A Musician's Magical Loft

Last August, I was asked to style a loft for one of my favorite clients, Matt Wertz, a singer/songwriter here in Nashville. I enjoy working with Matt because he has a great sense of style, appreciates good design, and loves vintage pieces, allowing me to really flex my creative muscle.

The loft is located above the main area of his vaulted back house and requires a climb up a custom ladder to get to. Because of the challenging (yet fun) ascent and the unique layout of the room, I wanted the space to feel extra special, reflecting the magic of being up in the clouds and providing a true “hideaway” experience. Instead of fighting the low, angled ceilings, I used their cocoon-like quality to my advantage and brought in low furniture to keep the ceiling height in check.

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For the rest of the design, I took cues from the homeowner and focused on building a room that would inspire creativity. When I saw the antique tribal floor pillows from one of my favorite Nashville vendors, Nomad Collective, I knew they'd be perfect for the space. Channeling my inner dreamer, I imagined an adult-version of my all time magic place: twinkly lights, floor cushions, and music - a place to escape the world and spend hours with friends listening to vinyl records and enjoying a drink. Just be careful on the way down!

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Interior stylist, Carly Ripp, and homeower, Matt Wertz, enjoy the finished loft.

Interior stylist, Carly Ripp, and homeower, Matt Wertz, enjoy the finished loft.

2018 Design Forecast

I set aside some time in January to consider the design I’d like to create this upcoming year. I prefer not to chase “trends” but instead, I aim to create interiors incorporating both classic and eclectic elements. However, I also understand the importance of knowing what other designers are trying. I do a lot of research, paying attention to what I personally connect with as well as what I feel isn’t working. There are several design shifts I’ve come across recently that I find particularly exciting and worth sharing. Here is my official Design Forecast for 2018. What design styles are you looking forward to seeing more of in 2018?

TEXTURED WALLS

The modern farmhouse has been in the design spotlight for awhile now, and with that, we’ve seen an endless amount of shiplapped walls. While I plan to continue utilizing wall texture to incorporate charm into a room, I have been exploring other ways to achieve this look.

Board & Batten

I love board and batten. It is a bit time consuming but can be done by the average DIYer and is an affordable way to add character to a room. We added it to our bedroom a few years ago and I still love the result. Check out the before and after here.

Plastered Walls

I am dying to use a plaster wall finish in a room. Application requires a skilled professional but the transformation oozes old world character and is worth the extra effort. Plaster walls have a slight variation in the color that evokes an old English countryside or Parisian loft, making regular walls look plain and boring.

Vertical Paneling

Don't remove that knotty pine just yet! By giving paneling a fresh coat of paint, you can keep the original character of your home while given your space an updated look.

GOODBYE SUBWAY TILE

Subway tile is a classic and will always have it’s place in traditional and mid-century modern homes. However, because of it’s affordability, it has been used to the point of ubiquity and has started to feel a bit uninspired. I have been eyeing another classic influenced by my 1939 bungalow bathroom - square tiles. These uneven hand-made zellige tiles from Clé feel extra special.

(Image via Cle Tile)

(Image via Cle Tile)

ALL ABOUT ARTISANAL

Speaking of hand-crafted tiles, the artisanal movement continues to gain steam and won’t disappear in 2018. Whether making a beat up vintage table the center of your dining room, highlighting your space with worn brass fixtures or painstaking wood trim details, or accenting with hand-thrown pottery and knit rugs, mixing crafted elements into a home nods to the perfect imperfections of history. Tap into the Japanese worldview called Wabi-sabi, which focuses on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.

MOVING AWAY FROM OPEN-CONCEPT HOMES

I may be alone on this one but I am starting to feel a bit turned off by overly open-concept homes. Instead I find myself drawn to the intimacy of a home layout with smaller rooms that one can escape to. The key to striking a functional balance is to make sure the floorplan has good room flow - meaning the rooms open up to each other and have more than one entry/exit per room. In my ideal iteration of this, a home would have one large entertainment space: a kitchen that is open to a living room but set apart from the rest of the house. A casement doorway or change in ceiling height is a great way to give the main space some separation. I do still (and always will) appreciate open-concept modern homes that are laid out in a very intentional way. I just think “open-concept" has been taken too far and often the space feels a bit exposed.

