Charm City – Baltimore

So this post is long overdue. I think my guilt caught up with me after Jefe and I had a marathon viewing of The Wire this weekend. I admittedly now feel schooled in the ways of the Baltimore inner-city projects so I figured it was time to indulge and share in the more opulent (and touristy) side of the city.  Please excuse the excessive use of Instagram/crappy iPhone photos – I was doing my best to not be attached to my phone the whole time, so the few quick snaps I took are all covered in hipster filters or *may* be a bit blurry…. a photographer I am not.

Jefe and I kicked off our summer vacation back in early August in Baltimore. The Sox were in town playing the Orioles (yes, it does always come back to baseball in our house), so Jefe insisted we bring the parents and check out Camden Yards as his dad had never been. And seeing as it was only a hop, skip, and a 90 minute drive from my hometown, my mom and stepdad came down to join us.

When in Baltimore, what better way than to start the day at Inner Harbor? It’s definitely become more of a tourist trap than I remember since the last time I visited a decade ago, but I still had fun.  The boys checked out the USS Constellation and the USS Torsk while my mom, Jefe’s mom Gloria and I walked around the water.

USS Constellation

USS Constellation


USS Torsk

Thanks to a few recommendations from friends, I decided that crabs at Captain James Crab House was the most authentic option for lunch.  Eight hours later, we arrived via water taxi (I kid; it was only 45 minutes but felt like forever on an empty stomach).  It was quite the ride and although not everyone arrived at the restaurant with appetites thanks to some choppy water, it actually was a great way to see the entire harbor and cool off during an otherwise muggy day.


Now let’s talk crabs. I may be from the east coast, and had my fair share of lobster growing up thanks to family vacations to Maine, but I am a bit of a crab-cracking novice. And I was the veteran of our group of 6.  Needless to say, the family was thankful we also ordered some corn on the cob… and a pizza.  Let’s just say that yanking out minuscule morsels of crustacean was not the family’s idea of fun.  We ordered a dozen medium sized ones for the table and this guy was still left.


But I did not go down without a fight. I was definitely the last crab-eating woman standing as I was determined to prove them all wrong.  But I didn’t.  And I was still hungry.  Ce’st la vie.  We did get a great story out of the experience and had a great time despite things not going quite according to plan.  Here’s our obligatory shot of the fan:


After my failed attempt at local cuisine, we headed back across the water so we could head to Camden Yards for the game. It drizzled off and on, but we kept dry for the most part. The only casualty may have been my mom’s hair.  Luckily we headed back to the hotel that night with two very happy Wells boys: the Sox won and they had an infamous story to tell.  Big Papi, the Red Sox designated hitter, was ejected from the game over a blown call by the home plate umpire that resulted in him destroying the dugout phone with his bat.  We were sitting about halfway up the stadium so we had no idea how crazy things got until we saw the replay on SportsCenter that night.


One of the real highlights for me, though, besides the whole family bonding and baseball game thing was our hotel.  It was incredible.  Incredible in that “totally from another era, I want to go to there” kind of way.  Known as the B & O building, built in 1906, it was originally the home of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company.  You can find historic touches throughout, from the main hall entryway to black & white images of trains in the guest rooms.

So without further ado, I bring you the Monaco Hotel:


The ground floor entryway, looking towards the elevator bank


Looking immediately to your right, to the B & O Brasserie where we had a fabulous breakfast.



The window detail behind and above you as you enter the ground floor.


The right side of the incredible stairwell as you enter further in to the ground floor, before you reach the elevators.


The left side of the entryway, with original lamps.


Looking up!


The stairwell from above.


The incredible, open second floor above the stairwells.


The 2nd floor hallway.


The 2nd floor elevator bank.  Look at that marble!  The plaster detailing!  The CHANDELIER!


Around the corner from the elevators.  I love these old, original touches, like the mail slot.

Walking further down the hall, you reach the front desk and the lobby area just off of that known as “The Living Room”.  They offer beverages throughout the day and offer a free cocktail hour that seemed like a steal.  We unfortunately didn’t get to participate, but here are a few gems from THE LIVING ROOM….


Chess for two (and a viewer…)


Looking directly in to the space and the incredible, double-sided fireplace.


I got photobombed THROUGH the fire.


One of the many sitting areas next to the fireplace.

Unfortunately we were so busy that I didn’t get to truly document the hotel, including our room, in all of it’s glory.  But their website has some great examples:




The next morning, we met up with one of my oldest friends for brunch at Miss Shirley’s, which was amazing.  Then we headed out, fighting off a monsoon on our way to Spring Lake, NJ.  You can check out my post on this gorgeous town HERE.  It was so relaxing to spend a few days in this beautiful place.  Jefe and I even got back in to running.  When you’re staring at this, who wouldn’t want to?!



