Brick House Design

September 10th, 2010

Okay folks, this here is a new venture around the old Brick House, so put on your comfy pants and settle in as we ease into this thang. For the past few years I’ve been getting a number of emails each week asking for design advice, asking for help identifying/locating vintage furniture, asking about DIY projects and asking for product suggestions. I know, crazy! It’s super fun helping out where I can, but also super time consuming. Normally I answered as best (and quickly) as I could, but never really had a chance to answer in depth.

Now is the era of consulting in depth.

Welcome to Brick House Design – Modern design for frugal folks. (just like yyyyyyyoooooouuuuu)

For the next few weeks I’m going to roll out some projects I’ve been working on with some super cool folks. Lets ease into this whole BHD transition; should be fun times. Okay, lets get cracking!

Britt and Ryan from Cucumbersome recently moved into a very contemporary live/work space and are a bit bewildered by the modern elements and are not sure how to address the platformed bedroom to make it warm, homey and comfortable. They love vintage, they like modern and they aren’t afraid to use color. Check out the office:

Love that dark wall and over sized photo!

For a a little more context here is the living room:

Nice sofa, great pouf, snazzy art and a fun rug. Getting a feel for their style (love the floors, I’m all about modern modern modern floors)

Let’s discuss the area in need. Welcome to the bedroom:

Like most of us, they don’t have a gazillion dollars to spend on tricking out the bedroom. They wanted some design solutions for addressing this small space, keeping it affordable and having it be cohesive with the rest of the apartment.

On the list of things to keep:

-Dark Brown Malm Bedframe
-Dwell Studio Draper Stripe Ash Duvet Set

On the list of things to address:

-Room darkening

    The Floor Plan:

    It’s a tight squeeze.

    Above is the finalized mood board (BTW, I hate the term mood board, lets figure out a better word. Oh, also blog.)

    1 | Custom built night stands. 4x4x4” wood blocks stack in three row grid. White painted top for finish
    2 | CB2 Hinge Sconce (Pair)
    3 | Ikea Aspvik Wall Unit
    4 | “Deep Space” Benjamin Moore 2125-20 (same as office)
    5 | Light grey wool army blanket
    6 | Dwell Studio Draper Stripe Ash Duvet Set
    7 | Ikea Flokati Rug, 6 ‘ 7 ” x 4 ‘ 7 “
    8 | Custom 1/2” galvanized plumbing conduit curtain rod, two flanges, matte black paint
    9 | Ikea Merete bleached curtain pair
    10 | Vintage Herati Rug, 5’ x 8’
    11 | Vintage PH Snowball / Poul Henningsen inspired Danish ceiling light
    12 | Ikea Enje Roller Shade, Dark Gray

    These are the elements I recommend to add to the space to pull the look together. In order for Britt and Ryan to better visualize how the final look will come together I created a sketchup model using the dimensions and images they provided.

    They already have curtains installed to close off the bedroom and give a little privacy from the rest of the apartment. I recommended they build a custom curtain rod and use the heavier bleached Merete curtains from Ikea to create an extra wall for privacy or pushed back unobtrusively when they don’t.

    I kept what they have with the Malm bedframe and DwellStudio bedding and added a Flokati throw on the end of the bed for that comfy and warm texture. I also added a 5′ x 8′ Herati Rug to the floor to warm it up, bring in a bit of eclectic flair and help break up the wooden floors. The main colors for the rug should be red, navy blue or black, some cream and maybe a bit of yellow. You can find rugs like these in a number of places at reasonable prices. Check Ebay, Craigslist,, Consignment stores, Import stores, even Ikea.

    For the wall behind the bed I brought over the dark gray office wall color (Deep Space – Benjamin Moore 2125-20). They had leftover paint and bringing the color to the hidden bedroom wall would establish continuity with the rest of the apartment and help darken the room for those bright mornings (when a little sleeping in would be nice). I also added a dark gray Enje roller shade to also address the room darkening they asked for, for just such occasions.

    The Ikea Aspvik wall unit is normally used for offces, but it is shallow enough and the width small enough that it can fit nicely in the tight space at the end of the bed. The wall unit allows for some extra storage as well as a nice place to lean some more art or vignette up some collectibles. Because the doors slide instead of open outward that feature helps with the space saving. Keeping it white against the white wall will allow the space to still feel open and since it is floating without legs that keeps things nice and airy. It’s a great little wall unit and not outrageously expensive.

