Holiday Gift Guide

I look forward holiday gift buying like a turkey carcass looks forward to getting stuffed! That little inner Emily will get in my head sometimes and say “they probably already have one of those” or “is this too tacky/flimsy/fragrant?” It’s enough to make me bird brained! Fortunately, a friend shared with me a little gift giving guidance so I’m sharing it with you along with a hit list of my top holiday gifts. Here’s how to buy your gifts this season:

* Something you WANT…

* Something you NEED…

* Something to WEAR…

* Something to READ…

So organized and clever and… duh!! Brilliant. Check out my roundup. I sure hope Santa delivers this tall order!


WANT- coasters // art

NEED- Meet Bobi, the fabulous floor cleaner, for all that post holiday clean up //  mobile back up charger…. your phone won’t go deadski with this chic and handy accessory!

WEAR- Amethyst necklace // Hibiscus pompom scarf

READ- Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen // Charlie Harper’s Animal Kingdom by Todd Oldham

These are my faves this season, but depending on your recipient you can change out the gifts according to their style yet still stick to the same theme. Fab, fab, fab is the new ho, ho, ho! For more of my holiday pics, please visit my Holiday Gift Guide board on Pinterest.

But before I get back to my bird basting, let’s discuss the infamous white elephant, shall we? Here’s my rule- you can never go wrong with anything that’s cat or bacon related! And since most of these gifts are either hilarious or hideous, or both, here is a list of awesome and amusing white elephant gifts.

Happy Holidays!



House Demos- from dud to stud

If you’ve ever considered doing a major home remodel (since I happen to be in the middle of two house demos with clients), I thought I would share some helpful tips. There is a lot of excitement, anxiety, decision making and cash-flow that goes into these projects so you must be brave, a little adventurous and up for the challenge. What do they say- dreams don’t work unless you do, right? Fortunately for my clients, as a designer I help make homeowner dreams a reality and I’m always up for reworking a design dilemma! So let’s strip things down to the studs as we take a look at two very different home projects I am currently managing for my clients.

With any major home demo, once the sledgehammer goes through the wall, and your home is no longer the old version of itself, it can feel really overwhelming and daunting, in both positive and negative ways. Yes, the home you once knew is no more, but the memories will still be there as you create a space reimagined with possibility. I love this part of the process, because you get a chance to see what’s underneath it all and address much needed updates that will absolutely benefit the way you live in your new space. Major demo and remodeling allows you to update wiring, HVAC systems, lighting, plumbing, A/V and so on. Not to mention all of the surface finishes throughout. These updates of course are both labor intensive and costly so if you’re considering a full-scale remodel, you need to keep a few things in mind. For one, it helps if the home has good bones and you are satisfied overall with it’s layout. Also, consider property value in your area if you think you may not stay in your home long enough to recoup your investment. Maybe you love the neighborhood or the schools? If you plan to stay in your home but it’s not meeting your current needs, this is where demo will benefit you most.



C:UsersEmily LaMarqueDesktopEmily LaMarque Design StudioELD


C:UsersEmily LaMarqueDesktopEmily LaMarque Design StudioELD

This traditional ranch home nestled in the San Fernando Valley is being redesigned into an elegant, family friendly space with a slightly bohemian vibe; more details on the style can be found here. My clients are a family of 5, three of them being boys under the age of 10. The current home is roughly 3,000 sq ft and we are adding 500 sq ft to accommodate a new home office and bath. They are also cooking enthusiasts so a state of the art kitchen is a must, as well as a bigger laundry to keep up with the wear and tear of boys! Overall, the goal of the remodel is to create a more family friendly and entertaining space for company, while also adding square footage to meet the needs of  a home office. Since the homeowners are going for this nouveau elegant meets bohemian aesthetic, this is where I am really harnessing my creative resources! I think it’s coming together nicely. Take a looksy… emily-lamarque-design-studio-bohemian-elegance-concept-board



(First Floor)


(Second Floor)



(First Floor)


(Second Floor)


Built in 1922, this spanish colonial home is located in a historic section of Pasadena. More details on this home can be found from my other post, here. It is over 4,000 sq ft and since it was built in the 1920’s, it is in desperate need of a major overhaul. However, since it is in a historic neighborhood, the façade must retain it’s original integrity. This is a major challenge, particularly when the owners have a modern aesthetic and we are working with a Spanish colonial home! So I’m developing a modern Spanish style design, and I’m very excited to see this one evolve since it is definitely pushing the creative limits.

