Women in Design

In honor of International Women’s Day, I thought it appropriate to highlight some women who have made significant impacts and contributions to the design world as we know it today. These are just a few of my favorites:

Eileen Gray

As early as 100 years ago, interior design and architecture were male-dominated fields. Eileen Gray is widely recognized as one of the first female interior designers. She also designed furniture and later went on to be an extraordinary architect. Her furniture designs are still seen today, proof that they stand the test of time! She was a trail-blazer and pioneer for women during the Modern Movement and remains a role model today. Just think of how different the world would be if men still designed everything! Women bring a unique perspective to all aspects of design, and we have Eileen Gray to thank for helping to pave the way for the rest of us.

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Eileen Gray’s Bibendum Chair

 

Florence Knoll

As the Modern Movement gained popularity, many architects moved away from interior and furniture design to focus solely on modern architecture. Hans Knoll, a German Immigrant to America, saw an opportunity to provide architects with furniture that would suit their modern style. He began the Knoll firm in the late 1930’s and as the only supplier of modern furniture during that time, he saw great success. In 1943 he hired Florence Schust to undertake interior design projects that were referred to Knoll by architects. Florence was educated in design and had many contacts with some of the greatest and most influential designers of that day, and of all time. Eventually Florence married Hans Knoll, and her role at Knoll had greatly flourished and expanded. She headed up a Planning Unit and recruited modern designers (many from among her contacts) to assign their furniture designs to Knoll. Many of the modern pieces we think of today are still exclusive to Knoll, such as Harry Bertoia’s Diamond Chair, Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair, and the ever popular Barcelona Chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe- just to name a few. Florence Knoll greatly influenced the way corporate offices and commercial spaces look today. She also designed her own line of furniture for Knoll. After her husband’s death, Florence Knoll ran the company as President. I view Florence as not only a great designer, but an incredible business woman, who essentially created and defined an entire industry.

Florence Knoll Sofa

Florence Knoll Sofa

 

Ray Eames

Charles and Ray Eame’s designs are a part of everyone’s life, even though many don’t realize it. If you’ve ever wondered who came up with the design for tandem seating in airports- it was Charles and Ray. They essentially developed the ergonomic seating we all enjoy today. Before the Eames’, chairs were not so comfortable, and they definitely didn’t conform to our shapes. Charles and Ray Eams pioneered the use of molded plywood. They were commissed by the US Navy during WWII to develop splints and stretchers, and ended up figuring out how to bend plywood to any form. This discovery led to the development of their furniture designs, which are still widely popular today. Ray was a very talented artist and painter. She met Charles Eames at Cranbrook where she was studying Art and Eames was her teacher. They married and began their own design firm, where Ray’s unique style became an iconic part of Eames designs. Always looking for new materials and technology to work with, the two collaborated on many contemporary classics. While Charles was the face of their design firm, and the much bigger personality, Ray was the backbone. She graciously supported her husband and continued to pursue her creative talents and abilities up until her death. She was not one to take credit for anything and allowed her husband most of the glory. Some people might think of that as weak or even bad business. But I find it incredibly selfless that she never let her work become a bigger priority than her relationship with her husband. She made extreme contributions to the world of design as a woman.

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The Eames House in Palisades, California.

Zaha Hadid

Of all the celebrities who died in 2016, I couldn’t have cared less about most of them (and I’m a Star Wars fan!) but Zaha Hadid’s passing saddened me. She was so young and still had so much to offer the world. Zaha Hadid was the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. She was born in Baghdad and later moved to London to study architecture and then began her own firm. Her designs are unlike anything the world has ever seen. Straight out of one’s imagination, she received a lot of criticism for breaking the mold and defying the conventional. Many told her that her designs weren’t even possible to build. I think a lot of people would have just thrown in the towel and gone back to designing things that look like everyone else’s designs. But Zaha Hadid didn’t. She stayed true to herself and to her work and the rest is history!

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Who are some of your favorite female designers and architects?

Beauty is in the Details: Finish Work

One thing I’ve come to understand about design is that beauty is in the details. We often hear how they just don’t build houses like they used to. What’s the difference now? It’s the details! Unless you’re building a completely custom home and really know what you’re doing, most houses today lack detail. I grew up in a hundred year old home that had beautiful details. All of the windows and doorways were trimmed with dark wood, the bathroom floor had cute little hexagon tiles, the doors and cabinets were beautifully made, even the heater vents were gorgeously intricate with pattern. The details are what gave it character.

