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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So excited to tell you that... Liess Baby Number 4 is on the way, due May 2nd!


{We'd just found out that another one was on the way in this pic that Christian, our 7 year old, took.}  

Our 3 guys- 7.4 &2- are everything to us, and we're so happy about having another one!!!  I grew up basically as an only child (my little sister was born when I was 15) and I've always wanted a bigger family of my own.  Dave is one of five so no surprise there.  Our lives have obviously felt very full with three boys, and as much as we wanted to stay on easy street (= life without an infant), our family just didn't quite feel complete to us.  It was like someone was missing.  Odd, I know.    

We're waiting for the baby to be born to find out if he's a boy or a girl, but I've been calling it a "he" and accidentally saying things to the boys like, "your baby brother..." because I honestly  can't fathom having anything other than a boy.  If a little girl pops out, we will be SHOCKED.  (Though just as thrilled.)  Anyway, we couldn't be happier about our impending little one and I have already started to eat my weight in food on a daily basis.  


{The boys hanging on at my dad's new lake house}

On another note, and a bit more design-y, I wanted to share some photos of my dad's new lake house with you!  It's a little over 3 hours away from us and is on Lake Gaston on the North Carolina side.  We're really hoping that my dad (who currently lives in Illinois) will be able to spend a good amount of time at the lake house so we can see him more.  He plans to travel back and forth because his work is in the Midwest.  


{Louie stepped into a mud wasp nest and got a few stings right before this pic so was hanging out a little bit away from the water's edge, where he got stung.}

My parents divorced when I was two years old so I've lived twelve hours away from him pretty much my entire life.  We've always wanted to be closer and it's finally happening!!!!  The boys are so excited that Nanoo's moving closer and of course are pumped about the water & all the fun things they'll get to do:  Waterskiing, swimming, fishing & boating, jetskiing & tubing etc.  We're never going to want to leave!!!


{back yard view}


We're planning on adding some additional bedrooms to the house in the future but for now, we're working on the bones: flooring throughout, kitchen, bathrooms, and fixing doors and windows.

The great room is what made me love the house when I walked in for the first time:  

{the great room}

The back of the house is pretty much all windows and doors with views straight to the lake.  There's a catwalk area above the first floor and the left end of it leads to a master bedroom and the right side (seen in pic below) will eventually lead to another bedroom.

{the view from the kitchen to the back of the house}

Most of the doors have issues being opened & closed (meaning, they don't really work at all) so they'll need to be replaced.  I haven't decided yet on the exact style but I do think- though I like the doors that are currently in the house- that they're not quite right for the more contemporary architecture of the house, so we'll probably go with something a little more modern.  All mouldings throughout the house are being removed and replaced with pieces with straighter/ cleaner profiles.

{the living area}

I love the open floor plan of the house and cannot WAIT to hang there when it's finished!!!  The three windows in the back of the house (pic below) will be replaced with windows of equal sizes.  


The entire current kitchen is coming out and I'm having the angled wall to the right (see pic below) squared off to allow for the refrigerator to be moved over there and to add a closet in the foyer on the other side.  It will make the kitchen perfectly symmetrical which will feel so much better.




I'm not thrilled above the bay window wall in the back of the kitchen but have some ideas that I think will make it work.  Lighting is incredibly tricky in the kitchen/ great room because of the ceilings.  In the kitchen they're all angled so I'll be using mostly wall lighting and the ceilings are so high in the living room/ dining room area that it's a challenge.



Here's a view of the dining area & stairs:


The railing will be replaced with iron ones with a thinner profile.  All of the floors will be in random width wide plank reclaimed oak floor boards except the laundry room & bathrooms, which will be tiled.

The master bedroom on the main level has a fireplace, which my dad will really enjoy. (see pic below)  I'm going ot give it a little facelift because it feels a bit temporary to me now:


The upstairs master bedroom will be our bedroom and I really love it!!  Sadly, the chimney from the master bedroom below it blocks a good portion of the view out the back, but it has a pair of doors that lead out to a private balcony.



