Proportion Parameters

One of the biggest telltale signs that a home has not had the input of a designer is that it is out of proportion. I see a lot of out-of-scale furniture, underutilized space and awkward floor plans. I was just in a house recently where this was apparent. It was sort of odd how they arranged things and uncomfortable to move from room to room, making it feel un-inviting. But the homeowners didn’t know what they were missing because no one had taken the time to rearrange it and edit it for them!

When putting together a room, it’s really worth to hire a designer for a few hours to help out. They can help you create a floor plan which is useful in many ways.  They can also do some drawings to scale so you know what fits size-wise if you are going to buy the furniture yourself. Even if you want to do it one piece at a time, you have that background of information to use for as long as you’re in the home.

This kind of consultation is something just about any designer will do. It can really help you create the kind of space that people will want to be in AND stay in.

Below are some photographs of a media-living room-dining room that was tricky to design.   With a little expert planning and design they came together beautifully!

Transitioning Kid’s Rooms

As our kids grow, their tastes change and they literally grow out of their old rooms. Your 12 year old might have hit a growth spurt and has feet dangling off the bed he or she had as a child! Their needs also change. They don’t play with the same “toys” that used to entertain them for hours on end. Once kids are in early elementary to late elementary or middle school, it’s usually time for a transition. People often do a beautiful job from the nursery to the little kid’s room, but changing a room to be tween/teen can take a little bit more thought. They aren’t grown-ups yet, but will be adults by the time high school is over. Such a broad range.

The main idea: you want to think about this as a cool place where they can hang out with their friends— better your home than somewhere where you can’t keep an eye on them! This is going to be their sanctuary where they begin to develop a sense of self and identity. I’ve recently done a few of these rooms and they can be really fun to do.

  • Out with the old: First you want to take all the kiddie stuff out—the castle, transportation-themed items, over-the-top glittery and girlie, childhood characters, etc.
  • Bedding matters:  Ever wonder why kids are drawn to your bed and don’t like to be in theirs? Part of it is that your bed is super comfy! You’ve made cozy bedding a priority. Your kids would appreciate the same consideration. Why wouldn’t they want to sleep in a nicer bed? If you can believe it, kids can make a distinction of thread count. A pillow top mattress with a down-filled duvet they would be happy in their own bed. But if your worried about spending money on a bed you fear will get destroyed quickly, you can get high thread count sheets at Target and Costco.
  • Kids today:  The days are gone when kids sit at a desk and do homework. They are sitting in chairs with laptops or iPads, so they need a surface for writing. A chair with a little table next to it that will swing out for them to work is great use of space and practical for their needs.
  • Friends are huge:  Remember who will mostly be in this space— your child and their friends. Think about what will make them want to hang out in there. Use lots of photography of them with their friends and the activities they are involved in. It will give them feeling like this is THEIR space.
  • Dealing with trends:  If your child is really into something you think will soon fade, a good idea is to wallpaper a wall with tackable surface (it looks like fabric). Your kid can just pushpin things right into the wall with their changing tastes. It’s also great to organize it like a giant bulletin board to keep track of the most recent things happening in their life.

The INformalizing of the Formal Dining Room and Living Room

The case of the unused formal space is pretty common. This is an example of a home I recently did where a family in Cameo Highlands was looking to make better use of their formal living and dining room. They didn’t need the formal space, and it was going unused.

Their objective was to uphold the distinction between the entertaining area and the everyday family room and kitchen, while softening the space so that it became a relaxing place to read a book and take in the view. Truth be told, the husband was the one asking for a place to get away, and with a traditional “man cave” not in the cards, the couple reached a compromise. The designers at Studio Chameleon were able to re-imagine a space that fulfilled both her needs as a hostess, and his desire for a quiet retreat.

New arched doors provide an architectural element while further dividing the room acoustically and visually.  The chaise sofa parallels a wall of windows highlighting the home’s north facing views of the Pacific and Newport Harbor.
 The dramatic over-sized Joan Davis art piece creates a focal point that draws you into the room.
Occasional swivel chairs seat two, perfect for entertaining other couples and extra guests.  The photos above the TV are the husbands own, adding a personal touch that isn’t cliché.
Natural elements like fossil boxes, petrified wood, and a roughly hewn bronze sculpture give the room a more masculine, less fussy feel.

