suite soirees: a valentine’s day picnic complete with an epic heartcuterie board

Resources linked below

In quarantine, home really is where the heart is. Spending so much time indoors this year and still wanting to be safe during the pandemic, I decided to move things outside and set up a heart-themed picnic for my SuiteHearts (aka my pre-fiancé, Brian and bestie, Dan).

I first set the scene with a plush faux-fur rug and scattered a few blush and cream pillows around the center table so we could all sit comfortably. Then I created a focal point on the hedge with fabric flowers and a wooden “love” cut out in front of two chairs and a small table as a conversation space.

The drinks, or as I like to call them, “Suite Sips”, were perched on their own marble table for a drink station. I knew I had to have some variety for all of our different tastes so there were two rosé wines, beer for Brian, canned vodka spritz cocktails, and a fun pre-mixed strawberry margarita that fit in perfectly with the pink theme. Of course I turned to Dan and cheekily asked, “Will you accept this rosé?”

For nibbles, I always love to create pretty cheeseboards so I took the Valentine’s Day theme and created a “Heartcuterie” board complete with cheese, crackers, fruit, candies, and deli meats that I wrapped to look like roses. What better way to ask, “Will you brie mine?”

I fell in love with the idea of heart-shaped caprese salad (even though it was a bit cheesy) and was so happy with the way it turned out that I loved it from my head, all the way to-ma-toes. It was super easy to make and really delicious to eat.

For something suite, I hand dipped cherries in white chocolate and rolled them in black sprinkles for an updated twist on the classic chocolate-dipped strawberry. There was also heart-shaped watermelon and crispy vanilla meringue perched on marble pedestals.

I love the way the whole picnic turned out and it was a nice change to celebrate love outdoors. Tell me, do you beleaf in love?


Love Sign  I  Felt Hearts  I  Glitter Hearts
Faux Fur Rug  I  Pillows  I  Marble Table
Marble Cheeseboard  I  Marble Pedestals  I  Two-Tier Tray
Crackers  I  Heart-Shaped Crackers
Bubblegum Yogurt Pretzels  I  Cosmo Popcorn  I  Meringue
Candy Lips  I  Cosmo Bears  I  Cinnamon Hearts
Rose Wine  I  Rose Wine  I  Strawberry Margarita  I  Beer  I  Canned Cocktail

What snack would you fall for first on this snack board?  Let us know in the comments below.

if you’ve got it, haunt it: how we decorated the building for halloween this year

We’re just here for the boos! My pre-fiance, Brian, loves Halloween. No, like loves Halloween. So when he asked a few years ago if he could decorate the building, it started off innocent enough with a few tombstones. Then came the handmade coffin, then a smoke machine, then a spider the size of a small car. Each year he’s expanded on his, ahem, inventory – I mean display.

Well this year I was in for a surprise when a box the size of our mattress showed up in August. August! What crawled out of that box was none other than a 12 foot tall skeleton with light up eyes. Brian looked like a dwarf standing next to it! He tried to hide his mischievous smirk when he looked at his new toy and then to me to see if I would scold him for his frivolous (and secret) purchase.

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I am really disappointed in you.” He kind of chuckled under his breath and then I deadpanned, “I am really disappointed that you didn’t buy two.” I mean, come on, I have to admit that a skeleton that can easily peep right into my second floor bathroom window while I’m showering is kind of a cool addition.

Then we added those good ol’ headstones, the car-sized spider, last year’s purchase: a skeleton horse with a new, black, glittery skeleton rider, and pretty much everything else Brian had squirreled away.

We normally confine the Halloween decorations to only the front yard of the building, but since we remodeled and relandscaped it last year and the trees have grown in, our usual set-up had to be reimagined since it would’ve been hidden behind the tall hedge. So we decided to try something new and instead stage it at the entrance and along the driveway of our building this year.

When we decorate for Christmas, I love to hang oversized white and gold ornaments over the driveway and last year we created a more permanent cable system that is reusable and easier to put up than fishing line. So I had this idea that we could repurpose the cables for Halloween and hang bats and skeleton spiders from up above. Brian had the idea to swag beef net “webbing” over the cables so that the spiders looked like they had created a home for themselves. As a final touch, our ghost girl hovers in the center and watches over the building and I like to joke that she’s a potential new tenant that prefers an upper floor.

We still had a lot of open cables so Brian suggested we hang the faux flame candles that we purchased for another project and didn’t end up using. They had just been sitting in the attic so he drilled some holes and looped fishing line through them so they hung upside down a la Harry Potter. This has been my favorite new element by far this year. To see the soft, warm glow of candles that appear to be floating above the driveway is really quite magical at night.

