Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Inspiration Board Numero Dos

I was recently asked to design a new space for a client that had a combo living room/home office/guest bedroom. She already had beautiful curtains (in a safari print - how fun!) that she wanted to stay in the room. Because these curtains were taste specific, I based my design specifically around these curtains.

Trying to maximize this space to serve the needs of three specific rooms was my biggest hurdle, as the room would need to achieve the following:

- Not "look" like an office and disguise not one, not two, but three printers (one of which was extremely large...as in almost 3 feet tall) and a partridge in a pear tree fax machine
- Incorporate a stylish and comfortable sleeper sofa, that wouldn't require much furniture moving and wrangling when it was time to pull the mattress out
- Feel like a living room and serve as additional entertaining space

Here is what I came up with:

And, here is the floor plan:

While I know a picture is always worth 1,000 words, I feel like a few more words might help in understanding how this room will all come together. What can I say, I'm wordy. As the floor plan shows, the sofa bed will be against a window-less wall, with a vintage-style coffee table (on wheels) for easy transport out of the mattress's way when guests are staying over.

The other window-less wall will house all of the unsightly "office-y" supplies. Placed in the center of the wall is a dark walnut buffet with cabinet doors for stowing away printer paper, the fax machine, etc. Flanking each side of the buffet are file cabinets. Sitting on top of each cabinet are the two larger printers. In front of the printer/file cabinets are the most beautiful linen/nail-head trimmed screens. They are on wheels, too, for easy access to the printer as needed.

The desk is situated in front of three windows, providing a nice view when day dreaming calls. To the left of the desk is a tall bookcase, and the last of the three darned printers (which also happens to be the tiniest) sits on the bottom shelf. Slightly in front of the bookshelf and next to the window is a black wing chair and small end table.

All in all, both the client and I are thrilled with how this room turned out! It provides a welcoming space for overnight guests, an efficient home office space for the client's husband who works long hours from home, and lastly, the room looks and feels like a living room. Seeing it all come together has been thrilling!

If you are in need of design services and would like to receive a customized design board, floor plan, and a detailed source/shopping list within your budget send me an email - I'd love to help out!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

One of the World's Best Kept Diet Secrets...

It's no secret around here that I have a major sweet tooth. Unfortunately, that's not the only thing I'm a sucker for. I also love comfort foods, the cheesier the better......especially when the temperatures starts falling (like it rapidly is here in New England). So naturally, lasagna is one of my fave foods that I've been especially looking forward to eating lately. Having a lasagna a few times during the year really isn't a bad thing....but what do you do when you want lasagna on a weekly basis once the cold weather rolls in? Well, my lucky readers, I have the answer for you...................

Zucchini Lasagna!!! The idea is genius. I came across Gina's recipe on one of my favorite healthy cooking blogs: Skinnytaste. The recipe includes all of the typical lasagna ingredients - flavorful, thick sauce, ground meat, and lots of ricotta, parm/reggiano and mozzarella cheese. But no lasagna noodles. That clever Gina simply sliced zucchinis into long, thin strips and replaced the lasagna noodles with this low-cal, low-carb vedgie substitute. With the glorious sauce, fresh basil, loads of cheese and ground meat I can honestly say the lasagna noodles weren't missed and it 100% fulfilled my lasagna craving.

This recipe was simply too good to not share with as many people as possible, so I've posted it below. The only special comment I have regarding the recipe is be sure to read the entire recipe before you begin any steps. I always fall for not doing that, and sure enough, I missed a kind-of-important beginning step, which was to be sure and cut the zucchini and then sprinkle it with salt and let it sit for about 10 minutes before broiling it. This will help zap out moisture, as zucchini is known for retaining a lot of water. Other than that, the steps are easy and it's basically the same process as making lasagna the traditional way.

Wait, I lied - I do have one more special comment regarding this recipe. Gina's version below calls for 93% lean beef; I used 99% fat free turkey. It tasted amazing with turkey and by making this substitution it will definitely reduce the calories/fat in the nutrition information posted below.....that is unless you add in an extra handful of mozzarella cheese like I did.... :-)

Zucchini Lasagna
Servings: 6 • Serving Size: 1/6th • Calories: 418.8 • Fat: 17.6 g • Protein: 39.2 g • Carb: 20.9 g • Fiber: 3.1 g 
  • 1 lb 93% lean beef
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8" thick
  • 15 oz fat free ricotta
  • 16 oz reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded (Weight Watchers)
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 large egg
On a gas grill or in the broiler, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side.

In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8" thick slices, add salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well.

Preheat oven to 350°

In a 9x12 casserole spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Then place some of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella and cover with foil.

Bake 45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

 Bon Appetit! Does anyone else have any other healthy recipes to share??! Do tell!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Inspiration Board for a Nautical Inspired Bar/Living Room

G'day to all of my lovely and faithful readers out there (if any of you remain after my extended summer hiatus from blogging).....for a host of reasons, I decided to take the summer off, and I am happy to write that I am officially back in the swing of things, including blogging and serial DIY-ing! What's my latest project, you ask?

I have been dabbling with the idea of creating inspiration boards to help me pull together all of the design visions running through my head - both for my own home and for others that have sought out my design perspective. There are many a talented designer out there currently using inspiration boards (both virtual and in the flesh, or, er, paper) and I thought I would try hand at it, too.

My first go around with a virtual inspiration board has revolved around a minor makeover plan for our living room. Overall, Mr. C. and I think the living room is pretty and for the most part all of the rooms on the first floor of our home are for the most part, finished. Up until a few weeks ago, here is what our living room looked like:

However, we spend the vast majority of our time in only half of those rooms - namely the kitchen and our family room. The dining room gets used on Thanksgiving and the living room, well, never. I want our rooms to not only look good, but to serve a purpose so we can actually use them on a somewhat regular basis.

Inspired by our recent vacation to Napa and our love for wine (and probably by our most recent fascination with "Mad Men,") we have decided to use this living room as more of a wine tasting/bar/lounge space. Mr. C. and I both have always had a love for reds (Mr. C's first choice is Malbec, mine = Cabernet) and we are starting to build a decent collection. We also enjoy a good cocktail, so we have a pretty decently stocked bar, as well. So, our love of booze (ughh, does that sound really bad!?) has helped us decide how we would like to utilize this space.

Turns out I'm not the only one to have this brilliant idea for their living room.....apparently between the 16-18th century, many homes contained "drawing rooms," which is where the owner of the home (and his wife) would withdraw after dinner for cordials and cigars. Although we won't be called this space a "drawing room," we will definitely be using it as such. That is, until AA comes a-knocking at our door. Bad, I know.

So, here is my first inspiration board featuring the design vision for our living room/lounge. I was feeling a nautical style (of course!), but I wanted the room to have a decidedly more formal look and almost resemble being aboard a fancy yacht bar...if that makes any sense. That's what I was picturing in my head, anyway.....and here it is pictured below in my first-ever inspiration board: