A part of me wants to put it over our bed. Referencing love over the bed makes me slightly ill; referencing special couple time over the bed makes me giggly. Matthew would probably not giggle with me though.

A part of me wants to install Christmas lights in it and hang it a client's nursery. She and her beau would absolutely love it and I thought of them immediately when I saw it and babies love lights.

A part of me wants to put it in Jake's room. It's so non-gendered and happy, what kid shouldn't have those words in their room? And I'm looking for vintage and one-of-a-kind art to put in there. But the red would make a lot of red, white, and blue, which isn't my favorite color scheme.

A part of me wants to make a table out of it and put it in a future client's house. But I have no tools or storage and need to just own up to the fact that I am not crafty.

What do your parts say; where should I put this thing? Tell me on Facebook - blog comments are the devil.

AuthorSarah Reid

Jake (who's name has not been changed for the purposes of this story since it is plastered on his wall in very large letters and you are very smart and would probably figure out that his name is Jake very quickly) is a 4 year old living with his parents who's names also start with J and he is delightful, as are his parents. I call them J3.

J3 are my favorite kind of clients: trusting. Like, super trusting. Like, "I am your minion" trusting. Like, "You don't even have to ask me, just do what you want to do" trusting. (I'm going to ask them anyway; I'm not a monster). They are also sweet, smart, incredibly hard working, and sweet. And sweet. They hired me to work in Jake's room first, but we're all pretty sure I'll end up working in the whole house which is fine by me. Nothing not to love in this house. Just wait until you see their backyard!

Jake's room is small with sweet details like that wainscoting, crown molding, and those plantation style shutters. It's got good hardwood floors that come together in the corners in a herringbone pattern. It's only issue is that the closet doors take up a lot of floor real estate, making one corner of the room impossible to use but I'm going to fix that and then it is going to be awesome.

Awesome for Jake means a room that will grow with him (the family thinks they'll be there for at least the next 5 years), that can house all his toys (so they can stop spilling over into the living room), and that nurtures and reflects his awesomely balanced approach to life; this kid is an athlete and a reader in addition to being a snazzy dresser. We have connected deeply with our mutual love of football and baseball, me with my Red Sox and Patriots and him with his, oh, every team in the country. One of my tasks is to figure out how to give him access to his many many team jerseys and helmets while making them look good. I'm hoping the solution involves an antique locker

None of us want to make the room too BOY or YOUNG or ATHLETIC; nothing literal or theme-y. All of us want the floor plan to work better (well, maybe not Jake - he doesn't seem to notice things like floor plans). Here are some of the sketches and ideas I presented before they said something like, "Thismakesusincrediblyhappydowhateveryouwant!" 

Yes, I sketch. I love to sketch. I understand the room so much more when I sketch. And my clients don't need to pay me to be fancy.

Yes, I sketch. I love to sketch. I understand the room so much more when I sketch. And my clients don't need to pay me to be fancy.

Basic furniture layout - so much more floor! Window seat with storage! New closet doors!

Basic furniture layout - so much more floor! Window seat with storage! New closet doors!

So, yeah it's blue. I love blue though. And I'm doing blue because we all love blue, not to reinforce gender stuff. Promise. I'm pulling my Women's Studies degree card here. See it? Please let's not get started on gender and kids rooms just yet. Let's get to know each other better. 

So, yeah it's blue. I love blue though. And I'm doing blue because we all love blue, not to reinforce gender stuff. Promise. I'm pulling my Women's Studies degree card here. See it? Please let's not get started on gender and kids rooms just yet. Let's get to know each other better. 

I wanted to evoke the locker room without, you know, installing a locker room. The vents in the locker echo the louvered shutters and closet doors, which I'm happy about. The rag rug is a humble and old way to cover floors, and I want his room to feel rooted rather than trendy. The new corner window seat will house books underneath it and encourage reading and daydreaming in the sun. I hope. The new bi-fold doors will give us more floor space. The bed against the wall will be cozier and allow the whole family to snuggle and read without falling off. We'll turn the toy chest on it's side to make a bedside table and more storage. We'll keep the bed and dresser and add a mirror and some lights; a balanced mixture of vintage and new, like every room should be.


