Pink Fire Pointer Juli 2013

Senin, 29 Juli 2013

A Peek: Our Kitchen Garden

With things as hectic as they've been lately, I've been truly cherishing my time in our garden.

{We created our garden with the help of my friend Danylo, owner of Organic Edible Gardens who we worked with to design & install the entire thing.}
 It's the first thing I do when I wake up (ok, after kids and putting out fires) and walking through it, weeding, snipping things here and there just makes me feel at peace. 

We found an old potting table and it's made planting, cutting and washing so much easier.  Having a place to stash everything has made such a difference and I now can't imagine the garden without it:

The garden's full of flowers right now, including limelight hydrangeas, echinacea and English roses.  I've been loving cutting them and bringing in fresh bouquets.

 The Asian cucumbers are possibly our favorite thing in the garden right now.  This one is over a foot and a half long and I even plucked it a little early!--

They're so good we can eat them plain!!

There's something about bringing things inside from the outside that I just can't get enough of.  We cook with herbs from the garden almost every night and have just been getting to enjoy the tomaters!!!

The boys fight over who gets to actually pick everything.  I'm looking forward to when all of the plants are producing fruit so "picking" is a little more peaceful ;)
Here's one of my favorite most recent meals from the garden:
Eating from our garden makes me so incredibly happy!!!  The boys love to help out and this weekend we put together our own little invention (which I'm sure has probably been invented before)- "pestodillas:"
Here's the Recipe:

-We took fresh baked whole wheat tortillas (whole foods' fresh baking, not ours ;) and layered them with pesto from the garden, shredded parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, garden tomatoes and a wheat tortilla with garlic butter on one side.  (Oh sooooo bad but so good!!! Will try without the garlic butter next time to be good ;) ;) 
-We microwaved them for a minute and were in love!!
I hope you get the chance to try it = Heaven.
Anyway, I'm off for another crazy day, but I hope you enjoyed this peek into our garden.  We're photographing our house next week and there's still so much that needs to be done...   Curtains & artwork need to go up (and be framed!!) , hardware needs to be installed, things need to be painted, bedding and pillows are being made, and we have a couple more small construction projects to finish up with.  So many things need to fall in place in order for next week to happen and I'm really feeling the pressure.  We're photographing it as early as we are because I want to have the photos happen when everything is in full bloom around here, which is now.  This morning I woke up sort of just wishing I could give up though. :/   (I think that's mostly because I'm tired & sick and it's Monday ;) ;) 

I think I need to take one more little walk through the garden this morning. 
Have a good one!!

For info on Organic Edible Gardens & their services, visit here. 

ps- If you missed my last post, our new distance decorating service - PARCEL- is finally available!!!  We've had an overwhelming response to the service (which is available on a first-come, first-serve basis) and I can't thank you all enough for spreading the word and for your support!! 
If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.  If you are interested in PARCEL please mention it in your inquiry.

Kamis, 25 Juli 2013

parcel: design delivered to your door

1. something wrapped up; package
2. a group of people or things having some common characteristic
3. an essential part of something
4. a package of bespoke designed goodness delivered to your door


I am so excited to announce parcel, our newest decorating service!!   Over the past couple of years, I've been unable to keep up with servicing both traditional clients and online clients, so I've had to put the whole online decorating thing on the shelf for a while.  We've had lots of requests to bring it back though, and we've been working really hard to try to rework our company so that we could, and  it's finally time!!

SO, we came up with parcel.  It's basically this:  design delivered to your door in a pretty little parcel.  It's everything you need to put the room of your dreams together, the way we do it. 

{a recent project}

 Instead of meeting traditionally, we communicate via emails and questionnaires and our clients receive a chic little parcel of essential step-by-step design plans in the mail that they can implement on their own.  We're starting parcel projects in just a few weeks and are taking on new clients right now for the Fall so if you know of anyone who might be interested, please let them know that they can sign up now!  If you'd like to sign up yourself, go to the contact section of our website (, which is switching over to next week!)  and submit a project inquiry, mentioning that you're interested in parcel. I'd love to have you as a client!! 

