November 2, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

Girly Modern Goes to Wine Country: Part I

When my phone rang with an offer to design a room at a Napa winery, I thought I was dreaming.  In August 2012, I got the call from one of my favorite magazines, Traditional Home, to design a showroom in one of my favorite places, Napa Valley.  I was invited to participate in the first Napa Valley Showhouse which involved a guest house on a working vineyard.  It took me about a second before I sealed the deal with a resounding “hells yeah!”

Showhouses are a double-edged sword.  The upside is that they are a creative free-fall, a completely blank canvas awaiting all the ideas that fill my sketchbooks.  I’m free of client responsibilities to incorporate grammy’s stuffy sofa or the heirloom collection of hand-knitted doilies into the design.  I could do anything!  Complete and total design liberation!  And that’s when the hammer drops.  I. could. do. anything.  Since I had been dreaming of designing at a vineyard for years, the ideas were fast and furious.  I took comfort in the wisdom of Donatella Versace, “Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.”  If that’s the case, my creativity was overflowing.

The only design direction imposed was simply “Napa Style”.  I knew I wanted to avoid the obvious and obscene such as grape leaf wallpaper border.  But I also wanted to steer clear of the a few of the current trends like furniture that appears to have fallen out of an airplane and rustic over-scaled pieces that looked as if they have just been pulled out of the world’s largest barn.  After a brief creative freak out that involved a kitchen table full of magazine tear-outs and speed-clicking through Pinterest,  I remembered I should stick to what I do best – girly modern. With some self-imposed boundaries in place, here’s the path we took:

Balcony Color Board


Bedroom Color Board

Living in the hustle of San Francisco, Napa Valley is my escape hatch into the natural world.  I knew I wanted nature to be a prominent theme in my design.  My sweetly supportive and enthusiastic assistant, Adrienne, quickly got on-board and found us the beautiful lambswool bench.  I discovered these stone unicorns and amazing wing pendants.  The foundation of the room’s design was built around this gorgeous bird fabric by LuluDK.  In a full circle side note, I realized last night that this is the same fabric used in Blair Waldorf’s new atelier.  If you don’t know who Blair is, read about my obsession here.

Bird fabric by LuluDK

Blair Waldorf’s new atelier (source:

I will reveal the finished design in the next post,  In the meantime, get a glimpse in this short video tour of the Napa Valley Design Showhouse.  If you’re in Northern California, check out the design in person before November 11th and be sure to sneak in some time to enjoy a few of the best wines in the world.  I recommend Cardinale, Robert Sinskey, and Kathryn Hall wineries.

September 5, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

Girly Modern Goes Rustic

Last week, we laid out our design process and shared a few photos of the raw space for the Anchor Distilling Company Penthouse Tasting Room (ADC).  This week I’ll take you on a tour through the finished penthouse.  I had such a blast working with the fun folks at Anchor and loved using the reclaimed redwood we literally pulled off their roof deck.  While using my Girly Modern style as a touchstone, I was able to incorporate a rustic, regional theme reflected through custom furniture, a signature bar, and a customer-friendly design flow. During this project, I scribbled in my sketchpad “industrial elegance.”  Let’s take a look!

Our custom rope knot pendant lights built by Dogfork Lamp Arts.

These industrial bar stools in metal and wood add a sense of casual refinement.

This custom designed bar was built by Todd Lookinland from reclaimed redwood and treated with a custom gray wash to enhance the natural texture. We had a few sets of narrow stairs to contend with, so he brought the bar in pieces and assembled it on site.

These display shelves were also custom crafted by Todd with reclaimed redwood and I added rope detailing to highlight the room’s subtle nautical theme.

The gray and yellow fabric for the throw pillows adds my signature pop of pattern to the room.

This distressed coffee table adds a bold element of shape and form to the room.  As a bonus, it can take a lot of drinks being spilled on it.

We had the classic chesterfield sofa made for the room.  I love how the vibrant yellow microfiber makes it feel modern.

For tips on how to re-create this design for your own home, check out our list of materials and sources in last week’s post.  If you would like more info on our commercial and restaurant design services, drop us an email at:  Inquires about winery design especially welcome!

