Friday, October 10, 2014

Georgia Okeefe inspired aesthetic

I think most people associate Georgia O'Keefe with her flowers, but they only make up a portion of her work. I've been intrigued by her aesthetic ever since I was a pre-teen and visited New Mexico for the first time, where I fell in love with the landscape and the way that she presented the simultaneous warmth and spareness of its beauty. 

On the recommendation of the lovely Camille of the Vintique Object, my eldest daughter and I visited her home in Albiqui outside of Santa Fe this summer. 

It's the kind of place that you definitely wish was not a museum. It is spare but inviting and comfortable. And so tactile...desert rocks and dry animal bones and greens flourishing against all odds in the stark landscape.... It gave me the same feeling that I get when I'm on a nature walk and can't resist picking up a smooth river stone or running my hands over sycamore bark...except her whole house was like that. There's such a strong connection to the landscape outside, and such a purity to all the materials used inside (the floors of the room above are a mix of mud, milk, and flour) that even though some rooms are roped off, it doesn't feel sterile at all. Her rock collections adorn many surfaces, but nothing is cluttered. The warmth and curving imperfection of the stucco walls mimic the hills below it and the large windows are such a focal point that it almost seems like the home grew up from the ground rather than being plopped there like many houses.

We've been so blessed to have been able to visit the Southwest for a little stretch of time every year since we've been married beginning with our honeymoon road trip, and it's always bittersweet leaving it. Coming back this year, after visiting Albique, I was really struck and even a little surprised to walk through my front door and see my Georgia Okeefe-subconsciously-inspired vignette, my own little slice of nature inspired simplicity. This little vignette originally came about a few years ago when I tried to find a way to mask to hide our ugly thermostat and created the abstract canvas on the right as a reproduction of Okeefe's "winter road"...after doing it, the rest of the objects sort of accumulated...

credits: 1, 2: okeeffe museum , 3-6: Architectural Digest, 7: Leah Moss

Friday, July 18, 2014

Before & (mostly) After: a client living room with around the door built-ins

This project hails from the house of one of the cutest families. The front door leads right into the living room, and they wanted it to feel more special, less cluttered, and more inviting. The layout with the opening to the dining room, the staircase, and the front door made furniture layout rather difficult. They wanted to to work with their existing sofa. I love the side tables, plants, and other accents we added, but the biggest difference maker was the gorgeous built-ins crafted by Kaleo Kala of Kala studios

I snapped the "afters" while waiting for photos to be printed, so ignore all the empty frames :) And some of the shelves like that one over the door way were not complete. And since the photo was taken, the 3rd hex table has been returned to its grouping and replaced between the chairs with another side table.

BEFORE (this is actually an in progress right after the chairs and hex tables came in):
AFTER (taken from a mirror view):

From the dining room...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Modest Moss Studio evolution


A few years ago, I gave up my cute little closet office....

 .....when I realized that Leah Moss Interiors had already basically been commandeering every inch of the house's addition for months :)

For about a year, I toyed here and there with getting a studio space outside my home, but the truth is that I feel like then I'd never actually be home, and home is my favorite place....especially when time is short and precious, and when home studio means no commute (the worst part about the DC area is the traffic). The more involved I get in my immediate community and the faster my kids grow up, the less I want to be commuting elsewhere to go sit and design (since I'm already on the road quite a bit visiting clients, meeting with suppliers, and shopping etc.). And the areas where I'd want a studio at this point are pretty inconvenient.

So, a little while ago I committed to setting up (a more permanent) shop in the addition...

I've always loved spaces that have a depth but also a certain temporary quality about them...something unfinished and interesting but not so precious....a tacked up picture or a stack of books or a leaning mirror or a light bulb hanging from a cord...things that you may see often in stylists' portfolios and artists' lofts but rarely in actual homes...things that draw you in and excite you precisely because they're kind of...precarious almost


....things that make a room not only lived in, but also inviting of creativity to actually take place in...potential and fluidity....but I also like calm and order and the idea of an "edited" space.

In design work, it takes a special client to commit to go that route. "Finished" usually means fixed in place.  Especially in a practical place like DC. But in my own workspace, I really wanted to have a place to experiment with, a place that felt inspiring to me, like a lab...

So my little studio is now one of my favorite parts of home and work....

Happily, the lab studio route also meant that I could get away with spending basically no money...a crazy $210! Woot

I needed storage that would hold a lot, cost a little, and that had adjustable shelves. After looking into custom and scouring my favorite stores, I stumbled across these at Costco for 70 bones--cha-ching! So I bought 2. They hold up to 1500 lbs :) and were pretty much exactly what I wanted.

My favorite part is the desk area...the desk itself is temporary a home depot folding (beer pong :) table...and I love what's surrounding it...thumb tacks hold pictures that are lucky enough to have made it off the computer and onto paper. They can be slid in and transitioned out without poking holes in them...the crucifixion image is "Christ on the Cross" by Velázquez. I remember studying it in art history in college and being so moved by's moody and deep and meditative in that distinctly Spanish way.  My pastor gave it to us a few years ago. At the time, it was in a beautiful but formal and heavy frame, and I couldn't think of anywhere to hang it. I took it out of the frame and tacked it up in my office with an alligator clip for several months before stumbling across an old oil painting at a thrift store. I first loved it for its old tacks and frayed edges and rough worn (it has been torn a little and splattered with house paint in a few places) more than the actual painting. The background of the painting was beautiful but the boat painted in the middle of it was kind of cheesy and awful (sorry unknown old artist!) but I snagged it for $3 knowing that I could use it somehow. Bringing it home and setting it down on my desk, it dawned on me that there was a cool connection between it and the Velazquez so I used it as a frame of sorts, using the decorative interior edge of the original frame's mat to hold the picture and tack through the canvas of the painting

I also love the chairs. They were a freebie from the same thrift store. A few years ago, I saw a whole set of 12 black bent wood chairs there for something absurd like $200. I stupidly left them and went home to think on them (I was trying to be prudent that day as I had previously purchased a different set of chairs earlier that week and was fearing my husband's concerns of chair hoarding was reality), and of course came back to find that the set had gone home with a wiser woman...BUT 2 rickety ones had been left behind,. The owner felt bad and said they would be tossed anyway, so she just gave them to me :) I recently repainted them in graphite chalk paint, and they are exactly what I would have chosen even if they weren't free.  Yay!

