sneak peek: leah hennen


our first fabulous sneak peek comes from d*s reader and freelance writer leah hennen, of the blog more ways to waste time. she, her husband nick, and their two children have been in their circa-1939 oakland, ca home for nearly three years. she cracked me up with her comment that they worked on it from the top down (mainly cosmetic changes), and “are just about ready to start all over again (like painting the golden gate bridge).” but for now we’ll have to enjoy it in its present glory. there are so many great spaces in her home, so be sure to click here for more fantastic images! stay tuned for one more sneak peek coming up at 1pm! [thanks, leah!]anne

[above: My husband and I hemmed and hawed over the paint color in our bedroom for about a year. Finally, he made an executive decision and choose Benjamin Moore’s Chocolate Sundae. I think he was right — the color is deep and luscious, but warm. I chose a satin finish for the paint, because I wanted the walls to literally glow at night. (We have 70-year-old lath and plaster, so the walls are definitely imperfect — a fact that the shinier paint does highlight, but I don’t mind the flaws.) Although the room faces north, it gets tons of light from a big corner window and a French door, so I wasn’t worried about it being too dark. Crisp white trim, bedding, and a large bookshelf, plus mirrored accents around the room help offset the deep color.

We got this Asian-style open bookshelf from Pier 1 awhile back, on sale for something like $200. The stuffed corgi was a present from my kids. The magazine collection represents only the last few months’ worth of shelter titles that I still need to tackle. It’s a sickness, I know.

I kind of hate the couch, chairs, and ottoman. Once I figure out what to replace them with — and if we ever save enough to actually buy those replacements — they’re going straight up on craigslist. My husband and I are both pretty tall (6’2&” and 5’10”), so the couch is more comfortable for us without the back cushions. The throw draped over the back is from Designers Guild, and the linen pillows are from Anna Joyce (a splurge from Portland’s Olio United), Sharon Spain, and Paper Cloud (both bought on super-duper clearance at Oakland’s Atomic Garden, the floor lamp is from IKEA. . . We really needed an entry table, but I didn’t want something solid that would block light from the glass bricks that flank our front door. This clear acrylic console table from CB2 was the perfect solution. The vintage metal locker baskets below hold shoes, kids’ backpacks, and other clutter that tends to pile up inside the front door.

I used the Orla Kiely wallpaper left over from my dining room hutch project to back the bookshelves. The ceramic horse head and turquoise dish are from eBay. The white bowl is from Perch!

This is an earlier iteration of the living and dining rooms.

The family room. We opted for daybeds instead of a couch, since this doubles as a guest room. The paneling is knotty pine. We painted it all white to help lighten up this dark basement room.

Except for the mirror and the books, everything in this picture was found on eBay; the metal “sculpture” is actually a vintage industrial cake beater. The latest evidence of my incurable lamp addiction always seems to end up on this cabinet.

The white Parsons table is from West Elm. The paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Soft Fern.

My 13-year-old’s lair. Let’s not go in here … I have a little problem when it comes to buying vintage kitchen items.

We tucked a small workspace and sewing- and crafting station into a corner of the dining room. I can set up here with the laptop, or my daughter can sew while I keep an eye on her. The desk is West Elm’s white Parsons. I found the vintage tulip-style chair (most likely by Burke) on eBay.

The credenza, Buddha head lamp, metal H, vintage letterpress letters, and ceramic bird figurines are yet more eBay finds; the black-and-white photo was a flea market score; the tiny print is one of Chris Crites’ paper bag mugshots; and the ceramic pear is from Heather Knight’s Etsy shop.

  1. Rachel says:

    What color is the blue? I’m looking for the perfect blue for my new house and I love it!

  2. Gorgeous home. I love the Chocolate Sundae color in the bedroom. Your dining room wall color is the same as ours. Took a little getting used to that bright a color but it’s now one of my favorite rooms in the house.

  3. The wall colors are all magical.

  4. Melissa says:

    Beautiful home. I love it.

  5. Get Togetha says:

    Now this is my kind of living. Eclectic, lived in, organized, funky and fun. Loving the pops of color and individualized accessories…they gave your space tons of character.

  6. Paul Rodino says:

    This is one of my favorite “Sneak Peeks.” I was just wondering if it’s possible to find out what the blue wall color is in the dining area. I have a room that is screaming for this color.

    Thanks for all the great inspirations of design on this site.


  7. Kim says:

    I love the sconces above the bed – do you remember where you got them??

  8. anne says:

    just wanted to let you all know that Leah has some more info in the descriptions of her flickr set which is linked above :)


  9. Adrienne says:

    Thank you for sharing pics of your home! I love the colors and vintage finds!

  10. jackie kersh says:

    love it all!!!

  11. Kristan says:

    At an airport about to board, but so I only have time to say: LOVE IT!

  12. Emily says:

    Another absolutely beautiful house. You guys did so well today!

