How to Get the Most Out of Your Color Consultation

So excited to announce this week that I am the official color consultant for Paintzen San Francisco! They’re basically “Uber for painting your home” (pardon the overused *tech analogy* description) – a super turnkey, totally online process, where you pick what you want to have painted, they’ll deliver a fair quote online, and then you can schedule licensed + insured painters to get it done. The thing is, you need to tell them what colors you want to use. And if you can’t decide, I’m your gal (at least in the SF Bay Area).

(And if you’d like some bonus reading, Paintzen featured me as their Designer of the Month – here’s my lil interview on their blog!).

NOZNOZNOZ - Color Consultation - Paint Fan Deck

Just one of several paint chip fan decks from Benjamin Moore! Soooo many colors.

But the world of colors is ridiculously daunting, with wayyy too many colors and brands to choose from. And if you’re hoping to paint your walls just once, or just once in a while, it might feel kind of overwhelming to distill all the options down to a final paint scheme and hope you get it right the first time (if you don’t, though, don’t worry – it’s literally just paint so you can always repaint or paint it back to the previous color). So, unless you have a knack for colors + color theory, getting help via a quick color consultation could be really helpful and save you a lot of time in the process!

Whether you choose to pay an interior designer to help consult on color, or just head to a paint store and talk to the store’s paint expert (some paint stores have in-house color consultants), here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your color consultation:

TIP 1: HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WANT

Before diving into paint chips, first figure out your vision for the rooms / walls you want painted. Start on sites like Houzz or Pinterest, find inspiration images, and show your color consultant those images. If your heart is pulling you in different directions for a room, narrow it down to 2 different directions max. 3 is too many.

TIP 2: DO THE CONSULTATION DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS

The truest way for you to be able to see the differences across paint chips in the same color family is to view them in daylight. BUT after you take your paint chips home, it’s also important to take the time to view the paint chips (or paint samples, if you paint larger swatches on your wall) during the times you’ll be home. That means if you are always in the office 9-6pm, make sure to decide if you also like the color in the evenings when you’re home to enjoy your room.

NOZNOZNOZ - Color Consultation - Paintzen Projects by Noz Design

These are 4 rooms I’ve had painted for my clients, all working with Paintzen. One plug for them is they have paint crews with the tools and skills to do wallpaper effects like stripes, herringbone, chevrons, etc.

TIP 3: FIGURE OUT WHAT DIRECTION YOUR WINDOWS FACE

If you’re doing a consultation in your space, your color consultant will know to assess what direction your sunlight comes from. If you’re headed to a paint store, figure this out ahead of time and make sure to tell the store expert! Especially with whites and light greys, paint colors can look completely different, depending on whether you have indirect north-facing light, western afternoon sunset light, or direct full exposure south-facing light! Your iPhone has a compass app (totally works!), or you can do a Google Maps search for your building to figure it out.

TIP 4: DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO BOLD

The great thing about paint is, even though it can make a room feel completely different, it’s really just paint (I know I just said this earlier, but it bears repeating!). Which means, even for a rental home, you can always paint it back. If you’re loving a dark or bold color, definitely ask your color consultant to select the right shade of that bold color. It’s likely that the paint chip will feel more muted than the inspiration photo you show, but trust the consultant: photos always deceive the actual color in real life, and end up looking brighter or more saturated in the photo.

NOZNOZNOZ - Color Consultation - Go Bold Even Exteriors

Speaking of BOLD… love that San Francisco has no rules about what color you can paint your house or building. This technicolor art deco fantasy is in the Castro on 17th Street.

FINAL TIP: END THE CONSULT WITH A MAX OF 3 OPTIONS

With as many paint shades as there are, you might be tempted to keep your options open with 4-5 paint shades that you hang on the wall. That is too many. By the end of your consultation, your consultant should help you land on 3 or fewer final options. Those 3 might be 3 very similar shades, or 2 similar shades and 1 totally different option – doesn’t matter. A max of 3 per room / wall will lead to a much more successful final selection, and less over-thinking. A good color consultation should close with you feeling confident about making a decision for your final paint color!

If you have any other questions or want advice on other parts of the color selection process, let me know anytime!

