Lauren Liess Interiors
luxury interior designer

As a decorator & a textile designer, this is my place to muse... Reality and charm fascinate me; perfection isn't really my thing. Fresh floppy flowers from the garden over long-stemmed roses any day, I love it when things are slightly off and tell a story.



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BLOGROLL

Well, it's official: We are putting our house on the market this Thursday, July 30th.  

{I'm going to miss you most of all, Outdoor Shower}

For anyone who’s new or hasn’t read my past posts, we recently found out that the Catholic high school we’d planned to send our kids to is moving, so we’re planning on moving so that our (currently very young) kids can be closer to a Catholic high school.  Lots of people have asked us why we don't simply move when it's time for our oldest to enter high school, and - other than the fact that we'd planned to add extra bedrooms to our current place to accommodate 4 kids & don't think that's the best idea with an impending move- we also really want to get our kids settled into a school.  Our upcoming 3rd grader is already sad about moving (leaving both his friends at school and in the neighborhood) and we don't want to be faced with moving a freshman who would have no friends from his grade school going to his high school, a 6th grader, a 4th grader, and a 1st grader.  As obsessed as I am with houses (and in particular, our house) we're more concerned with our kids putting down roots.  


Though this whole process has been a mad dash- we decided on Thursday to put our house on the market and have been attacking the house ever since- yard work, paint touch-ups, sprucing and all that-  I’m feeling very zen, I guess.  When we first heard about the possibility that the high school was moving a while back, it was so unsettling...  My feeling of "this is it" went away instantly and every few months we'd look at houses.  Now that they’ve made the announcement that the school is officially moving, and we’ve made our decision to move, I feel ready for whatever’s coming our way. 

We don't know where we'll be moving to at this point, but have found a couple of promising houses, so we're just going to see where things take us.  The boys will be attending their new school this fall, and they'll commute while our house is on the market, so we’re in no rush.  I’m desperately hoping we find something we love and can stay in for at least the next 18 years, but that all depends upon what we find and can afford.  Honestly, we’re just really thankful that our kids are healthy and that we’ll be together where ever it is we’ll be.  Everything else will work out one way or another. 


My maternity leave this summer has been amazing.    I’ve had so much quality time with the kids & Dave, and I’m emotionally so recharged.  I feel {mostly} ready for the chaos we’re about to throw ourselves into- moving, new school, travelling a ton for work, the book release.  (Physically- that’s another story- sleep just isn’t our thing right now but I know that’ll pass.)  It’s been a very sweet wake-up call of sorts…  The kids are growing so quickly and I want to be able to be with them more because it only happens once, so I’m thinking more about our schedule and summers and how/if we could possibly make that work.  This summer, we kept existing projects going and worked on parcel projects, but I didn’t have any client meetings or presentations.  I’ll need to think & run numbers but I’d like to see if I could somehow make future summers more like that.  I felt so much more present for everyone at home and at the same time, so much more excited about going back to work this fall. 


{The window seat in our upstairs family room/ loft }

In the meantime, I’ll be house-hunting and will keep you posted on that front.  And if you know of anyone who wants to buy a house in Oakton, Virginia- send them my way!!  I’ll be posting a complete home tour this week (thanks to a suggestion from a thoughtful reader!) but for now, here are a bunch of pictures of our house from my portfolio: LAUREN’S HOUSE

Our realtor is hosting an open house this weekend so wish us luck!!!  {For those who are interested in the house and/or the open house, here is our realtor, Paige McGlaughlin’s- website & contact info: PAIGE’S SITE }

House officially goes on the market this Thursday, July 30th.  (And is available for showings.) 

Open House Saturday, August 1st from 1-4 


If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

So...  about six months ago I mentioned our contemplating moving and our struggle with it- to go or not to go?  


{our place}


Well, sadly, a few weeks ago we found out that the nearby Catholic school we'd planned to send our kids to is indeed moving far away from our house.  Finding out that the school we'd purposely moved to be near less than three years ago was possibly moving made us a bit sick...  now, knowing it's a done deal, we're resigned to moving at some point.   When we first bought the house, we'd thought we could eventually add more bedrooms and would stay at least until all of our kids were off to college, but now that we know we need to move in a few years because of the high school, we don't want to put an addition on the house.  When we renovated our place, we renovated it for ourselves.  I didn't think at all about resale, adding things like custom plaster vent registers, marble & soapstone countertops, vintage bathroom vanities & fixtures, built-ins, new windows, outdoor shower, a patio, vegetable garden, and all of my absolute favorite materials and finishes...


