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My Baby is 3!

26 Mar

My baby turned three yesterday!

I can’t even believe it.

He is my best little friend and my favorite tiny person. I am thankful every day that I do the work I do not only because I love it, but because it allows me the flexibility to spend a lot of time with him.

He also gives me practical experience in crafting necessarily durable, functional nurseries. Lots and lots of experience.

Happy Birthday, B!

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

A Calming and Clutterless Space.

28 Feb

I came across this image in an Apartment Therapy House Tour a few weeks ago, and found it so incredibly calming…and encouraging.

The simple living room in Jonya and Brad's A-Frame in Portland (images via Apartment Therapy)

It very much speaks to my personal belief that just because you have a child, you don’t have to have a living room that looks like a Gymboree. Not that Gymboree is bad, or that if your living room looks like one that’s a crime. It’s not. But this is nice, right?

Specifically, some of the things I really dig about the above image are the sleek sofa (I confess, the tufting and style are very similar to my own, though ours is a warmer leather color, which has held up quite well to hand prints and toy missles), the lack of fear about sharp corners (ok, maybe this is just for the photo), and the addition of a soft rug to cozy it up just a bit. It’s a fairly extreme example of “less is more” but for me, it works.

Now you’re wondering if I practice what I preach, right? I do – here’s our living room, which is quite simple, uncluttered, and fairly modern (and bright — gosh, is it bright!). 

Please ignore our (not) kid friendly art.

We have opted to store toys and books in bins underneath a simple bench in our (small, open plan) living room, which might I add, serves as a main play area for our son (we don’t have a basement, but we do also use his room for toy-storage). This all said, I realize that to enact a plan like this one you have to make sacrifices: we don’t have ride-on toys inside our house and we’ve decided to have a “grocery store” (i.e. a toy cash register and bag of faux food) in place of a behemoth play kitchen. But aside from the few days a year that I’m stricken with major mom guilt, I feel good about this and my son is just about the happiest little guy you’ll ever meet. AND BEST OF ALL, when he goes to bed my husband and I can reclaim our space in a flash.

I had a feeling I’m not the only one choosing to live like this, and Joyna and Brad proved it! See the rest of their House Tour @ AT here. That all said, for those of you with lots of space that includes a designated room for a deluge of colored plastic, realize what a luxury that is!

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.



A Few Words About Chalkboard Paint…

22 Feb

Chalkboard paint in a work- and child-friendly space! (image via Elle Decor)

Last night I met with clients who had just moved in to their new home. Literally, they’d moved in hours ago, and I ended up finalizing interior paint selections amidst moving boxes and hungry, excited, adorable children. Lucky for the little ones in this house, their parents were very open to letting the kids play a role in their wall colors. I’ve had many clients who “let” the kids pick a color, but when the child says “I want green!” what they hear is ” We’re going to go with this understated olive from the sophisticated historical palette, ok?” If you can bear it, sometimes it’s ok to let the kids go with what the kids want. After all, it’s my job to make sure we can make that neon yellow work, and work it will. Anyway, last night, we also ended up incorporating chalkboard paint into the kids’ rooms in restrained but still very fun ways – both near desks, and both only on portions of the wall.

I love infusing kid’s spaces with novelty, and chalkboard paint is a great way to do it (you’ve heard me say this before). That said, chalkboard paint can come with some issues, so allow me to lay out some ground rules that will save you headaches should you choose to use it. Pay careful attention!

Chalkboard Paint DOs

– DO choose a small area to apply the paint to. There’s really no need to make every wall a charcoal colored art surface, so choose a small nook by the desk, tape off just a section, paint on the back of a door, or apply it under a chair rail.

Painting a piece of furniture is a good intro to this concept. (image via ModernChicTots)

– DO monitor how your kid uses the wall for a while after you implement it. Start slowly by giving your kid one piece of chalk, or by storing the chalk in another room or a high place. To be super clear: don’t give your four year old a jumbo chalk bucket, lest you actually WANT to end up with six million broken stubs of chalk and marks all over surfaces that are painted with interior flat white. 