The 2 Best Things IKEA Sells

As a designer who cares a lot about the environment and minimizing waste by keeping or updating existing furniture, I’m usually at odds with everything IKEA represents. While I can appreciate their mission to bring affordable modern design to the masses, the reality is that they sell disposable furniture, built to last only a while, and priced to keep the disposers from feeling too guilty about wasting money if they’re too busy to try to resell their IKEA remains.

But there ARE two amazing, shockingly quality items that IKEA carries, that I need to celebrate them for, because they’re such high value items. And they’re both mirrors / mirrored.

FIRST BEST THING, WHICH IS SO BEST: IKEA’s Hovet Mirror ($129)

NOZNOZNOZ - My IKEA Hovet Mirror

At a towering 6’6” tall, the Hovet mirror is the most fantastic thing IKEA sells, the most fantastic IKEA thing I’ve ever bought on Craigslist, and the only IKEA thing I recommend to all my clients. For anyone who’s ever been frustrated by “skinny” mirrors and ‘fatty” mirrors in dressing rooms, the Hovet mirror is sturdy and manufactured really well to return an accurate reflection of you in front of it. The frame is a brushed aluminum, which is maybe a little more modern than some folks are into, but to me, the frame is so thin that it mostly disappears.

Plus, most mirrors at any other reasonably priced retailer like West Elm, Room & Board, etc. sell framed mirrors anywhere from $400 to $900 – I find that for a bedroom / closet dressing mirror, a nicer frame isn’t worth the additional cost.

NOZNOZNOZ - IKEA Hovet vs West Elm search ads.png

I just noticed that when you do a google search for “ikea hovet mirror,” a WEST ELM mirror ad pops up – that’s how popular this mirror is?! 

While several of my clients and I have just leaned our mirrors against a wall, with the base of the mirror on the floor (pro tip: having a slight angle by resting a mirror on the floor can make you feel a little slimmer in the mirror!), this client of mine has the mirror hanging down the hallway from the front door (the Hovet comes with mounting hardware).

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Breakfast 4

My pro tip would be that if you live in an area where Craigslist is a thing, check there first! Since mirrors are seldom moved around or handled, a used one is likely to look great or like-new, and you won’t have to deal with the ridiculous amounts of cardboard packaging that come with buying a new one.

OTHER BEST THING: IKEA’s Godmorgon Medicine Cabinet ($150-240)

NOZNOZNOZ - IKEA Godmorgon 2 door medicine cabinetNOZNOZNOZ - IKEA Godmorgon 2 door medicine cabinet - sides

While I’ve not used this product in a project yet, the IKEA Godmorgon medicine cabinet is a steal for an inside-and-outside mirrored unit – my go-to brand for medicine cabinets, Robern, offers interior mirrored cabinets for anywhere from $500 to $2,500 retail (granted, the Robern units offer lots of bells & whistles); but if you are renovating your bathroom on a budget, the Godmorgon unit would be a great value, and will look much more expensive than its price. Plus the interior of the Godmorgon, on top of being mirrored, includes 4 tempered glass shelves – so you could add your own DIY lighting at the top of this unit, and it would cast light all the way through!

The only downside to the Godmorgon is its dimensions. Whether you go with the one-door or the two-door unit, the widest single pane mirror you’ll get is 20”, which is a bit of a bummer if you were hoping for a more luxe look (I’m not a big fan of the seam down the middle). And the 1-door only comes in a 15ish-inch-wide option, which is VERY limiting.

Also, I haven’t been able to confirm based on the instruction / install guides whether you can recess these cabinets into the wall, or if they have to be surface-mounted. Despite the limitations of this unit, though, it’s still one of the best things IKEA offers.

And besides these two mirrored value-spectaculars, I’ll go back to having a bone to pick about IKEA.

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!

MATERIAL MOMENT: Bógólanfini – African Mud Cloth

In the last several months, African mud cloth has been having a MOMENT in upholstery and decor, and I’ve fully fallen in love with its rich textural and graphical nature. Mud cloth, or Bógólanfini (translates pretty literally into mud w/ cloth), originates in Western Africa, specifically the country of Mali, but I’ve also seen some imported from Burkina Faso – and has been a traditional textile of the Bamana (also known as Bambara) people for centuries.

Mud cloth of all patterns and colors in this photo from African Interiors, published by Taschen.

