Category: Decor

the guesthouse hotel lobby project tour

August 5th, 2014   |   DecorLife


Almost two years ago, I moved into my most recent Chicago apartment with Mr. Lively.

We had just gotten married, and I was furiously decorating our entire apartment top to bottom so that it would be ready in time for our families to celebrate our marriage over Thanksgiving weekend.

While I was decorating, the builder for our (gut rehab) apartment building was walking through with city inspectors completing final inspections.

As he walked through my apartment, he asked if I was a designer.

At the time, I had only been hired by one woman in the city to help decorate her studio apartment. So I told him yes, I had done a studio, but never had the time to do it more seriously while I was juggling my old accessory company (Jess LC), the blog, traveling workshops, and business consulting.

However, since I had recently decided to close Jess LC to do the consulting and workshops full-time, I suddenly did have more time to devote to design projects.

Long story short: he hired me to design the interior of The Guesthouse Hotel lobby, decorate it, re-brand it, and re-design the website.

As an huge fan of Sarah’s House on HGTV, this was a (surreal) dream come true.

For the past 21 months, I’ve worked with them to complete all of these projects.

I’ve already shared the hotel branding before and after and a mid-build lobby update, but today I’d like to show how the lobby design came together!

We decided to go with a collected and classy “old” Chicago feel.

As you’ll see below, we started with an empty lot… which over the course of 10 months became a completed hotel expansion.


Before I get into today’s post about creating an intention for your space, I have some exciting news to share!

TheLivelyShowWithVictoriaSmithHappy Lively Show Day!

I’d like to ask you a question about an idea I am considering.

A few people have been asking for more podcast episodes, so…

TheLivelyShowWithErinGatesToday’s show is a huge honor for me!

I’ve been a big fan of Erin Gates of Elements Of Style for many years and I have loved reading her blog and learning from her as a designer and following her life and career.

In this episode we talk about her exceptional career path and book deal.

But our main topic is perfectionism (starting at 18:30) – how Erin has learned to make the most out of it and appreciate it for what it is, rather than fighting to change herself.

This episode is perfect for bloggers, designers, aspiring authors, and anyone who struggles with perfectionism. 

hotel lobby project update

April 8th, 2014   |   DecorLife


Lately, more and more of my time is being spent on The Guesthouse Hotel project that I’ve worked on over the past year.

I’ve already shared the hotel branding before and after on the blog.

But the hotel lobby progress has been shared primarily through Instagram.

What started out as an empty lot last summer:


Good morning and happy Thursday Lively Show Day to you!

In today’s episode, I am talking with the candid founder of Design*Sponge, Grace Bonney.

If you’re not already familiar with Grace, she has a (hugely) popular design blog and is the author of Design*Sponge at Home.


Today I have a fun new episode of The Lively Show for you chalk full of actionable advice for starting your own business as an artist and adopting or rescuing a pet.

My guest today is Kim Vargo of Yellow Brick Home and The Pet Shop (her pet portrait business). She’s sharing about her unexpected journey to becoming a successful artist (over 700 custom paintings sold!) and pet rescue advocate.

HotelBrandingBeforeAndAfterAs many of you may have noticed after yesterday’s announcement, I launched a new With Intention site!

It’s pretty, easy to use, and very mobile friendly – which is important as things keep moving in that direction.

Anyways, I’ve also been working on another website redesign that I haven’t shared yet, the hotel!

As you may have seen over the course of last year, I have been the Creative Director for a local boutique hotel in Andersonville called The Guesthouse Hotel.

Last year I guided their brand redesign and website and this year I’ll be designing their new hotel lobby.

Here’s a quick look at the before and after at the logo and website (because there’s something so satisfying about a good before and after, right?).


Logo Before

GuesthouseLogoBeforeThough not bad, this logo was not quite hitting the right tone for the hotel.

It was clean and simple, but felt more “commercial real estate” than “boutique hotel.”


Website Before



The same goes for the website. Clean and simple… but not extremely inviting.


Logo After



To set the right tone, we selected Alex Yeske to design the logo and business cards.

Her eye for style was exactly the right tone for the new direction.

