The Island Archipelago

For those that have been following along on social media, you may have seen this little preview:

Instagram - Kitchen Islands

Jefe and I recently moved and although the pro’s of our new place greatly outweigh the con’s, there were definitely some concessions we made with the new apartment.  One of the top ones is the kitchen and its counterspace (or lack there of).  I have to admit that I was spoiled for 3 years when I had this at my disposal:

Swall Kitchen

And then we moved to our last place, where I thought our counter space was minute.

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But I had no idea how small it could be until we got to our new place:

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That’s it!  Those two slivers on either side of the sink are it.  The cart next to the stove is the previous tenant’s.  The saving grace, however, is that there is plenty of empty space under those two windows.  The previous tenant had that little cafe table there, but as we’ll be using our dining table through that doorway to the right for eating, I decided to add wall to wall counter space with a combination of a few islands.

Plan A) to use our existing Forhoja and pickup up a Norden that would almost span the entire space and then add the small Stenstorp to give us some counter surface next to the oven.  (No, this post was not sponsored by Ikea, but if they’re looking to throw something my way, this new apartment dweller wouldn’t be sorry….)

Forhoja

Norden

Small Stenstorp

The Burbank Ikea, however, had other ideas.  The two closest locations no longer carry the Norden and if we wanted it, we’d have to drive an hour plus OR have it shipped.  With it weighing in over 100 lbs, those shipping costs were not really in the budget.

Plan B) Sell our Forhoja, still purchase the small Stenstorp for next to the oven, and purchase 2 more standard Stenstorp islands.

Stenstorp

Although this option is slightly pricier than the initial plan A (which is why we didn’t go with it in the first place despite it being the more aesthetically pleasing), it will end up costing less than had we had the Norden shipped.  And all of it was in stock!

Fast forward a few days, I start assembling them and I read the directions that the butcher block tops need to be treated with Behandla mineral oil (note – it must be the food safe kind, not the stain) no less than 3 times a week for the first few months.  Nothing is ever easy.  As we didn’t know this upon purchase, I had to make a trip BACK to Ikea for the mineral oil.  Luckily, I actually was thinking ahead and chatted up an Ikea employee in the kitchen department.  She advised that you really only need to do one, REALLY great coat the first time, let it sit overnight and then every couple of months as needed.

Seeing as these islands were purchased to hold all of our smaller appliances such as our microwave and coffee maker, it was music to my ears that I wouldn’t have to move them 3+ times a week just to brush on some oil.

So for the last two weeks, the islands have been assembled, but the tops covered with tea towels until I was actually home long enough to tackle the job.

Finally last weekend I found enough time to hunker down and get it done.  First I had to empty the shelves I had already stocked to avoid coating everything in sawdust.

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(Apologies for all the lame iPhone photos – after spending the last few weeks packing and unpacking, the last thing I felt like doing was searching through piles of stuff for my camera and tripod.)

Per the Ikea employee’s suggestions, I started with a fine 220 sanding block on the surfaces as well as the smaller Stenstorp’s shelves.  I wiped any dust and splinters off the top.  As I had the time, I figured I’d crank out two coats in one night just for the added protection so I cracked open the Behandla and painted one coat over each island top with a foam brush.  Per the can’s instructions, I let sit for 15 minutes, wiped with a cloth, and then let the counters dry for 3 hours.

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This first application really helped me figure out the right consistency for how thick my coats should be.  After I let them dry, I decided to do the one heavy coat I was recommended.  I did another round of sanding and then painted on the oil nice and thick and let it sit overnight.  Come morning, I very gently used an even finer 320 sanding block to clean off the excess layer.

With each application, the tops have gotten slightly darker and smoother.  So just for added measure (and as we had no plans for Sunday morning), I did one final thin coat that morning.  I let it sit for 15 minutes, wiped with the cloth and let them dry for another 2-4 hours.

