Christmas Came Early-Kitchen Reveal

Thank you for letting me unload yesterday.  I wasn't planning on it, but I woke up at 3:00am that day, and it all just poured out. BTW, Luca is fine now.  Thanks so much for your concern.

Today, I am happy to report great news!  If you follow me on Facebook, you might be aware of the scoop, but this is my first opportunity to blog about it, and boy am I excited to have fancy new photos by Lauren Rubinstein to show you! (BTW, her website is mouth watering. Please click over to take a peek at her incredible talent. AND, we just discovered that we both have roots in Minnetonka, MN, so I'm especially fond of my new friend:).

Christmas came early this year, with a milestone publication of a recent project in Atlanta Magazine!!  The newsstands should be stocking the January issue any day now, but hurry if you want one, because I will be scooping up all of the Johns Creek issues, for sure! The one page spread, scouted and edited by Lisa Mowry (...the most generous editor on the planet. Look her up if you are interested in publishing your work.), and photographed by Lauren Rubinstein, features the newly renovated Deeran kitchen.

Joanne and John are friends and neighbors of mine, and when they approached me to see if I knew of someone who could help them design a new kitchen, I jumped at the chance to bid on the job.  I had just taken on a new partner, Jennifer Schoenberger, and was sure we could give Joanne the look she lusted after.  Incidentally, the inspiration kitchen she found on HGTV was designed by our friends, Julie and Anisa of Milk and Honey Home. It's a small world here in Atlanta (if you don't count the 5M inhabitants:).
The Deeran's previous kitchen was green-gold, black and white, and the builder grade cabinets circa '91 were showing their age (believe me, I know since I have some myself).  Joanne wanted white, light and bright with open shelving, easy to care for surfaces, updated appliances and expanded storage. She is a master cook, and frequent entertainer, and wanted her kitchen to be functional for her daily needs.



The transformation was radical! We kept the footprint of the kitchen, but removed the upper cabinets to allow for air flow and pretty, functional display. All cabinets are custom built by my favorite carpenters in Cartersville, GA, with soft close drawers and slide out shelves for fancy storage. The custom Roman shades by Susan in Thom Felicia's City Squares adds a pop of pattern and color, as does the chevron rug from Target. (150.00, folks!). We planked and whitewashed the ceiling, added new can lighting and sleek Circa Lighting polished nickel sconces for bling, and installed yummy honed granite that looks like marble.

Farmhouse Sink by Shaw

Joanne knew she wanted a farmhouse sink; a staple ingredient in the urban cottage kitchen. Back when we were designing her dining room, Joanne found these awesome vintage gourd lights for a song at the booth across from mine at the Queen of Hearts Antiques and Interiors in Alpharetta. She sprayed them a beautiful powder blue, and topped them with Pottery Barn raffia shades for texture. I am always a fan of lamps on the kitchen counter for warm lighting and ambiance.




Subway tile to the ceiling from Lowes. New Kitchen Aid range and vented hood. Restoration Hardware Lungarno pulls (my nod to Florence;),  custom shelves and Home Depot brackets.


John and Joanne were frustrated by the hard to reach shelving and dated bifold doors in the above pantry. We enlarged the opening, and replaced the doors with custom built barn doors with X motif to match the island.


With a new custom bench in Sunbrella Sand Stripe, their old pine farmhouse table and French chairs were given a new lustre.  Although the above pendant was in the original design plan, it was WAY above budget.  Joanne was lucky to find the cotton basket frame at the Queen of Hearts (so many goodies there guys!), and we commissioned my buddy Cherilyn to sew the burlap cover and stitch it with twine.  Joanne found an electrician to customize the innards, and to seal the deal, she scored this antique fisherman's rope back home in Long Island. In the end, we got the same high end look for 1/5 of the price!  If there's a will, there's a way....always my motto.


