A couple months ago I was asked to be a guest on Jess Lively’s podcast series chatting about the subject of perfectionism, a subject I know about all too well. As long as I can remember I’ve been a worrier, a control-freak and desirous of a flawless existence. Even when it comes down to the small stuff. I spent a good 45 minutes in the middle of the night last night wondering if I picked the right finish on my doorknobs.  I can remember a Sunday many years ago when I invited my parents up from brunch in Beacon Hill and when the restaurant and meal turned out to be awful I burst into tears at the table because I was so disappointed in myself for choosing it.  It also takes me like six hours to order a drink or meal when out to eat for fear I’ll regret my decision and should have gotten that other thing.  I rarely leave the house without making sure I’m totally put together, lose my shit when things don’t operate on schedule ( I am 100% Elaine Benes stuck on the train) and still am able to chastise myself for not getting into an Ivy League school.  If worrying and over-thinking were a sport, I’d be the  Michael Phelps of it.

Yet I’m not a Monica Gellar kind of perfectionist in that my herbs all need to be alphabetized and windows streak-free, in fact when it comes to keeping the house clean I can be a downright slob (except when company is coming over- then KA-BOOM- I turn into the kind of person who doesn’t let their husband sit down on the sofa for fear he’ll mess up my perfect pillow arrangement).   I almost never know where that piece of paper I had in my hand yesterday went, my desk is just a place to pile everything that crosses my field of vision and my wash sometimes sits in the washing machine for two days before I remember to put it in the dryer (after washing it again, of course).  I’m this hybrid of ferocious regimen and disorganization. I should be stuck in a test tube and studied.

And yet my brand perfectionism does have it’s upsides. I would never be at the professional level I am today without it.  It makes me an incredibly hard worker, a great designer and employee and the kind of person who sets goals and reaches them (on their due date too!)  If I’m not 5 minutes early, I’m late, and my publisher certainly adored the fact that every deadline for my book was met to a T. I may have been a heap of sobbing mess on the floor in the middle of the night, but damn it, I meet my deadlines. And when it comes to life, I have a perfect plan laid out too. And this is where it begins to unravel a little.

I think we all have a “life plan” in our heads (maybe some of you on paper) that we hope to adhere to- a wedding by this age, a home by another, a promotion here and a baby there.  I met a lot of my dates on schedule- I was married by 26,  started my own company by 28 and bought my first real house at 32 (but actually beat my schedule by buying my first property at 25).  But along the way my schedule got full and the next big goal- a baby-  got pushed back because we weren’t ready (i.e. perfect enough) for that step. I needed to completely focus on my book, Andrew needed a better job, we needed more money in the bank and a second full bathroom in our house.

And guess what? I did it.  I checked every damn thing of my list and aligned everything perfectly, and as you know, now I am struggling hugely to get pregnant.  As I stocked my fridge yesterday with injections and syringes of medication for our first IVF cycle  I was hit in the gut by these feeling that I’ve screwed it all up. That I waited for perfection, and in doing so waited too long.  I prioritized all the wrong things and now at 34- almost 35- there is this one BIG, honking box left unchecked that really should have not been pushed aside while I was busy checking all these other superficial boxes off.

But I also know in my heart that I didn’t feel ready three years ago, or even two years ago.  Sure, we were “trying” but I wasn’t into it 100%, I was doing it because I felt I had to to keep up with my peers.  And now that I am ready and struggling, my Instagram and Facebook feed full of everyone else’s babies, third babies, sonograms and bump shots are like violent kicks to gut and daily reminders that I’m flawed.  Social media is like heroin for perfectionists- we get a big high off of the pins, instagrams and status updates of new amazing recipes, throw pillows, gorgeous beach sunsets and fishtail braids followed by deep, dark lows because we start comparing our outtakes to everyone else’s highlight reels. Perfection is what these sites run on, it’s their operating capital.

And I know that if WHEN I become a mom there will be an even bigger perfectionism struggle ahead in parenting.  I can see that one from a mile away. And just as it’s been in my life so far, my strive to be the best will be a benefit as much as a hindrance.  In the meantime I need to find a way to cope with it.  I will never NOT be a perfectionist, it’s in my DNA and not something I feel the need to crush, but I do want to be a more balanced version of myself. One that allows mistakes, delays and veers off the path- because I know that’s what kids do to your plans. And that is exactly what I need in my life. To take the focus off me, and onto something greater. Fingers crossed I can make that happen.

** And let me take this opportunity to apologize ahead of time if the hormones make me a crazy mess and my posts in the next couple weeks consist of nothing more than a video of a baby goat jumping on a trampoline and a bunch of nouns pounded out on the keyboard.