Needless to say, a child that can be trusted around white floors and many large and heavy propped up things can probably be trusted not to destroy the walls. Where do you find this breed of child? (image via spicerandbank.blogspot)

– DO place a play mat or cheap rug under the surface if you’re worried about dust. Truth be told though, if there’s chalk dust it will probably land on the molding (which is likely high-gloss, so just wipe it off regularly).

This Ikea bench allows a(n older) kid to climb up and utilize more of the drawing surface, while protecting the floor and maybe even providing a place to store (and put away) chalk and the eraser. (image via OhDeeDoh)

– DO explore other uses for this fun surface. I used it in my own home on a wall behind the kitchen where the fuse box is located: it camouflages the ugly box AND the surface is magnetized, too! If you’re tired of chalk clean up, I recommend giving your child a teeny tiny cup of water and a paint brush to “paint” the wall. Monitor this activity so you don’t end up with a soppy mess.


Chalkboard Paint DON’Ts

– DON’T use those chalk markers. They’re very hard to erase.

Just use chalk. No markers. Lots of chalk. Like this girl! (image via Green is the New Black.)

– DON’T use extra hard chalk: you may think this will prevent dust, and it will, but if you press too hard it can leave indentations in the drywall. (You say you have plaster walls? Lucky you – press away!)

If you're starting to become chalk-phobic, you can also use a magnetic primer to create a magnetized surface, like this fireplace guard! (image via http://pinkgreenandzebra.blogspot)

– DON’T paint above a crib, bed, or near an upholstered piece. Your bed/seat will just be a depository for colored powder. Young, mobile creatures have been known to reach out of the crib, touch the wall, and rub the powder all over themselves and their surroundings. And they eat it, too.

Looks very cool, but NO CHALK ON THE BABY! (image via Stylehandler)

– DON’T incorporate chalkboard into stripes unless they’re very wide (10” or greater). You’re just asking to mistakenly color outside of the lines.

– DON’T freak out about erasing it! Use a lightly damp sponge or paper towels. Also, know that it’s not ever going to look perfectly clean. …and that’s part of the charm.


Do you have any other fun uses for chalkboard paint? If so, share in the comments!


Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Really Easy Valentine Crafts!

11 Feb

In case you haven’t yet figured it out, I tend to prefer crafts and DIYs that are easy, quick, inexpensive, and use supplies that you likely already have on hand. There are exceptions of course, but as a mom who struggles to balance work and family, I don’t enjoy running to the store on a Tuesday night for pipe cleaners and wax paper, so I try to cultivate ideas that don’t encourage me to get frazzled. Like putting a pink marshmallow on top of a cupcake instead of rolling out the fondant. 

With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, it’s likely that you too have parties to cater, valentines to send, and crafts to conjure up, so hopefully this list makes it all a bit easier. Here is a little round-up of my favorites this year – enjoy, and put those DIY skills to good use!


Martha Stewart Crafts always has good ideas; there’s just no denying that. Here are two that are no exception: Valentine Hands, and Homemade Treat bags. All you’ll need for both is some simple craft supplies, candy, and a printer. Check our her slideshow, Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids, for these and 24 more!

(images via Martha Stewart Crafts)


Do you have some Hershey’s Kisses in your house? Come on, you know you do. And do you have sticky labels? Or even just paper and tape? –Well you’re in luck. Print out these adorable templates from Makoodle and you’re on your way to a cute treat (and for much less money than was spent on these very similar favors for my wedding…).

(image via Makoodle)


Here’s an idea that’s neither edible nor fits neatly in an envelope, but it’s innovative and fun just the same: Valentine lawn decorations! Or as the folks over at Oh Happy Day prefer to call them, Garden Heart Attacks. Grab some paper and scissors, flour or powdered sugar, and head outside and follow the tutorial above. Easy as pie! Did I mention that the crafter responsible for this idea, Brittany from The House That Lars Built, was a classmate of mine at the Corcoran College of Art + Design, which obviously breeds genius.