Saving the best for last. Lauren actually took this shot from outside the house to get the perfect vantage point. Here you see the closeup patina of the blue green barn doors. I am an antique dealer, as well as designer, and I do A LOT of painting and furniture restoration.  I try to incorporate an original painted piece in every one of my projects for that one-of-a-kind look every home needs. The doors are new pine, but with the help of multiple layers of chalk paint in Old White, Paris Gray and Duck Egg, and lots of dark wax, I was able to give them the perfect patina of age.  The pillows are from my family room, brought in to style the shoot. I found the French pillow at TJ Maxx and the blue silk button pillow is from Italy. Thanks to Annette Joseph for the idea of coral flowers for editorial punch.  I hope to someday work with this extraordinary talent.

Most of all, thank you John and Joanne for trusting us with this important project. It was a joy to work with you, as always. Such EASY clients!!! I am grateful for the opportunity, but even more grateful for our friendship.

I am off to get ready for Mom and Dad's visit...clean the house, take a shower, grochery shop, wrap the presents...only 5 more hours 'till they reach Atlanta. Wish me luck;).

Love and Christmas Wishes to All,


Apologies for my absence in blog land. Thank you so much to all of you who have found me and decided to dedicate some time to hear what I have to say. I am not a particularly political, or religious person for that matter.  I sway further to the left than most family, friends and neighbors, and tend to keep my opinions close to the vest. This week, though, has moved me. Rocked me to the core. I know I am not alone. The horrific murders in Newtown have stopped many in their tracks. There is no way to make sense of it all, but it is clear that the time has come to put a stop to all of the madness.

The President was right when he said that these children and educators have inspired us as a nation. I have never written to my congressman before, but have been inspired to voice my opinion on gun control, and sign petitions. My dad has been inspired to rally his friends and community and two days ago, handed over his gun to the South Walton Police Department. It is time to say ENOUGH.

Yesterday, my son was repeatedly kicked and head-butted for telling a school mate that he should not eat on the bus. When asked by an administrator why he was doing this to Luca, the boy said he could not CONTROL himself. Granted, the child has social issues, but is it wrong of me to want to march to his parent's house to ask if they have firearms? The recent events have driven us to paranoia, which feels far worse than 911 since it touches our children and violates their safety. When Luca asked me this past week why I was crying so much (not something he witnesses often), I told him that it's because I am profoundly sorry for the children and teachers, for their families, for our own children and our nation. Have we come too far to turn it around? I hope not.

Last Friday marked the first day of my Christmas break.  I had already decided to take some time off to dedicate to the family after a very busy year of trying to make a living and building my business. The angel children have indeed inspired me to be a better parent. To slow down and take time for what is most dear to me.

In lieu of an advent calendar, I started a new tradition: The 12 Days of Christmas. We have had fun with these small daily surprises, which range from 10 minute back rubs, to planning their favorite menu (Wouldn't you know Luca asked for lobster? He is settling for ribs.) ,and scavenger hunts to the freezer for their favorite ice cream.  My daughter pointed out that most of these surprises have been about food.  I guess that's just a mother's way of taking care of her babies and showing how much she loves them. Although they are 15 and 11, this week they feel like babies, indeed.

I will leave you with a song from my favorite band, Dave Matthews Band. The relevance of the lyrics this week touched me once again....

"Mercy"Don’t give up, I know you can see
All the world and the mess that we’re making
Can’t give up and hope God will intercede
Come on back, imagine that we could get it together
Stand up for what we need to be
‘Cause crime won’t save or feed a hungry child
Can’t lay down and wait for a miracle to change things
So lift up your eyes, lift up your heart
Singing, mercy will we overcome this
Oh, one by one, could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I’ll try to give you what you need
Me and you, and you, and you just wanna be free
But you see, all the world is just as we’ve made it
And until we got a new world I’ve got to say
That love is not a whisper or a weakness
No, love is strong, so we got to get together
Yeah, gotta get, gotta get, gotta get
‘Til there is no reason to fight
Mercy, will we overcome this
Oh, one by one, could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I’ll try to give you what you need
Mercy, will we overcome this
Have we come too far to turn it around
Ask too much to be a little bit stronger
But I wanna give you what you need
Mercy, what will become of us
Oh, one by one, could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I’ll try to give you what you need

Merry Christmas. Love to all.