I Got Purple, I Got Grape

For my latest design project, I’m venturing in to some new, very bright territory.  My client/friend is going through a bit of a life change and wanted to revamp her bedroom with a serious injection of tranquility and COLOR.  The combination of the two has been a bit challenging to say the least.  Per her request, I’ve been doing some serious research on purple rooms.

As I’m still working on the finishing touches of the mood board and overall plan for her room, I thought I’d share some of my inspiration as the color choice can be very tricky to work with.

So for today’s post, I bring you the PURPLE ROOM ROUND-UP!

Crate & Barrel

This was our initial inspiration to kick off the project.  A purple throw quickly turned in to purple walls….

Purple & Teal

Luckily we’re not taking it quite this extreme, but sometimes you have to go too big and edit, than to play it too safe from the start.

Feminine Purple

A more feminine, softer take on the color.

Neutral Purple

A neutral, more organic feel.

Elle Decor 4

Deep, rich, and a little moody.  Perfect for a bedroom.

House to Home 1

Loving the juxtaposition of feminine colors with the more masculine, modern lines of the paint treatment.

Purple Grasscloth

I just want to pet grasscloth.  I’ve loved it since the first time I saw it in the home of a wealthy friend of my grandmother.  And in such a fun color, you can’t go wrong.  It’s such a hip take on a traditional design tool.

Dark Purple

Bold and girlie.

House to Home 2

Soft, simple and relaxing.

Elle Decor 1

Upscale meets young and funky.

Elle Decor 2

Tranquil and fresh when combined with crisp white cabinetry.

Purple Chaise Room

Probably the closest in feel to where we’ll actually end up…

I’ve found that I’m most drawn to the shades of purple with grey and blue undertones while my friend loves the shades verging on pink and red.  So what do you guys think?  Would you ever paint a room purple?  I can honestly say that I can knock that off my list of design firsts; as a kid, my stepmom painted over the rose stenciling of my childhood bedroom, with a bright purple for my teen years.  I naturally chose a vibrant teal for the trim.  Gotta love those 90’s color palettes…

It’s Time to Get Schooled

Happy Friday!  In honor of the start of the weekend (and the fact that I am long over due for a post for you guys), I thought I’d share my new favorite watering hole.  Public School is the newest hot spot in downtown Culver City.  It’s been on Jefe and my’s to-do list since it opened in December, but thanks to the line out the door and around the block, we have yet to make it inside.

But apparently tonight was my lucky night when I met up with a friend from graduate school.  I managed to walk right in and grabbed a table in the back.  While I waited for my friend to arrive, I looked up and was immediately fascinated with the light fixture overhead.

light fixture

Then I took a look around and immediately whipped out my phone for some serious Instagram-ing.  I started with the menu and cocktail napkin…

menu and napkin

Followed by a stunning exposed brick wall.  The line of bulbs were the clear Edison kind dipped in silver.  Beneath those was a shelf of old microscopes.


The interior is simply gorgeous.  It is the perfect blend of industrial, vintage, rustic and old-school chic.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get any more images of the place without walking around looking like a stalker, but I did manage to find a few online.  They really don’t do the place justice, but will give you an idea of it’s true beauty:



outdoor bar 2




outdoor bar


bar 2


bar area




As I was trying to be good since this was my second night out in a row, I opted for a single beer and a healthy meal.  I got the heirloom tomato salad with ruby red grapefruit, basil and balsamic vinaigrette glaze.  Thanks to our stellar waitress, she managed to get me a side of grilled chicken too.  I was so famished after 11 hours at the office, that I inhaled it before I could get a solid picture to share.  My friend was nice enough to let me taste some of hers.  She got a burger that looked absolutely incredible and some fries with a spicy ketchup.  Now I’m a die-hard Heinz fan myself, particularly after living in Pittsburgh for 4 years, but this Sriracha ketchup was a nice touch to the perfectly crisp fries.  Public School’s own Instagram will give you a taste of what you’re in for:

burger and fries


So what do you guys think?  I’m admittedly still daydreaming about that burger.  And the excessively awesome amount of globes.  The use of reclaimed windows was perfection.  I can’t wait to go back.  Has anyone else been to Public School yet?  Any new spots in your own neighborhoods that will rival my new favorite?

Sand Between My Toes

Summer has officially arrived in LA.  Between Memorial Day and the onset of 90+ temperatures in LA the last few days, I am ready for sundresses, day trips to Hermosa Beach and evening picnics at the Hollywood Bowl.  Although I’m a bigger fan of autumn, there’s always something so exciting about the start of the summer season.

And this year is no exception.  I’m already planning my packing list for Jefe and I’s annual trek east for our August vacation with our respective families.  His family has been gracious enough to host both Jefe and myself the last few years at the beach in Spring Lake, NJ.  It’s a gorgeous, quaint little town on the northern Jersey shore, just an hour train ride for Manhattan.


