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

{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.

 

I am SO excited to finally be sharing the cover of my book, Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating,  with you!!  It was the final piece that needed to fall into place in order for me to feel 100% happy with the project.  I can now say that this book is everything I imagined it could be. 

I had extremely high and specific expectations for what I needed the book to be in order to feel truly proud of it.  Throughout the project, I felt like I had a series of hurdles to jump that got me closer and close to reaching that final goal.  First it was the proposal, then choosing the right publisher (love Abrams btw!!), then actually sitting down to write the book - which entailed thinking it was great one day to wanting to torch it the next day, the endless photoshoots (we shot 28 projects in total), the editing process (especially the very first one in which I waited months with baited breath to hear if it was good or terrible), seeing what the book designer had created for the first time (as you know I'm totally in love with what Sarah Gifford created---  HUGE sign of relief the day I saw that mock-up!!), the scheduling process for the book's release date (this was scary for me...  the book's release was almost pushed back to Spring 2016- which would have really been tough as I'd scheduled so much around the book being released in the Fall, including telling everyone and their mother about the Fall date- but thankfully, the team at Abrams totally stepped it up to get this baby out this October as originally planned  and I'll be FOREVER grateful for that hustle & determination), the final few round of edits - 1st, 2nd and 3rd passes in which I received physical copies of the manuscript printed in the book's actual size with color photos and everything laid out as it will be in the book- that we were able to finish up just before Gisele was born (I swear she hung in there just until I could finish!! ;), and FINALLY, the cover. 

The cover process has been going on for months and it took us a long time to get to where it's at and to finalize it.  There are so many details to think about- the number of images (I'd always wanted only one image), the color and texture and the actual image used (that's some serious pressure...  it has to epitomize the book an your style, and be appealing to a wide number of people...  and also be "new" and exciting...  We- me & the team at Abrams- felt that my living room would have made a great cover but that it wouldn't be exciting enough because it's already out there...  there were also some really beautiful cover options that Abrams fell in love with and that I fell in love with but they were a bit more taste-specific and either didn't seem to encompass my style or the book's style, or they might have been too "my style" and we worried might not appeal to enough potential readers...  and then one day- after months of it not being settled , and me feeling as close to stressed as I get-  it all just seemed to fall into place with this image.  In the end it feels sort of obvious and I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.  Suddenly, the image felt "right" to me, to the entire team at Abrams, and my friends and family who were by this time getting used to being asked what they thought of various covers...  I couldn't be more thrilled.

 

The family room on the cover of the book is in the addition of our clients' newly renovated home.   (I love renovations because I get to have a say in the "bones" of the house, as was the case with the design of the built-ins and fireplace in this space.)  My clients' style is very close to my own personal style- relaxed, natural, and textural with bits of old and new- so I really feel like it makes for an authentic and appropriate cover...  The natural woods, the vintage kilim layered over the seagrass rug, the linens, the velvet, the vintage bird chart above the fireplace, the collection of quirky antique and vintage objects on the shelves... all of my favorite things.  There are houses in this book that I am incredibly proud of and am absolutely gaga over, but whose owners have personal styles that are very different from my own and just wouldn't have quite made sense on the cover.  (I'm not sure I can wait until October for you to see it all!!  I'm dying to share it!!  eeeeek)

The book has a hardcover with no dust jacket.  This was really important to me because:

1) I really hope this book will be plopped onto lots of coffee tables and I want it to be able to take a beating (My kids destroy dust jackets and if I'm being honest, so do I ;)

2)In the same vein, I want the book to be portable and for people to be able to throw it in a bag without the dust jacket getting torn or to be able to get spilled on, dropped, slid, etc. without being ruined

3) I wanted the book to have a natural, vintage, and almost imperfect feel.  This book being a beautiful object in an of itself has been just as important to me (and thankfully, my editor Rebecca Kaplan) as what's inside from the beginning.  So much of what's shown in the book is about texture, freshness, combining old & new, and nature, that I wanted to book itself to epitomize that.  Many of my favorite vintage books and field guides have linen covers without dust jackets and we thought that look was key to this book.  I sent Abrams the bookcase to one of my favorite vintage field guides (Rare and Beautiful Animals by Francesco Salvadori,  published in 1978, pictured below) and they used it as inspiration for the textured cover of Habitat.  The cover isn't actual linen, but a textured linen-look surface that will be able to stand up to all of the things I mentioned above.   

 

{I love the nubbiness of linen and all of its imperfections and tonal variations...  I think Abrams captured it beautifully.}

 

Anyway, now that you know al of the "whys" behind the final cover, I hope you actually like it!!!  It's now available for pre-order on amazon and if there's anyone you think might like it, I'd love it if you could pass it along.  (Now that I'm in this process, I'm learning a LOT about publishing and am realizing just how important pre-orders are, which was something I'd had no idea about previously.  Apparently, they decide how many books will be printed based upon pre-order sales...  so if a book does well in the pre-order stage, it will actually end up in many more bookstores- and ultimately, people's bookshelves- than it would if it was a pre-order dud.  (SCARY, I might add!!! No pressure... riiiiiiight ;) I'll be sharing more about those ins and outs later. 