Photo Credit: © Paul Rattay  |

Anchor - Colorboard

August 29, 2012
by Melanie Coddington
1 Comment

Designing the Anchor Distilling Company Penthouse Tasting Room

There is a certain style that just defines San Francisco. Conjuring up ideas of crisp white masts on a Bay-side schooner or the quality, antique craftsmanship of a Victorian restoration, Anchor Distilling Company is at the heart of San Francisco style.  I was honored to interpret these distinctive inspirations when I was asked to design the Anchor Distilling Company Penthouse Tasting Room.

One of the many reasons I was excited to work with the Anchor Distilling Company (ADC) is because they are all about the details.  Their focus is on very small batches of handcrafted artisanal spirits.  Aligning with my design practices, ADC works to create beautifully unique and richly nuanced products.  It was a perfect match.

Here are a few photos of the space before we began our design.

My goal was to design a tasting room to host exclusive events and spirit tastings for key ADC clients.  The space needed to reflect the intimacy and individualism of their distilling practices while never losing sight of Anchor’s deep California roots.  In the beginning, the vision was a small lounge but as the design gained momentum the project grew into a sophisticated speak-easy penthouse with a fully functioning built-in bar complete with sink, dishwasher, fridge and t.v. display.

Let’s take a look at a few of the major design pieces we used in this project.

A)  I chose these industrial bar stools by Wisteria for their simple elegance.

B)  This is the reclaimed redwood with custom gray wash that I used for the custom bar, display cabinet, and custom display shelf.  These were designed by Coddington Design and built by Marin-based carpenter Todd Lookinland of Lookinland Custom Building, LLC.

C)  We custom designed this chesterfield sofa and had it upholstered in a citrus yellow mirco-suede with widely spaced button tufting for a modern twist.  If you want one for yourself, check out this similar sofa from Neiman Marcus.

D)  I spotted this rustic coffee table from Anthropologie and loved the distressed metal legs and wood planked top.  It provides the room with a strong sculptural element.

E)  This is the custom display shelf used for premium limited edition and vintage bottles.  We had this built using the reclaimed redwood with custom gray wash and rope detailing. You can find a similar shelf here from Restoration Hardware.

F)  I incorporated my signature pop of pattern in this design with this gray chevron rug by Stark Carpet.  Here is a similar rug.

G)  We designed these custom pendant lights in rope knot patterns to hint at a nautical influence and had them built by Dogfork Lamp Arts.

H)  This industrial side table was perfect for the space and it was once available through Urban Outfitters. Here’s a close match that is available.

I)  This is the fabric for the throw pillows, the pattern is Savoy and the color is Mimosa!  They are made by Clark and Clark.

My color palette for this project was yellow and gray to compliment the industrial finishes and connect with the vibe of an exclusive speak-easy.  The wall color (J) is Benjamin Moore #1475 and the cabinet color (K) is Benjamin Moore Graphite #1603.

Every project has a budget.  In order to get the most out of the financial  parameters for this project, I used a few creative work-arounds to stay in the black.  Since Anchor has been in San Francisco since the Gold Rush years, using redwood was essential.  I was able to re-use the existing redwood lumber from torn-up decking.  I also mixed one-of-a-kind pieces such as the custom bar and lighting with off-the-rack retail items like the coffee table and bar stools.  Keeping the existing tile floor was a major budget saver.  Best of all, I accepted some of my design fees in booze!  (hiccup)

This project was a great opportunity to incorporate more masculine design elements into my signature Girly Modern style.  If you ever get the chance to sip a vintage port inside this penthouse tasting room, I hope it feels like a wonderfully classic San Francisco moment.

Stay tuned for our next post to see the finished design of the Anchor Distilling Company Penthouse Tasting Room!


July 20, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

The Girly Modern Guide to Outdoor Rooms

I am crazy about summer!  This is absolutely my favorite season.  It’s that time of the year when a pair of slingback heels, a pitcher of mojitos, and a garden-picked salad are all you need for the perfect day.  My love for summer is rooted in my early years in the heart of the chilly redwoods of Northern California. Emerging from those misty, grey skies has made me appreciate everything warm and sunny.

