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!




Our Home: Interior Finishes

If you’re just joining us, this is the third installment on our home remodel. If you’re interested in playing catch up, you can read all about the process and how our home was selected as part of the Pasadena Kitchen & Home Tour right here. If you’ve been happily reading along (thank you bunches), we just finished demo and now we’re moving onto the incredible task of selecting interior finishes to complete our happy home.

I speak as both a homeowner and as a designer when I say this– I don’t think there is anything more challenging than designing your own home. At least for me! I know what you’re thinking. I am a designer, this is what I do, it should be a no brainer, right? Think again. Show me 100 different fabrics for a client and I can narrow them down to a handful in matter of minutes, but when picking something for myself, it’s only a matter of time before I over-think everything and short-circuit! I see SO many different fabrics, finishes, furniture, etc. every single day, so to actually settle on one thing and decide that I am going to love living with it for an extended period of time…..well, I get commitment-phobic!

Whether you’re a designer or not, the promise of a clean space that you can have your way with starts out very exhilarating, full of potential, and then it can become completely nerve wracking. But at the end of the day, I had to move forward making decisions, selections, and choices for my own home. Since this is Design Dish after all, here is another taste of yummy goodness from my own home. So let’s serve up the finishes!



Finishes are tricky – they can be completely stunning or downright fugly. It either works beautifully or it misses the mark entirely. Even worse are finishes that are beyond boring. Blah? We’ll pass. They can be intimidating to commit to because the vast majority of finishes are permanent (think tile, counters, flooring, etc.) and don’t move easily once they are installed, so they need to make a statement and look incredible. And since they are pretty ‘permanent’, that means they are more costly – you have both the material cost and labor to install them. I myself had a l-o-o-o-n-g laundry list of requirements for the finishes I picked for my own home. So how did I narrow it down?

First and foremost, I had to love them! Obvi! I didn’t want to install something only to hate it two weeks later. Plus, the finishes had to be light, bright, airy, and cheerful. While I love a sophisticated dark room, I just don’t want to live in one at the moment. Also, kid and pet friendly – they needed to withstand the abuse of an active three year old who has a penchant for launching hot wheels at the walls as target practice. We are total animal lovers and since the fur-babes are family too, our selections needed to be easy to keep clean, as in no super dark finishes that show adorable, but obviously dirty, paw tracks! So to recap – cheerful, super-durable, youthful with a chic twist, unique, bold, colorful, timeless, slightly mid-century vibe, and of course, within budget. Seriously, that’s a darn tall order. But like any good designer, I worked it out!

So now that you’ve seen my selections, here’s a peek at how they all work together in my efficient mid-century ranch…


emily-lamarque-design-studio-graphic-wallpaper I selected graphic wallpaper and patterns that were neutral but had a matte shimmer to make the patterns pop without interfering with my growing collection of wall art. But since I had to indulge my color obsession, I also selected this fab peacock paper for the powder room and kept the look clean and period-esque by incorporating the terrazzo tile.


Next up- colorful glass tile.  Part retro and part spa- like, this tile is fun and reminds me of a gorgeously tiled swimming pool! It was a bold color risk, but it is the statement piece for our bathroom and I am all about making a statement!



Lastly, ma-ma-marble! It’s ma fave. It’s clean, timeless and elegant, and something we can all commit to. But since I wanted to add visual interest, I mixed tile patterns as seen in the fretwork mosaic and a small trim of metallic glass square tiles on our backsplash to pick up the glistening speckles in the quartz counter top. Subtle bling!



Please keep tuning in for the next phase of our home remodel. There is so much more to cover. Design delights guaranteed!



Our Home: Design to Demo

Here is the next Design Dish installment about our home and how I took it from design, to demo to dreamy! If you missed the before pictures, check out my earlier post, Our Home & the Pasadena Home Tour.

After we closed escrow I immediately started designing the floor plan and the layout of the space. I knew that we were keeping the footprint of the house the same, as well as the roof, the stucco exterior, the foundation, and of course, the gorgeous oak tree. Everything else was old, ugly, non-functioning, etc and it had to go!

Here’s the existing floorplan that I started with…

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And here is how the layout changed…

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We removed the wall dividing the kitchen and dining room to create a large family style dining area and great room space. We also knocked out the wall closing in the entry way so that the living room feels open and bright. The den was eliminated and from the that space, we created a powder room (perfect for guests), laundry room (previously in the kitchen), and a master walk-in closet (because you can never have enough closet space, right?!?).

