Ok kids, the holidays are here and that means I have gathered all of my favorite picks from katelesterHOME for everyone on your list! Yes, that’s right- all of these guides were compiled by yours truly to make shopping for the ones you love even easier this year. This year’s guides are filled with textural wood & neutral stoneware, design-driven details, and the softest textiles. Need a few holiday staples? We’ve got you covered with the holiday hostess guide. I’ve also pulled some of my faves for the decor-obsessed and stylish surfers out there. All links are listed below each guide… happy shopping!
Ok guys, let’s be real here. The other day I opened the door to our storage area and literally tripped over a stack of fabric books and fell into a pile of bubble wrap/ cardboard boxes. Isn’t it so cliche that our store and studio looks absolutely fab all of the time, but behind the scenes our storage room is like a total hot mess? After I dusted myself off and untangled the bubblewrap from my hair, I knew it was time to make a call. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and it was time to bring in the big guns. Cut to: my begging/pleading call to Jen Robin- the utterly fabulous fellow (female) entrepreneur, and CEO of Life in Jeneral. If you don’t know them, Life in Jeneral is a lifestyle and organizing company that helps create customized systems to meet their clients needs, so obvi they were the perfect team to bring in to help. See below what our storage area looked like and why I was so desperate for professional help!
Um, hi- can you say absolute hot mess? I know, a few of you are shaking your heads right now in pure shock that an interior designer could let her space get this gross. I get it! The truth is, that this space ended up being like a catch-all for us, and it just kept getting worse.
As you can see, the main issues were big ones. We needed a cohesive plan that would eliminate the piles and clutter, and enable our design studio and store to share the space and utilize to meet their evolving needs. Enter- team Life in General. Jen and I spent a good deal of time talking through our issues and creating a “wish list” of stations and areas, and how I would have the entire space function in a perfect world. Inventory for Kate Lester HOME needed to be accessible and kept in a tidy and organized fashion, but we also needed a bit of space for the Kate Lester Interiors team to store client boxes and binders, and fabric and design books.
Apparently the key to solid organization is starting from scratch, and that meant taking EVERYTHING out. Guys. Everything. This took a few hours in and of itself, but obvi Jen’s team handled it like champs! After everything was out- we went away and let them work their magic. You know how I always go on and on about “trusting the process”? That’s what I had to do here, and it was hard! I kept wanting to peek or “check in and take a look” but I restrained myself because of all people, I KNOW the best results are achieved when you let the experts do their thing!
Two days later the storage makeover was complete, and it was time for the big reveal! When I opened the door, and stepped in, the first thing I noticed was the floor. I hadn’t seen it in ages! Jen and her team had gotten everything on to a sea of completely, perfectly, deliciously organized storage racks. Store inventory was sectioned off and breakables were stored in bind with lids, like items were grouped together, and pillows were organized by size and color. Everything was labeled with these amazing reusable labels and it was heaven!
Toward the back of the storage area they even created a small area dedicated entirely to the design studio where we could store client boxes, binders, and fabric books. We use these less frequently as loose samples, so it’s important to have them accessible- but not at arm’s length in the design studio library. They even created a small shelving area along one wall completely dedicated to supplies. Cleaning supplies, paper supplies, and supplies we use for our install kit were all housed in plastic bins and labeled accordingly. Please take a minute to enjoy these photos… why is a perfectly organized space so satisfying?!
Because I know you guys are all probably drooling and wanting to hire Jen to come and tackle all of your gross spaces, the link to her site is here. She has teams in place all over the country, so you can get this VIP treatment no matter where you are! In the meantime, you need to follow her on instagram asap, because her feed is literally thousands of perfectly organized, color-coordinated spaces, and it’s essentially designer porn. A huge thank you to Jen and her talented team, I would still be on the ground tangled up in bubble wrap if it weren’t for you, so thank you for breathing new life into our storage area!
Most days, if I am breathing… I am talking about paint. What colors we’re loving, what finishes we’re using, and the perfect sheens for every area. The most commonly asked question I get on our blog and social media is “OMG what is that paint color?” and for good reason. We spend endless hours buying small paint samples painting them on 12×12 white poster board, and then looking at them day and night to find just the right hue.
So today, durning my instagram takeover I shared 10 of my favorite colors (and a few secret designer tips) with my friends at RUE! Because I know it’s a ton of info, I have also posted it all here on the blog so it has a place to live for eternity.