    I included a painting by Joshua Abelow on top of the Aspvik. Why? Well, I just really like his work and think Britt and Ryan have a nice art collection going and could add something super interesting in that area.

    They have a hardwired ceiling light connection (that is not currently in use) in the back left corner of the room. I recommended they find a vintage light inspired by Poul Henningsen’s PH Snowball. Snowball lights are crazy expensive, but you can invest a little, find something similar, go a little different, or maybe a lot different. Round, angular and white. Keep your eyes peeled because that’s the thing with vintage – you might have to do some footwork and be patient, but there is stuff out there. Flea Markets, Thrift stores, Vintage stores (I got a similar light HERE), or Ebay if you get desperate.

    For the tight space next to the bed I recommended the CB2 Hinge Sconce. Keeping them dark gray like the wall makes things monochromatic, which in a small tight space like this can help with the feeling of openness that is difficult to achieve. They are also plug-ins, and since there is no hardwired spots next to the bed, they would be super easy to install.

    There are three major DIY projects to get the look and keep costs down:

    -Upholstering the Malm headboard with a light grey wool. Check out THIS for inspiration
    -Building the wood block nightstand. THIS was the image that inspired that idea.
    -Installing the custom curtain rod. I love plumbing pipe, and am doing a similar project right now.

    I’ve discussed with them how to do these three projects if they choose. They aren’t super complicated and can be done easily with supplies from the local Home Depot type store if you are willing to get a little DIY. Sometimes getting creative and reusing items you have in new ways is more cost effective and unique than buying everything brand new.

    You can check out the final PDF that outlines the plan and is the culmination of working back and forth with Britt and Ryan, in order to address their needs and budget. Thank you guys, I had a ton of fun! Check out the great projects at Cucumbersome. Very nice.


    Did you get through it? That was a lot of words and ideas, much more than a typical Brick House post. Whew. We made it.

    Designing is obviously complicated.

    If you have a space, big or small and need some design consultation and advice please email me at to discuss solutions for all your decor dilemmas. Depending on your budget and the scope of your project, a quote for services ranging from 3-D rendering, mood boarding, product sourcing, or actual physical shopping can be arranged.

    Brick House Design is a next step, folks. Can you smell it? The excitement? I’m excited.



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    1. sqftfarm on 09/10/2010:

      Wow! You have become the SketchUp wizard! Great Work on the consult. Bet you will be fighting off the requests in no time. Truly excellent work!

    2. Jules on 09/10/2010:

      That’s the best mood board (I hate that word, too) breakdown I have seen to date, and I’ve seen a ton.

    3. Lauren on 09/10/2010:

      Ooh…this is exciting! Nice work!

      (I’ve used “materials palette” but it’s not much better than “mood board”. I’m sure there’s some untapped phrase out there.)

    4. Zach on 09/10/2010:

      What?! Hello Gastown! Rad solution.

    5. Brismod on 09/10/2010:

      Excellent advice. I’d call your mood board the mod board.

    6. Kate on 09/10/2010:

      I have secretly been waiting for you to take over the world with your type of design. This is most excellent news. I love your suggestions for this place.

    7. Charlotte on 09/10/2010:

      Great work and good luck with your new venture!

    8. Shilo on 09/10/2010:

      So glad to see that you’re forging a path in the burgeoning world of decoration-via-internet. I love seeing this kind of thing, but until now havent found anyone with taste I actually like doing it.

      I second Brismod’s nomination of the term “mod board” har har.

    9. alex sunday on 09/10/2010:

      i like the suggestion of ‘mod board’. or how about ‘concept board’? i don’t know – i think ‘board’ is as much of a problem as ‘mood’. but brilliant work on this design! i would not have known what to do with this room. best of luck with brick house design. it’s going to kick arse.

    10. Deborah on 09/10/2010:

      I like the word concept. Concept something.

      I like the specificness of your design strategy.

      I am swooning a bit.

    11. Katy Key on 09/10/2010:

      Love the new direction you are taking! I also hate the term mood board, the phrase itself conjures up memories of making those tri-fold science fair projects. It’s more like you are making a virtual-display-of-shit-we-need-to-buy-because-its-awesome.

    12. Ace on 09/10/2010:

      Very cool. Any interest in providing services for a small commercial space (my office) which has a reception area, common area and individual offices?

    13. j. on 09/10/2010:

      Cool! Good luck.

    14. ModFruGal on 09/10/2010:

      Yep, another vote for mod board. Go BHD!