WARM COLOR TONES

The problem with paint color trends, is that because paint is SO hard to get right, most people get it wrong. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen a room or house painted “gray” but in reality it is more of a purple color. Gray is actually one of the hardest colors to get right. A year and a half ago I had a client starting a kitchen renovation and really wanted gray cabinets. I was hesitant, and instead steered them towards a dark moody blue color that turned out perfectly. I am so glad they were on board! If you want gray, pair gray accents with brown and creams. It might be counter intuitive, but this combination feels fresh and modern.

(image via Joseph Dirand)

(image via Joseph Dirand)

A TRUE EAT-IN KITCHEN

Built-in islands have long been a staple in the kitchen. They are a great way to maximize seating and functionality. The down side is that kitchen islands can often take up a lot of visual space and feel cold. I love kitchens that use dining tables in place of an island, for a more homey vibe. And with a kitchen this beautiful, who would want to eat in the dining room anyway?!

A RETURN TO WOOD CABINETRY

Unpainted. wood cabinetry is back and better than ever. The warm, natural tones look great in kitchens and bathrooms balanced against the hard, cold surfaces of tile, stainless steel appliances, and stone countertops. To help keep wood in the kitchen and bathroom from looking like the dated spaces of our grandparents homes, remove the upper cabinets to prevent the space from feeling heavy and dark. Pair wood with contrasting style choices like white tile and countertops.

(image via Elle Decoration)

(image via Elle Decoration)

THE HIDDEN RANGE HOOD

Nothing says 2016 & 2017 like the exposed industrial stainless steel range hood over a stainless steel kitchen stove. I have always loved the look of built in range hoods and their timeless appeal. Pair them with a statement stove and you've got an amazing chef-worthy space!

A NOD TO NATURE

Organic elements add warmth to a room and I love the idea of connecting the interior world to the outdoors. Bringing in these natural, imperfect elements adds a relaxed feeling to the home and provides a nice balance against manufactured materials. 

New Year, New Living Room

I am starting 2018 off with a living room refresh! The winter weather has coaxed my husband and I into spending more time by the fireplace in our front room, which means more time staring at the adjacent living room. While the living room is functional as-is, I’ve learned a lot about my personal style through designing the last few years, and I’m feeling a bit restless and eager to be bolder in my own space. This is the perfect room to incorporate changes that reflect this evolution.

Here is a current photo of the room. 

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The major mistake I made in this room was never having a design plan for it. The only update I knew I wanted to make, initially, was painting the walls white to match the front sitting room so it feels more like one, big room. 

The room is small (11 feet x 11.5 feet) so when we first moved in we did invest in a perfect-sized sectional couch from Robin Bruce (found here) to help maximize seating. The splurge is one I’m glad we made. Four years later the couch still looks great and is just as comfortable. The higher back and down-wrapped cushions support long sitting sessions (movie night anyone?) and the slipcover means I can throw dirty cushions into the washing machine.

The one thing I wish the sofa did have was a longer, more minimal bench seat cushion, to give it a more streamlined and modern look. Unfortunately, despite endless searching, I could not find an option that fit our specific dimensions and budget. And while I love a modern sofa, Andrew is a huge advocate for comfort. The couch we chose in the end has been perfectly cozy for the room, which we spend a ton of time in. 

DESIGN TIP: I highly recommend investing in a high-end (the best you can afford), neutral sofa that will stand the test of time, hold up to use, and outlast trends. It is easier to add style to a room with affordable accessories that you can change out as your tastes evolve, than having to replace a large item, like your couch.

Here are my design challenges for this space:

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  1. Lack of contrast: A cream sofa against white walls with natural linen curtains and a white chandelier shade = boring. Adding contrast will add much-needed sophistication.
  2. Lack of texture: There is so much fabric in this room! A slipcovered sofa with a skirt, long curtains behind the sofa, a fabric shade on the light fixture and decorative pillows - it’s all just too much. 
  3. Trendy decor: There is nothing wrong with rustic, industrial style (I love it in the right setting). This coffee table was my attempt at incorporating the trend into our space. Unfortunately, there isn't anything else even remotely rustic industrial anywhere in our home and our home is a 1939 bungalow. I’ll admit the purchase was more an afterthought than an intentional addition to the space. I'd love to find a unique coffee table that will also add personality.
  4. Limited changes: My long-term vision for this room is to make it an office when we completely renovate our home, so I won’t be making any structural changes.