Christmas in August: Redecorating Takes Time

Hope you’ve had a great summer! It might seem crazy with the warm weather and grilling, but it’s time to start thinking about holiday decorating and the design projects you want finished in time for guests during the holidays. I highly suggest enlisting the help of a designer. Even if you are just repurposing items from last year and don’t plan any new purchases, a designer can help you lay out your decorations and furniture to make hostessing a breeze.

Here are some things to think about when working with a designer to plan your holiday look.

  • Establish budget. This is so important! You need to know what you can spend in order for your designer to be able to plan appropriately. Telling your designer you don’t know what your budget is can lead to problems. There is such a variety of pricing on items.  You’ve been to IKEA, Room & Board and high-end boutiques, right? So, just think about the variety of pricing. It’s even broader when you deal with a designer who has access to even more furniture. You also might need to refresh a few things like outdated or broken items.
  • Schedule accordingly. You need to give yourself about 12-14 weeks from the day you start talking to a designer until completion. Remember, if you are ordering furniture or even certain decorations you should plan for 6-8 weeks for delivery. You can’t make a decision that quickly. You might get lucky and find your items on the showroom floor, but don’t count on it.
  • Be prepared when you meet with the designer. The more prepared you are, the more you will save time and money (and energy). Designers work on an hourly basis. You will save the designer from having to create a million different concepts if you have a clear vision of what you want or at least come with ideas and know what you DON’T want. In your first meeting you will discuss concepts, so be prepared!
  • Final decisions. After you discuss concepts the designer will go back and begin pulling what she thinks will look best and is in your design aesthetic. You will have a design development meeting with specific selections and pricing for you to approve.
  • Orders are placed!
  • Wait. While you’re waiting for your décor to be delivered start planning your menus, preparing invitations and relax a little before the mayhem begins!
  • Delivery and staging. Yay! Your purchases are now ready to put in your home and the designer will help the look come together with existing pieces.

Studio Chameleon does lots of this work and we’ve already begun helping a few clients prepare. Would love to help you too! Call us today at (949) 650-7979.

Monochromatic Makeovers

People who go monochromatic often do it because they get tired of things quickly. They need something that is very timeless and will work forever. If you did something like a red sofa it can look really cool, but a lot of people will just get tired with such a strong color after awhile. People like their basics to be neutral. Before you know it you have a neutral scheme. Then you can just add beautiful neutral looking throws, pillows and art. Successful ones are typically in warm tones. Your browns, golds and taupes. If you do something like all blue, with baby blue walls and denim fabric it gets overwhelming. If you are someone who likes to entertain and throw parties, remember your guests will look good in the backdrop of a neutral color scheme. It will make for better photos!

One thing to remember if you are afraid of the monochromatic is that even if you have a mono color scheme you really don’t. You have plants, you have the flooring and even the food and people you have at your parties has varying color. You can change out your accents with the seasons with a pop of color, too.

These contemporary pieces from artist Dan Sayes are examples of neutral accents that would look beautiful as part of your monochromatic decor:


How about you? Any monochromatic successes or flops?

After the Honeymoon: How to Marry Your Decor

As marriage season is in full swing, after the parties and honeymoon the happy couple will go back to their home. And what awaits them? Stacks of gifts and two lives that now have to be merged. This includes furniture and home accessories!

Luckily for today’s couples, eclectic styles are really in. “Marrying” more than one style is what the art of interior design is about right now. You will need to think carefully how to best incorporate all of your stuff, especially when it comes to beloved pieces you may not agree upon. Bringing in a “mediator” like an interior designer can really help to figure out how to solve disputes over what goes and what stays. It’s not uncommon for interior designers to say they are also therapists- we’re skilled in handling these types of disagreements.

