joy of nesting

joy of nesting
California designer Shiree Hanson Segerstrom's weekly tips for decorating, gardening, and stylish living

Los Gatos Apartment Makeover...plus the best soup recipe!




My mom recently moved to Los Gatos. She has the cutest apartment right around the corner from downtown, and much to my delight, minutes away from a Border's book store. I purchased three new business books while waiting for her to get home from work.

Mom is the perfect candidate for the half day Room Service home makeover from Shiree Segerstrom Design.  She has enough furniture and accessories to make it interesting, and the need to have it pulled together in a fresh, appealing way.

When my brother Robert and I helped Mom move in recently, I told her where the furniture should go so when I got there Wednesday, the furniture was mostly in place. It just needed a little adjusting. The sofas were too close together, the dining room buffet table was off center, and the dining room set had only two chairs.

 When SS Home was open, Mom was one of my best customers. They say 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your clients. In my case it's 80% of my business comes from my mom. Teasing. Mom has two good quality taupe colored love seats, two good quality pale blue wing back chairs, a heavy contemporary brass and glass coffee table and matching end table, and an antique mahogany bookcase. She did not buy these from me but that's okay. To pull the taupe love seats and pale blue armchairs together I did four 18" down blend throw pillows in a navy Ralph Lauren floral. I usually do 20" pillows but they would have been a little big on these love seats. It's not so much the width of the love seat, as the depth. I do 20" pillows in chairs all the time.



First thing to do in any kind of a makeover is assess the bones. Look first at what you have. I like to stand in the entrance to the space and first view it from there. You want to keep traffic patterns clear, door to door, door to kitchen, door to bathroom, etc. Next, put the biggest pieces in place. Next, make conversation areas. Then add ambient lighting (overhead is already in place), then art and other accessories.

For Mom, we made a solid, well anchored conversation area with her love seats, glass tables, and chairs. Because the apartment has a lot of beige walls, and because the furniture is small scale, the artwork was mostly hung low to anchor and keep the eye near the furniture. We did lots of coffee table books in stacks around the apartment. I think it makes a space more inviting to have books. Other favorites of mine are candles, lap blankets, feather pillows (love the smell...ah luxury!), pets, plants, flowers, and a stereo. No matter how beautiful your space, if you don't have signs of life it's just an empty shell.  

A few purchases from last year that really updated her already existing pieces were two black Moorish style mirrors; a contemporary glass and iron desk; a little wood bistro chair; and two black wood, transitional style chairs. The variety of styles gives the spaces a kind of eclectic, casual yet pulled together style. It looks like the home of someone with a lot of different interests, which it is. The apartment looks like Mom, not her designer. 

Mom, by the way, has a name. It's Shirrel. The apothecary jar on the table is from Belgium...Shirrel didn't have her glasses on when she read this to me so don't hold me to those origins. I just love the way the little bookcase works between the chairs. The chair pillows I think were from Pottery Barn and they are embroidered linen.

The little glass and rattan dining table was Shirrel's mom's and it works nicely in small spaces because glass takes up less space visually than solid surfaces like wood. I think it was Mom's idea to put her gate leg table up against the wall, topped with a vertical mirror, and used as a sideboard. It really anchors that space without feeling crowded.   

Mom can comfortably entertain six for drinks or buffet dinner. The living room seating overlooks the balcony where she keeps her potted annuals. This year she had violas, yellow gerbera daisies, and lavender. Los Gatos' climate is similar to Carmel and the flowers do well there.

I didn't have time to do the kitchen and bedroom this trip. Maybe next time. Doing home makeovers is one of the best services I offer to people. I truly love doing this for my clients, friends, and family. It is immensely satisfying work with a 100 percent satisfaction rate. I have had nothing short of excellent responses to my Home Makeovers.

RED BELL PEPPER SOUP...with all the rain in California, soups are still on the menu in my house. My guests and I favor this recipe I concocted. It's good for any rustic or casual occasion. I love it for everyday.

12 red bell peppers (only red! no subs); 10 oz. organic free range chicken broth (or to desired consistency); 4 Tbl. organic butter; 2 t. cumin; 1t. coriander; a teeny dash of red hot chili pepper flakes.

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