We tried to create vignettes all along the driveway and for a little property management humor, we set up a spot with a “manager” sitting in a chair holding a “Vacancy Available” sign next to an open coffin with two occupants scrambling for the chance to be interred. A metal arbor with dead tree limbs still attached frames the scene and we added black flowers to the arch of the arbor. We had been storing the arbor that was being thrown away by a restaurant for years when I said, “When else are we gonna use this thing?”

And then, this year, we have a vacant first floor apartment that we’re remodeling so I came up with the idea to create a scene in the windows and use the glow-in-the-dark skeletons that don’t really go with the rest of the outdoor decor. And Brian finally got to put one of those floor fans that tenants always throw out when they move to good use and wired a skeleton to it and turned it on to add some movement.

follow us on Instagram @TheSuiteLifeLA

We have a few more elements to add to finish it all up (a cemetery sign spanning the driveway), but we’re super happy with the skele-fun we’ve been able to conjure up during such a bummer year. To see the kid’s faces when they run down the driveway with their parents is just pure Halloween excitement. #TrickOrSuite, witches!

What’s your favorite part of this year’s Halloween decor? Let us know in the comments below.

All images courtesy of Brett Erickson I Video courtesy of Dan Magro

the one place we always stop when visiting beaver, ut

Stick around for a special 15% off promo code at the end of this article.

This is a one stop light town.  There’s one supermarket, one bar, and one coffee shop.  There’s also only one place we HAVE to stop every time we visit: The Creamery, a huge, glorious church of cheese and dairy.

Opened in 2018 and easily visible from the 15 freeway, the building is new to this old town and looks like Joanna Gaines could’ve designed it with its board and batten black roof, wood shiplap siding, and cute cow logo painted on what could be mistaken for a silo.  It’s a hot spot for both locals looking for a cool treat on a sweltering day or people passing through town wanting a family-friendly place to stretch their legs and grab a bite to eat.

Walking through the double glass doors, you’re greeted with a large dilemma: do you go right towards the gift shop and casual restaurant or do you go left and load up on local Utah-made cheese and ice cream?  We opted to first shop all the quaint country-esque offerings like cheeseboards, blankets, décor, and mugs before heading over to drool in front of the refrigerated cheese case and local fare like crackers, jellies, and sweets.

While Brian went one way and grabbed a cute throw embroidered with his last initial, I went the other way and came back with a marble and wood cheeseboard also emblazoned with a matching E.  And when we saw what the other picked out, we smiled and kissed because we’re both that cheesy.  (OMG, I didn’t even mean for that to be a pun while shopping in a cheese store.)

With our personalized blanket and cheeseboard, we knew exactly what we wanted to do with them: an ATV ride to our favorite mountain meadow for a sunset picnic.

In front of the cheese case, I had the hardest time narrowing down which cheeses to get because they all looked so good (and we ended up with a few more than our cheeseboard could handle).  And I love the fact that all of the dairy products sold at The Creamery are made from milk sourced from dairy farms within a 25-mile radius of small town Beaver, Utah.  That truly lives up to their clever tagline of “Farm, meet table”.

We selected Fair Meadows cream cheese, Troyer black wax extra sharp cheddar, Gossner smoked swiss, Villa Frizzoni asiago, and jalapeno cheese curds.  If you’ve never tried cheese curds, stop what you’re doing and order some right now.  Then, thank us later.

Suite Tip: Cheese curds are a younger, spryer cheddar. They are what cheddar is before being formed into blocks and aged. Cheddar cheese is typically aged from 60 days to 4 years before being sold, whereas cheese curds are eaten straight away.

To round out our romantic sunset cheeseboard, I grabbed some Rustic Bakery rosemary and olive oil flatbread crackers and apricot, pistachio, and brandy artisan crisps for something a little sweeter.  I also picked out a peach amaretto jam and Brian found a mild Italian hard salami and a local-made spicy jalapeno and pineapple jelly to go over the cream cheese and crackers.

On our way to check out, I couldn’t resist a Creamery tote and throwing in some handmade Utah caramels for my parents and wood-carved slingshots for my niece and nephew back home.

And our ATV sunset picnic?  Well, let’s just say it was one of the highlights of this trip.  Brian totally made me melt as the sun slowly dipped behind the trees.  (Yep, still that cheesy.)

Get 15% Off: If you’d like to try The Creamery cheese and products yourself, they ship nationwide.  And now through July 30th, our followers can receive 15% off any purchase of $20 or more with promocode: thesuitelifela.

Shop here now.  (Your purchase helps to support local farm families.)

What’s your favorite type of cheese?  Let us know in the comments below.

suite eats: a green snack board for st. patrick’s day

I love a good cheeseboard.  Any time that I have friends over or entertain, I always like to offer a pretty cheese board or charcuterie plate since it’s easy (and delicious) snacking.  I also love any excuse to get creative and color coordinate.  So with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I wanted to do a twist on my regular spread and do more of a “green day” inspired snack board full of gorgeous green veggies, fruits, guac, candy, and cheese (obvi).