Renovation Update: The Guts of It

We’re in the final stretch if you can believe it, about four more weeks to go until we wrap this project! The beginning goes SO fast, the middle (the “guts” of the house) seem to be slower with less visual gratification,  and then the finish work and punch list tend to drag on as your anxiety to be DONE mounts and makes time stand still.  But thankfully, my team from VW Builders has been IMPECCABLE. Not only have I been totally impressed, but my Dad (whose been in the home building business over 35 years) has too!  What a professional, wonderful team to have on board. I can not recommend them any higher.

So- here’s the addition looking like a real addition! We got a new roof on the whole house too (ours was 23 years old, but luckily had not one leak).  We have a carriage style garage door on it’s way that we’ve decided to paint black to balance with the shutters and front door. And that last remaining wire running to the house will be buried underground any day now!
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So, in the kitchen this door is going away and there is a step down to a pantry and door to the patio near the grill. I’m also toying with continuing the  backsplash tile up and around this door opening, which I should have done originally but we all make mistakes….

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This will be the large pantry cabinet! STORAGE!!!!

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I decided to do single panel doors in white which will reflect the style of my kitchen cabinets making this feel like the extension of the kitchen it actually is. I ordered some gorgeous crystal Emtek knobs to dress it up a smidge.

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A Little Book Sneak Peek!

It feels like it’s been forever in the making, but my book is officially printing as we speak!  It still has a little longer until it hits bookstore shelves on October 7th, but I’m so excited to get to share a little sneak peek of a favorite shot and the AMAZING back cover!

I was blessed to find a book designer/packager who not only is incredibly talented but also someone who had been reading my blog way before this deal became a reality.  Jennifer K. Beal Davis KNEW my voice and my taste and so knew exactly what I wanted this book to look like.  It was not only painless, but easy and enjoyable, which is NOT always the case when it comes to designing your book (so I’ve heard).  You’ve seen the front cover, but today I get to show you the back!   We decided to use the fantastic F. Schumacher Pyne Hollyhock Print (which is a fabric I used in my own home) paired with the striped spine and gold foil accents (not mustard yellow, that “T”, the first line and the border will be BLINGED OUT gold, baby.)


Oh yeah, and about those quotes. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I cannot believe that all these design, writing and lifestyle idols of mine liked the book enough to say such amazing things in print. It continues to bowl me over, so thanks a ZILLION Jonathan Adler, Emily Henderson, J. Courtney Sullivan, India Hicks and Holly Becker!  When I feel doubt sneak in (as is normal with a project of this magnitude) I go back to these and tell myself I did well. :)


image by Michael J. Lee

And finally, I’m getting to share one of my personal favorites from inside the book today!  This is a home in Boston that we started working on over four years ago (and we are still working with the client as her house grows and changes!) They are the nicest people and a complete JOY to work with.  This is the formal living room, right off the formal dining, and a spot for the adults to entertain and relax in apart from the larger family room.


image by Michael J. Lee

We wanted to make it feel special, cozy and a blend of traditional and modern design. Custom drapes, a chocolate grasscloth ceiling,  statement fixture, custom chairs and hints of green helped accomplish this.  You’ll see a lot more of this house in the book- their study, family room, formal dining, casual dining, entry, master bedroom and child’s room.  I love that every house I work on looks SO different and unique, just like the families that inhabit them!  Pre-order the book HERE pretty please!

Stay tuned for book tour dates too, coming soon! Can’t wait to meet you guys in person!

Fashion Friday: Weekend Getaway

A simple, easy outfit that can take you from walking around town to dinner out. I hope you have fun weekend plans that require cute clothes! :)


1. Adorable lightweight top from Madewell in a more subtle leopard print.

2. Leather and vintage coral tassel necklace from Ex Voto’s new summer collection.

3. Sleek shades.

4. A light anorak for chilly nights (and one that will get you into fall too! This style isn’t going anywhere!)

5. My new favorite white jeans, J Brand’s midrise rail- amazing fit (skinny but not tight in the ankle and a rise that’s not too high or too low!) and perfect amount of stretch.

6. Denim cutoffs to pop on if it gets hot. Adorable with that top!

7. Slip on sandals with a hint of prep.

8. The perfect weekender from Barrington Gifts you can personalize with choice of print, color and monogram! I adore mine!


A Day Off.

Yesterday was a tough one for me on a lot of fronts so I’m feeling totally depleted right now.  And while I wish I could actually take the day completely off and lay in bed, my house is full of contractors and there is work to be done at the office, and a birthday party in the Cape I need to drive to tonight (I know all that signals that I really need to take a break…. but alas.) So forgive me while I check out just for today.


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