So far, I’m really pleased with the end result.  I don’t feel like I’ll need to oil them for a few months, but will keep an eye on them for now.

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We still have our Forhoja as we realized that it’s been nice to not cover up half of our new counters with a microwave.  In doing so we discovered that *technically* we have enough room for one more Stenstorp under the windows.

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It will mean 3 lined up end to end, giving us 93 continuous inches of counter space.  Although it’s not totally necessary, I feel like it’s what the space needs to not feel cramped and we’d sell the Forhoja to help offset our costs.

It’s admittedly a lot of islands for one space, but aesthetically they’re in line with our style and I know that should we need one or two in a future home, they will transition well.  They’re also some of the most popular kitchen carts sold by Ikea so I’m confident we could resell them on Craigslist should we find that we don’t need them in said future home.

So project #1 of the new apartment down.  Many more to go.

Hiatus & a Project!

So I inadvertently have been taking a blogging hiatus.  Work has been nuts and as of my last post, Jefe and I were traveling.  A LOT.

Since then, I’ve felt less than inspired as I grew so tired of seeing the same stuff online recycled over and over and felt the pressure that if something wasn’t “Pinterest Perfect” that there was little point in blogging. But I do love writing.  And designing – be it for myself or my limited group of family and friends who are crazy enough to unleash me on their own homes.

With that all said, I have a new life update that will include a LOT of projects in the future that I will do my best to write about and recap in semi-real time: Jefe and I moved!  Now, don’t get too excited dear East Coasters, we haven’t moved that far (yet).  We’re only went a mile east and 2 blocks north of our last apartment.

You may ask – why bother if it’s really that close in the same hood?  #1 = square footage.  We gained over 300 extra square feet back by upgrading to a 2 bedroom.  #2 – PARKING.  I finally have a garage space to call my very own!  No more fighting for a spot and worrying about early morning moves to avoid street cleaning.

There’s also a million other reasons like the 3 walk-in closets, a backyard, etc.  But I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  And note these are all 100% before pictures as we’re still unpacking boxes and I’m not quite ready to share the place in it’s current state.  I also have HUNDREDS of ideas of how to make this place a true stunner that we can call home.

Bedroom: It was painted grey by the previous owner.  And we would have loved to keep it.  But our landlord is pretty strict about paint and we didn’t want to inherit the financial responsibility of required professional painters down the line.  So white it will be (But we’re keeping the navy blackout curtains.  Nap time just got 1,000 times better.)

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Second bedroom: Our future office.  I’m already worried this is going to turn in to a bobblehead museum, but one challenge at a time Sledge.

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Bathroom: So this may be the one down side – we’re downgrading from 1.5 pure white bathrooms to a single with pink tile. Luckily, a non-clear shower curtain can cover 75% of it.

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Hallway: Closets. Closets.  Closets.  I think I just heard an angel sing.  The grand total is 3 walk-in closets and 2 linen closets, one of which we’ve already turned in to a pantry.

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Kitchen: What it lacks in counter space it definitely makes up for in storage space.  And new appliances are a definite perk I was afraid we weren’t going to find again.  And although I’d prefer stainless steel, I honestly don’t mind the white, especially with what I have in mind.  Winner winner, chicken dinner.

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Living room: All the space we could need and then some.  I’ll just need to create some sort of fake mantel/shelf getup for the Christmas stockings.

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Dining room:  No longer will we have to cram into a tiny space between our dresser in the living room, the bedroom door and the sliding balcony door.  We shall have a whole room for eating and entertaining.  And it’s got a walk-in closet.  I am officially spoiled.

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Backyard: The landlord told us no one ever uses it and we’re welcome to set up a grill, furniture, etc.  My head is bursting with ideas, I can hardly stand it.  I’m already envisioning dining al fresco, Parenthood-style.

Parenthood Outdoor Dining

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So there you have it friends, the new space.  We moved in two weeks and although we still have a ways to go, its already starting to feel like home.