{The amount of hours that went into something as simple as our stair rail is staggering.  Photo by Brittany Ambridge for Domino.}


It was a huge undertaking and we literally poured everything we had into it on every level- mental, physical, financial & emotional.  I absolutely relished the process at the time, but I did it because I thought I was making something we'd raise our family in.  Something more permanent.  I don't regret it because it was awesome to go through and I loved stretching my decorating wings in such a unique house...  but to be honest, I'm a little sad.  And now, knowing that we're moving, I don't have it in me to do it again to this house by adding on an addition to the home we know we won't be staying in.  

We all have our own priorities and as much as I love the concept of "home" and our house, it's really important to us that they attend a Catholic School.  (And it doesn't have to do with the quality of the education nearby- we live an an area with absolutely incredible public schools.) So, we've had to put that priority over the passion we have for our current place.  I'm not quite okay with it yet -mentally I'm on board but like I said, I'm a little sad about leaving.  I'm not one to look back though -once we make decisions and move forward- so I know I'll be fine.  And of course, the designer in me can't help getting excited about new possibilities when perusing houses.

{a more traditional, yet modern & spare feeling space by Victoria Hagan}

Like I mentioned in January, we've been looking at listings online, but hadn't been looking seriously until we found at that the high school move was a done deal.  I'm not quite sure when we'll be moving, which is 100% dependent upon finding the right place for the right price to move into.  It could happen next month or it could happen a year from now...  we'll just have to see what's in store for us.  We're looking for a house with more bedrooms, beautiful natural lighting, a spot for a veggie garden, closer to the school we plan to send our kids to, and something that I'm creatively excited about.  I'm open to all styles of architecture but am hesitant to go contemporary again because if we do, I'll end up wanting to recreate much of what I've already done, which isn't at all exciting to me... nor would it really help our business in any way...  Every house we look at, we also consider the implications that decorating it would have for us on the business front... this is an opportunity for me to grow skill-wise and also demonstrate that in my portfolio, which will hopefully show the right clients what we can do for them.  I've already decided, though, that this time, I'll share everything as I do it on the blog.  I've been keeping so many projects secret for so long, first for the publication of our house, and more recently, my book, that I'm ready to share it all again.  I miss it and it's hard for me to not write about what I'm most excited about, which is always current projects.  If no one wants to publish it this time around because it's been seen on the blog, I'm okay with that, because I feel like we had a really great experience with Domino Magazine and our house, and that this time, I want to enjoy the experience of sharing with you on the blog again, like I was able to do in our first home.  

{a sketch for our loft plans}


We're hoping to find something that we can move right into this time with minimal work other than painting and decorating...  We have a really busy Fall planned with the book coming out and lots of travel, so I want our spare time to be spent having quality time as a family, not managing a massive renovation.  I know in whatever house we move to, eventually I'll want to design a special kitchen again, but for when we first get into a place, we'll need to save up, live with what we have for a while, and spend as much time as we can together simply living.  

I'll keep you posted on our hunt for the perfect place and I'm going to be sharing lots of little details and tidbits about our current home because I feel like I want to snap pics of and document every little inch of it before we go.    Also, I mentioned our move on Instagram and a couple of  people mentioned being interested in our current house, so...   For anyone who is, our (amazing!) realtor's name is Paige McLaughlin and here's her contact info: CONTACT PAIGE.  

Wish us luck!!!  

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Hope you've been having a great summer!!  I've been spending lots of quality time with the new baby and working on some exciting upcoming projects!!  I've also had some time to read - as opposed to crashing to sleep at 7 or 8 as I'd been doing for the past 9 months or so -  and am feeling like I'm returning to the world again!! 
 

{I'm in serious baby heaven...  this is a pic of Gisele's first swim- she loved it!!}


Along with new Christopher Pike books (I've been reading him since I was 10 years old and he'll forever be my favorite author!!) and other fast reads, I've gotten the chance to go through some new {gorgeous!!} design books and so I wanted to share them with you in case you're looking for new ones, so here we go: 

Windsor Smith is one of my absolute favorite interior designers so I couldn't wait to read her new book, Homefront: Design for Modern Living.  



It's an absolutely gorgeous book with tons of energy.  There's a charisma about Windsor and her work that the book captures beautifully.  


{This is a favorite project of hers done with architect Steve Giannetti- love it!!}

I love how she approaches living and how she defies convention...  she doesn't care what a room's intended "purpose" is...  if it's not working for the person who lives in the home, she turns it into what it is they do need.  (Remember her living room-turned-ping-pong hang out for her sons in her house??!! )



This is a book you really want to absorb from cover to cover.  



Windsor does some of the best kitchens around...



Kitchens that you not only cook in... but ones that you can hang out and live in too.  They're an energetic mix of function, old & new, and pure eye candy.  Serious gorgeousness.



In short, I pretty much love everything Windsor Smith does.  Homefront is a peek into her thought process and really encourages readers to design their homes and lives for true living.  

