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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WARNING: Long, pictureless post that's probably only interesting to those who are interesting in blogging or have been reading for a while ;)

I've been blogging since October of 2008 and things have really changed (both personally for me and in the blogging world) since then.   I've been thinking about writing this post for a while now but haven't actually sat down to write it.

My blog has sort of always been evolving over the years into what I need it to be at any given time.   Ultimately, I blog because it meets a need I have for writing about the things that excite me: design, decorating, work, life at home, food, flowers, finding beauty in the every day, and to connect with others who share similar passions.  Writing has always helped me think things through.  In my daily life, I don't really have people to talk about these things with.  My friends and family don't want to sit and hear about color schemes in a client's home or the floor plans in a project I'm working on.  (And to be honest, when I'm hanging out with the people I care about, that's not really what I want to be talking about either.)

My decision to blog went hand in hand with what was going on in my life personally.  David & I had just sold our town home for a huge loss and moved in my parents' basement with our then one year-old to try to recoup and save up for another house. (We'd bought it in 2005 at the peak of the real estate bubble- yay for us!)  We had loved our house so much, had fixed up every inch of it and had a great little life there, so we were really sad to leave it, but after a couple years of being mortgaged up to our eyeballs and not being able to do anything or save any money, we knew we had to get out.  At the time, David was teaching and I was taking on a few clients, so moving into "the basement" afforded us flexibility and of course frequent in-house babysitting which allowed me to take on more clients...  But we were pretty bummed about having to give up so much of our independence as we loved entertaining and having our own place.  

Just before we left our house, I had it professionally photographed and put the photos on my professional website, which resulted in a good amount of new client inquiries.  That will forever remind me of the power of good photography.  (I'd had the very same projects on my website prior to the professional ones and had gotten nowhere near that amount of interest.)  

I knew that I'd never really have another opportunity to get my business really going without overhead and that we needed to make the most while we were there, so I spent lots of time on it.  I worked on my website and put together better marketing materials, worked on a logo and all of those kinds of things at night after our little guy went to sleep.  Somewhere in my research online, I stumbled across blogs.  I remember being really confused at first thinking, "these people are writing about their home renovation and others are reading about it...  WHY???"  (I don't even know the name of that first blog but it was a young couple showing DIY home renovation progress.)  But eventually, I found decorating blogs and was really inspired by what I read.  Soon after, I started my own on blogspot.  No one really read it other than my grandmother and my mother-in-law but just getting my thoughts and ideas out felt good.  Writing has always made me feel clearer and helps me work things out.  

So I started writing about whatever I felt like writing about and reading others' blogs.  I made "blog friends" (many of whom are now very good "real life" friends) by connecting with the other bloggers.  {Camilla of High-Heeled Foot in the Door -now "Effortless Style"-, Lindsey of Everything LEB, Brooke of Velvet & Linen, Maria of Colour Me Happy, Eddie & Jaithan of Eddie Ross, Joni of Cote de Texas, Holly of Things That Inspire, Michele of My Notting Hill, Paloma of La Dolce Vita, Terri of Wind Lost, Marianne of Haven & Home}   I can't think of my early days of blogging without thinking about these friends and what their notes, comments and emails meant to me.  I was feeling embarrassed of my living situation and they made me feel like it was okay and nothing to be ashamed of.  In the mornings after I'd write a post, I'd race to the computer to see if any of them had written.

What had started out as a place to write about decorating had now become a place for new friendships and support.  They don't know it - and I don't think I knew it at the time- but they all helped me get through a difficult time.  As I got to know other blogs and bloggers, I made new friends and got even more into blogging.  My business started to grow -QUICKLY- because of it, especially when Terri Sapienza of the Washington Post included me on a Blog Watch article, and I got lots of calls for new work.  It was at that point that I think my husband realized that blogging wasn't just a social outlet or a time suck, but that it was actually helping my business grow and really began encouraging me to stick with it.

