A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

A Before and After Dresser Fairytale: Trash to Mid Century Treasure

I love a good comeback story, and this piece certainly deserves a proper one.  First, here's the AFTER photo, once I worked my magic [and this one needed some serious magic!].

Looks pretty good right?! Ok ok, back to the story...While I was in Dallas earlier this month, I was wandering around the Bishop Arts District, a beautiful little neighborhood with tons of local shops, restaurants, bars and everything else I could ever want [more or less]. I was walking down one of the residential streets when in the distance I spotted beneath a pile of garbage some semblance of mid century.  It was beckoning me, calling me towards it...

Is that a dresser? Could it BE?! It was covered in trash and definitely appeared to be out for slaughter, but I wanted to make sure it was up for grabs before I ran to my car and came back for it.  I thought about knocking on the front door of the house, but there were half a dozen tiny dogs of various breeds yelping beyond the fence, an army of miniature guard dogs if you will. What was I to do?! I didn't want to steal someone's property, even though I was almost definitely certain this was their garbage but still. By some magic, I heard some noises coming from the garage [that sounded like a human not a dog].  I realized someone was working on a car back there, so I began to politely shout 'hello!' and after a few of those an 'hola!' when out popped an older man from beneath the car. He was so lovely, and immediately insisted I take the dresser and that he'd help me get it in my car.  I ran [well mildly jogged since I was in a dress and sandals], grabbed the car and was over in a matter of minutes. This older man single handedly hoisted the entire dresser [I'd only managed to remove two drawers before he insisted on taking matters into his own hands] into my trunk. He offered me more furniture from the house, but the dresser was all I could fit, otherwise I would have happily taken it all! To make the story all the more unbelievable, as I was admiring his adorabnly tiny brood of dogs, he asked if I wanted to see a puppy.  A PUPPY?!?! Uh sorry no sir I'd rather not...said NO ONE EVER! I waited a little uncertain of what he was going to bring me when out he came with a tiny black pug looking baby the size of my palm.  I died.  Mentally fainted. All the emotions.

Yes, here is the tiny lilliputian sized pup he brought out to me to hold.  I squealed only like a small child could.  This little guy was five days old at the time. He then told me if I wanted one, I could come back in a couple months and take one home [there were three girls and three boys to choose from] FOR FREE. WHAT IS THIS LIFE?! First you hand over a beautiful mid century dresser to me, and then insist on providing me with a puppy, all free of charge?! I felt like Cinderella, only my Prince Charming was an older latin man covered in car grease. I mean who am I to judge, the man BROUGHT ME FURNITURE AND PUPPIES. I'm still debating going back for a puppy and I'd like for everyone I know to take one home too [and you get a puppy and YOU get a puppy and...]!


Ok enough gushing about puppies, back to the furniture! Here's what the dresser looked like when I brought it home.  It was pretty banged up, but it was sturdy and all the drawers worked well.  Essentially, that's all I need to go ahead and work on a piece. After making the necessary repairs, I went over it with two coats of a custom light gray, similar to a previous French Provincial piece I'd done, and sealed it with Annie Sloan's white wax to give it a matte finish. I painted the drawer handles in Annie Sloan's Graphite to balance the light dresser [and because the silver was looking a little too battered and wasn't cleaning up well]. 

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I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BELIEVE this is the same dresser that man practically threw into my car! This is precisely why I always encourage friends and family and clients to always try and buy vintage whenever possible [or find it for free if you're as lucky as I am!].  So much can end up in a landfill, but it only took me wandering around this neighborhood and politely asking if I could take this man's trash for me to end up with this stunning piece.  I am putting this one up for sale since I've had some requests on it just from the quick instagram I posted! But this piece does have some sentimental value attached to it now.  I can't wait to go back to Dallas and meet up with my furniture and puppy wielding friend to show him what his old dresser looks like now! If you're interested in this piece, head to my shop now to check it out!