Homefront: Design for Modern Living
Windsor Smith
buy here



I received a copy of Segreto Style from the super sweet creator of Segreto Finishes, Leslie Sinclair and it has so many beautiful rooms in it!!  



Segreto Style takes readers on a tour through a massive number of homes Segreto Finishes has been a part of.  Segreto Finishes, Leslie's company, specializes in plaster and decorative finishes.  Her work adds so much character and interest to often times brand-new homes.  


{A gorgeous kitchen... adore that marble & the floors!!!}

I wanted to share a few of my favorite projects from the book...  Love these plaster walls:


{There is such a "realness" to plaster in this type of setting that you just can't get with drywall... and I love these creepy oversize ants!!}

Leslie's artistry adds patinas to many completely new homes:



...And I love how modern & antique have been mixed throughout these gorgeous houses:




Leslie's work is absolutely incredible and I kept thinking about how I wish she could do my cousin's home in Florida!!

Segreto Style
Leslie Sinclaire
Buy here


And the final book I wanted to share with you today is Simplicity by Nancy Braithewaite.  



I fell for Nancy Braithewaite's style over eight years or so ago when Cottage Living Magazine featured her daughter's home.  I love her restraint and the sculptural pureness that defines her work.  


{Nancy's daughter's house... an old favorite of mine.  I've been so inspired by this image.}


There's a drama created by so much simplicity:


She uses massive pieces with history and meaning to create painfully beautiful homes...


There's a quietness about her spaces that I love.   They always feel sophisticated and purposeful.  


It seems to make room for life and people.  Pattern is used sparingly, but when it's used it's for great impact:

 
She truly seems to appreciate artists and collecting special pieces.   It's very much that "less is more" school of thought except I'd probably add "as long as it's big" to that sentiment.  Her skill with scale is unreal.  I feel like I learned so much from staring at images of her work and reading about her thought process.

Simplicity
Nancy Braithewaite
Buy here



As you probably know, I appreciate sooooo many different looks.  The more I'm exposed to, the more I'm open to...  I've never been able to decide what I love more- the pure, dramatically simple, soulful thing or the lively, layered, patterned house- so I truly enjoy reading about the perspectives of very different designers.    I love knowing why each of them do what they do - usually in design books- so that I can learn more/ grow and apply it in my own work.   Hope you enjoyed this little rundown and would love to know what  you've been reading and loving lately!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

{a dream bathroom from an unknown source via pinterest = LOOOOVE}

It's been a while now since I've written about our Florida project but construction has begun and we're finally getting into the fun parts!!  A quick rundown on the project:  The house is for my cousin, Adam and his fiancé, Nikki.  (They got engaged last week- yay!!!) It's been underway for  couple of years now and will be finished in early Spring of 2016.  View the demo here.  (The original house on the property was infested with mold and whatever could be salvaged, was donated prior to demo.)  When I first announced the project, the comments section got really interesting as Adam's decision to build such a massive house (Around 17,000 square feet I think??) was controversial.  Lots of people thought it was disgustingly large and distasteful and wondered about all the other things he could be doing with his money.  Others felt he'd earned it himself so he could do what he wanted with it.  I'm of the "to each his own" camp myself.

For a full introduction to the project and my crazy cousin, click here.  (Sadly, the comments of that posts didn't move over when I changed blog platforms but if anyone cares or knows how to get to the old website without it redirecting or do that cached page thing- no idea myself-  they should still be there.)   

Because people have asked in the past, I thought I'd refresh anyone who might be curious about it-  We don't charge family for work. Never have, never will.  Because of this though, projects that we help anyone in our family with take a serious backseat to client projects...  and it's mostly done in my spare time.  Our family members have to manage the projects themselves and deal with chasing me down for phone calls and questions.   And they have to be nice to me even though they don't have my full attention whenever they need it like my clients do.  Adam is one of my favorite family members to work with because he basically let's me do whatever I want to his homes which is ridiculously creatively satisfying (!!)  and is always nice even when I don't pick up the phone for days.  (You know, when I'm busy doing stuff like having a baby or sleeping.) 

Anyway, the home is Mediterranean in style and I've been getting inspired by a lot of John Saladino's work.  I'm working on the bathroom now and thought you might like a peek into the process.  Here's the layout, drawn by a super-talented artist, Chuck, in Florida:

 

 

The room is massive and we've separated it into three distinct areas:

1) The rooms for the toilets (lol is there a better name for that??!!)

2) The vanity area

3) The tub and shower area

 

The vanity area and the tub/shower room are separated by a large wall of glass like this:

 

...Except with a metal frame like this for a conservatory-feel:

{by Michael Dean Homes}

 

On the right side of the tub/shower room there are two open showers, and on the left side is a closed steam shower.  The tub is inspired by an antique Italian fountain from Ancient Surfaces, who is making a new reproduction for us.  (We're actually getting a lot of the reclaimed materials for the home from Ancient Surfaces, and the owner, Tony, has been really helpful.   Their things are incredible!!!)