I’ll be back soon with ideas and plans for each of the rooms; I can’t wait to get started!  But for now, I’ll leave you with a preview of the first real project in the new place:

Instagram - Kitchen Islands

Hello again

Hi friends.  I know it’s been awhile.  And I could give you a long list of excuses as to my absence, but I figured I’d just give you a fun pictorial recap instead.  Since we last spoke I….

….went Rose Bowling and found the nightstand I’ve been lusting after (and since Jefe was on a plane, I prayed he’d like it)….

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…. attended the swanky office Oscar party with my very dapper Jefe.  Only one celebrity setting (Mr. Entourage himself, Adrian Greiner), but we had a great time minus my killer Monday morning headache….

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… Jefe and I headed up the coast to Santa Barbara to celebrate year 4 of being partners-in-crime (and I guess love, too).  We stared as some gorgeous shoreline, feasted, and drank our way through wine country.  We may have returned with a case of wine….

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… Hit up an LA Kings hockey game (they lost)….

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…. Went to Pittsburgh for one of my college friend’s wedding.  It was great being reunited with so many of my lady friends and I finally got a change to teach Jefe all about all things Yinzer: The Church Brew Works, Pamela’s, Carnegie Mellon University and all of its many weird traditions.  We even managed to squeeze in a Penguins hockey game thanks to some stellar seats from a coworker who’s also a Pittsburgh native….

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…. Saw MUPPETS: MOST WANTED at the El Capitain Theater that included a live pre-show with Kermit & Miss Piggy….

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…. Headed to the Getty with my good friend John after a failed attempt to head to the Huntingdon Libraries & Botanical Gardens (thanks AAA and UberX for getting us out of South Pasadena in one piece)….

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….Took a bite out of the Big Apple with some of the most adorable little people in our lives.  I got to meet my best friend’s little girl Addie (short for Adeline), and spent some quality time with Geoff’s brother’s family.  We also got the opportunity to see Audra McDonald in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” and I can officially check off seeing her perform from my Broadway bucket list….

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…. Went to ANOTHER LA Kings hockey game (we lost again and Jefe realized that we’ve lost every game he’s ever taken me too…..)  But we had a great time as it was fan appreciation night, the Kings played a great game that led to overtime and 2 rounds of shoot outs….

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…. hit up the Rose Bowl Flea Market with my friend Chelsey.  I came home empty handed (minus the breakfast burrito and delicious watermelon juice in my stomach), but Chelsey grabbed 2 refurbished dining chairs and Jefe found the vintage sports equipment seller who’s been MIA the last few times.  He walked away with a great leather baseball glove and an old catcher’s mask.  I did happen to find the barnyard I think Beyonce came from:

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All of the above was in addition to a few crazy months at the old 9-to-5 day job (and by that, I mean 9-9ish really).  So pardon my blogging absence.  I’ve also gotten a little tired of all the same interior decor and DIY I keep seeing rehashed and recycled everywhere and just needed a breather from the blogosphere.

Anyways, I’m back and hope to have some new home updates for you guys soon.  First on the agenda – not killing my new little succulent.  I have about as black a thumb as they can come so I’m doing my best to revamp my gardening ways.

Happy Friday!

Oh Baby… Nursery

Babies, babies everywhere.  I can’t count on one hand the number of little bundles of joy that are about to arrive on the doorsteps of friends and family in the next few months.  This happens to include my stepsister who welcomed my adorable first nephew on Sunday!

My best friend also happens to be due in the next week so she recently asked me for some nursery inspiration while she prepped for the arrival of her little girl.  So today I’m sharing some of my favorite finds for all styles of nurseries from neutral and glamorous to gender specific and rustic.

Classic Nursery

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Let’s start with this classic beauty.  Neutral colors with a slightly playful theme thanks to the zebra and hot air balloon and a classic crib.