I'm really thinking about wallpaper in here...  I love the idea because it's not an every-night-of-the-year-bedroom so it can be a little more out-there than my normal bedroom would be and it's also fairly bland, architecturally-speaking.

We're completely redoing the bathroom:



We'll be adding windows for natural light.

Here's the view off of the balcony towards the woods:



And here's the view towards the lake:



My dad -who has incredibly traditional taste but is starting to trust me more- is giving me a massive amount of leeway in the decorating decisions, and I'm bringing in his favorite colors: blues & grays.  The house has a similar feeling to my own home in terms of a bit of a light & airy, natural, vintage/ 70s modern vibe, but the palette will be slightly fresher and whiter/ cooler to reflect the home's surroundings.  I have to be really careful about how much midcentury makes its way into the house because my dad really is a rolly-scrolly type of guy.  BUT- We have a really cool retro (50s) coffee table with little white and black stones all over the top (scary-sounding, I know) that was my grandparents' that I'm thinking of putting in the living room.  My dad loves it because it's sentimental.  I remember it so vividly from their Chicago living room when I was a kid and looking at it just brings me back to that house.  (It was a big old bungalow with secret passageways in some of the closets!!!!




{Christian, a couple of weeks ago, loving the lake}

We're stopping by the house today on our way down to High Point Market to check out progress at the house.  (Demo only...  they started Moday.)  I can't wait to see!!!  I'l keep you posted and will be back soon to share kitchen plans.  I'm not quite sure what the timeline is on the project, but it's possible that I'll be able to include it in the book...  my fingers are so crossed!!!

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


I'm so excited to share a little glimpse into fellow designer & blogger Erin Gates' new book, Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life, which came out this week!  I'm sure you've probably seen photos of the book itself, which is gorgeous.  I love the black & white striped binding!


Elements of Style is part decorating & style guide and part personal memoir.  If you've read Erin's blog, you know that Erin is hysterical and incredibly honest about her feelings & opinions, and the book is written in her signature bare-all style.  She shares behind-the-scenes moments of being a designer and a blogger and we really get a true peek into her life and personality. 

 


The book is organized by room and the photos in it are just as pretty as Erin's blog! I love being able to finally see all of the gorgeous projects we've been waiting for so long to see.



Erin is in the midst of a whirlwind book tour and her next stop is Jonathan Adler in Georgetown this Friday from 6-8!!!  The first book signing in Boston looked like so much fun with lots of ladies showing up in Erin's signature leopard print & stripes!  For details on how to RSVP to the event, check out the book tour page here.  (So sad I have to miss it but we have family in town Fri night.)

Cheers to Erin on her beautiful new book!! I know it's going to be a huge success!!

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

Since our house was featured last Spring in Domino, I've been meaning to go room-by-room with before & afters of our house and kept unintentionally pushing it off, so I thought I'd pick back up today with it in the dining room.  

The dining room was the toughest room in the house for me do.  We needed privacy for our then-office (when we worked from home) which is now a family room (in the back of the photo below) so we removed the cabinetry between the two rooms, stole a little bit of the dining room for desk space and added a wall with pocket doors to the end of the dining room.



When our kitchen shifted two feet further into the dining room (we stole dining room space from both ends!) the new dining room wall butted right up to the existing window on the left side, which was definitely awkward.  In the photo below, our dining room now starts where the doorway on the left ends.  It was a simple carpeted pinky-ivoryish space with a really great wine rack:



Stealing space from our dining room for our kitchen and office had made it into a small, dark, awkward little pass-through room.  (It has always been a pass-through...  it was just worse after we'd taken so much space from it.)  The ledge across the back wall was also something I needed to figure out.  We actually really enjoyed having friends over for dinner in the space because it felt so removed from the rest of the house  (I.e. kids playing in other rooms wasn't so bad ;) so I wanted to love it.  It was the last room in the house I did because I couldn't figure out how to make it special.  

And here's what it looks like now:



After struggling with what to do with it for so long, I finally sat down and thought about how I wanted it to feel in there.  I'd always realized I needed to embrace its smallness and make it feel cozy and intimate but I wrestled with how to do that and not make it a jarring transition from the rest of the house.   Instead of going dark with the walls - which was where I'd been going all along- I had the ceilings done in exterior cedar plank siding.  We didn't have anything special done to it- there are literally a few boot print stains on it that we like- we just asked the guys to do it "randomly."