Mud cloth of all patterns and colors in this photo from African Interiors, published by Taschen.

HOW MUD CLOTH IS MADE:

One of the distinctive features of mud cloth is that it’s not one giant continuous piece of material; rather, it is made by hand-weaving strips of cotton (woven by Bamana men), then sewing those pieces together. Then, the cloth is dyed by hand by Bamana women (which is really awesome teamwork, btw).

First, the cloth is soaked in water infused with cengura tree leaves, which is basically a primer to help the darker colors adhere. Then the cloth is dyed with fermented mud, clay, other leaves (for the black / darker colors), and caustic soda (for the white patterns in the mud cloth). Specifically, the iron-rich mud is painted on first, and then the caustic soda bleaches the designs from the primer’s yellow tones to white. Impressively, the whole process of making an authentic mud cloth takes 2-3 weeks!

The designs are all different – they often stylized depictions of plants and animals, and are arranged to honor specific events or purposes, like a girl entering womanhood, or to camouflage hunters and signify their status.

MUD CLOTH IN INTERIOR DESIGN:

What I love about mud cloth is how versatile it is, and how much of a presence it carries in a space. It works in a variety of applications from pillows to throws to upholstery.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth best chair ever

This is one of my absolute favorite “inspiration” chairs to ever come from Google Image Search. The mud cloth on this Louis XV-style gilded chair provides such a cool juxtaposition of European 18th-century and African tribal styles.

I especially appreciate upholstery applications where mud cloth is used on the backside of chairs as well. A couple projects I’ve seen feature mud cloth on the back, but a solid black/charcoal upholstery material on the seat + front of the chair.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth chair home office

Something else I love about mud cloth upholstery is, since the patterns differ across mud cloths and even vary within a single piece, you can arrange the mud cloth sections to create a unique look based on which patterns you are most inspired by.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth in a home

This mud cloth-upholstered chair really grounds this room by providing a contrasting style.

No budget for upholstery right now? No problem. This space just coolly draped a piece of mud cloth over a vintage rattan chair, adding visual interest to this global-styles reading corner.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth draped

… or, drape it over the edge of your bed.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth on a bed

If you are looking for just a touch of mud cloth for your home, I’ve noticed a pretty steady increase of options on sites like One King’s Lane over the last few months. Also, a really rad store in San Francisco that carries lots of responsibly globally-sourced decor is St. Frank!

I’m working on a little mud cloth project for my baby bean Vivienne (crazy dog mom, yes I am), so I’ll update in a future post when it’s done!

DIY: Painted My Outdoor Deck + Railings BLACK

Over the weekend, Hedge and I painted our deck + metal railings black. The joke is that I ran out of walls in the apartment to paint black, so I took my obsession outside. But it’s not a joke, because that’s actually what happened.

Tada!!

Tada!! (A typical bright + sunny summer day in San Francisco… ha)

Since moving into Chez Noz in 2010, I’ve gone through various stages of falling in and out of love with my deck: first, “Omg I’m just so happy and grateful to have outdoor space in a city!” Then, “Ugh maintenance of the deck is daunting. I shall avoid!” (which I did for over 3 years). Then, “Ugh I hate the railings – they look like prison bars – I need to replace them with fancy cable railings or I won’t be able to concentrate on my life.” To finally, “Okay, can’t afford to change the railings with my super-baby-DIY budget. What else can I do?”

BEFORE the prep work began!! That black spot Viv is lying next to is burn damage from a charcoal chimney being set down there.

BEFORE the prep work began!! That black spot Viv is lying next to is burn damage from a charcoal chimney being set down there. Don’t the unpainted metal railings look terrible?

I was also troubled with what to do about the burn damage mark on the deck, from when Hedge accidentally set his lit charcoal chimney down.

Then, an epiphany from the burn mark: I remembered how much I love shou-sugi-ban – a Japanese practice of charring wood for outdoor applications. The charring makes the wood rot- and pest-resistant, and also makes it beautifully black. So I decided, “Omg let’s paint everything outside black!!” I figured black would also make the existing railings feel more modern and sleek, which was my goal anyway with previously wanting new cable railings.