Also, for any other decorators out there who've been considering offering online services, I can say that I really loved doing it in the past, and that creatively, it's very similar to taking on traditional clients, but that's it's so different (of course never actually seeing the client or home in person) in that it's really more time spent designing vs. communicating and meeting and managing projects.  I loved doing it- which is why I've brought it back- but for me personally, I also needed the flesh and blood relationship-building side that traditional  projects offer.   I'm hoping this will be the best of both worlds!!  I'll keep you posted!

ps- Would love to know what you all think of it!!  

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.  If you're interested in becoming a parcel client, please mention that in your inquiry.  Thanks so much!

*images via pinterest and photo of our recent project by the talented Helen Norman

Rabu, 24 Juli 2013

Southern Living Shoot Today!

Photo by Helen Norman

I'm off for the day to do a shoot at our client's dining room for Southern Living's November issue!  It's our first project featured by Southern Living and I'm so excited!!  Laurey Glenn will be photographing it and Susan Victoria is doing the styling.  I'll be posting behind the scenes stuff today on instagram so be sure to check it out!  Have a good one!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Senin, 22 Juli 2013

Big Changes at Lauren Liess & Co and for our Family

It's been almost a year now since my husband, David- Dave or Dav (at home ;)-  came to work full time for our design/ textiles business and it's been a whirlwind of a year.  We debated hardcore on whether he should make this move.  (Playing devil's advocate, doing worst case scenarios etc.)  We finally came to the conclusion that we'd always wonder "What if?" if we didn't give it a go.

{Us with our middle guy, Justin.  Photo by Helen Norman.}

So, putting all of our egg's in one figurative basket, Dave left his English teaching position and began working full time for our company. Last summer, I'd just given birth to our third son, Luke, (Our "Louie") so Dave & Meghan (our junior designer) were in the office more than I was actually, as I attempted maternity leave with three boys to take care of.  (Ha!)

Driving home from our beach vacation last July (pic above) we were browsing houses for sale online "for fun" and came across an affordable (and very intriguing!!) fixer-upper house a couple of towns away. The next day, we went to the open house and decided to make an offer.  We knew what we were doing looked crazy: Hey let's quit work and go buy a new house!!  We knew the best financial move would be to sit tight in our newly finished home we loved and wait to see how things worked out with both of us working for the company, but sometimes your gut pulls you in a different direction.

So, we moved to the house in September, immediately tearing out the floors and walls and adding new windows, and have been putting it back together over the past ten months.

Our oldest, Christian, started kindergarten this year and we hired an amazing nanny- who's now like part of our family- to take care of the boys during the day.  There are days when I just don't know how we're ever going to get everything we need to get done, done... and there are days when I look over at Dave as we're out doing something together for work and I think, "I can't believe we get to be together every day."

We're one of those annoying couples that's basically attached at the hip (it used to make our college friends roll their eyes...  maybe still does ;) and always wants to be together.


It feels like we get enough time.  We were only married a year before I was pregnant with our first "surprise" son so maybe it was that the newlywed phase was joined so quickly by our little guys.  Anyway, suffice it to say that I love being able to work with my husband.

In the past year, though, there have been some crazy times.  Most days, Dave & I do completely different things and don't really get to hang out until work's over.  We've pulled lots of all-nighters trying to get things done for our house or for work.  Designing this house has pretty much happened on borrowed time.  It happens on nights & weekends and when the contractors show up and need an immediate answer on something.  We've also seen our business grow, which is really exciting.  I'm thrilled that we're now a part of more & more projects being built from the ground up or project undergoing extensive renovations, which is a true passion of mine.  I love being a part of the architectural process and being able to help make choices that will make the house come together perfectly.

But as the business has grown, things have had to change.  A couple of years ago, we stopped offering consultations and online decorating, because I couldn't keep up with both consultations/ e-decorating and full-service projects.   I haven't been thrilled about that and I've always intended to hire more people to be able to bring these services back, but just haven't had the bandwidth to do it.  Lately, though, we've been doing a lot of thinking and reorganizing and are in the process of finally making the move and I'm so excited about it!!!