The table is one of our old metal parsons desks and the chairs (by Verellen) are slipcovered in hemp.  I used heavy unlined linen curtains and woven shades to disguise the fact that the edge of the window is literally at the wall.  The hutch on the back wall is by Caracole and I've loaded it with our servingware and random things I've collected.  It's a bit of a catch-all and every once and a while I need to go in and fix it after I've destroyed it from photo shoot pilfering.  The vintage pendant above the table is made of brass & capiz shell.





{I also love this photo taken by Brittany Ambridge for Domino, above.  It was during  a brighter time of the day and there was snow everywhere so it came out much lighter.  I styled the back hutch as a fun little bar area and in this photo the shelves on the hutch are a bit crazy the way they usually are...  so check out the randomness.  That's something I found incredibly different & refreshing & even scary (!!)  about Domino when they came to shoot...  what you see is what you get.  They shoot everything as-is and the homeowner's generally the one styling.  They didn't bring a thing into my house.  I did the flower arrangements, which were very simple and plain, made of what was readily available the way they normally are for me "in real life."   So different, but interesting to know for when you're reading Domino... you're really seeing the way people truly live...  on a "neat" day ;) }


The vintage "man" painting below (I can't stop collecting them!!) is one of my favorites:




We have four "nature boxes" (old printers' trays full of nature finds) displayed at the end of the room flanking the door to the family room hall.  (2 seen in the photo above)  We found some great bark that had sloughed off a fallen tree in the woods so I nailed it on the wall above the trays.  Honestly, I could go crazy with that stuff.  I want more.  

The wine rack stayed (below) and we love that thing.  We removed the trim around it for a simpler streamlined look:





 As a family, we don't eat there very frequently but the table & chairs gets lots of use as a "fort."  We use it mostly for smaller dinners and when we have parties, we all end up in the dining room by the end of the night because the music gets the loudest in there. 

Now that we have the family room instead of an office and don't need as much privacy, I kind of wish we hadn't stolen so much space on that end of the dining room, but ah vell.  If we ever get to the point where we were entertaining for large numbers of people more formally, I could see taking back a little space, but for now, it's dance parties and forts ;) 

*"After" pics taken by Helen Norman

To check out our whole house in Domino, click here 

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

Last week, we installed a living room for our clients, who travel frequently and ADORE animals.  They're incredibly mindful of the environment and in their spare time, educate kids about endangered animals.  They have an amazing collection of things they've found on travels over the years.  When they contacted us about redoing their living room, they told us that they rarely used it (holidays and larger family gatherings mostly) and were hoping to spend time in there on their own.  The brick fireplace wall drove them crazy and they wanted to completely change it: 


{the fireplace "before"}

They hadn't done much to the room since they'd moved in and were looking for a very different feel from what they had, which was mostly reds and darker earth tones.  They're drawn to neutral monochromatic spaces with natural touches and wanted a living room that they could just exhale in.   The view of the private backyard and pool is so gorgeous and we wanted to make sure we drew attention to it.   I also wanted to be sure to bring in their love of animals without making the room feel over-the-top safari-themed.  Here are a couple more before pics: 

   


And here it is now:




The walls are now an ivory (BM's Seashell- one of my favorite colors)  instead of a stark white and we had the red carpet replaced with wall-to-wall seagrass.  The uphonstery fabrics are in a mix of light oatmeal-colored linens.  We used Scalamandre's tiger velvet on a pair of pillows for a little nod to their love of animals.  The pillows in the sofa are in Lauren Liess Textiles' Fern Star and Pierced Porcelain, both in mossy olive tones:




In our original plane we's placed a narrow console along the back wall of windows with a pair of see-through glass lamps on top and ottomans below (see original floorplan below) but my clients felt it would obscure the views too much so we left them out.  Now the ottomans, sit under the windows and can still be brought into the conversation area during gatherings/ when needed.  (see in pic above)  We're still waiting for a (stunning!!!) backordered rug to arrive that will soften the seating area.