The only thing I have to figure out now is how to replace all those jerseys with Red Sox ones!


AuthorSarah Reid

Wow wow wow. Just wow.

A few months ago I got an email from a couple in Piedmont asking if I could come edit and style the vast (my word, not theirs) collection of artifacts they've picked up from all over the world. Um, yes, yes I can. I would love to. Let me in. Right now.

When I arrived at their house I was thrilled with it's stature, age, and SIZE. I doubt I've ever been in a house this big. My inner 8-year-old self went squealing around the rooms pretending to be a princess while my 39-year-old self introduced herself calmly to the very nice and beautiful woman who opened the door.

She welcomed me into the entry way which is actually a hall, a grand hall, there's no other word for it. It's just stunning.


Through the hall was also a loggia. Do you know what that is? I didn't know either. It's this and I want one.

The beautiful lady led me through a dining room that doesn't even pretend to be a place for every day eating. This thing is strictly a special occasion dining room, like for when the president stops by or something. The kitchen was next and then the room she wanted me to work in, a big one with a fireplace, floor to ceiling shelving, couches and an eating area. Because they are human and not royalty this is the room where they spend a considerable amount of time. They had moved in this past summer and their collections had landed on the shelves, haphazard and spilling over in their abundance. This is where I come in. Perfect!

Over the course of two weeks I stripped down the shelves, did a lot of piling like with like and mentally cataloging everything, which was a challenge on par with playing chess (for me), edited out what didn't belong, and styled the heck out of those shelves, which wasn't a challenge but instead a heart-pumping thrill-joy that let me know I am doing the right thing for my heart. In the process I got to explore the house and see other collections, like their fabric and clothing from around the world (this couple does awesome work in developing countries) and an amazing variety of puppets and masks and some camels that I fell in love with.


Here's where we started. They were using the shelves as surface area essentially, and knew it. 

This is a collage, not a panorama because I am the worst Before picture taker ever. I just forget. 

This is a collage, not a panorama because I am the worst Before picture taker ever. I just forget. 

After! I'm cutting this photo off because I had nothing to do with the rug, coffee table, or chairs, though I did make the seating arrangement make more sense, because that's what I do!

After! I'm cutting this photo off because I had nothing to do with the rug, coffee table, or chairs, though I did make the seating arrangement make more sense, because that's what I do!

I took out all the colored ceramic ware and consolidated it into the bookcase next to the kitchen and not in the larger view of the entire room - they just weren't working with everything else. The room and collections wanted to be monochromatic so I let them. Now they aren't fighting with an identity crisis.

Then I added books by raiding their gorgeous library (picture every amazing dark, all wood proper library you've ever seen in a movie) for books with the right colored spines. I'm a big believer in bookcases housing books, especially when they are surrounding a fireplace and accompanied by couches. Cozy!

Next I moved some of the shelves to create more proportional and symmetrical lines within the shelves. Then I played and played and played. Here is the process!


The beautiful lady emailed after living with it for a while and said, "I wanted to let you know how much more I like the kitchen/family room because of your vision!", which is all I can ask for really. 

AuthorSarah Reid


It's been a year. A real doozy. It started out with what we have since coined The Hellacious Winter of Hell.  Then we got married and had a couple of lovely honeymoons (that was nice!). We had a fine and pleasant summer. And then this fall an old nerve condition of mine came back with a vengeance and has forced us to coin this winter The Winter of Pain (notice my absence around here? Doubt it. I'm a terrible blogger. Well, if you did I had good reason). So when it came time to start making Christmas plans I proposed something RADICAL. CRAZY. UNBELIEVABLE. I proposed that we not see any family, that we claim the Christmas as Matthew and Sarah's Christmas, a Christmas for making new traditions, new wonderful memories to replace last year's God awful ones, a Christmas for connection and appreciation of each other and our marriage and one that celebrates the strength and perseverance we found, together, this year. Matthew, a Christmas Hater, whole-heartedly endorsed my idea immediately, probably sure that I would come to my senses and revoke my offer in the next 10 seconds. But I did not. We told our families, who were disappointed but lovingly supportive, and we made some secret plans for us, and only us, to look forward to.

