Outfit to Room: February Edition

It’s time for a monthly does of fashion with guest contributor, Alyssa Doorhy, of CoChic Styling. Alyssa and I both love fashion and interiors, and thought it would be fun to see one of my interior designs translated into a seasonal outfit each month of the year. Did you catch January’s Outfit to Room? This February has been very mild here in Chicago, and I think Alyssa’s pick of this bedroom with floral wallpaper accent wall feels just right for that cool early spring weather.

bedroom with floral wallpaper accent wall

This room has wallpaper by Relativity Textiles, and was designed for lifestyle blogger Maya McDonald of Charmingly Styled. The color palette began with a red lacquered dresser Maya already owned (from another favorite vendor of mine, MegMade) and blue felt like a natural pairing to cool down the red. The rustic wood ceiling added incredible texture, and white bedding, hints of gray and gold complete the look! Here’s Alssya’s take on fabulous coordinating outfit.

You can find the pieces here: Top Jeans Earrings Bag Shoes 

Alssya’s advice on wearing those summer crop tops:

  •  Unless you are in your early 20’s and have a rocking bod (aka Kendall Jenner), your midriff should not be showing when you’re wearing a crop top. Make sure the seam on the bottom of your top hits the waistband of your bottoms. A good way to ensure this will work is to wear high waisted pants or a skirt.
  • If you are curvier on top, wear a fitted crop top. Many times women who are busty wear baggier shirts to try to minimize their chest, but it actually makes them look larger than they are.
  • If you are petite, a crop top with a high-low hemline is flattering. It will elongate you, making you look taller.

Check back next month for a whole new outfit room! Hope your inspired to look at fashion and interiors with new eyes today! Also, a bedroom with floral wallpaper is never a bad idea!


One Part Plant Book Release & Prop Styling Secrets

one part plant cook book

You guys!! I have a friend who is now a published cookbook author and I’m making her recipes in my kitchen. It’s SO COOL. Jessica Murnane can really only be described as cool. She’s a designer turned women’s health and food advocate, after her struggle with Endometriosis led her to completely change her diet and lifestyle. Then she started a health and lifestyle Podcast called One Part Plant, and that led to her AWESOME new cookbook ONE PART PLANT. Jessica and I met in 2014 (I think!) at a monthly dinner series she hosted in Chicago, and it has been so fun to watch her career take flight. Today I’m sharing an interview with the prop stylist who worked on the book!

Also, Jess has a book tour shaping up HERE. She’ll be in Chicago and lots of other cities too, so get in on that!

The lovely Jessica Murnane, eating those plants.

I was honored when Jess asked if I’d like an advance copy of the book. Women’s reproductive health, eating more plant-based foods, and gorgeously styled new recipes to try – YES please!  I know the amount of work that goes into well-styled photographs, so I asked Jessica if I could interview her prop stylist for this post. Lucky for us the talented Joni Noe answers my burning questions below. If you are a stylist or an aspiring one, make sure to check out Joni’s portfolio. She has worked for some fabulous brands and magazines. You can find more Joni and Jess on Instagram.

Photo credits: Nicole Franzen, Food Styling: Vivian Lui.

Interview with Prop Stylist Joni Noe:

What’s your full name and name of your company? 

  • My name is Joni Noe and my website is www.joninoestyle.comI haven’t thought of a great business name. I need one!

How long have you been styling?

  • I began styling when I finished graduate school at CalArts around five years ago. While I was in school, I made photographs of still life compositions. I was assisting prop, table top and interiors stylists while I got my MFA. Before that I’d worked as the assistant to the Style Director at Martha Stewart Weddings from 2003-2005, and worked as a photo editor at Martha Stewart Living 2005-2007, and then moved over to Domino Magazine in 2007 until it folded in 2009. So, I’d dabbled in styling and photography before committing to a career as a stylist. 

One Part Plant Spinach Salad

How did you and Jessica connect on this project? How long does doing a cookbook take?!

  • Jessica asked a few photographers and LA based friends for referrals and according to her, my name came up twice. I was flattered when she reached out to me. When we finally spoke on the phone she revealed that a major reason she’d wanted to work with me was that she’d noticed I hadn’t updated my Instagram in over a year. There was nothing predictable about what Jessica might say and I really loved that. Plus she was kind and warm and I could hear how special the project was to her. 
  • We shot the cookbook over two weeks with a weekend off in between, so we could re-energize. We had a small crew, but It’s a lot of shots and time spent together in close quarters, so we got to know each other quickly. 

One Part Plant Peppermint Cups.

When a client comes to you for food and prop styling what is the level of collaboration like?

