Design Work

The Flower Market

Posted on Mar 3, 2014

flower market and Katie's 007

Adventure Day at the Flower Market

It’s impossible to have a bad day when it starts at the flower market! Imagine rows and rows of gorgeous flowers, greens, and orchids in every color and kind lined up for your perusal.  That is the wholesale flower market experience and I got to go today (lucky me!).


My local wholesale flower market is in Carlsbad (at the north end of San Diego).  This is where wholesale growers and importers sell their cut flowers, greens, and plants to florists and the those in the flower business.  In a large warehouse 20 or more vendors line up buckets and buckets of cut flora for buyers to gather and purchase.  Since flowers are perishable, most florists get fresh flowers three days a week from this type of market.


flower market Katies 6


As I’m sure you can imagine, the place smells heavenly! Roses, tuberose. lilacs and mums, to name a few, perfume the air and make it an olfactory experience like no other.  Literally hundreds of thousands of blooms are all contributing their fragrance in one building.  The temperature is always cool in a wholesale flower warehouse to ensure freshness and longevity of the flowers.  The combination of fragrance and cool temperature always takes me back to my first visit to the LA flower market several years ago…


flower market


I was a freshman in college studying Ornamental Horticulture and one of my required class options was Floral Design.  We had a mandatory field trip to the Los Angeles flower market from school.  I remember I had to get up at 2:00 a.m. to get to school by 3:30 a.m. so we could be at the flower market at 5:30 a.m., half an hour before they opened for a special tour ( and so we could see it before the mad scramble at 6:00).  The first time I saw all those flowers my jaw dropped.  I recognize everyone thinks flowers are pretty, but when you’re a flower person through and through as I am, there’s something magical about a place like the flower market that touches your soul.  I can only compare it to walking into a warehouse of different kinds of money stacked and piled everywhere. I’d found nirvana and wanted to roll in it! It didn’t matter how exhausted I was, I couldn’t stop looking at all those flowers.  Every kind and variety and color imaginable.  How could I leave that place?  It was perfect!  Eventually our instructor made us leave, but I will never forget that day.


flower market and Katie's 001


I flashed back to that day when I walked into the wholesale flower market warehouse today.  Flowers and color and color and flowers were everywhere!  I wanted them all.  My purpose, however was to select options for 20 centerpieces I am making for a friend’s luncheon and to scout flower types and colors for another friend’s daughter’s wedding.  We’ll call that friend Kathy.  She came with me to check out colors and types of flowers for her daughter. Part of the fun of arranging flowers for friends is I get to play with the flowers and they have to pay for them :0) .  That is one of my favorite things EVER!


flower market and Katie's 008


Within a few visits to vendors I knew what I needed for my friend’s luncheon.  Meanwhile, Kathy was having the experience I had in college and was mesmerized by the flowers, fragrance, and color.  I saw the look in her eyes and knew we were not getting out of there empty handed!


flower market and Katie's 011


Originally, it was just a scouting mission, but when she saw all those beautiful flowers she decided to buy a bunch of each type she thought she wanted for the wedding and I agreed to make up samples for her when we got back to my house.  Before long our arms were loaded with several clusters of blossoms and greens classically wrapped in newspaper. In fact, we got so many she decided to buy a bucket from a vendor so we could keep them in water until we got home. We joked that the flowers were only worth a dollar, but the bucket was priceless!

For the wedding Kathy was looking for a cross between glam and vintage. Keeping in mind the wedding colors are blush, silver and white we chose:


flower market and Katie's 019


  • Geraldine roses
  • White and green hydrangeas
  • White kale
  • Green hanging amaranth
  • Dusty miller
  • Pink rice flower

We drove home and set up a small table in the garage.  Kathy timed me to see how long it would take me to make an arrangement.  Twenty minutes later this was the result:


tall  arrangement for Katie


Green amaranth trails down from the arrangement mimicking the tapered vase.


close up for Katie


Isn’t this a magnificent combination?! “Kathy” did a great job choosing a great variety of coordinating colors and textures.  I love the green edged creamy kale (on the right) and the touch of gray from the dusty miller ( lower left) with the blush colored “Geraldine” roses.  The doted pink rice flower finishes it off beautifully!