Fortunately, there are ways to add character and detail to your home. This is something I’m in the process of working on in my own home. And luckily I have a handy husband, but there are finish carpenters out there if you aren’t so lucky!

Here are some details you can add:

  • Install baseboards that are at least 4″. The standard, builder grade 2″ baseboards really don’t add much to a space. So if you’re building, or remodeling a home, this is a simple way to add a big dose of character.
  • Trim out your doorways and any entry ways to open rooms. This is a great way to frame and highlight elements of a space.
  • Case your windows. It’s a nice touch to have a window sill.
  • Add crown molding. This dresses up a room so much! It’s an elegant detail.
  • Add crown molding to the tops of your cabinets, and light rail around the bottoms. You would be surprised at how much this can take plain, old cabinets to the next level.
  • Install wainscoting or board and batten to your walls. Shiplap is an especially popular wall treatment right now.
  • Consider adding coffers to your ceiling. This is much easier to do if you already have a tray ceiling.
  • Install a backsplash. This can be a great way to infuse some color, texture, and pattern into your space.

If you already have some nice details in your home, and are looking for some even fancier ideas to really add character, these are some of my favorites:

  • Add columns

 

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  • Transoms

 

 

  • Ceiling tracery

 

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  • Built-ins

 

  • Banisters and newel posts (so much better than just a pony wall)

 

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Fall Favorites

It’s the first day of Fall! This is my favorite time of the year and today I’m rounding up some of my favorite Fall items for the home. All the images are linked to their source, just click and shop!

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This scent is heavenly! I currently have the hand soap in my kitchen, but the candle would be nice to have too.

 

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I think this cakelet pan is so adorable! I want it for Thanksgiving.

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I just love this platter. I have one and I want seven more! It’s really versatile and can be used for decorating or serving food. I think they would be so pretty as chargers.

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This throw is on my wishlist. It looks SO soft and anything with pom poms has my heart.

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These pumpkin cloches are so pretty. And I love the fairy lights in them. They also look gorgeous with candles.

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I just love the cozy look of buffalo check. So comfy and inviting!

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Like I said… I have a thing for pom poms. And his pillow is on sale!

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This antler doormat is so cute!

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Pretty dish towels are always a good idea. I love the gold writing on these.

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I’m loving these felt ball garlands lately. This is a great way to add a touch of fall color.

What are some of your favorite Fall finds?

My Favorite Set Designs

When I watch movies or TV, I always notice the set design first thing. In fact, I usually pay more attention to that than to the actual show I’m watching. And if I don’t like the set design, I have been known to stop watching. It’s just that big of a deal to me! Today I’m taking you on a tour of my favorite TV and movie sets.

  1. Regina’s Office from Once Upon a Time
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I absolutely love the black and white color palette here, with the pops of dark red. That wallpaper just speaks to me. Visually, it’s an incredibly stunning space, and I get lost in it every time.

2. The Dunphy’s House on Modern Family

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Their house looks so warm and inviting! I love the color choices throughout the house. It’s elegant but still playful and cozy.

3. Andrew’s Parents’ Home in The Proposal

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The location these scenes were shot on is a dream by itself, but this home was lovely. It’s not my style at all, but it’s so rustic and cozy looking that it immediately won me over.

4. The Other Woman- Kate & Carly’s Homes

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Kate and Carly’s homes were both completely different styles but both were so well done. Each suited the owner’s personality perfectly. I love the clean simplicity of Carly’s apartment and the charm of Kate’s home.

5. Barbara Novak’s apartment in Down With Love

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This set is so much fun! The bright pink womb chairs and all the best things about mid-century modern style combined with femininity are so perfect. Love!

6. The Dunne’s Home from Gone Girl

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Let me first say, that this movie (and the book) is MESSED UP. It seriously creeps me out and I can’t think about it too much. Their relationship may be twisted, but the home Nick and Amy share is just beautiful.

7. Miranda’s Office at Runway on The Devil Wears Prada

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One of my favorite books and movies. I loved this office because of how bright it is, but I think one of my favorite details is the gallery wall. The different frames and matting sizes are a perfect blend. So well done!

8. The Father of the Bride House

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Father of the Bride kitchen-Diane Keaton

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This house is the epitome of 90’s style but it is so pretty to me! The color palette is so calm and serene throughout. I would love to live in this house. I think it’s such a classic.