 

PRE-ORDER HERE

(I feel odd writing that; I feel awkward about "sales" of any kind...  I'm going to be talking about this book a TON over the next year- I've been working on it for the past year- and I hope you know that it's coming from a place of passion, honesty, and excitement, and never from a pushy or salesy place.   Obviously I want to share this baby with everyone because I hope think they'll love it and that it's a really useful tool, but I never want to annoy you or place any expectations on you.   So please, bear with me as I enter this next phase of trying to make the book a success.

And finally, thank you all for the kind messages on the blog, instagram and facebook about our new baby, Gisele.  We've never felt so much love and support.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I'm snuggling her right now as I type and sometimes have trouble not eating her I love her so much.  ;)

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

{Left to right- Louie, Christian & Justin with Gisele in the burrito in the middle}

Our baby girl arrived last week on Tuesday, May 5th and we're so crazy in love with her...  The boys- who had taken to chanting, "boy! boy! boy!" at my belly prior to her birth- are smitten to say the least.  They're so gentle and careful with her so far and it's pretty amazing.  They come into my room and give us both kisses and Louie is constantly delivering toys and flowers to her.  When my mom visited last week, I heard Justin excitedly say in the other room, "Wanna see our girl?!!"  

The labor and delivery were amazing.  (It's weird, but I absolutely love labor & delivery and this one was my easiest. )  When the baby came out & I heard the little cry, I looked to Dave - who was going to announce if it was a boy or a girl- and he had the funniest expression on his face.  It was like he was trying to speak and couldn't and it was this strange "I can't compute" type of  face and he was just staring at me oddly with big eyes.  I kind of figured then that it was a girl but still he didn't say anything.   It was hysterical.  Finally- I guess it was really only moments but it seemed like forever- the nurse said. "It's a girl!" and handed her over for skin to skin, which was pure bliss.  We were definitely teary and just couldn't believe it.  Holding her on my chest and touching her tiny head full of dark hair felt surreal.  That feeling of instant love is crazy.        




The night she was born and she & Dave had gone to sleep, I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that our baby was a GIRL.  My mind was just blown.  Honestly, having a baby - whether a boy or a girl- is exactly the same, and it's the same feelings of love & excitement that I've had with every one of our little ones, but it's my imagination running wild that's a little different.  With boys, I always felt like I didn't know what to expect so I didn't know what to imagine, but with Gisele, I feel like I have this frame of reference- that was my childhood- that's there, taking my mind places and thinking of all the things I did and loved that I want her to try...  Things my boys don't care very much about to be honest, which resulted in this sort of wonderful, open-minded, pressure-free parenting style I've sort of adapted...  and that I'm determined not to lose.  

When I was little, my mom used to take me to ballets whenever she could.  I'm not sure of how into ballets she was, but I was pretty much obsessed.  When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer, without hesitation, was "A ballerina princess."  (What a modern woman I was!! ;) ;)  Looking back, I see that as a single mom, she definitely sacrificed a lot to make things special for me, but I had no idea at the time.  As I got older, my goals of being a "ballerina princess" drifted away but my love for the ballet stayed.  When I was thirteen, she took me to see "Giselle" at the Paris Opera House and it was insanely good.  Throughout the years, Dave has surprised me with ballet tickets and I literally can't not cry during the opening scene of a good ballet.  (I'm weird like that.) When we started thinking of girl names, "Gisele" came up, and it reminds me not only of the ballets, but of a whole host of special memories between me and my mom. 



{Already loving her daddy}

So I know that Gisele will have her very own little obsessions and dreams- which may not include the ballet though I'm definitely going to give it a shot!- but as parents, I want us to be like my mom in that we nurture and bond over whatever those passions might be.  


In case you're wondering why we chose the single "L" spelling of "Gisele," it's the German spelling and our last name is German so we liked them better together...  The double "L" is the French spelling.   Gisele's middle name is Ivory, named after her great-great grandfather.  (My grandmother's dad)


     
{Hanging on the sofa yesterday in her burrito...  she's a tiny peanut}


We've been loving this family time.  I'm attempting to take a nice long maternity leave and to focus on the kids as much as possible over the summer.  We have a crazy Fall and Summer coming up- including multiple trips to China for an exciting new project!!- but I'm really trying to live in the moment and savor each little bit of everything.  For right now, my days include snuggling up with my baby and the boys whenever they stop moving long enough for me to catch them. (Morning and night generally.) 



  
When people asked us why we were having another baby after we'd already had three, all I could say was that our family just didn't feel complete... like there was someone missing.  

And now that she's here, it feels so right.  





 ***Photographer Clifton Man and his baby-whisperer/ stylist wife, Michaela, came over on Tuesday to take newborn pics of Gisele...  We got a couple of sneak peeks last night that I had to share with you.  (The watermarked images above.)  If you or anyone you know needs newborn photos in the DC area, I cannot recommend Cliff & Micky highly enough.  They were INCREDIBLE- so gentle and patient and sweet.  I'll be sure to post more in a couple of weeks when I get the photos back.  Check out their website here.)