We saved up and tried not to wish away the time in the basement, but we were always looking at real estate.  Then one day we decided we'd maybe look a little bit farther out to see what we could afford and we found our fixer-upper.  

A little under a year after we'd loved into my parents' basement, we moved into our new house, where I began chronicling our renovation & updates.  My blog readership really went up at this time.  (In hindsight, I now get that DIYing and new houses = a huge readership, but at the time I was just doing my thing.)  Readers' comment made (and still do!) my day and I found myself planning posts with readers in mind and wanting to do things in my house that I'd not only like to live with, but that would please others to look at.  It was like grown-up decorating show-and-tell and I loved it.  Showing pictures of my house led to my home being photographed and featured by Better Homes and Gardens Magazine (love you Joanna Linberg!!) which was a dream come true.  My blog became something I was really proud of and had helped me gain more self-confidence in my own skills as a decorator because of all of the really kind encouragement from others.  

I was pregnant with our second son and would stay up  lots of nights until 2 AM trying to answer reader questions and emails.  My business was growing to the point that I needed to hire more childcare and a design assistant.   I would write blog posts early in the morning while everyone was sleeping.  I got advertising inquiries and started a small sidebar for ads on the side of the blog.  I wasn't making very much off of that but I thought "why not?"  After a year or so of that, I eventually ditched having ads on the sidebar because I realized that I wanted to try to keep my blog fun and to not have the pressure of posting a certain number of times per week or being beholden to anyone.  (None of the advertisers had ever required a certain number of posts from me but I sort of felt like it was turning blogging into a "job," which I didn't want.)  But I was blogging like crazy, loving it though starting to run myself ragged with it.  My business and my blog- which had once gone so hand-in-hand- were fighting for my attention, along with my family.

Around the time when my second son was born, I remember holding him asleep in my arms in a chair, trying to catch up on emails, responding to readers' questions and being so tired I could barely keep my eyes open.  I will never forget the moment...  Looking at the unread emails and looking at my baby,  I wanted to cry I felt so guilty for shutting the computer.  

For the first time, I had the thought that my life was different now and I wasn't going to be able to blog the way I'd been blogging for the past couple of years.  With one child, it had been possible to sneak it in while he was sleeping, but now with two, my free time was non-existent.  It was a WEIRD feeling.  Oddly freeing to be able to admit to myself that I couldn't do something, but also a little sad for me because I knew it meant disappointing people.  I remember how I was disappointed when I first started reading blogs and I wouldn't hear back from someone and knew that I was now that person.  

So what do you do then?  Just give up and decide you can't write a blog at all because you can't put as much time into it as you used to?  I decided, I'd keep it going, because ultimately, I still needed and loved doing it.  I struggled with guilt for a long time because I couldn't answer all of the questions coming in.  I even added a little bit in the "about me" section asking advertisers and businesses not to contact me about doing sponsorships or giveaways and that if they did, I wouldn't be able to respond.  

Somewhere along the way, Instagram came into the picture for me.  I had never really gotten twitter or found it interesting to read, but was instantly smitten when my friend Eddie called me and said YOU HAVE TO CHECK IT OUT.  I did, and was in love.  I felt like it was everything twitter was missing and it was so much easier to keep hit "like" on a post and show your blog friends you care than writing a comment or email.  It suited my now-fuller life.  As I started posting on Instagram, I realized I was posting less on my blog.  I had gotten my "sharing" bug out on instagram and didn't have as much of a need to share it on my blog, only posting when I actually had something to say about what I was showing.

Our business has continued to grow and I couldn't be more excited about it, but that's also demanded that I keep lots of my favorite projects OFF of the blog so that they can be published in magazines or in my upcoming book.  I completely get why magazines and publishers want fresh, never-before-seen projects and these publications are a part of my livelihood.  But it's tough  because I know seeing projects is one of the main reasons people read my blog and it's also tough because I don't get to instantaneously share the way I love to.   