And now that it’s done I’m suuuuuper happy with the final results:

Closer look at the deck boards

Closer look at the deck boards + Viv’s lil face

TOTAL COST: $87! (Well, we only paid $77, but it WOULD have cost $87)

The supplies we bought for this project: 1 gallon of Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint in Onyx, 2 cans of Rust-Oleum

The supplies we bought for this project: 1 gallon of Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint in Onyx, 2 cans of Rust-Oleum “Universal” spray paint in Glossy Black (they SUCK), and 5 cans of Rust-Oleum “2x” paint + primer in Glossy Black.

Besides the deck paint (~$52 for a gallon) and spray paint (it took 7 full cans of spray paint, $5/can, but we only paid for 5 cans of the “2X” which is why we only spent $25 on spray paint vs. $35. Will explain in a bit about the Universal spray cans), we already had everything we needed from previous paint projects. Here’s the full supply list:

  • Deck paint (a gallon of the Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint will more than cover 2 coats of a 200+ square foot project. Our deck is about 110 square feet)
  • Paint roller + a paint tray for the roller
  • Paint brush for the trim work
  • Optional: a pole for the roller, so you can stand up while painting the deck (I just unscrewed the pool off a broom – the threads from broom handles tend to be the same as what screws into a paint roller)
  • Spray paint that works outdoors and on metal (we needed 7 cans for 2 coats along ~25 linear feet of railings – your quantity needed will vary based on how close together your balusters are)
  • Sand paper (medium + fine grit) and steel wool

We went with a top-down strategy and prepped + painted the railings first, then the deck.

First, prep work: we brought all the furniture, Hedge’s Weber smoker, and planters inside. Then we swept the deck. The most painstaking and time-consuming part of this project was prepping the railings, which is basically cleaning + sanding them (to remove rust and to prep the surface so the paint adheres). Side note: sanding metal railings SUCKS. Steel wool, or any metal abrasive, grating against another metal surface, is like nails on a chalkboard that you feel in your hands the entire time.

Next, we spray painted the railings, starting with the top rail, then the balusters, then the bottom rail. For all my previous posts about spray painting DIY projects, the railings were BY FAR the most ambitious spray painting endeavor I’ve completed so far. Two full coats, then touch-up for spots that we missed or were under-covered.

Pro Tip: get started prepping the railings early in the morning. That way you can start spray painting before afternoon winds pick up. Once the winds came, it was just comical to watch paint fly another direction and not hit the railings, so we had to finish up the next morning.

Product Tip: DO NOT use Rust-Oleum “Universal” spray paints. The coverage + quality of the paint is great, but the trigger nozzle is AWFUL. Within the first minutes of use, we realized the paint was leaking out of the trigger all over our hands, and every time we shook the cans (you need to shake spray cans regularly during use – see my other spray painting tips), paint was dripping and splattering ALL OVER the deck. In our case, we were going to paint the deck anyway so it was okay. But I would be livid otherwise. We returned the two Universal spray cans to the store (which is why they didn’t hit our budget), but not before this:

Tons of paint splatter from the terrible Universal spray cans. Not pictured: all the splatter on my legs and feet, and the drippage all over our hands and arms.

Tons of paint splatter from the terrible Universal spray cans. Not pictured: all the splatter on my legs and feet, and the drippage all over our hands and arms.

After we finished the 2 coats of spray paint on the railings, we moved on to the deck. We swept the deck again and used a spackling blade to get any pebbles or debris out from between the deck boards. Then I sanded down the burn mark aggressively to make sure that surface was smooth. Luckily the rest of the boards are still in good shape and don’t have splinters.

Painting a deck is pretty simple: like painting walls, you do the trim work first with a brush, then use the roller to fill in. The trick is to paint from the farthest side first, then move backwards closer and closer to the door, so that you don’t paint yourself in without a way to get off the deck while it’s wet. For good measure, we painted two full coats – but the coverage with the BM Floor & Patio was very good after just 1 coat. The other amazing thing about the Floor & Patio line is you can pick just about any shade that Benjamin Moore offers in its indoor paints. We chose Onyx because it’s a more dynamic color than Benjamin Moore “Black.”

Progress shot: you can see how opaque the coverage was after just 1 coat!

Progress shot: you can see how opaque the coverage was after just 1 coat! The wonky sheen differences = sections drying differently because of the shade.