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Color Inspiration: Chasing the Sunrise at Grand Teton National Park

*Okay so I'm cheating a little...I wrote this post for my personal website, States of Reverie, since that's where I share my posts on food and travel and all the etc. of my life. But I have to say, my trip out west to Wyoming and Montana was inspirational both in my personal and professional life. That being said, I'm sharing my little reflection on my first morning out west, along with a few other posts on my trip that I'll share in the coming weeks. On a furniture related note, I'm currently painting a piece inspired by the deep corals found in the sunrise seen below!

I began my week out west with a sunrise. I ended it with a sunset. Befitting imagery to be sure, but imagery that upon further reflection has created a sense of longing, a heartache for something more. These photos were taken on the road heading from Jackson Hole, Wyoming toward Grand Teton National Park. Whenever I'm visiting someplace scenic, someplace expansive, someplace where the ocean meets the sky, where the mountains carve out the horizon, I am compelled to watch the sunrise, even if just once. It takes some planning [I am a morning person, but I wouldn't call myself an early riser by any means], and almost certainly a mad dash out the door [since surely I'll snooze that pre 5am alarm one too many times], but once I set out on the road and begin to spot those first warm brush strokes, the groggy fog over my head lifts. I'm wide-eyed and treated to the most perfect ephemeral show.

As we drove in the darkness through Jackson Hole's empty town center, the blinking street lights may as well have been runway lights, only these were guiding me toward the still, misty horizon. As predicted, I was rushed. I had a rapidly diminishing window to reach my target: the barns on Mormon Row. I knew that at just the right time, the sun would throw the most incredible alpenglow over the Grand Tetons, and the view of this impressive mountain range was postcard perfect from my carefully planned spot.  

I was determined to make it out there in time. What I hadn't planned for was the awe inspiring drive to my destination.  As we drove, the sky progressed from a muted blue-gray to a capricious kaleidoscope of orange and ochre and peach and coral and pink and violet, revealing new colors at every turn.

These photos weren't composed or planned. The view I was aimed toward was still further in the distance. We simply stuck the camera out the window while en route, as I openly gasped at the expansive sky before me, all the while checking there were no rogue animals making their way across the road. A fast shutter speed and half decent aim provided us with photos that bring a palpable warmth to my heart and a lasting memory of my first morning out west. I didn't get to stop and soak in this twilight hour between dusk and sunrise [don't worry, I had plenty of time to take it all in once I made it to Mormon Row, but more on that another time!].

So often I rush through life with my eyes aimed toward a fixed point on the horizon.  I'm so appreciative of these photos, since for me they capture the beauty found along the way, the beauty found in the wandering.  I only managed one drive towards the sunrise during this trip [you try getting yourself out of bed before dawn when you're in a tent that's a cool 40 degrees fahrenheit!]. It was my only sunrise, so it carries more weight and feels all the more significant. 

This singular twilight drive reminds me the sunrise is both infinite and finite. The sun works its way over the horizon each day, and it's never the same. The cloud configurations change, the painted colors change, the vantage point changes. It's a dynamic, boundless, breathtaking display.  There are only so many sunrises in my lifetime.  I don't wake up each day to chase it. But I can try. I may fail [in fact, I'm guaranteed to fail more often than not...sunrise is early!]. But maybe it's somewhere in the trying where I'll discover something more. 

Stay at A Simpler Design: My Airbnb!

I've had my design and furniture business for a few years now. I'm so passionate about what I do. I built my studio last year with the intention of using it as a platform for my business. What I didn't realize was that my bright, modern studio would quickly become a thriving Airbnb! It wasn't my initial intention for the space, but I've absolutely loved being a part of the Airbnb community! Atlanta is a rapidly growing travel destination, and I'm happy and proud to call it my city.  I love my neighborhood, I love my home and now you too can come experience it for yourself! The bungalow is furnished with a combination of my collection of vintage pieces, painted furniture and my own modern design. It's in a constant state of flux since I'm constantly buying, selling, painting and decorating!

