Project Reveal: Creating a Living Room Ideal for Hosting

The second room I designed for my amazing clients Boe + Sophie Hayward (whose ping pong dining room I also designed), was their formal living room. The family upsized when moving into this house, so they found that they didn’t quite have furniture or plans for the formal front living room.

On top of that, the rest of the home is an open-concept layout, with the dining room, sitting room, kitchen, and family/TV room all connected – whereas the formal living room is separated on the other side of the entry/foyer on the front of the house. As a consequence, when I first saw the home, the living room was being used as an impromptu storage area, with hand-me-down furniture from their parents, boxes, and kids’ toys left in there.

While the fireplace + mantle were perfect places for holiday decor, the rest of the formal living room was not quite working for the family.

I started working with the Haywards during the holidays of 2014, which is why there are so many stockings + nutcrackers (their nutcracker collection is ON POINT!).

Boe + Sophie, who often entertain at their home, envisioned the formal living room being a chic “showcase” space in the house where grown-up guests could enjoy a cocktail when they arrived. Without further ado, the reveal:

Photo by Colin Price

Photography by Colin Price!

Since the family has three kids under age 5, I also wanted to make sure that even though the space is meant for grown-up guests, the furnishings would be safe for kids to romp around as well.

WHAT WAS ALREADY IN THE SPACE: The wall paint, which the stagers or previous owners had painted before the Haywards moved in, was fabulous – so I recommended we keep the paint as it was (in the “Before” photo, the color looks totally different). The blue sofa had just been reupholstered less than a year before, so we opted to keep it as-is also.

WHAT I ADDED + UPDATED: First I wanted to add some life to the floor covering situation in the formal living room. I chose one of my favorite rugs, the Surya Smithsonian Archive Rug in Brown, to bring together the olive-brown walls and deep brown floors. This selection meant that the primary colors in the room were brown, blue (sofa), and white – so whatever color the coffee table / occasional seats would be had to enhance this color palette.

After doing a ton of hunting for standard coffee tables, I landed on the idea of a giant tufted ottoman-coffee-table – and my clients loved the concept! The ready-to-order options I’d found were either not the right dimensions or the right colors, so I went custom and found a beautiful ochre/mustard fabric from Robert Allen, and worked with my amazing upholstery partners-in-crime to fabricate the piece. I LOVE how the colors + textures came together in the room. Plus, Boe + Sophie told me that their kids love running in and crashing onto the ottoman, so I couldn’t be more thrilled with the piece’s versatility.

Not pictured is the fabulous Room & Board sideboard that we got. It serves as the house bar – and the serving tray on the ottoman is a nod to the cocktails that will be served to grown-up guests in this space!

Not pictured is the fabulous Room & Board sideboard that we got. It serves as the house bar – and the serving tray on the ottoman is a nod to the cocktails that will be served to grown-up guests in this space!

The wooden stools with blue felt cushions are from Blu Dot – they’re fabulously casual + modern, and are easy to move around for versatile seating. Most of the time they stay in the family room on the other side of the house.

The final touches were the gold urchin ceiling light fixture and my *tszujing* of the books in the bookcases (side note, I learned how to spell that word by literally googling “how do you spell juj”). I purchased some bookends and decorative objects to complement Sophie’s collection of novels, and then color-blocked the books to give them a sense of organization and visual order. My personal favorite decorative objects are the Golden Gate Bridge bookends (which I used to hold the red books, and which are meant to look like a long *bridge* that extends through the fireplace) and the brass bear (the youngest of the Hayward children’s nickname is Bear). Here are the two bookcases together:

Sorry, Dewey Decimal System, but you have no home in this house.

Sorry, Dewey Decimal System, but you have no home in this house.

This living room was also featured recently in an article on Houzz about living rooms with fireplaces! If you’d like to read more about how I designed the room to highlight the fireplace, check it out here!

Project Reveal: Dining Room Fit for a Feast with a Side of Ping Pong

Recently I finished working on the home of my amazing clients Boe + Sophie Hayward. They are just the coolest people, and also parents to 3 kids under the age of five and a dog-baby, who make raising a family look like a total breeze.

When I met them, they’d purchased their current home just over a year earlier, and had run out of steam after decorating most spaces (they upsized from a smaller home), and what was left over were the formal living room and formal dining room. In this post I’ll show the Before & After for the dining room:

NOZNOZNOZ - Avenues Family Home - Dining BEFORE

I also happened to visit during the holidays, so all my “Before” photos show the family’s ridiculously extensive collection of Nutcrackers. The table, while beautiful, didn’t fit with their style goals for this room, and was too small. The giant china hutch is a hand-me-down from one of their parents’ homes, and the super-cool Graham’s beverage cooler ended up in the formal living room.