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

  • Think about this when you register.  As you are selecting items to build your home together, this is a great time to start thinking about what pieces each of you already own, that you’d both like to keep.  This will also help to ask for things that will  look great in your home, and compliment what you already have.
  • It’s not up to one person to decide.  More and more the idea that the woman is the one who dictates style is becoming an antiquated notion. Men care too. That’s why the whole house should be a collaboration with input from both sides. Sometimes men will say they don’t care or are fine with anything, but even in those cases thought should still go into what will make them happy, even if they don’t vocalize it.
  • You both need your space. While the whole house is a collaboration, you should still have places in your house where your personalities can shine and you can get things done. It might be a craft room/area for her, or a special space in the garage for him. Whatever you do, try to carve out “his” and “her” spaces where each of you can explore your own interests and enjoy your personal style.
  • Expect the unexpected. Doing an eclectic style right is all about releasing the need to be too matchy matchy. You want there to be an element of the unexpected.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Does he really love the neon beer sign he’s had since college? Can she not live without her cat figurine collection? If it really means that much to the other person, find a way to make it work. Put the beer sign in a discreet spot at your home bar or create quirky places where the cats seem whimsical and playful.

Remember, marriages are forever but couches and the latest styles are not. Learning to embrace your partner’s design perspective can be a first step in many of the compromises you will be making in your happy life together!

Doing the Home Bar Right

Recently I did a series on “What We Love About Home.” One of the things I’ve noticed in the last few years is that people are really investing in their homes. They are really focused on putting love into them and making them spaces where people want to gather. Why go out when staying in is just as fun? One of the ways to really complete a home for entertaining is making a great home bar. If you do it right, friends and family will always want to return to your cozy cantina.

The first thing you will want to do is make sure you are stocked with the right supplies. Here’s a good checklist:

-Ice bucket and tongs: no finger picking, please!

-Bottle coolers: keep your Chardonnay & Champagne at the perfect temperature without the fuss of ice

-Cocktail shaker: Make sure to get a large one since this is for entertaining (at least 2-3 martinis per shaker). The small, personal ones won’t cut it.

-Decanter: let your wine breathe a little!

-Barwear and glasswear

-Coasters: Ack! Rings on your wood are no good.

-Rings for wine glasses: so your Pinot doesn’t get picked up by the wrong person

-Wine fridge: Even for the smallest bar, you will want your wine at the perfect temp.

We have a variety of beautiful decanters in-stock that will fit the style of any home.

Now that you are stocked, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right furniture. Whatever you are using as your prep station, you will want at a bar height which is at least 36”. This is so you stand and prepare without hunching over. I really recommend that even for the smallest bar you want to get a wine fridge so everything is at the proper temperature, unless you are fortunate enough to have a cellar! Also, you want to make everything really accessible. An icemaker drawer installed in your bar is great to keep you from running back and forth to the kitchen. When you entertain you need a lot of ice, and the freezer is usually already full with party food!

If you have cabinetry, you will want to use for hard liquor and to keep mixers there. Storage for all of this requires a decent amount of space. If you don’t have a lot of space in your bar area little, think about keeping all of your items like glass wear and mixers elsewhere. You will really want to think about how to maximize your space no matter how much you have. Hiring a designer for a couple hours to help you plan the space will be a GREAT investment.

What other things do you find essential for creating a great home bar?

Under the Sea: Oceanic Offerings for the Home

Beneath the waves are crawling crustaceans waiting to inhabit your home. Luckily, our Bone Crabs and Bone Lobsters are easy to care for and will be a welcomed addition. Each is handcrafted with lifelike detail, including moving limbs. No worries about your wallet feeling “the pinch,” the small ones start at $225.  Buy a few and start a family!

Two fab crab! All of our sea creatures are handcrafted and made of bone.

Rock lobster! Made of bone, with the look of ivory.

Make your new family of undersea creatures feel at home with beautiful ocean views by artist Deborah Brenner. Her minimalist design creates a serene beach scene.

Deborah Brenner’s Coastal Shore 1 (16×20) and Coastal Shore 2 (20×16) take you to seaside escapes.

