Design Reveal: Ali and Brian's New Nest

Hello, friends! I won't even bother trying to hide my excitement for today's post - it's a design project I've been looking forward to sharing with you since JANUARY! And in January, all I was looking at were these photos:

While these images represent a DECADE of dudes on rotation moving in and out, the potential had my heart fluttering at first look. But not just because of the potential for some really fun design - this is the second time getting to work with our dear client, Ali! You may remember Ali's Navy Yard condo, (bedrooms here)? Ali was absolutely amazing to work with the first time around - she let me dream big and come up with risky ideas that required HER execution! She's a total go-getter and when she's happy with the design, she will make it happen. So I knew going into this one that we could do some big fun things!

But the very best part of this particular design project is that it represents an incredibly precious new chapter in Ali's life. Ali moved into this space with her fiance, Brian! They tie the knot in about 6 weeks and we sure couldn't feel happier for these two lovebirds. Brian has lived here for 10 years and when Ali came onto the scene, she wasted no time transforming this long running bachelor pad. But combining two full lives under one roof proved quite the challenge! Their many, (maaaaaany), books needed ample storage space, their desire to entertain and host friends needed room to do so, and even the task of joining their individual styles together required some creative thinking. Brian prefers warmer colors, (hence the mustard yellow walls and red rugs), while Ali enjoys a lighter, airier space with room to breath. We used a lot of neutrals and blue tones throughout her previous condo and she expressed early on that she didn't want this home to look just like her last. 

Let's take a look around!


Brian works from home a good bit and uses the bay window in the living room as his office. So while table space and comfortable seating for his meetings were important, we were also weary of the space looking too much like a dining room. It can certainly double as dining space when need be, but thoughtful chair selection and styling was crucial in executing this space as a definitive work area.



I am the LUCKIEST girl to have a business partner like Cate who can come in with fresh eyes and style these spaces out on shooting day. There were some odds and ends to finish up here before we got pictures and it was such a relief to know Cate would bring the shelves to life with her thoughtful touch. We've done this enough times now that she understands my style, she's prepped on the vibe of the space, and works her magic to create groupings that make sense in the surrounding room. There was A LOT to work with in here and she hit the nail on the head. It doesn't hurt that Ali herself has acquired some really fun goodies to play with! Not only does she have the greenest thumb among us, she has a careful eye for art, photography, and pretty little things. It was a lot of fun to be hands on in this space after 7 months of selecting everything from paint to picture frames!


The first thing I started brainstorming for this space was storage. I knew I wanted to add storage to both sides of the fireplace, (which is, indeed, off center -  your eyes aren't messing with you), but one side is narrower than the other. Asymmetry doesn't bother me in the least so when I plugged two side-by-side IVAR cabinets from IKEA to the left side in the digital floorplan and saw that they were a perfect fit, I decided to just run open shelving up the right side. This solution makes absolute sense given that Brian's work area is on that left side and he really needs the extra storage space there. I wanted to have the IVAR cabinets floating over the floor by about 8" for a modern, custom look, and cannot express enough how much I love, love, love how they turned out! Ali and her handy Dad hung the shelves and they created the mantle from a DIY tutorial we found on Pinterest, (which they brilliantly added a notch in from behind to hide cords)!


If this isn't your first StyleMutt Home design reveal, you might be noticing a recurring element - moody mossy green, and specifically green velvet, (examples A, B, C, D - walls and sofa for a double whammy, E, F - you get the point!). And those are only a few that we've photographed so far! As a young designer with an itty bitty portfolio, it can be risky to reuse an element over and over. Will that signature move be well received or turn people off? I've used this element both subtly and obviously in various jobs and it's just my favorite! Dark green was first inspired by my love for nature and the beautiful shades of green I see right outside my window. I view it and use it as a neutral and love how it adds a touch of earthiness! It's not right for every space, but somehow it finds its way in to quite a few!