  13. Jayme says:

    SO incredibly jealous of that console/dresser thing in the living room. Everything is gorgeous!

  14. Kat says:

    The house is gorgeous! I like the bedroom, so serene, and all her lamps!

  15. Love the wallpaper behind the bookshelves!

  16. 315thomas says:

    i love the hutch vignette and the wallpaper – so pretty!

  17. Love the painted blue walls.

  18. gryphon says:

    Charming home! Where’d you get the low, white storage cubby by the window?

  19. // e // says:

    To die for. What I aspire to.

  20. Kukaru says:

    Are the large chrome stacked-ball lamps by Tom Dixon? Do you know much about them? I have a pair, too, and would love to know their history.

  21. noa says:

    can you let me know what is the origin of the lamp at the dining room, beige ball ?

  22. Leah Hennen says:

    Thanks so much, everyone!

    There’s a lot more detail on paint colors and what came from where in the flickr notes, but here are short answers to your questions:

    * The dining room paint is Benjamin Moore’s “Sonoma Skies” with an equal amount of white mixed in to lighten it up.

    * The chrome bedroom sconces were from West Elm, but I believe they’re no longer available.

    * The white storage unit under the window is IKEA’s 5-cubby Expedit bookshelf turned on its side with IKEA cabinet legs attached.

    * The chrome ball lamps are vintage eBay finds, I believe from the ’70s. I’ve seen similar ones here and there, but have no idea who originally made them. Sorry!

  23. Melissa says:

    This one should go directly to the Sneak Peek Hall of Fame. What a beautiful home! I love the use of the Orla Keily wallpaper. Can you tell me the source of the mirror above your bed? Thanks so much for your sharing your amazing abode.

  24. Jenny says:

    Love the clean-cut, fresh-lined bedding… do you mind sharing what company makes it?

  25. Leah Hennen says:

    Hi Melissa, the mirror above our bed came from the Alameda Point flea market ( — someone’s vintage craft project, no doubt, since the thing is just some sort of paper mache with mirror mosaic tiles attached.

    Jenny — the bedding is from IKEA:

  26. Kat says:

    I’m in love with this house. The best part is the sewing/working nook in the living room…the chair, the off desk pen/pencil storage *sigh* I want one!

  27. Jennifer says:

    I love your marble-top coffee table with wooden legs. Who makes it and where did you find it?

  28. dolce chic says:

    I love these photos! What a great, great, great home!!!

  29. wzwed says:

    Wow, very beautiful home design

  30. Leah Hennen says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    The marbe-topped coffee table was another vintage eBay find, I’m guessing from the ’50s or ’60s. I don’t know the maker, and don’t know if the marble top is original or a later addition. I’ve seen similar ones around, tho — try searching “Danish teak coffee table” on eBay to see if one turns up.

  31. Lisa says:

    Hi there,

    I’m just wondering where you got your pillows in the family room? Specifically the ones with the geometric print. I love them! Thanks.

  32. sylvia says:

    yes it’s nice but nothing different. i would like to see design sponge post something with more personality and character. Mosts of these places look straight out of domino magazine.

  33. Leah says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Those pillows were from West Elm and CB2, although they’re no longer available. West Elm does have some similar ones, though.

  34. Claire says:

    Are you serious, Sylvia? You’re complaining because too many of these houses look like they belong in a popular design magazine? Wow, I can’t imagine why D*S would post something like that.

  35. kristina says:

    oh wow! i think there is huge variety in this column! from the very tiny to very large and from personally done with no professional experience involved to talented professionals who have shaped their own spaces or helped with others’!!! for what I’ve seen, there is far more breadth on the sneak peek column than I’ve ever found in any print magazine or elsewhere online!

  36. Laura says:

    The whole house is very Jonathan Adler-esque.

  37. mert says:

    Such a great job combining vintage-modern with classic pieces, like in the dining room, the china cabinet with funky chandelier. This is great style that seems attainable, unlike those design mags. I think it shows great personality and character!

  38. D says:

    Where are those large chrome lamps from? Beautiful home!

  39. Leah Hennen says:

    Hi D,

    Those lamps — like half the things in my house — are from eBay. If you do a search for “vintage chrome ball lamp” you’ll likely turn up a few.

  40. Eva says:

    looks like you have a lot of fun designing your home :) hope you find the perfect couch!

  41. Karene says:

    Hi Leah,

    Where is the dining room chandelier from? I love it. It looks so organic and bright.

  42. jana Souza says:

    I saw this pretty write up last year when it was first posted, but Leah reminded me via her blog. I never said how gorgeous it is, and warm and thoughtful, yet homey.

  43. Elizabeth says:

    I have been coming back to this posting over and over again for inspiration. I think it’s just beautiful. So much so that I actually made the same storage unit and I love it. The only thing is I can’t find the boxes that fit inside of the spaces. If you don’t mind me asking where did you get your file boxes?


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