Grey Modern Glam Nursery

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Contemporary, abstract art over a crib – so glamorous.  And the contrast of colors against the moody grey walls – perfection.  The patterned rug just kicks it up a notch.  This particular nursery is clearly doing double duty too for when those giddy grandparents come to visit.

Neutral Modern Glam Nursery

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How luxurious does this nursery feel?  It’s gender neutral and could so easily be achieved with a little blood, sweat and DIY.  All you need is quite a bit of cheap off-white fabric, a staple gun, some painters tape and a gallon of paint.  Top it off with a glamorous light fixture and you’re in business.

Rustic Nursery

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So I cheated a bit and this is an old ad from Restoration Hardware’s Baby & Kids line.  But I’m completely in love with the rustic charm and the perfect way they styled a nursery that’s a little girlie without looking like a pink crayon vomitted everywhere.

Vintage Pale Blue Nursery

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Vintage charm is all over this room.  I love that the desaturated blue of the walls is a few shades off the traditional baby blue of most nurseries.  And the bunting combined with a it of chevron on those curtains brings it in to the 21st century.

Traditional Vintage Nursery

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If you’re looking for more of a traditional space, this is the room for you.  I die over the antique-looking toys and that mirror over the crib is so elegant.

Super Glam Nursery

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This gem has been making the blog rounds for quite some time, but I completely see why – you want glamour for your little girl, this is the room for her.  Shiny surfaces and animal print?  CHECK!

Grey and Purple French Nursery

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Or maybe she is more into shabby chic, French country charm?  Done!

Peach Grey Champagne Nursery

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Or you think she’ll be a little eclectic, but with a sweet side?  A room filled with peach, champagne and gold is the place for her.

Eclectic Boys Nursery

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Perhaps it is a little boy who needs a little eclectic space of his own?  Combine an industrial fixture with a vintage map and some burlap curtains, and you’re good to go.

Navy Glam Nursery

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White and navy with a touch of silver is perfection.  All the pieces (minus the crib) could be repurposed as the child grows or seamlessly moved in to other rooms of the house.

The Animal Print Shop by Sharon Montrose

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Minimalist, white and clean.  But the light wood, adorable artwork and the sheepskin rug warm up the space for a little bundle of joy.

The Animal Print Shop by Sharon Montrose.

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Then their are those new moms who just know their little one will be fashionable and always on trend.  Then herringbone and tassel garlands are just for them (and it serves as a stylish alternative to a mobile).

Navy and Red Modern Nursery

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I think we’ve seen some variation of that rug a few times… looks like it’s a clear winner in nursery land.  When paired with striped crib bedding and crisp roman shades, the room suddenly has a preppy feel.

Grey and Pink Glam Nursery

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Maybe you just want to embrace your little girl’s feminine side?  Swatches of pink, monogrammed wall art and a chandelier are just for her.

Neutral Glam Combo Nursery Guest Bed

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If you’re raising a little gentleman or lady, this elegant nursery/guest room combo is the perfect space.

Modern Glam Nursery

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Modern.  Pink.  Perfection.  And I don’t even like pink.

Pink and Gold Princess Nursery

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If she really is a princess, this space is for her.

Modern Boy Nursery

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I die over that kelly green wall paper.  Baby would love staring at it!

Modern Graphic Nursery

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Modern and graphic.  With a hint of mid-century modern thrown in.

And now for a little extra dose of awesome: a few celebrity nurseries to drool over:

Bill and Giuliana Rancic Nursery

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Bill & Giuliana’s house is perfection.  I expect nothing less for their little guy’s space.  I want that grasscloth wallpaper.  Now.

Jenna Lyons Nursery

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This nursery belongs to momma/queen of style Jenna Lyons.

The Animal Print Shop

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I’m loving the clean lines and soothing colors of this beauty, the home of Molly Sims’ babe.