We're in the process of hiring a new business manager for Lauren Liess & Co and will then be hiring another junior designer in addition to Meghan.   We recently hired a part time assistant/ intern named Daniel, who helps with a lot of the literal heavy-lifting.  With these new additions to our team, we'll be looking at an office space to lease because we pretty much just won't fit in our home office.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that we've mulled over moving our office out of the house or keeping it in the home for years now.  I love being home and being near my boys (our youngest is only a little over a year) during the day so we're really trying to make this move carefully.  I plan on working both from home and from the new studio so it needs to be nearby.  We're also trying to figure out exactly what our needs for the studio will be:  do we want potential clients to be able to come and visit?  Do we want a space with a small showroom?  A store? etc.  I love the idea of clients being able to come into an environment we've created but I also want to be careful about this move too.  I don't want to take on too much financially, so we're thinking we'll move slowly.

{...But how amazing would something like this Liz Cann door be??!!  I've always wanted a black & white striped awning!!! :) }

Anyway, these are ideas we've played around with for years and will probably always be playing around with.  I'll keep you posted on our search and may be taking you studio shopping with me to get your input.   :)  And as soon as I can introduce our new team members to you, I will!!

Also, we've gotten lots of inquiries regarding our online decorating services and I'm working like crazy on trying to put together the packages we'll be offering. As soon as I have everything put together into some sort of intelligible format, I'll be sure to post about it and then we'll open up the list for new e-decorating clients.  I hope to be offering some sort of online or phone consultation services too for those who are looking for more of a general home consultation.

{an old project board from way back when...  our new online services will be similar but clients will actually be mailed a physical package of custom designed goodies.}

So, please keep your fingers crossed for us over this next month or so as we begin making all of these changes within our business!  It's not going to be the easiest transition but I really hope it's for the best!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

*****UPDATE******  Our fabric website is down for maintenance this week as we launch our brand new website, blog and online store so if you'd like to place any fabric orders this week, please visit our website and go to "contact" and let us know what you'd like to order.  Thanks for your patience!!

Kamis, 18 Juli 2013

The Butterfly Garden

When we moved to our new house, I was so happy to see an overgrown butterfly bush in the back yard!!  We'd had one at our first home and loved watching all of the gorgeous butterflies on the blooms.  It sits right on the edge of our kitchen garden:

We have butterflies of all colors & kinds and the perfect view of it from our living room window, where I planted a little lavender garden that they seem to love too.  

Here's one I took a blurry picture of this morning:

{Love her!!}

It feels almost like we're outside when we're inside and it just makes me so happy to have that little bit of beautiful life around the house.  In the evenings we take the boys around to visit the butterflies & it's so relaxing.

The butterfly bush also has such pretty blooms that I love to bring inside.  Here's a little arrangement I picked for our clients earlier this week in their new dining room:

And a little more of a peek into the finished dining room with my clients' new little monkey prints:

It's the little things that make life feel good.  As we try to get through this insanely busy time, I'm really trying to stop and take it in. Wish me luck with this, I need it right now!!!  And you too!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Senin, 15 Juli 2013

Homemade Fast Food

I've been making homemade baked french fries lately (a friend mentioned it and I wanted to try too!) and when I came across these little disposable french fry and hot dog & hamburger containers on sale at Target a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't resist.  I love putting food on the table in a way that gets our kids excited:

We did lean hot dogs (attempted wheat buns but still not the healthiest ;) and basil burgers with our fries.  

{The boys are used to patiently waiting for their food as their ridiculous mother takes pictures of the food= The life of a blogger's child}

We have so much basil in our garden this year so it goes in pretty much everything.  We put it into the lean beef before cooking & then I sprinkled more fresh boxwood basil (which I love because you don't have to chop) on top along with cheddar, fresh onions, tomatoes and spinach.  I used flat wheat bread to try to make it a little better but the cheddar on those bad boys is the real deal:

To make the fries, I cut potatoes into fry-sized pieces, coat an oven pan with olive oil spray, toss the fry pieces on the pan with a little more olive oil and top with sea salt.  Then I keep them in there (somewhere around 400 degrees)  until they start looking like fries:

Then I popped them into the fun little packages!  (But normally, they go on a plate or I cut up brown grocery bags to make little containers for the boys.)

