Brave New Home

creating authenticity where it matters most


Get Inspired and Some SF Home Fronts

Inspired Design ChallengeStarting next week, I’m teaming up with a few of my favorite bloggers to challenge ourselves to get creative!  If you haven’t already, meet Angie from Angie’s Roost, Lindsay from Life of Splendor, Kristin from Bliss at Home and Sara from Embrace My Space.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be using five stores as inspiration to move our homes forward.  Anything goes!  DIYing a shower curtain from Target, adapting a furniture layout found in the pages of an old Anthropologie catalog, painting an accent wall the color of the rim of a pair of sunglasses from Urban Outfitters—you name it!

We won’t be hosting link parties but we’d love it for you to play along and get inspired with us : ] Just leave a comment with a link to your post and we’ll feature some of our favorite inspiration posts each week.

In other news, we spent the past 4th of July (extended) weekend in San Francisco visiting family.  San Francisco has some of my favorite home architecture on this planet hands down!  I wasn’t able to squeeze in as much photo snapping of all the unique homes I would have liked (that could take weeks!) but I did manage to get in a few from a couple of the neighborhoods we were in (mostly South San Francisco and Ocean Beach).  Have a look!SF home 6SF home 5I needed a close up of those beautiful planters (or oversized statement window boxes?).  Gorgeous, right?SF home planter SF home 4 SF home 3 SF home 2I don’t think I’d ever paint my exterior Pepto Bismal pink but I’d love having a neighbor do it!  I can’t help but smile just looking at this photo.SF home 1A Mondrian inspired home front.  I wonder if it extends to the interior?SF home 7Apparently I was really drawn to color this weekend!

Are you planning on taking on the Inspired Design Challenge with us?  Any projects jump to mind?

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Fling: Cowhide Rugs

fling  (flng) noun: a short period of unrestrained pursuit of one’s wishes or desires.

A curious thing happened.  I started researching cowhide rugs and about 85% of the images I pulled up (most from Google Images or Pinterest) I adored!  It was more than encouraging but curious that I generally liked rooms that included cowhide.  A little insight into my decorating psyche if you will.

I think they key to decorating with cowhide and avoid it looking too country western a la Dubya’s ranch house (I know what the inside of George W.’s ranch house looks like from watching Harold and Kumar) is to mix in some ultra modern pieces like a acrylic table.

Here are some of my favorite picks:

It seems another motif might be that cowhides are often paired with white walls and black and white prints.  And that’s good, cause I like both!

I started a whole cowhide Pinterest board dedicated to my new obsession.  Mooo’ove on over and check it out ; ]

Would you consider decorating with an animal print?  Have you already?



The 4 Most Paralyzing Decorating Fears and How to Overcome Them – Fear 4

On to the very last fear that prevents people from decorating their homes!  In case you missed the first three posts, here are some clues to help you to figure out where to start, discovering your personal design style, and overcoming the fear of wasting money.

Fear 4:  What if it sucks and people hate it.

Isn’t this a fear for just about every situation?

I thought about getting bangs (I credit that to routinely watching episodes of New Girl where all, yes both, of the female characters have bangs) and ultimately decided to go for it (wine may or may not have been involved).  I cut my own hair so going for it really just meant heading to the bathroom and taking a pair of scissors to my hair (and lemme tell you, cutting bangs for the first time is hard cause your hair is covering your eyes which makes it less than easy to see).  I could tell from friends’ and colleagues’ reactions that my bangs were, um, not an instant hit but I get carded all the time now so I consider my hairstyle a win!  My bangs have gone threw three incarnations (thick and blunt, thinner and blunt, and finally thin and feathered) and in the end, I’m glad I just went for it cause now I’ll have dated photos of myself to show the grandkiddies :P  And yeah, sorry for the emo FB profile-esque photo, I needed at least one graphic for the post!

So how do bangs relate to home design?  The lesson here is that even though it took me a few tries to be happy with my results, I was most happy with myself that I just went for it.  That felt good and authentic.  So be confident in your actions.  Hair grows and your furniture can be edited.  Perspective is also key.

