Decor and event styling by Elaine Burns

I'm Moving!

I’ve got some big projects coming down the pipe, all because of the big news that I’m days away from closing...yes, I BOUGHT an apartment!

The process has been a whirlwind, to say the least, but thanks to the support of my family, friends, and amazing ladies-of-NYC-real estate team, I’m so proud and happy I went through with everything.

The space is a charming studio in Prospect Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn. Be sure to follow along on Instagram for updates. I’ll be posting more details on projects in the coming months.

In the meantime, I’ve put together a special Pinterest board to collect my inspirations and potential product purchases for the space.
I’d love to hear your comments and feedback! What are your favorite pieces I have pinned so far?

Pistachio in Peru!

Like most people, I spend the first week of a new year crafting goals for the upcoming months, compiling a list of things I’d like to accomplish.
One (big) goal I had for 2017 was to do a solo adventure vacation.

I spent several weeks researching and considering what sorts of day-trips and tours I’d like to do on my own, ultimately booking a week-long trip to Cusco, Peru! I worked with the tour company Elite Travel to help plan a customized itinerary. It was the perfect solution for a first-time solo female traveler.

The focus of my trip was on exploring and immersing myself in the weaving culture and traditions of the region. Inspired by my ‘textile kick’ from last fall, it felt like the perfect way to utilize this solo trip; I could spend as much time as I wanted (read: a majority of my stay) on a design-oriented exploration.

On the first day of my trip, my guide took me to the Awana Kancha living museum - an alpaca farm and weaving community. It was a great introduction to the different alpaca species in the region and I learned about different yarn dying practices/materials. I made the decision right there on the spot that my favorite type of alpaca was the Suri (they look like friendly mops!!).

We then drove down to the valley of Pisac where I had a serious test of my Spanish in the textile market. First order of business: pick up an alpaca blanket and some yarn for my knitting-extraordinaire of a sister.

The next leg of my trip was focused on visiting Aguas Calientes - the town of Machu Picchu. After the hectic prior days of village-hopping, altitude-acclimating, and touring, some downtime was just what I needed. The town is small, so it only took me a couple of hours to wander the streets and get the lay of the land. I focused mainly on eating stellar local specialties and bargaining in the local textile market...again (added another alpaca blanket to my collection!).

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Machu Picchu and the surrounding landscape were truly as incredible as everyone says. The ruins were impressive, and learning about the ancient Incans that lived there was fascinating. But soaking up the views and surroundings was what I spent most of my time doing once my tour group dispersed. Another bonus of solo travel: ample time for reflection and relaxation.

Next came my absolute favorite part of the trip: a visit to the Patacancha community as part of a tour with the Awamaki organization. Awamaki is a group that works with women in local Andean villages to support their weaving traditions by empowering these women to start their own small businesses selling their pieces. It is a wonderful organization to support if you are looking for sustainable tourism activities; I highly recommend.
The women were so gracious in demonstrating their techniques and I was able to complete a project along with them (!!!). I felt so honored to be welcomed into their community, meet their families, and ultimately their home over a home-cooked meal.

My final days of the trip were spent in the city of Cusco, but not before visiting another weaving cooperative - Paqari Wasi - along the way. This community is unique in that they weave patterns on the edges of their work - often related to stories mapped out in the patterns of their larger pieces.

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I returned feeling refreshed and excited to have been so immersed in the culture and crafts of the Cusco communities. Doing this trip solo turned out to be the perfect way for me to experience the region - I was able to talk and work with my tour guides and hostesses in a more personal way by interacting one-on-one.

I loved the independance, time for reflection, and full control of my schedule. And! Now I have so many Peruvian textiles to share with my family, friends, and integrate into a new project I will be announcing later this week...  


Decal Designs

After discovering that my grocery store now carries my favorite sodas for cocktails, I’ve been spending more time playing with the tools of my bar cart and decided it was necessary to add some missing key pieces.

While I have quite a collection of glassware in my cupboards, I didn’t have any rocks glasses to compliment my highball, coupe, collins, or wine glasses.

 Photo by Erin Fikentscher

Photo by Erin Fikentscher

Using my new favorite home decor tool, I purchased a plain set of glasses and found inspiration on the Cricut Design Space to make a whimsical, lacy decal design. The Design Space makes customization easy to suit your individual projects. For my glass decals, I used the tool to adjust the image to the perfect size for my glasses.

I also added an acrylic serving tray to my cart as well - essential for entertaining guests and corralling all of my smaller tools on the cart when I’m not entertaining.

 Photo by Erin Fikentscher

Photo by Erin Fikentscher

Here, I had to customize the design more significantly - I went for a simpler, smaller decoration so as not to distract from the intricate glassware.