When we got down to the final details and Ali was ready for pillows, I got a little carried away! But with all that we had going on across the room on the shelves, I wanted to balance the space with some weight on the sofa. I had A LOT of fun with the pillows. :)

And if you want to know what's behind the door that the couch is blocking, you'll need to take that up with Sweden. Apparently this old building in DC belongs to them LOL!!! All I know is that no one needs access to that door and it's the only wall in the room to place the sofa, (and with the dimensions of the room, floating the sofa is not an option). I only tell you this because I have already had one designer question this layout with a comment: "Sofa in front of a door?" I get it, it's not ideal, But this is DC living, folks. Old, quirky buildings with odd elements that you just have to work with. I worked with it by adding an oversized mirror to one side of the door and mounting a good sized sconce to the other. When the conditions are not ideal, you can always fall back on scale and at least get that right.




Recognize the art? It was over Ali's sofa in her last place! She took that photo in Cambodia and framed it herself!!


This sweet alcove is right off the kitchen and is perfect for dining and game nights. Nailing down exactly how Ali and Brian wanted to use this space was crucial and I had a couple different ideas for it. But when comfortable seating and dining height table space became priority in this narrow space with only two walls, it made sense to add a banquette and round pedestal table. A Craigslisted cabinet stores games and defines the space, along with a cozy rug and soft leather chairs. And more pillows - I'm telling you, I've never had more fun with pillows!


The bedroom is a quieter extension of the main living spaces - layered texture and pattern take on a more neutral vibe with the strong statements being the brick and green velvet covered headboard.



There are pleeenty of gorgeous lush green velvet headboards out there, but with a perfectly good headboard already in place and a willing Ali to recover it herself, I found this delicious mossy velvet on Etsy for her to use - this is a much more cost efficient solution but the results are dramatic!


One of the sweetest surprises in here was when they removed the makeshift desk that had been built over top of the window seat! It was something we had spent quite a bit of time discussing when they gave me the Facetime tour during our consultation, and at the time they weren't sure it could be broken down. But they made it happen and it completely opens this room up! I have a special place in my heart for window seats so this element just puts a smile on my face.



The last stop of our tour is the back room which doubles as Ali's office and their guest room.



A rolling desk floating in front of some Billies, (bookshelves from IKEA), make this an easily transitional space when guests come in town.


It's bittersweet to be at the end of this amazing project and to be done working with Ali and Brian. I cannot express enough what a gift it's been to get to work with them, (and with Ali TWICE). I said this last time, but she makes us look DARN GOOD! It's so hard to get projects to the finish line as things come up in our client's lives, (as we, too, experience and more than understand), so connecting with someone who cares just as much to see things through, even moving mountains to do so, just means the world. Fortunately we have had the pleasure of working with several like minded clients this year, so this reveal is the beginning of a short chain of finished projects we will get to share with you! We hope you enjoyed this one and we can't wait to share more soon!

Thank you so much for stopping by today!


Shelly's Surprise Makeover: A Community Collaboration

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

It is such a pleasure today to introduce you guys to Shelly and her husband Geoff, (and their totally normal not weird at all kids, Katie, Brenham and Austin, in youngest to oldest order. I kid. They're awesome, as you can clearly see).

Four-ish months ago Shelly was diagnosed with brain cancer after having a tumor removed. Glioblastoma, to be specific, (in her own words, don't Google it - the stats aren't pretty). This family's new 'normal' is nothing that we could ever imagine; We're not trying to exploit their life or plaster their journey over the great world wide web, (and Shelly is graciously open to us sharing all this). We tell you because it's important for you to know that without the Lord it would be impossible for them to have the immense joy and peace that they have at this time.

Matt and I have the pleasure of attending Christ Community Church with Shelly and her family, and she has been blowing our minds with her outspoken peace and pure delight in the Lord. Her entire perspective has been made new. As Shelly has expressed, cancer sucks, (!!!), but she wouldn't change a thing and. She speaks from experience when she says that something as scary as brain cancer doesn't have to defeat or define a person. Knowing someone going through this otherwise disparaging journey who knows deep, deep contentment in Jesus, is like having a backstage pass, or access, to the remarkable gifts from Him. Because of Shelly and the Truth she's spoken through her testament, I've felt a shifting in my focus that I think the Lord has been working on for a while.

So, despite her world getting turned upside down, Shelly had a unique and awesome request a couple months ago: A living room makeover!!! And better yet, we share a mutual design friend with Shelly who we got to work alongside with for this project - Kate from Olive and Ford Designs, (Instagram, @oliveandford)! So let's recap: That's one makeover, for a friend, with a friend. Yes, yes and yes!!! Ultimate dream.

