Mad for Plaid

By Kate Riley October 19, 2017

I’m obsessed with Outlander, and I’m reading the books at the same time as I’m watching the series. I finally got caught up on Season Three last night (OMG the last scene!). Watching that show you see so much tartan in the scenes filmed in Scotland, it makes me want to wear more tartan coats and scarves in winter.

Plaid and tartan are iconic textiles that have been around for centuries. Many people use “plaid” and “tartan” interchangeably but that’s only half correct. All tartans are plaid, but not all plaids are tartan.






style me pretty

There’s been a chill in the air for a few days and I was inspired to go hunting for a warm plaid blanket (I bought this one) for my reading chair. What’s more enticing than the casually draped plaid blanket? Every home needs one! It’s handy to keep one in the trunk for football games or impromptu picnics.


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Stay cozy friends :)

Fireplace Design Considerations

By Kate Riley October 16, 2017

I woke up this morning to the news that most of the wildfires are reaching containment here in California. I know the firefighters are exhausted and people want to return to some sense of normalcy so that is good news.

A design project landed in my lap over the weekend, it was the perfect diversion for me. I’ve helped my brother Nate on his home renovations before, you’ll recall his beautiful kitchen makeover last year. In anticipation of winter, they want to give their fireplace wall a makeover and it’s my job to help them again.

Nate’s house is ranch style so he has flexibility when it comes to choosing materials, they can opt for traditional, craftsman, or transitional. Here’s a peek at his wood burning fireplace wall. They are removing the old vents (grates) and the wood burning fireplace insert.



They’re also having a gas line put in with this direct vent gas insert. I love the contemporary fluted back and the clean lines of the black iron trim kit which we may or may not include.



A fireplace is always a focal point in any space. When choosing fireplace design materials there are a few considerations: the overall aesthetic sought by the homeowner, the architectural style of the home, and proper scale of the surround. What will hang above it (if anything) is an additional consideration, whether it’s a TV or decorative objects like a mirror or art.

In my brother’s case, he wants to do the same as before, display family pictures/art on a mantel so I’m incorporating that into the new design. I’m considering replacing the neutral floor tile if necessary, but the big question is the design of the fireplace surround, specifically the style, color, and texture of the materials.

One look I’m drawn to personally is this more contemporary wrap around look. The clean lines are appealing but I’m not convinced it’s quite right for their home.


d stone builders


style at home


veneer designs

When choosing the decorative stone or tile, scale is always an important consideration. Smaller scale mosaics like this dark herringbone look fantastic when the surround is 12-18” around the firebox insert.


anvil fireside

Larger scale rectangular porcelain tiles work well when installed from the floor/base of hearth all the way up to the ceiling. I did something similar in my master bedroom earlier this year, I used large scale marble tile from floor to ceiling to give my master bedroom fireplace a more modern look.


homes to love


The classic pairing of white painted brick and a rustic wood mantel is always timeless. The simple materials allow the art and decorative objects to take the spotlight.


house of jade


sarah sherman samuel

For Nate’s fireplace, I’ll likely steer them toward a pale marble or stone mosaic similar to the one I used on this marble fireplace makeover at the flip house my own family room fireplace makeover.


Finally there is also the option of incorporating more dimension with traditional millwork in a neutral palette. More formal but equally lovely.


park and oak


The installation will happen next month, and have a great makeover to share as soon as it’s done!