I'll be back soon with updates on all that's been going on around here design-wise- the family room/ nursery, upcoming showhouses, client projects, the book, China and more...  For now, I'm out snuggling & cuddling.

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


Last summer, we painted our house black, which felt like this huge decision at the time, but now I can't imagine it being any other color.  (For those who wondered if it would cost more to heat/cool the house, our power bills were on average, the same as last year.  We already had a very dark brown wood stain so that may be why there was no change, but just an FYI for anyone considering black on a house.  And in the back yard, we also painted our deck black, and while the heat is fine (it's shaded much of the day) dirt really shows up on the black, which is something we didn't anticipate...  With three boys and the constant digging in the yard and plopping of dirt on the deck - because why not?- it's definitely a pain.  Though I doubt I'd be happy with a brown that would hide the dirt so it's sort of lose-lose...  And sadly, our original plan, to strip and actually clear stain the deck instead of using semi-opaque just wasn't cost-effective.)  

Anyway, in the process of painting the house, we had to cut back the clematis growing up the trellis in our bedroom garden, which I hated to do...  and the hostas and ferns got totally beaten and bashed by the power washer... and worst of all, our little maple tree got a case of the bag worms and pretty much died.  (If you don't know what bag worms are, be happy.  They're the WORST. This Spring, we watched as all of the trees around us budded except our beloved maple tree, which was brittle and bare except for a few branches.)  Yesterday, we cut down all of the dead branches and were left with a sad sad sight so we said goodbye cut it down.  


{yesterday...  goodbye my love!!}

So after that,  swept away the winter out there and pruned and cleaned up for Spring and I figured I'd share a little update of how it's looking now.  This is the view from our bedroom door:


 

{It's so different without the tree...  it feels so much bigger but of course we miss it.  I'm excited about the possibility of adding more comfortable seating...  It may fit a chaise now which would be amazing.  We're considering another tree but are too busy to go there right now and want to see what it feels like for a bit without it.  We always like a little bit of change.}


Here's what it looked like with the tree and with the old brown stain on the house:

  

{I'll miss the tree most when it snows... we loved waking up to an iced "fairyland."}

The ferns, hosta, and clematis finally look to be happy, but time will tell on the shade plants, because now that our tree is gone, they might get too much sun.

 

{We strung up our kitschy lights in the clematis...  I really do love them at night.}

 

{The ferns popped last week and are growing quickly!!  I love how the black paint makes them almost glow in contrast.}


The weather is finally nice enough that we're enjoying showers out there.  For anyone with kids, if you have anywhere you can make an outdoor shower work at your place, I'd say go for it.  It's so easy to turn on the shower and send them all out there at the end of the day.  And they love it.  It's truly our favorite part of the house.  



We generally keep towels outside most days once the weather's nice.  



I found our rabbit hooks at Design Legacy but I think Anthropologie might carry them too:



We've had a tough time getting things to grow on our metal wall because it gets really hot.  We did grapes a couple of years ago and they were beautiful - and pretty good- but got kind of fried.  We tried Virginia Creeper too and it did start creeping up the wall but someone accidentally cut it down in our house painting and we're back to square one with it this year.   We put in wisteria on the right and it's really happy so I'm going to pop another one in on the left.  I KNOW that wisteria by the house is a no-no, but seriously, when your thumb is as black as mine you pray that you will one day have to cut something back to keep it from going wild.  


{The wisteria on the right is looking good...  the sad left side side is begging for some.  Hoping it will take over the whole wall!!}

Christian (7) woke up early this morning so we had a little breakfast "date" in the garden.  Most of the conversation revolved around "mine craft" (or "mind craft"??? not sure) a video game that kids seemed to be obsessed with right now.  (About a month or so ago, he decided he wanted to "return" all of the video game apps he bought so he could save up for something special, and so we deleted them all and "returned" the money to him he had spent on them...  but he might be regretting it about now.)  


{breakfast date complete with the most amazing bed head }

Christian is growing up so quickly!!  



{my mini me, yesterday}


Somehow, these little boys are just so sweet to me that I can't even handle it sometimes.  Christian will come inside from playing and just kiss my belly and say hi to the baby and ask if I'm feeling okay.  All of them are into picking flowers and bringing them in for me with hugs.  I'm seriously spoiled.



{Christian celebrated his First Communion yesterday!}

And on the baby front, #4 is still hanging tough.  He/she was due last week but seems to be staying put!   I'm feeling SO good- like weirdly much better than I was feeling a month ago- and we're just enjoying our final days of life as we know it.  I'm SO excited to meet this new sweet thing though!!!!!  To warn you now, our baby names this time around are all a bit different/ odd but we're over caring about what anyone thinks about our baby's names at this point ;)  (Our family's responses to our new batch of names - which includes some of the names we've considered every time but didn't get great responses to- have ranged from "yeuck!" (my Grandmother) to "really?" to feigned polite "ohhs" to "I like that" so it'll be what it'll be.  Can't please everyone. ;)  I'll keep you posted and can't thank you enough for all of the well wishes you've sent our way!!!  

Hope you enjoyed the little peek into our garden!!








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


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