Here is my inspirational concept board for the home. It is still evolving, but this has been my jumping off point of color palettes, fabrics and finishes to start…


What interests me most about this home is how it becomes a historic viewfinder into the way people lived in the past. Originally, the kitchen was completely cut off from the living and dining areas. It was opened up to the dining sometime during the 70’s or 80’s, which is evident from a few aluminum windows and other telltale signs. Nowadays the kitchen functions as a central hub for gathering and entertaining. It is safe to say that with a home like this, complete with maid’s quarters, the original owners weren’t doing the cooking. Rather, they were entertaining in the formal living room where families used to congregate. Interesting how times have changed! In other older home formalities, this home has a porte cochère and a detached garage. It truly makes me wonder if it was utilized for a horse and carriage!

Lastly, in other surprising news to us, yet typical for this design period, there is no designated master. The four bedrooms upstairs share two barely functional bathrooms (gasp!). The bathrooms are tiny, with zero storage. Back then it was all about the vanity area and getting ready, but home spa retreat? Not so much. Thank goodness we are updating this home with the times! We will be reconfiguring the bedrooms to function as three full-size masters in the home with ensuite baths, while the downstairs maid’s quarters will function as a playroom for the grandchildren. This will also have a full-size luxurious bathroom, so this room could easily convert to a downstairs master as well. We will also be adding an elevator for added convenience. For outdoor entertainment, we will be redesigning the pool, adding a jacuzzi as well as a pool bathroom.

Here are some visuals of how I think this property can fully transform into a modern Spanish hacienda…


Architectural trees and plantings, still very modern and Spanish combined.



I love this fountain, the potted small citrus trees, the ironwork on the gate and the smooth white plaster finish on the chimney and walls.


I love these homes that are Spanish but still feel very modern and architectural.


This is interior, but still in the vibe and VERY pretty. Look at the top detail in the niches.



Rows of olive trees, drought tolerant shrubs and succulents… so very spanish in landscape style, yet can also lend themselves to a modern feel.


An incredible lavender color palette…


This one is a little modern, but still would work beautifully.


As you can see, there is a lot of attention to detail when it comes to home remodeling! It is truly wonderful when you have the luxury of time to plan your design and make design decisions before you get too deep into the construction process. But fear not, working with a designer eases you through the process to make sure the details are not overlooked, that your vision for the space is properly executed and that any issues that arise are resolved. My goal is to work together to make sure you love your living space, and yes, from time to time, I also serve as a design therapist, a hand holder of sorts, reassuring clients that “it will all look incredible when it’s complete”. That’s my job, and I love what I do! Stay with me and see how these two projects unfold.



A Golden Era

Hello all. I have taken a small blogging break following the Pasadena Home and Kitchen Tour, and to also reflect on the recent passing of someone dear to me- my grandmother. She lived a beautiful 96 years and I deeply treasure all the time we were able to spend together. As I started reflecting back, I realized how much she impacted my life in so many ways. For starters, my home, as I’ve stated on many occasions is a mid-century modern ranch, and so is hers. I think my love affair with this style was directly influenced by fond childhood memories and many blissful days spent throughout the seasons at her home. So today’s post is a tribute in loving memory of my grandmother, Mary-Anne Golden.