Life al fresco never loses it’s appeal for me so I thought it was time to celebrate the beauty of outdoor spaces Girly Modern style.  With that summer feeling of lightness and liberation, I’ve vowed to leave my make-up, jewelry, and cell phone behind as I head into the wilds of Yosemite for an upcoming off-the-grid weekend. This trip is filling me with inspiration so let’s start with outdoor country spaces.

Outdoor spaces are often synonymous with simplicity.  Simple doesn’t have to mean drab or lacking in detail.  These two dining areas from Lonny Magazine are a great example of outdoor space that reflect the summer philosophies of inviting and casual while remaining creative and stylish.  While both looks focus on white as the central color, the detailing with accessories and the influence of the surrounding natural environment are just as essential to the overall design.

Outdoor bathrooms are not for amateurs but they are beautiful! They often appear as a mirage, delicately weaving into the landscape.  Outdoor tubs and showers are best when they are bare in design and function with ease.  We’re not looking for convenience or practicality.  With outdoor bathrooms, the goal is to capture the experience of summer.

Lemonade may be the only thing more summer than a porch swing.  Ella Boo gets Girly Modern with a swinging porch bed!  She even gives you the DIY lowdown if you want to add this to your list of summer projects.

A screened-in porch offers many options.  This is a great daybed perfect for summertime guests or a lazy afternoon snooze.

In my perfect future life, I’ll float effortlessly between my city apartment and my house in the country.  But even if you stay put in the city, you can still have a great outdoor space.  I definitely feel the need to dress up for these glam urban spaces.

These rooftop garden dining rooms are the perfect mixture of urban modernism with vintage elegance.  The simple furniture doesn’t compete with the power of the natural world.  This is also a subtle reminder that even fresh flowers and potted greens can bring in the power of the outdoors.

If you’re rolling your eyes thinking it’s all about linen and gauzy, pale fabrics, it doesn’t have to be.  You can get as bold as you want with outdoor spaces.  Just look at the color on this rooftop space and how this darker shade of carpeting creates a strong foundation for bright accent colors.

Here’s another vibrantly decorated outdoor space. At first glance you may not notice this room is facing an open oasis. Check out the view of bamboo trees in the mirror.  As a more sophisticated outdoor living room, this is the perfect spot for after dinner cocktails.

Summer never lasts forever so get busy creating your perfect summer outdoor space before the days get shorter and the skies get colder.


June 15, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

Room Service E-Design Dining Room

Even though summer is the perfect time to play hooky, forward all calls to voicemail, and keep the blender whizzing with slushy patio cocktails, we’ve been logging in some serious hours to revamp Room Service by Melanie Coddington.  Room Service is our e-design service.  It allows you to do it yourself while having the detailed guidance of a professional designer at your fingertips.  With Room Service, you can design one room at a time, on your schedule, and within your budget while collaborating with the Coddington Design team.

One of the first e-design projects we worked on was a small dining room for a young family. They have generously allowed me to share their design with my Girly Modern readers.

There were a few challenges with this project.  The primary issue was that the space was small yet it needed to accommodate a family of four and also allow for entertaining guests.  The dining room also didn’t offer any storage so we needed to include space for stashing a few essentials while working within the client’s vision to create a light and airy feel.

Our first step was to recommend a light color palette with bright accents to keep the space open and inviting.  We created a swatch of possible color combinations and our client decided on their favorite.  Because the room has a large window overlooking a well manicured yard, the light gray wall color will compliment the view instead of competing with it.

Once the color scheme was in place, we focused on choosing furniture that would fit the client’s style and also moonlight as a place to store all the accoutrements of a dining room without any of the clutter.  We opted for a console with clean lines and plenty of counter space.  This was a twofold solution as it allows our client to store fine china, silverware, and table cloths out of sight while also acting as a buffet space when entertaining.

Next we offered options for the dining room table.  Since this would be the central piece, we recommended a round table in a light color to reinforce the theme of spaciousness in the room.  Underneath the dining room table, we suggested a hair-on-hide rug.  Many people think these types of rugs are high maintenance and precious but the truth is they are really easy to clean while also being water and stain resistant.  They are perfect rugs to place in high-traffic areas with the potential for spillage.  The rug was on the smaller side to avoid taking up a lot of floor real estate.