My favorite thing in the room is a photograph our client took himself.  (Seriously, I think he could have another career!!!)



{I had so much fun accessorizing with things from my clients' travels like the tribal jewelry on the leather trunk}

The fireplace brick was drywalled over for a much lighter look and and a balanced feel.  The new hearth is honed black granite and the mantle is made from reclaimed barn wood:



{The "madhatter" wing chair makes a cozy spot for reading by the fireplace}

We hung the curtains above the transoms at the height of the highest windows (the palladian ones on the side) and used them to simplify the lines of the windows by creating one unified line at the top instead of the up-down-up of the original window line.  The window treatments now draw the eye right to the back of the room and the views when you first walk in.  We replaced the ceiling fan with a simple sculptural  iron fixture.   

Only one of our clients was there for the "big reveal" but she was thrilled and just so sweet about it.  Am hoping they got lot to spend lots of quality time there over the weekend.





Hope you enjoyed the peek too!  Have a good one!

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

I can't believe it's been so long since I've last written!  Things have been great here and time's been flying as usual.  So, in case you're interested or missed me at all ;) ;) I thought I'd catch you up on things.

A few weeks ago, I attended the BOLD (Business of Luxury Design) Summit in Vegas and had so much fun, hanging with designer friends (Victoria Sanchez from right here- Alexandria, VA- and Paloma Contreras of La Dolce Vita = AMAZING WOMEN) and making new ones.  We loved our room at the Wynn:


 I spoke on a panel about social media, but there wasn't much time for it and I feel like we just barely grazed the surface so I'll be doing a brain dump on that soon.  Maria Buatta, "Prince of Chintz," spoke at the conference and I have to say he's one of the funniest and most charming people I've ever met.  He's incredibly down to earth and sweet.  Vicente Wolf also spoke and he is truly a gracious person.  He outlined exactly how he runs his business, even sharing his fees and how he bills.  

{on the way to dinner with incredibly scary eyes AND Vicente Wolfe, Julia Malloy and Donna Hall}

Soon after Vegas, we left for my cousin's mountain house in North Carolina for a photo shoot for A Field Guide to Decorating.  (My book, coming out Fall 2015)  The wildflowers there were BEAUTIFUL!!!  I didn't have to buy a single flower and there was so much to choose from growing right on the mountainside.

{iphone pic of the goldenrod arrangement I was working on by Helen Norman.  The 12' long custom picnic table is one of my favorite things in the house.}

Once the shoot was finished, we stuck around for about a week.  I worked on the book all day every day, we cooked and ate a ton, and got in lots of downtime with the boys.  It was incredibly peaceful and I loved being so alone with my family.   We all got a little sick while we were there, but I came home feeling rested and good about the book.  Writing the book has been such an experience...  Some days it just flows out and others it's painful.  I go from thinking "I think they'll love it!!!" to "it's pitiful." (That's my PC blog way of putting it ;)  I plan to do a couple of more weeks like that one before the manuscript is due in December so I'm hoping that I think it's good by the end.  I've always said, If I'm happy with how it turns out, I'll be glad I did it. 


{2 year old Louie/ "Gandolf" hanging in the kitchen.  He's at that age where I have trouble not eating them!!!}

We've been working with that same cousin on his massive-currently-being-built home in Southern Florida.  I've been getting construction update pics like this one (below) and it's about time to work on plumbing fixtures and cabinetry which means lots of late night planning.  

This house is insanely large.  To read a bit more about the plans, check out this post here.  (It was one my most "controversial" posts- ha as controversial as decorating can be ;)- because of how large the house is.  Sadly the comments- of people hating on and defending big gaudy houses- are gone for now.  They weren't able to transfer over to my new blog platform and I'm hoping to fix that some day.))