The plan:

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  1. Incorporate modern touches: One of my personal design preferences is adding vintage accents to new, modern homes to help create a feeling of history, and adding modern accents to update older homes. Because our 1930’s bungalow already has a ton of character, I want to replace our bland light fixtures with something modern and sleek, to add contrast.
  2. Add personality: I plan to purchase a better fitting coffee table and side chair that will simultaneously add personality. I am also open to replacing the rug (or getting ours professional cleaned), whichever works best with the new design.
  3. Update window treatments: These sheer, linen IKEA curtains are closed most of the time because they are a pain to open (I actually have to stand on the couch to open and close them). It’s a shame because this room gets the best light in the house and we aren’t currently taking advantage of that. I'd love to replace the curtains with something more functional that also shows off the wonderful wood window trim. I mean, why cover that up?! Maybe a fabric or textured roman shade that adds coziness or perhaps even some pattern. 
  4. Accessorize: Nothing beats real, original art. I’d like to include more of it to elevate the room. Buying art is also a great way to support the creative community which I am a huge advocate of. 

Budget:

  • $1400 - light-filtering roman window treatments to let in light while also providing privacy
  • $500 - coffee table
  • $350 - statement chair
  • $350 - accent pillows
  • $400 - new light fixture
  • $500 - frame current art / new art

TOTAL: $3500

While I’d prefer to get the budget down to $2500, I want to allow myself some room in case I find some truly unique pieces. Plus, I’ve learned that great design does often cost more money - especially if you are buying something that is custom. At this point, I’d prefer to invest in fewer, high-quality items that are built to last.

What do you think of my design plan? Do you have a room you want to refresh this year?

XO Carly

A Vintage Glam Christmas

The halls have been decked! I love getting into the holiday spirit but prefer to not spend a lot of money on decorations. If you have never been to an estate sale, I highly recommend going - especially for holiday decor. Almost every estate sale I've been to has had a large selection of nutcrackers, anything Santa related and even yard ornaments. I really try to seek out unique vintage items that have lasted over the years - I struck gold with these knit stockings. They are classic and festive and they warm my vintage-loving heart so much. There was even one with a dog on it which felt perfect for representing our furry family member, Mae. I then added some sparkle with a few affordable accessories from Target and layered in some sheep skin rugs around the base of the tree to add texture and warmth. 

DESIGN TIP: A festive way to display the holiday cards you receive from family and friends is to use them as ornaments on your tree.

Safe travels and here's to a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!

Photo credits: Grace Boto

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Before & After: Finding Balance in Transition

Looking to start over after a significant life change while also busy running her own law firm in southern California, Carolina wanted a calm and invigorating place to come home to. My role was to transform her standard apartment into a source of security and balance during some major life transitions.

While spaces are meant to breathe and evolve, my personal goal as a designer is to reach the point where a room provides adequately to those living within it: there is a place to set one's keys upon entering, a reading lamp next to the sofa for nightly reading, a table by the window to enjoy a cup of coffee and cozy layers that feel good on bare feet while watching one's favorite show after a busy day at work.

There is a lot to think about and that's where good design comes into play. Although there are some fast and hard rules and various design philosophies to follow, for me it is more about instinct and really "feeling it out". Below are a few ideas that I hope will help you achieve balance in your home.

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Upon entering Carolina's living room, there was no focal point for the eyes to rest so instead of feeling calm, my eyes were searching for a place to land, and as a result, the space evoked a sense of unease.

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DESIGN TIP: CREATE A FOCAL POINT

The TV area is a natural focal point. In this space we created a gallery wall behind the TV to draw the focus away from technology and towards something more inspiring, art. A lamp and cactus were included as part of the "gallery" really bringing it to life. We also used a larger piece of furniture under the tv to help give the area some weight because, after all, this is the area we want the eyes to focus. 