We had thought we'd just be at home by the fire. We'd dress our fiddleleaf fig tree up with some ornaments and drink eggnog and listen to records and sleep late and wear pajamas all day. Dreamy, right? But then our friends Rob and Laura told us they always to to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs on the day after Christmas (leave the kid with grandparents in LA, drive on over) and unexpectedly Laura said, "You should come!!!" It was her obvious enthusiasm for the idea that made me actually consider it. Normally I'd think, "That's so nice and you totally don't want us to come so I won't even consider that sweet offer you are hoping I decline." But Laura is a no-bullshit kind of lady, my favorite kind, and I knew I could trust her invitation was sincere. So we said we would think about it seriously, having discovered Palm Springs this past summer.

We considered the fact that we normally spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets and car rentals and gifts flying to family every year and that this year we'd be spending almost nothing (I did spend a significant amount on cat tshirts for Zane, but that's another story). We considered the fact that the Ace Hotel is a hotel that both of us have been wanting to stay at for as long as we've known about it, even if it's like a satire of a parody of a Disneyland show called Hipsters In Their Element. We pat ourselves on the back heartily when we realized that the decision we had made in the beginning of the year to get a Virgin credit card meant that we would have free direct flights to Palm Springs and looked at each other and said, "Why the fuck not?"

As if it couldn't get any better than that I asked myself, "Why not go for Christmas? Like, wake up in a hotel room on Christmas?" I proposed this to Matthew anticipating a lengthy budget discussion and disappointing answer but instead I got, "Sure!" So I booked everything immediately, anticipating that he would come to his senses and revoke his answer in the next 10 seconds. And, fyi, we still spent less than we would have visiting our families. More importantly, I was so so so looking forward to a Christmas with just my sweetie; we so so so needed it.

As Christmas got closer I realized that Matthew probably thought that he was off the hook for presents, his least favorite part of Christmas and my favorite, but he was wrong. So I let him know how wrong he was and gave him a list of local stores he could go to, my girlfriends' numbers for guidance, and reminded him of my handy and helpful Pinterest board Presents You Can Buy Me (you should make one, it's kind of awesome to have). I had been getting him stuff for months, like I do, wrapping as I went along, getting giddy about waking up on Christmas morning with just a small pile of stuff for the two of us. Happy sigh. Once we got straight on the expectations we had only to wait for Christmas Eve and our flights.

The flight to Palm Springs from SFO is less than an hour and half. As soon as you are up in the air you hear, "We're preparing for landing." But we did manage to have one drink before touch down, aided by my first gift to him, the Carry On Cocktail Kit. It makes any overly priced airplane whiskey into a decent Old-Fashioned with only a slight amount of embarrassment to swallow with it. Such is the price of being a person who likes cocktails. We landed in the desert in the evening on Christmas Eve and got a cab to take us the 2 miles to the Ace (Palm Springs is very small and the airport is right on the edge of town). 

This is not going to be a post about the Ace, Palm Springs, or anything you probably actually want to hear about. It's beauty is not capture-able, in words or photos. The ridiculousness of how on the nose the Ace gets what hipsters want is not something to be described or illustrated. Google image that shit. Just believe this, it is a terrifically accurate compound of design, services, food, drinks, and people that appeals to people like, um, I guess, me. I don't actually think I'm a hipster, but I think I have the aesthetic sensibilities of some of them. The good ones. The ones with taste. Moving on.

We checked into our room with a patio and fireplace. We perused the mini bar, which we swore to not indulge in and which was half empty by the time we left. We giggled. We unpacked. I noticed that something was wrong. Something was terribly terribly wrong. It was Christmas Eve and we didn't have a Christmas Tree! How had I overlooked this glaringly obvious mistake? How could I think through this whole week and not consider the fact that we wouldn't have a tree? Not one to ever let anything get in my way when I want it, I started collecting things from around the room that I could turn into a tree. Matthew  passively let me, knowing that it would do absolutely no good to suggest I do anything otherwise with my time and energy. He's sweet like that. This is what I came up with.


