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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I was recently contacted by Farrow & Ball about a campaign they have going on, and though I rarely do anything like this, I thought this one was worth it because I looooove Farrow & Ball and the reward for the contest (5 gallons of paint!!) was too good not to share!!  To enter the contest, create a moodboard including a Farrow & Ball paint or paper, hashtag it with #myfabmoodboard and then post it on Instagram tagging and following @farrowandball. The moodboard I created is of one of my favorite rooms I've ever done...  A small blue library for a super sweet client of ours.  I thought it would be fun to show you a little sneak peek of the room as pictured in my book (coming out in a month and a half-eeeek!!!) along with a photo of how the room looked "before."   Here's the moodboard which features "Dix Blue" paint:

Moodboards that show main elements of what will be included in a space- like fabrics, furnishings, lighting, and paint- are a great way to get an idea of how a room will feel when it's finished.  The moodboard above doesn't have the exact same pieces we ultimately selected for the library, but it's very similar in feeling to the finished space.  

The library was a tiny office in its previous life and my client was looking for a library that she could work, read and relax in.  Here's what it looked like before:

We knew we would have books on every wall and we decided to paint the shelves and walls in a sort of Robin's Egg Blue- a color we'd used throughout the house in the fabrics and accents, We were after a truly saturated blue that was both deep and bright, so we knew we had to use a Farrow & Ball paint, which always have so much depth and richness.  To keep the space feeling natural and collected, we proposed bringing in an antique oak table, a washed-out vintage rug, rush chairs for texture and a mix of fabrics including our LL Textiles "Boho Stripe" fabric and an intense gold velvet pillow.  I can't share the entire space yet but here's a little snippet of the library taken from my book:

{photo by Helen Norman for my book, Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating, Abrams 2015.  The library was also recently featured on the cover of Country Living... they used a shot of the secret door we had made into another room.  

I really love how it turned out!!  The room has instant atmosphere when you visit in person and although there's so much color, it's got a sort of mellow subdued vibe when you're in there...  The perfect place to snuggle up and read.  

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little peek and if you're working on any projects and would like the chance to enter the contest to win 5 gallons of Farrow & Ball paint, share a moodboard on Instagram featuring a Farrow & Ball paint or paper, hashtag it #myfabmoodboard , tag it with @farrowandball and follow them by August 31st. Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!!

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

Hope you've been enjoying the last couple of weeks of summer! Things have been moving along here with our housing situation, and the offer I mentioned we made on a more "normal" house in my last post was accepted!!  We're sad to leave our place and the kids' current school but also really excited to start putting down roots.  

{In between our house deals, we've been squeezing in lots of quality time with the kids.}

Here's a quick rundown on our new place...  I like it and love what I think it can be, but I'm not crazy in love with it yet.  What I do love is the convenient life I think we'll have there, the number of bedrooms, the livable floor plan, the structure of the house itself, the views, the neighborhood...  but it's got a much smaller yard, is traditional and just so much more "normal."  As obsessed as I am with houses and with creating something totally unconventional and perfect for us, we felt like we need to go with what's best and easiest for our family as a whole right now.  It's not yet a "dream house" to me (no outdoor shower- tear!!!) but I'm so excited about the type of life we're moving into.  (And I guess it's weird that I mention the type of "life" we're moving to...  but to me, that's sort of what houses are.  They're the backdrops for our lives and so moving into houses feels like picking different sorts of lives in a way.)  And this house will be so different for us...  shorter commutes for the kids' schooling (both now and when they hit high school) more bedrooms, TONS of storage, and a kid-friendly basement. WOOOHOOOOO!!!  

{One of Thomas O'Brien's homes... it's long been a favorite of mine.  It looks nothing like our new house but we're painting our floors too!!!!  I haven't yet selected the color.}

I'll share photos of the house once we close (SO soon!!) but hope you can understand that from here on out, I don't plan on discussing our actual location/ town and all that due to privacy and not wanting to discuss my kids' school locations online.  There's been confusion/questions in the comments about where we're actually moving to and, I'll admit, for the past year or so, I've purposely kept where we're going very vague (sorry!!) but I'll leave it at this: we looked into a number of towns near various Catholic high schools throughout the DC/ Maryland/ Virginia area and are thrilled with where we're ending up.  