I headed to one of my favorite stores, World Market, to stock up on all the green treats they had from all over the globe.   (Links to products below.)

I started with my go-to cheese board plate (similar here) that my spread quickly outgrew, so I decided to embrace the idea of making my kitchen island the center of attention and laid everything out there.

First, I placed small bowls that would hold the dips around so that they would anchor the snacks and then started layering in the good stuff.  I made sure to use an odd number of bowls to keep things visually appealing.

Then I grouped the veggies together like green peppers, celery, sugar snap peas, cucumber, and green cauliflower.  To the bowls I added green castelvetrano olives and pesto to dip.

Above the veggies, I added in fruits like green apple, pear, grapes, and kiwi.  I added hummus and a garlic & herb spreadable cheese in the middle so you could dip the veggies or fruit in either one.

Then I found these fun, green guacamole flavored tortilla chips and mounded those by the bowl of guac.  Together they were so good!

I layered in a few other crunchy snacks for texture like “Margarita Crunch” popcorn, wasabi peas, and wasabi almonds before finishing off the snack board with some suite treats.

For the dessert end, I added matcha green tea Pocky biscuit sticks, green tea Kit Kats, apple flavored candies, and green tea chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

And no get together is complete without a good wine to offer guests so I partnered with Winc who delivered four bottles straight to my door and tailored to my tastes.  I took a quick quiz online and my delivery included my favorite, a sauvignon blanc, along with a chenin blanc, sparkling chardonnay, and a red blend.  Having hand selected wine delivered definitely made this soirée easy to plan since I didn’t even have to leave the house or scour the wine aisle looking at labels.  And Winc got it right too – we loved every bottle.

If you’d like to try four bottles of wine for $39 plus complimentary shipping, just use my special code here from Winc.  Your friends may be green with envy with how easy it is.


Winc Wine
Wasabi Almonds  I  Wasabi Peas Popcorn
Pesto  Olives Hummus Spreadable Cheese
Guacamole  I  Chips
Kit Kats  I  Pocky Macadamia Nuts  I  Apple Candy

What snack would you dive into first on this snack board?  Let us know in the comments below.



front yard makeover: the plan

Ever since I took over management of the building 10 years ago, re-doing the front yard has always been at the top of my wish list of projects to complete.  But along the way, other projects took priority like exterior painting, landscaping, and apartment updates.  Somehow this project always seemed to get pushed off of the docket and ended up on the “maybe someday” list.  I even applied to a few HGTV makeover shows in hopes that our building would get picked and our front yard makeover would become a reality.  I thought maybe I even had an in when I met the designer and star of one of the shows at an event.  Sadly, even that dream died.

So this project has been about a decade in the making for me and I am beyond excited to tick this one off the list.  Before we take a look at where we’re going, let’s take a look back at where we started.

Back in 2009, the building was green and taupe and hadn’t been painted in at least 20 years.  It had a ton of overgrown foliage, peeling paint, bars on some windows, rusty security doors on a few units, dirt down the center driveway, and a plethora of opportunity to whip this 1950’s-era building back into shape.  We started small by just cleaning up the existing landscaping and then adding some new plants and faux grass down the center driveway.

Then when we painted, the building really transformed.  Take a look at the before and after photos below.

why update the front yard

Well, it’s the first thing every apartment tour, resident, visitor, and neighbor sees and as the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.   The curb appeal of the front of the building sets the tone for what you can expect when you step into one of the apartment suites and we believe that a pretty environment makes for a nicer and lovelier place to call home.

design goals

We like to approach every project we do by first asking ourselves what we can improve on.  Here’s a few things we’d like to accomplish in redesigning the front yard:

Improve curb appeal and building aesthetics

First and foremost, we wanted to redesign the front yard to be pretty – both from the street and from the inside of the community.  We want it to feel like a natural extension of the mid-century building while still updating it to make sure it fits with timeless trends.

Enclose the front yard and building

As it is now, the front yard is very open and exposed.  We feel that by enclosing the front yard, this will make the community as a whole more private, less accessible, feel more secluded, and reduce the amount of walk through foot traffic.

Provide privacy for the lower front units

These two suites have their bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen windows exposed to the street, sidewalk, and neighboring buildings.  While this can be great for people watching from the patio, this isn’t an ideal view for a bedroom or bathroom since foot traffic on the sidewalk can easily peer into these areas if the blinds are open.  We redesigned the front yard with increased privacy for these two units in mind.