Keep things in perspective.  This one always helps me out a lot.  At the end of the day, my couch is just a couch.  It could go up in flames (we do get fire storms in this area) or our two-year-old could take a bottle of red nail polish to it and that would be the end of that.  No one is going to die as a result from choosing a too small area rug.  Trust me.  Have some fun and revel in all the infinite possibilities.

So there you have it!  You made it through all the four common hurdles that prevent us from creating an authentic home.  I’m glad you stuck around and even if this is all old news to you, I hope you found a little piece of inspiration somewhere in there.

Do you think about what other people will think of your home when you decorate?  Have you ever done something you knew people would generally dislike but went for it anyways?


The 4 Most Paralyzing Decorating Fears and How to Overcome Them – Fear 3

I’m back!  In case you missed the first two posts in this four part series, here are ways of figuring out where to start and helpful hints to discovering your personal design style.


On the record, I don’t believe that you need money to prove you have style for a second!  Necessity is the mother of invention and there’s nothing like limitations to get the creative juices flowing.  Now onto fear number three!

Fear 3:  I don’t want to waste money. 

Yeah, who does?  This fear isn’t unrealistic but there are a number of ways to safeguard against it.


If you worked your way through fear two, you should have a clearer idea of your design tastes.  This in and of itself will help you save money.  You won’t have to guess whether something is or isn’t your style and will thereby save yourself both time and money from making mistakes.  Sure you can repaint that room and most stores have forgiving return policies but if you can avoid it, why not?  Knowing thineself will also get the added perk of being able to pounce on deals.  The Bowery Storage Bench in Lazuli (above) that stands at the foot of our bed, it was the LAST ONE when I found it scrolling through the pages of Joss & Main.  But I already had something similar in mind so I busted out the credit card and made it mine.  All mine!

Another way to reduce your financial risk (and heartache) is when going big (on the wallet, that is) go neutral.  A trained designer may be able to buy that in-your-face citron chaise, but beginners (like moi) are safer to go with classic designs and neutral colors.  Doesn’t sound brave and bold, which is supposed to be the mission of this blog, right?  Perhaps.  But those pieces will be able to change and evolve with you and you can go carazy… on throw pillows : ]  And luckily, there are a host of colors that are neutral and not boring, like navy and charcoal grey.  Beige is no longer the only color synonymous with neutral.

When shopping for these pieces, and others, try avoiding retail shopping if possible.  The most obvious alternatives are thrift stores and garage sales but personally I like keeping my eye on Craigslist once I have in mind what I want.  When The Hubs and I first moved in together, we went the retail route.  We were in somewhat of a hurry and we had a compact car; we weren’t about to transport a couch, we wanted that thing delivered to us!  When he ended up getting a pick-up truck for The Hubs’s work it was game on for me!  Thrifting takes more time.  It’s a game of patience and there is typically some work involved (like steam cleaning a couch) when you get the piece in your hot little hands.  Personally, I prefer this because it allows us to tread more lightly on this earth; you can usually snag items of a better quality than what you are paying; and it supports a more collected, less matchy-matchy feel.  Budgeting always helps anytime money comes into the picture, too.


Give yourself a realistic budget before you start your hunt.  This will manage your expectations and curb your frustrations.  I wanted a rug for our living room.  But I’m cheap frugal.  I didn’t want to spend a lot.  How not a lot?  The rug we landed on from Ikea (above) was less than $20 and that was about all I was willing to spend on a rug.  It was a find and I’m happy with it but, of course there’s a but, had I done any research, I would have known that for the size I wanted I needed to be prepared to shell out at least $100 if not more.  The rug we got is sorta like a place holder.  And that means it’s temporary and that means that 20 dollars could have gone towards a forever rug.  You, however, may be in a different stage of decorating.  You might already have the basics down and are working on the details.


If you have the basics and it’s just a matter of putting something up on the walls, try shopping your own home.  Display your collections.  Re-purpose what you already own.  That set of luggage passed down from your parents?  Stack ’em up and voila!  Bedside table.  Spray paint is also fabulous at hiding imperfections and updating dated pieces.