We also happened to paint directly over the stain that we applied about 20 months earlier. The stain was pretty worn down / no longer really sealing the boards from water, even though the red color was still there. Since our previous stain was water-based, it should be totally okay that we just painted over it without stripping the stain first (time will tell if this was in fact a huge mistake). If the stain had been oil-based, though, we’d have had to sand down and strip the deck boards first before painting.

However – since we painted over the stain, the paint actually took quite a bit longer than I expected to set in and dry. If we had completely sanded + stripped the deck boards, I think the paint would have dried and set faster.

We gave it a full 2 days before putting all the furniture + planters back out, but now that things are put back together, OMG I LOVE IT. The black deck feels so chic, and so unusual. It also has become such a cool blank canvas: the teal Acapulco chair looks SO rad now (rather than when the teal had to compete with a red deck).  And my little Black Rose Aeoniums look so rich and vibrant now:

These Aeoniums used to feel so plainly black versus my other succulents. Now they feel newly rich with color.

These Aeoniums used to feel so plainly black, but I LOVE their colors now against the black railings.

There are, of course, a few side effects to having painted everything black: the deck is hotter to walk on now (because, black), and if my shoes are a little dusty, they leave footprints more visibly. BUT, we live in San Francisco – it never gets that hot, and it’s a city, so dirt happens. Other than that, I’m thrilled with the end results and can’t wait to throw a “Deck Viewing Party” (aka: BBQ) later this summer.

What do you think?? Would you ever go #allblackallover outdoors?

HOTEL INSPIRATION: Tribal Hotel in Granada, Nicaragua

As a residential designer, I don’t usually get inspired by hotels – their lobbies and rooms and the demands of their furnishings are a different beast from the spaces I work on. But just last week, I got to spend a night at the Tribal Hotel in Granada, Nicaragua, which is so impeccably designed that it made me want to (literally) move in and stay forever.

I first heard about Tribal Hotel in a roundup of highlights in Nicaragua; after this boutique hotel was featured on the cover of Conde Nastinterest from tourists has exploded (while there, visitors would just stop by to ask to peep the space) – so we were super lucky to get to stay in one of Tribal’s indoor-outdoor suites.

Actually, visiting Tribal Hotel was a bit of an honor: the owners, who designed and curated every part of the hotel themselves from the building to every chair and pillow, are NYC hospitality superstars Jean-Marc Houmard + Yvan Cussigh. I met Yvan when we checked in, and he told me that to achieve the style they envisioned, some of the pieces could be sourced locally in Nicaragua, but other textiles / materials were brought in from NYC and around the world.

THE LOBBY:

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Lobby

Can we talk about these FLOORS? The perfectly global-tribal-geometric floor tiles are laid w/ a thin border of contrasting tiles to create the effect of two “area rugs” in the lobby as you walk in.

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Front desk

Despite having ogled so many photos online, seeing the check-in desk in person felt surreal – like I was walking into this super chic open-air Alice in Wonderland space.

Seriously though – these FLOORS!

Seriously though – these FLOORS!

Another interesting detail about Nicaraguan cities is that every building is responsible for maintaining its sidewalk. When you walk down a block, the tiles change in style and condition constantly. Outside tribal Hotel, the black/white tile continues, but they've been laid in different patterns per stair, which are different from their treatment inside, which is such a thoughtful detail.

An interesting detail about Nicaraguan cities is that every building is responsible for maintaining its own sidewalk. When you walk down a block, the tiles change in style and condition constantly. Outside Tribal Hotel, the black/white tile continues, but they’ve been laid in a different pattern from inside, which is such a thoughtful detail. OMG ARE YOU INSPIRED YET?!

THE COURTYARD AND POOL:

One of my favorite things about Granada was its colonial architecture. Most of the blocks around the gridded town appear to be long uninterrupted buildings (the changing colors indicate different owners) with basically no windows. The sunlight + fresh air come from the internal courtyards.

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Cabanas At Tribal Hotel, the courtyard was a blending of midcentury modern, African, and Central American details, set among super lush greenery. You can lounge in one of the cabanas or lounge chairs around the adorable mod-tiled pool, or at one of the 3 conversational pods with built-in benches.