And that concludes my tour! What are some of your favorite TV/Movie sets?

When Your Style’s Not Like Everyone Else’s

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in designing my own home, was not being true to my personal style. When my husband and I first moved in together, I had an idea in my mind of what the perfect home should look like. This was back in ’06, before the days of Pinterest, so the “perfect” style looked like the current design bloggers and model homes of that time. You may remember- there was A LOT of brown. I tried to imitate that “perfect look” and stressed when I couldn’t. But gradually I realized that my surroundings need to reflect ME and my family, not what someone else’s idea of perfect is. I started being more intentional about my decor after that.

Fast forward ten years later, and my home has become a more genuine reflection of who I am and what I like. (My husband has some say, too;). My style is not necessarily what’s popular or trendy right now, but it’s my style. It can sometimes be a challenge to feel confident in what my style is, especially when Instagram and Pinterest are saturated with images of farmhouse style and Fixer Upper inspired homes. I have an appreciation for those styles, and there are elements of them I love, but they’re not mine. Those styles do not reflect my likes and my personality. And although they’re beautiful and work well for lots of other people, it’s not an accurate representation of who I am.

My confidence in my style comes when I realize that I have something different to offer the world. A fresh, original perspective that is carefully considered in every detail. I do not have anything in my home that I don’t love.

If you need some direction in how to discover what your own, unique style is, here are some suggestions I can offer from personal experience:

  1. Utilize Pinterest and Houzz. Save images of homes and decor that speak to you. Then go through all of them and try to pinpoint what recurring themes/elements show up.
  2. Start paying attention to the way you react to colors and patterns. What resonates with you?
  3. Think about your personality and what aspects of it can be translated into your decor. Are you quirky? Minimalistic? Maybe a little dramatic?
  4. Incorporate any items that you attach positive memories or thoughts to. Don’t just display things for the sake of displaying them.
  5. Really think about the way you choose to represent yourself. Don’t just copy or imitate others, be yourself and be proud of it!

If you need some extra help, that’s what a designer is for! In addition to e-design and local design services, I’m excited to now be offering my Quick Consultation service. This option is great if you just need a little design advice. I can help you with space planning, color selection, furniture selection and much more! This service costs just $20 per question and can all be done through email. Contact me at sidney@kandgrayinteriors.com to get started.

Kitchens: Combining Function with Beauty

Kitchens are one of the best places to blend function with beauty. After all, the kitchen usually gets more use than any other room in the home. It’s not only a place to prepare food, but a place of gathering, entertaining, and memory-making. In good design, form always follows function. So I view the kitchen as a great opportunity to beautify the every-day, mundane tasks of life!
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There are tasks that can only be performed in a kitchen, and there are items that can only be stored there. Use this as an opportunity to create something pretty!

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How much better does boring old sugar and flour look in these glass jars than it does in the original packaging? Not only are these jars pretty, they’re also very functional. I can easily fit any size measuring cup in them, and they keep my ingredients fresh.

 

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I think everyone has a cookie jar, but consider using one that works with the decor of your kitchen. My kitchen is white and pretty simplistic, so this cookie jar fits in perfectly.

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Trays and canisters are a great way to corral items that get used everyday. I try to avoid buying utensils that are different colors if I’m choosing to display them on my counters. Sticking to one or two colors is much easier on the eye and keeps things from looking junky. One of the number one rules of organizing is to keep similar items together, and by doing so I can easily grab what I need quickly while I’m cooking.

And now onto the parts of the kitchen that can get a little scary… cupboards and drawers! Having a good organizational system in place for your cupboards and drawers is key to making them as functional as possible. Making them pretty motivates you to keep them organized. I like to start by lining all my drawers with contact paper. This makes them nicer to look at, and if a spill happens I can easily switch out the liner without damaging my drawers.

Spice drawer

I like to keep my spices in a drawer, because it’s much easier for me to find what I need this way. I purchased these spice jars from Crate & Barrel and found some labels that fit the lids perfectly. I keep them alphabetized so that I can quickly grab what I need. I do buy some of my spices in bulk and I keep the extras in the back of this drawer. I also store spices I don’t use often in a basket back there.

Drawer

Large drawers like this one can get messy and cluttered fast, so I like to use baskets to store similar items together. I have one for mixer attachments, one for can openers, and two for spatulas and serving items.

