Since launching my business last year I have had the pleasure of working on six different homes and sometimes I still can't believe that I am actually making money doing something that I absolutely love. Of course, like with any business there are challenges (mine are mostly time and learning to accept that no client is going to love every idea I put forward) but overall I still love walking into a new (or old) space and envisioning what it can be with a little bit of money and some elbow grease. For me, the hardest part of transitioning from designing my own space to those of others was realizing that when you are decorating your own space you really can be more bold and take more risks, and when you are doing a space for someone else you not only have to consider their goals but also remember that there are (usually) no second chances.
Take our upstairs bathroom for example. I have probably painted the walls about a half a dozen times to get the right color (each time going more and more bold) and obviously I would never get or want that opportunity when working with a client. Typically, we are hiring painters when the project begins so there is often one shot to get it right and the internal struggle that I have is trying to not play it safe (I have to remember I'm being hired for my unique esthetic) while also not f&*#ing it up. Oftentimes I'm holding my breath as the paint is drying and luckily so far there has been no second guessing after the fact.
I really try to refer to myself as a "decorator" versus a "designer" because the two are very different things. I am not classically trained and at this point I'm not desiring a project that involves a lot of demolition. I've found it's easy to say that I would knock down a wall somewhere, but I really don't want to be the one to make the final decision about if that can even happen structurally. I get anxious enough when furniture is being delivered, I can't imagine how I would feel if a backhoe was pulling up at the same time... there really aren't enough yoga classes in the world to mentally even that out for me! So, if someone who has hired me is looking to do a kitchen renovation (which I've had a few) I will often do the picking but play no part in overseeing the installation. My clients have been totally okay with this, and actually appreciate the honesty,
It's funny because even though I'm not installing them, it's the kitchens that really keep me up at night. First off, this is usually the biggest expense in any project and second, this is the room that you really want to last for decades. You can always switch out a rug or sofa if it looks dated but there is nothing worse than wanting to rip out your kitchen only a few years after it goes in. Of course, one of the first questions I get when visiting a new project is what would I do with the kitchen and truly this is when my heart starts beating quickly. It would be so EASY to say white cabinets with marble (and look if you want something timeless, you can't go wrong with that) but I again go back to the fact that I'm being hired for my esthetic and with that my client is often looking for something that they can't come up with themselves, like white on white. I wouldn't say I've developed a formula, because that would take away form the uniqueness of each space, but while re-doing our own kitchen and dining area I discovered something that really works in any space (and with any taste) and that is combining a bright marble (like Carrera) with a natural wood. This "discovery" is something that I've carried over in my client's homes.
I stumbled upon this in our kitchen when I was looking for a cutting board for (ironically) our butcher block countertops (see 3rd image from the top.) I loved the look so much I added marble floating shelves to the wall nearby and outfitted the kitchen with marble accessories. When it came time to get out new dining table (1st image from the top) I followed the same thought process and went with a Carrera topped table with a natural wood chair. As you can see in the other images above I did something similar in my client's house (incorporating that amazing kitchen in the dining room) and even though the look is much different, it works so well together. The best part is because you really are pulling together two design philosophies (modern + rustic) I think the rooms will have so much staying power because they will never scream "so 2010-20!" So far I've been thrilled with each space that I have used this look in and luckily so have my clients!
Obviously, I'm not the first to think of this (although I sure wish I was) and I found a number of amazing spaces that combine marble and a natural wood online. Most are kitchens but I think this would be fantastic in a bathroom as well. In the Costa house I'm going to do a lot of wood floating shelves and I love how much warmth they can bring to a space that is generally pretty cold. This would also look great in an office, home or otherwise, and now that so many box box stores are offering marble topped everything, the options really are limitless!
Here is a look at the magic that is marble + wood. You guys, that bottom kitchen that is designed by the model Brooklyn Decker seriously makes my heart swoon. If there was ever a case for combining modern and rustic I say that is it!
The best part is that combining these two things are pretty easy. If you have a marble kitchen you can get wood accessories and bar stools and if you have a wood kitchen you can do the opposite. There really there are so many options out there that you can absolutely find something for every taste at every price point! My go-tos for affordable marble are West Elm, CB2, William's Sonoma and Target.
I'd love to know your thoughts on combining these two looks and if you've successfully done so in your own home. Please feel free to share in the comments! Xx
(Top photos of my work by Sabrina Cole Quinn all other photos via Pinterest and My Domaine)