Let’s start with white. White is white, right? WRONG. White is most definitely not white. In fact- there are hundreds of “white” paint colors and they are not all created equal. Some are too creamy, some are too gray, and some are just plain chalky. I am so picky when it comes to white paint, that I pretty much only use one white paint, like, ever. When it comes to white, Simply White by Benjamin Moore is the most perfect white in like 99% of spaces. It looks good in basements, east facing rooms, west facing rooms, and even rooms with minimal natural light.
After white, I would say the second hardest color to get right is Gray. Sometimes it looks purple, sometimes, pink, and sometimes it even turns blue. You don’t know how many sample pots of gray I have had to go through to learn this. Let me save you some time and energy and tell you that the most amazing gray is True Gray by Dunn Edwards. No purple or blue here folks, just a really fantastic slightly taupe-y gray that looks good in the morning noon and night.
Next let talk blues. Being by the beach, my designs are always infused with coastal influence, but I really try to keep things interesting by not always falling back on a traditional navy when a client is excited about blue. At our studio we tend to categorize blues to keep it simple. Light blues, coastal blues, classic blues, moody blues, and deep blues. Below are a few of my favorites for each category that have been Kate Lester tested and approved. Light Blue: Mount Saint Anne by Benjamin Moore.
Now that we’ve covered the Kate Lester Interiors staples, lets move on to black. Let it be known that I 100% believe that black, is, in fact, the new black. I am currently obsessed with black windows, black islands, black furnishings, and my golden rule is that all rooms we design should have one piece of vintage and a little bit of black! The biggest pushback I get from clients when suggesting black is that it may make a room feel dark or sad. The interesting thing, is that a hint of black actually grounds a space and ups the contrast, in turn making everything more crisp and bright. So please take note when I say that Fade to Black by Portola Paints is the most amazing black. Not too dark or green. Really, just right.
Ok, now that we’ve gotten colors squared away, let’s talk tips. When you are picking paint colors and getting samples limit yourself to three per color. Too many options will literally make you crazy, so trust me when I say, follow these tips and the entire painting experience will be much more enjoyable!
Whether you are painting one room or a whole house, just try to have fun with it and remember it’s just paint! If it doesn’t look right, redo it! Paint is one of the easiest ways to rehab or refresh a space, and it’s easy to change – that’s what makes it great! xoxo k.
It’s almost summer, so that means a new round of product from all of our favorite vendors, and most recently our friends at Essentials for Living. We’ve been working with them for a few years now (Ever since we realized they had the same obsession with woven chairs that I do.) I mean, come on- look at these!
So obviously when we found out Essentials for Living was combining their more contemporary and transitional product under one brand and one website, our whole team did a little happy dance. Hello, can you say ease in tear-sheets and ordering?! Not to mention they have a killer trade program with a team dedicated to making designers lives easier. When a company is forward thinking, has quality product at a great price-point AND is a partner to interior designers, integrating the pieces is really a no-brainer.
Remember that fab sideboard I posted about last week? The killer one with the raised diamond pattern door panels and removable wine rack from Essentials for Living? Ok, it’s called the Atlas Sideboard and it’s fab. So, when EFL asked us to share how we would use it in a project with our readers, I honestly couldn’t decide. Should we anchor it with statement art? Should we give it a more natural collected feel that showcases the beautiful oak finish?! It was a true design dilemma. Before finally settling on a look for our Hermosa Beach project entryway, we styled it twice and loved it so much we shot it to share with you guys!
Look number one is actually look number one because we put this look together first. Our client needed a place to store grocery bags, sandals, dog leashes that would keep them out of sight of her very mean designer who comes over a lot. So, we started with the Atlas Sideboard as our anchor. It gives her plenty of storage and the diamond pattern adds a contrast in texture and dimension and keeps it from feeling to dining-room-ish. The stainless detail keeps it chic, and to balance it out we added an oversized vintage framed print. In case you didn’t know, green is the new black, so of course this was our vibe here, and our hand-made Justine Lamp pulls the muted green from the art and draws your eye down to the detail on the console. We added in some found accessories (hello fabulous vintage glove mold!) a vintage Turkish runner, and voila the look was complete! Now, when said designer pops over unannounced, everything will have a place in its new home in the entry!
Look number two came about later because I have a solid obsession with neutral right now. Just give me ALL of the bleached oak, linen, and natural woven textures. I wanted to create a vignette that felt effortless and collected. (By the way, this takes actual effort, getting this whole “effortless” look just so you know. You have no idea how many times I placed these sandals before we got it right.) The structure in the Angora Striped Runner draws your eye to the Atlas Sideboard, and plays off the linear elements in the diamond pattern. I added in a row of hats, because if you are me, this is actually very functional by the front door, and hats are décor too. Florals with more structure keep it from feeling too sweet, and a hand-made framed linen Pray For Surf banner gives the look a little signature Kate Lester flair.