As we house-hunted, I was open to all sorts of architectural styles (even though I've found myself gravitating more and more towards a sort of rustic-modern vibe on a personal level) but my one sticking point was that the house needed to feel authentic or have the potential to feel authentic when I finished.  The house we found is traditional...  Nothing at all like our current house, which is a tad sad because our current home is so right to me, but also really exciting because I get to do a little decorative stretching, which I love.   

{Image from  I want to make our new house feel more authentic so I've been taking inspiration from old homes and traditional millwork. }

So my goal with the new place is pretty straight forward- to get the house feeling authentic and older yet fresh, relaxed and natural/ a tad rustic with a little bit of modern mixed in.

{A space by Steven Gambrel...  to me, it feels authentic and old, yet modern in its sensibilities- simple, spare, sculptural and clean.  It's a bit like what I'm going for, but I want to mix in some MidCentury...}

Once we close, I'll give you a full tour outlining my plans- eeek so excited!!- and walk you through my thought process.  We begin demo the day after we close and it's going to be another living-under-construction situation for a while.  We want to get moved over to our new place as quickly as possible because the kids start school soon and I'm pretty positive getting them to their new school on time from our current house is not going to be awesome.  Like I mentioned, I'll be posting about the entire process on the blog and instead of mostly "big reveals" and "after" photos, I'll be sharing all along so there will be lots of not-so-pretty / in-process pictures and lots of "whys" and lots of awkward in-between phases for my house.  :)  I'm taking the decorating slower than I did last time (we've got a much bigger place to furnish) but we're attacking the bones of the house with a vengeance.  I'll be dosey-doe'ing the furniture around the house as we gradually fill it all in.  I'll be back soon with more details!!

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

In my last post, I mentioned that we were interested in a couple of different types of homes/ways of life- the dream home rehab- saving a tear down!!- on acreage in a not-so-convenient location vs. some sort of more "normal" house that wouldn't necessarily really be my style, but in a more convenient location with much less land...  

And I wrote about finding a listing that I was completely OBSESSED with.  It's listed as a tear-down, though the description mentioned renovating and is for sale as "lot/ land."  It literally stopped me in my tracks.  After seeing it in person, I can say that there is something so incredible about this house and that it speaks to my soul.  It has a palpable mood and you can see that it was once so beautiful and full of life...  (It still is beautiful, but it's more of that "beautiful ruin" type thing... More of a Grey Gardens allure.)  It's got such presence,  It's like those great books or movies in which the sense of place is so strong it's almost like it's another character in the story.... I can't quite put it into words. The listing said the property was bought in 1968 and that the house was built in 1974.   The owners and their architect had some serious vision and creativity.  It looks like it was once a great party house and I imagined hosting holidays and events and dinner parties there...  with lights and tents and flowers and music... (Not really my life at all- but I was somehow going to do it & love it!!) 

Anyway, we drove home from the beach and immediately went to check out a few places and, of course, had to stop there first.  

{The exterior design is perfect to me.  I love the proportions and the modern-yet-ancient vibe.}

Vines grow over the stucco and it's got this sort of crumbling, decaying beauty about it.  The stucco has been badly damaged by water and vines, the roof is rotted, and there's a lot of mold.  I love the Juliette balconies which are on every sliding door throughout the house.

{The view from a side deck, which also has a greenhouse/sunroom on it.}

  From the photos, we could tell that it would take a LOT- time, work, and money- to bring the house up to date in terms of what we as a family would need and also in terms of what would be expected of a house nowadays- more bedrooms & a garage for the price point, new kitchen & baths, floors, and of course, would need to be structurally sound.  We calculated what we thought it might cost to get it livable for us if everything was worst-case scenario-  meaning, basically using the structure as a shell and redoing every single thing/ basically building new- and it wasn't an option for us but decided we needed to check it out in person to see what the real deal was, because just MAYBE we could make it work if the owners were willing to majorly negotiate on the asking price and the damage to the house wasn't as far progressed as it seemed.   So, when we visited, my heart did go pitter patter.   

A rooftop terrace spans the entire width of the house and overlooks gorgeous Virginia forest land:

{I imagined outdoors sofas and a massive rooftop vegetable garden.  How fun would hanging here be?!!!  A spiral staircase leads up to the roof from inside.}

The back of the house overlooks a filled in pool, which now makes the perfect patio/ dance floor during parties.  