What I love about this logo is how relatively timeless it is. We considered some other more popular font styles, but stuck with this classic design that won’t look dated in a few years.


Website After



I personally designed the website and had Mr. Lively programmed it to life.

It’s easy to use and sets a much nicer tone.


New Photos


GuesthouseHotelPhotoI also encouraged the hotel to get new photos taken of the gorgeous units (they are actual condo-quality units with full gourmet kitchens, living rooms, etc.).

For this job, I recommended Daniel Peter, a Chicago-based photographer who I’ve worked with over the years for my own business.


Lobby Design


Because the lobby is actually still being built from the ground up (literally!), there is a lot to consider. But what was once an open hole last summer….




Will soon look like this!

photoAbove is a quick snapshot I took of the mood board I created for the lobby.

As things come together over the next six months I’ll be sure to check in with some updates — if that’s something you’d like to see!



PS – Thinking about signing up for a Life with Intention Online class? Each one is already almost 50% filled, so sign up soon to grab your spot.


armchair before & after

December 12th, 2013   |   Decor


It’s finished! After months of finding the right armchair, finding the right fabric, saving for the reupholstery, and actually getting it recovered and painted, the coral armchair is now finally in the living room.

It all started last year, when I went super neutral in the living room.


photo by 

Very, very neutral.

As you can see from the text on that image, I figured out that there was enough room in the back corner to fit an armchair.

After scouring Craigslist, I bought this guy for $75.


The wood was in decent shape, but not great. And the upholstery was pretty worn, though not in such bad shape that we couldn’t live with the chair in its original condition for a few months while we saved for the makeover.

Then, I asked you what color you thought it should be (neutral, navy, or coral). The resounding majority confirmed the idea to go coral.

Here was the coral inspiration.



And here’s how it turned out.


Finding the right shade of coral fabric was a little tricky. After doing a lot of searching online and at Fishman’s in Chicago, I found that there aren’t that many shades of coral upholstery fabric in the perfect shade. Many were too rusty, red, pink, orange, or expensive.

Eventually, I spotted a Sunbrella fabric that was the Goldilocks of corals – not too pink, not too orange, not too pricey. Juuust right.

The fact that the fabric is designed for outdoor use is kind of a nice surprise. The quality is great (it doesn’t feel too stiff or outdoorsy) and I don’t have to be super stressed out about wear and tear.

For the painting and upholstery, I called on my friend Meg of Meg Made (her boutique just opened, by the way).

I’m also loving the new cream and grey striped throw from Nine Space. The neutral pattern ties in really well with the rest of the living room.

NineSpaceStripedBlanketMeg loved the blanket so much that she practically stole it from me when she dropped off the chair.

(Joe, if you are looking for any Christmas present ideas… hint, hint.)

CoralArmchair2Overall, I’m super happy with how it turned out. It was totally worth the 5-6 month process.

I’m also quite thankful that I am married to a Mister who doesn’t mind the color coral.


This post is sponsored by Nine Space (c/o the super comfy striped throw). 


My mom has a tradition of putting up her Christmas decor up at Thanksgiving and I’ve decided to follow suit. Which meant the day before our parents came into town last week, Mr. Lively, Mike (my youngest brother), and I hustled to get everything done.

Living in an apartment without a storage unit means we have limited space for holiday decor. But a tree, wreath, garland, and flower boxes help bring a little cheer to the Lively home.

This year’s Christmas tree has oversized “Charlie Brown” lights with an assortment of childhood ornaments. The tree skirt is actually an old Anthro tablecloth wrapped around the base.


The fireplace garland is a simple strand of pine we picked up at Home Depot when we got the front door wreath.

FireplaceWinterGarlandI layered our year-round white branches, some pine cones, and a handful of gold ornaments.

After the holidays, I’ll remove the gold balls for a winter look.

WinterGarlandFireplace(With Franklin’s affection for pulling down the hand towels hanging in the kitchen, we skipped the stockings this year.)

Outside, we dressed the patio for Christmas starting with the window boxes.

These guys were pretty tricky at first. With the frozen soil, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of pouring gallons of hot water on them or waiting three days for the soil to thaw inside in order to dress the boxes.