Happily, both mother and daughter were quite smitten (honestly, I was too!).  All in all, a trip to the flower market, an impromptu flower design opportunity and a day with a dear friend equals a very good day! I hope your day was great too:0).






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Master Bathroom Remodel: A Tiny Space Gets a Masterful New Look

Posted on Mar 2, 2014

Master bath before

 Master Bathroom Remodel: Before (Above)


Remember when I said we bought a fixer-upper?  Well, I wasn’t kidding.  We’ve been working away at it and we’re finally done with phase 1, the master bedroom and bathroom makeover. As part of the redo we did a master bathroom remodel of a tiny bathroom which had one small sink, a shower with a tiny window, a toilet, and a closet. Yes….A full closet in the bathroom.  (?!?)

In order to make it more usable we incorporated a small hallway that lead to the two small bedrooms into the bathroom and removed the closet.  Once we did that we had a clean foot print of the bathroom to work with. Unfortunately, the water heater couldn’t be moved so we were stuck with and odd protruding corner, but it was a small price to pay for a better bathroom. 

Of all the rooms in the chopped up, poorly mishmash-ed multi-renovation nightmare house, none were suitable for a master.  So we ended up taking the two front bedrooms and bathroom, and turning them in to the master suite with an on-suite bath, walk in closet and washer/dryer area. I loved all the windows across the front of the two rooms (the front porch is outside and there’s handy door to the side yard which is great for letting out the dogs in the middle of the night without having to get out of bed!).  The light in the room is lovely in the morning and in the afternoon, and it’s cool in the middle of the day since its on the Northeast east side of the house. It was the perfect choice for a master suite. Of course, that meant there were issues.  The two rooms had ceilings going two different directions.  One was an original room and one was part of an add on so it had the newer slanted ceiling.  And, of course, that meant the old one had to be torn out since who’s going to turn down a higher ceiling? But that’s another post!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am a bath girl.  I love taking baths.  Especially on a cold afternoon, there’s nothing like a relaxing soak, and with all the work we are doing ourselves, a nice hot soak is just the ticket to revitalize sore muscles.  So when I planned for the bathroom, I knew it had to have a tub.  Lucky for me The Mister knew it too.   So even though we were working with a small space, a tub was a must.  We obviously also needed a shower, toilet, sinks (two sinks is the sectret to a long and happy marriage) and some storage.  And, since we live close to the beach, a door to the side yard for easy clean up access was another must.  Then, for ventilation, a small window that can be opened to let out the steam had to be included.  Right.  Tub, shower, toilet, double vanity, storage, window, and a door in that tiny bathroom…

Well, with a lot of planning and the use of Auto CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) software, we were able to get it all in.   One thing you learn when you buy an old house its that things are never ideal.  When you buy a brand new home, all the spaces have been planned and proper distances are allowed and things like windows and doors are amply alloted for.  When you buy a fixer, especially an old one that has been remodeled in many different decades, things are often no longer ideal.  This is an important lesson for those of us who like to remodel.  And sometimes a hard pill to swallow.  But when you have limited resources,  you have to make the best decisions you can for the situation you’re presented with.  That’s what we did.


Here are the results of our Master Bathroom Remodel:


To start, the door had to go on the outside wall where the shower was.  The shower got moved to the opposite corner of the bathroom behind the entry door.  This is one of those non-ideal situations, but it works.


before and after master shower


Above left: the closet has been cut and the new wall, pushed into the old hallway, has been built. The blue box is for the new light switches. Above right: The door is closed and the finished shower, which is behind the door when it’s opened, is open and airy with frame-less glass.