Provide a sound barrier between the building and the street

Living in one of the front four units naturally comes with an expected level of street noise.  You hear the intersection, street traffic, pedestrians walking by that can get rowdy after the bars close, and Hamburger Mary’s in all its late night drag queen bingo glory.  There’s nothing to buffer and filter the sound so we also aimed to address this in the new design.

Create an outdoor area for community events and residents

Of the 16 1-bedroom apartments that make up the community, only six of them have outdoor patio areas.  The majority of the apartments have no private outdoor space and the community does not have any common areas for the residents to get together.

Every few years, we like to throw an event in the center courtyard so that all of the residents can meet each other and get to know one another.  In redesigning the front yard, we wanted to enclose it so that we could move these events to a private area that wouldn’t impede the use of the driveway.  This also creates an opportunity for our residents to have a place to be able to read a book in the sun or have a margarita outside with a friend.  We hope that the redesign of the front yard allows our residents to do that while still being mindful of the proximity to neighbor’s windows.

the plan

To prepare for the front yard redesign and for inspiration, I’d often walk up and down the surrounding streets, stopping to take pictures of yards that I admired.  I had pieced together a few different ideas that I liked when one fateful day, as I was driving along my regular short cut through an adjacent neighborhood, an intersection was closed and I was forced to take a different street.  And thank goodness I did because I literally stopped and fell in love with a front yard right then and there that I would have never seen on my regular route.  I used this yard as inspiration for the Sweetzer design.

We’re going to start with a clean slate and will be removing all of the existing boxwood, grass, ficus trees, lighting, and wire fence.  Then, we’ll level off the soil and get to work.

First up, we’ll be building a three-foot tall wall all along the length of the front yard and set back three feet from the sidewalk.  This will enclose the front yard and act as a sound barrier while also providing additional security.  We’ll finish it with smooth coat stucco and paint it to match the building so it looks like it’s been there all along.

As a focal point, we’ll also be adding two six-foot tall pillars on each side of the driveway to define the building’s entry and add some grandeur.  To these we’ll add lighting on top and address numbers.  Eventually, we’d love for these to support a gate, but for now they will act as pretty monuments to define the entry.

We’ll also add two pedestrian gates up front to access the walkways that run along the sides of the buildings.

To soften the hardscape, we’ll add a row of white iceberg roses in front of the wall.  This will break up the space between the sidewalk and the wall with pretty foliage that echoes the already existing white roses in the brick planters and along the parkway.  We’ll also plant some fig vine that will eventually climb up the half wall too.

Behind the wall, on the inside of the property, we’ll plant a row of ficus trees that will eventually grow to form a hedge and add a ton of privacy for both the community as a whole, but especially for the two lower front units.  As the front yard exists now, these suites have their kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom windows exposed to the sidewalk and street, so having a green hedge will completely transform the view in these apartments.  They’ll feel more private and like they’re nestled in their own little secret garden.

To complete the design, we’ll add faux grass on the inside – between the ficus trees and the building.  This will ensure that this area is always green while reducing our water usage and also the need for the gardener to mow (hello, no more noisy and smelly gas mowers).  This open grass area can also double as a communal area.  Imagine putting down a blanket and reading outside in the sun with a glass of rosé in hand.  Now that sure sounds suite to us.

Let us know your thoughts on the design in the comments below.

suite spaces: our client’s 1928 town home gets a close up on architectural digest

One of my favorite quotes about interior design is by Nate Berkus when he said, “Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love brought together under one roof.”  And it never ceases to amaze me how a little style and panache can completely transform an empty apartment into the most opulent space.  So it came as no surprise when Casey Smith’s home, whom we had leased a gorgeous two story town home to, was featured in Architectural Digest.

The 1928 classic Spanish-style building sits in the heart of West Hollywood’s Historic Courtyard Thematic District.  A cluster of buildings built in the 1920s, the architecture “responds to the region’s mild climate by extending interior spaces into the outdoors and integrates the desire for individual housing and a yard with the practical need for higher density development,” according to the West Hollywood Historic Preservation Committee.

A small building of just seven town home-style units, this apartment was a stunner all on its own with its original hardwood floors, ornate fireplace, and large, picturesque windows.  Each apartment even features a unique stained glass pane located in the center of the living room and master bedroom windows that depict different scenes like a medieval sailing vessel in this particular unit.

Because this type of architecture is so coveted in West Hollywood, the second we put it on the market, we had a ton of requests to come see it and ended up with multiple applicants for just the one unit.  We were even excited to show it to one of our favorite celebrity fashion bloggers who mentioned casually that she would’ve used the second bedroom as a closet, as one does.

When we first showed Casey the town home, he immediately described how he would furnish the space and shared some before and after photos of Arizona homes that he himself had restored and decorated.  They were obviously impeccable seeing as though he cofounded Studio Cavaco with legendary stylist and former Allure creative director, Paul Cavaco.

