a simpler sound.

2013: T-minus 12 days to HOME-A-GEDDON!



I've been out of pocket for TWO months now, and it feels like just a blip on the calendar, even though so much has happened!  

Since my last post, I

...traveled to Germany to visit family
...with a side trip to Paris [posts on my travels to follow]
...traveled to New York for work
...helped good friends move into their new, beautiful home
...with some design consultation and business planning on the side
...AND raised a completely adorable puppy named Watson [he's a handful, but a lovable one!]

What's preoccupied my time more than anything else has been the process of designing an entirely new house [well not exactly, but pretty darn close].  

From initial conception, to architectural plans, to re-designing [again and again and then one more time], to permitting [and praying], to slowly packing away the house, to scouting and purchasing plumbing, lighting, tile, furniture, floors, fabrics, to...

12 days [or maybe a few days sooner!] from now, the contractor and his crew will set up camp to: demolish, rebuild, add on, and [hopefully!] finish my house.  The planned completion date is sometime in June [fingers and toes and legs and arms crossed that we stick to this deadline!]. That's FOUR months of mayhem!

One of my favorite places in the world will be completely transformed, nearly doubling the size of my house! I don't think I've been more excited and engrossed [and terrified!] by anything quite so much as this project. I know things will get worse before they get better, but it will absolutely be worth it in the end.

Stay tuned...






What I've been [REALLY] busy doing...whole house renovation anyone?


I don't exactly know how it started, but it's been on my mind since I bought my house four years ago.  Being an early 20th century craftsman bungalow, my home has got oodles of charm and character, but not much in the way of space.  I always knew going up and finishing my attic space was part of the plan, since it was a major selling feature of my house with its unusually high ceilings [most attics, you're lucky to even stand upright in them, and my attic has 13+ foot ceilings...not too shabby].  

I was in the running for being part of a major HGTV renovation a few months back, and their plan was in fact to renovate the attic, which would have been amazing.  Unfortunately, we didn't make the cut.  But the idea was now implanted, and the cogs in my head were turning at such a rapid rate, I couldn't help but try and see if I could pull off this project myself.  

The biggest impetus for going big is my home is now becoming a family compound, where my Mom will also live long term, and hopefully other family members will come and stay over the years.  I also like to play imaginary big family [yeah, I'm TOTALLY Ted from How I Met Your Mother]. In the meantime, my brood consists of my two dogs and two cats [I think my only child syndrome is at fault for this]. 

Since I'm [sort of] an interior designer these days, I've been HEAVILY involved with this project.  I actually had a significant hand in the design of the attic renovation, as well as the small addition on the back end of the house [the part of the renovation that is turning out to be what I'm most excited about!] 

Even though I'm not a licensed architect or interior designer, I was able to work very closely with my architect, sending him scale drawings of what I had in mind, and he's now finishing up the final construction plans. Upon approval by the city [fingers crossed], the construction will begin as early as mid January [SO exciting, but slightly terrifying!] so I've been working 'round the clock, making decisions about plumbing and lighting and woodwork and space planning and AHH!  We've had many sleepless nights about this project, but it will dramatically change our lives for the better once completed. 

Check out the preliminary design plans above, though they've changed here and there, because I'm constantly coming up with new ideas and creative ways to make the house more functional and beautiful.  Over the coming months, I can't wait to take you through the entire process of this renovation. Hopefully by April [our predicted completion date], I'll have something my family and I can truly be proud of.

Designing my new office: DIY Tack Board.


Now that I'm seriously getting into the design business, I need a dedicated space to work on projects, and one day [fingers crossed!] meet with clients.  The third bedroom of my house is located right off the front door, and is wide open to the street and our parking pad.  I can't ever legitimately using the space as a bedroom, but it makes the perfect spot for a home office.

I'm far from finished, since I still need to space plan and figure out creative ways to organize samples [fabric, buttons, countertops, and other goodies] as well as paperwork.  One thing I knew I wanted was a simple tack board to pin any important notes or samples, and have it easily accessible to my desk.

Just because I need a simple tack board in no way means it should look simple.  I thought it might be fun to try and create one myself, since even a plain old cork board can be a bit pricey [$30+ and not so attractive].  I don't have photos of the process [I threw it together so quickly, I completely forgot to document how completed it!] but here's a rundown of how to create this yourself!