Il Bagno

This is a story about a fun project that took place in October, but the pics are hot off the press today.

Cathi, whom I had never met, but was a Facebook follower of mine, called to see if I might be interested in helping her and her husband plan a master bath renovation. YES! (And as an added bonus, I asked my friend Jen to be in on the fun.)  They had just moved from the suburbs to a great new home in Decatur. For those of you not from Atlanta, think Berkeley: a forward-thinking, environmentally friendly, darling community with hip restaurants, great schools, charming bungalows, front porches and sidewalks galore. (Can you tell I'm a fan? :)

We learned quickly that Cathi and Chuck are passionate about Italy, and wanted their bathroom to reflect that (plus a teensy bit of Charleston). She loves how the Italians are masters at blending the antique with the modern, and asked us to keep that in mind when planning the space. Yay! You've come to the right place!! (read here)

In addition, the couple felt their old bathroom was dated, full of wasted space, with a long narrow shower, and a GIGANTIC tub wedged in the center of the room.


BEFORE: Note the vanity shoved all the way to the left, and no room for storage.

On their wish list was a new layout, a larger shower with seamless glass doors, a new vanity, ample storage, and special touches to render the space unique...all on a medium budget. Can we do it? Yes we can, and more!

Voila', the PLAN, and the AFTER:

Antique, or Old World elements, were brought in with the chiseled travertine flooring, mosaic tile backsplash, antique European armoire, window mirrors, and script chair.

 We blended in modern touches with square fixtures, rectangular sinks, a streamlined custom shaker vanity, seamless glass shower doors, and fresh white walls. 

I am a firm believer in saving where possible, and splurging on that one-of-a-kind statement piece. All of our stone tile was reasonably priced from Floor and Decor warehouse (save), but we decided to pull out the big guns for the mosaic in the shower and backsplash (splurge). Adding the mosaic to the backsplash as well, was Cathi's idea, and one of my favorite elements in the room!

The antique European pine armoire with chickenwire was from a local antique dealer (splurge). We had it painted to match the room, and I made a linen drape from a remnant to line the door (save).

The linen script chair adds a soft element to the hard surfaces, and was a steal at Home Goods!

The free standing custom vanity, locally made by my favorite carpenters, is top of the line quality, but at an accessible price point. We also saved on the remnant travertine top from my favorite fabricator, and purchased all of the fixtures and sinks from Lowes, and sconces from Ballard's.

Plantation blinds for privacy. Window treatment arriving soon!
Where did Charleston fit into the equation, you might ask? In the powder blue ceiling, and beadboard walls in the wc. Jen further embellished the white walls with a stencil for a whimsical wallpaper effect.

Throughout this whole process, I have to say that Chuck really was the DREAM husband/client: always positive and agreeing with the ladies.  One thing he really cared about having, though, was a bench in the shower, and we all knew we had to make him happy.  Jennifer had the genius idea to put a concrete garden bench there, as opposed to your standard half wall and pre-fab slab.  I love the unpredictability of this piece, and alas, Chuck is happy! And for the record, so is Cathi.  She loves the understated elegance of the space, and that to me is a great compliment, seeing as how understated elegance is a centuries old Florentine characteristic....and NO one does it better than the Fiorentini (sorry Milanesi).

We had a wonderful time from start to finish, and are so lucky to have crossed paths with this exceptional couple. Since Cathi and I have grown accustomed to exchanges in Italian, this is for her:

Sono cosi' grata di averti conosciuta. La tua gentilezza, intelligenza, e interesse per l'arte e il design mi fa sempre piacere. Sono contenta di avere una nuova amica in te, e spero di vedervi prestissimo per un bel brindisi a casa nostra. Grazie dal cuore.