The master and guest bathroom square footage stayed the same, but interior walls were eliminated and the spaces were maximized. The bedrooms didn’t change size, but the front door did! Instead of a standard 36in entry door, we made it 42in wide with a large sidelight to add light and views of the trees.

And the yard? Leveled. Completely gone. All except our tree. The yard literally became a blank slate.

Everything else was a fresh start – new plumbing, electrical, HVAC, you name it. Can I tell you how much I love demo on a project? It is so exciting to have the promise of something gorgeous just waiting in store for you…that is, after a whole bunch of blood, sweat, & tears.

Enjoy the progress pics!

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Hello 2 by 4’s! Goodbye dingy stone fireplace!

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So long linoleum!

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Wait for it because you may never hear it again… YES to the MESS!

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This is the kind of CAT I like to see in my yard!

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A fresh start for this ol’ house. I’ll be sharing more progress in the week’s ahead. Stay with me as I overthink everything from fixtures to fretwork!



Our Home & The Pasadena Home Tour

In honor of participating in this year’s Pasadena Kitchen and Home Tour, I thought I’d give some background on the tour and how I got involved, along with how we turned a mid-century home into the perfect space for our family.

I have been a fan and attendee of the Pasadena Kitchen and Home Tour since I first discovered it when I was still in design school. It’s a one-day version of the exclusive, yearly Pasadena Showcase House. The Kitchen and Home Tour started as a small self-guided, kitchen tour 28 years ago, and it has grown to include the whole home. What could be better than being invited into people’s homes to ogle their personal spaces? As a personal organizer and interior designer, going through gorgeous homes is borderline thrilling. And, yes, if you’re thinking I should probably get out more, at least it’s better than crashing a high end open house (which I know you’ve done at least once, so please)! But truth be told, house hunting is all we did while we dreamed of finding a perfect space to call our own.

When hubby D and I moved back to California (post 2 year stint living in Philly while my husband attended Wharton… and I subsequently froze to death), we had to find a home in literally 2 days. We knew we eventually wanted to buy a home for our growing family, but the real estate pickings were slim. We managed to find a great townhome to rent, and it was the place where we welcomed our little man home. Meanwhile, I had been scouring Redfin at all hours of the day and night nearing the end of my pregnancy when I couldn’t comfortably sleep any longer.

I longed to find the perfect mid-century fixer, that we could get for a great price, put in a little elbow grease and create a perfect home of our own. I stumbled across this amazing post-and-beam Buff and Hensman mid-century fixer. Yes, it’s rough around the edges, but so much potential!!


I knew right then and there I was in love with mid-century modern style and this home delivered it in the form of great lines and huge glass windows. But, I was two weeks from my due date and it needed a MAJOR overhaul. I knew I was getting ready for a life overhaul, and since I was both nesting and working full-time, whatever leftover logic that hadn’t been devoured by prego hormones told me ‘no-way Jose’.

Fast forward 9 months. I’d had a chance to finish some client projects and enjoy life as a new mom. My mom asked me to check out an open house since she was also looking to buy. So I dragged poor Hub to the D with me again, along for yet another house hunting ride. Little did we know that we had found the home and wound up writing an offer that day! Thank goodness my mom didn’t want it too, could you imagine that bidding war?! We had to beat four other offers until we finally were in escrow.


The house was in pristine original condition, which is basically an elevated term for dated. It was built in 1959, so dated as it may have been, for me that meant blank slate, and everyone knows that’s a designers dream!

It’s smaller that I had hoped for with a growing family, which made the project a great exercise in efficient living. But it is in a fabulous neighborhood, the budget was beyond right for us, and it’s a short walk to the Rose Bowl Flea Market once a month so I can regularly get my scavenge and salvage fix! Woohoo! I think the true selling point was the incredible old oak tree that shelters and shades our back yard. It’s truly magical.


So we got to work on our blank slate, and with a lot of time, determination and creative improvising, we finally have a home worthy of being featured on the tour! I am beyond excited to have been selected. And what’s even better is that all four homes on the tour celebrate the beauty of small spaces. Not everyone needs to dwell in a McMansion or a cookie-cutter flip. Less can definitely be more!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the back story. Since I won’t leave you hanging entirely, here are few before pictures.




Stay tuned to learn and hear more about my remodeling process, my neuroses of selecting finishes and furnishings for myself and the agonizing process of designing my own home – efficiently. Final pictures will be revealed all in good time…. like a good meal, we have to slow cook this thang and let all the juicy stuff simmer! And you were wondering why I call my blog Design Dish?