Fabric Tack Board

Materials:
Wood Frame: $5 [I found mine at a thrift store and it has such great vintage character]
Cardboard: FREE! [this needs to at least the size of the frame, or slightly larger.  I used a box from a mirror I ordered, but you can also find free cardboard boxes at your local liquor store]
Fabric $5 [I found this bold, graphic fabric at a great deal at Lewis & Sheron, and only needed about a half yard
Industrial Stapler $20 [of course you don't need to factor in this cost if you already own one, but I HIGHLY recommend having one of these around- they can be used for a million different projects]
nails [you likely have these around the house, and they're just pennies anyway, so no cost factor necessary here]
Hammer [I imagine you have one of these too!]

Cut 2-3 panels of cardboard to fit just beyond the opening of the frame, about a quarter inch.  This will give you enough room to attach the cardboard to the wood frame at the end.  

Cut the fabric larger than the cardboard, allowing for at least 3 inches excess on each side.

Lay your cardboard panels and fabric on top of additional cardboard or on a work surface that can take a beating [sometimes staples will make their way too far through the layers of cardboard, and could puncture your work surface, so be careful!]

Start with one corner and pull fabric taught and staple as close to the edge of the cardboard [this will ensure that if any staples punch through, this won't be visible once the board is attached to the frame]

You don't need to overdo it on the staples, maybe just one every 3 or 4 inches until you've made your way around the entire board. 

Once the board is completely covered, all that's left is to lay the board on top of the back side of the frame, and nail each corner [and a couple additional nails depending on the size of your board- for mine I used 8 nails total]

And there you have it, a beautiful, functional backboard that's customized to your exact design aesthetic! This took me only 30 minutes, and has already made such a difference in my office.



My Living Room was selected for a color contest!


I'm excited to share here that my living room was selected for a contest on Apartment Therapy: Room for Color 2012!! I only found out late last night, and already I'm in third place in my category!  I shared this with my friends + family, but I would love to get the blog world involved too!

Check it out my room here!

If you already have an Apartment Therapy account, then voting is super simple, just click the 'favorite' button towards the bottom of my room's page [see photo below].  If you don't have an account, I know it can be a hassle to sign up, but I would be forever grateful and send you good thoughts [and cookies if you're convenient enough!].  All you need to do is click where it says 'Need an account? Sign up for free in minutes' [see below] and follow the directions.

I feel so lucky that I was picked right around the time I decide to really forge into the interior design world, and I would truly appreciate your support!  Wish me luck!


Retro + Vintage finds: Highland Row Antiques.

After Highland Row Antiques took off for a couple months from their usual first Saturday furniture extravaganza, I was so excited to see it back this October! I really have no need for any new furniture at the moment, so I knew this trip would be a tough one.  Restraint can be a real challenge, especially when I come across a good deal. I was SO close to making it out the door without a single purchase.  But I ultimately caved and snagged a chair that every other person was coveting [that's part of the thrill of these sales!].  It's now my favorite chair in the entire house! Here's a brief overview of some pieces I photographed.

Retro desk with a great pop of color, $175.  This could be used in a teen room or it could be dressed up to be part of a more adult space.  Who doesn't love apple green?
I'm on the hunt for a place to store fabric samples, and this vintage metal card catalog would fit the bill, it was just a little pricey at $150.
I absolutely loved the pattern on this vintage wingback chair.  The back of the chair was upholstered in a contrasting light green velvet. I don't have a spot for them now, but I would LOVE to have these, $285 for the pair.
I came across this bin of random fabrics, some that had old Hawaiian shirt designs, others that had Dr. Seuss characters. They would all make great framed wall art for a kids room! Prices varied, but they were very reasonable.
Another great pair of chairs, this time with a more Danish modern flair.  The fabric was actually really interesting, and had a great color palate, but they would make a really simple reupholstery job, $145 for the pair.
Despite my better judgement, I ended up buying a piece of furniture anyway! I just had to have this retro lounge chair [if it isn't obvious yet, I have a thing for chairs...] It has a solid wood frame, and a great sloped design with button tufting in the army green upholstery. You just don't see furniture pieces like this everyday with such unique lines. It was priced at just $85 because the upholstered section of the chair wasn't properly attached to the wood frame.  Once I took a look at it and knew I could fix it, I was sold.  On top of the fact, it seemed like a really plausible project for my foray into reupholstery, but for the meantime, it is THE most comfortable  chair in my house, hands down.

Restaurant Designs I love: Chaps.


I was introduced to Chaps last Christmas while I was visiting family in Spokane, Washington.  It's known for having amazing food and a really unique design.  Driving up to the front of the restaurant, I was completely blown away.  It's without a doubt the most eclectic, interesting establishment I've ever set my eyes on.  I literally took over a hundred photos of every nook and cranny of this place [even numerous photos of the bathroom- it was THAT good!] and it would take me several posts just to give you the official tour.  The place was made even more famous by a visit from Guy Fieri and his Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives [you can proof in the last photo].  This place has been impeccably curated by owner Celeste Shaw.  I had the privilege of meeting Celeste and chatting with her about her restaurant and design aesthetic, since it's very similar to my own.  Here are a  few photos I took upon entering Chaps [there's MANY more that I'll share later on]. 