My Gram was hardly a bird of a feather- she was as bold and proud as the peacocks she raised in her chicken coop.  She was firmly grounded in her beliefs and was never afraid to state her mind. She believed in the importance of family togetherness and her home became the hub of our family as we gathered there for many Sunday dinners, summer pool parties, Christmases and Thanksgivings. She was one of a kind. She was our pen pal. She bent our parents rules, letting us stay up late watching horror films, burn incense in her living room, invade her checkbook as we wrote pretend checks to ourselves for one million dollars and enjoy small sips from her liquor cabinet… that was the Italian in her! She loved culture, cuisine and travel. She delighted in hosting parties, scaring the bejesus out of us kids in games of hide and seek, introducing us to classic films (and narrating each act in our confused little ears), taking us everywhere from the beach to the ballet and teaching us how to do everything from set a dinner table to making Bailey’s Irish Cream Cake. Yes, we were underage, and she let us go for it! She gave us structure and latitude all at the same time. She taught us the importance of hard work. Sure at the time, it seemed like slave labor, I mean, what 10 year old wants to sweep the pool deck? But we were always rewarded with a special treat for our efforts. She loved family time around her large wood burning fireplace, doting on her granddaughters with fancy gifts we couldn’t possibly appreciate until years later like jewelry, french perfume and supple leather handbags. She loved to read, cook, garden and indulge in everything from fine champagne to a hot jacuzzi in her indoor spa. The little things were always big things, and she never overlooked the qualities that made up a good life.

So in her honor, here is a glimpse of the home my grandparents built many years ago, when the neighborhood was nothing but orange groves. Since there were also no streets, they made one and named it Via El Dorado, which means Golden Way. In spirit of a life long legacy, here is a part of my family’s history from a beloved place that will remain in my heart forever.

This is the unassuming entry to the house. To the right of the front door, there is an enclosed courtyard with a koi pond. The fish never stood a chance against my Grandma’s cats!


Large glass sliding doors let in an abundance of light, while the low beamed ceilings add warmth in a very distinct mid century modern style. I can practically hear echoes of girly giggles from happier times jumping off the diving board into the insanely deep pool.


Here is a small window collection of pieces collected from my grandparents’ travels, and below, my grandfather’s study.


They had quite an impressive collection of books, so much so that most rooms in the home have built-ins to accommodate their collection. Years ago, it was professionally catalogued. Do you see the labels? You better believe they are dewey decimaled!


Here is a glimpse of some of my favorite fixtures from around the house. I never thought faucets and knobs could be sentimental, but because they are so unique and impossible to find or replace, they have captured my heart with reminders of yesterday.

These natural stone fish-shaped cabinet pulls are one of my favorites from the master bath. The bathroom is very feminine, with salmon pink terrazzo floors and pink quartz walls. A very groovy travel back in time, full of quality finishes. Perhaps that’s why I love going bold with color!



These blue crystal faucets were a Christmas gift long ago from my dad and uncle to my grandparents that are featured in one of the guest bathrooms. Aren’t they delightful?

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I love the simple elegance of this lighting fixture that always helped set the mood for many family dinners as we dined beneath it.DSC_3351_edited-1

What a groovy little time capsule is this orange hood and the flower shaped heat conductors on the electric stove! And don’t get me started on the gold speckled backsplash. Dare to be different!


And last but not least, a little hippy high tech! Because, if you’re hip enough to have a home with an indoor hot tub and sauna, you must must must have an intercom and surround sound system to go with.


While my heart aches to see the end of a Golden era, the memories made and the time spent with family in this place were just that- Golden. And in honor of those sacred Golden moments, I leave you with a dazzling sunset from the backyard that gazes upon the San Bernardino mountains.

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Gram, we will miss you and keep you forever in our hearts.







Haute Links: weekly internet finds

As I get my house all gussied up (aka power wash the bejesus out of the everything) in preparation for it’s big debut for the Pasadena Home & Kitchen Tour, here is a round up of haute links, my favorite internet finds freshly selected this week!

1) Jimmy Fallon and Will.i.Am’s Ew Video made my week and maybe yours too if you’ve already watched it a bajillion times.

Things I think are Ew: 1) crushed velvet drapery 2) toe jam 3) seas of beige 4) airplane mode 5) peas 6) Nicholas Cage

2) Since fall is in full swing, here are some Cozy Fall Decorating Ideas that are big on chic, not on Ew.


