to the recycling bin but I just can’t resist a good home decor catalog. Even though our home doesn’t really need much these days, I love to see how the different rooms are styled. Here are a few items that I picked out of a few recent catalogs that I would love to work into my house.

Avlon Dhurrie Rug in Greek Key Design $249 - $699

Avlon Dhurrie Rug in Greek Key Design $249 – $699

I love a Greek Key design and the way this rug looks in this room. It’s a nice change up from the chevron pattern we see everywhere these days (including in my own bedroom.) I probably would skip those giant pieces of art on the walls but I love most everything else about this room, especially the cool gray / teal color combo.

Bungalow Mirror from Serena & Lilly $595

Bungalow Mirror from Serena & Lilly $595

I have been searching for a mirror for our powder room and just have not committed to one yet. Even though $600 is pricey for a mirror for a tiny little bathroom it IS the one bathroom that most guests see when they come over. I love the color of the frame, the antique finish and the touch of Chinoiserie !

Jellyfish Prints from Ballard Designs - $649 for set of 4 framed

Jellyfish Prints from Ballard Designs – $649 for set of 4 framed

I have been trying to decide what art I can put around the TV in our living room. If you follow me on Pinterest, I have pinned a few ideas of decorating AROUND a TV. I think these prints have the right dose of color while still being delicate enough to not distract you from TV viewing.

Aleppo Inlay Table to be used as bedside table - Serena & Lilly $895

Aleppo Inlay Table to be used as bedside table – Serena & Lilly $895

This table would be a GREAT addition to my bedroom which has a few more trendy design pieces in it right now (like a regency style desk and a chevron rug). I think the old world style of these tables lends a timelessness to a room and this design mixes well with modern pieces, even tough a bone inlay table is very traditional.

Fornasetti Plates available at Barney's and

Fornasetti Plates available at Barney’s and

And on this laste one I am cheating because this was NOT from a catalog but I have always dreamed of buying some of these plates to place on a wall in our dining room. Love them !

What do you think ? Leave me a comment to let me know. It gets so lonely here in the blogosphere ūüôā

Rug from Ballard Designs, here. Jellyfish prints, here. Bungalow Mirror, here. Aleppo Inlay Table, here.