{The view of the back yard from the rooftop}

This photo was taken from standing on the patio looking back up at the house:

{We could have kids' weddings here!!}

Here is the view from the back of the house looking out/down:

{I imagined how breathtaking this must have been when it was manicured and the urns were filled and the fountain was going}

The gardens have gone wild and I love them.  Someone once had great vision for this place.  (and a green thumb I suspect ;)  I could picture us living here and it just had this mysterious beauty about it.  It feels like the house has seen a lot.  I felt like maybe I was meant to find this place.  

{The back of the kitchen walks out under an awning (below) which I really loved and imagined in black and white.  (This is the area that overlooks the filled in pool/ patio.)  I had decided that the awning would probably have to go, though, so that the entire back wall of the kitchen could become lass- and doors over looking the patio/ forest because I would need more sunlight in the kitchen..}  

We continued around the house to the side and walked up to the side deck, where it's rotted over the years...

The stairs lead down into the prettiest forest.  A greenhouse off the dining room is on this side of the house:

{this photo was taken from the dining room looking out at the greenhouse and deck.  The entire things was rotted and would need to be replaced.}

Walking down the long stairs into the woods, we neared the walk-out basement entrance and we could hear soft classical music playing from behind the glass.  (We felt like we were in a movie.)  As we looked into the woods we could spy a structure in the clearing at the base of the hill...  As you continue down the hill you can see that it is, no joke, a CASTLE surrounded by a moat:

{A true once-operable (maybe still operable??) drawbridge leads you to a child-sized stucco castle.  It's got multiple rooms inside of it and is two stories that lead up to a third story lookout area in the tallest turret. The little shutters you see inside behind the chairs actually open to another room that looks like a mini mead hall or pub room with tables and chairs.  The green you see in the water looks like slime in the picture but it's actually tiny little pods covering the surprisingly clear water's surface.  A little froggy plunked into the water as we approached.  This place was made with love and by someone who really wanted something special for their kids.  I've never seen anything like it and my own kids won't let me forget about it.  {"We want the castle house!!") We heard through the grapevine- so not firsthand info and we can't be sure if it's true or not- that their were once pet caimans (they're a small type of crocodile!!)  living in the moat when the owner's children still lived at home.  I feel like there needs to be a book written about this house and its fascinating owners.  }   

Going back up to the house and around to the front...  the entrance and atrium is a-mazing:

{It looks as if the owners are still caring for the massive trees inside the house.  And the vines crawling up the stucco?!!  I love them!!!  Reminds me of Rose Tarlow's house. }

Here's the view from the front door:

{The door to the left of the solarium is the door to an office/library and the living room is to the right.  Steps lead from the sunken living room up to the dining room.  The dining room leads to the kitchen on the left, which is in the center back of the house, and the dining room opens to the greenhouse/ sunroom which walks out onto a deck overlooking the woods.} 

I love the flagstone and massive arched skylight above.  The living room sits to the right, where you see the original shag carpet.  Here is a view of the skylight from the upper level with a sun canopy above it:

When I looked in the living room, I realized that the house wasn't for us.  (Yep, believe it or not, it wasn't necessarily the signs of water damage to the stucco-both interior and exterior- and the rotting wood all over and the fact that it would indeed be completely over our budget that deterred me from wanting the house...  It was the size of the living room.  From the photos, I imagined it as a sizable space where the whole family would hang out, but it turns out that it's actually very narrow (only about 14' deep with a fireplace that juts into the room and steps that also jut into the room, making it somewhere around 9-10 feet wide, which when you add 3 feet of walking space to be able to move through the room, leaves very little available space for seating.  Settees of pairs of chairs would work, but, being a family of six, we need more than that, especially when we have people over.)   When I mentally calculated all of this out, I felt at once incredibly disappointed but also very relieved.  Disappointed, because I wanted it to work so badly, but relieved because I knew what an all-consuming and costly project this would be, and with the kids being so young, I don't want to feel like we're blinking away the time.  

Dave was walking around jaw-dropped.  He loved it too and was shocked when I told him we couldn't get what we needed/wanted out of it.  