    15. Cait @ Hernando House on 09/10/2010:

      I love the new direction, and you are totally the master (mistress? whatever) of SketchUp! The mood board (ugh, hate that phrase too and agree with Deborah that “concept something” seems to be on the right track) is freaking awesome!

    16. Catherine on 09/10/2010:

      Wow! You are amazing. I think I may have to take you up on this design help offer! Cheers to you.

    17. HousePet on 09/10/2010:

      I love that dark wall and over sized photo too! I think your concept for that room is perfect – good luck with BHD!!

    18. Coletta on 09/10/2010:

      i was about to say that I hope you are getting paid for this…but then you last paragraph confirmed that you were!
      so glad you can now earn a living doing what you love!

    19. katie on 09/10/2010:

      Word! This is ballz out awesome! Nice work Morgan!! I’m totally going to contact you for some help!

    20. erin@designcrisis on 09/10/2010:

      Looks like a million bucks!

    21. tracy on 09/10/2010:

      Awesomeness. Congrats! (underwater here but haven’t forgotten about Iggy!)

    22. Marie on 09/10/2010:

      This is amazing! It really has inspired me to find an awesome persian rug.

    23. faye... on 09/10/2010:

      awesome work! it really ties together all the rooms in the house. good luck with BHD!

    24. Christi on 09/10/2010:

      I found your blog a couple of months ago and got a little behind in my work because every spare (and not so spare) moment I had, I would read some posts. I love your voice and writing- it’s all so smart and hilarious… most recently, Republican Model Home Chic had me dying. The Brick House is definitely one of my favorite daily reads. I’ve no doubt you’ll be successful with this, it has all the right elements of a really great blog (ew I hate that word too). Now adding design consulting, and your process, is going to add even more interest. Love it.

      Keep up the snark!

    25. Ana on 09/10/2010:

      This is great Morgan, good luck!

    26. Heather Espana on 09/10/2010:

      Yippity skippity! This is fantastic.

    27. modernhaus on 09/10/2010:

      I LOVE:
      the gray
      the textures
      that you grounded a modern space with a vintage Persian rug…I always think this adds some history to a room and keeps it from crossing over into “showroom” territory.
      I also love that you’re GOING FOR IT! This is gonna be fun to watch!

    28. Brick and Brack on 09/10/2010:

      I second Shilo’s comment. There are so many “mood boards” out there but have never been interested enough in their style to keep reading. LOVE that you are taking this venture on and can’t wait to keep reading- this just made my morning!! Thanks for the inspiration and very impressed with your use of Sketch Up to do these projects!

    29. Lisa on 09/10/2010:

      Ugh! Damn you. I’m officially obsessed. Which sucks because I’m a busy person.

    30. THE BRICK HOUSE on 09/10/2010:

      Ace , yes that sounds fun. Contact me and we can work it out.

      Thanks guys!

    31. A Merry Mishap on 09/10/2010:

      Smells delicious, love it!

    32. jennifer in sf on 09/10/2010:

      First off, yes!!! That looks great. I love that you made the sketchup models. It really gives a much better sense of how the stuff goes together.

      (Can we just call it a plan? Design plan? Also, instead of blog I just started saying website.)

    33. S@sha on 09/10/2010:

      Excellent. I hope they implement it all and then post photos!

    34. yuri on 09/10/2010:

      hey morgan, nice way to step thru a project, it’s great to see what inspires you and, yeah, you’re a fucking sketchup wizard. work it!

    35. Alex on 09/10/2010:

      Great Idea, I have my entire living room of furniture coming in next week and may need some design advice.. Have a great weekend!

    36. Theresa on 09/10/2010:

      I love BHD! So excited for more posts like this.

    37. Aracely on 09/10/2010:

      that’s a great idea for you….remodeling and designing on a budget is something I’ve had to do with my own fixer upper. So you learn to be really creative really quick.

      Don’t forget that your resources are what makes you stand apart, so don’t always be so quick to share them. I know, I know, I’ll get slack for that comment, but my mastery is in researching, and that is worth something to me, so why give it away?

      Cheers girl!

    38. jeannette on 09/10/2010:


    39. pianoarthur on 09/10/2010:

      This is certainly exciting, like watching a metamorphosis, an artist blossoming out from previous ideas.
      p.s. I second ARACELY re: resources. Gotta keep an ace in the hole, although, you will probably always have the top hand.