Just before I gave up on them altogether, I tried laying an old faux indoor garland on top of the frozen soil as window box filler.

And voila!

WinterChristmasWindowboxSo pretty. The middle layer is fake greens and berries. I anchored the garland into the soil by using gold pinecones attached to sticks. Just four pinecone stakes per box keeps things in place. No pots of boiling water required!

Then, I layered extra branches from the fireplace mantel and some branches from the Christmas tree at the bottom. Mixing the real branches with the fake ones really helps to make the whole thing feel more complete and authentic.

So besides the gold pine cone stakes I snagged at Home Depot, these boxes ended up being pretty much free.

In between the patio chairs we added a little pine tree, too.

PatioChristmasTreeJust in case you are interested, here are a few snapshots from the Thanksgiving week with our families in town.

Me, my mom, and Mr. Lively’s mom.


Dinner with my parents, Mike, myself, and Mr. Lively at Hugo’s Frog Bar.

photo3Franklin watching The West Wing. (No joke.)


And proof that I do cook… once a year.



super easy holiday wreath

November 22nd, 2013   |   DecorWineday Friday


This weekend Mr. Lively and I are getting a Christmas tree and pulling out the holiday decor! Picking a Christmas tree is one of the top five most exciting moments for me every year, so to say I am excited is an understatement.

And though there is much to do before our families arrive for Thanksgiving next week, one item is already checked off the decor list: the wreath.

This year’s wreath was so quick and easy to make that I have to share it in case anyone else is looking for a simple look that takes about two minutes to assemble.

HolidayEasyWreathLast weekend Mr. Lively and I spotted this boxwood wreath, complete with a fuzzy red bow, at Home Depot for about $15-$20.

I simply removed the bow that came with the wreath and added a glitter “L” ornament from Pottery Barn Kids.


After doing a quick search on their online shop, I couldn’t find these exact letters. However, they were sitting by the cash wrap last week… so I’d suggest calling a local Pottery Barn Kids store to see if they have them in stock.

Or, you could choose a glitter peace sign, skis, or sled, instead.

Or, you could pick a favorite (sturdy) ornament from your collection at home!

The options are endless. I would just make sure whatever ornament you choose is weather appropriate. Since our wreath is inside a hallway, I don’t have to worry about the L getting beat up by the elements.

After Christmas, I’ll simply remove the ornament and leave it up through the winter.

Now, it’s time to get a tree!


Thank you so much for reading and have a great weekend, guys!

a simpler look for the bedroom

November 19th, 2013   |   Decor


A few months ago, I shared a new gray rug for the bedroom that I considered returning. As many of you wisely suggested, it was a bit much for the room when paired with the bright blue curtains and metallic wallpaper.


RugInBedroomAnd though did I plan to return it, I got so busy that I never took the time to send the rug back and find a suitable replacement.

One day I may sell it or move it to another space, but thanks to some simple bedding updates the rug doesn’t look quite as overbearing anymore.



Removing the faded striped sheets and discolored gold trimmed throw pillows means that the rug and wallpaper are the only patterns now — which makes the room feel much calmer overall.

To maintain interest with the solid bedding, I added texture via the throw pillows.


Enter: Emily and Meritt gold sequin pillows (tip: The covers are pretty reasonably priced and you can get inexpensive pillow inserts for these pillow covers at Jo-Ann).

Don’t they look eerily similar to my beloved gold shoes?


As for the duvet cover, I simply swapped the duvet in the guest room with the master duvet to add more texture at the foot of the bed. WhiteTuftedDuvetThen there are the sheets. I would qualify these bamboo viscose sheets from Nine Space as my first ‘fancy sheet set’ that I’ve ever owned.


And I’m hooked.

They are so soft that they make getting into bed a pleasure… and getting out of it just a little more difficult.


So what do you think? Is the room looking more balanced now that the bedding is simplified?


This post is sponsored by Nine Space (c/o the incredibly soft white sheets) – and they are giving 20% off their entire store to JessLively readers until 11/26! Use the code LIVELY20 to get the discount on their (beautiful) home goods. 

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