...So, we moved on to check out a few other places and have found some promising options- we have an offer in on one of them right now.  (They're not anything like this place (tear) but I think they'll fit our needs better right now.  They're architecturally, mostly just very traditional/ "normal" so I would take my time getting the architectural details right and working to add charm and character.)  They excite me in that they're more practical and will be easier on a daily basis to live in, and I think we've found some choices that we can be really happy in, and I love the idea of getting the bones right and making something feel special... but this property was once in a lifetime.  And, we don't have the funds to add on additions for more space or anything like that to it.. Also, the proportions are just incredible so I would hate to mess with the exterior... But I truly hope SOMEONE who knows what they're doing does.  (And then I hope they hire me lol!!)  I would be so sad to see it be torn down...  And I won't forget this house.  I'm filing it all away, and it just may inspire a dream house of our own one day in the way way future.  I'm not sure where the current owners are or what they're up to, but I wish them the very best and think they created something truly special here and that it must have been an incredible home to grow up in...  Kind of magical. 

I'll keep you posted on our house hunt, and am truly loving bringing you along, but just as a quick FYI, I wanted to let you know that I won't be writing about or sharing photos of any specific properties until after we have moved on from them, and I won't be directly linking to listings or mentioning the names of the specific towns we're looking in.  We'd really like to keep our home address private/offline & hope you can understand that.  Wish me luck as we wait to hear if we got one of the houses we like!!

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

We had our open house this past weekend and it ended up going really well...  We were out of town (there is NO WAY we would have been able to keep the house perfectly neat with our three boys and newborn!!) and were on pins and needles as we waited to hear from our realtor how it went.  I fretted about styling and all of the things I'd forgotten about like the haphazardly hung wall of family photos that my husband surprised me with late one night a couple of years ago & I'd always meant to rehang, along with all of other walls and spaces I hadn't yet gotten to really decorating properly...  because you know, people buy houses based upon good artwork placement, right? ;) Anyway, after the nail-biting was over, we got a couple of wonderful offers from what seemed like really nice people who will love our home as much as we do.  And now, we're officially under contract, which feels a bit surreal.

{lights on open house-style!!}

It's all happened really quickly and while I've moved on in my brain, I already know how much I'm going to miss our place.  (I think I miss it already??)  Like I mentioned before, this was a house we thought we'd be in for a good long while, not a "flip", so it really meant a lot to me.  I thought through every little decision, weighing my options, doing what I thought was best, even when it wasn't the easiest or (most inexpensive) route.  There's a story behind pretty much everything I brought into the house and I'm sad to leave so much of it.  

{This piece of furniture, which I had built into the wall,  was given to us by my dad as a gift when we had our first baby.}

I'm going to look back so fondly on our time at this house.  I really felt at peace and content (lol until the whole school moving fiasco that is) and I can't wait to get there again.  But, I know that really, a house is just a house.  Not to to be totally cheesy, but I'm just really thankful that our family is healthy and all together,  We'll be fine wherever it is we end up.  We have an insanely busy Fall with client projects, lots of travel, the book release/ book parties, a show house in Beverly Hills, so we're just trying to take each week one day at a time and to get in some quality moments with each other whenever we can.  I am in NO WAY ready to not have Gisele with me at pretty much all times so girlfriend is coming to work this Fall.  

{can't get enough of this little thing!!!}

We've already begun hunting for our new place and Dave & I are both seriously torn between two paths: The first being the safer/ easier route... Finding a house that needs minimal work in a super convenient location (which would result in a smaller yard) and just getting in and living and enjoying ourselves and keeping things simple.  Basically, not a permanent move or a "dream home" of any sort, but a move that could help us catch our breath a bit- for however long felt right.  The second would be another crazy renovation on a property with more land that wouldn't be quite as close to everything (but still way closer than what it would have been had we not sold our place) ... but this time maybe even more extensive.  This route would most likely end up costing more in the long run but we'd end up with something incredible...  something we could stay in forever if we wanted to.  A "dream house" in the sense that it's a house I feel passionate about and where almost everything is designed the way I want it to be, like our house now.  A place where I feel creatively satisfied.  Another opportunity to stretch design-wise and to showcase what we can do for our clients.  (I should mention here for anyone who thinks I'm the crazy one (I'm talking to you, Family!! ;) that my husband, Dave, would rather go this route because a larger yard is really important to him and it would create better opportunities for our business.) 