Let me break that down for you. That's a $75 dollar walking stick that Ace keeps in your room just in case you might want to pay them $75 for a stick. Thanks Ace! Perfect foundation for my tree, no? The linen was a little blanket for the patio, the hooks were already hanging on that conveniently slatted wall, the star is made of Kleenex, the garland is my scarf and the tie to a robe the make you wear when you join their cult, um, ranks, um, fan base. The round white things are Matthew's cotton swabs which he generously "donated" to the cause, the base is a wastebasket, and the skirt is a mesh bag nicely shaped like a half moon. I was beside myself as I put our gifts under the tree.

Having accomplished that I felt much better. Time for dinner. The Ace makes sure you don't need to leave the compound if you don't want to, and they also make sure you won't want to. We went to Christmas Eve dinner at their house restaurant called King's Highway. The whole compound is on the grounds of an old HoJos, so the Ace loving kept lots of the original HoJos restaurant intact, like you should, while adding a brilliant and perfect hipster layer over everything. It's embarrassing people, but it's stunningly awesome too.

King's Highway

We had, I'm not kidding, a kale and quinoa salad for our Christmas Eve dinner. It was so good damn that I just don't care that you are laughing at me right now. I'd do it again, you jerk. We had excellent cocktails. We looked around at all the families who come to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs for Christmas and at all the beards. So many beards. The people watching was so good that we forgot to talk to each other. We looked at our map of the compound and felt like we were in a movie about hipsters and did some serious soul-searching. I'm gonna use that H word a lot, have you sensed that yet?

Ace map

We went back to our room, sat by the fire on the patio, read, snuggled, and eventually went to bed. When we woke up it was Christmas. And it was beautiful and we were in the desert. And we went and got Stumptown coffee at the restaurant and the Times at the front desk and sat on our bed in our pajamas and opened our gifts. You guys, it was perfect. Neither of us went overboard, we both bought thoughtful and meaningful gifts, and again, we so so so soaked up the much needed aloneness and togetherness the trip was bringing us. 


Does it seem materialistic and shallow to squeal with every opening of every gift he gave me? I don't care. Gifts that people think about, even if they are tiny or inexpensive (especially if they are tiny or inexpensive), mean so much to me. My therapist say it has to do with my need to be seen and understood. I love her. For someone who would rather do almost anything than shop for gifts, he did good. So good.

Gifts from M.jpg

Happy sigh.


This picture is upsetting, I know. Do you hate me? Sorry about that.

After we got tired of being so awesome we went to breakfast where we ate whatever the hell we wanted, which for me was elaborate french toast and mint-honey fruit and for him was probably something annoying like tofu scramble. There were an alarming amount of Santas sharing the dining room with us.

Next it was time for adventuring, as in meandering around the grounds for 10 minutes. It is gorgeous and perfect but both Matthew and I had do a significant amount of leaving our college degrees behind and sank into the experience without being bothered to be critical about it. My 20-yr-old self cringed, my 39-yr-old self felt happy and relieved.  Oh well.

Whew! That was exhausting. Back to the room!

That's more like it.

That's more like it.

We spent the next couple days sleeping, doing puzzles, eating, reading, not watching the television, visiting with Rob and Laura, playing Scrabble, drinking, and doing more puzzles. I was in a considerable amount of pain due to my stupid face nerves and the dumb cold in my head that lingered the whole time, but doing puzzles got me in a zone where it all melted away. Wearing their cult robe probably helped too.

Typical morning.

Typical morning.

Typical afternoon.

Typical afternoon.

Typical night.

Typical night.

When it came time to check out we reluctantly did so in this awesome lobby with its stuffed coyote and perfect leather chair. We didn't bother looking at what the mini bar cost us.

Days like these remind us that

It better be.

Happy 2015! Couldn't be worse than 2014.


AuthorSarah Reid