We wanted to add overhead lighting that didn’t obstruct the view.  Our solution was adding an airy chandelier by Lindsey Adelman Studio.

Once the heart of the design was complete, we had fun with the final details of finishes and accents to really build on the client’s love of strong, modern design.

To get a better idea of how our Room Service e-design works, here’s a closer look at the process.  Our team of designers works together with the client to produce three main components.

First is the detailed floor plan with an easy to understand legend.  We work directly with the client to get all the measurements and specifications.

Next is the storyboard.  This features all upholstered items, lighting, case goods, area rugs, art, and accessories.  The storyboard works in tandem with the detailed floor plan to deliver a complete view of the structure and the possibilities of the space.  Finally, we deliver the specification list for the storyboard where we actually hunt down all of the potential design pieces so our clients can purchase the items they want to include with just a click or two.

Specification List To Storyboard Shown
A     Saarinen Dining Table
B     Jan Showers Marnie Dining Chair
C    Mateo Cabinet
D   Zebra Rug
E    Driftwood Table Lamp
F    Pair of X Turtle Shells
G   Onyx Zig Zag Ginger Jar
H   Drapery Fabric
I    Chandelier
J    Zulu No. 9
K   Pavillion Gray

We also supply our e-design clients with a photorealistic 3D rendering of the room according to our suggested plan. Clients really love this feature since it gives a great overview of the finished room and saves both time and money.

Interested in getting started with this sparkly new affordable design service?  Check out our Getting Started Guide and/or contact us today:  415.285.2821 or 310-876-1060.


April 25, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

The Girly Modern Guide to Re-Upholstery

I love vintage.  There’s nothing like it.  Sure, there are modern knock-offs but you can’t fake a vintage vibe. The real appeal for me is that no one else will have this item. Besides exclusivity, vintage furniture has a tendency to be well constructed with the ability to withstand the test of time. But the truth is that not all the components of vintage furniture are built for longevity, that’s why we have the art of re-upholstery. Since we love taking something mundane or unnoticed and transforming it into a vibrant, beautiful piece, re-upholstering has become one of our specialties at Coddington Design. Here are a few tips, inspirations and examples on how to re-upholster great furniture finds.

The most important part of upholstery projects is finding that perfect piece of furniture. Discovering a gem amongst the masses takes a keen eye, some technical know-how and an active imagination. Rest assured, you don’t have to dumpster dive or troll the street corners Portlandia-style to uncover unique, affordable furniture. But if you do spot the perfect curbside loveseat while you circle for parking remember the golden rule: if it’s wet or stinks, keep walking. Rain sodden or cat claimed cushions almost always mean the glory days are over.

I found this loveseat in one of my top secret thrift stores.  While the color was a bit hideous, I loved the size, clean lines and wood frame.

The potential was there so I grabbed it and promptly sent it off to the refinisher for a bright coat of decorator’s white.  After the leg work was complete, it then went to the upholsterer for a brand new down filled cushion and Holland & Sherry striped fabric.

When you do find a piece of furniture whose framework has been well cared for and is still somewhat sturdy, you want to ignore the current fabric.  This is the part where imagination is critical.  Textiles are such a powerful part of the design process that they may camouflage the potential of the perfect piece.  If you already have your new fabric picked out, envision the pattern on the new find.  If you haven’t yet chosen your fabric yet, look solely at the shape and structure of the furniture piece you have discovered.  Does it fit the overall design style and size scale of the room where it will eventually live?  If you’ve found something you love that has exposed wood, remember you can always paint or refinish it but it’s a more affordable and easier process if the wood is in good condition.

Here’s a great example of fabric distraction.  I stumbled upon a pair of wing chairs with beautiful lines and high backs.  They were upholstered in naugahyde, a unfortunate byproduct of the 70s.

Looking past that covering and concentrating on the bones of the furniture, I had the legs refinished in a cream white and chose a silk mohair for the new fabric.  I then added spaced chrome nail heads for a deeper level of detail and craftsmanship.


