Modern Windsor chair roundup

Posted by Lauran

English settlers brought the Windsor chair to America in about 1726, and they’ve stayed a favorite in traditional homes ever since. But in the last couple of years, we’ve seen a modern re-invention of the Windsor chair, often in fun colors that look fresh gathered around a dining or kitchen table.

windsor painted chairs

image from

If you’re a fan of this look, you’re in luck—several great retailers offer their own version. Here are five such resources.

Serena & Lily

tucker 1

The Tucker Chair is offered in 9 colors, for $188 each.


EQ3 Lyla Side Chair

The Lyla Side Chair from EQ3 comes in 6 colors and is priced at $179.


DWR salt chair

DWR’s Salt Chair is $129 and is available in 4 colors.

West Elm

west elm spindle chair

West Elm’s version is called the Scissor Spindle Chair, available in Gray only and on sale right now for $149.99.


Threshold Windsor chair copy 2

Finally, Target offers a set of 2 of their Windsor Dining Chairs for $149.99, in 7 happy colors.

Here’s another image to inspire you to mix and match these simple chairs to your heart’s content!

more chairs

Image via A Place for Us to Dream

The colors of Costa Rica

Posted by Lauran

There’s nothing like a vacation to get your creative juices flowing. I just returned from a wonderful retreat in Costa Rica, where I was inspired by the color all around me. I was especially struck by the houses and stores painted bright and happy tones.

CR pink

CR peach/pink

Vibrant color combinations were everywhere, not only on the buildings but also in the fresh fruit, the gorgeous beads and baskets sold on the beach, and the breathtaking sunsets.

CR beads

CR fruit

CR green

CR sunset

CR flowers

Craving some of this bright tropical feeling for your own home? Here are some ideas to capture these colors (without transporting yourself to Central America).

Buy a new rug

florpink copy

Heaven Sent in Pink by flor

lotus rug

Lotus Rug at CB2

Paint a door

blue door copy

DKOR Interiors

yellow door

Apartment Therapy, via fastightesbryan

Hang something on the wall

pink clock copy

Wake Up Call clock at DENY Designs


Shana Bearden

Put up some wallpaper

JB wallpaper

Nana (Pink) Wallpaper by Justina Blakeney

Paint a wall

coral room

Danielle Oakey Interiors

Vicente kids

Visual Jill Interior Decorating

If you’re ready to paint, these colors are sure to put you in a Costa Rican state of mind (all Benjamin Moore):Paint Colors CollageTry one of these on your front door, an accent wall, or a beat-up piece of furniture.

Now . . . time for another margarita!

Talking about color blocking

Posted by Lauran

Here at Visual Jill, we encourage our clients to take chances with paint color. We’re big fans of accent walls and even painted ceilings. But lately I’ve been noticing a trend toward color blocking—paint being used in new and different ways to accentuate certain parts of a room rather than an entire wall.

Caroline-Gomez-Bordeaux-House-Remodelista-09 Caroline-Gomez-Bordeaux-House-Remodelista-03

Remodelista recently featured the home of French designer Caroline Gomez, above, who is clearly a genius in color blocking. Notice how the gray wraparound stripe in the bedroom calls to mind a headboard; and the mint green painted column designates the living room as its own space.


Another Remodelista post featured remodeling tips from Amanda Pays, who has color blocked a powder room for extra personality (above).

colorful triangles

Check out this bold angular color blocking from My Attic! I love how the aqua is duplicated on the wire stand and old typewriter.

If you don’t want to make such a dramatic statement, play with color on your interior doors—an easier way to do some color blocking.

3-dining-room-west-wall-800-design sponge

In this home featured on Design*Sponge, the owner chose to paint two doors in different bright citrus colors, and it really works!

half painted door

And it’s no surprise that the ladies at A Beautiful Mess would experiment with color blocking! This bold yellow door welcomes guests and gives a good hint of what’s behind it: more color and personality.

Photography credits:

Julien Fernandez, Matthew Williams, Marij Hessel, Aunt Peaches, Sarah Rhodes

Must-have lighting: modern sconces

Posted by Lauran

Several years ago, the word “sconce” would conjure up an old-fashioned dark brass lighting fixture befitting a Victorian library or a masculine cigar-smoker’s den. But today there are so many modern choices that it’s easy to incorporate this versatile lighting source into your home, whether you want to stick with brass or go for color.


Just feast your eyes on these bright choices! Clockwise from top right:  1. Isaac Sconce from Schoolhouse Electric, $130, available in three colors; 2.Radar Sconce from Schoolhouse Electric, $169, available in six colors; 3. Signal One-Arm Wall Sconce from Horne, $387, available in over 20 colors; 4. Industrial Wall Lamp from onefortythree, $225, available in four colors; 5. Colored Wall Sconce from onefortythree, $65, available in six new colors; 6. The Downtown Minimalist Sconce from Barnlight Electric, $124, available in over 20 colors!

This week Design*Sponge (one of our favorite blogs!) featured Kelley’s home tour, where she hung a blue sconce from onefortythree next to her bed for easy reading!

onefortythree from designsponge

If you prefer a more subdued yet modern look, we love these updated brass fixtures, all from my favorite new-ish lighting company Cedar and Moss.


Sources, from top: 1. Branch sconce, $159, available in three finishes; 2. Alto Sconce, $179, available in three finishes; 3. Cedar and Moss Tilt Cone, $169, available in three finishes.

Can’t you just picture these on either side of an entryway, or alongside a modern (or brick) fireplace?

Blues, grays and . . . orange!