I think I was most excited about *moving into* one of these conversation areas. In the evening, the hotel staff lights all the candles and pendants in the space, and it is baaaasically a dream.

I think I was most excited about *moving into* one of these conversation areas. In the evening, the hotel staff lights all the candles and pendants in the space, and it is baaaasically a dream.

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Courtyard closeup

Detail shot of the art, upholstery, + decorative objects in each of the conversational spaces. Of the 3 spaces, this one is meant for larger groups and has a dining-height table.

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Courtyard 1

One of my favorite photos of our trip so far!

OUR UPSTAIRS SUITE:

Of Tribal Hotel’s 5 guest rooms, we stayed in one of the upstairs “junior” suites, overlooking the courtyard. While the bathroom, closet, and bedroom are inside with A/C and high ceilings, the living/lounge space is open-air with white linen drapes for privacy.

Besides lounging in the living area of the suite, you can also have your breakfast served here!

Besides lounging in the living area of the suite, you can also have your breakfast served here!

Mostly n00b-posing, but also I'm in the shot to provide scale as to how large the space + how high the ceilings!

Mostly n00b-posing, but also I’m in the shot to provide scale as to how large the space is. Also, throughout the hotel’s spaces are live-edge and beautifully carved wood furnishings and art. This flame-like piece was one of my favorites. 

The bed + nightstands are built-ins like the courtyard bench seating. I'm so obsessed at how relaxed and easy the black/white theme felt in the room – like the all-white built-ins against a black cement floor.  Also can we talk about how thoughtfully curated + arranged the artwork is?! Not pictured is another floor-lamp-like art piece in the corner.

The bed + nightstands are built-ins. I’m so obsessed at how relaxed and effortless the black/white theme felt in the room – like the all-white built-ins against a black cement floor. Also can we talk about how thoughtfully curated + arranged the artwork is?! Not pictured is another floor-lamp-like art piece in the corner.

If you have the chance to travel to Granada, Nicaragua, absolutely 1,000% stay at Tribal Hotel. It’s right in the heart of of the city only a couple minutes’ walk to the central park, and yet, once you walk in, you’ll be transported. Wish we could have stayed much longer than a day and a night here (or, like I said, moved in!) – but next time. ¡Hasta luego!

Project Reveal: Black + White Kitchen + Dining Corner

When my friends and former colleagues (from when I was a toilet cleaner brand marketer (like actually – my face was in the news about it)) asked me to design and manage the renovation of their kitchen and dining area, it was a dream opportunity. It’s always such an honor to get to design spaces for my friends, but Abby and Kurt are the chicest, most stylish couple ever, so I knew this project would be an epic collaboration.

Their house in the classic SF neighborhood of Nob Hill is adorable and petite at 14 feet wide. And while Abby and Kurt have applied their style to the upstairs living spaces, the kitchen and dining space downstairs remained as it looked when they moved in years ago: dark, busy, bullnose counters, red cherry wood cabinets, limited space for relaxed seating, and not a lot of direct sunlight. It was time for an update.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen BEFORE

The design brief was basically, “Our style is Dorothy-Draper-meets-Tom-Ford – Hollywood Regency. Bold. Drama. SHINE. Also please take the weird stained glass panels off the kitchen window.” Here’s how it turned out:

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Kitchen 2

For my very first complete-scope kitchen renovation, I’m super proud of our finished product. And we haven’t even talked about the dining corner yet (I’ll get to it in a bit)!

Because the kitchen was in good working order and occupies such a small footprint, we were able to splurge on really luxurious finishes like solid-slab Calacatta marble counters and a marble tile backsplash in a herringbone pattern. We also went with fab polished brass hardware – bamboo-esque drawer pulls à la Hollywood Regency, and large “Minnie Mouse” round knobs.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Kitchen Details

Also please notice Abby + Kurt’s ADORABLE Wisconsin-state cutting board, which Kurt immediately noted I had positioned upside-down in this shot!

AND, since the cabinets were only several years old and quality-built of solid wood, we opted to spare the expense (and the waste!) of refacing the cabinets (refacing = replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts with new ones). Instead, we refinished them in a high-gloss white for the upper cabinets and a high-gloss black for the lower cabinets. I love that the black cabinets are so shiny that you can often see reflections of the hardware in them.