So what do you think – I see some serious themes popping up lately in nursery styles – print rugs and giant giraffes are clearly all the rage.  I also love the practicality of most of the spaces – all of them seem to be able to easily transition as the child grows older.  And not a licensed character in sight!  Not that I have anything against Mickey or Buzz Lightyear… I’d just prefer a little more subtle use of whimsy ;-)

Say It Ain’t So! Goodbye Expedit

Unless you’re an avid record collector (who for now are the most irate), you may not have heard the news.  Ikea may be discontinuing the EXPEDIT line (rumored here, here and here).  The whole thing.  For the time being, it’s said to only be relegated to Germany, but most things I’ve read speculate that it’s only a matter of time before it hits the rest of the world.  A petition on Facebook to save the favored shelving has already reached over 15K likes.

They are replacing it with another, similar style but I feel like this is an end of an era and possibly a huge misstep on Ikea’s part.  I don’t think they realize how widespread the use of that line really is – I’ve seen it used everywhere from a starter dorm room to high-end, luxury celebrity homes.

What are we going to do without this serious work horse piece of furniture?  I scoured and found the below image of it’s supposed replacement, the ‘Kallax’.  What do you think?

Ikea Kallax

I’m not a huge fan and think it’s too similar to other styles.  The Expedit had that thick frame – very Parsons-like that so many people adored.

There have been many blogger odes to this marvelous wonder, but today is sadly more of an obituary.  So in honor of its final days, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite uses for the EXPEDIT.  Enjoy.

BHG - Stacked Expedit

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BHG - Stacked Expedit 2

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Loving the stacked look from designer Meg Lonergan.  And the mirror hanging in front makes it look oh-so-chic and gives it a built-in quality.

Apt Therapy - Mega Expedit Wall

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This entire wall was created with a combination of different Expedits.  It’s a bibliophile’s work of art.

Apt Therapy - Office Expedit Parson Style

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I’ved loved this photo for as long as I can remember.  It pairs with a Parsons desk perfectly and the lack of a backing lets the dark and moody paint color shine through.

Live Creating Yourself - Expedit Turned Bar

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Everything Everygirl is perfection to me.  Alaina Kaczmarski styled this piece for her dining room – display storage for her beautiful plates and glassware with an added place to include a bar.

BHG - Expedit Display Shelving

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An Expedit is a great way to display a collection.

BHG - Expedit Room Divider

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A perfect example of two of the most-used reasons for the Expedit – room divider and color-coordinated bookshelf.

Elle Decor - High End Expedit

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Elle Decor showcases how an Expedit fits in seamlessly when paired with more high-end furnishings in the home of Jayson Home’s Devin Kirk.

Adore Mag - Expedit Closet Style

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Have too much closet space (is that an actual problem?!) without enough shelving?  Display those heels and handbags like the works of art they truly are.

I have had my Expedit since I moved to Los Angeles 6+ years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) and don’t plan to get rid of it any time soon.  It’s a storage monster and an absolute necessity in our home.  So who would like to raise a glass and toast the amazing, incredible Expedit with me?!

*Update:  The Huffington Post has confirmed with an Ikea spokesperson that this is true.  It’s a sad, sad day.

Share Your Heart

Last night I ducked out of the office (before it was even dark!) and headed over to West Elm for one of their DIY workshops.  This particular event was Valentine’s Day themed – crafting paper hearts to be sent to St. Jude’s Hospital where they will string them all together in an attempt to create the world’s largest paper chain!  And for each heart we created, West Elm donated $1 to the hospital.

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The actual crafting was free and they provided all of the supplies.  While there, I met some great people including a group of visual merchandisers for Macy’s, West Elm’s store manager and CJ, a stylist who runs their Instagram, @westelmla.

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There were also some great-looking refreshments, but as I’m still sticking hard core to my Weight Watchers plan (down 3 lbs so far!), I opted to just capture it on film.

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So let the crafting begin.  For my first heart, I knew I wanted it to be purple-themed in honor of my childhood friend Jill and all the kids like her at St. Jude’s.  I started out with a giant sheet of purple tissue paper.  I started doing a little ripping for a “rough edge” and needless to say, the finished project is not my best work, but I think the kiddies will like a heart option that isn’t pink or red.