You may stumble across the perfect find during your search but then you actually sit on it.  If it feels more like a sack of old soup cans than the comfy chair you look forward to curling up in, don’t abandon ship just yet.  The upholstery process is more than just fabric.  When working with a professional upholster, they will also examine and replace any needed cushioning.

I thought I had discovered the gem of the year when I spotted this vintage tufted chair.  I wasn’t even going to veto the purple velvet fabric but then I sat in it.  The padding on this chair left around the same time Reagan left office.

I decided to work with it anyway.  I painted the legs myself and then had a professional replace the cushioning and upholster it in neoprene fabric.  Neoprene is the same fabric used for wetsuits and it is so functional it wipes clean with a sponge!

More for professionals than DIYers, here are a few upholstery details that can transform an average piece of furniture into a real showstopper.
⁃    Button Tufting
⁃    Contrast Welt
⁃    Adding down fell to seat backs
⁃    Spaced chrome nail heads: This technique looks best when the nails are not head-to-head or touching.

Re-upholstering is a creative process that can give new life to old furniture making it a truly custom addition to a home.  Here are a few of my favorite before & after examples of re-upholstering magic.

From CasaSugar:

From Apartment Therapy:

From CasaSugar:


April 4, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

How to Decorate with Florals

Sure, you’ve still got the heat cranked and a simmering pot of soup on the stove but according to my calendar spring has sprung.  These rainy days will lead to those invigorating mornings when you throw open the windows determined to breathe fresh air into your home and hustle the lazy, winter feel out of your living room.  One of the best ways to usher in that spark of spring is by incorporating floral patterns and yet fewer things can go so wrong, so quickly.  So let’s talk about how to decorate with florals without looking like grandma’s house.

The greatest tip I can give you is to choose large scale florals.  I’m talking big, beautifully structured floral patterns which focus on shape and elegance.  Keep in mind that when going large it’s also a good idea to go simple.  Giant, complex patterns can pump up the design volume in an unmanageable way.  So look for prints that are whole and complete without the potential to dominate the entire space.

Along with shape, bright colors can also fuel the powerful punch florals are known to deliver. If you’re fearful of that old timey association of florals with overly feminine design, remember that florals now go beyond rosy shades of pastels.  Here are two examples of the different directions that colors can take with florals.

Floral patterns don’t have to remain relegated to bedding or upholstery.  Don’t be afraid to try a few unconventional paths to working with florals such as accessories or even adding floral designs to the ceiling!  If ceiling decor is not your jam, don’t forget about pillows, bouquets, lampshades, or artwork.  Here’s a girly modern example of abstract flowers in an encaustic art piece by Betsy Web in the master bedroom.

If you’re still not sold on the potential of floral patterns, try the safest route – monochromatic.  By creating a room in one hue, there is a stability to the space which keeps all the elements in check.  It’s difficult to roam too far in a monochromatic design and by adding floral patterns with a matching base color, those flowers will be the perfect accent.

Are you worried about frilly when it comes to florals?  The key to fending off the doily factor is to add in rustic or masculine pieces.  A leather club chair, a seasoned wood table, or a neutral color scheme will anchor the space.  It’s a good idea to avoid mixing florals with delicate decor since it can add an air of fragility to the room.  Here’s a rustic bathroom I designed that balances the softness of florals with horizontal stripes on the tub and a top-stitched vinyl valance window treatment.

Another way to offset an avalanche of girlyness is to pair florals with a bright white.  A bold, white backdrop will add a sense of freshness and shine that will gallantly showcase a vibrant floral print.

Florals have a reputation as one of the most cringe-inducing design patterns but there’s a new generation of florals that add the perfect amount of color and movement to a space.  If you have a room in your home that is feeling stagnant and in need of a springtime infusion, look for big, bold floral patterns to add a little extra vitality to your design.


February 24, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

10 Steps to Finding Your Design Style With Pinterest

Everybody is talking about Pinterest.  Whether you’re a lover of design, photography, celebrities, dogs, yarn, moustaches, really anything, you’ve probably already set up a montage of boards and have been pining away during your commute, your lunch hour or excruciatingly boring meetings.  For those out of the loop, Pinterest is a social network built on a love of images and an infinite number of virtual cork boards.

