Vintage kilim rug

I picked up a wonderful Turkish kilim wool rug for my etsy store, which I loved.  The colors are neutral and wonderful.  It’s has a bit of a Southwestern pattern in it, which goes well with our decor.  I took it outside and gave it a good clean with some dishwashing soap and water.  Obviously, it’s pre-owned so it has it’s wear and tears, which gives it it’s vintage characters. It now sits in my den and balances the dark couch quite well.  Sadly, I don’t want to part with it but I can’t keep hoarding stuff and be poor (and the inventory at the store is running low).  While I research and price it correctly, I’ll just enjoy it for a little while.

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Liem’s nursery: camping days

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Friday affordable finds

I am always on the hunt for affordable pieces for my home and my clients.  After all, what’s the point of hiring an interior designer if you know where all the good deals are!  I specifically love industrial pieces to add an edge to any room. My husband is in the rig construction business so I know he’ll love any industrial pieces I bring home.  So I’ve put together some of my favorites here. (Click on the picture to go directly to the item.)


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Choosing the right contractors for your home renovation or remodel

As my husband and I are in the process of purchasing our second home, I suddenly cringed at the thought of having to once again deal with builders and general contractors.  The last time we went through this process, our builder short-changed us on so many things that I am still traumatized over the experience.  To cap that off, they ate up 20% of the total construction cost.  I won’t mention the amount but I will say that at the time, it was more than my annual salary.  I regret not quitting my daytime job to be our own general contractor then.

Enough with the venting.  Here are some tips to help you choose the right person for the job:

-Look at their portfolio and visit their past projects if available.  Also, check on Angie’s List to see what others are saying about them.

-Builders will tell you that a particular style or finish is not available. More than likely, it is available. Keep them honest by doing the leg work for them. For example, our builder told us that black vinyl casement windows were not available. (Why wouldn’t they be available?  Our neighbors have them!) The windows we wanted were available, just not with the supplier the builder wanted to use.

-A home builder’s markup is 20-30%. For example, if their costs are $200,000, their price to you is $260,000.  If you can do some of the leg work yourself, do it (or hire your own handyman).

-Ask the builder for specifications (make and model) of major items like windows, insulation, ac unit, water heater, etc.  Then do your own research to get the best quality ones rather than generic ones that will break down (ironically, as soon as your warrantee is over).

-MDF is a cheap alternative for base molding and framed mirrors.  This is my husband’s way of saying, your finishes needs to meet up to the standard and value of your house.

-Cabinets that are built onsite are cheap and poor quality. You’re better off getting cabinets built at a factory. (I think it might just have been the carpenter our builder used).  But this reiterates the fact that if you’re not at the construction site every day to monitor the work, the quality of the workmanship will not be up to your standards.

At last, I’ll leave you with this beautiful meditation room, where I will now go to relieve some tension.

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Drawn to European decor

Something about European decor that I find cozy yet minimal.   The colors are always warm and inviting, even in white, neutral rooms.

a flat in Madrid


a bedroom in a Madrid flat


Nottinghill, London


Paris, France


Paris, France



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Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Lately, I have been scouring thrift stores and finding special pieces for the house.  We’ve already got our major pieces of furniture but I love personalizing the house with unique finds.  I like to brag a little bit about how I can find amazing pieces and refurbish them.  Living in Houston, we often see cookie cutter homes and furnishings from popular stores, which I try to stay away from.   With some patience and an eye for internal beauty, you can find good quality pieces and turn them into unique treasures.   A tip to keep in mind is not to buy everything you like but know where the piece would have a place in your home.  Otherwise, you can risk turning your house into a museum or cluttered mess.

I have to thank whomever threw away or donated this mirror but I found it at a local thrift store for nearly nothing.  I dug through a pile of rubble to find it but I saw its top from a distance and knew I could turn it into something special.

Here is the beauty for only $8.

If you can’t see its potentials, here is an inspiration image of what I plan to do to it.

image via Country Living

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Before and After

What I love about refurbishing items is that you’re not only being environmentally conscious but you’re also putting your personal touch on it.  Like this lamp I found at a secondhand store.  I took some existing paint that we had from previous paint jobs, added a shade found in the closet, and voila, a one-of-a-kind piece that you’ll never see anywhere else.

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Hanging family photos

If you’re like me and can’t decide which walls in your house to hang your photos on, try this:


I like to group all my photos together on one wall to make a bigger impact.  And this method allows me to switch out photos whenever I have a new favorite.  It’s also a way for my husband and I to showcase our photography.

Some other inspirations I saw on the web.


images via Analog Dialog

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One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

As I learned from stylist Emily Henderson that brass is also back.  I recently stopped by a secondhand store on the way home and found this set of 7 solid brass candle holders for a mere $4.99.  The box looks like it’s from the 70s.  I’m pretty happy with my find even though I know they’re not worth much more. And after soaking it in lukewarm soap water for about 15 minutes, my brass candle sticks are clean again.  To make them a little shiny and to protect the brass, I rubbed them with some olive oil.  Simple and natural.  They’re going to look great at the dinner table over the holiday season.

Here’s the before and after:


By the way, I saw this set on ebay on sale for $60 and this set on etsy for sale as well.

I also saw this image of painted brass candle holders used as a serving tray and now I am re-thinking about giving my brass candle holders a paint job.

image via Apartment Therapy

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Gold mirrors over the mantle

I know I am late in mentioning this but gold is in! I have seen so many gold accents in the homes from mirrors to lamps to coffee tables.  I have been searching for a vintage gold mirror to go over our mantle but haven’t really found one to fall in love with.  I’ve been searching craigslist, antique stores, consignment shops for a mirror with an organic shape.  It doesn’t have to be in gold because I can easily fix that with some paint or gold leaf.



images via Lonny

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