Riha Manor

Riha Manor | Cresco, Iowa | Completed 2013
We grew up on a small acreage in rural Iowa where we played, learned to tend to the gardens, helped maintain the house, and began designing what became our first project, Riha Manor. When it was decided it was time to update the 1914 farmhouse by adding modern conveniences (first floor bathroom, full size laundry room, formal entry, and attached garage) we kept in mind the simple structure, interior details and keeping the scale appropriate to the existing footprint.
Inspiration: Sarah Richardson’s farmhouse on HGTV which was a similar brick farmhouse where she added additional living room and entry.  We also looked to pinterest to find farmhouse exteriors with a similar simple style.  We chose vertical siding that mimics  traditional barnboards.  Grey was a nice complement to the red brick of the original house.
Design Development: We took our our pens and pencils to sketch up our initial ideas of how the addition should look.  After a few alterations the dormer over the garage became the main architectural interest to the addition.  Also, we brought the entry forward to add a third dimension from the garage and brick house.  We added a peaked roof to the well room to tie it back into the garage design.  We further developed the floor plan and scaled the garage after the size of the original brick house.  The Sketchup model became a great tool to visualize the form in relation to the original house.  Finally, a little photoshopping of the model with finishes and colors brought our concept to reality.  Using these tools helped sell our parents on the design as well as inform the contractors.  Being from Iowa we had quite a crew, an Amish team from up the road and our uncle Steve to complete the interior details.
Before: The original brick structure had a laundry and well room added onto it, both lacking character and clad in basic white plastic siding. The adjacent garage was looking more shabby than chic with peeling paint and structural issues. The front exterior of the house had faux shutters that diverted attention away from the classic brick, and the roof was due for an overhaul.


After: We demolished the garage and laundry room addition. We reworked the well room because moving or replacing the it would have blown the budget.
Finishes Chosen:
  • Metal roof was selected in a charcoal grey for its ease of maintenance. It has become a trend in modern farmhouse style but still is reminiscent of historic roofs.
  • Vertical siding in a warm grey which is a nice accent to the warm brick vs. the original stark white siding.  It also reminded us of barn boards and felt appropriate on our farmhouse.
  • Dormer shingle siding in a lighter shade of grey which was selected as an accent to break up the strong vertical siding and highlight the dormer.
  • Red painted door pops against the 50 shades of gray we have going and repeats the red of the original barn on the property.
We are so excited to share this with you!  Please follow us to see upcoming posts on the interior reveal.

Ridgewood Queens Quaint Kitchen


When Amanda and I said goodbye to our beloved Bushwick Bungalow, I found myself exploring a new borough in Ridgewood, Queens. The neighborhood is very appealing with preserved historic architecture, and we fell in love with a two story house converted into four one-bedrooms. Making an apartment look and feel like home can be tough especially when you really shouldn’t (shhh) paint, or change any of the main features. Just by hanging art, shelving, and adding unique lighting and other accessories, we were able to style this gem of an apartment to do just that.


A view into our kitchen that looks out onto the quiet neighborhood street. The hanging light is a shade  from ikea + a plug-in light from ikea.


Even with a small space, I found a way to add a little bit more counter space with a shelving unit  + wood countertop. I removed one level from the shelving unit and drilled 4 notches to lock into place.



The three prints in the entry and kitchen are from an ny photographer. Amanda and I picked them up years ago at a Lower East Side flea market. They never looked better in their black ikea frames.





The refreshed space is now functional, beautiful and inspires us to cook more often!

Packing Decorative Items 101


Moving can be so stressful on its own.  On top of it if you have many fragile, collectible items like myself, you have to worry about your items making it to the new place safely.

Shopping List: Boxes of all shapes and sizes! Try to collect recycled amazon boxes, flat-rate boxes or shoe boxes for smaller items prior to packing. Bubble wrap-small and large. Foam Cushion Wrap. Recycled newspaper, plain newsprint.  Packing table & a few pairs of scissors (mine always went missing!) A few bottles of wine!

First, I collect like items or items of similar weight/material.

Next I lay sweaters, blankets, towels, other soft items that also need to be packed in the bottom of the fragile boxes to add additional padding

Then I wrap each item first in plain newsprint (especially china to prevent newspaper ink from rubbing off) then I use recycled newspaper and bubble wrap over the top if necessary. Place each item in a plastic shopping bag to prevent newspaper from rubbing off on clothing uses as additional padding.

For smaller/fragile items like crystal stemware, I wrap these and place them in a small box or shoe box and then place the small boxes into a larger box

I also do this for plates.  I wrap each plate Individually.  Envelopes with bubble wrap inside are perfect for this as are foam cushion wrap.  And put them in small, flat mailing boxes and stack the boxes in larger boxes.  Plates should be stacked in boxes vertically.  The pressure of packing them stacked may cause them to break.

Heavy items are placed towards the bottom of the box and lighter items are put on top.

Then I use more clothing pieces, scarves, towels, etc to cushion individual items before sealing the boxes.

I use smaller-paper ream boxes for books because anything larger can get too heavy.

Finally, label boxes with contents to help with unpacking.  Note heavy or fragile boxes so that movers know how to arrange them on the truck.

Now, enjoy a glass of wine.  The hard work has just begun!

I found that using these tips makes it easier to unpack, saving you time as well as preventing items from arriving to their new home broken!


Upper East Side Apartment Inspiration

Erica and I are embarking on a new chapter.  We have decided it’s time to move out of our Bushwick bungalow.  Erica has made her home in Ridgewood, Queens and I’ll be on the Upper East side.  As I am packing up my belongings, (carefully of course…post to come!) I’ve been thinking about spaces and designers that have inspired me and how this can be reflected in my new apartment.  One particular designer that came to mind was Darryl Carter.  We visited Darryl Carter Inc. earlier this year during our trip to Washington, D.C.  His shop and studio has a quiet elegance reflected through curated furnishings, an eclectic mix of neutral textures and natural elements.

I am inspired by his way of thought on display as quoted by One Kings Lane: “There is not a lot of distance between something having interest and too many of the same things creating visual chaos,” says Darryl, reiterating his reigning sensibility for the simple and the sophisticated. “I am not a fan of clutter. I like objects that have a certain beauty or utility.”


Pretty in Pink


We are blushing all over the amount of blush pink and rose gold we have acquired in our little Bushwick bungalow. You too can try out this trend by swapping out small accessories like throw pillows and mixing in rose gold accents. Or make a big statement with a tres chic feminine pink sofa and cocktail table. Get the look with these finds: 1. Swirled Bud Vase, 2. Antique Neoclassical Silver Leaf Mirror, 3. Hay Slit Table, 4. Olivia Marble Top Coffee Table, 5. Velvet Cushion Cover, 6. French Sofa with Birdcage Upholstery

Brooklyn Boutique: Schone Bride

Rebecca Schoneveld, a dress designer who started selling her creations through the popular Etsy site, now owns and designs her gowns in  Schone Bride located in the up and coming neighborhood of Gowanus, Brooklyn. Our friend Cait, who is a self described un-traditional bride traveled from Philadelphia for a dress fitting because she is an avid fan of Rebecca’s designs. As interior designers, and her dress fitting cohorts, we love the feminine aesthetic of the dresses, and were inspired by the atmosphere of the boutique.  It has a fun tropical vibe but is still understated to not take away from the bride and her dress selections. Each section of the shop is classic with a hint of boho to match well with the lines of each dress collection. It is a must for any bride in the area who seeks that space to find that unique look for her big day.