So today I’m going to share some of the incredible architecture that I get to stare at for a few days every year when we’re making our way 5 blocks from our rental house to the shore.  The town actually became super-popular with the uber-wealthy of New York and Philly during the Gilded Age of the 1910’s and 20’s.




(via Spring Lake Historical Society)

Some of those original houses are actually still standing.  You’ll notice the second one above is also below, as well as a few others that have been standing since Spring Lake’s hey day:




And here are just a few gorgeous others that I’ve had my eye on.  They only run five-figures per weekly rental…. or $1 million PLUS for purchase.  I suppose my daydreaming will have to remain just that; but window shopping can’t hurt, right?




The Victorian inspired architecture is really stunning, particularly in person.  There’s such detail and so many unique architectural features…. I’m starting to feel like Ted Mosby geeking out on buildings.  But there is definitely something to be said for homes whose structure and aesthetic appeal has withstood the test of time, some of whom have lasted over 100 years.  I’d love to sneak inside some of these homes.  Most of the great ones aren’t available for rental, so I unfortunately can’t do any internet snooping for you all.

In addition to the spectacular homes, Spring Lake has an incredible boardwalk.  And we’re not talking about the kind where you fear of running in to Snooki.  Spring Lake’s is simple and a perfectly serene place to take a walk or an early evening jog before dinner… which you just so happen to get stuck on during a thunderstorm… (true story – Jefe and I had to hide under the pavilion near a pool to avoid lightening last year.  But it looked AWESOME.)


Unfortunately the hurricanes that hit the mid-Atlantic seaboard the last two years took their tolls on the boardwalk, but I have faith that it will look great by the time we arrive this year.

And now that you’re all dreaming of your future beach homes (who knew there were such gorgeous places in Jersey?!), why not deck yourself out like you own the place?  Here’s what I’m thinking….

Spring Lake Summer Style

  1. C.Wonder Wicker Picnic Basket
  2. JCrew Panama Hat in Natural
  3. Baggu Weekend Bag in Sailor Stripe
  4. Jack Rogers Hamptons Classic Navajeo Flats in Gold
  5. C.Wonder Colorblock Stripes Boatneck Tee Dress in Palm/Coastal
  6. Tory Burch Sunglasses in Blue/Green

I really can’t wait for summer vacation.  Almost makes me want to go back to school just for the summers off 😀

In other news, did anyone catch the new show Renovation Raiders that premiered on HGTV tonight?  I am officially obsessed.  Amy Matthews basically has my dream job (and has some rocking red hair).  It’s home design, renovation, and tv production all under a ticking clock: she leads an awesome crew that completely renovates a space in someone’s home in a few hours while they’re out to dinner.  I kind of want to be her.  It’s a shame so many HGTV shows shoot outside of LA (or the US for that matter – those Canadian accents are THICK).

A little eye candy

Sometimes I just like looking at pretty things.  Who doesn’t?!  No projects, no to-do lists, nothing.  Just downright visual pleasure.  Let’s be honest, how did people procrastinate before the invention of Pinterest?!  I’m hoping to share the SWS Pinterest with you all soon; just have a little more organizing to do (I was less than particular about pinning and labeling pictures for the first few months).

So until then, I have some solid eye candy for you all of some interiors I’ve been drooling over as of late:


(Courtesy of Diane Bergeron Interiors)

I’m obsessed with the blue grasscloth walls and the print rug.


(Courtesy of Diane Bergeron Interiors)

Again, grasscloth walls and print rug.  And I love how she pairs a slightly modern room with that great antique-looking dresser.


(Courtesy of Diane Bergeron Interiors)

I have never met a person that does not like crisp, white built-in bookshelves.  And when paired with that glossy black table – perfection.


(Courtesy of Pawleys Island Posh)

Glossy black doors paired with a weathered overhead lamp, matchstick blinds and a vase of purple flowers is amazeballs.


I’m obsessed with this brick herringbone floor in this stellar mud room.


(Courtesy of Owens & Company)

I’m not a huge fan of clear glass shower doors (momma likes her privacy), but if I must, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the dark window pane look.


This is my perfect kitchen (minus the giant plant urn on the island).  Dark, wide plank floors, white cabinets, marble countertops, silver hardware, glass door upper cabinets, modern appliances and windows strategically placed above the sink (presumably overlooking my lush backyard), trimmed with roman shades.  Not too large, but not too small.  It’s the perfect size for cooking weeknight meals, Sunday brunch, or a Thanksgiving feast.  And it includes a dog bed for my fluffy fur ball.

In case you noticed, there seems to be a running theme here.  I would classify all of those images as “traditional” in style, but with a slightly modern twist… which pretty much sums up my own design aesthetic.  So hope you enjoy the eye candy and happy Thursday!