Sometimes I add parsley or Old Bay or garlic.  (Yum!)

I'm off for the day but hope you enjoyed this little display of junk food from our house to yours!!   (It's better than McDonald's though, right??? ;) ;)
Have a great day!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Kamis, 11 Juli 2013

My Secret Sauce

{Image from here}

I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed at work lately.  (Along with the entire team here.)  We're busier than we've ever been, which is amazing, but with the time required for me to think about my own house (which happens on nights and weekends) I'm feeling almost tapped out mentally.  We're working with wonderful clients on both smaller and large-scale projects, all of which are really exciting, and we're also working on a few upcoming magazine stories (and photoshoots) with Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens and Luxe Interiors.  We're doing a One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale and have a crazy two day shoot beginning this morning at our place.  (We had to remove every piece of furniture from our living room and kitchen last night to turn it into a photo studio for our goods... more on that later)  We're launching a brand new website at the end of the month with our go-to-web-girl Emily at indieshopography and we're also going to be offering online decorating services again, so I'm putting everything together for that.  With all of this good stuff, comes the growing pains, which I'm feeling hardcore.

{image from here}

I'm also noticing a general "busyness" in the people we work with, which obviously affects us too and can slow things down on our end.  Our contractors, our workroom, artists we work with and our vendors seem like they're busier than ever.  It's so great for all of them, but I know the growing pains are there too... Many of them have recently hired new staff to accommodate the increased demand.  (Yay for things really picking up!)

But as exciting as growth spurts are, they can be a little scary too.  You suddenly look around and realize that no matter how many extra nights or weekends you work, you're never going to get to it all.  (In my case, this really means our personal home design is what suffers.  Time ticks away and I'm worried we won't have what we need when the photographer comes to shoot our house the first week of August.)  You realize your kids miss you and you miss them even more.

So...  what do I personally do when it gets like this??  First, Dave & I start to reassess what needs to be done in our business.  We realized we need more help.  A couple of weeks ago we hired an intern, Daniel, who is pretty much Dave's assistant, and the extra help has been amazing.  We're good friends with Daniel's family (Dave taught English with his mother and his older sister has been babysitting our boys for years- we love her!!) and Daniel was one of Dave's students.  We knew we needed someone insanely hard working and willing to do a wide variety of things like printing, errands, organizing files, and making pick-ups and drop offs and moving furniture.  

Now that we have Daniel on board, we are loving the extra help, but we're still not working the way we need to be working.  Dave & I have been throwing ideas around but we knew we needed our secret sauce as things continued to get more overwhelming over here.

So, no joke, my secret sauce is a person...  Julia!!

I found out about Julia Molloy, and her company, Molloy Management this past January when I was looking for ways to streamline our business and to get inspired.  I wrote a blog post  mentioning her & the company and we ended up connecting.  I enrolled in her Business Blueprint Program, and we've taken our studio webware training through Molloy.  One of the most helpful aspects of working with Molloy for me, is the web chats I have with Julia.  She's truly a design business guru  (honestly, she's a straight up business guru who's specialized in design businesses) and we discuss everything from client services to workflow processes, to websites, to future goals, to branding.  She is a wealth of knowledge and sees so clearly where to take things.  Along with knowing what's up and what needs to happen, Julia is one of the sweetest, funniest, most charismatic & genuine people I've ever met.  You can feel her excitement when you talk with her.  (It's funny, I've never even met her in person but feel like I have!! :)  I never feel like she's judging, only assessing and guiding/ helping. She's completely transparent and truly wants to help her clients and wants the best for them.

Julia works with many of the industry's big wigs, and many of her clients keep her a secret because they don't want to share her with the competition.  As you've probably seen from my blog, I have a pretty open attitude when it comes to competition with other designers...  I don't really feel it.  I believe that we're all so different and that different clients are right for different designers.  I feel like a client who hires a designer friend of mine was drawn to that designer because of what she saw in him or her... or because of their past projects and experiences...  or because of a pricepoint... a personality.. whatever it may be.  We're all completely unique.  It seems silly to covet a client who doesn't covet your services.  It's just pointless.  The only designer I would ever really feel in competition with would be myself, because I'm the only person who has what I have & who does things the way I do them.

