Mad for Plaid

I’m obsessed with Outlander, and I’m reading the books at the same time as I’m watching the series. I finally got caught up on Season Three last night (OMG the last scene!). Watching that show you see so much tartan in the scenes filmed in Scotland, it makes me want to wear more tartan coats and scarves in winter.

Plaid and tartan are iconic textiles that have been around for centuries. Many people use “plaid” and “tartan” interchangeably but that’s only half correct. All tartans are plaid, but not all plaids are tartan.






style me pretty

There’s been a chill in the air for a few days and I was inspired to go hunting for a warm plaid blanket (I bought this one) for my reading chair. What’s more enticing than the casually draped plaid blanket? Every home needs one! It’s handy to keep one in the trunk for football games or impromptu picnics.


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Stay cozy friends 🙂


Tempeh Rice Bowl

Tempeh Rice Bowl

It feels like FOREVER since I’ve blogged last and I have so much to tell you!!  If you’ve been following me on social media, you probably watched or heard about the LIVE I did with my husband a few days ago. I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner, but my inspiring husband has […]
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Fireplace Design Considerations

I woke up this morning to the news that most of the wildfires are reaching containment here in California. I know the firefighters are exhausted and people want to return to some sense of normalcy so that is good news.

A design project landed in my lap over the weekend, it was the perfect diversion for me. I’ve helped my brother Nate on his home renovations before, you’ll recall his beautiful kitchen makeover last year. In anticipation of winter, they want to give their fireplace wall a makeover and it’s my job to help them again.

Nate’s house is ranch style so he has flexibility when it comes to choosing materials, they can opt for traditional, craftsman, or transitional. Here’s a peek at his wood burning fireplace wall. They are removing the vents and the wood burning fireplace insert.



They’re also having a gas line put in with this gas insert, I love the contemporary fluted back and the clean lines of the black iron trim kit which we may or may not include.



A fireplace is always a focal point in any space. When choosing fireplace design materials there are a few considerations: the overall aesthetic sought by the homeowner, the architectural style of the home, and proper scale of the surround. What will hang above it (if anything) is an additional consideration, whether it’s a TV or decorative objects like a mirror or art.

In my brother’s case, he wants to do the same as before, display family pictures/art on a mantel so I’m incorporating that into the new design. I’m considering replacing the neutral floor tile if necessary, but the big question is the design of the fireplace surround, specifically the style, color, and texture of the materials.

One look I’m drawn to personally is this more contemporary wrap around look. The clean lines are appealing but I’m not convinced it’s quite right for their home.


d stone builders


style at home


veneer designs

When choosing the decorative stone or tile, scale is always an important consideration. Smaller scale mosaics like this dark herringbone look fantastic when the surround is 12-18” around the firebox insert.


anvil fireside

Larger scale rectangular porcelain tiles work well when installed from the floor/base of hearth all the way up to the ceiling. I did something similar in my master bedroom earlier this year, I used large scale marble tile from floor to ceiling to give my master bedroom fireplace a more modern look.


homes to love


The classic pairing of white painted brick and a rustic wood mantel is always timeless. The simple materials allow the art and decorative objects to take the spotlight.


house of jade


sarah sherman samuel

For Nate’s fireplace, I’ll likely steer them toward a pale marble or stone mosaic similar to the one I used on this marble fireplace makeover at the flip house my own family room fireplace makeover.


Finally there is also the option of incorporating more dimension with traditional millwork in a neutral palette. More formal but equally lovely.


park and oak


The installation will happen next month, and have a great makeover to share as soon as it’s done!


Weekend Reading

I’m a very positive and upbeat person, but the last two weeks have dealt me a few serious blows. The inconceivability of the Las Vegas shooting. The devastation from the Wine Country wildfires. And my best friend diagnosed with a serious stage of cancer. Please 2017, tell me you’re done delivering bad news.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer especially when most of you are preparing for the holidays, creating, decorating, living your lives. I’ve been reading your posts about home renovation and fall home tours and Halloween decorations. They make me smile, knowing so many of you are making your homes beautiful and enjoying this time of year.

Sorrow hits us all at different moments and while we’re feeling it we still watch the rest of the world going on around us, and it’s surreal when you’re in the middle of it. This last week in my town has felt like a war zone with the smoke in the air and the stories of evacuation and destruction. Never have I been so touched by travesty as in the past week. The stories I’m hearing all day from friends and neighbors are overwhelming, recounting the harrowing stories of escape and the incredible amount of devastation.

I went to my regular fitness class this morning in an attempt to feel normal again, and it helped seeing the regular faces. Still, we’re all so mournful because these wildfires have touched all of our lives. Everyone knows so many families that have lost absolutely everything. The encouraging words people are saying include “I’m just glad to be alive” and “we will rebuild”. The wildfires aren’t contained yet, but we hear the aircraft flying overhead and it keeps us hopeful. It will probably be a decade before my beautiful Sonoma County returns to its former glory. I will be involved and in the trenches of the rebuilding efforts.

I’ve been out of it for a few weeks due to the circumstances but I know you all understand why. I will remain strong and continue to blog about home design and DIY projects. Thank you all for extending love and support here and on Instagram and Facebook, I do appreciate it so much.

Favorite links from the week below:


This dark and dramatic tablescape is fresh take on Halloween.

Will’s beach house kitchen is perfection.

People painting their walls white for Instagram. 🙂

A family friendly farmhouse renovation.

I find this tip so helpful when it comes to removing clutter.

I love this striking vertical stack bond tile installation.

Definitely trying this refreshing sangria recipe.

These baked donuts look delish (just need that donut pan!)

Inside the Wine Country fires.

This travel Instagrammer makes me laugh.