Summer Space: A Tour of Eve Lowey’s Backyard

I’ve tried to make the rooms in my home live up to my motto of relaxed elegance. The biggest compliment is when people tell me that they want to just linger in my home. But in the summer, my backyard is where grown-ups and kids all like to gather. Here’s a tour of what you’ll find if you visit.

A colorful one-of-a-kind planter with mosaic tiles near the front door exemplifies my love of childhood creativity. It was designed and facilitated by my son’s fifth grade class for his school fundraiser. I also have antique spring playground animals that are the epitome of fun. They bring out the kid in everyone. Adults and children love sitting on them!


My backyard/entertainment area also has a fireplace, barbecue area with bar seating, and table seating for eight along with bar height tables for more entertaining. The pool and spa have cuddle chairs and ottomans, where friends and family gather to share stories of summer fun. Along one side of the pool house, facing the pool, are four life-sized, marble carved statues, each “lady” representing one of the four seasons.

If you search the plantings you will find an Indian head carved out of slate or hand-blown glass flowers in the midst of real ones. A mushroom-shaped small statuette is in the garden (another is at the front of the property). These 18th century pieces were made to hold hay bales in the barn to prevent molding. All of these touches are unexpected artifacts waiting to be uncovered.

The side yard is earthy and peaceful with a vegetable garden, grape arbor, seating area and a fountain off the guest room. Off the office, another side yard has a fireplace. All of the gates are from Europe, adding rustic enchantment.

The pool house—added on after we moved in—is a retreat for visiting guests. It contains all you need to feel like your vacationing in comfort with a bedroom, bath, living room, and a spiral staircase to the sun deck on the top.

There is no specific “style” I have tried to claim for my outdoor space, only that being outdoors should always embrace nature, celebrate the nostalgia of childhood and create opportunities to make new memories.

The Perfect Porch: How to Welcome Guests Before They Ever Set Foot in Your House

Many people don’t realize the importance of the porch. The very first experience someone has of your home is when they are standing outside your front door, waiting for you to answer. It’s the first point for making guests feel welcome. So if you do a lot of entertaining, you really need to put some thought into it. At a time when you aren’t preparing for guests, spend some time thinking about how this often neglected area of your home represents your style. Here are some of the ways I’ve made my porch inviting.

Eve’s porch

1) Make a Green Scene. Plants are great way to create interest and character at the front of your home. My porch has succulents that are arranged in a succulent wreath that doesn’t close the loop. They are easy to use and you stick the succulents into the mesh/felt material to create your own design. It frames my door. The front of my home and entry are also covered in ivy that has been grown and trimmed into a grid pattern. I think that a big blank wall is too much, even if it’s completely covered in ivy, it can still seem blank because it’s all one color. I like the look of the grid because it feels like outdoor art.
2) Have a Seat. Having some kind of seating in your front looks warm and inviting. It’s great for staging things like placing candles or seasonal decorations, but also an everyday use for placing groceries on or packages. Think about a little bench seat. I have two benches. One out by the driveway because it’s so long. The other is under a window near the porch. It’s really become something we use all the time.
3) Light the Way. If you are having a party in the evening, use votives in the entry and lining the walkway if it’s dark. I recommend finding outdoor votives and placing them in a glass or stone container. If you need more light, go with glass. If you are having a summer party that goes into the night, don’t light until the sun starts to set. I’d assign someone to do the lighting—like one of your girlfriends who is reliable. When not entertaining, think about the lighting in general. I have my entry lighted with sconces and placed in different areas. They are not just over garage but also in other places to create a lot of ambient lighting.
4) Put Out the Welcome Mat. In my entryway I have a bright and modern Chilewich rug (available at Studio Chameleon). They are great! It doesn’t shed, doesn’t feel too hard and they are fun to look at. They come in different colors and patterns. People really love them. The ones with bold stripes pair well with a more traditional exterior.

I hope these tips give you some ideas about making your porch a welcoming place. Remember, put yourself in your guests shoes and think about how your porch will appear to them!