(I'd only be scurred of THIS ;) ;)

So... I'm sharing some of my secret sauce with you.  And that's Molloy.  Yesterday, I was able to catch up with Julia (I try to keep regular appointments with her but as things got crazier over here, I fell behind) and explain to her where we're at and get some great advice.  She helped me get some clarity & perspective on where we're at & on what's going on.  (Looks like we'll be hiring, so stay tuned.)  Much of what I need to work on comes right from our company operations manual we received from The Business Blueprint. This thing is THICK (like hundreds of pages) and outlines every little bit of our business.  It's worth so much and is truly a handbook or manual on each and every aspect of your business.  I have yet to go through and tailor the handbook more specifically to our company (I'm going to work on it this weekend) but it's a gold mine of information on how your company should/ could run.

{They teach all this good stuff}

What I love about Molloy, is that Julia provides help and advice to all different types of clients.  From celebrity designers to the one-man/woman show, Julia wants to (and can) help.  When I first came across Molloy, I thought that their services would be way beyond our reach, but Julia has put together specific programs in a variety of price points so that everyone who needs help can get it.  One of her newest programs is a VIP Membership where clients pay only $75 a month to have access to their tailored collection of design business documents, methods and procedures, along with training videos and webinars.  I think it's a really great way to get started in the right direction & I wanted to let you know about it because I've gotten so many emails asking for business advice & about how to get started in this business.  And, if you're not at the point yet where you can do something like the VIP membership, I've found Julia's blog to be insanely inspiring on its own.  It's so information-packed that I go back to it whenever I can to try to take things in and get some perspective.  

I'll keep you posted on all of our changes & growing pains around here.  My talk with Julia was really helpful last night & I feel so much better with a plan in place.  It's tie to refine it and get going.  For now, I'm in the process of tailoring our Operations Manual so that when we do bring in our next employee- very soon- he or she will know exactly how we like things around here.

I have to run but wish me luck today as the One Kings Lane photo shoot started about 5 minutes ago in our living room!!  I'll be instagramming like a banshee today!!

ps- I'll tell you about my Grandma Maestranzi's Secret  Sauce another time ;) ;)    (The best bolognese EVER.)

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Also- if you're interested in our new position, please stay tuned while we define the new role & necessary qualifications, and get ready for you.  We're not at the point yet where we can receive and look at resumes, but will be sure to announce when we are.  Thanks so much!!

Rabu, 10 Juli 2013

A Parsons Chair Facelift

Now that we're mostly finished with construction at our new place, I'm knee-deep in decorating decisions!!  Our new house- although still a 70's contemporary- is so different from our last house so much of what we had is either going or being reworked.  In our last house, for example, I had lots of chairs, but in our new house, we needed more sofas and now have an excess of chairs. In our new dining room- which is a fairly small room nestled in the middle of the house- I plan on using our old parsons chairs:

They're from Ballard Designs & I'll be honest, a couple of them are a little creaky but we already own them so I'm working with them.   (They are on casters and are super-comfortable and after a long day, I like to eat in the dining room because sitting there just feels so good...  and you can sort of roll to where you need to be instead of walking. haha.  for real.)

The chairs are okay but our new house is so laid-back that they just won't work as-is.  They're too tailored & "pretty" feeling for what I need now. 

Anyway, I've ordered a soft & nubby stonewashed linen to have new slipcovers made in a style similar to these: 

{Dining room from one of my FAVORITE houses EVERRRR by Kay Douglas in House Beautiful}

I love how the slips break on the floor slightly and that linen wrinkle is just perfect.  I'll be prewashing mine and because the fabric I've selected is stonewashed, it will already feel broken in before we even get started in that department.  (Not that we wouldn't get there quickly ;) ;) 

{This isn't the actual fabric but it's a similar-looking one I found here}

 It will feel so much more relaxed than the box pleats and piping our chairs currently have:

I'm off for the day but will be back later this week to share behind-the-scenes details on our One Kings Lane shoot that's taking place tomorrow & Friday.  (I've always wondered how they shoot those white/ backgroundless photos and it looks like we'll be getting a crash course!!)