(image via Oh Happy Day)


Last but not least is an idea I found while browsing Pinterest (I’ve resisted joining so far, but man, it’s getting tough). Valentine Smores from Two Shades of Pink was a last minute addition to a kid’s party gift bag. It’s cute, made with readily accessible ingredients, and can be customized with whatever label you want to put on it. I love it!

(image via Two Shades of Pink)


These ideas all seem lovely and, equally important, reasonable to me! For my quick-treat fix,  I like to shove candies and stickers into a small ziplock and affix a holiday-themed folded over piece of craft paper over the ugly zip closure. It’s a treat bag that actually closes and opens, is decorated nicely, and very easy and cheap to make. Seal with a sticker with a name or picture on it and you’re DONE.

Regardless of your Valentine’s Day plans or crafting intentions, hope your weekend is a good one!

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

What Do These Rugs Have In Common?

7 Feb

SUPER QUICK: tell me what these rugs all have in common?

No, it’s not that I like them. (But I do.)

And it isn’t that they’re all fantastically inexpensive (which they mostly are, but that’s not what I’m getting at).

Nor is it that they’re all from CB2. (The geometrics…the bright colors…you thought they just might be, didn’t you…)

Give up? Ok, I’ll tell you: It’s that they’re all from Land of Nod, which is a children‘s store.  Crazy, huh? — Because each and every one of these rugs would be perfectly fitting for lots of the adults I know! You can find them here: Grey Chevron; Pink Chevron; Green Crow’s Feet; Dot Matrix Rug; Grey Broad Stripe Rug; Aqua Magic Carpet; Brown/Cream Shag. (All images via Land of Nod)

Just another PSA brought to you by me, to say that if you don’t limit your sources to the obvious, you may be able to find some great bargains — and lovely finds — in unexpected places. I myself am totally coveting the Grey Zig Zag AND the Dot Matrix Rug; I have so so so many ideas for the Dot Matrix Rug. Quick – new nursery-seeking clients – call me!!!

What about you…see anything you love here?

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Architecture and Design in the Classroom.

31 Jan

While I was perusing my iPhoto library this morning, I came across photos of the final project I did with elementary school kids back in 2006, when I was still in graduate school and teaching a few afternoons a week at an upper NW charter school for an after-school enrichment program. My class was “Architecture.” That may make you a bit confused, because you see, I’m not an architect. But these kids were eight and they weren’t exactly ready for their M.Arch yet. They were however, eager, focused, sharp, and they impressed me so much with their enthusiasm for learning and their limitless creativity. It took a matter of days before I realized that I could divide them into teams, give them each a box of straws and a handful of rubber bands, and they’d start figuring out how to build stable and structurally sound towers by using trial and error. I didn’t even have to show them first — they got it, and they liked it. Our final project was to build a neighborhood using boxes and “trash” they brought from home – cereal boxes, yogurt cups – the kinds of things that parents of school-aged-children know all about having to save. Their task was also to plan the city so that it made sense and was efficient and safe. Beyond suggesting that they rethink locating the jail next to the neighborhood school, I was able to mostly take a backseat to their ideas; they had good ones. This is what the town ended up looking like:


Finding these images is fortunate timing because I’m starting to think about future classes that I’ll be teaching this year – for graduate students, not kids. As heavy and stressful as that can be, I do love it, and I find that once I get some basic themes and a good structure going I tend to find good ideas for class exercises and projects all over the place. They come in the form of podcasts I hear in the car, rise out of conversations I have with vendors about new products, and they’re always popping up in my RSS-feed. As advanced and worldly as the adult students I now have are, I’ve found that they benefit greatly from some of the same exercises I used to give eight year olds. Not because they’re in need of review or an easy activity to keep busy, but because some of the most creative solutions come when your tasks are fun, open-ended, and colorful. In many ways it’s more challenging to work that way.