I thought I'd take a few quick photos of what the space looks like right now, though by next week I may have completely changed things around. That's the fun of getting to have your own creative space, and what makes it better is I now get to share that creativity with my guests! The bungalow feels like a real getaway. It's cozy, it's bright, it's my favorite place to be. But these days, I don't get as much time in it! The month of May is almost completely booked, and June is beginning to fill up. If you'd like to discover Atlanta for a long weekend, are going to be in town for work, or are visiting friends or family, I'd love to have you!  Once you book, I share my personal recommendations to restaurants, bars, coffee shops and local stores, so you can plan your stay. I hope you come to experience my little piece of Atlanta and learn to love it as much as I do! 

Beautiful Places: New York Public Library

I find design inspiration in all sorts of places. Anytime I travel, my eyes are immediately drawn to two things: nature and architecture.  On my recent visit to New York, it's pretty clear which of the two made more of an impact. [though I did have a nice stroll through Central Park for my nature fix!] 

New York is a stunning combination of history and modernity. 

One moment I was in the heart of the financial district, surrounded by gleaming new buildings, glass and steel reflecting and refracting in every direction.

As much as I appreciate the new, where I feel most at home is surrounded by the old. 

Walking into the 5th Avenue branch of the New York Public Library felt like I was traveling back in time.   

It's a timeless piece of architecture that's teeming with information and history.  

I loved it so much, we stopped there twice on our trip! When New York comes to mind, most of us first think of all the skyscrapers, but for me, the library is so emblematic of this city. 

Libraries have always been a sacred space for me.  

I was a voracious reader as a child, and spent many days in my local public library in Queens, and most Saturdays at the Central Library in Brooklyn.  

I could easily fill a book with all my commentary about my life in libraries, along with my visit to the 5th Avenue branch. 

The best way to experience it is through the photos I took [this was a moment I HIGHLY regretted not bringing my DSLR camera, since the iPhone just didn't do this place justice!].  

But really, anyone who appreciates architecture, design, history, literature, or just wants to discover some of the best places in New York, I insist you spend some time at the New York Public Library. 

The High Line Hotel

New York will always hold a special place in my heart. It's where I was born and raised [in Queens]. I don't get to come back as often as I'd like, so when I do, it's such a treat.  This year, as part of our holiday celebrations, my mom and I did a 'girls trip' up to New York for a few days between Christmas and New Years. We decided on this just a few weeks before, and booked a flight/hotel package through Expedia. Normally I spend days and days scouring reviews of hotels and restaurants and everything to do with any trip I go on. This time, because we planned the trip on a bit of a whim one night while we were both getting nostalgic about Christmas in New York, I didn't do my thorough research and basically picked a hotel based on a few quick photos and the general location, Chelsea.  I was adamant about not staying anywhere near the hoards of tourists that inevitably flood the city during the holidays, but I didn't want to spend too much time poring over the best neighborhood or place to stay, so after a few clicks, The High Line Hotel was booked!

After having stayed at The High Line Hotel, I couldn't be more happy with my choice and would 100% come back! After booking, I read through their website a bit more thoroughly and realized the hotel was fairly new [opened in 2013], but the building was not.  Built in 1895, the hotel was once a Seminary. Many of the original design details and gothic architectural touches were restored, and the interiors were fully kitted out with all vintage or vintage inspired furniture and decor.  Basically, it was a hotel built for me! 

The hotel's website [which I highly recommend paging through even if you're not planning a trip to the city, just to check out the photos and descriptions!] describes their design aesthetic as 'Vintage Eclectic Americana.'  I started to wonder if that's how I should be describing my own personal design style [though I guess I'd add a bit of mid century modern into the mix!].

The beautiful, red brick edifice is striking, and as soon as we turned the corner in our Uber, I immediately fell in love.  The seminary campus is quite large, spanning a full block, and though I didn't get to explore some of the courtyards and other outdoor areas [it is winter after all!], I could tell this was a truly unique place to stay.  The front courtyard [again winter = too cold to be outdoors!] had rows of green metal bistro tables and chairs, a lovely stone waterfall [can I have one of these in my garden?] and bistro lights strung up across [a nod to my own backyard!]. 