When we think of it from the kids /commute perspective, we know that with either route we go, the commute is a major factor, and as I've mentioned, we want to keep that shorter.  But there is a big difference in being super-close to where schools are to being fairly close. ("Fairly close" is what we have now, but when the high school school moves, would change.) We honestly don't know what "super-close" to a school feels like because we've never been in that position, (I have to say, I loved the walkability of our old house in Herndon and imagine it could be similar;  Walking into town for dinner & drinks or town functions, and being around the corner from our church and soccer was easy and just so much fun.  I know how quickly time seems to fly by and this route is so appealing.  I want this to be what we want.  But I also want the boys to have a big yard to run around in with room for another kitchen garden.  We love the privacy that a large yard affords and spend many of our waking moments at home outside.  Reality is, we absolutely can't afford a property that has it all, so we'll have to make a choice.  

They're two different paths and I think we could love both.  I'm not one for regrets, so I don't think I'd ever mourn the path not taken, one way or the other, but we would do something about it if we thought we'd made the wrong choice (I.e. move again)... and I'd really like us to be settled and have a place to raise the family in.  If we can't find a house -or figure out which way we want to go - by the time we need to move out of our current home, we're considering staying at my parents' house while we house hunt.  The flexibility to be able to jump back into the market at our own pace appeals to me but putting everything in storage and moving twice is definitely not appealing at all.  (As far as living with parents? I actually look back on our time living in their basement- with one baby- really fondly and think it could be fun, but it would be a tad different now that we have 4 kids...  my very sweet mom is scurred and it would need to be a very SHORT stay for their sake ;)  

So...  it's time so start checking out some properties and testing out morning commutes and really imagining what life would be like in different houses.  I have my eye on a couple listings that are so exactly opposite it's not even funny.  

{Probably way newer/nicer than what we'll be buying and not the house we're looking at...  but this gives you an idea.  Image from here.}

One is traditional and just so "normal"...  super-convenient and it would entail a light renovation- floors, woodwork to make it feel more authentic, kitchen & baths- and could be a really nice house that we could love life in.  We could make the move without staying at my parents' and it would be pretty easy.  I'd have the chance to work in a more traditional home and turn it into a special place.  I think I could get excited about it design-wise, but am not really excited at this point.  It would require more "decorating" and that sort of thing because it's architecturally "ok" and will need more dressing- which isn't really my personal style at all- to be "great."  It's not a "forever" home in the sense that I'd feel major love for it.  All of that being said, we're seriously considering it due to the idea of that convenient life.  (If someone bought it out from under us though, I'd shed no tears.)  

{A photo of Grey Gardens in the 70s... It's not too different in terms of condition!!  Image from here}

The other is amazing and for the first time in my life, I actually understood how someone could utter the phrase, "be still my heart."  I, no joke, was practically yelling (or maybe I was yelling?!!) "oh my gosh!!"  and then...  "oh my gosh!!"  and again,  "oh my gosh!!"  I seriously couldn't handle myself when I saw the listing it was so good.  I was pacing and felt frantic...  afraid to love the house because it looked so UN-doable.  (I'm an excitable person by nature but what I felt was beyond normal for me...  I've never had my heart rate go up and flip out over a house like this before.  My family just sort of shook their heads at me and laughed to themselves, and I was aware of how dramatic I was being, but I couldn't stop my declarations of "Oh my gosh!!" or "I want to scream I love it so much" to "I think I am screaming!!!"  One of the only other times I probably felt like this was when I was a little girl and my mom took me to the gemstones room at the Smithsonian where the Hope Diamond was on display.  She said I pressed my face from glass case to glass case exclaiming, "Oh, it's so beautiful!!!" and moaning, "I love this one so much!!" and "Look at all of the colors!!!"  and "this one is my favorite!!!  No this one!!" as onlookers giggled to themselves... I had no idea at the time people were laughing at me, btw.)  Anyway, I found the listing on a day when I had all but decided that "convenience" was the route to take, and so felt ridiculously torn.  (Like, probably close to Vampire Diaries-Stephen-and-Damon-type torn.)  The house is uninhabitable.  Like, really, people can't live there.  (Technically, it's a tear down, but not for me.)  Now, whether this house is an option or not (we haven't visited yet and it looks to be an expensive mess to fix) it did open my eyes to what feeling like a house was "right" could feel like.  (I had a similar feeling when we found both of our other houses, but it was waaaaaay stronger this time because the house was so much more undoable.  (Hence, the torn feeling.) But I honestly had thought that I was over any sort of emotional attachments with houses, so I guess I'm not.  I go from "we absolutely can't get into this sort of money pit" to "Maybe this was meant to be!!!!" and "We're the ones who can save this house from being replaced with a soulless mansion!!!" (No offense to soulless mansions...  I just love this place too much to not be sad if/when that happens ;)  