… and AFTER: Noz Design - Avenues Family House - Dining Room 1

What inspired me about Boe + Sophie’s vision for the room was how versatile they wanted their hosting spaces to be. As super-versatile people, they wanted their formal dining room to be stylish but comfortable – to be a space that guests loved to be in… and linger in.

Our process started with finding the right dining table. Boe’s ideal situation was for us to put a regulation-sized ping pong dining table in the space. For the record, that is a massive table for a San Francisco home: 5′ x 9′!!!! But the room was large enough, so I said, let’s go for it! After reviewing a number of options (surprisingly there are a number of ping pong dining tables in all different styles), we selected the Winston table from Venture Shuffleboard – made in the US of solid Walnut with Maple insets. And let me just say, this table is STUNNING and beautifully crafted.

Noz Design - Avenues Family House - Dining Room 2

As the house’s floor plan is very open, we opted to keep the walls in the dining room the same color as the adjacent sitting room + kitchen. That meant we could go with a bold color for the rug. Since Boe and Sophie’s three kids are all very young, I recommended a nice-looking but affordable rug (literally less than $400 and it’s 100% wool!) that they wouldn’t be afraid of having ruined. A big bonus for me was that Sophie loves this rug’s design!

Next was chairs: I found a beautiful set of 8 vintage walnut + wool chairs from my pals at Midcentury Møbler in San Francisco, and then for the head-of-table chairs, I juxtaposed the midcentury modern vibe with Scandinavian modern chairs designed by Hem. I love these leather scoop chairs, and I love that they kind of feel like baseball gloves (Boe is a major SF Giants fan). The woods on these chairs work with both woods in the dining table.

Side note: I'm pretty happy with my decorating job on the decorative shelves to the right. They are a really awkward height + depth, but I think we made it work.

Side note: I’m pretty happy with my decorating job on the decorative shelves to the right. They are a really awkward, unaccommodating height + depth, but I think we made it work. The ping pong gear goes in the little bucket on the 4th shelf.

Finally, lighting: the “before” chandelier was not working with the space – too small, too chrome, and hung too high. In keeping with the midcentury modern vibe, we went with a large Sputnik pendant in black metal, and then hung it just low enough that it feels like a part of the space, but just high enough that it doesn’t interfere with fierce table tennis matches (at least so far).

Boe and Sophie also asked about what to put on the wall. With the china hutch moved out, the room felt much bigger, but the wall felt empty. My idea was mirrors, because the formal dining room happens to get the least natural light vs. the other rooms on the ground floor, and the mirrors would bounce back light during the day and in evenings when the Sputnik light is on. Rather than go with one large mirror, we went with three in leather frames that nod to the leather chairs. Their scale is just enough to add visual interest to the wall without competing with the table and the delicious food to be served on it.

I was SO delighted that a couple friends (including Hedge, my now-fiancé ^_^) noticed that the mirrors look like ping pong paddles!

Also, I was delighted that a couple friends (including Hedge, my now-fiancé ^_^) noticed that I selected mirror frames that echo the shape of ping pong paddles!

And that’s it! What do you think of the idea of a multi-use dining table? I personally use mine as a makeshift “work table” when my desk is too small.

Next up: the project reveal for this same family’s formal living room!

WORKSPACE TOUR: His + Hers Home Offices

As a burgeoning designer, one of the dearest nods of support is when my friends + colleagues want and trust me to design spaces in their own homes. Earlier this year, my good friends Sunny and Stephen bought a beautiful 4-bedroom house in Potrero Hill SF, and they moved in with only a bed, a 30-year-old couch, and an IKEA desk. It was such a treat and an honor to help them outfit their new home!

While Sunny and Stephen’s styles were compatible for their living-dining-kitchen shared space, I had a ton of fun decorating their respective “his” and “hers” offices, which occupy 2 of the 4 bedrooms.

HIS OFFICE:

NOZNOZNOZ - Workspace Tour - His Office

Stephen works primarily from his home office, so he knew what he needed functionally for the space to work. He had just a few requests for his office: a really big desk for his dual-monitor computer system (which we set back up after the photo shoot), another desk surface for non-computers, and a warm industrial-chic feel.

NOZNOZNOZ - Workspace Tour - His Office 2

Main desk: Restoration Hardware; console table: Room & Board; shelves: Anthropologie; rugs: Overstock; decor and desk chair: client’s own.

For the floors, we layered two rugs: a large-weave jute rug, with a faux cowhide rug on top. Another benefit of the jute rug: the wide weave made it easy to thread cords and cables under the rug to the wall outlets.

A few of my favorite decor pieces in Stephen's office are the classic dogs-playing-poker print, the sword bookends, and the nautical-inspired clock.

A few of my favorite decor pieces in Stephen’s office are the classic dogs-playing-poker print, the sword bookends, and the nautical-inspired clock.