After he moved in, when Casey invited us over to share a glass of champagne in his new WeHo abode and see for ourselves how he had styled the apartment, we were all too happy to oblige.  We were stunned to see how he had transformed the space from bare blank canvas to high society style worthy of a photo shoot and feature in well respected Architectural Digest.

We love how Casey’s home reflects his warm personality and eclectic, worldly style.  We knew he’d make the space his own and are so happy that he shared it with us.  To see more of this beautiful town home and hear how Casey describes his style, head on over to Architectural Digest here.

What was your favorite part of this home tour?  Let us know in the comments below.

Building Exterior: Kansas Sebastian I   Vacant Apartment: The Suite Life  I   Furnished: Daniel Kukla for Architectural Digest

that’s so suite: custom bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts for an OC wedding

When we were approached by stylish bride, Lauren Firner, to curate custom gifts for her Orange County wedding party, we obviously jumped at the chance!  We knew the gifts had to be as fun and contemporary as her personality and Lauren gave us some great direction on what she envisioned for her bridesmaids and what her fiancé, Mike, wanted for his groomsmen.

Their September 27th wedding took place at the stunning San Juan Hills Golf Club in San Juan Capistrano and had an equestrian flare since Lauren competes nationally with her AQHA World Champion quarter horse, The Fire Escape, or Jim as she affectionately refers to him for short. 

Jim was even on hand to greet guests as they arrived at the wedding – complete with a customized treat bucket!  (Umm, I totally want a horse greeting guests at my wedding now too.) I mean if that idea doesn’t completely embody Lauren and her fun loving personality, then the crystal covered cowboy boots she wore under her breathtaking and flowy BHLDN wedding dress should.

the groomsmen boxes

Lauren’s husband, Mike, had a clear vision for the gifts he’d be giving his buddies standing next to him on his wedding day.  He was steadfast that the gift boxes include a bottle of their favorite spirit: Patron Silver.  We knew that the bottle might get opened right there on the spot at the wedding, so we also made sure to include a pair of high-end crystal shot glasses and a fresh lime to go with it.

To complete the groomsmen boxes, we added a sleek matte flask that Mike’s friends could use at the wedding and also keep as a memento and reminder of the day.  Spicy beef jerky and a salted pistachio chocolate bar rounded out the masculine black and green themed gift.

We then hand painted the wooden box lids matte black on the diagonal as a modern way to dial up the masculinity.  Then each groomsmen had their initials painted on top for an additional layer of customization.  A sleek black ribbon finished off the handmade boxes and alluded to the color scheme inside.  These by far are our favorite boxes that we’ve curated to date!

the bridesmaids boxes

For the bridesmaids and wedding planner, we started with a feminine blush palette and hand painted the lids in a subtle pink hue.  The initials on the outside of the box for each of the girls mirrored the customization we did for the groomsmen.  For texture and added femininity, we tied the gifts in a rustic rose-colored lace.

As the bridesmaids helped Lauren get ready for her big day, she looked on as her besties were presented with the gifts and they tore into them with excitement.

Under the lid was pretty pink ombré tissue secured with a gold foil “thank you” sticker.   Inside we included a petite bottle of rosé to help celebrate the beautiful bride on her big day and a glittery bridesmaid “minimergency” kit filled with 21 little essentials like double-sided tape, clear nail polish, hair elastics, safety pins, and extra wedding bands just in case anything went awry during the ceremony.  (Spoiler: everything turned out ok.)

Keeping with the girly theme, each box contained a mini bottle of Drybar’s heavenly scented “Money Maker” hairspray, a grapefruit and rosemary sea mineral body polish, lip gloss in varying shades of pink, and then each bridesmaid received a different cube of Sugarfina gummies like champagne bears or pink flamingos, and a luxurious hand creme in a unique scent to fit each girl’s personality (gin and rosewater was my fave).

To thank her wedding planner for all of her help, Lauren thoughtfully had us create an additional box where we swapped out the bridesmaid minimergency kit for a tailored pinstripe notebook.

Thank you to Lauren and Mike for trusting us with curating your wedding party gifts on your big day.  We think they turned out pretty suite and hope you do too.  Wishing you a lifetime of happiness.  Love is the best gift of all.

Wedding: Laura Reaney of Reaney Photography  I   Boxes: The Suite Life

If you have an event coming up, wedding or corporate, we’d love to work with you on custom gifts too!  You can contact us here and tell us a little bit about your event and vision.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these wedding party gifts.  Let us know what you think in the comments below.

suite spaces: making over our bedroom at the family cabin in utah

Over the river and through the woods to…Brian’s family cabin.  We both love spending time outdoors and we’re really fortunate that his family has a cabin in southern Utah that we absolutely love to visit a couple times a year.  The family goes skiing in the winter (I’m more of a lodge bunny) and ATVing in the summer (I could ride and explore for hours).