The lobby area is cozy and I felt like I'd just wandered into an impossibly cool vintage store, shrouded in Persian rugs, leather, velvet and everything eclectic. There isn't an official front desk, just a small nook with a computer where someone is standing to quickly check in guests.  We arrived around 4pm, and the lobby was comfortably filled with people sat on sofas and chairs, sipping lattes and chatting or working on laptops.

Every detail in the space feels perfectly curated and well suited to the winter season.  I've now decided to nail up some of my brushes to the wall, since not only is it a functional use for my work, but they make a beautiful vignette!

The best part of The High Line Hotel has to be the coffee bar located in the lobby.  I'd first tried Intelligentsia Coffee in LA a few years back, loved it [naturally] and was so pleased to find out their only New York coffee shop was located in our hotel.  Daily morning breakfast [not included, though that would have sent me over the moon!] for us included a cup of coffee and a pastry.  My mom stuck to the pour over while I went with cappuccinos and lattes on our trip. It was such a luxury to have impeccable coffee and pastries just downstairs, and we happily indulged!

Our room was small [which is to be expected in the city], but I didn't find it cramped at all. In fact, for being such a small space the designers did an incredible job of space planning and focused more on the details and amenities, both of which I really appreciate in a hotel. My favorite bit was the black school desk, complete with vintage details [the phone actually works!], a bucket of pencils [most of which came home with me!] and even a great little speaker to connect your iPhone or laptop to.  The hotel provides complimentary Shinola bicycles and helmets, along with a guide to the best spots to bike to.  Again, not ideal in winter, but would be such a fun idea in the warmer months.  The bike guide was still a useful and beautifully illustrated guide to the area, and we definitely took a few tips from it.

I didn't take my big fancy camera on this trip, and my iPhone had some trouble capturing the the room [aka most of my photos were a bit blurry, meh], but again, this room was all about the details. The bathroom had a nice sized tub, and the marble vanity was packed with lovely C.O. Bigelow amenities. The standard shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion were all there of course. But I loved they chose to provide other little bits like mouthwash, a sewing kit, a shoe shine, along with other bits that I'm completely forgetting at the moment. Touches like that take a small space and make them feel grander and a bit special. 

I forgot to take a photo, but the hotel also very kindly gifted guests at the holidays with Sugar and Plumm Gummy Christmas Trees [they're delicious!] and a gold Christmas ornament with the hotel's logo printed on it! It's the little things that make all the difference and those little things made our stay at The High Line hotel just a bit more special. 

Our bed had a down feather topper on it, a down comforter and perfect pillows for me [I'm a bit of a pillow snob!] so we slept quite soundly [and since we were facing one of the courtyards and were on the fifth floor, we really couldn't hear any noise from the street, which was nice!]. My only gripe about the hotel was the room was quite toasty and we couldn't adjust that temperature from our room [the thermostat in the room would only allow us to make it hotter eep!], but I suppose that's far better than sleeping in an ice box so I can't really complain!

Though not overly adored with Christmas decor, the beautiful [real!] pine tree made such a grand entrance to the hotel. As much as I have nostalgia for the Rockefeller Center tree, this one outdid it for me. It was just stunning in person! The entire exterior at night has a bit of magic to it. The hotel is lined with gas lanterns that flicker and glow in the night, and after a long day of walking all over the city, it felt so comforting to head back into the warmth of our hotel. 

All the design details and thoughtfully curated spaces made this stay in New York so special for us. I also loved that The High Line Hotel isn't in an exceptionally bustling spot of the city.  It's just a few blocks from Chelsea Market [but not right in the thick of the busy meatpacking district], just across from an entrance to The High Line [which I'll talk about in another post!], and an easy walk to so many great spots in the city. I felt at home here, and there's no higher compliment I can give a hotel than that.