Another way we maximized the budget was with the counters: Abby really loves Calacatta marble, and in kitchens, it’s stunning; but also it’s expensive at $90-130+ per square foot. We needed much less than a slab (you have to buy whole slabs, which are 40–50 square feet each) for their counters, so I found one with big grey sections (“flaws”) at a FRACTION the cost, and then we just cut around the grey to use only the most beautiful parts! NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Calacatta Vagli slab

Now for the dining area: Abby and Kurt’s one specific must-have was to create a custom L-shaped bench seat in the dining corner so that they could lounge in the space in addition to eat. Other than that, the goal was to bring to life their vision and style in the space.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Breakfast 3

Super fab brass light fixture by triple7recycled | custom L-shaped bench by Joybird | Kartell Ghost chairs

First off, I just absolutely love the black + white stripes. They start from the mirrored wall and continue all the way down the entry hallway to the front door – making the petite lil house feel much deeper. Abby’s Pinboard had several photos of homes with stripes, so when I presented the idea of the black + white walls with a black + white kitchen, it was like, “When can we start?”

As for the L-bench, I opted for a piece that looked more like furniture rather than a built-in, to keep the dining corner feeling light. The Kelly Green upholstery is amazing because Kurt has the coolest suede loafers in the same color. I mean honestly, if you saw these two in this space, you wouldn’t know where their personal fashion sense ended and their interior design sensibilities began.

We also replaced their larger rectangular dining table with an oval tulip to allow easier entry/exit to/from the bench, and went with Ghost chairs for the additional seating because they disappear visually, which helps the kitchen-dining area feel spacious.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Kitchen Full onAnd there you have it – a lot of design in a little space, for a fabulous couple with a ton of style. Hope you enjoy! You can see more photos of this project on my design website, all of which were taken by the amazing Colin Price Photography.

IKEA Hack in Progress: Billy Bookcase Library

A little embarrassed that I haven’t posted in months, but I’ll have a cutie update about my new business soon!! In the mean time, I am also going to start primarily posting about my interiors / decorating / client projects / DIY / art finds. SUCH AS…

At the beginning of March, my boyfriend Hedge and I moved in together (since I owned my place, it made the most sense for Hedge to move in with me). Luckily, Hedge didn’t come with much stuff, but he did have one request for our shared space: to add bookshelves for his growing book collection (all my books could fit on 1 little CB2 shelf unit). Eager to oblige and make this place more of “Our Home”, I took to the interwebs for built-in ideas that would work with my new-entrepreneur budget. Inspired by a bunch of IKEA Billy Bookcase Hacks that DIY bloggers have posted, I convinced Hedge that the bedroom library should be our first-ever DIY project together:

  • STATUS: 75% completed
  • COST (so far): $220 for the 4 Billy bookcases on Craigslist, ~$40 for wood, hardware, and a miter box + saw from Home Depot
  • TIME (so far): 4-5 hours
  • HOW: (I’ll share a process/step-by-step on how we did our shelves in another post)

BEFORE: My Our master bedroom has always been the last room I think about designing, so it was high time to reconsider the layout. I’d had the bed pushed to 1 wall, with a big gaping space in front of it with just a chair. Previously there was a big Baughman sofa occupying the gape.

Before bookshelves - gape

AFTER: We upgraded to a King bed, and I decided to float the bed in the middle of the room, anchoring it with the chest of drawers that was previously on the opposite side of the gape. This layout opened up the bedroom, made the sleeping area feel more private, and also created a little “library” between the bookshelves and the drawer chest:

Billy Bookcase - View from entranceBilly Bookcase - Progress Billy Bookcase - Progress w Viv from bed DSC_0034 (Viv regularly gets all up in my interiors shots)

NEXT UP: I love that we have bookshelves in the master bedroom – it feels really rewarding that Hedge and I DIY’d the “library” together and that this room now feels the most reflective of both our tastes. BUT a few more tasks remain: those little baseboards running along the bookcases are just standing on end; I’d like to add molding to conceal where the bookcases join; I might want to add shelves up to the ceiling; and also I have a lot more *tjuzing* to do to the books/decor. A runner is also on its way to make the little library aisle feel warmer (it’s still in the bedroom, after all).

But for now, there you have it! What do you think?