  • Oh gosh, this varies from client to client. In this case, Jessica and I spoke a few times on the phone and she sent me a pdf of food and prop styling she loved, and images of things she did NOT like. For example, Jessica’s not a fan of too much napkin, or excessive hand towels in the shots. She’s beyond aware of the trends in food photography and wanted to keep things simple, and practical. At the same time, she loves pattern and bold color. She sent me inspirational images saying, I love the color of this radish, and the light on the onion skin, but I hate these fake vintage, pastel latte bowls. I remember thinking, THANK YOU! I hate those bowls and I never want to see them again either.  
  • Another thing that stood out to me was that she loved old hotel platters and plates, and her everyday coffee mug, except it was anything but everyday. It was hand painted and had a woman’s face. We’d hoped to push things forward a little, but also didn’t want to be ridiculous or wasteful. We wanted things to feel fresh and beautiful and playful, but not too precious. Her recipes were intended for real people to enjoy and needed to feel approachable, and also like they came from Jessica (and some from her fantastic chef friends too). Jessica’s personal fashion style is unique and playful. She can rock vintage and looks amazing in hats, and caftans well you can see her in her portraits. We wanted all of that to come through in the propping. Jessica wanted to include her friends and their wares too. I met up with artist, Bari Zipperstein at her studio before the cookbook shoot. She’s a dear friend of Jessica’s and I’d known of Bari’s work for a couple years, but hadn’t had the privilege of a studio visit until we needed beautiful vessels for our shots. Jessica loves flowers and let me run with it when it came time for florals. She had an opinion, and she never over directed, so it was the best kind of play.

One Part Plant Spicy Broccoli Rice

Do you have an arsenal of props, or do you rent often?

  • YES! I have an arsenal of props and I rent some too. I’m always looking for new and old things. I have generous friends who let me rent from them too. I end up making some of my own surfaces and tabletops because I can’t always find what I need in a rental. I grouted my first ceramic tile surface this week!

One Part Plant Strawberry Granita

What are your three best tips on prop hunting?

1. Make a list. It doesn’t sound romantic, but it is a job after all. When I’m prepping, I definitely shop with lists and continually break them down. I re-read my lists before I enter a store or an aisle so the props are fresh on my mind. Mostly I’m looking and scanning and it’s easy to get distracted.

2. Go with a friend or an assistant. I love going to the flea market with friends. Recently I shopped with floral stylist, Livia Cetti of The Green Vase, and her mother, Connie Cetti of The Green Vase Antiques. It was fun to bounce around ideas and weigh decisions with them. Having another set of eyes is wonderful, plus if your friend knows you and your style well, they spot items for you, and vice versa. 

3. Ask the shop keeper or prop house exactly what you’re looking for. There’s pleasure in the hunt, but asking for help saves time. And when it comes to renting props, it’s great to scout ahead online, but it’s another thing to see the prop in person. Sometimes it’s been painted, or scratched or not the right scale. Get your eyes on it.

one part plant cook book

The CookBook!!! With a forward by Lena Dunham.

What are your best tips on taking a great flat lay (overhead) photo?

  • Is this for social media? If so, clear away any extraneous items in the periphery if you want the viewer to focus on something particular. No one wants to see your clothes hamper in the background or piles of unopened mail, and tangled cords. 
  • If you’re taking a photo with your phone, you may or may not want your own shadow in the photo. It’s an issue for me if there’s an overhead lighting source. Turn off any lighting if you can use daylight instead. 
  • If it’s a product shoot, I guess the first thing I’m thinking about is the surface and having museum wax handy so nothing rolls away or out of place. 
  • And finally, watch the edges of the composition, especially if it’s a product shoot. There’s often a distortion and you might need to prop up or shim the items on the outside edges.
  •  Oh, I think it’s nice to mix up layers, contrast smooth and rough surfaces, soft and hard edges, or play with color, just for fun!

Thank you to Joni and Jess! I’ve made three of Jessica’s recipes already and can seriously say that they are easy, approachable and delicious (my creative talents do not extend into the kitchen!) so I need all the help I can get. Get ONE PART PLANT into your kitchen too!



Valentine’s Day Dinner Party Made Easy

valentine's day dinner party ideas

You know how everyone has that one holiday they are wild about? Well, for whatever reason I’ve always had a soft spot for Valentine’s day. Maybe it was my grandma’s vintage valentine display each year, or that I’m a sucker for love, or that I’m fond of the color palette. Whatever the reason, I love having an excuse to create a pretty tablescape and have some girl friends over.