Brian’s father, Lynn, built the barn-shaped cabin about 40 years ago as a hunting retreat for him and his buddies.  They’d come up every year to go deer hunting and Lynn was resourceful in how he finished the cabin since he worked in the new home building industry.  He reused materials like cabinets and mirrors and light fixtures that were going to be discarded from houses that were being torn down.  Talk about being thrifty, green, and creative!

Since the cabin was just a yearly hunting haven for “the boys”, naturally it was in need of some decor and interior design as it morphed into the family vacation home over the years.  Slowly, new carpeting and flooring was installed and the bare walls even got a coat of white paint.  Kathy, Brian’s mom, would spend weekends in Big Bear searching for the perfect “cabin-y” sofa and tables to make the place feel more like a home.

The room Brian and I stay in was very sparse with just the essentials like a bed and dresser.  While it was functional, after a couple years I asked if his parents would be ok with us decorating the room since we started coming to the cabin with the family more frequently.  Luckily we were given the green light, so the ideas I had rolling around in my head could finally come to life.

the inspiration

I wanted to design our room to feel like “us” while still fitting in with the cabin.  I wanted it to feel like a modern retreat in the middle of the woods.  I like to call the idea that I was going for “cabin chic”: an upscale version of your typical cabin decor.  I was mindful to steer away from brown as the dominate color and weighty wood and log-inspired furniture to keep the room from feeling too heavy.

I took note of our surroundings for inspiration which were obviously very earthy and rustic.  In winter, the cabin is covered in nothing but an icy white glaze with little pops of wood peeking through the snow from the naked tree limbs.  I also thought about what colors were absent in our environment and thought that a dark blue and stark white would be the perfect juxtaposition against the mostly cocoa-colored backdrop of Utah.  Then I started a Pinterest board to see how the ideas I had in my head all looked together.

design challenges

One of the biggest focal points and challenges in the room is the slanted back wall behind our bed.  Since it dominates the space already, I decided to embrace and highlight it rather than try to hide it.  With this in mind, I made the bold decision to paint the entire wall a deep blue hue for dramatic effect and to contrast with the white bed spread and dresser we picked out.

We also had to work with the existing brown carpeting, small window, outdated closet doors, and electrical panel on the wall.

the final look

After painting the prominent accent wall, we chose a very light grey called “Evening White” by Behr for the remaining three walls in order to soften and brighten up the space a bit.  It also created a very subtle contrast against the white baseboard, furniture, and decorative accents.

Since Brian is great at woodworking, he made us a rustic headboard by hand that helped to anchor the space, break up the dark wall, and add some texture.  Then we layered in a white linen bedspread from Restoration Hardware that has delicate blue stitching along the edges and blue satin sheets that feel like heaven after a long day of ATV riding.  We topped the bedding off with a shearling blanket and pillows for added warmth in the winter and to also bring in that “cabin-y” vibe.  For another texture touch, we added a geometric cowhide rug underneath the bed to hide some of the wall-to-wall chocolate carpeting too.

We added a large white dresser for storage that is a better scale for the room and long wall that we placed it on, opposite the bed.  Above it, we hung a fun geometric triptych picture and accessorized with woodsy accents and a few of Brian’s favorite cowboy books, natch.  A chair in the corner is both functional and pretty and to hide the unsightly electrical panel, we hung a light-colored tapestry over it so that it was hidden but still accessible.  Blue and white sheer panels from Pottery Barn helped to frame the small window and soften the lines of the wall.

All images: The Suite Life

All images: The Suite Life

Now when we walk into our room, it feels like us.  It feels very comfortable and inviting.  And there’s no better feeling than home – even if it’s your home away from home.


Paint by Behr: “Dark Navy”   I   “Evening White”   I   “Ultra Pure White”
Bedspread   I   Sheets   I  Shearling Blanket & Pillows
Rug Similar Here   I   Curtains  I   Nightstand (Vintage)
Lamp Bases Similar Here I   Lamp Shades Similar Here
Faux Plants  I  White Pots Similar Here   I   Picture Frame
Dresser   I   Artwork Similar Here   I  Blue Vase  I   Clock
Book  I   Book  I   Basket   I   Chair (Personal)

What do you think of this room makeover?  Let us know in the comments below.

suite ideas: be prepared for flu season by building your own sick kit

There’s nothing worse than waking up with the flu or a cold.  You’ve got stuff to do and places to go and no time for being sick.  When my boyfriend and I came down with a week-long cold after Thanksgiving, we were out of commission, in desperate need of cough drops and tissues, had no desire to leave the house, and just wanted to curl up in bed with a blanket and some Netflix.  I wished we had everything we needed to feel better without having to venture out to the store to pick up some sick essentials.

