Jen Talbot Design

The Sketch Book Files

Meet Jen!

Jen's spot for inspirations, inside her life as designer and artist. I share progress, tips on sources, spaces that inspire and how to push the boundaries of every space.

Be brave, and go for it.

xo, Jen

Posts tagged minimalism
Winter Blues Solved: 15 Low-Light House Plants

Author: Sydney Piwowar

It is officially Winter and in the Mid-West, we get to know something called the January Blues. Yep... thats the time right after the holidays, when there is nothing else to get you through the grey skies. This year, I refuse to let them get to me though. My trick to keeping positive is to surround myself with Green. It proven that people who expose themselves to more plants and trees are happier.

1. Snake Plant

Snake plants thrive on neglect and are considered “unkillable”. They don’t mind low light and they only need to be watered once every couple of weeks.

house plant 1.jpg

2. Spider Plant

Spider plants actually prefer you keep them away from direct sunlight. They are also pet friendly and sprout with babies you can re-plant.

house plant 2.jpeg

3. ZZ Plant

Even if you’re a serial plant killer, you’ll do just fine with a ZZ plant. It hails from Eastern Africa and it is conditioned to survive months of low light and drought.

4. Monstera Deliciosa

You’ve probably seen these all over trendy instagram pages. Monstera Deliciosa loves basking in gentle sunlight - keeping it 5-10 feet away from a bright window is key.

house plant 4.jpg

5. Peace Lilly

If you’d prefer a plant with flowers, peace lillies are for you! They thrive in shade, indirect light, and even windowless rooms. You’ll know if your peace lilly is getting too much light because they’ll show brown streaks.

house plant 5.jpg

6. Moss Terrarium

Terrariums hit the trends a few years ago and you can easily DIY one at home. With a little moss and rocks, they will survive on little to no sunlight. It does need moisture though and some indirect light to live at its brightest green. Place it near a window where it can receive a bit of reflected light.

7. Dracaena Reflexa

There are lots of types of dracaena, but reflexa is the most common. It is also the best choice for a dark room. They can survive in low to medium light, but are their boldest, yellow in indirect sun. However, too much will make them brown so don’t let them sunbathe all day.

house plant 7.jpg

8. Nerve Plant

Yes it is PINK! Be careful though and keep them out of direct exposure or their leaves will start to brown. They do need constant moisture, so don’t skimp on the watering. Another plus about this one is that they are non-toxic for pets!

house plant 8.jpeg

9. Cast Iron Plant

Cast iron plants are native to the forest floors of japan and Taiwan so they are used to very little light. As a matter of fact, direct sunlight will burn their leaves so keep them close to north facing windows or away from windows in general. Best of all, it is another pet friendly plant.

house plant 9.jpeg

10. Lucky Bamboo

Dracaena Sanderiana, aka “lucky bamboo”, is not only cool for its shape, but also because it survives in low to moderate light conditions. Just don’t put them in direct sunlight, which will burn their leaves.

house plant 10.jpeg

11. Birds Nest Fern

Filtered or indirect sunlight will do them well. East or north facing windows are ideal. Avoid exposing to direct light to prevent burn marks.

house plant 11.jpg

12. Chinese Evergreen

The pattern on these leaves are amazing. This one needs a bit more light than the rest, desiring low to bright indirect sunlight. they’re part of a family with 20 different species, but the general rule with all of them is that the darker their leaves and stalks are, the lower light they can handle.

13. Pothos

Pothos won’t complain if you only have moderate indoor light. It can also tolerate fluorescent lighting which makes it great for your office.

house plant 13.jpg

14. Prayer Plant

The name of this plant stems from the fact that prayer plants leaves lay flat during the day and then fold upward at night. Another cool point about them is that they are safe for pets and dimmer rooms.

house plant 14.jpeg

15. Philodendron

This one is super easy for beginner plant parents as it does well in low to medium light and wont freak out if you forget to water it from time to time. The cascading leaves look beautiful on a high shelf or a hanging basket.

house plant 15.jpg

See our pinterest board for more house plant ideas HERE!

Common Art Hanging Mistakes

Author: Sydney Piwowar

Art is crucial in making a house feel like a home, and good art is not cheap! Nothing ruins your perfectly good piece of art quite like bad nail placement. We have curated the top 3 mistakes that people make when hanging art and are going to share simple solutions.

Hanging Too High 

art hanging 1.jpeg

You have most likely hung your art too high, leaving it to float away from the furniture underneath. To tie the pieces together (and make your room more visually harmonious), shoot for roughly five inches of space between the bottom of your art and the top of your furniture.

Small Art in Large Spaces

art hanging 2.jpeg

Scale is the key to maintaining a harmonious relationship between the walls and furniture. Using a frame that is too small tricks the eye into thinking that is is smaller than it actually is. An easy trick to make it feel proportional is to reset it in a larger frame or to get a larger piece for the space all together. The general guide you should have when approaching art is to chose pieces that are about two-thirds of the length of the furniture.

Grouping Too Far Apart

art hanging 3.jpg

Separating your art is like separating fighting kids to their time-out corners… Its awkward for all of us. Whether you’re hanging twin paintings or simply grouping pieces, everything should act as one. Make sure that they are close, separating frames no more than 3 inches apart.

Top 5 Kitchen Trends of 2019

Author: Sydney Piwowar

While minimalism remains a leading trend in design, we are seeing a large push back from not only other designers, but our clients for a desire of well designed space. Less in not always more people! After lots of research, I have curated the Top 5 Kitchen Trends of 2019 will be.