My new dining room doesn’t hurt this holiday scenario, because the pops of blush are really working in the month of February. The full dining room reveal is still on hold until a few final touches are in place (ahem, marble fabric drapes!!) but these table shots turned out too pretty not to share! Here are some easy ideas for hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner party and creating an elegant (but actually really easy) table setting. Thanks to stylist Elise Metzger for helping with the styling and setting ideas!

This to-do list and shopping list should have you covered. With most of these items on hand you can set this party up in an hour flat (my secret is ordering out for the main course) I never said I was a chef!


  • Gather dish ware and sliver ware you already have on hand. Ideally white dishes or something that works with the pink or red palette.
  • A cloth table runner and napkins add an elegant touch. If you don’t have any on hand you can get inexpensive muslin from a craft/fabric store and quickly cut/rip your own. Measure out a generous 18 to 20 inches with a ruler, start your cut with scissors, and rip. It’s a super quick project and will give your napkins an unfussy edge.
  • Small bowls work well for floating single roses, add some tea lights too.
  • Check the grocery list below. You can grab lots of store bought items to make the appetizer, dessert and beverages for the night.
  • Order out for dinner and you are DONE!!!

Setting the table simply feels elegant with the addition of a cloth runner, napkins, wine glasses and simple decor like cut roses and tea lights.

Continue reading →

Women Who MAKE: Ashley Mary Art

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching I cannot think of a better month than February to arrive at an artist’s studio, and be greeted by an awesome pink door. Minneapolis based artist and illustrator, Ashley Mary, is one big-hearted and lovely lady! We hit it off immediately, and Ashley really dove into all my questions with such truthful and articulate answers. These monthly features are here to remind us all (myself included!) that we are not alone in our struggles as creatives or small business owners.

I’m grateful to Ashely Mary Art for opening her studio up to (pretty much) a stranger — look at all the beauty our photographer and fellow creative, Erin Francois, was able to capture! Enjoy the interview, and if you’re looking to visit Minneapolis yourself, don’t miss this city guide with some of Erin and Ashley’s favorite hometown spots.

Women Who MAKE Interview – ASHELY MARY ART

  • Name: Ashley Mary
  • Age: 32
  • Current title/company name: Artist, illustrator, designer, stylist
  • Years in operation: as a full-time freelancer three years, artist for nine

What are your first memories of making [art]/being creative?

A few pop into my mind. I had one of those spinning paper toys that you could drop the paint on and it would swirl and splash into a little design. Aging myself! I remember playing with that and loving the surprise of art when the paper stopped spinning. I was a big Lego kid too. I really loved crafts of all sorts: needle point, friendship bracelets, sewing things for my dolls, coloring, playing with boxes. I had a very large imagination so usually what I was making was a part of a larger story I was acting within like “house” “school” or putting on performances from my garage for neighbors who I served my mom’s LaCroix to. I was definitely a theatrical booger (and still am, keep me away form a karaoke bar).

How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own and become small business owner?

I only took a small handful of art courses in college, but it was going back to school at MCAD that changed the course of my creative life. I learned a whole new set of tools to bring my analog world into the digital. Learning tools like Photoshop and Illustrator have been game-changers for me. I used to do a lot of public speaking in my last job, it was very relational too, I got to listen to people’s stories a lot. And I think both of those skills make me better at marketing myself and working with clients to get them what they need. I’m not super shy and that’s helped me introduce my work to new people.

Continue reading →

Centered City Guide: Minneapolis, MN

Last weekend, I had the good fortune to be invited on weekend trip to Minneapolis, MN with some inspiring creatives and a few brands who care deeply about craftsmanship. Liberte´ yogurt hosted a weekend stay at the new Hewing Hotel in the North Loop district, and Faribault Mills gave our group a private tour of their incredible factory, which is about an hour outside the city. Midwest Living published a nice itinerary for an overnight getaway in the Faribault area, just as an FYI. And if you want to see pretty pictures of the hotel, fellow designer and blogger Sarah Gibbs, just posted some great shots on her blog.

I highly recommend taking the tour and visiting the factory store at Faribault (tours are on Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays – call to make a reservation in advance). The wool mill employs approximately 105 people, all working to make incredible blankets, and other wool products all made here in the USA. Its history began in 1865, the year Lincoln died and the Civil War ended. Faribault has a long history of making blankets for all areas of the US Military (more than 100,000 blankets during WWI), and had to close its doors during the 2008 recession. They have come back strong since re-opening in 2011, with many consumers now caring more about quality and USA made products. As you can tell, I’m a total fan of such a handmade and local product!

Hewing Hotel, photo by Sarah Gibbs.