Want more vignette inspiration? Sign up for the newsletter and follow @essentials_for_living on Instagram, to see how some of my other crazy-talented designer friends used pieces from the new combined catalogue and get ready for some seriously good design inspo! // Sponsored Post.
Kate Lester Interiors is seeking a strong creative DESIGN ASSISTANT with an interior design background to join our family! We are looking for a mature, self-starter with great people skills. The ideal person will have a combination of excellent customer service, time management and problem-solving skills. Your day-to-day interaction involves working with our office colleagues, as well as our clients, contractors and partners. Preferred but not required would be someone who is ready to werkwerkwerkwerkwerk, is a housewives enthusiast, has thick skin, and wants to help us slay design in the South Bay.
Your Day-to-Day Responsibilities
– Answer phone calls from clients and vendors, and channel the inquiries to the various departments as needed
– Assist with creating concept boards, tearsheets and other presentation materials
– Manage project binders/folders: physical and digital
– Maintain resource library, keeping bins neat and orderly
– Obtain pricing and formal quotes on product and textiles
– Enter quotes and orders in system, generate purchase orders and write checks to vendors.
– Tracking of orders and assisting Design Director in general project management.
– Creation of schedules and coordination of product specifications
– Entering of time billing and printing time invoices
– Errands as needed and other duties as needed on a project basis
– Work cohesively with the KLI team and assist day-to-day operations
Our Best Candidates Would Possess The Following
– 1-2 years in an interior design office or design showroom
– Experience using, Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator), MS Office Suites a MUST
– Experience using Sketchup (or 3D software), AutoCAD, Design Manager a PLUS, but not required.
– Excellent written and verbal communication skills
– Must have excellent time management skills, be organized, and be able to multi-task and perform under pressure.
I know, I know, it’s been a while. Anyone else feel like the whole month of December just gets away from them sometimes? I swear, I blink and then it’s January, I am writing the wrong year on all of my checks, and we’re back in the office with lots of big plans and goals for the new year ahead! As I mentioned on Instagram, we have FIVE newly completed projects to photograph over the next two months, so expect these project reveals to be much more frequent from here on out!
In the meantime, here is a home we completed a while back, but I realized I had never shared it and I still love it so much!
Isn’t this living room fab? Originally it was designed as a music room because no one believed that you could actually fit a proper seating area into this gorgeous, yes cozy (aka: kinda small) space. Paint color on built in cabinets and floating shelves is Mahogany 36 by Farrow and Ball.
I am also mildly obsessed with this entry. If you know me, you know I mix metals with abandon, so obvi this entry would be no exception.
Anyone else feel like formal dining spaces are becoming a thing of the past? In our coastal community, more often than not people prefer a banquette nook, or a casual dining area. So obviously I was thrilled when I we got to go full-on fabulous for this dining room. The Jenny Chandelier is the showstopper fo sho.
Who wouldn’t wan a turquoise mirror in their powder room?! The warm wood paneling is also to die for, and the walls are upholstered. Yes, upholstered.
When it was time to design the playroom, we went all in. We wallpapered the whole room, and kept all of the millwork white for contrast. Woven shades and a basket-style pendant add texture and dimension.
We also collected these (real) vintage buoys and made my husband tie 100,000 nautical-style knots to make them look fancy. (I think he secretly enjoyed this, even though he swears design is not his jam.) Vintage boat cleat inspired hardware really ties this whole situation together.
In the family room, we turned all of the books around because back then no one had done that and it was very edgy and chic. Also, this chair from Lee Industries is pretty much everything and it swivels. Cabinet color is Silver Mink by Pratt and Lambert.
I love that our client was also over white kitchens at this point. Cabinetry is Brewster Grey by Benjamin Moore. If you are not sure if this color is right for you or not, trust me… it’s perfection.
The breakfast room also doesn’t disappoint. Light from Circa. (don’t think it’s available anymore.) Can we talk about these window shades and dining bench? Also, sidebar: our client pained these dining chairs herself. She is rad.
lf you thought only the downstairs of this house would be cool and then the upstairs would be like, just boring bedrooms, you were way wrong. Even the hallways in this bad boy have style.
This is our client’s old bed that I fell in love with. We added an African juju hat (available via kate lester HOME) hat over the headboard and really serene bedding. I want to sleep here right now, since it’s 6am as I am writing this.