Who would have thought to use the pages from old books and music as wallpaper?! 

Such a great use of vintage plates and platters in an arrangement over the fireplace.




Yes, that's a random old child's play kitchen.

Love the use of old frames around playing cards. 

Guy Fieri's stamp of approval.

Upcoming projects...


I've been a bad blogger. I haven't been keeping up with things for a while and I'm full of good excuses. I took a few days off to visit a good friend in Charlotte [what a great little city with such beautiful architecture!] and had entirely too much fun hunting for furniture deals.  I even took home a new desk and demilune table [both of which are too messy to photograph right now, so they'll get their proper introduction soon enough.] 

Some of my furniture purchases [both for myself and for my friends] were inspired by a new book I just finished reading, Good Bones, Great Pieces.  Design books are my version of porn [so addictive, and I just keep buying more], but this one was a class act.  It gave me great insight on specific pieces of furniture, and how having these few essentials can really bring together the design of any room.

What's really kept me completely busy has been my foray into a new business venture.  I have so many things I'm passionate about, but not always is it possible to turn them into careers.  I'm giving a truly concerted effort at my next phase, which is interior design.  I've really been a 'designer' since I was a kid, so it's really not a surprise I'm giving this a shot.  But there's only so many times I can rearrange the furniture in my house, repaint my own walls, and buy and sell my own furniture on Craigslist...

More than anything, I'd love to bring my talents to the homes [or apartments, or other personal spaces] of others! The business license is getting underway, and I just sent in for my business cards [and totally splurged on the stickers and magnets- I mean who doesn't want a magnet with their name on it?!]  It's certainly a work in progress, and I've got a long way to go [any great web designers out there want to help a struggling small business out?!], but I'm looking forward to this new adventure.  Here's a sneak peak at one side of my business card [and no, the email address and website listed on it don't work yet- but I do own the domain!]


Over the next few months, I'm going to be working heavily on my portfolio, so if you have a project you'd like help on right now, I would LOVE to be a part of it, free of charge! [But yes, eventually, I will have to start charging for things like this, since a business isn't really a business unless you're making some profit!]  For now, you can contact me at asimplerdesign@gmail.com!

Meet my [teenage] bedroom.

I was passionate about photography and had fun displaying my photos of Hawaii along the wall in a trail.  Really graphic and fun.  

Color. Music. Posters. Art. Color. Everywhere.

I've been a 'designer' since I was a kid.  I've always been changing the spaces I inhabit, on a constant basis, and I recently found some proof of my earlier days of design mayhem.  While transferring all my digital photos onto my new computer [having everything in one place rather than fragmented on multiple external hard drives is a dream come true!], I found these photos.

This is my bedroom from my childhood home in New York.  These were actually taken sometime during my freshman year of college, somewhere between 2004 and 2005. I'm still trying to look for photos of my old college dorm rooms, because they were something to behold [I went a little overboard]. This room isn't too far off from that though, and if there's one thing you get my from my design back then, it's my personality.

Everything was perfectly laid out, strewn about the walls, and organized in a perfect chaos.  If you wanted to know what music I listened to, there was a poster for it.  If you wanted to know my favorite books or CDs, they were organized in bookcases I built into my closet. My love for Hawaii was all over the place: in tiny hula bobble heads, in floral leis, in the photography I would display. Little hints of my love for impressionist art are all over [in my calendar, in my paintings, even in my favorite Simpsons poster mimicking Georges Seurat]. My obsession with the color green was pretty obvious too.  As a kid, it was purple EVERYTHING, but I matured into a bright granny smith apple green. Now I love teal and different shades of grey [totally not a reference to the book...].

It's amazing how tastes evolve.  My style has absolutely changed over the years, but it's interesting to see how I still hold onto a certain atheistic.  

I hope you enjoy this peak into the younger Jo.  More [current] design to come...

My obsession with band art hasn't changed.  I'll admit though, it wasn't always for the right reasons. I remember loving the band in the corner, not because they were particularly great, but because I thought some of them were really cute...I was never one to put up posters of the Backstreet Boys or N'Sync, but you bet I had ones up of my punk rock bands!  I've since stopped putting up posters of boys [shocker, I know]. Here you can also see one of my favorite Salvador Dali pieces, as well as this light up art of the Brooklyn Bridge [it was a little tacky, yes, but at night I loved how it gave my room this bluish glow].