Un abbraccio,

Hugs to all,


Chiseled Travartine 12 x 12 floor tile-Floor and Decor
Wavy Katrina wall tile 6 x 6 -Floor and Decor
Shower floor octagon mesh mount mosaic- Floor and Decor
Mosaic-The Tile Shop
Wall Paint- SW Antique White
Vanity Paint-SW Tony Taupe
Trim Paint-SW Chestnut
Ceiling Paint- SW Topsail
Armoire-Similar styles available through me
Chair- Home Goods
Sconces- Ballard Designs
Mirrors- To the trade, available through me
Faucets- Lowes
Sinks Lowes
Honed Travertine vanity top- available through me
Custom vanity- available through me
Hardware: Anthropologie mirror orbs
Concrete bench: Home Depot
Towels: Target
Rugs: Target
Accessories: Home Goods, owner's own

Ciao World

A first blog post is a rather daunting task:  Where to start? What to write? I'll start by thanking you for listening.  And by telling you a little bit of my story, since who I am as a designer has EVERY bit to do with who I am as a person.

I come from a long line of Scandinavian carpenters and builders on my dad's side, and thank his Viking genes for my never give up, dig in and get it done, mentality and craftsmanship.  My Mom, on the other hand, is the tastemaker, and I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by pretty things: wool flannel sofas, distressed leather chesterfields, framed Hermes scarves and Audubon prints, perfectly edited rooms and ever-changing floor plans.  Mom always threw the best parties, wrapped the most gorgeous presents, cooked the most wonderful meals, and was (is) the best dressed, most beautiful woman in the room. She is my biggest role model. Most of what I know about good design, I learned living and breathing it.

La classe non e' acqua. 

One of my fondest memories from early childhood is of visiting restaurant bathrooms.  I was always so excited to see what surprise wallpaper, soaps, tissue boxes, lighting and mirrors were hidden in the "ladies lounge". (Fast forward twenty years, and boy was I surprised to find Turkish toilets in Italy and France!) (BTW, on my last trip to Italy, the public restrooms were to DIE for.  I was so happy about this revelation on the part of Italian designers and architects....I promise to do a post someday...)
Mozzarella Bar Bagno-Firenze

...Enough digression.

Ever since third grade it had been my dream to become a designer.  Never mind that it took me thirty-some years and careers in fashion to finally come full circle.

My path through San Francisco to study Art History...

Mills College 1987

...gave me my first platform to try my hand at design...
Olney Hall Suite '87
...led me to Florence, Italy to study Renaissance Art...

Il Duomo

...and straight to the love of my life.
Lorenzo and I in Ostuni, Italia. 1989


July 7, 1996

Castiglion della Pescaia-2002
Starting a company...
piccola b. children's clothing

Landing my first paid interior design job...

La Fornella-Paterno, Italy

We had 17 wonderful years living LA DOLCE VITA in the hills of Tuscany.

But all good things come to an end. The economy started to tank in Italy, and we thought we would try Atlanta for a stab at The American Dream.  That was mid-2006. Crap. Not a good time to move to the States.  Or buy a house.  Or start a new career.  In a new country. Knowing NO ONE.

BUT WE DID  IT!!!! It was a difficult transition, but when I finally realized that I could not compare Florence to Atlanta, and I had to look at the positive sides of both places, I started living. And thriving.  I began teaching Italian cooking classes out of the home to willing neighbors, but that was like throwing a party several times a week...too hard.
Signature schiacciata con prosciutto e rucola.

 Then I opened an antique booth at the Queen of Hearts in Alpharetta.

 I finally found my calling, and my passion. I couldn't get enough of the hunt, the merchandising, the decorating and the selling.  My business grew on my time, and at my own pace and I soon added design clients to the mix.  Today, my work is primarily interior design. Thank you to all of you who have believed in my talent, and welcomed me into your homes.  The very best part about doing what I do is getting to know my clients as friends. Thank you.

Sono fortunata.

I am lucky.