We recently staged a lovely renovated home that reminds us of a Scandinavian farmhouse. From the all-white/cream exterior, to the barn wood porch, to the soft colors used inside, it feels like it could be located on a rural farm in Sweden—instead of on an urban street in Oakland!



46 DR

The walls in the living room and dining room are painted a soft gray called Moonshine (I love that name!). We stuck to blues, whites and grays in our decor for these rooms. The master bedroom, office and guest rooms also feature light blues, from aqua to more of a periwinkle blue.

46 master

46 office

46 guest

But when we moved into the family room, we had a little fun by adding something unexpected—orange!

46 FR

We carried the orange accent color into the stairway and the finished attic, which we dubbed “the playroom.”


46 attic

It’s always a good idea to inject one bold color into your home’s palette. Orange is the perfect complement to blue (they are opposites on the color wheel), and is especially relevant during autumn months. What’s your favorite bold accent color? Let us know in the comments below.

All photography courtesy of John Hayes

Hip hostess gifts for design lovers

It’s that time of year! For the next several weeks, people open their doors to friends and family—chances are you’ll be invited to at least one get-together. Your mom taught you to never arrive at a party empty-handed, so this season think beyond a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers. Here are some fun ideas to give your hostess, no matter what type of entertainer she or he is.

For the Gourmet Cook


fall spoons copy

This set of spoons will make stirring her ingredients so much more colorful! From World Market, $14.97 for three.

For the Tea Party-Giver


These are coated with silicon and will look great on an open shelf. From CB2, $9.95-$24.95.

For the Hostess with a Black Thumb


Give her this cool vase filled with an indestructible air plant. From CorPottery on etsy, $30.

For the Cocktail Party Specialist

burlap coaster

These monogrammed jute coasters come in their own little bag. From World Market, $9.99.

For the Design-Savvy Hostess


These gorgeous napkins show off the geometric print trend. From Avrilloreti on etsy, $25 for two.

For the Baker

baking molds

Who wouldn’t love these hot pink baker molds coming out of their oven? From Ikea, $9.99 for the pair.

For the Newlywed Hosts

bamboo coaster

These personalized bamboo coasters will help them spread the love when they entertain. From Woodbemine on etsy, $24 for four.

Book review: Creative Family Home

We’ve just added a new design book to our collection: Creative Family Home, by Ashlyn Gibson. This book, featuring stunning photography by Rachel Whiting, is a treat for the eyes from cover to cover. It showcases 13 real families with colorful lives (literally and figuratively) that know how to put the FUN in functional.

creative home 4 copy

Anyone who lives with kids knows that they come with a lot of stuff—toys, books, dolls, etc. This book is full of inventive storage solutions to help contain the chaos.

creative home org

Here you can see some of these clever ideas (top, l to r): an old greeting card wire rack holds books and art prints; handcrafted baskets beautifully collect the stuff that needs to be taken upstairs; a vintage candy storage fixture holds pens, packets, and of course candy; old crates are artfully arranged and hung on a wall for the kids’ clutter; and stackable cubes are used creatively—some open and some filled with pull-out bins.

What I particularly love about this book is the glimpse we get into the homes of 13 European families. I was stuck by how most of them incorporate child-like whimsy in their dining spaces.

creative home 4-2 copy

This fun eat-in kitchen is in the home of a London family with four boys under the age of 10. Yikes. Note the casual collection of mismatched chairs. This combination of materials and colors tells us that this family has great taste, but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

creative home 5

Here’s another light-hearted eating space, this time belonging to an Amsterdam family with two girls. Again, mismatched chairs and bright colors are welcoming to kids and adults alike.

creative home 4-3 copy

And another Amsterdam family with two small boys doesn’t let the graphic tiled floor stop them from introducing more color and fun in their dining room. As the book says, “A carefully chosen selection of seating has something for everyone: the ubiquitous Tripp Trapp chair for the 1-year-old, the versatile bench for the 6-year-old, and retro-style chairs for the grown-ups.”

We highly recommend this book, even if you don’t have kids of your own. It is filled with prints, patterns, color, and fun that will inspire anyone who loves to decorate.




Adding color to all-white rooms

We just finished staging a renovated Oakland home. Unlike many of the homes we stage and decorate, every single room in this house has white walls. Because the agent selling the home is a “color minimalist”, there was not a single green, blue or yellow accent wall to be seen. Our challenge was to bring in color through accessories, artwork, and even some furniture. Here’s what we did.

Montell LR-Mel O.-©

The beautiful painting by Amiguel set the orange and blue color scheme for the living room.

montell DR-Mel O.-©

Because the living room with its orange and blue highlights flows directly into the dining space, we chose to stick to neutrals with our table, chairs, rug and artwork in this room.

Montell FR-Mel O.-©

But in the downstairs family room, it’s all about the turquoise on the Ikea sofa trim and CB2 rug. Hits of yellow also brighten the space.

Montell office-Mel O.-©

We had fun with multiple colors in the office, inspired by the variation in the vibrant original diptych by artist Mel.O. Note how the solid pillow and white desk keeps the room from being too frenetic.

Montell master-Mel O.-©

We chose to use a simple white duvet in the master bedroom so we could feature the orange, blue and orchid colors in the rest of the room.

IMG_9086-Mel O.-©

The cooler tones of green and blue in the guest room furnishings are also well-represented in the mixed-media piece by Amiguel.

The great thing about neutral walls (white and light gray are our favorites) is that you can completely alter the feeling of the room with a simple change of the rug or bedding.

All photography by Mel O.