Pro tip: if you find yourself with more shelf space than you feel you have things to display, try lying thick books on their sides, and remember that objects that might not seem “designery” may still look great as part of a showcase – for instance, the board games in the previous photo.

HER OFFICE: 

NOZNOZNOZ - Workspace Tour - Her Office

Desk: Williams Sonoma; rug: Global Views “Arabesque”; shelves: One Kings Lane; pendant: Robert Abbey on Lumens.

Sunny’s objective for her office was to have a bright (I almost said “sunny”, which is just too punny!), feminine, open-feeling space to do work. To achieve maximum light around the clock, we used Hunter Douglas honeycomb shades to diffuse the direct sunshine and provide privacy (her office faces the street), and we installed a warm nickel pendant that drops into the room. We also chose an open, glass-top desk so that light could pass through to the rug.

NOZNOZNOZ - Workspace Tour - Her Office Detail

Pink boxes and stars: One Kings Lane; white urchin: HD Buttercup; gold menagerie: Horchow; perfume bottle: Z Gallerie; other objects: client’s own.

We kept the decor on her shelves minimal for now, so that Sunny can add new items over time as she finds objects that she loves. For now, the color palette is a warm, modern, femmy magenta, café latte, white, and mixed metals.

Thanks again to my fabulous friends-now-clients for asking me to make their house into a home!

All photos in this post are by Colin Price Photography!

CABIN TOUR: Lacey Acres

Hedge, Viv, and I got back a few days ago from an amazing 4th of July *glamping* trip – it’s an annual tradition (only the second year for me and Viv) at the stunning many-acre compound just south of Mendocino, CA, known as Lacey Acres.

On the property is a glorious cabin where big group meals for 50+ family and friends are prepped and served. The Laceys designed and built the cabin with the vision of being able to host large parties in a welcoming, open concept space – and boy did they succeed. The entire cabin, especially the main hosting spaces, is one of the most breathtaking and functional I’ve seen. And given that I suffer from cabin coveting (a side effect of having lived in cities the past 10 years) and suspect other fellow urban-dwellers do as well, I wanted to share some shots I snapped and reminisce:

THE KITCHEN:

NOZNOZNOZ - Lacey Cabin Kitchen

Arguably the grandest (and definitely the busiest) room in the cabin is the Lacey Kitchen, also known as the Two Step Cafe (because it isn’t breakfast without music and some light toe-tapping). The Laceys chose to use two different counter materials in the kitchen: Carrera marble for the counters against the walls, and zinc for the island. Throughout the home are antiques and vintage finds, so the old-fashioned warmth of the zinc counters enhances the nostalgic charm in an otherwise modern open floor plan.

Other details I absolutely love about the kitchen: the pot filler to the left of the range, the big 30″ griddle space on the range, the fact that the island is a farmhouse red with cookbook cubby shelves, and the view of trees from the Shaw farmhouse kitchen sink (large enough to bathe large babies in, so the sink is famously called the “baby washing sink”).

NOZNOZNOZ - Lacey Cabin Kitchen Sink

THE DINING AREA:

NOZNOZNOZ - Lacey Cabin Fireplace

Throughout the main floor of the Laceys’ cabin are stunning beamed ceilings with iron hardware. This fireplace establishes the main dining space within the open floor plan. It’s faced with local stone, and the firewood comes from fallen branches on the property.

(Art note: the painting to the right of the fireplace is by Brit Lacey, the second of three sons in the Lacey clan!)

NOZNOZNOZ - Lacey Cabin Dining

Another view of the main dining space, with a view of the window seat! The most amazing part of the kitchen-dining area is that the Laceys designed this cabin so that the dining table could be extended out French doors and onto their wraparound deck, to seat over 50 people. (The largest dinner they’ve ever hosted was for July 4th, 2013, where over 80 people joined!)

THE DECK:

NOZNOZNOZ - Lacey Cabin Deck

This deck is seriously inspired. If I ever get to design my own cabin, a deck wide enough for dining will definitely be set off the kitchen.

THE BAR:

NOZNOZNOZ - Lacey Cabin Bar

What would an amazing cabin for hosting be without an amazing bar? Not only have the Laceys collected covetable antiques to decorate the cabin, they were also super creative and resourceful to have found the bar countertop at a flea market and installed it here, just off the kitchen. The counter surface works well with the zinc island in the kitchen and the steel bar stools. NOZNOZNOZ - Lacey Cabin Bar Detail

From behind the bar, another fabulous and fitting detail is that the cupboard doors + hardware are from antique ice boxes! (Don’t mind the blue painter’s tape – that was put there to keep us youngsters out of the good liquor cabinet!)

Honestly my photos don’t do the Lacey property any justice (especially since they were taken on the last morning after a weekend whirlwind and clearly not staged); this cabin belongs in magazines! Such a privilege to be invited back each year to celebrate the USA in this exquisitely American cabin.