We sold our house and bought another one and fixed it up, but I had to keep most of that off of the blog because I knew I was getting the house published.  It was a bit weird for me then...  I felt like I couldn't talk about the very thing I was most excited about and I pulled back a little bit from the blog.  (It was a far cry from sharing every little accessory move in my last house...)  I share a little less personal info on here, not intentionally, but because I don't post as frequently.  Instagram has mostly filled that void for me of sharing little snippets of the boys and family life.  Not that I never do share these things on the blog or that it's been a conscious choice...

We now have three kids (with another on the way) and my husband works with me in the design business out of a studio that's open to the public.  I still struggle sometimes with not having the "perfect blog," with all questions answered,  posting every day, or sharing all of my work,  but have let go of most of that guilt because I know that if my blog was my top priority, that I wouldn't be able to stay in business, help support my family with my husband, or have quality time with my kids.  Writing the type of blog that makes everyone else happy is a full-time job and I can't do it.  When a blogger chooses a blog as their source of income, as their business, everything changes.  There is so much more pressure...  from all sides.  Readers absolutely LOVE them and really care about them and the bloggers realize they need to make a living in order to justify the amount of time spent on the the blog / business.  But readers often tire of seeing sponsored posts and it can get really difficult to please everyone- make a living and make readers happy.  I don't have the volume of readership I had when I was blogging like a madwoman.  It's taken time, but I've learned to let it all go...  to do my best and be okay with my blog being what it is.  

Over the past year or so, I've been thinking a lot about my blog and how it's evolved...  It bothered me at first but I'm okay with it now.  It kind of reminds me a little of the Giving Tree...   It's been my outlet all along, but became a support network, a place for friendships, a career-builder, a source of confidence, and now it is what it is and what I'd originally intended it to be: a place I come to share & talk about what I'm excited about or thinking about for fun.  There are weeks when it's on a front burner and weeks when it's on a back burner.  But somehow, I still need it, and as long as I feel that way, I'll be here.   I can't thank you enough for coming along for the ride- whatever type of ride that may be.

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

Our open house is tomorrow, Saturday, December 13th from 10-3!!

If you're in the area, come & stop in!!! We'd love to see you!!

776 Walker Road

Great Falls, VA

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

You might remember our clients' dining room from a way while back, but I was so excited to see it featured in Southern Living Magazine's November issue!!  

It's part of a before and after entertaining story on dining rooms.  The room was styled (beautifully!!) by Susan Victoria and shot by Southern Living photographer, Laurey Glenn, whom I've worked with a couple of times and just love.  

Here's what the dining room looked like before:

{My clients were really patient and left it empty so that we could start from scratch!! :)

When I met my client for the first time I was so excited when she spoke about how she wanted her home to feel: pretty, relaxed, laid-back and natural.  (ding ding ding for me!!! ;)  The dining room is a mix of styles with both refined (the glossy yew table) and primitive (the custom painted sideboard by Furniture From the Barn}  pieces and of course, lots of natural touches.  

Southern Living also put together a gorgeous table setting using my rules of thumb:

{You might recognize the table cloth, which is done in Lauren Liess Textiles "Live Paisley" in Chocolate}

Working with clients who share such a similar aesthetic was so much fun and incredibly satisfying.  Hope you enjoyed seeing their home once more!!

On another note- for those of you who are in the area- we're having am open house this Saturday from 10-3 in the studio!!  Most of our floor models will be on SUPER SALE for this weekend only.  (Basically, i plan the next season at the studio around what we have in stock so we'll either keep what we have or order new pieces and move on.)  I'll be posting photos and dimensions of some of the pieces later this week on our store page here for anyone who wants to check measurements in advance.

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

We had a full house on Thanksgiving and I was able to snap a few pics of our tables before it got crazy so I thought I'd share.  We usually do Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve at our place and love having our families over.  We'll usually do the meat, drinks and a couple of sides, and then the family all brings other sides, appetizers or desserts, which makes it easy. 