This cozy corner shot was kind of an afterthought and now it’s like one of my favorite corners of all time ever. I love that even almost four years later I am still obsessed with everything we did here. Can’t get enough? Read more about the ADORABLE family who lives here, and more about our design process HERE (pg 90) !
It is so fun to be part of this because normally no one would ever ask my thoughts on anything related to cooking (which is smart), but the truth is that I am a decent baker. So when Sara from Room for Tuesday invited me to be part of the Blog Hop Cookie Swap I was super excited. ONE, because she is rad and we once got tattoos together in San Francisco, and TWO, this is a way for me to share my fave cookies and newly facelifted kitchen at the same time!
My pick for the cookie swap was the Salty Vanilla Bean Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies. Are these cookies a super secret family recipe like the famous Bush’s Baked Beans? Absolutely not. I come from a long line of ladies with fabulous manicures, impeccable style, and absolutely zero culinary ability. I may not know how. to hard boil an egg, but I do have a deep and dedicated love for sweets, which is how I found Christina Lane and her blog Desert for Two. I have tried a ton of her recipes, but this one is my favorite because it combines the only three things that really matter in life: carbs, caffeine, and chocolate. It’s a small batch recipe so it makes about a dozen cookies, which I think is perfect for the holidays since these are super rich and indulgent.
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 of a vanilla bean, sliced open and scraped
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
`1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 20 seconds.
3. Add the sugars, and beat for about 30 seconds. The mixture will turn a pale color and be fluffy.
4. Next, add the egg yolk and the insides from the vanilla bean, and beat until just combined. Above is me actually cutting a vanilla bean. Don’t mess it up because OMG organic vanilla beans are expensive.
5. Then it’s time to mix the dry ingredients. I’ve also included another gorgeous photo of my hands to once again prove I actually baked these cookies.
6. Whisk together the flour, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, and baking powdering a separate bowl.
7. Sprinkle the flour on top of the butter mixture and beat until just combined. It was right about here I decided the mixture still felt a little dry so I added another tablespoon of butter.
8. Stir in the chocolate chips. I also ate a few for good measure.
9. Scoop the dough into 12 dough balls, and space them evenly on the baking sheet. I didn’t have an ice cream scooper (gasp!) so I just used a tablespoon.
10. Bake for 8-10 Minutes, removing the cookies from the oven when the edges just start to turn golden brown.
11. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for one minute before moving them to a wire rack to cool. Right after I moved them I added more chocolate chips to the top because I obviously like to go rogue and love chocolate.
12. Sprinkle some fancy salt flakes over the top of the cookies. This is the best part because it makes them taste incredible and you get to be #saltbae for a minute which also cool..
These are honestly really easy cookies to make. In fact, even with this fantastic photo shoot, the whole process only took like 30-45 min, and most of that was spent making sure my weirdly chubby fingers appeared normal looking.
Sidebar- how rad is my countertop? It’s an ash wood butcher block I bought from IKEA and it really warms up the kitchen and is the perfect contrast the cabinetry.
Since I am sure you will ask, the backsplash is vertical wood paneling, but don’t stress, I never cook so it doesn’t get dirty. Hood is drywall/flat paint, and hardware is from Lewis Dolin. Cabinets are just the existing cabinets in our sweet 1941 beach cottage that I had painted since we’re working on plans to build a new house on this lot in a few years. Until then I am really digging my little budget-friendly facelift, and the sweet backdrop it gives my fab cookies.
Now don’t waste a moment, and go check out all of the tasty treats and gorgeous work of all of these other fabulous bloggers and designers on the Hop! (LINKS BELOW.)
Ok guys, in case you missed it, I have posted a perma-link to the super fun interview I did with The Havenlist last week! Read below to get some of my best tips and advice on running a business (including hiring employees), growing an authentic Instagram community, running a retail store (kate lester HOME), who I’d sit with on a 5-hour flight if I could, favorite ever paint color and more! It’s a good one, and you know I never hold back! So post up, grab a cocktail and dive right in HERE!
The Hermosa Avenue Project images are here, and they are fan-freaking-tastic! If you are thinking you may have seen SOME of these images before… you are right.
If you can believe it, this house was actually a luxury development (gasp) and we were hired on as part of a killer team (with Trotter Building Designs and RJ Smith Construction) to make this spec house feel like a custom build even before it hit the market. (I mean, look at all of these killer details!)
Once it was complete, we took a few photos of some of our favorite spaces styled out exactly as we envisioned them during the design phase…. and then the house hit the market.
Fast forward a few months and a seriously adorable, kind, and fabulous family bought the house and then turned to us to help them make it a home.