{Image by Kayaksailor}

And an odd coincidence... we saw a rainbow as we were agonizing over the listing and thinking about whether or not to go for it.  It's really weird, but with all three of our previous houses, we saw rainbows when we found them and were figuring out whether or not to go for them.  Each time, Dave and I would be deep in conversation about the house- should we do it or not?? Pros & cons and all of that- and then just sort of look up and see a rainbow.  The rainbows never changed our minds or confirmed anything per se for us, but somehow they made us feel good about things and the path ahead of us... and at this point it's getting kind of funny.  

Anyway, I'll keep you posted as we hunt and let you know what we're thinking after we check out a few places!!  I'm working on a post that includes a tour of our whole house- kids' rooms and all that- in one place and will hopefully have it up soon.  Thank you so much for your kind words about our house and for sharing the listing with friends & family.  I appreciate it so much!!

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

So...  It DEFINITELY has not set in but our house is officially "for sale" today.  The house I didn't think I was leaving for at least 18 years.  Yesterday I just looked at my husband and was just like, "What are we doing???"  My head will go from "I don't want it to move; I hope it takes forever to sell" to "I'm ready for what's next!!" to "No one will ever buy it!!"

{my love...  the exterior I originally had no idea what to do with... now black and spruced up a bit.}

So... while it's still my house, I thought I'd tell you a bit about what you don't see in magazine pictures.  It's not the fun design-stuff at all, so you might want to skip this post! ';) But it's stuff that has changed the way we live and it's the things that make our house functional, which is obviously a huge part of home design, so I thought I'd try to list it all in once place.  Another caveat: this post is full of not-so-pretty/ unstyled pics taken randomly with my iphone and also real estate photos which are of a totally different style than what's seen in the glossy magazines- lights on, wide angles, unstyled etc.- to show how the house is all related.

{the lifesaver hooks in our entry}

For a quick rundown: Our house is 2400 square feet and has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths: A first floor master and two upstairs bedrooms.  It's on a fairly main road and we have lots of privacy between us and the street (we're on 1 acre) so we do end up hanging in the front yard too.  The back yard is fenced, which is perfect for our pup.  It's not a big house at all so we've employed some major organization & storage techniques to make it work for us, mainly in the form of built-ins, closet systems, and converting under-utilized spaces spaces into practical ones.  When we moved in, we added a teensy-tiny powder room to the main level (taking out a coat closet, hence, the hooks above) because before that, guests had to use the master bath.  (I've never shared pics because it's so small I could never get a shot- those real estate photographers can handle it though lol}  We felt the additional bathroom was a small price to pay for hooks in lieu of a traditional coat closet for guests.  

{the real estate photo...  kicking myself for not putting away that roll of TP before I left home!!  ah vell.  We hung an antique cast iron sink and installed a vintage brass hose spiggot for the faucet...  always a topic of conversation after gusts first use it. The room is so teensy tiny I wanted to do something quirky in there to make it special.}

We have a big living room that opens to the kitchen, a smaller dining room, a family room (which isn't usually in pictures as I never formally "decorated" it!) and an upstairs family room/ library/loft.   On the outside, it's a black cedar contemporary, and on the inside it's light and airy yet warm.  It's more of a sepia-toned house vs. very white, which is how it appeared in Domino.  (It was shot on a snowy day which totally changed the light.)