The Importance of Being Prepared

You guys, it’s awful. Our beautiful Wine Country is burning. The fires are spreading and there is little containment. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated. 75,000 acres burned so far. Wineries, hotels, homes, so much devastation. My Catholic high school, burned. My favorite winery, burned.

My aunt and her neighbors were up at 2 a.m. and barely had time to make it out of their houses. Their neighborhood is completely gone. They are living with us now. The shelters are filled with people in desperate need. I’ve been to gas stations and grocery stores and heard so many stories. This has touched everyone’s lives in our community.

I have no pretty pictures to share today. I can’t talk about design or decor when so many people have lost absolutely everything. So today’s message is this: you never know when disaster strikes and and you’re facing emergency. It’s important to be prepared.



A few things to consider:

Roadside Emergency Kit. Have one in your car that includes jumper cables, tire sealer and inflator, tie down cord, flashlight and batteries, signal torch, work gloves, and a SOS sign. Also emergency blankets, a whistle, flares, and a hand crank flashlight/radio/cellphone charger. Have a roadside assistance program like AAA.

Basic Survival: Store in a duffle bag a cell phone charger, tarp, LED lantern with extra batteries, first aid kit, camper’s tool, utilities shut off tool, dust masks, duct tape, waterproof matches, flashlights with extra batteries.

Food & Water: Set aside a few cases of bottled water ready to grab, also some non perishable food: canned goods, a can opener, and protein bars.

Specific Needs: Make a list of essentials you can quickly refer to, things you’ll need right away. Medications, feminine hygiene products, baby formula and diapers, pet supplies, etc.

Digital diligence: Make digital copies of your birth certificates, social security numbers, passports etc. in case you don’t have time to grab them. Back up important documents and your photographs on a cloud or online storage provider like Carbonite. Photograph of high dollar valuables to provide later to your insurance company.


My community makes me proud. So many are rallying to help transport people and supplies, provide shelter, pick up prescriptions, share their bedrooms and blankets and food with the thousands displaced by fires. It’s amazing to see and it reminds me of the goodness of people when they come together.


So far, the fires are not near my house but they are not contained and we are on alert and being vigilant. Our air quality is extremely bad, filled with ashes and smoke. We have bottled water and a car packed if it ever becomes necessary to evacuate.

Right now we’re just doing our part to help the people who need housing and supplies. Our community is working together, but it will be a long road to recovery. Keep us in your prayers. Consider donating what you can. We are #winecountrystrong.

Weekend Reading

Weekend greetings! The weather is perfection right now, I just love early October in Northern California. The mornings are chilly but the skies are blue. The afternoons are warm and the leaves are changing. It’s fleeting, but it feels like fall so I’m just walking around my town as much as possible until the cold and rainy season comes.

It’s a quiet weekend around my house. I’m still moving some things back into the house after having the floors redone, and in the process sorting through years of stuff we’ve accumulated. I didn’t realize how much had piled up! I’m slowly wading through the stacks and bins in the garage, nothing too exciting but it needs to be done.

Favorite links from the week below:

Very chic, the sophisticated use of black in this small condo.

Of course I’m a fan of the Sherwin Williams 2018 Color of the Year.

I love the simple greenery and dark hues on this porch.

A lovely example of dark grout with white tile.

Isn’t this the most charming staircase trim?

A very pretty modern fall wreath.

Also faux concrete pumpkins. 🙂

The most internet famous chocolate chip cookie.

The pleasure/happiness gap.

I bought myself a little Adventure this week.

10 European etiquette rules to know.

Dear America. (Thank you Karen).


Colors of Provence

I took a walk yesterday to clear my mind. I’ve had a lot of bad news this week and needed to process it all. That news coupled with the tragedies happening in the world, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, it’s left me with a heavy heart. As I walked I felt the sunlight on my face and despite all the sadness I felt appreciation in that moment for the beauty of the changing season.

It reminded me of my walks through Provence when I was there a few weeks ago. I stayed in Aix-en-Provence for a few days, taking little day trips to Cassis, Avignon, and the Pont du Gard. While staying in Aix-en-Provence, I had the immense pleasure of strolling the streets and shopping the markets Aix is so famous for.

Aix-en-Provence is a sensory city, filled with savory food and rich warm color around every turn. On a sunny autumn day, the dappled sunlight filters through the plane trees planted throughout the region. I loved my short time there and soaked it all in, the architecture, the people, the sights, the sounds, and the colors.

Many of the buildings share this lovely mellowed yellow, one I’ll forever associate with Aix. My home in California is the same soft shade of yellow which gives me joy, as if I share something special with this magical place.



I love to snap pictures of beautiful wood doors in Europe, this set stopped me in my tracks, such amazing detail.


Flower shops are another favorite thing I love to photograph, especially little boutiques that place their botanicals in bags or pots just outside their front door, to inspire the locals to purchase them and bring them home.







In Aix-en-Provence, the one thing you absolutely don’t want to miss are the markets that take place three times a week. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, the streets come alive with markets along in the main areas of town. This was definitely a highlight during my stay, and it was a dream just to walk among them for a few hours, savoring all the soaps, jams, flowers, produce, linens, and ceramics.











I put together a 90 second video to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to walk the streets and markets of Aix-en-Provence. It may make you hungry 🙂 Watch it below or on my YouTube channel. Enjoy!


P.S. Some of you asked me about my travel camera. I have a new one that I use for both video and photos. I keep my larger DSLR Nikon at home for styling or interior shots or local photography, but for long distance travel I’m really loving this smaller Canon Powershot G7.

I used this camera to capture all my video and take all my pictures in France. The quality is fantastic and the camera is so compact that it’s easy to store in my favorite travel backpack. I love it!