When we felt better, I made a list of all the things that we went out and bought, that I wished we had, or that would’ve made us feel better.  With flu season peaking in February, I pulled them together in a pretty basket to make a “Sick Kit” so we have everything on hand next time Brian or I get sick.  (Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen for a very long time.)

feel better essentials

  • Basket: I started with this cute basket from The Container Store that matched our apartment decor and that I’d be excited to pull out when I was feeling icky.

  • Cough Drops: Mixed berry cough drops with Vitamin C from Ricola to help sooth sore throats from coughing and open up nasal passages.
  • Emergen-C: Tropical Emergen-C packets filled with 1000 mg of Vitamin C plus antioxidants, vitamins, and electrolytes.  Whenever I start to even feel the slightest bit sick, or if someone in my family is ill (hello little niece and nephew), I immediately start adding an Emergen-C packet to my water bottle to help my body fight off any potential illness.

  • Soup/Bone Broth: Nothing makes me instantly start to feel better than a warm bowl of soup.  When my mom isn’t around to make her soothing chicken noodle soup, bone broth has many healing benefits so I picked up this one from Epic Provisions.  You could also put in your favorite can of soup or instant chicken noodle soup packets.

  • Mug: Probably the number one thing I want when I’m sick is hot tea with lemon and honey.  So I included this pretty initial mug from Anthropologie.  I tried to include little luxuries like this that would make me feel happy even when I’m sick.
  • Tea: Served piping hot, tea can instantly sooth your throat when you’ve got a cough.  I chose Pukka’s “Love” tea with organic rose, chamomile, and lavender.

  • Honey: This is my favorite honey because it’s so smooth, flavorful, and has a little spicy kick to it (yes, I do still add it to my tea).  Bees Knees also makes a meyer lemon honey which would be good too if you’re not into the spicy honey like I am.

  • Snack/Granola Bar: I found myself just wanting little snacks here and there that were easy and healthy so I put in one of my new favorite protein bars by RXBAR.  I love these because they’re filling and super delicious (currently craving their mixed berry).  You could also include your favorite granola bar, popcorn, jello, or oatmeal.

  • Fluids/Something Fizzy: You definitely want to keep your body hydrated when you’re sick, so I included these IZZE blackberry sparkling juices.  The bubbles help calm tummies and the fact that these have no added sugar and are just 70% juice and sparkling water made them an easy choice.  You could also include your favorite bottled drink like a Starbucks coffee, Gatorade, or ginger ale.
  • Wipes: When you don’t want to move from your couch or bed, these facial cleansing towelettes come is super handy.  Great for cleansing your face for a quick pick-me-up or your hands.  I also use them to wipe down remotes and my phone so germs don’t spread.

  • Chest Rub: This will help open up airways and clear stuffy noses with eucalyptus and tea tree oil.  We chose this one from The Honest Company since it’s organic and hypoallergenic.
  • Aromatherapy Spray: We love a good face mist and this one from Happy Spritz has peppermint and eucalyptus and makes me feel like I’m at the spa whenever I spray it.  The aromatherapy blend is soothing and the peppermint essential oil helps provide relief from seasonal allergies and colds.  It’s also nice to spray on your pillow before bed or a Netflix binge.
  • Sleep Mask: Your body will need plenty of rest and this soft, furry sleep mask from Target can help keep light out so that you can focus on getting some shut eye and feeling better.

  • Socks: I’m firmly in the camp that believes that if you’re not feeling well, then you pamper and indulge yourself a little.  That includes slathering on a luxurious hand creme and then letting it soak in while wearing soft, furry socks like these from Target (they were only $3).  Bonus that they keep your feet warm.
  • Lotion: I am currently in love with this amazing tuberose scented lotion from World Market.  It smells divine and is so rich and hydrating on my hands and feet.  It’s a definite treat when you may not be feeling like your normal glamorous self.

  • Candle: I like to light a yummy smelling candle when I’m sick (and when I’m not) and I love the way this “Spa Water” candle from The Little Market smells like pineapple, strawberry, and mint.  It instantly brightens up any room or mood and I’ve received countless compliments on its scent.  And what’s even better is that the soy-based candle is hand poured by female refugees and helps to provide them with a source of income.
  • Book: Now’s the perfect time to pour yourself into a good book while you have some downtime.  For me, that’s event planning books like Lauren Conrad’s Celebrate (seriously, so good) or home design, decor, and entertaining books like Emily Schuman’s Cupcakes & Cashmere At Home.  You may want to reach for a mystery, thriller, or business book like my former boss Richard Branson’s Screw Business as Usual.