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Next up, I snagged the roll of gold tape about as fast as I could and some letters for a little Jefe + Sledge action (that’s Geoff & Mallory for those new to the blog).  Of course, I opted for stripes.

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And lastly, I came across this ribbon at the bottom of a supplies bucket and knew exactly what to do with it – a little Kate Spade inspiration for a sickeningly sweet, picture perfect pink heart.

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So that about rounds out the night.  Here’s a little hint at what this store’s portion of the paper heart chain will look like strung up in St. Jude’s.

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If you want to catch some of the other hearts created, check out West Elm LA’s Instagram feed or search for their hashtag: #shareyourhearts.

February Lust List

February has arrived.  And unfortunately for many of  you loyal readers, I hear Punxsutawney Phil prescribed a LONG winter yet to be had.  (To which my Jefe lovingly asked “who is Punxsutawney Phil?!” and I immediately whipped out Groundhog Day.) So while you’re bearing the inches of snow  and blustery wind Mother Nature is still sending your way, cozy up with a cup of hot cocoa and Bailey’s and do a little window shopping with me!

Here are some of my latest design crushes:

February Lust List

1)  West Elm Hexagon Mirror – I’ve had my eye on this puppy for my hall entryway for quite some time and it’s now reduced from $149 to $79.  I may have to convince Jefe that we need to pull the trigger…

2)  West Elm Elton Settee – Although we are not in the market for any sort of love seat, I’m in love with the subtle curved lines, traditional tufting, yet overall modern feel of this piece.  And the blue fabric is to die for!

3)  Nate Berkus Lamp – I can’t believe this beauty will soon be available at Target.  Yet again, Nate Berkus knocks it out of the park with this modern piece of glam.  Look at those lines!  The inner shade’s lining!  GORGEOUS.  Also reminds me of the little Land of Nod lamp I used for my Dorm Room Decor Round Up!

4)  Lulu & Georgia Print – Is there anything Jenna Lyons isn’t right about when it comes to design?!  Now about the $300 price tag of those calf hair leopard flats I want….

5)  Nate Berkus Hexagonal Wood Tray – I’ve already seen this piece explode across the blogosphere and I am totally jumping on the band wagon.  If it had handles, it would already be in my apartment looking for a permanent place to live and corral things.  And after having seen it in person, I honestly was astounded at the quality of the piece for the price.  Bravo, Mr. Berkus.

6)  Sam Edelman Cheetah Loafers – So about those JCrew shoes… I’ve found your younger sister and my wallet loves her so much more.  I happened to see a coworker wearing these with a simple, jersey knit heather grey dress and it was the perfect mix of comfortable chic for the office.  I must have.

7)  Baublebar Slim Bow Pendant – I’m obsessed with costume jewelry lately.  And Baublebar has such fabulous sales (and credit for purchases made) that I never pay full price.  This one had me at hello so I snatched it up for $10.  It’s the perfect accent against my favorite emerald silk blouse.

8)  Magic Carpet Yoga Mat – Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  I’ve been wanting to get back into my yoga practice and this is the PERFECT incentive.

9)  Baggu 13″ Polka Dot Laptop Sleeve – Last weekend I was at the Apple Genius bar for a tune up for the old laptop.  This adorable case caught the corner of my eye.  Five minutes later I was walking out with it.  It also happens to PERFECTLY complement the Baggu I got for Christmas (and yes, I actually kept and have been using the iPad case too!  It’s a perfect little set, although a little tough to get the iPad in and out).

10)  Baggu Small Leather Pouch / Gold – So I’m a little Baggu obsessed right now. But as my wallet won’t fit in my new Kate Spade purse, I need something to corral my cards and (small) amount of cash when I’m on the go.  This gold little pouch would be perfect!

Well there you have it, February’s Lust List.  What are you lusting after these days?