 {My cousin's beautiful pumpkin pie!!}

I'm VERY last minute with my tables and keep them simple- meaning I use whatever's around- but this time, I remembered to add some sort of flowers  to the grocery list as Dave made a last-minute grocery run  ("whatever they have that you think I'll like!!!") and we also ordered more (daily/ stainless steel) silverware a couple of days before so that we'd have enough for everyone.  (Our spoons end up gradually disappearing with yogurt lunches sent to school with the boys... so we only had six or so left for our family of five which was even impractical on a daily basis.)  Something as small as having enough silverware really made it easier this year.  (My mom usually brings some with her and I mix and match.)

{A mix of metals, vintage plates & glasses, wood, linen and daily silverware on the dining room table}

We set up two tables in the breakfast room off the kitchen and then have our dining table in the dining room.

There will be a day when I have table cloths made (maybe before Christmas???) but for now it's still my good old kantha quilts.  

We move the old church pew from the stairs...

{photo by Brittany Ambridge for Domino} the table for the boys to sit on:

{Their toy kitchen usually lives here.)

My dining room, which was originally my NEMESIS when decorating the house is now one of my favorite rooms,  We've been eating in there almost every night since it started getting cold.  (Also, being pregnant right now, the upholstered chairs feel so much better to me!!)  We keep a pair of dark towels in there to throw over the chairs for the boys to sit on.  (We do have slipcovered chairs but I don't want to have to wash them multiple times a week.) 

A little drink station sits in the corner:

That room is so dark and cozy with the candles that I sometimes just want to fall asleep there...

(I ate my dessert in there alone this year... haha weird and creepy I know...  but everyone sort of hung in the kitchen around the island and at the other tables and forgot about the dining room and I was longing for a soft place to sit... so I found myself in the dining room alone stuffing my face with pecan tassies and pumpkin pie.  It was bliss.)

Having big groups over always makes me think about function and the way houses work.   I have to say that entertaining go much easier for us in this house.  As we were planning the house & the kitchen, we thought about big open parties and how they would work.  I sometimes regret that we made our dining room smaller to accommodate  an office that we've since moved out of the house because we really only have room for six (or eight if we really squeeze) in there and I would love for more people to fit...  but then I think of all of the storage that we have in the five foot wide mini bar room (pic below) and go back to being good with the small dining room.  (In the photo above, it's through the black pocket door you see in the back of the dining room...  We moved a bar and a massive armoire for storing things like paper towels, toilet paper, crockpot, etc. into the five foot wide room that used to hold two desks.  It's odd and small and dark but incredibly functional.  I also like that it becomes its own little conversation spot during parties.)  Moving the drinks station out of the kitchen during parties and to the little bar room. "the elevator" as we call it, frees up space in the kitchen and forces flow through the house a little more.  Things feel less crowded.

But anyway, I'd say for anyone planning a kitchen renovation that a big island (or peninsula if an island can't work) is ideal for entertaining.  Obviously it's great on a daily basis as a workspace/ mealspace but it become such a central gathering spot in the kitchen during a party.   Ours is deep enough so guests can be on the other side of the kitchen while the people working in the kitchen are sort of protected from the traffic and can keep on doing their thing while chatting, eating and still generally being a part of things.  I like having the island between me and all the action.

{All the "work" happens on this side of the island.. photo by Helen Norman}

I also love having open shelving during parties because I don't get asked where things are as much and everyone stacks desserts on the shelves and the counters stay clear.  In essence, open shelving makes a kitchen more self-sufficient for guests and frees me up.  

{We pull out cake stands and the left set of shelving ends up being the perfect pie rack at Thanksgiving and Christmas}

  And I've noticed two other tiny things that really help to keep us organized during parties and give me a weird little bit of satisfaction...