They actually said “we just want you to continue your vision for the house”. I mean, seriously, they are like the most perfect clients ever. Ok, I know I say that about ALL of our clients, but what can I say? I love this family.
So, fast forward again… here is our completed vision for this “coastal modern farmhouse”. (And yes, that’s a thing.)
So scroll, pin, post, tag and share because there are some goodies in here.
Can you believe this was Grandma’s chest? It was dark and orange, and our client’s husband was convinced it just wouldn’t “fit” in with the new home’s vibe. I thought it was pretty rad, so we stripped it and now it’s pure perfection. Better yet, it’s meaningful and tells a story about the people who live here.
This dining room, these chairs, this table. I just can’t get enough. Also, in case you were wondering, YES they are comfortable.
So. Many. Chic. Bedrooms. In this house.
These are teen girls rooms. I know, its hard not to be jealous because my teen room was 20 posters and a bad striped bed-in-a-bag situation. But these are like the two of the sweetest girls on the planet. (Maybe they can take in my daughter and train her to be nice like them when she becomes a teenager?)
This bedroom is the definition of stylish serenity. I mean, can I move in???
Maybe this could be my room? I mean, it would be perfect since we know I already like the decor.
Did you think we were finished? Nope. This home is a treasure trove of stylish nooks and crannies. Sidenote: This ottoman/table situation is our new JAM.
See, stylish nook. Ok, I will leave you with the coolest hallway ever. I am serious when I say that every single area in a home is an opportunity to do something special and unique, and this hallway is a perfect example of that.
What did I learn from this project? (1) That having a killer team is everything, and we are lucky to be working with such talented partners. (2) That, more often than not, clients will embrace your weird ideas if you run with them confidently (hello 20 backwards books on console table.) and that (3) It’s not just good design, but also the warmth of a sweet, loving family that turns a house into a home.
Ok guys, it’s that time of year again. We are headed to Las Vegas for Summer Market, which means a few things. One, it will be only slightly cooler than the surface of the sun. Two, we will be shopping for our design studio as well as our home store Kate Lester HOME. Three, I will be trendspotting and taking over the Las Vegas Market Instagram on Thursday August 2nd. So make sure you follow them (and us) to see what is new, what is trending, and what we will be bringing back for clients and the store! In the meantime, here is a little taste what trends we hope to see, as well some new releases a few vendors have sent us ahead of market! That’s right, NEW INTROS, and you saw them here first!
You guys know that found objects and global-inspired textiles will NEVER be a “trend” in my world, but I think we will definitely be seeing a surge in this look at market. From tassels, to muted stripes, to hand-crafted wall hangings- the Wanderlust vibe is here to stay. Clockwise from top: Pillow- Kate Lester Home, Wall Art-Fourhands, Throw-Loloi, Wood Planter-Creative Coop, Kantha Lumbar Pillows-Creative Coop, Paint- Gentle Gray, Benjamin Moore, Wall Hanging-Selamat Designs.
Another trend on our radar is good ol’ black and white. I am seeing it in exterior concepts, and we are using this deeper, moody palette constantly in interior paint schemes. So this means that I am pretty sure we will be seeing a lot more of it when it comes to decor this market as well. Horray for black houses! Clockwise from top: Paint- Cavernous, Dunn Edwards, Island-Fourhands, Chair Palacek, Steve McQueen-Fourhands, Lumbar Pillow-Loloi.
If you didn’t already know, brown is BACK. I am loving these saddle tones, especially with added texture in suedes and leathers. Bring on the neutrals and the burnt orange, because it is hip, warm, and looks amazing with steel and natural-tone wood finishes. Really hoping we will see more of this trend in Vegas! Clockwise from top: Art-Selamat Designs, Leather Pendant-Bobo Intriguing Objects, Desert Haus Candle-Aesthetic Movement, Rocking Chair-Fourhands, Leather Tie Pillow-Creative Coop, Pillow-Bobo Intriguing Objects, Paint- Saddle Soap, Benjamin Moore.
If you have been living on a deserted island, you may not know that green is a THING. Forest green, army green, blue-green, um, yes. We’ve been embracing this look when it comes to textiles, paint colors, and millwork; but I think now we are going to see it translate more into art, lighting and furnishings as well. Super excited about this- give me all the shades of green! Clockwise from top: Pillow-Creative Coop, MoonlightArt- Fourhands, Sofa- Fourhands, Paint- Benjamin Moore, Paint-Chimichurri (left) & Cushing Green (right), Benjamin Moore, Lamp- Circa Lighting.