Shelly's living room actually had really good bones before we got to work - floor to vaulted ceiling windows, distressed leather sofas, a gorgeous new-ish entertainment center, plenty of light, and neutral walls, carpet, etc. Really, not bad! But our dear friend desired a refresh and with all she's got going on can you blame her?!

And After!

And After!

At this point in our reveal we must stop to acknowledge those who stepped up and helped this makeover happen. The first thing we did was reach out to some of our incredibly talented friends in the design community that we knew shared a similar aesthetic to the style we were running with and asked if they'd be interested in being a part of this makeover with donated goods. Upon hearing even a tiny bit about Shelly and the incredibly positive outlook she has, the generous responses were immediate. We'll include sources under photos with donated items - these folks didn't ask to be tagged, but their work is just so incredible and we do hope you'll consider supporting them next time you need a thing!

Denim Pillow with Fringe,  INDIEbungalow

Denim Pillow with Fringe, INDIEbungalow

The gorgeous mint and leather bike was also donated - by Katie; Shelly's teenage daughter! She agreed never to ride it again, ever. Hah! Seriously though, isn't it errr-thang?!

Baskets, Books, and Blue Glass,  Harper and Arrow Market   Abstract Art, (this piece is a smaller version of one this artistis custom painting for this space insimilar colors),  Christie Adelle

Baskets, Books, and Blue Glass, Harper and Arrow Market

Abstract Art, (this piece is a smaller version of one this artistis custom painting for this space insimilar colors), Christie Adelle

Striped Indigo Pillow,  The Woven Home

Striped Indigo Pillow, The Woven Home

Shelly, loving the beach as she does, already had plenty of aqua and teal-y green in her home, (she painted those kitchen chairs and you'll see the color a bit more saturated on the accent wall in the mudroom). The addition of blues and peachy pinks and coral just brought the look home like a sunset.

Beach Print,  The Woven Home

Beach Print, The Woven Home

Blue Pillows,  Sweet Clover Barn

Blue Pillows, Sweet Clover Barn

There you have it! This makeover was such a delight for so many reasons. Joining with other creatives to put this together was a humbling experience, as was getting to collaborate with the amazing Kate - please, please follower her at Olive and Ford, (Instagram, @oliveandford); her work is amazing. She literally does. it. all. And mostly, the opportunity to do this makeover for Shelly was such a gift; she's an amazing woman full of grace, grit and one of THE best senses of humor ever - working on her home was such a natural response of our admiration of her.

If you'd like to stay updated with Shelly you can follow her journey at, Site Name: shellyhoward

Thank you all for stopping by!

Sleek, glam desk || Before+After

Hi friends! Quick rhetorical question for ya: Would you bring this desk home with you from a thrift store?

It certainly wasn't much to look at when I saw it a month or so ago. In fact, I passed it by twice before removing all the junk stacked on top to take a closer look. And let me tell you, the closer look did NOT help! Peeling contact paper on the drawer fronts, unattached corners of veneer, and what appeared to be a coded treasure map etched into the top surface. So, I took all of this and weighed it against the one pro - the shape! I thought, if I can do something, anything to help this desk, it could be da bomb diggity!

So I painted it glossy white and sprayed the handles gold. Done and done.

It's not every day that a simple coat of white paint impresses me this much, but if there were ever a piece to paint white and be DONE with it, this was the piece! I used Glidden's Trim, Door, Furniture paint in Bright White. I've shared this paint before with this custom three-piece set, but let's just say it again: If you want a high gloss finish that's as easy to achieve as the no-prep chalk paint, THIS is your paint. It's thick as molasses, and adheres to anything. I didn't do any prep on this piece other than cleaning it up a bit, (and I did use strong wood glue to reattach the veneer and peeled off the loose contact paper). But with a paint this thick, it's going to hold everything together anyways. 

When dry, the surface settles to a smooth, glassy finish that is reflective and durable as anything I've seen. I've banged pieces covered in this paint and not a single thing happens. The paint won't chip, peel, or get a single ding.

This piece is now available for sale to the DC metro area
46.5"W x 28.5"H x 23.5"D
Contact if interested!

Check back tomorrow for you know what! ;) Thank you all for stopping by!

Celebrating this one turning 4 today! Happy Birthday to our Mason! You are larger than life and it's a pleasure to be your Momma.