I’m often asked about the “secret” to finishing a room. Well, if I knew, my house might be done by now! But in all seriousness, I actually do strongly believe that the way to complete a room is with treasures. You know, the treasures that life acquires – through travels, through discovery, through happenstance. That is where your personality and a room’s personality meld into one. But this process takes time. A lot of time. As well as plane tickets to far-flung destinations to find the antiques, vintage, flea markets finds, art and artisanal craft that sets a home apart. I’m certainly not hopping a plane any time soon. Are you?

where to find good french vintage on apartment 34

Thankfully, there are some hidden gems out there that help you inject those amazing found pieces without actually having to spend years on the hunt. That’s why I’m over the moon that one of my favorite Bay Area treasure troves, french vintage gold mine, Elsie Green, has just opened a brand new shop just north of San Francisco. And friends, this shop, she’s a beaut.

where to find good french vintage on apartment 34where to find good french vintage on apartment 34where to find good french vintage on apartment 34

Elsie Green is stocked sky high with pieces procured on annual trips to Paris, the south of France, and I suspect highly coveted secret sources. They come back with stunning pieces of furniture, amazing vintage cookware, tableware, linens, accessories and more. So much more. A trip to Elsie Green’s original Concord,CA location is like a bit of a treasure hunt in and of itself, but the store in Sebastopol, CA is like walking through an amazing collector’s home, but at this place you get to take the spoils with you.

where to find good french vintage on apartment 34where to find good french vintage on apartment 34where to find good french vintage on apartment 34where to find good french vintage on apartment 34where to find good french vintage on apartment 34

Would I define my style as french country? Certainly not. But I know how killer vintage Marcel Breuer chairs would look in my dining room. I know a few antique candlesticks can warm up my shelfies. And I’m all about some vintage art, as evidenced by this guy in my kitchen. Whenever I I go to Elsie Green, I always want all the things, but I also realize a single piece or two will add that one-of-kind feeling my home – and that’s exactly what I’m going for.

So if you find yourself in the Bay Area, I strongly recommend you get thyself to 6770 McKinley Street in Sebastopol, California. Just plan to give yourself plenty of time to oogle all the pretty. For everyone else, Elsie Green has a beautiful website too. These are just a few of the pieces I’d gladly take home with me!

where to find good french vintage on apartment 34

For our entire Retail Therapy archive, CLICK HERE.

images by kendra smoot & elsie green c/o elsie green

After of a dose of the Texas heat in Austin last week (are you following all my recaps on Instagram Stories yet??), all I can think about is outdoor dining. Those balmy evenings, perfect for endless late-night hangs and glasses of rosé, are really is the best thing about the summer months. I don’t think I’ve ever met an outdoor dining situation that I didn’t like. As soon as I finally finish my the inside of my house, I’m going to be starting on our yard, so I figure it’s never too soon to start banking inspiration.

10 outdoor dining ideas on apartment 34

I’m drooling over this neutral outdoor dining area. That simple bar area is the perfect solution for an outdoor “kitchen” that doesn’t require a major construction project. The mix of materials, rustic wood, stainless steel, and wicker. But the black chairs, lanterns and wall sconce add a modern edge.

10 outdoor dining ideas on apartment 34

If you love a boho vibe, there’s no need for an outdoor dining set! Simply throw some vintage rugs and poufs on the ground. A bit of plywood can serve as your table. A simple bolt of cloth makes a great runner and your set of white dishes look fresh and bright with a beautiful dip-dyed napkin. While you probably wouldn’t leave this set up in your yard all summer long, it’s the perfect solution for a beautiful dinner party.

10 outdoor dining ideas on apartment 34

A pergola is a perfect way to demarcate a dining area in your yard. They offer shade, they offer a spot to hang cafe lights or even install an outdoor fan.

10 outdoor dining ideas on apartment 34

Who says you have to hop a plane to a far-flung destination to feel like you’re on vacation. A reclaimed wood table and benches, woven mats and vintage wicker chairs will immediately give you the island vibe.

10 outdoor dining ideas on apartment 34

The top of your table not so purdy? No problem! Just lay down a layer of butcher paper and you’ve got a gorgeous neutral background for your tablescape.

10 outdoor dining ideas on apartment 34

Bench seating is a great way to pack a lot of guests around your outdoor dining table, but I love the idea of spicing up the look with a crazy cool vintage peacock chair.

 

10 outdoor dining ideas on apartment 34

I’m really digging the look of the desert inspired yard. A simple white table is paired with stools (the ones above are actually concrete side tables – virtually indestructible – & you can get them here) for an individual seating place for each guest. A woven end chair softens the look (one like this would work well). The table is a high-gloss white wood making it pop against the sand and also makes it very easy to wipe down!

10 outdoor dining ideas on apartment 34

While outdoor dining is usually associated with laid back, casual affairs, it’s pretty easy to set a dramatic scene. Simply dot your table with tapered candles and some beautiful stemware and your yard will feel dressed up in no time.

10 outdoor dining ideas on apartment 34

Not everyone gets to enjoy a super toasty summer evening every night. That’s why I love the layers on this outdoor dining table. The sheepskin-covered benches offer a spot for guests to warm their bums. The linen tablecloth and runner add a cozier texture to the table and the throw pillows warm up that gorgeous vintage cane chair. While still casual and easy, this set up also feels special.

And who says you have to actually set an outdoor dining table. Why not just put a giant cheese board down the middle. Your guests can grab and nosh as they please. A self-serve drink station is also never a bad idea. A gorgeous stone-topped outdoor dining table makes it easy to create a beautiful setup. A simple wipe with a damp cloth and you have all the decorating you need.

What say you? Does one outdoor dining style speak to you more than another. It’s usually too cold in San Francisco to eat outside in the evenings but we head to wine country next week and I’m planning to pack some pretties to set a gorgeous table – just because I can!

 

For my favorite yard design inspiration, CLICK HERE.

For outdoor dining recipe ideas, CLICK HERE.

For my favorite summer cocktail, CLICK HERE.

 

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Apartment 34 on Instagram

friday finds on apartment 34

Summer in San Francisco is always a bit of an odd experience. It’s often gray, cold and windy. Highs rarely hit higher than 65. No really, it’s true. But I’m getting a dose of real summer now with near 100 degree temperatures in Austin, Texas.

It’s been a few years since I was last in Austin and feels so good to be back. I’m here for a design inspiration experience with Hunter Fans. It’s been such a treat to get out my usual Bay Area bubble and get a dose of that southern charm. We’ve been able to tour the Southern Living Magazine Idea house – if you’re in Austin you must go. Meredith Ellis did amazing work with her design. We’ve toured some of Austin’s most delicious (and gorgeous) restaurants and today we’re visiting the the Blanton Museum of Art and taking in some of the sights around South Congress to fuel our design engines. The day is going to end with a design challenge (eek!) so be sure to check out my Insta-Stories this week. I’ll be sharing everything there.

And since I’m lucky enough to get a major dose of inspiration this week, I thought I’d share the best interior design inspiration I’ve spied on the interwebs of late.

My bestie Cassandra as made some amazing updates to her living room. I think it’s about time I go be a house guest.

Color is making a major comeback in design. Not only did I talk about it this week, but so did Jenny Komenda and she shared one of my favorite examples of a sophisticated, color-filled home.

The Southern Living Idea was filled with print and pattern, but I love Honestly WTF’s causal Californian take on the look. Click her for major print, pattern and color inspiration.

If you’ve been wondering if pink is still having a moment the answer is yes.

Austin is full of porches and patios. Kirsten’s patio makeover is giving me major outdoor area envy.

I wish I’d had more time to research Austin before my trip. If only a book like the just released 500 hidden secrets of San Francisco existed. If you’re headed to SF this summer you need to get this book. I’m getting too because there are still so many things about this town I don’t know about!

On a fashion-related note, while in sweltering Austin, I’m busting out shorts for the first time since having Carter. It’s not something a 38 year old should do without forethought. Thankfully, Jen had great shorts styling tips for me.

Let me know if you’d be interested in an Austin highlights post. I know I’m only getting to dip my toe in this cool city but I’m loving everything I see so far.

 

Till Monday!

photo of the pool at our Austin home – the South Congress Hotel. I’m obsessed.

Before I really kick this post off, let’s just address the elephant in the room. Obviously, I’m a very big neutral gal. I love a good white room with mile-high ceilings. Or maybe a home with just a touch of color by way of a gorgeous pastel shade. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think you can have fun with color in whatever space you’re decorating, but mama’s comfort zone is this side of neutral and minimal.

OK, now that that’s off my chest, I do realize that not everyone wants to live in shades of beige. And since summer is often the most colorful season, I thought what better time to dive into a bit of color inspiration. If I were to add color to a space, I like to go soft, muted route (hello all the subtle blues and greys), but today is about stepping up and sharing where others have dared to go.

inspiring ways to use color on apartment 34inspiring ways to use color on apartment 34

Case in point—furniture. If I were thinking about how and where to add a sprinkle of color to a space, the sofa or an accent chair are your gateway drug of choice. Both of the examples above are velvet because texture is always good too, but whatever you choose to do in your space doesn’t necessarily have to check both the color and the texture boxes. Bottom line is if you prefer a neutral color on the wall, but want to add a little pep to your color scheme, the sofa or an armchair is definitely something to consider.

Now onto paint. This may seem bold, but a well-thought-out accent wall can work very nicely (hello Sunset Bungalow).

inspiring ways to use color on apartment 34

Let’s be real, that pink kitchen is wild, but I appreciate the sentiment. It’s balanced well with the remaining charcoal cabinets and lighter floors. Will I be doing this in home anytime soon? Probably not, but doing a two-toned kitchen is definitely a trend du jour and I’m a fan. If you ask me, the bolder color of the two should reflect your family’s vibe. If that’s a crazy pink, go for it!