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DESIGN TIP: BRING ON THE LAYERS

Couches are meant to be cozy but as they are often the largest piece of furniture in the room, they tend to suck out all of the energy. Here we broke up the large expanse of the navy blue couch by adding a lot of texture in similar tones to keep it from looking too busy. The white shag rug, paired with a white textured pom pom blanket and the muted design on the pillows, add pattern without calling for too much attention. The texture extends up into the wall with the baskets, breaking up the blank wall. 

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The original bedroom also had a lot of colors and textures competing for attention. So instead of being restful, it felt unsettled and was not a place Carolina spent a lot of time in.

DESIGN TIP: CREATE A SENSE OF CALM WITH CONSISTENCY

Although I advise against purchasing "sets" of furniture, materials in a space should work well together. Instead of one rustic nightstand and one mirrored nightstand, I found another mirrored table that Carolina currently had and brought them together so that both nightstands were mirrored but don't feel too match-y. I also used a more subtle colorway when layering the bed so that the bed as a whole acts as the focal point, instead of having multiple focal points on the bed. The rug adds pattern but doesn't distract from the the mood of the bedding.

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The finished result is a balanced and calm retreat for this busy working woman. The apartment now also feels like a home and reflects Carolina's passions and personality, including her Nicaraguan roots and strong feminine energy. Good design isn't just for looks, it's for LIFE.

XO Carly

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A Room to Rest

After owning Holly House for over a year and a half, our main floor bedroom finally received the focus and attention it needed. At one point, the room was either an addition or porch so it has lower ceilings than the rest of the house.

What we wanted: a sophisticated and cozy bedroom that felt modern and moody, with perhaps a little bit of drama - all on a limited budget. I love how it turned out!

Taking the Focus Off of Your TV

Whether you recognize it or not, your psyche is highly impacted by its environment: a messy room can stress you out while a spa-like setting helps you feel relaxed. We, at LoP, focus on creating well-balanced spaces that recharge us with creativity, rest, and time with loved ones. However, attaining balance is usually easier said than done, especially when combining the practicalities of modern living with the goal of a restorative space.

One of the most common challenges I work on with clients, and one of the most transformative fixes, is moving a room's focal point away from the TV. This simple approach allows a room to be both functional and restful whether entertaining friends or unwinding in front of the latest episode of "Veep".

Here are three easy ways to take the attention off of your TV.

1. CHOOSE THE BEST SIZE TV FOR YOUR ROOM. Most people purchase a flatscreen that is too big for the size of their living room. Unless you have a room exclusively designated for watching TV, an oversized screen screams for your attention and creates imbalance when focusing on other activities like reading or socializing with friends. For an optimal viewing experience, a general rule of thumb is:

Viewing distance (in inches) ÷ 3 = Recommended TV Size

For example, if you're favorite seat is 10 feet from the TV, the viewing distance is 120 inches (10 feet x 12 inches). Divide 120 by 3 and the recommended screen size for you is 40 inches (remember, that's the diagonal measurement of the screen). You can always cheat the size up or down a few inches, but this equation is a good guideline.

2. CREATE A GALLERY WALL BEHIND THE TV. Hanging your favorite art in a grouping around the TV is a way to surround yourself daily with the things that inspire you. A gallery wall is also great because it moves your eye around the room making your space feel bigger. DESIGN TIP: Don't be afraid to layer some artwork slightly behind the TV so the arrangement looks more natural. 

Design by Life of Plenty

Design by Life of Plenty

3. PAINT IT BLACK. Painting the wall behind the TV a soft black takes the focus off of technology and puts it onto the architecture of your home. When not in use, your flatscreen will visually disappear.

Design by Life of Plenty

Design by Life of Plenty

Have you tried any of the above recommendations? What are you favorite ways to take the focus off of your TV? XO Carly

Vintage Accents for Modern Dining

Incorporating vintage pieces into a modern home makes a space feel collected and personal. Years of use and wear on older items adds a sense of soul that can't be achieved when purchasing everything brand new.

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Look for vintage items that you are naturally drawn to and enjoy. When in doubt - a chair from any century, even just propped against a wall - is an easy way to add interest and charm.

At Home With...Julie

“I am constantly trying to find new ways to be creative. Originally from the good ol’ Sunflower State of Kansas, I came to Nashville with my husband for his job as a musician. My favorite space in our home is our front sitting room because of its great light and because the only thing to do in here is to hang out and enjoy each other. We like to read here or have a conversation without any distractions. It’s also a good place for entertaining guests because its cozy and intimate.”