The middle of the long narrow room is wide open so that I can spread out when need be, and on the other end is this little Hickory Chair camel back sofa (another freebie that my sister found for me) that I sewed a very, very imperfect slipcover for out of navy ticking stripe. It's one of the most comfortable sofas I've ever sat in, and so it gets a lot of use. 

In other lives it has looked like this....
and this (o my)...
 and this...
and now....

And that is the story of my modest little studio.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Counting down to Easter, I'm grateful for every little quiet moment that this week has brought...

My heart goes to our friends who have experienced some amazing tragedies this past month. I haven't known what to write because in some situations everything sounds trite, especially on a blog...but I'm struck so many times a day lately by how suffering changes the perspective of people around you, for good, when it's allowed and you are open...and I'm so grateful for the hope there is in Easter, perfectly placed in spring...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Still Life 99-- potted plants

In the last year, I've done almost no decorating or redecorating in my own home. Plants are the happy exception. These little plants are left over from some unfinished Christmas presents (we were going to make terrariums in masse but as it turned out just a few got completed...sorry friends ;) but the rest have survived with pretty much no water and very little sun in a corner of my office for months! So last week, as it snowed (again...) I decided to take spring into my own hands. Success--plants brighten any any angle :)

The bigger leafed ones are jade plants, and the little floppy one is some sort of succulent.

**still life 99 is my visual catalog of the idea that we don't need a lot of things at home, but what we do need should be beautiful. They should be worthy of being noticed. I'm guessing that I have at least 99 around my own home to share.**

And here's a few that did make the Christmas gift terrarium cut....

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Many Lives Of A Simple Striped Rug

There are few purchases that cost under $3 that have worked as hard or proven as versatile as my IKEA signe mats.

 I have a a weakness for casual stripes (as opposed to bold and polished, the way most people think of stripes), and I think that, like black, every room benefits from a little stripe. 

I remember when I bought a few of these little rugs about a month after moving into our house. It was one of those classic American hoarder Ikea shopping trips where you run in to get "water glasses and maybe a few things to help organize kid toys," but get caught up in how simple (and inexpensive) that  scandinavian style is, and come out wielding a massively unruly shopping cart with wobbly wheels--why are those carts so flipping shaky?-- while forcing your toddler to walk so that the water glasses (and wineglassespictureframesorchidcowhidedesklamp) have a secure spot. 

I remember my husband coming home and asking why his "minimalist" wife had bought 10 front door mats...I claimed I had a plan, and as it turns out many years later I did :)

 They make great, hardy seat covers on dining chairs...this was a temporary fix while I searched for fabric to recover our craigslist bentwood chairs, but I began to love the casual, almost southwest vibe of the mats. So they stayed, now tucked in between the cushion and the chair frame, and they can be easily thrown in the wash when needed (which is often around here)....
And I use one to layer this old, uglybutawesome chair that we inherited and have grown to love, making the brown tweed not so just brown tweedish....
And I have a few that I layer in our bedroom every once in a while. Personally, I prefer mats (if anything) to rugs in our bedroom because I love the simplicity of bare wood floors.

For a year or so, IKEA stopped selling these SIGNE mats, but they started carrying them again a few months watch out hem Moss...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Still Life 99- throw linen

Linen, my friends, has been a longtime love, but like my husband and God, it only continues to make me marvel.  I should probably have renamed this blog linen eclectic long ago, and just turned out post after post about the various ways in which linen rocks. Maybe then, I wouldn't have had these long blogging absences ;) 

I was able to sneak away on a 24 hour silent retreat this past weekend to a beautiful spot. Sometimes coming home from something like that can be hard because it's like sensory overload....especially when coming off and into approximately the 3 zillionth snow day this winter...but the snow days, with all the kids home, have given me more appreciation for this hardworking little home, and even more appreciation for the materials that can hold up to a lot of abuse and still look awesome. Ones that are just content in a state of imperfection. 

There's something quiet about linen. It looks contemplative, and maybe even at its best when strewn and crumpled by little happy hands.
 My husband bought me the fog linen work towel below a few years ago, but far more frequently than  actually acting as a towel, it moonlights as a throw (the back of this sofa is my 2 year old's favorite perch (looking out into my sister's house next door to say hi to his "tousins" :) so linen now masks a few footprints and the like...
  and this hardworking hand towel version has held up to a lot only getting softer....

I have several favorite sources including a few local shops, but I can't say enough good things about etsy sellers House of Baltic Linen and Linen Crafts. Everything from both (including the purple towel/throw above from LinenCrafts) has been such beautiful quality. 

**still life 99 is my visual catalog of the idea that we don't need a lot of things at home, but what we do need should be beautiful. They should be worthy of being noticed. I'm guessing that I have at least 99 around my own home to share.**

Friday, February 14, 2014

happy heart

With a foot plus of snow, this Valentines day has been a bit unusual, less planned and more homespun, but sweeter in many ways. It has been one of those weeks where lots and lots went wrong, and so being buried inside with my family has been the perfect gift. Simplicity is always my favorite....

Happy Day to you and yours!
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