The first is our set of coat hooks in the foyer which I'm not sure I've ever shared pics of.  (Probably because I don't think they're that pretty and have always planned to upgrade to something cooler but haven't gotten around to it.)  We're not lucky enough to have a coat closet (I stole it for a powder room = much more important to us) so we hung two rows of hooks up in the foyer.  In general, as much as I would like to keep our foyer perfectly clear of all "stuff" and don't love that people get greeted by hooks, I kind of love them.  We use our back garage door / mini mudroom most of the time so we don't keep very much hanging in the foyer on a daily basis, but I love it for when we have people over.  It keeps the coats out of the main living space and we don't need to go digging through closets to find people's coats on the way out.  So easy.    

{love the low hooks so the kids can hang bags and coats up on their own}

The other tiny thing that I've noticed keeps things organized during parties is the random table at the bottom of our stairs.  A sculpture sits on top of it but the magic lies in the empty bottom shelf where purses and bags get stashed during parties.  (Any member of the family or friend who's reading this...  THIS is where your purse or camera went.  Yes, I compulsively put it there.  Sorry.)  I think people are starting to get the hang of it though and it really helps with keeping things open and as neat as they can be during parties. (no more tripping over random bags everywhere!!)

Anyway, just some very random observations but thought I'd share.  If you can add a purse spot in your house, I highly recommend it!!  Anyway, hope you enjoyed this little peek into our holiday...

On another note, I got the book manuscript IN!!!!  It hasn't quite hit me yet... maybe because I'm sure the editing process is going to be a big deal... but it was weird to go to bed last night without the manuscript either up on my laptop or printed out for editing.  I didn't know what to do.  (So,...  we watched a wonderfully cheesy Christmas special on netflix- what else???!!)  We decorated our tree last night and I can already feel life returning back to normal.  We head to NYC for some meetings and a wedding this weekend but after that- haha besides the holidays- things will be slower for us.    

Things are great at work...  we have some really exciting projects in the works and all of our clients are seriously nice people.  We are in that crazy pre-Christmas phase of waiting to find out exactly when certain pieces of key furniture will arrive to see if we can have a couple of installations before Christmas, which is always a little stressful, so we'll see how that goes.  I've learned the hard way that half-completed installs are not an option and have a pretty hard-and-fast rule regarding complete installations. (But you either get to be Santa or the Grinch: "No Christmas for YOU this year!" or "Guess What?  There will be a Christmas after all! Ho ho ho!"   Fun.)   Fingers crossed that we get to be Santa not the Grinch this year for a few families.   We're also in the process of finalizing plans and finishing touches for a couple of full house projects that will be completed this Winter and I cannot wait to see everything in person!!  Will keep you posted.  

My next side projects up are a new fabric collection- focusing on it heavily this month- and planning my dad's lake house.  (I've got to place all custom orders ASAP so my dad can hopefully get some use out of it by later Winter/ Early Spring when the renovation will be finished.) I am DYING to go visit that place even though I know it's just subfloors, raw framing and construction dust right now.  The kitchen and bath cabinetry has been ordered and I need to finalize the electrical plans & furnishings ASAP.   

 Anyway, sorry for the novel.  Hope your Thanksgiving was great!!!

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

Hope you have some fun & relaxing days planned ahead...

{a pic I snapped during a photoshoot for the book}

I'm thrilled to be in the editing phase for my book manuscript...  Hanging out by the fire drinking leftovers from the boys' hot chocolate, (yes, I used a straw... gave them to the boys and figured I deserved one too ;) adding commas and all that fun stuff.  (Totally different from blogging where I just get to hit "send" -misspellings, typos, grammatical errors & all!!)  Am submitting it to my editor today so fingers crossed she likes!!

So excited about the cooking & eating frenzy that's to come...

{An attempt at the crazy-good cabbage-kale-and-sausage stew one of my clients made the other day... Mine tasted totally different because we accidentally bought chorizo- ah vell}

...And all the time we have coming up with our little guys...

So- happy Thanksgiving to you & yours...

...hope it feels ridiculously long and cozy!!!

ps- 2 more days left on the Domino gift giveaway.  Check it out here.

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



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