My biggest regret is not taking care of my band art the way I should have.  Most of these posters are really tattered on the edges, and some downright ruined due to the constant moving of them each year of college.  I was able to properly frame some of them, but these really bring me back...

I built these 'custom' shelves with my Mom, mostly because I didn't have enough room anywhere to house my massive CD and book collection!

I love having old pictures [check out little Jo with her awesome bowl cut bangs!] around and check out my adorable bobble heads [not sure where they are anymore, how sad!]

More of the overflow of DVDs and video equipment. I wonder where my Wiffle ball bat is these days...

I kept that vase of artificial gerber daisies around for the longest time. Now I hate the thought of fake flowers.  I love having real deal around when I can these days.  I think the daisies finally retired to my mom's work office.  And check out my old iPod! That isn't my original one, since that was actually stolen at a party the year before.  Back then who could have predicted my large succession of Apple devices to follow...
I'm not sure if I knew I was taking a picture of myself or not, but there I am at 18...where has the time gone?!

Meet my living room.



I'm going to slowly introduce my little house to you.  It's constantly changing, since I'm always buying and selling furniture and moving things around.  My friends always comment about how they never know what to expect when they come over, since it's evolving weekly.

First, meet my living room.  It's the third most used room in my house [after my kitchen and screened porch], and it actually used to be a dining room.   One day I'll post the before and afters [if I can find those old photos!]. 

I initially painted this room when it was actually a dining room, so it's a little intense at times, but it photographs well and feels warm.  I used to have a rug in here, but it didn't coordinate well with everything, so I'm currently on the hunt for a good [affordable] one. The ottomans are actually a really great choice instead of a coffee table, since they're great for additional seating or just putting your feet up and relaxing. 

At the bottom, there's a rundown of where everything in my living room came from.  I bought all these things over several years and some come from my childhood home, so the total cost didn't seem too daunting. 







Sofa: Ikea [Kivik sofa + chaise, $698]
Ottomans: Home Goods [$30 each]
Side Table: Highland Row Antiques [$45]
Typewriter: Chamblee Antique Mall [$30]
Table Lamp: Pottery Barn [$99 + $25 coupon = $74]
Floor Lamp: Pottery Barn [$249 + $25 copuon = $224]
Round Pillows: Urban Outfitters [$34 each - 20% = $27 each]
Other Pillows: Pottery Barn [$75]
Double Curtain Rods: Ikea [$79]
Picture Frames: Pottery Barn [$220]
Paint: Behr Ultra Premium Plus [$60]
Drink Cart: My Favorite Place [$5] The BEST deal of all!
Paintings: Sandra Torrijos [My aunt = free!]

Total: $1624


Saturday finds: sifting through highland row antiques.

Typewriter in teal: $55
Painting of birds: $225

I have an addiction and it's one that can't be helped. I'm obsessed with sifting through antique and thrift stores.  I can't help it- there's just something about having a sea of furniture and objects from the past at my disposal that gets me giddy.  
Last weekend was the first Saturday of the month, making it the day Highland Row Antiques, one of my favorite local antique stores, hosts their monthly market.  Many vendors come and showcase furniture, their specialty typically being of the Danish mid-century modern style.  All the mint condition pieces are snapped up within the first hour, so if you're really on the market for something- get there early to first dibs!  I'm rarely ever shopping for any big pieces of furniture [though if I had some kind of storage unit, I'd buy up all my favorites and figure out how to use them later- like a hoarder would] so we usually get there sometime mid-morning.  What I've really been searching for are bookcases, but I'm so picky when it comes to larger pieces, I've yet to see anything worth even photographing.  


I did stumble upon some great pieces, all of which would make a nice vignette together.  There's a definite recurring theme of teal, black and white, with a touch of yellow.  The total for all these things rounded out to just shy of $800, the chairs and art being the bigger ticket pieces. But I think they'd all make for a fun lounge space. Figure in a side table plus some paint [say, in a light grey], and I'd have an entirely new room ready for around $1000. [I could totally do one of those HGTV-style shows]


Like this look? Take me shopping with you, and we can get any space pieced together in no time.


Tomorrow I'm heading to the monthly Scott's Antiques Market, which I've actually never been to.  It's supposedly one of the best places to get anything and everything in Atlanta, so I'm looking forward to some good finds. Happy hunting!

Small ceramic bowl with glazed teal interior: $18
White ceramic vase: $25
Glass candy dish: $12
Pair of paint-by-numbers: $68
Vintage lighted sign: $95
Pair of houndstooth lounge chairs: $300