1. Hidden Appliances

This design trend offers a seamless integration of modern technology and classic design.

trends 2019 1.jpg

2. Well Designed Hardware

The simple bar cabinet pull or knob just doesn’t seem to do it anymore. More designer quality hardware options are becoming readily available and are a simple way to elevate your space.

trends 2019 2.jpg

3. Rustic Counter Tops

After years of seeing the same white marble counter tops, we are seeing a revolt. People are gravitating towards non-marble, rustic styles of counter tops such as polished concrete, quartz, and wood.

4. Contemporary Take on The Classics

The flat panel cabinet is gone people.. While I do not anticipate arched or ornate raised panel designs to come back either, we will see more design intention in kitchen cabinets. Thanks to modern technology, it is easier than ever to design custom kitchens. We will see this very evident in the panel designs of 2019.

5. More Metal

We have seen metal inlays gain popularity in the furniture of 2018, but we will see more metals popping up in our cabinetry. Not just in hardware or inlays, but in the finishing material of entire panels.

trends 2019 6.jpg

To see more 2019 kitchen inspiration trends, see my pinterest page here!

5 Steps to Tasteful Family Photo Wall

Author: Sydney Piwowar

We all love our families (mostly) and its hard to tastefully show them off. Oversized canvas oil paintings hung over the fireplace aren’t style anymore... At the same time though, I do not think it is fair to cut all evidence of family in a home… it is after all what makes a house, a home. We were asked in a recent install how to do this successfully. Well, I am here to share with you all my secret: framed prints with oversized mattes. Yes, simple and understated. What makes this method unique is the color quality of the image and the placement of it. Here are the 5 steps to ensure your framed prints turn out perfect:

Curate Your Photos

Go through the old hard drive because you want to plan out your photos ahead of time. The photos don’t all have to contain the same colors or people - feel free to change it up. This is where you get to show off your family’s unique characteristics.

Print With HIGH Quality

The most common mistake that people make is framing pixelated photos. Make sure that you are printing high quality images and don’t be afraid to send them somewhere nice to print - don’t cheap out on this because you will get what you pay for. Something else to consider is if you want to print in color or black and white. For someone who wants to print in color, going to a good printer with high quality color is important.

tasteful photo 2.jpg

Find Frames

Frames can be sourced from anywhere. Whether they are custom or ordered online from Ikea, you will notice a large gap in cost. The most influential decision you make will be upon the frame’s finish. This color and texture will be framing the image, literally and figuratively, in a way it is possible to influence your perception. For example, if your image has LOTS of texture and color, choosing a frame that does as well may only distract form the richness of the image. It would be better to chose a simple frame that allows all attention to be focused on the specialness of your image. The second factor to consider is if you want a more unified or eclectic gallery. For a more unified approach, I would consider finding a store that sells the same profile in several sizes as you may need for your collection. For those that want a more mix-and-matched approach, I suggest shopping resale shops, garage sales, and local boutiques for an interesting combination.

tasteful photo 3.jpg

Find Matte

There are several colors and finishes to matte. I prefer a stark white matte as it gives a certain freshness. Be careful though as they come in several shades of off-white, ivory, and cream — especially if you are trying to match to previously framed images.

tasteful photo 4.jpg

Hang Art

It is hard to generalize for every one when it depends on the size of the frame and the space… My best tip is to map out the wall with painters tape first though to ensure you are happy with your placement — you don’t want to see a dozen holes in the wall from where you moved hung them previously. Some key areas I think it is more peaceful to hang family photos include: hallways, stairways, bedrooms, bathrooms, and basements. Try to stay away from the large print over the living room fireplace — its tacky.

tasteful photo 5.jpg

For more tips on how to frame family portraits, see my pinterest board HERE!

5 Steps to a Modern Holiday Table Setting

Author: Sydney Piwowar

1. Pick a Theme

This year, I am keeping a simple Scandinavian winter theme with a neutral palette. Natural textures, greenery and soft candlelight create a relaxed setting where the focus can be on the great food and conversation around the table.

holiday table 1.jpg

2. Simple Textures

Layering up textures is very important. Here, starting with a layer of white linen sets a soft tone. A rough grey linen runner lines the table adding needed balance against the perfect white. Notice that the grey and white tones call back to the dive grey dishes set on the table.

3. Natural Accents

They say that scent is the strongest memory trigger. The smell of pine at this time of year reminds me of all the great holidays of my past and to come. Using the left over tree trimming is an easy way to add a more festive feel to any holiday table.

4. Add Height

I don't like focus of a table setting to be down. I like to give the eye eye freedom to travel around the room. One easy trick is to add height which is easily done with the addition of a few tall candlesticks. In the winter months, candlelight is essential to any gathering. Burning candles creates the ultimate cozy ambiance. Another trick to fill up a larger table is to add a combination of tall candlesticks and low tea lights scattered along the table foliage so there's light at different levels. 

5. Simple Accessories

Black and brass candle sticks are a simple, yet gutsy way to go. This trend pays homage to traditional candles, but adds a fun and celebratory feel. This is also an opportunity to showcase special occasion cutlery that is more exciting than the everyday stainless steel set. Textured or patterned napkins serve as a pop against the white setting here.. Tying the edgy black stainless steel in with the rest of the clean, elegant, table setting.

To see more amazing table setting inspiration images, check out my Pinterest board HERE!

Top 5 Black Framed Shower Doors

Author: Sydney Piwowar

When they became a trend back in 2017, you had to pay BIG bucks for these beauties. Now that the trend has set in though, there are so many amazing vendors selling them stocked and ready for you! Here is our round up for Top 5 Black Framed Shower Doors.

For Large Showers

shower doors 1.jpg

For Small Showers

For Industrialists

For Minimalists

shower doors 4.jpg

For Those On A Budget

For inspiration on matching hardware and bathroom accessories, see our blog post on Design Details: Toilet Paper Holder and The Anti-Trend: Black Hardware.