Once you set up your profile on Pinterest, you can organize your boards into whatever categories you’d like. Rustic Kitchens, Tasting Room, and Trends I Still Love are examples of a few of my boards.  Then you can begin “pining”.  Which means that when you find an image you love while trolling the web or one taken from your personal stash, you can place it on one of your boards.  Your images are visible to other people on Pinterest and they are free to “like” your images and re-pin to their boards.  You can also follow other users and write blurbs about each image.

Besides being a great place to whittle away many, many hours of your life, Pinterest is also a great tool for refining and gathering inspiration for your own design style.  I found my style of girly modern all on my own but for those of you who love design but haven’t stumbled upon your true definition of personal style, Pinterest can get you there.

In the interior design world, creating focused boards, scouring endless high quality images and discovering others who have similar styles are great ways to be creative and to play without tearing down walls, literally.  I show clients images of completed rooms all the time and even if they can’t explain why, they know instantly when a style resonates with them.

Here’s a great way to get started uncovering your style through your Pinterest life:

  1. Select a room in your house.
  2. Create and label a board in your profile just for that room.
  3. Follow fun people for ideas, inspiration and direction.  (Feel free to start with me!)
  4. Using the search box, look up specific, detailed terms that get you excited like glam kitchen rather than kitchen.
  5. Add the “Pin It” button to your internet browser or phone so you can pin anything you come across that belongs on your board.
  6. Go to furniture store websites – don’t look at prices!  We’re looking for inspiration not calculations.
  7. Start pining!  and pin a lot.  Pin anything that catches your eye, even if it’s a small detail or a certain color shade.  Later you can go back and edit all your boards.
  8. Give the process time.  You’re not ordering a sandwich, you’re developing your own personal style.  Work on your board consistently for at least two weeks and you’ll begin to see your vision evolve.
  9. Share with significant others in your life.  Whether they are also on Pinterest or sitting in your soon to be updated living room, get their ideas and opinions (which you’re also free to edit and ignore).
  10. With enough examples and enthusiasm to guide you, start implementing the design yourself or get help from a designer.

I’d love to see your style on Pinterest. Feel free to leave your link in the comments below so I can check out your boards and do a little re-pinning myself!  A few of my favorite pins below.

Girls Bedroom by Coddington Design



parker running

February 16, 2012
by Melanie Coddington
1 Comment

San Francisco Design Week Wrap

My head is still spinning from all the hobnobbing, design dishing, and seriously good fashion that went down at Design SF 2012.  Not only was it a party packed weekend but there was also a ton of fascinating, leading edge info about the direction of design.  I want to give you the inside scoop, so here are the highlights:

The kickoff for me began with the stunning and accomplished Trina Turk.  As a fashion, textile and accessories designer, Trina Turk is well versed in expanding her creative reach and and I was privy to hearing firsthand how she actually has to tone down her color palette for interiors at a private dinner hosted by Schumacher  and California Home + Design Magazine.  Once again, I forgot my camera to snap a few secret shots of the private dining room at 25 Lusk and try to MacGyver some really secret shots of the delicious three course meal we all enjoyed.

(photo by Mona T. Brooks)

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January 31, 2012
by Melanie Coddington

Trends We Still Love!

The new year is the perfect time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.  It’s when we usher in new creative energy and thankfully say goodbye to a few things that have overstayed their welcome like Moroccan poufs and antlers.  While I’m always on-board for innovative inspirations, there are a few trends the team at Coddington Design are not quite ready to get rid of.  Ombre, chevrons, and my still favorite color combo (yellow and grey) are three trends that we’re not quite ready to see end.

Ombre is French for “shaded.” It’s a gradual fading technique used on fabrics with colors subtly shifting from light to dark.  The progressive blending of shades leaves a relaxed elegance that can easily fit into many design genres.  Since ombre is usually created during the textile process as opposed to the dying process, there’s a greater complexity to it.  The play on shading can really open up a room and lend a sense of brightness and spaciousness especially when the tones range from dark at the floor to light at the ceiling.  It also leaves a lot of options for mixing and matching complimentary colors into the design.

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