Sticking with gold accents tied together my new adds to my existing collection and compliments the packaging of my liquor and mixer staples.

Having never used the Cricut for decal purposes, I was impressed with the ease of transfer and durability of the materials. The projects were quick and added the fresh update I needed. The Cricut proved to be an exceptionally versatile tool - used to make floral garlands a few weeks ago and now elevating the serving ware in my kitchen!

All photos by Erin Fikentscher.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Floral Garland

When my aunt asked me to help plan my cousin in law’s baby (girl) shower, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The shower was planned for March - a month before her due date - and we agreed on a theme of a whimsical garden party.

Florals and delicate details were musts for styling. As a special add, I wanted to give the mom-to-be’s throne a unique touch.  

Since setting up my new Cricut machine, I have spent hours (yes, hours) combing through their Design Space; a resource for project ideas and templates. I’ve pinned several of my favorites, and for this occasion, I wanted to do something special with my favorite design element - flowers - so I opted for a colorful garland.

Using the machine was simple for this three-part project - pistil, petals, and leaves. I created 40 (!!!) complete flowers, making 2 garlands to hang.

 Photo by Amy Zalinsky

Photo by Amy Zalinsky

The party was perfect - and the mix of both real and paper flowers added the feminine touch to the decor.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

My New Favorite DIY Home Project Tool

About 6 months ago when my mom, of Early Bird Designs, was pitching her ceramics line with Etsy Wholesale, we were invited to a partnering event with HGTV.

Being the DIY-aficionados that we are, we were thrilled to see a Cricut demo booth at the event and jumped into the DIY activity being presented. The team was showcasing the iron-on decals that the Cricut can print to then be used to create professional screen printed designs on fabric. Once I saw this technique, my mind immediately jumped to different fabric and printing ideas; it could be simple to design and print my own unique fabric patterns.

A Cricut is any DIY maven’s dream tool. It is a small scale precision cutting and printing machine. It can cut and print on over 100 different types of materials - something as simple as cardstock for intricate card making to vinyl for decal creation, even leather!

Most people seem to associate Cricut with scrapbooking, but it has evolved to be a tool that makes it easy to customize home decor projects.

I’ve been brainstorming projects - and I’m excited to share my first examples soon! In the meantime, I’ve been busy pinning some ideas - anyone have tips/recommendations to share?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Living Room Redesign - Reveal!

It’s been a slow and steady project, but I am finally ready to share my completed living room redesign!

I am fortunate to live in a New York apartment with a true living room space (anyone who knows someone that lives here knows this is rare!). Because of the pure functionality of it, by default it is where my roommate and I spend most of our time.

But, being a shared space, until now the room lacked much of a central aesthetic. It had all of the necessary pieces (a table, couch, tv), but the overall design was wasn’t unified or inviting.

Last week I shared my Pinterest inspiration board that fed into my design plan and below are the final results.

I worked to keep the space minimalism inspired while also still feeling cozy. Mixing textures and sticking to a neutral color palette helped to achieve that balance. In a small space, adding furniture can quickly make it feel cluttered and cramped, so I stuck to classic pieces with clean lines and paid special attention to furniture scale (measure everything!), so as to not overwhelm the space.

I found a simple metal tulip table and basic utilitarian chairs to serve as the dining area. Since these pieces would be below the gallery wall - a visually busy section of the room - I wanted these pieces to be simple and not distract guests from admiring the art on the wall.

The gallery wall is primarily a collection of prints (vintage and new!) and I am proud to include a piece from my dad’s most recent art show - Go Figure. This floral calendar is also a great add - because the image changes every month, it will help to alleviate any feeling of staleness.

Opposite the gallery wall is a single large photograph. This is one of the first things visitors notice when entering the room, so I wanted a piece that was calming while still being visually interesting - this fit the bill perfectly.

For textiles, I looked for rich, textured pieces (like the couch and foot pouf) to mix with geometric prints (found in the pillows, rug and bookshelf wallpaper).

And perhaps one of my favorite additions is the handmade wooden sofa table. The wooden plank was a find from a trip this summer to Vermont, and some hairpin legs made the piece completely functional.

Living Room Redesign: Inspiration Board

I’ve been talking about it for months on my Instagram and am nearly ready to reveal my living room redesign!

The true nucleus of the apartment, this space needed an update in terms of layout and overall aesthetic (previously there wasn’t much of one).

Wanting to keep the space clutter-free but also cozy - especially now that we are in hygge season - was my main design objective. A focused color palette, clean architectural details, and rich textures helped bring the room together and I can’t wait to share soon.

In the meantime, I am sharing my Pinterest board compiling my inspiration and design must-haves as a preview. Stay tuned for the official share in the coming weeks!