Faribault Factory Store, Photo by Modern Midwest

Continue reading →

Design Blogger Conference Awards 2017

January 28, 2017 Interior Design 0 Comments

Hi friends and readers! I need your help and votes : )

I’m super stoked to be nominated in two categories at the Design Bloggers Conference, which is hosted in LA this year. This will be my first time attending the conference, and I’m not sure exactly how the blog got selected, but it appears to have been submitted, and made its way to the top for Best Writing on a Design Blog AND Best Design Blog Graphics, Photography, and Presentation. Holy cow, this is so awesome!!

There are going to be some amazing people speaking at the Design Blogger Conference 2017, including these well-known ladies who many of us love:

It would be BEYOND cool to win one of these categories and accept the award at the conference. Would you be so kind as to take a minute to vote for me? Follow this LINK and look for the red lettering that says ‘CLICK HERE TO VOTE.’ It’s a super quick survey monkey form, it will take 10 seconds maximum! Voting ends Feb. 17th, you only need to fill out the survey one time. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!


If you are interested in learning more about conference check it out here: http://design-bloggers-conference.com/2017-speakers/



Women Who MAKE: Jane Denton Art

January 25, 2017 Interviews 0 Comments
jane denton art

Ah! Today’s interview gives me a huge case of wanderlust! New Zealand based textile artist, Jane Denton is our creative woman of the hour, and she is sharing her thoughts on creativity, craft and entrepreneurship. When I found out that Jane was living and creating her art in Wellington, the creative capital of New Zealand, I knew I had to reach out to her!

I was lucky enough to adventure and live in this visually stunning country in 2011. Luke and I had year-long working visas, and I had a blog back then too! I really wish I could link to it, but it was an Apple blog and doesn’t really exist anymore. A few old photos will have to suffice, and I’ve posted them at the end of Jane’s interview. Luke proposed to me in Wellington, and all of NZ holds quite a special place in our heart! I’m so happy to have connected with Jane, as her work is so modern and unique, and thinking of NZ brings back many good memories for us.

You may recognize Jane’s work from Emily Henderson’s adorable nursery, which is where I first saw her art as well. Here’s more from Jane and a look at her playful and colorful embroidery!

Photo credit: Tessa Neustadt

Women Who MAKE Interview – JANE DENTON ART

  • Name: Jane Denton
  • Age: 41
  • Current title/company name: Textile Artist
  • Years in operation: 5 years

Continue reading →

The Warwick Reno: KITCHEN REVEAL

classic black and white kitchen

Woohoo!! The big moment has finally arrived. It’s our classic black and white kitchen reveal!

Remember the before photos and the DESIGN PLAN?

Before. What can I say, there are many issues here. Linoleum floor, sagging counter top, stove has to be plugged in with an extension cord!

black and white kitchen design plan

Design board, see details linked in previous post.

Continue reading →

Fashion and Interiors with CoChic Styling

Hey there, I’m excited to share a new monthly post concept and my latest collaborator! Alyssa Doorhy is a Chicago-based stylist and owner of CoChic Styling. I love Alyssa’s approach, which is a combination of instilling fashion confidence in her clients, and showing them how comfort does not have to be sacrificed for style. Feeling like the best version of yourself helps in life and business, and I know I need help from falling into my ruts! Hello mom jeans (I’m not even a mom) and camel colored turtlenecks : )

I’ve aways been a fashion fan (the first two jobs I wanted as a kid were fashion designer or disney animator) and since Alyssa is steeped in clothing and fashion on the daily, I thought we’d dream up some fabulous outfits based on beautiful interiors, even using a few rooms of my own design. Bringing fashion and interiors together just makes me smile. Also, fashion informs me when I’m getting to know my interior design clients. I always ask them where they shop for clothing, and if they personally identify with any iconic brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Calvin Klein, etc. These distinctions let me know a lot about what they gravitate towards style wise.

Continue reading →

Save the Date: Lake Forest Show House 2017

lake forest show house 2017

I’m thrilled to be participating in the Lake Forest Show House 2017, along side Relativity Textiles! We are co-designing the back stairway, hall and small bath off the hall. The Lake Forest Show House is always a stunner, and benefits The Infant Welfare Society of Chicago. SAVE THE DATES, April 29 – May 21st when the house will be open to the public to tour! Below is more about our design inspiration and details about the historic property and Honorary Chair Mark D. Sikes.

Here are some of our design concepts for this 40 foot hallway, and modest bathroom. We will be using a custom wallpaper created by Relativity, blue sisal carpeting layered with Turkish rugs, a gorgeous shade of peachy/coral on the ceiling, and we’ll build out a seating nook where there is currently a closet.

Continue reading →