“I found the settee at the flea market and recovered it in my favorite color – green. It is SO comfortable. I took out the cushions and put a down comforter in there instead, and when I lay down on it, I fit EXACTLY… it’s perfect for reading…or napping. It is the focal point of the room. The other pieces are fairly neutral but play with different textures, styles and patterns.”

“I filled the rest of the room with items that are sweet and personal to us – the lyrics to a John Denver song that we loved when we were dating, the framed picture of my husband’s grandfather on his 24th birthday with a note written by his grandmother, a painting I bought in Paris when I was with my sister (she has a matching one in her house), a needlepoint cloth that used to hang in my great-grandmother’s house, a piece of art that was done by our friend, and our wedding album on the coffee table.”

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“I am inspired by good memories, real talk, fearlessness (something I admire and can’t say I always possess), and things that grow better with age. I wish I was better at slowing down to realize life exists most deeply in the small moments.”

“I need to have the freedom to adapt and re-arrange my schedule and change directions so that when creativity shows up, I don’t miss it. Elizabeth Gilbert gave a great TedTalk about an idea the Greeks had: that creativity is like a divine spirit that passes us by and as an artist it is our job to sort of grab it and let it manifest itself. So, I have tried to be more aware of those moments when inspiration comes and to stop to at least acknowledge it and to see those moments as precious, because they are rare, but great.”

“To me, living a ‘life of plenty’ means being thankful for everything, tangible or intangible, and realizing that I have far more than I need or deserve because all the ‘plenty’ is a gift.” – Julie




Lindsay Letters American Dream Collection

A few weeks ago, the lovely and talented Lindsay Letters photographed her patriotic new collection American Dream at the Holly House. She was on the hunt for the "perfect white mantle" to host her new prints, and through the grapevine, landed at our little cottage.

Lindsay had this to say about the inspiration behind American Dream: "There is something about classic Americana, patriotic songs and stars and stripes that make me feel so grateful and blessed. Maybe it's knowing all the hardships and lives sacrificed for our freedom and this beautiful country…people who gave (and give) their lives to serve us and keep us safe."

Here are a few photos from the beautiful lookbook shot by April M. Walker.

Inspired By: Palm Springs

The end of the year always ends up in a sprint, tying up loose ends for work and life, as well as preparing for the holidays with family and friends. This year, after spending Christmas with family in San Diego, Ashley and I (along with our spouses), dove into full-on relaxation mode by heading to our favorite desert oasis, Palm Springs. It was the perfect way to ring in the New Year, filling up on great food, beauty and inspiration.

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The highlights:

+ The Parker – This hotel does everything right, from the stunning décor by Jonathan Adler, to the expansive gardens and lovely spa. Inspiration for days.

+ Ace Hotel – We had a few meals at the always popular Ace Hotel, and for good reason. It’s casual and tasteful and perfectly located.

+ The Modern Tour – Author Michael Stern led us on a great architectural tour around Palm Springs and even took us into a few residential homes to see some great mid-century interiors.

+ Moorten Botanical Garden – This garden features more than 3000 varieties of plants, including some very rare and gravity-defying cacti.

+ Sparrow’s Lodge – We enjoyed a garden lunch at The Barn Kitchen, located in
this cozy and tasteful boutique hotel. Would love to come back and stay in one of their cabin rooms on another trip.

+ Robolights – This giant holiday sculpture and light show by artist Kenny Irwin Jr., is both unbelievable and a little shocking (it includes 8 million Christmas lights).

+ So.pa – We spent New Year’s Eve dining alfresco at So.Pa, the intimate restaurant nestled in the stunning L’Horizon Hotel. The Lindsay Adelman light fixtures put me over the edge.

+ Indian Canyons (North Golf Course) – Golfing in Palm Springs is fun. Golfing on this course gives you a sneak peak into the backyards of hundreds of stunning mid-century homes, with the mountains as a backdrop. Enough said.

We also did a bit of vintage shopping and discovered some great pieces we rarely come across in our part of the country (Hedge, At Hom, Spaces).