The sink console has two sinks so I don’t have to look at the mister’s face trimmings and he doesn’t have to see my makeup splatters.  It was a great Craig’s List find from a bathroom warehouse company.  The counter top marble had be damaged so they were selling it, sinks included, for $200!!!  Yeah, a little epoxy and it’s invisible.  The added bonus was that the console was designed to look like furniture so it had feet.  The Mister and I are tall, so we simply swapped out the shorter feet for longer ones we found at Lowes.  It fits us perfectly now!  For vanity mirrors, we chose recessed medicine cabinets that are taller than average to gain more space.

Sink before during during


Above left: The bathroom as we found it when we moved in, one sink and the world’s shortest toilet! Above middle: The wall separating the bathroom from the hall has been revoved as has the old light fixture, mirror and framed shower. Above right: The sink wall is stripped to the studs and the new double sink console awaits new feet and an installation.


master bathroom sink console after


Above: the double sink console, sconces and rlarge recessed medicine cabinet mirrors give our small bathroom big appeal!

The claw foot tub is a 5 footer, even though I’m very tall.  It works great because it has the slanted back.  I never overheat because I can have either my torso or my feet out and it’s nice and deep.  (WARNING: if you like slipper tubs pay attention to where the drain overflow hole is.  My old tub only allowed 6″ of water before it hit the overflow, even though the tall back of the tub was almost 30″.  Not cool!)


Tub corner before during and after master bath reodo


Above: It’s hard to believe this is all the same corner! Left: We took out the closet and (middle) put in my lovely tub. The first picture (left) shows the closet wall being removed. The middle picture shows the tile done on the floors and walls and the tub and fixtures in with blue tape to determine where to drill the holes to hang the mirror.  When you’re drilling into tile you don’t want to drill twice! The last picture (right) is the finished product.  That dark corner from the left it unrecognizable as the same space!

We decided to wrap the entire shower/tub area in the same large scale subway tiles for continuity .  The flooring in the shower is the same as the floor for the same reason.  I love the frame-less glass shower doors!  They are so easy to keep up with a simple squeegee.

 Shower collage master bathroom remodel


Making the most of space is a must in a small bathroom.  A built-in niche in the shower (upper right) provides shampoo storage. The same tile in the shower and on the floor make the room look bigger by not chopping up the space (lower right)  The finished product (left).


shower in master bathroom remodel after


Below: The door is only 2′ wide and is a leftover from a friend’s remodel, but is perfect for getting to a shower after a day at the beach without having to track sand through the whole house.  A simple window panel on a swinging curtain arm allows light and privacy with easy. The small window lets steam out and a breeze in and a king size pillow case on ringed clips works great as a curtain. That’s teddy photo-bombing the picture.




A beautiful piece from Restoration Hardware that we brought with us from the old house sits between the sink console and the door to the master bedroom.  It’s pretty and provides valuable added storage space (below).


Storage in Master bathroom remodel


Once the fixtures were in in it was play time!  What’s the saying?  Accessories are the jewelry of a room?  I wanted to keep it simple so to keep the space from feeling cramped so all of the walls are white and all of the metals are silver, and mostly chrome for shine. Three Restoration Hardware sconces create balance and light the vanity mirrors.  For contrast, a small, round, large-framed mirror from Home Goods ($20!) reflects light that comes in through the window and door.  A lovely maiden hair fern in a decorative urn (a favorite family piece) provides the only color.


Mirror, sconce fern


A consignment store mirror with some silver leaf paint was just the thing for over the bath to help the room look bigger and be brighter.  A simple modern/glam chandelier is the piece d’resistance for over the tub. I love my new bathroom!


Master bathroom remodel tub


Our old house had a bathroom bigger than most living rooms and I hated it.  It took for ever to clean and was never cozy.  I loved the finishes and the view, but I felt like a slave to it.  With a smaller bathroom I could afford really nice finishes, make it very functional, and still add the touches that make it feel cozy without being cramped.  I no longer have a dreaded “cleaning day” for this bathroom.  Instead, I can clean the whole thing in under 10 minutes and be done!  Ahhh.  For us this remodeled master bathroom is pefect!



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