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Senin, 08 Juli 2013

We're doing a One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale!!

I'm thrilled to announce that we'll be doing a One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale the week of August 18th!  One Kings Lane is online marketplace that launches daily sales (most lasting only 72 hours) where designer & luxury items are sold at deeply discounted prices (up to 70%!!)   To shop, you actually have to sign up and become a member.  In doing my own house (and clients' homes) I've found some amazing deals on really unique things that I couldn't have found elsewhere.  Their Tastemaker Tag Sales consist of selling designers' personal collections of furniture, art, acessories, etc.  for the 72 hour period.  Like many designers, I have amassed a collection of things that I love and need to part with.  Whenever I come across something I love for a great price, I buy it.  Many of the things I buy get placed in clients homes, are used for photoshoots, in my own home, or in showhouses...

But nevertheless, with our recent move, it's time to have a bit of a moving sale & say goodbye to some of my loves.  (And I'm parting with many of them at rock bottom prices to make room in our storage unit. ;) In the room above from the DC Design house, we're selling two of my Madhatter Chairs (I designed these wing chairs from an old Victorian chair I found and changed the lines of... I'm also parting with the antique model chair itself) which both have a Jasper floral on their backs (Retails at over $200/ yard) ... pillows, curtains, accessories, and the gorgeous vintage Moroccan lantern that hangs in front of the window.

I have photoshoot props, like these amber glasses...

...and these massive glass vessels...

Much of what we're parting with used to live with us in our last home...

Remember the Albrecht Durer wall mural we hung in our dining room? (below)

We carefully removed it & attached it to fresh wax paper before moving, hoping we could find a spot for it in our new home, but we don't have the room.  I get emails about this piece at least monthly so I'm hoping it will find a good home with one of you.  

We're also parting with my comfy living room chairs, whose fabric I had upholstered on the reverse for a soft, relaxed feel:

I'm also saying goodbye to the antique gilded chair with the bird's feet (on the left of the pic above) upholstered in green velvet along with many of our accessories and art work.  It's bittersweet.  

I have lots of botanicals...

{Crystal chandelier too!}


{okay I'll be honest, this one's still a 'maybe'...  I'm looking for a place for it ;) ;)  The gorgeous pillow on the bed is for sale. It's practically brand-new as I pretty much only ended up using it for photos because I was afraid the babies would ruin it.  I "stored" it for when they were older, but we keep having more babies haha)

Our beloved vintage kitchen table and chalkboard will be included in the sale...

...Along with the white ware & ironstone that I don't have room for...

I have tables, birds, urns and lamps...

...And of course, more botanicals...

This week, we're busy having pillows sewn in my fabrics too!!! :)  

One Kings Lane is sending a photographer to our house to shoot everything this Thursday and Friday so we are up to our eyeballs in moving furniture and cleaning, polishing & shining everything for its close-up!!  I'm honestly not sure how we're going to get everything done in time, but I know somehow we will.  Please send good thoughts our way;  I'm pretty close to being overwhelmed right now.

One last thing I want to mention: If you refer a friend to One Kings Lane, you get a $15 credit towards your next purchase and they get a $15 credit towards that same purchase. (!!!)  If you follow this link and join One Kings Lane, and eventually make a purchase,  would both get credits towards our next OKL purchases. (!! SO sign up so I can feed my addiction shop!! ;)   Referring friends will do the same for you once you sign up.  (And I should mention that you can adjust privacy settings so you're only being emailed when you want to be.  I have a MAJOR email problem with over 100 emails coming in a day, and One Kings Lane is not one of them.  I resisted joining for so long because of my email overload fear but now see it wasn't an issue.)

I'll keep you posted and will be sure to share a behind-the-scenes peek at the photoshoot this week.  I'm actually off right now to another photoshoot at our clients' home!! Have a good one.


Ps- If there's anything you see in the pics that I didn't mention that you're interested in, please let me know.  Thanks!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.
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