Being a designer is great, and being an instructor on top of that is awesome. It’s a complementary pairing, and I feel lucky to be able to do the work that I do. In fact, I’m lovin’ it (…get it?).



Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Dots Here, Dots There, Colored Dots Everywhere!

5 Jan

I love polka dots. Black and white ones, differently sized ones, and all-over-the-map rainbow colored ones! Turns out I’m not the only one…

This beautifully imperfect color-splashed room is part of an interactive space at Queensland Gallery of Modern Art in their ‘Yayoi Kusama: Look Now, See Forever’ Gallery: it’s called The Obliteration Room. The photo is my Mark Sherwood. Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama did a similar installation in 2002, which was the inspiration for this vibrant experiment. The installation features a room filled with Austrailian-made (local to the Queensland Art Gallery) furniture, painted white, and subsequently decorated with stickers by visitors, particularly the little ones (I sure know my little one loves stickers). 

A few years ago, my husband took me to a Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Kennedy Center, which was then hosting an exhibit by Yayoi Kusama called “Dots Obsession.” It, too featured a room full of polka dots that rendered the fixtures indistinguishable from the walls and floors (and ceilings!), but these were not stuck on, rather they were amidst inflatable protrusions and printed onto the walls, floors, and inflated shapes. You could literally walk through the huge shapes, feeling wonderfully disoriented. The best word I have to describe it is “fun,” and it was even more so because we visited very late at night after dinner. Almost no one was there.

Yayoi Kusama's Dots Obsession, "Day," featured black dots on yellow. "Night" was yellow on black. (image via


I think one of the things that has always attracted me to one of my favorite spaces (featured in Domino Magazine long ago), Jenna Lyons’ NYC  apartment, is the painting above the mantle. It features dots not dissimilar to those from Yayoi Kusama’s Dots Obsession installation. The repetition combined with the variation of the sizes is consistent yet exciting. I just adore these dots.

Jenna Lyons' former townhouse in NYC. (image via - the late - Domino Magazine)


If you’re interested in a similar look, consider perusing Etsy for polka dot decals and try curating your own Dots Obsession. It’ll be some of the most fun you’ve ever had with stickers, I promise!


Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Advent Calendar Round-up!

1 Dec

It’s December 1! Have you thought about having an advent calendar? If not, you still have some time to pull one together. Here is a round-up of three do-it-yourself treat containers that will function perfectly and perk up your holiday decor!

1.) Toilet Paper Roll Calendar (via Woman’s Day): You heard me right: those pockets are made of toilet paper rolls that are strung across a ribbon.

Crafty Calendar: if you don't have 24 toilet paper rolls, you can just roll up paper and fold them over to make pockets. (image via Woman's Day)


2.) Beautiful Boxes (via The Painter Family):  This is my kind of advent calendar — candy, candy and more candy! Though it looks elaborate, it appears to be simple boxes adhered to a large framed board!

Gorgeous little gifts! (image via The Painter Family)


3.) Kid-centric Advent Calendars (via the Crafty Crow): It isn’t cheating for me to point you to another round-up in my round-up right? I can’t commit myself to a single project featured in The Crafty Crow’s 2011 Advent Calendar Idea post, so I’ll just send you to read it for yourselves. It includes lots of paper crafts, and yet another toilet paper project! Enjoy!

Just one amazing calendar you'll see in this post... (image via The Craft Crow via Giddy Giddy)


Still too much DIY-ing for you? If you have a Christmas tree, you can always wrap a single small gift and put it under the tree each day. To be 100% honest, I think this is the plan I’m going to follow. My little guy is still two so he is barely understanding the concept of Christmas, but he is fascinated by everything about the tree and I’d love to get him even MORE excited about it. What a fun month this is!

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Halloween Crafts Round-up!

29 Oct

In case you were looking for a little extra something to do this weekend (especially given the snowy forecast, fellow DC residents), here are three fabulously cute Halloween DIY projects! They’re not too difficult, expensive, or time consuming…because honestly, we all have more important things to do than decoupage all day but we still want some monster cupcakes, you know?