A couple of people have asked about how I work with friends and family members, so here's the deal:  When I do design work for friends or family, I don't take a dime.  I'm not comfortable working for the people I love and think that no matter what, it changes a relationship.  Because of this though, we can't really help very many friends/ loved ones.  Friends call me all the time asking for decorating help, and sometimes I'll give them a bit of general guidance, but I can't take them on as clients because we can't afford to make room in our schedule for non-paying clients.  I feel constant guilt with this because I feel like I'm not helping enough but know if I did, we wouldn't be in business.  (I envy the people for whom it works out for to do business with friends & family members and in no way am I saying this is "the way" to do it.  It's just how we do it now.   We've had clients become good friends of ours once projects are finished but never the other way around.)

Along with our parents, I help my cousin Adam in a full-service manner with his projects because (with the exception of budget) he gives me carte blanche.  Working with him is SO creatively satisfying because I don't have to get anything approved, and can really do what I want as long as I believe he'll love it.  It's a selfish form of helping, though I do it on nights and weekends so feel like it needs to be.  When we finish the projects we end up with something I'm truly proud of.  I've gotten to stretch creatively and when a project shines like one you've gotten to touch every little piece of, it's different.  Photos of it really show what you can do, and in turn, bring the right people and clients to you in the future...  a little bit like a showhouse but even more satisfying because the people I love get to live there.


Speaking of family projects, I've also been helping my mom redesign her kitchen.  (We've been working with a great team at Cherry Hill Cabinetry in McLean, VA.  ) 

I'll be sharing details on it another day, but I'm really excited about how it's going to feel when we're finished!!  

As all of this has been going on, we've also ' were also been busy helping my dad- who lives in Illinois-  look for a home on Lake Gaston, which only a few hours away from us.  (!!!) We rarely get to see my dad because he lives so far away, so we are SO excited about him getting a place closer!!!  He won't live there full-time but it's better than nothing.   We, of course, found a house that's in need of some updating.  Though it's got a sort of 70s vibe (that I've come to LOVE!) it was built in the early 90s.  We're starting with the kitchen, floors and bathrooms and are possibly adding a small porch/ bedroom addition.  We're going to try to tackle it as quickly as possible as soon as we close (a couple of weeks!) so that my dad can hopefully get some use out of it this year.  If the timing works out, I'll include it in the book.  If not, I'll share it here.

Here's a photo of the living room, which is open to the kitchen (not seen in pic, on the right):

{I love how the current homeowners have hung their art...  It's probably exactly what I would have done.}


The house is on a cove right off the main lake.  Here's a view from the deck off the living room:


 


I can't wait to swim in the cove and go skiing there!!!!  Even though we need to get to it quickly, the lake house project is on the waaay back burner right now until closing (2 weeks!!)  At that point, we're going for it and I'll be sure to share my plans here.  It's going to have a similar sort of natural, 70s, collected vibe to it that my house & the mountain house both have, but it'll be hopefully obvious that the place is on the water without being over the top "coastal."  I'm thinking a little less cream/ sepia/ warm than my house and a little more crisp white, black, wood and indigo.  Slightly cooler palette but still cozy in feeling.  I want it to have that summertime lake vibe- carefree and chill.  My dad likes things a bit more traditional & formal, but I think he's starting to trust me so we'll see how it goes.  

I left the BOLD Summit with an overall feeling that I needed to slow down.  To take more time, to commit to less and take on less.  I thought I'd come home from it feeling like I needed to work more and faster and go go go...  I'm not exactly sure if it was something Vicente Wolfe said when he spoke or if it was more his thoughtfulness towards design and love of travel, but when he'd finished speaking, I wrote ***SLOW DOWN*** in caps across my page.  I thought about that the whole conference and came home knowing I want to make some subtle changes at work, and we've already started working on them.  I want to take on less and work happier.  Obviously, it doesn't much seem like I have any intentions of slowing down, and it's going o take a few months for the changes to actually have an effect, but I'm feeling good about the decision.  You might not notice much of a difference on your end because we still have a crazy amount of stuff on the fire so to speak, but little things will change over here, like not taking on as many projects and giving ourselves more breathing room on deadlines & timelines.  Relaxing a little and enjoying what I do even more.

Also, once I've finished with the manuscript for the book, don't worry, I'll be back more often!!!  It's been tough to write both the book and blog.  I only have so much to put out there and right now it's going mostly to the book.  Hope you can understand!!

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


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