Baking Cupboard

This is a cupboard near my cook-top. Again, I use labeled canisters here to make everything look more uniform and to make it easy to find.

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The expandable shelf riser on my second shelf was a great investment as far as keeping this cupboard organized goes. I’m only 5’2″, so I can barely reach items past the first shelf of my upper cabinets. The riser prevents things from getting lost up there, and I can easily see what I have. Before this we had several bottles of soy sauce because I could never see any in there and I kept buying more!

Under sink

It’s hard to make that space under the sink pretty. Here I used a shelf riser to maximize space and I used a plastic drawer to corral my grocery bags.

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Having separate compartments for cookie sheets and muffin tins makes life so much easier! We had our builder add these dividers and it was definitely money well spent. And it looks nice!

Cereal

I typically don’t like the packaging that food comes in. All the competing patterns and colors make my pantry look chaotic. I store my cereal in these containers from The Container Store. The cereal stays fresh and the containers can fit a whole Costco sized bag!

You don’t have to sacrifice beauty to have a functional kitchen, and vice versa! I hope these tips will help you look for ways to combine the two.

How NOT to mix Neutrals: Transitioning from Brown to Gray

Gray has been a trend in interiors for a while now, but I still have helped several clients make the transition from a brown color palette to a gray one just this year. The process can be daunting, and most of us don’t have the ability to make big changes to our cabinetry, countertops, and flooring every time we want to change color schemes. The good news is, neutral colors can be mixed. BUT, it must be done properly in order for it to look cohesive and harmonious.

I’m a big believer in training your eye when it comes to design, so to start off, let’s look at some poor design selections. These pictures are from a hotel room I’m currently staying in. The hotel is in the process of remodeling and updating their decor (from brown to gray) so I can’t be too upset with them for the hideous colors. We’ll cut them some slack.

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What’s wrong with these pictures?? The problem here is Undertones, which is the secret to making your mixed neutral color scheme work. All colors on the color wheel are either a cool color or a warm color.

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Reds, oranges and yellows are warm colors while greens, blues and some purples are cool. Have you ever picked out a paint color at the Home Depot, brought it home and rolled it on your wall, only to have it look more yellow than you wanted? Or more blue, green, etc.? This is because all colors have undertones. These undertones are usually not very obvious and require some work to uncover, but neglecting to recognize them can totally ruin your color scheme. So how can you recognize them? The best way is to compare your swatch or sample to something from the same color family. This will help you determine if your chosen color leans more toward the warm side of the color wheel or the cool side. Is your gray paint looking more blue? This means it’s a cool gray. Is your white paint looking a little pink? This means it’s a warm white.

So what does all this have to do with changing your home from browns to grays?  The trick to a successful blend of neutrals in design is to stick to either a warm color palette or a cool one. DO NOT mix the two! This is what was wrong with the above pictures from my hotel room. This does not mean that going with a warm color palette means you can’t use any blue. It means that you will look for a warmer blue, maybe one with some red undertones.

Let’s look at some successful examples to demonstrate my point. Remember, training your eye is key here!

Warm Neutral Color Scheme

This is a perfect example of using warm neutrals cohesively. Notice the undertones!

 

This is a great example of using cool undertones. Can you see the blue? The use of black also makes the overall feel a little cooler.

This is a great example of using cool undertones. Can you see the blue? The use of black also makes the overall feel a little cooler.

 

Here's another example of using warm neutrals. Are you starting to see how this works?!

Here’s another example of using warm neutrals. Are you starting to see how this works?!

So when transitioning from browns to grays, try to stick to either a warm or a cool palette. If you don’t have the luxury of replacing large items, opt for accessories and easy changes like paint that work with the items you can’t change. (Use a warm gray on your walls if you have a warm cabinet color, or warm gray pillows on a tan couch). I hope this helps! You can contact me {sidney@kandgrayinteriors.com} with questions or any help you may need.

How I Know I’m Supposed to be a Designer

I’ve been a designer as long as I can remember. My first client was Barbie. I was never really interested in playing Barbies, I was more interested in designing her house. She had homes in my dresser drawers, in my closet, and on my desk. I even remember looking at a laundry  basket and thinking the cut-outs on the side of it would make the most beautiful full-length windows for her next house. I had the opportunity to live in a few different states growing up, and each time we’d move and I’d get a new bedroom it was so exciting to decorate it the way I wanted.

