Design Spotlight: Modern Steel Handrails

One design trend that I’ve been seeing a lot of lately – and am absolutely in love with – is the use of horizontal-style steel handrails on interior staircases. The black finish looks especially beautiful when set against exposed brick, and a grey finish an add a very sleek, extra-modern touch to a space. Check out the photos below and see what you think!

Modern Steel Railing Exposed Brick

Image Courtesy of


Image courtesy of GL Barnhart Construction


Image courtesy of GL Barnhart Construction


Daringly Awesome or Just Daft?

Um, NOPE. That was my first though when I saw these photos of the “Cliff House” in Australia. This house was literally built off of the edge of a cliff. It is cantilevered out over the water, giving its occupants breathtaking ocean views on three of the home’s four sides. The views are breathtaking, the design is open and modern and spacious, but I’m not sure I would ever be able to shake the uneasiness of knowing that all that separated me from the rocky depths below was a giant free-fall. What do you think? (For more details about the house, check out the story from The Express by clicking here.) 







International Spotlight: Tree-Inspired High-Rise in Montpelier

I thought it would be fun to take a little Friday jaunt over to France to check out this insane-looking high rise. Supposedly, the design is meant to look like a giant tree…I guess I see it? But the really cool thing about this crazy building is that it provides its residents with *tons* of outdoor space. Some units have as many as three balconies! And many are actually designed for outdoor living – and even sleeping – as apparently the citizens of Montpelier prefer to spend the majority of their time outdoors. Check out the full story from Fast Company below:

This Amazing High-Rise Apartment Building Looks Like A Giant Tree

With balconies budding like leaves, no one could complain for lack of outdoor space in this building in France.

Looking a little like a giant white pinecone, the design for this new high-rise apartment building in Montpellier, France, uses strategically placed balconies and shades to give residents the maximum outdoor space without blocking views or taking up too much room on the ground.

“We wanted to preserve the site as much as possible,” says Manal Rachdi, whose architecture firm worked on the project with Sou Fujimoto and Nicolas Laisné Associates. “The idea is to have, in this urban landscape, a continuity from an existing park to our site.”

Inspired by the shape of a tree, the architects used a smaller footprint for the base and “leaves” expanding outward on higher floors. “The tree is really the minimum space we can have on the site, but we have this really big extension with the leaves,” Rachdi explains. “Just as leaves in a tree are naturally arranged to get the maximum sun, we’ve mathematically arranged these balconies and cantilevers to catch and shade the sun.”

One side of the building curves inward along a street, while the opposite side, facing a river, is convex to give apartments the best views. At the base of the building, the architects have designed spaces for offices, a restaurant, a bar, and an art gallery. Everything’s built to run on local renewable energy, and the building also uses passive cooling strategies to reduce the amount of power needed.

Upstairs, each apartment has so many balconies–up to three, depending on the apartment layout a resident chooses–that a unit is made up of about half outdoor space. There’s even a balcony in the bedroom with enough room to sleep on when the weather’s warm.

“We discovered that in this city, people live outside,” Rachdi says. “So we came up with the idea to have an interior apartment but also have a big surface outside–about 30 square meters. We’re trying to end the break that is between outside and inside with the architecture of this building.”

My 5 Fave DC Fall Decor Tips

It looks like fall has finally come to DC! (I think.) Adding a little seasonal flair to your home is a fun, cozy way to get in the spirit of things. Here are some of my favorite decorating tips for celebrating my favorite season: fall!

1. Forget the Flowers: Fall Foliage Centerpieces

Photo courtesy of

Once the leaves in your hood become fiery and brilliant, fill glass jars and/or vases with them instead of store-bought flowers. In addition to being a beautiful, seasonal, and hyper-local – they’re free! And no need to run to the store – just grab a few handfuls on your way home from work.

2. Chameleon Linens

Photo courtesy of

Changing up your decorative linens seasonally can be a great way to refresh your home’s look. And I’m not talking about changing your bedsheets (hopefully you’re doing that more than just seasonally!) Think throws, throw pillowcases, duvet covers, tablecloths, even napkins if you’re fancy enough to use cloth ones.

3. Hurricane Vases

hurricane vase autumn

Photo courtesy of:

These vases are a decorator’s dream. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are basically tall, cylindrical vases that are wide enough for you to fit stuff into. Candles, fruit, decorative rocks, flowers and foliage, teddy bears, pearls, whatever your creative lil mind desires. Changing them up seasonally is a snap. The lovely fall variation above features autumn leaves secured to pillar candles with jute string, all resting on a bed of popcorn kernels.

4. Lanterns

fall lantern

Firelight automatically makes any room/space/activity cozy. Lanterns are a lovely way to add firelight to any setting, which is a plus now that it’s getting dark earlier. They also offer the added bonus of protecting clumsy hands from the open flame! Or, alternatively, they make great vessels for holding seasonal pieces of flair (see above).

5. Local Gourds


This time of year, your local farmer’s market will be chock-full of tiny, knobbly gourds that are perfect for adding fall flair. Fill a beautiful bowl or hurricane vase with them, tie them up into a wreath, hollow them out and use as a flower vase or candle-holder, or just pile them up in the center of your table or countertop. Voila!

Hassle-Free Design: Magnetic Rods

Hanging rods can be super useful when it comes to storage and decor. But fussing with drills, hammers, screws, etc. to get them mounted can be more than some of us are willing to deal with. The only hitch is that you need a magnetic surface to attach them to. But think metal windows, doors, etc. – these could really come in handy! Check out this awesome collection of magnetic rods from Apartment Therapy.