    40. Tara on 09/10/2010:

      This is awesome. I wish you the best of luck – I think you’ll do really well. (Also, can we refer to “mood boards” as… “brainstorm boards”? No? Is that still kinda weird?…yeah.)

    41. THE BRICK HOUSE on 09/10/2010:

      My secret resources like Ikea? I’ll make sure to keep a lid on that secret.

      Of course I’ve got stuff hidden in my back pocket ; ) But for obvious things I’m not so worried about sharing.

    42. Jay B. on 09/10/2010:

      It looks really good, your solution is pretty elegant for such a small space. Even the Aspvik wall unit fits nicely into the whole concept, I like it.

    43. libby/theblogbloglog on 09/10/2010:


    44. carol on 09/10/2010:

      this makes me love the internet even more…
      using it in this way, to connect with people who love your style and in turn provides you with income… perfect!

      I love all your advice btw, you really know how to visualize space!

    45. Husband on 09/10/2010:

      Very cool. This is an interesting and exciting evolution of your blog.

    46. Britt on 09/11/2010:

      She’s good, guys. She’s very, very good.
      I’m thrilled with how our room turned out. I had high expectations going in, because I’ve been stalking Morgan’s amazing blog for a long time. But she completely blew me away.
      The way she put it all together… brilliant. And she was fantastic to work with too. I enjoyed every minute of it, and will definitely enlist her help again in the future. Room by room, she will help me make our modern place feel fit for humans!

      I’m just itching to make this room a reality. Tonight, reupholstering the headboard!

    47. THE BRICK HOUSE on 09/11/2010:

      Thanks Bitt! You are so sweet (and great to work with).

      I cannot wait to see the headboard. You have to send pics.

    48. Elisa @ What the Vita on 09/11/2010:

      W-O-W – this is the best design plan I’ve ever seen. Creative, economical, and just plain cool. Am definitely looking forward to many more of these posts!

    49. Emma on 09/11/2010:

      Amazing! I’m very envious of Britt and Ryan’s place already. This just throws it over the top. (BTW – Love Deep Space – p\one of my favorite BM colours.)

    50. Erica on 09/11/2010:

      congrats on the new venture! i’ve lurked your site for a while, but this post was positively addictive. i look forward to seeing more!

    51. Juli on 09/11/2010:

      Wow! You are good. Real good. Congrats on the new venture – best of luck with it, not that you’ll need it! You did a fantastic job on this project!

    52. lisa mertins on 09/11/2010:

      morgan, i knew you’d come up with brilliance. congratulations and good luck with this direction!

    53. Blogg by Maliin Stoor on 09/11/2010:



    54. Tania on 09/11/2010:

      You are super talented. I sooooo need help with my lounge room. I will definitely enlist your services.
      I love that you posted your suggestions for all to see. Please keep doing that… it’s really inspiring… and will surely rouse up some more business for you.

    55. Tania on 09/11/2010:

      Mood board name suggestion: Idea Splat.

    56. megan on 09/13/2010:

      congrats! i’m so happy for you! nice job on project #1.

      how about “specifications” or “material selections”… not super exciting but straight forward and more sophisticated than mood board. mood board suggests an overall concept, you have more specifics.

      i hope you keep sharing your work with us! it’s so fun to see! again, congrats.

    57. tiziano on 09/13/2010:

      use “CONCEPT”

    58. Jason |These Roving Eyes| on 09/13/2010:


    59. jd on 09/13/2010:

      well done. good luck with the new endeavor!!

    60. Anna on 09/14/2010:

      nice work!! I love.



    61. Ditte Sofie on 09/14/2010:

      Really nice work!! Love your blog and find your style very inspiring!

      BTW – Another (cheaper) alternative to the PH Snowball could be the Verona Lamp by Svend Middelboe/Fog & Mørup –

      Ditte, Denmark

    62. THE BRICK HOUSE on 09/15/2010:

      Oh I love that lamp Ditte! I want one for my bathroom.

    63. Sharlene Yaqui on 09/20/2010:

      Now that’s how it’s done.

      I don’t know why I’ve never seen that ikea cabinet until now. It looks great, I wonder how it would work as a media stand? hmm… I will have to try it out. Thanks for the inspiration, as always.


    64. snake on 02/10/2011:

      It is best to participate in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will suggest this website!

    65. Eric on 02/20/2011:

      Nice work Morgan! 🙂

    66. name on 03/15/2011:

      ikea stuff gives you cancer.

    67. Scott on 03/27/2011:

      Any idea where that oversized photo and frame are from?

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