I took an interior design course in high school and loved it. I thought about making it my major when I graduated and went to college, but ultimately decided to take a more ‘practical’ route and went with Radiology instead. After a few semesters, I realized that Radiology wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wasn’t loving the classes and my heart just wasn’t in it. I had recently gotten married, and was still as infatuated with decorating and designing my new home as I was growing up. So,  I switched my major to Interior Design and registered for classes.

On the first day of Interior Design 1010, I couldn’t find the classroom I needed to be in and I parked in the wrong parking lot and ended up getting a $50 ticket. I was running late and was all sorts of stressed out. I took all of this as a sign that I was doing the wrong thing and I should just quit now. But, I calmed myself down, took a deep breath, and walked into class a few minutes late anyway. Class had begun and the teacher had asked everyone to introduce themselves and tell a little about why we had decided to major in Interior Design. While explaining her life story, a fellow student mentioned that she loved decorating her home so much that she would even select tissue boxes at the store that went with her decor. Instantly, a chorus of voices- mine included- exclaimed, “I do that too!!

And that’s how I knew I was in the right place and that I had picked the right career. All because I found a community of people who also match their tissue boxes to their surroundings. After that moment, I never looked back, and I have never regretted my decision. Now, I wouldn’t say a box of tissues changed my life, but it definitely reaffirmed the path I had chosen to take!tissuebox1

How to Get Designer Pillows for Less

I love throw pillows. I have tubs of them in my basement and I love switching them out ALL. THE. TIME. Especially for holidays. It’s hard for me to justify spending a lot of money on them because 1. I switch them out so often, and 2. I don’t believe in spending a ton on accessories. Accessories are one of the easiest, most inexpensive ways to change the look of a space, and since I do that so often, I choose not to invest a lot of money in them.

So today I want to share a little trick with you. This is how I get designer pillows for less:

I love Schumacher’s Imperial Trellis fabric. It’s classic and timeless and comes in a variety of colors. I’m a sucker for all things trellis, so it’s no surprise how much I love this fabric. This particular fabric costs over $100 a yard, sometimes closer to $200 a yard depending on where you find it. Obviously I needed a more cost effective option, so my secret is…….. One sided pillows!!

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The backs of my pillows are just a solid color fabric that matches the Imperial Trellis exactly. And it’s not even noticeable when they’re sitting on my couch! This way, I was able to get two pillows for the cost of one in my favorite fabric. Not bad, right?!

If you’re looking for a great place to buy designer pillows that isn’t to-the-trade, I suggest Etsy. You can find pretty much any size pillow in any fabric you want there. A lot of sellers give you the option of making the pillows one-sided or making the entire pillow in your fabric choice. OR, fabric.com and decoratorsbest.com are great places to find fabric if you want to make your own pillows. Trust me, making pillow covers is not as hard as it looks!

 

 

Christmas Lifestyle Pictures

It may still be August, but it’s time to start thinking about holiday photos! Photographers’ schedules fill up very quickly towards the end of the year, and it’s not something you want to be worrying about mid-December. Last year I hired a photographer to come to my home for a ‘Christmas Lifestyle Shoot.’ It was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done, and our family will treasure those photos forever! Our shoot was scheduled for the first week of December, so I started decorating the house immediately after Halloween. Our tree was up on November 1st! Now is also a great time to start getting holiday decorations before they get too picked over. Hobby Lobby is a great place to get decorations and they typically discount theirs 40–50% right now.

To prepare for the shoot, I came up with a few themes. I knew I wanted pictures in front of our fireplace and Christmas tree, but I also wanted some fun, more candid ones. First off, I styled our kitchen counter with cookie baking supplies, including cookie dough, frosting, and sprinkles. We were able to get lots of photos of our kids decorating/baking Christmas cookies and they turned out so cute!

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We also have a tradition of giving our kids Christmas pajamas every year, so I knew I wanted pictures of them jumping on the bed in their new jammies.

 

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A few other ideas I came up with, but didn’t carry out were:

  1. Pictures on the front porch with snow boots, winter clothes, cute scarves, etc.
  2. Building a snowman as a family
  3. Drinking hot chocolate around the table together
  4. The kids reading Christmas books together

I loved that these pictures were something different than your typical studio holiday family picture. It included our home and some of our traditions and made them so personal. I would highly recommend doing a holiday lifestyle shoot if you can!!

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Photography Credit: Sweet Paislee Pictures

http://www.sweetpaisleepictures.com/