{Interiors photos for shelter magazines & portfolios focus on the interiors to showcase them at their best and leave the views blown our or fuzzy, but the real estate photos really illustrate how the views affect the interiors.  When I come home from being anywhere else, I'm always struck by how "outside" I feel when I'm inside because of all of the windows.  I'm actually SO impressed with the real estate photographer's photos and thought they came out really well.} 

We installed SONOS throughout, a wireless sound system which we control from our phones.   To be honest, I was against doing it at first.  I felt that it was probably one of the biggest luxuries we splurged on because it couldn't be seen in photos, showcased nothing to potential clients, and was purely for our pleasure.  And for a bit I felt guilty about it.  But now that thing makes me SO happy.  In some rooms, where I felt the speakers would impede on how they looked, we installed hidden speakers that go under the drywall so you can't see them at all.   We have a rock hidden in the bushes in our backyard that plays the music too.  We play music pretty much all the time and can put on different stations in different rooms of the house.  

{My music is hidden in the bushes ;) }

We also installed an alarm system that can be controlled from our phones too...  you can set and unset the alarm, turn on lights, change the temperature, be alerted about smoke detectors, carbon monoxide poisoning and all of that from your phone.   After having had these things and knowing that I'll most likely be moving to a home without them, I definitely plan on doing them again.  We may not be able to go for the SONOS system for a good long while, but the alarm/house system really just made me feel more safe and I liked that we can make sure everything's okay at home, even when we're on vacation. 

 (If we wanted, we could throw a party at home from another state Home-Alone style ;) ;)  

Our closet, which was previously the master bathroom, keeps us feeling organized.  I'm a huge fan of drawers in a closet so we installed a system by Elfa.  Love it.  Another thing that I felt at first was a teensy splurge, but I now don't regret a bit.  When comparing the pricing of the drawer units and shelving to what furniture would have been, we still made out.  I'll definitely go for Elfa again in our next place if there isn't a good system in place.  

{our closet...  we switch things in and out seasonally to stay organized}

Our fireplace is gas.  You can't necessarily tell from pictures because it technically is a wood-burning fireplace- we built a true chimney for burning wood, but we installed a gas line and log set and only use it for gas fires.  (No wood-burning fires allowed with the gas line there now, btw!!)  In the colder months, we light it ALL THE TIME.  We go to the kitchen for breakfast and turn that things on.  I looove true wood-burning fires but love the convenience of turning on a fire by remote.  In our next house, I definitely want another gas fireplace.  (By the way, I keep saying "in the next house I want" but honestly, have no idea where we're going or what we'll be able to actually afford to do... But I can dream. ;)

We added a small bar room between our dining room and our family room.  It's great during parties to encourage flow throughout the whole house, and is oddly a fun little hangout spot for guests. (What bar isn't I guess??? ;) 

{the bar room is through the black pocket door in the dining room}

{Here's a view from the family room...  And I just realized that I left all of the random stuff hanging on the walls- oh well!  Christian made me the little clay flower thing at school and we'd stuck it on the wall on an existing nail on the wall before the built-ins went in and I once used the family room to hang a ton of random art and I just realized I left a beloved old man in there! haha}

{A view of the bar}

{an armoire on the other side of the tiny room houses our printer, work stuff, kids' crafts and house supplies}

To get more organized, we turned a tiny hall closet from our garage to our family room into a mini mudroom.  It has really saved us & helps us corral all of our incoming junk.  We also added a drop-down ladder to our attic and added plywood floors in our attic for additional storage.  Like I said, not the most exciting stuff, but absolutely key in getting our house to function for us.

{hello shoes!!}

The mudroom leads to the family room, AKA "the room of requirement":

{the "room of requirement" in our house is now back to being a family room...  it was a nursery for a couple of months but we replaced the crib and rocker with a second sofa}

{Here's a shot of the built-ins in there as we've been living with them...  LOVE all of the storage we gained with these.  It's been SUCH a practical nursery.  - The changing pad goes in front of the TV and all of Gisele's things are in the drawers.  We keep toys and kids stuff in the lower cabinets and I love that they are the push-spring magnetic doors to keep the very little ones out.  We set up the nursery like a family room so that when Gisele moved to her own room (in the imaginary addition above the garage ;) it would turn back into a storage-packed family room.  }

Anyway, our listing should pop up online some time today so I'll definitely be back soon to share pictures.  Hope you enjoyed this little peek into the rest of our home!!  Wish me luck!!!

And 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 

Open House this Saturday, August 1st from 1-4 

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