  • Face Mask: In keeping with the pampering theme, why not draw yourself a warm hot bath and soak with a revitalizing face mask on like this one that I purchased from World Market. You could also face mask while on the couch or in bed reading.
  • Body Scrub: Exfoliate your skin in the bath with an uplifting scent like this pink clay grapefruit body scrub.  Your skin will be more polished and you’ll feel better with the bright scent left lingering on your skin.
  • Bath Salts: Relax and unwind in a warm bathtub filled with a fun scent like fresh melon and bath salts that also include pink clay that will help calm dry skin.  Alternatively, you could also include your favorite bubble bath or bath fizzy to perfume the water.

While the products above are just what make me feel better when I’m sick, you may have other ones that you’d like to include.  A box of tissues, cold remedy medicines, or soft blanket would also be great additions.

I’d love to hear what you’d put in your “Sick Kit” in the comments below.  What would you include?

celebrity suites: a few notable residents that have called our building home

As you step from the bustling street, down the center courtyard, you’ll instantly notice the mid-century charm of the building.  From the lush landscaping, to the tranquil fountain, to the curved bay windows, this two-story apartment building has been home to a few famous faces over the years.

We don’t know if it’s the Old Hollywood vibe of the building that attracts these creative types, but if these walls could talk, they’d tell you all about the lines that were rehearsed, the songs that were sung, and the acting dreams that came true while these celebs called our building home.

Wilson Cruz

Until recently, this accomplished actor called our Dietrich floor plan home for almost six years.  If you were a teenager in the ’90s, then you may remember Wilson as Rickie Vasquez from the insanely popular cult classic My So-Called Life with Claire Danes and Jared Leto.  He also went on to star in Rent on Broadway, He’s Just Not that Into You with Drew Barrymore, and most recently as lawyer Dennis Vasquez on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why (which we totally binged).  In addition to acting, Wilson is also known as being an activist for the LGBTQ+ community and served as a spokesman for GLAAD.  You can catch Wilson currently portraying Dr. Hugh Culber on the new Star Trek: Discovery series airing on CBS.

Azita Ghanizada

You may remember Azita as Rachel Pirzad from Syfy’s Alphas.  And we can almost guarantee that you’ve seen her in one of her many guest appearances on hit TV shows like How I Met Your Mother, Entourage, Veronica Mars, The Mentalist, Bones, Ghost Whisperer, and Castle.  Azita lived in our Monroe floor plan, coincidentally right next door to Wilson Cruz and we love that they’ve maintained a friendship even after moving out.  Recently, Azita founded the MENA Arts Advocacy Coalition which fights for the advancement and visibility of Middle Eastern North African performers on-screen in film, television, and streaming platforms.

Kelly Thiebaud

Kelly was one of the first people we leased to when we took over management for the building back in 2009 and way before she portrayed Dr. Britt Westbourne aka “The Britch” on General Hospital.  Back then she lived in our Monroe floor plan and was a muse in David Guetta music videos but has since gone on to guest star on shows like Days of Our Lives, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Criminal Minds before becoming a recurring cast member on General Hospital.

Holly Woodlawn

A colorful and beloved resident, transgender icon Holly Woodlawn called our Monroe floor plan home for over 10 years.  Born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl in Puetro Rico, Holly grew up in Miami and rose to fame in Andy Warhol’s 1970 movie Trash.  She was later immortalized in the opening lines of Lou Reed’s catchy song, “Walk on the Wild Side”.  Holly also had a cameo in Madonna’s “Deeper and Deeper” music video.  After moving out, Holly appeared as herself in an episode of Transparent and sadly passed away in December 2015.  She was included during the In-Memoriam segment at the 88th Academy Awards and is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery just down the street.

Fun Fact: Azita Ghanizada moved into Holly’s suite right after it was remodeled so it has major Hollywood vibes going on in there.


Joan Dixon

While we can’t 100% confirm that Joan Dixon in fact lived here, we can confirm that we found some personal effects of hers while remodeling the Dietrich floor plan suite that Wilson Cruz moved out of.  While replacing the bathroom cabinet, we found an invitation to Joan from Captain Joseph Ropars of the SS France inviting her to cocktails on the promenade deck which places the date of the card sometime between 1964-1966 when he was captain.  Since the invitation was found underneath the cabinet where there was no easy access, we assume that she once called this suite home.  Joan was a film and television actress in the 1950s and was under contract with Howard Hughes.  She is best known for her role in the 1951 film noir Roadblock which just so happens to have come out the same year the building was built.  In the 60’s, Joan performed as a vocalist at Dean Martin’s nightclub, Dino’s Lodge, just up the street on the Sunset Strip, so our building would’ve been a super close retreat for her after a night of entertaining and singing.

Who were you most surprised to learn lived here?  Let us know in the comments below.