 

A while back, I fell in love with a shower made from half of an antique fountain by John Saladino:

 

...And then we stayed at the Cheeca Lodge in the Keys and I also fell for the tub that was filled with a filler coming from the ceiling on our balcony:

{pic from my instagram, a couple of years ago at the Cheeca Lodge}

 

So, when the bathroom design called for the tub as focal point, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for a combination of my dream the shower and tub!!  The tub will have a floor-mounted filler along with a ceiling filler and it will have a special interior made for sitting in.  I cannot wait to see this thing!!!

This rendering gives you the general idea, though the details and tub shape will be different:

 

Recessed niches near the vanities will hold towels and baskets with supplies:

 

 

I'm working on the tile and materials now.  The walls will be plaster and the floor tiles most likely a mix of pebble tiles and antique coral tiles from Ancient Surfaces.  I want the whole house to feel fresh and light and airy yet warm, so the palette will be made of soft ivories, beiges and sand tones.  My cousin gravitates towards Fauxscan things and dark heavy interiors but I've definitely opened him up to clean lines & light with dark accents so we're making really great progress.  (woohooo!!!)  Next up- vanities & lighting.  (What you see here are just place holders)  I'll be sure to share progress photos of the house along the way...  drywall will be going up soon!!  (And more on Instagram... my name on there is "LaurenLiess")   Anyway, hope you enjoyed!!

 

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

The past couple of weeks have flown and I can't believe our new little one is five weeks old today!!  I'm taking maternity leave from work this summer to be with the baby & the three boys (well, as much of a maternity leave as you can when it's your own business ;) but will be returning to blogging.  I seriously can't believe summer's here already!! Woohooo!!!

               

                                                                     {our kitchen garden is growing!!!}

For the past few months, we've been working on a really special project and I'm so excited to finally be able to share it with you!!!  This winter, Better Homes & Gardens contacted me about an unannounced project that they'd been working on- an idea house that showcases innovations in technology- and asked us to decorate it!  (The BHG Innovation Home!)  The team at BHG has researched many of the newest home technology products, picked their favorites, and built a house that showcases them.  We came aboard in time to assist with some of the finish selections and went to work on the decorating right away.   Construction on the house- located in Mequon, Wisconsin- by Lakeside Development Company was majorly underway when we came aboard and it's now just about complete and is being photographed in a couple of weeks!!   It will all be revealed in the October Issue of BHG.   The house will be for sale and open for viewing this Summer!

 

  

 

 

Like all projects, we began with an inspiration meeting, though this one happened remotely with the BHG team in Des Moines, Iowa.  Working for a magazine vs. working for a project is similar in lots of ways- I take the information that's been given to me and put together a design that I feel like is "them" - but the difference is mainly that the information being given to me when it's a magazine is based upon what the magazine feels the readers would collectively be happiest seeing in the pages of the magazine.  We have to be sure to include ideas and things that will get readers excited and also ones that readers can replicate and do in their own homes.  When you're decorating a house for a single client, you do exactly what they/you want but when you're decorating for such a large readership, you need to make sure that you're illustrating new ideas that are doable for lots of people and in a price point that they're comfortable with.  Better Homes and Gardens readers have a distinct style and are attracted to a certain type of decorating, so it was our job to deliver it to them.  (And I'll now be on pins & needles until October, hoping they like what they see!!)

I was asked to create a decorating scheme that was fresh, cheerful, colorful, included a mix of high & low pieces, and that was traditional with a modern farmhouse edge.  Our team presented a design that included our usual mix of natural, both new & vintage pieces, and lots of texture.  I took inspiration for the color palette for the house from an old chintz pillow I have in my house that I'm obsessed with that includes all of my favorite colors-  blues, grays, olive greens, and a hint of gold/mustard- and then added in some purer blues to freshen it up. 

             

 {My starting point chintz for the color palette...  The fabric isn't actually used anywhere in the house.}  

Once we presented the design to BHG, it was refined with input from the magazine over the next couple of months, and then we began the procurement process.  Many of our original selections were swapped with new selections that could be delivered more quickly or that would be at a better price point, and we all hope it's now exactly what readers will love seeing!!

Here's a little peek at some of what's going on to give you an idea of what to expect:

 

 

                        

 

 

 

As the big reveal gets closer, I'll be sharing more details and in-depth info about my thought process for the decorating in specific areas of the house.  Installation is this week (wohoo!!) so I'll be sharing some updates form the install team via Instagram.  (My name on there is "LaurenLiess".)   Hope you enjoy & I absolutely CANNOT WAIT for you to see this place!!! 

 

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.


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