I also like what’s happening in the green accent wall in the home office above. The idea of keeping all your main rooms bright and white but then adding a dramatic color gets an A+ in my book. It’s a great way to anchor a space that resides off your main living area. Also, I want to take a minute to ogle that black framed glass pocket door. That is definitely a detail I’d add to my home in a minute.

And of course, let’s not forget about art and accessories.

These are the things that make a space unique to you, so don’t shy away from colorful or abstract art, plants, rugs or a few colorful accessories that give your home that dash of spice. This pink chair is another fantastic example of boldly hued furniture. I’m this close to considering one of my own…

So what’s the verdict on color? Are you guys on board? Believe it or not, putting this together may have inspired me to add a little more to our home.

 

For more innovative color ideas, CLICK HERE.

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As I’ve worked on our house, (slowly and surely, slowly and surely), I’ve come to appreciate really well-made furniture. Pieces with craftsmanship, major style, and most importantly a soul. Yes, I agree that it’s quicker, easier and most often cheaper to grab something online, but these days I’m looking for pieces that I will want to hold onto for years. So when I saw the studio tour of Sawkille Co. in the latest issue of Rue Magazine, my heart skipped a beat.

modern american tradition on apartment 34modern american tradition on apartment 34

As soon as I happened upon these images, I realized I already knew Sawkille Co’s work. I’ve seen their pieces pop up in many a gorgeous home tour (you can see a lot of them right here). Co-owner and lead designer Jonah Meyer puts a stunning minimalist bent on traditional Shaker furniture-making. The bar stools, chairs, and case goods offer a perfect mix of tradition with a distinctly modern vibe.

modern american tradition on apartment 34

But it makes sense. Jonah Meyer has a fine art background, having studied painting and sculpture at RISD. After college took up residence in upstate New York – a hotbed for makers and craftspeople. Reason number 1,000 I really need to take a trip out there! What was originally a self-taught side project, Jonah’s furniture making began to attract the attention of friends and family and over time he and his wife Tara (now Sawkille Co. creative director) saw an opportunity to turn their passion into a business. Their production shop is now located in the Mid-Town neighborhood of Kingston, NY. Today, all of the Sawkille Co. furniture is handcrafted using sustainably forested material and their studio is a no-waste facility.

modern american tradition on apartment 34

But their showroom is just as beautiful as the pieces it houses. The ceiling dates back to the 1940s. Jonah added plastered walls and a mix of raw and whitewashed floors.

modern american tradition on apartment 34modern american tradition on apartment 34modern american tradition on apartment 34modern american tradition on apartment 34

It’s a little hard for me to decide what I love more. All this gorgeous natural light or Sawkille Co.’s stunning pieces. I’m so obsessed with this bed. But what I really love is discovering the fact that American traditions like furniture making continue, in a fully modern way.

To check out the entire profile of Sawkille Co. in Rue Magazine, CLICK HERE.

 

photography by gentl and hayers photography for rue magazine

So I was looking back through the site the other day and I realized I have never shared a definitive guide to lounge chairs. I guess after 10 years, I can’t remember every post I’ve ever written. And while we’ve chronicled many a beautiful outdoor space, finding a perfect lounge chair can be a bit of a challenge.

lounge chair on apartment 34lounge chair on apartment 34lounge chair on apartment 34

While they’re a rather utilitarian piece of furniture, that doesn’t mean lounge chairs can’t be stunning. In fact, I firmly believe they should be. But even a casual Google or Pinterest search of modern lounge chairs turns up some pretty slim pickings. While I’d love to have a vintage set in my backyard, (this vintage rocking lounge chair is pretty dang good), there are some current productions that would certainly spruce up the style of any backyard.

I grew up wit the plastic-slatted loungers – you know the ones I’m talking about. They had the super light metal frame that burned you when you touched it. The plastic slats stuck to your skin on hot days. And slowly stretched out over time so by the end of the summer your butt nearly scraped the ground. Not cute. Thankfully, lounge chairs have since improved.

These days, I prefer a clean and refined lounge chair design. No overly bulky frames. No massive padding (who wants to take care of all that). A cool, minimalist shape, a unique design detail or two and a little bit of swagger. I think that makes more a personality packed chair. It would certainly boost the style of any back yard. And yes, I imbue inanimate objects with personalities. What, don’t you?

So I’ve done some digging and found my current favorite seven lounge chairs. They’re all neutral but no where near understated. These chairs are made to be noticed. The added bonus? Virtually everywhere you look is having their outdoor furniture sale. It’s the perfect time to scoop up one or two of these beauties, grab some frosé and not move until September. I’m into it. Are you?

7 sexy lounge chairs on apartment34

 

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