These suggestions will transition your home into the spirit of the season in a tasteful way, so you can say so long to that Pumpkin Pie Yankee Candle and that disastrous cornucopia of gourds pouring out of a horned shaped wicker basket! Easy peasy fabreezy.

3) While we’re still in the peak of our pumpkin obsession thanks to Trader Joes’s Fearless Flyer mailer with six, yes SIX, pages of pumpkin infused offerings, here’s 32 Ingenious Ways to Eat Pumpkin All Day Long.


Pumpkin Sangria in – Pumpkin Latte, out! Ok fine, they’re both suitable desserts I can drink, but anything sangria makes me want to do the cha-cha!

4) This lovely midcentury modern Home of the Day


It’s in my ‘hood so I’m already a huge stalker fan. I am obsessed with post and beam homes, so to me, this is like someone wafting bacon just close enough to my nose before jealously ripping it away… ohhh the humanity! I’m obviously drawn to this style as my own home is also a redesigned mid-century modern abode. So if you dig this style and you’re in the LA area next weekend and are looking for some high style interior eye candy (or if you just want to loiter at chez moi), you can find more info and purchase your tickets right here!

Happy Fall y’all!





Our Home: Finishing Touches

If you’ve been keeping tabs on our home transformation project, so far we have touched on house hunting, demo and design, interior finishes and finally, today’s post, the finishing touches. Our charming mid-century modern ranch home is nearly complete as I’ve spent the last year putting on the glitz in between client projects. But, honestly, is a designer’s work ever truly done?!? If you are interested in seeing the finished project, you can tour my home at the upcoming Pasadena Kitchen & Home Tour. Click the link for more details. Come by, say hello and check it out, it’s going to be a stellar event!

Moving on from the gratuitous plug… it’s no shock if you know me that I have a love for mid-century modern style. In re-designing this home, I wanted it to pay homage to this artful period, but elevate the look with today’s modern amenities, fixtures and style. I wanted our home to look and feel happy, bright, clean and kid friendly- a tall order, but I am always up for the challenge.

This process was a bit different and not how I typically work with clients, in that it was very progressive, pulling pieces over time and working out of order in many respects. I didn’t have a cohesive vision or concept going into the project, which was very disconcerting because I am such a planner! For instance, one of the first things I started with was the window shade fabric for the kitchen and dining room.


Taking inspiration from this pattern, I pulled my main color palette of aquas, coral, orange and white and I began collecting things that I loved that also reflected the style period. I had a wide assortment of things that I knew I loved or wanted in my home, and from there I worked on filling in the blanks. Start with something you love and take a balanced approach to building around it. Keep in mind color, texture, lines and a little sparkle and let the layering begin!

8b2fd430c351ac61af651c56569279b9Many of the fixtures I installed, like this amazing Jonathan Adler sputnik lighting fixture, are throwbacks to that mid-century bygone era, and of course some actual vintage pieces add flair and nostalgia as well. I was careful to make sure that the decorative pieces had lots of cheerful color and patterns, while much of the case goods and interior finishes and paint remained light and neutral. That way, I can give each room a facelift when I want to change things up on the cheap. Which is more often than I’d like to admit! Anyone else share my illness? I believe it’s called interior decoritis…. and yes, it’s most definitely acute… acute interior decoritis. Oh how I suffer! It’s miserable.

Once I had decided on the right assortment of bright, colorful, vintage inspired fun, this was the finished concept….


Cosamia art// Bird bowl // Coffee table // Chandelier // Vintage Camel // Dresser // Original art // Sunny Stool // Pomegranate wallpaper // Yellow tray // Greek key rug // Rattan chair //  Tassel pillow // Table lamp // Eames side chair // Green fabric // Picture frames //

It’s modern, chic and kid friendly. It is a great mix of color, sparkle, texture, and lines. Original art completes the space, giving it wow factor and pulling your eye downward from the lighting fixture… that is if you can take your eye off that illuminated masterpiece!  Best of all, it perfectly fits our family of three, plus pets and feels just right. If you’re in the LA area, my home will be on tour, Sunday, October 19th. Purchase tickets here! Step inside, I can’t wait to welcome you!