1.) Monster Cupcakes via Annie’s Eats.

So simple, yet so obviously a monster! (image via Annie's Eats)

Words can’t explain the cuteness of these treats, which are fairly easy to make if you have some basic baking tools laying around. Plus, how can you resist all that icing!  Follow along to the how-to here.


2.) Pumpkin Favor Pouches from Martha Stewart

You can do this is two minutes. I'm not kidding. (image via Martha Stewart)

This is easy, you guys. Seriously. I’ll direct you to the DIY, but basically you take orange crepe paper (or double or triple layered tissue), throw some candies in the center, twist it up into a ball, and seal the “stem” with green masking tape. That’s it!


3.) Modern Pumpkin Displays

Who said your pumpkins have to be scary, or carved, or even orange? (image via Curbly)

This DIY is as easy as you can get – it’s pretty much a make-it-up-as-you-go-along thing. Perfect for those of you who don’t like instructions! Grab some house paint, some glitter, some japanese masking tape, or even decorative nail heads (which you punch directly into the pumpkin to “stud” it).  Have fun, break rules, and get the pumpkin that says “You!” and not “Third Grade Class Party Craft.!”  For a super sleek and sophisticated look, you can even just spray a bunch of pumpkins white and call it a day. Very “too cool for school” and celebratory at the same time!

Have anyone else tried or seen any other Halloween-themed DIY’s? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

Have a great weekend doing whatever it is you do to prep for Halloween! For me, it’s hiding the candy I hoard from my husband and trying to finish off the makings of a tiny spaceman.


Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Willy Wonka Inspired Decor!

8 Aug

A great movie-themed image by one of my favorite local artists: Popcorn Painting on Found Metal by Michael Fitts (

Like most parents of young children, my husband and I limit our son’s television watching to a reasonably small amount, and we try to restrict it to programs that we preview and approve of. Think Sesame Street, The Backyardagains, Sid the Science Kid, and WonderPets. In our house, there are no vintage (and often violent) children’s cartoons, and certainly none of the Real Housewives franchise (I could only get away with that for his first six months).  Still, the one movie that I personally have a huge weakness for is the original Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. About once every month or two, usually on a rainy day, a sick day, or a slow Saturday morning when my husband has to go into work, Beckett and I curl up on our big living room chair and watch the movie. He loves it as much as I do it seems, and he is usually willing to sit through the whole thing on my lap (yes, we skip the “scary tunnel scene”).  This is one of those trade-offs that I can live with, and it has its benefits: one day when he’s old enough, we can read the book Charlie and The Chocolate Factory together and I anticipate he will love it.

Anyway, to get to my design-y point, I’ve been on the hunt for a graphic poster for his room to replace some strung-up Eric Carle alphabet flash cards that have proved to be too tempting for his tiny hands and amateur climbing skills. I’ve looked at superhero designs, vintage school-themed prints, scoured Etsy for its unique finds, and tried designing my own Alphabet poster. I like many of these options a lot, but they don’t mean anything to me…and certainly not to him. But this weekend it HIT me like a ton of bricks: a Willy Wonka poster. That’s the golden ticket! (Haha — Get it?? )

Here are some posters I’ve found that I think are wonderful. I can just see them on his wall!  I think they’ll all be splendid with his wall color, which is Benjamin Moore’s  Rainforest Dew at 150% pigment (you know I can’t just “pick a color”…I’ve got to tweak it). I also love the contrast with his draperies and bedding (he has Dwell Studio’s Chocolate Dots/Dotscape, and I’m about to get him draperies in the same fabric instead of the plain chocolate brown he has now).

Clockwise from top left: Poster (via; Dwell Chocolate Dots Stroller Blanket (image via Dwell Studio); Poster (image via; "B" Wall Letter (image via Urban Outfitters); Poster (image via; paint representation (image via Benjamin Moore)

What do you all think? Does anyone have a favorite poster…or another suggestion?

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.