Hosting Guests For the Holidays….

I am lucky enough to have a guest room to host out of town guests.  It’s a luxury I don’t take for granted having myself spent many a night on a blow-up mattress or a pull-out couch.  However, with real estate prices skyrocketing and new construction being slim on square footage, the “guest bedroom” is a quickly going the way of the dodo bird.  So for my column, I show how you can give a room dual purpose with a few simple items and a little forethought……

Dual Use Room

The room may look familiar because it is what we use to call the “Music Room” at the house.  Well it now subs as the “headquarters” for the growing business and an overnight guest if we happen to have two guests staying at the same time which oddly we have on more than one occasion!

More changes coming to the house and to the business that I can’t wait to fill you in on.  But until then, check out how to make the most out of the space you have when guests are in town!

[photo credit:  photo by adza//styling: courtney lake]

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Christmas with Home Depot ….

I am positive I was a magpie in my past life.  How else can I explain my unabashed love of all things that shimmer, glimmer and shine.  I typically keep it under control but come the holiday season, it gets bad……like a sugar addict trying to control their urges during a cake testing.  With so many visually tempting and delicious options, how can you not try just a little?  So imagine my delight (and The Partner’s chagrin) when the folks at Home Depot asked me to participate in their Holiday Style Challenge?

Courtney Lake for Home Depot

And for me, I love hues of bronze, silver and brass with equal abandon, so why stop at one?  So I didn’t!  I mixed metals with abandon and glee, creating a layered approach to decorating the first floor of my cozy condo.  Deep bronzes, shiny silvers and patines brass played nicely with each other in my tablescape and overall design……

Check out Home Depot’s blog, The Apron to see the full story.  But if you are itching to try to recreate the look, check out my recommendations below…..

HD Get The Look

Clockwise: Tree Skirt//Crown Bowls//Druzy Placecard Holder//Wine Glasses//Dessert Plates//Gold Flatware

HD Holiday Tree

Clockwise: Ornament & Tinsel Wreath//Tree Figurine//Beaded Crown//Metallic Ornaments//Tinsel Floral Picks

[photo credit: photo by adza// styling credit: courtney lake]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

[disclaimer:  home depot provided product for the photo shoot but all thoughts are mine]

Thanksgiving Help from & ….

Can you believe that this time next week that it will be Thanksgiving?!?  Kinda crazy right?  Well don’t stress out because I teamed up with two different partners to show you how to avoid the Thanksgiving “craziness” ……..

Joyus Screenshot

The online retailer invited me onto their web talk show to discuss my short cuts and tips on throwing a stress-free holiday party and creating beautiful holiday tablescapes.  In the segment I show three different table settings that can take you from Thanksgiving all the way through New Years without breaking the bank or you in a cold sweat!  It’s all about creating a fun and easy approach to decorating.

Courtney Lake Thanksgiving Buffet

For my monthly column at, I am talking about how to set up a Thanksgiving Buffet.  Whether you are opting for a more relaxed holiday this season or a simply don’t have the room in your abode, I show how you can create a beautiful buffet that will wow your guests and leave you with time to still enjoy the meal!

And next week for all you procrastinators still in need of a menu, I break down my picks for simple, quick and yummy Thanksgiving dishes!  So relax I got you covered this holiday season!  Now I just have to follow my own advice and get started!  Sometimes the “teacher” is the worst pupil.  Now if you will excuse me, I need to start planning own menu…..

[photo credit: by adza]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Weekend Reading…..

If you have some free time this weekend and want a healthy dose of design, check out some of the articles I have written this month as well as one I was featured in……

I remember my first apartment.  It was in the basement of a very lovely home in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, DC and every time it rained, crickets would invade the space in droves.  It had one closet the size of a shoebox, no oven and every piece of furniture I had come from Ikea.  I loved it!   I channel those memories as I help a young client decorate his first apartment to accommodate sleeping, working and the occasional dinner party  – all in 500 square feet of for my monthly column with ….


Switching gears from studio apartments to prefab homes, I recently wrote an article profiling BLU Home for California Home + Design blog.  BLU is one of the leaders pushing the definition of what a prefab home can look like.  And seriously, just drop the “pre” part because the house I profiled at their Sonoma location is just darn FAB…..


And the lovely folks over at Interior Canvas blog interviewed myself along with fellow designers Jonathan Savage and Grant Gibson (love those boys) as part of their profile on the online retailer Zinc Decor.  I love the store’s modern slant and the ladies behind the brand are honestly two of the most amazing folks I know – design savvy with business acumen… they are super cute to boot (some folks have all the luck!) ……


(Wendy & Tiffany of Zinc Door — told you they were hot mommas….)

Okay I am off to do a final push for a client presentation on Monday!  Have a great weekend……

[picture credit: Photo by Adza/BLU Home/Zinc Door]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Shape of Design……

Last week I was over at California Home + Design’s blog talking about what I thought was one of the hottest trends in design today – California state!  California may have shaped the lives of many young and aspiring designers but the shape of the state itself is inspiring some really cool and interesting design products.  Head over and take a look at three products that I think are the shape of things of come…..

