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. This is the definition of luxury.

Finding the best furniture layout and decor accents are only part of the balance equation, however. A space also needs to provide balance for the eyes and mind: areas that draw your focus and areas where your focus can rest; materials that work together and don't fight for attention; accent colors that support "star" colors; organic, natural elements mixed with items that are hard and shiny; moments of symmetry so your mind doesn't feel "off-balance".

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 invoked 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).