And finally, just clean and organize your space!  It can do wonders to improving the flow and energy of a space and doesn’t cost a dime, just a bit of elbow grease.  This might not seem like design advice but think back to a space you saw after it was cleaned and everything was put back in it’s place; it looked like a different room, right?

Have you ever spent outside of your comfort zone and regretted it?  Have you found any creative ways of working around not having limitless piles of money?


The 4 Most Paralyzing Decorating Fears and How to Overcome Them – Fear 2

Here’s the second part to a four-part series on identifying and overcoming the fears that inhibit people from home design.  Here’s part one if you missed it.

Fear 2: I just don’t know enough about designing a home.
Let’s talk style.  Look, style doesn’t have to be a label.  You don’t need to agonize, Am I farmhouse chic with a side of global eclectic?  Or am I more Hamptons meets Urban Outfitters?  Don’t go there.  Sure, there are fun little quizzes that can be found online or in magazines (which I delight in taking!  I’m apparently Urban Funk with a touch of Boho by the way) but you don’t  have to let your results dictate your style.  Style can be simple if you let it be.  It’s simply what appeals to you, what evokes emotion.  I get kind of hung up on this myself.  I feel like if I pick the wrong style it will be a misrepresentation of who I am.  Kinda deep, right?  I think I’m just over thinking it.   Example, Oops, that shelving unit is totally screaming college dorm room!  Solution: Return it.  See, not that hard.  Design is never done and once you overcome the intimidating part, the evolution becomes fun, exciting, and even liberating. Obviously, the style you pick today will not be your style 10 years from now.  We might all have different processes on how to develop a style but here are some ideas that work for me.  Start honing in on your style by gathering images from magazines, online websites or blogs, catalogs, wherever inspiration resides.  Don’t spend too much time analyzing your choices or limiting yourself, just pick out what you respond to.  Get enough images together and you will start noticing trends.  I realized I like jolts of cobalt blue/teal in the living room.  I never would have picked this color on my own (yuck! too saturated and dark) but the images I collected all had it in them.  The takeaway for me: I like that color in small doses and I need to be bold enough to incorporate it in a room.

Comb through your closet.  Could your favorite outfit be the basis for your bedroom palette?  Take a look at one of my current favorite outfits (above).  Kinda the color of my blog, right?  Inspiration abounds!  When developing a color palettes, keep the 70-20-10 combination in mind.  70% of your main color (usually something more neutral), 20% of an accent color, and 10% of little spots of one color.  Beyond color palettes, your wardrobe can give you clues about your style.  I (thought) I loved modern textiles, like chevron, hip style and lots of color but when I reflected on my wardrobe it was almost the complete opposite: lots of solid/basic pieces, neutral colors like grey and navy, and updated classics.


Another strategy is to start with something you love like a rug, a piece of art, or a plate.  I’ve seen designers do this all the time but for me, it just doesn’t work.  First, I don’t like things to be too matchy-matchy and I have a hard time trying to avoid that with this technique.  I’d always be going shopping asking myself, “Does this match the dish towel that’s inspiring my kitchen?”  If it works for you, great!  More power to ya.  Personally, I like a more collected feel where things don’t match but somehow work together.


Home stores like Z Gallerie, West Elm, etc. can provide another great resource.  You can take a look at vignettes to get an idea about how objects might be incorporated into your home and it can be easier than hitting up discount stores like Home Goods where you have to sift through things and have a clear idea what you’re looking for.  For me, turning to retailers is scary.  I’d like to move beyond being scared to being inspired but I’m just not there yet.  When I see those rooms I see dollar signs and that scares me.  It makes me feel like that’s so beautiful but I’ll never be able to afford that; it’s flat out intimidating.  Plus, the stagers are trained professionals so it’s silly to hold myself to near impossible standards.  Again, that’s just easily intimidated little o’ me.  The key of this strategy is to be inspired.

How did you identify your style?  Were you able to incorporate your design style into your home?