California Collage

As for myself, I am elbow deep in all things British and loving every bloody minute of it!  Hopefully you won’t think less of me when I come back sounding like a cross between Madonna and an extra in Les Mis!  Have a great weekend!

[photo credit: blue collar built, scott coppersmith, scot hampton]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Breathing Room: Creating a Floor Plan…..

I am excited to have Kelly back with us for another installment of Breathing Room.  We have missed her wit and often times pointed (and always funny) quips about life and design around here but we know she left us for good reason — Miss Kelly had a beautiful baby girl …..

Kelly Baby

Honestly, if you had that bundle of adorableness greeting you every day versus me, wouldn’t you bail on writing for a few months as well?  Somehow Kelly tore herself away and wrote this great post on the tools out there to help you plan your space ….

As promised, this will be the first post on the tools and methods commonly used to properly plan a space using my nursery as an example.

There are a large variety of options available to create a space plan.  My personal choice is to use a powerful professional application called Revit (or its “parent” program, AutoCAD).  Courtney recently included a great roundup of other programs/applications that make it easy to put together a space plan.

But you don’t need fancy applications to draw a simple floor plan.  The easiest way to plan a space is to put pen to paper.  “Officially,” there are proper techniques, symbols, and methods to draw a space, but most people don’t need to worry about those issues to create a helpful floor plan.  Your goal should be to create a fairly accurate floor plan that will allow you to envision the space and place furniture in it.

To get started, you first need to roughly draw the shape of a room.  I like to include doors and windows in this initial phase and try to guesstimate the approximate distance between them.  Don’t worry if your drawing is off, you’ll be much more focused on the actual lengths that you measured and will redraw it to be more accurate.


Here is an example of a quick sketch of my nursery.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  (I am a nursing Mom, I don’t have the time for perfection!)  You’ll tweak it once you have the measurements.

The next step is to measure the walls in the room.  Depending on the purpose of the floor plan, you should also take measurements of the distance between windows, doors, and walls.


I’ve added the measurements to the quick sketch.  Often, I’ll have to go back and get additional measurements that I didn’t think that I needed and will add them to the final product.

After measuring the walls, you need to convert these measurements to paper by using some scale.  The most common scales are ¼” or ½” but depending on the tools you have available, you can use whatever scale you want as long as you are consistent in applying it to all measurements.  I won’t go into all the details here but the easiest way to accomplish this is to use graph paper and start with the longest wall to determine the scale on the paper.


Here is the final floor plan for the nursery.  I used a computer program for this but have previously used paper and a ruler with a scale to create the same image.  This floor plan is drawn to ¼” scale.

At this point, you have a working floor plan!  You can now take any furniture or other moveable goods, put them to the scale, and place in the floor plan.  Depending on your comfort with the process, you can draw the furniture directly on the floor plan or you can cut them out (on another piece of paper) and move them around the floor plan until you figure out where everything will go.

Floorplan 2

By doing this, you guarantee that these pieces will fit into the room.  It’s important to remember that even when things look great on a space plan, the space can sometimes feel a little more crowded once the items are in the room and you may still need to tweak the placement of some items.   But this process will provide you with more information for the type of items that will fit and you should have fewer concerns.

Good luck with your next space!  I would love to see how this process worked for you.

Thank you Kelly for a pretty straight forward approach to creating a floor plan.  I will continue to preach to the high heavens — creating a floor plan will save you time, money and your sanity at the end of the day when doing a room design.  It is worth the extra effort…unless you enjoy pulling your hair out.  But then you may be that small portion of people who look good bald and have a nicely shaped head.  Then by all means continues.

[photo credit: kelly finley]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

CA Home + Design Blog ….

Happy Friday!  Somehow short weeks always throw me off — I feel like I need to “make-up” for the missed work day so these last three days have found me working extra hard on client projects.  However, even in the midst of the crazy, I am excited to officially share that I have joined the CA Home + Design online team as a contributor to their blog, State of Style!

In my first post, I wrote about San Francisco-based interior designer Melanie Coddington’s approach to feminine design……

Coddington Shot

I then switched gears and did a profile on something dear to my heart….my neighborhood! Nestled in what use to be two alleys is a vibrant retail and artist enclave called Temescal Alley – one of my favorite shopping destinations for unique house goods and clothing by local artisans!

Temescal Alley Shot

I am beyond stoked to be contributing to the blog!  Aside from the fact that I love the magazine (and not so secretly harbor aspirations to appear it in one day), I also love that it has a passion for discovering new talent.  The editors have given us wide latitude to showcase and display the best of California and I am excited to introduce a wider audience to the abundance of talent in the East Bay.  So with that said, if you have a house tour, home product, artwork or service you think would be a good fit to profiled, shoot me an email at lifeoutloud (at)

Have a great weekend and take a moment to enjoy the bounty around you…..

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.