Kelly Christakos Stivers


how to make a monkey's fist (nautical rope door stop)

One of the first DIY's I ever posted here on the blog was a Monkey's fist, better known as a nautical rope door stop.  I've made so many of them over the years for friends and clients and I even gave some away as favors at my baby shower!  Not only are they super simple to make, but they're one of those little projects that gives you so much satisfaction at being able to do yourself.  In the spirit of the beachy, nautical vibe of my posts lately, I thought it was worth posting again!  It's the perfect nautical touch for bookshelves or coffee tables and is a great "just because" gift idea. 

For this one, I used 1/2 inch manila rope that I bought at Lowe's for less than 50 cents per foot.  You'll need 12 feet.  Begin by making four vertical turns around your hand:

Then, hold your vertical turns with four horizontal turns, like so:

Next, make another four vertical turns around the four horizontal ones you just made, this time from inside and underneath the vertical turns (you'll bring your rope up from the bottom of the knot, up around to the top):

  It may take a little tweaking and tightening of individual pieces of the rope, but it will look like this once you're done:

The extra rope that is left at the end can be tucked in to the knot.  To make the "handle" of the knot, take the remaining rope and tuck it in, creating a loop:

The best part is that you can take it apart easily and re-do until you get the hang of it; for me, the hardest part was getting each piece tight enough, but after a few tries you get the hang of it.  Easy peasy!


grand banks nyc

I've always been drawn to places that are inspired by the ocean, no matter where I go or what time of year it is (I happen to think snow falling on the sea is the most magical sight and my idea of the perfect summer afternoon is eating oysters on the half shell and sipping a vodka tonic with extra lime!) So, it's only fitting that I am obsessing over every last detail of the Grand Banks, an award winning oyster bar located on an historic wooden schooner along the Hudson River right smack dab in the middle of NYC.  Christened the Sherman Zwicker in 1942 and inspired by the floating oyster barges that lined lower Manhattan's waterfront in the 18th and 19th centuries, it is now the last original saltbank fishing vessel and the largest wooden one in NYC.  It is also incredibly fabulous, from its yellow and white striped awnings and navy painted woodwork to its French bistro bar stools, shiny brass accents and magical view of the city.  It's even got a pop-up shop on board curated by Mate Gallery and it has me pining for a jaunt to New York, even if I have to stand in line sipping cocktails for three hours just to get a table!

Here are my picks for a nautically-inspired cocktail hour or oyster shucking party:

 Monogrammed doule old fashioneds / Anchor bottle opener / Porthole mirror / Large woven tray

Pillow / Anchor print / Sea salt candle / Oyster knife set / Faux coral / Drunken sailor coasters


sea-inspired art by minted

Art is one of my favorite ways to change up your decor for the summer, or, even better, to bring a little bit of the beach to your home all year round.  Minted has become one of my favorite sources for budget-friendly art and beautiful, equally affordable framing options and they're KILLING it lately with their selection of sea-inspired pieces in watery blues and greens.  All of their pieces come in a variety of sizes, some as large as 40x40, which, as you know if you've read this blog for any length of time, I'm a huge fan of making a statement with oversize art.  Here are a few pieces I'm loving lately; I put them all in their simple, raw wood picture frame option (currently my fave) - a large single piece or grouped together, they're a great way to bring the beach to your home:

Marbled Wake / Paddleboarders, Malibu 2011 / Distant Island Pier / Minimalist Sea /

Drift / Oyster Blues / Surfer Bae 1 / Washed Over / Waters Edge


insta inspiration: tom samet

I've got quite the design crush these days on Hamptons interior designer Tom Samet and his classic, East Coast style, thanks to his enviable Instagram account - he does updated traditional so well through the use of color, pattern and texture (not to mention a healthy dose of Chinese Lattice wall covering) and beautiful layering.  Every picture he posts of a space he's worked on looks not only sophisticated and elegant, but warm and welcoming, family friendly and ready for entertaining, which can be difficult to accomplish, but Samet nails it every time!  Here are a few posts I'm loving -  be sure to follow him @tomsamet

Cedar shakes, crisp white trim, a Dutch front door, a second floor balcony covered in wisteria and gorgeous landscaping make for one heck of a charming, not to mention incredibly chic first impression:

Bob Collins Chinese lattice, a seagrass runner and a gilded mirror are absolute perfection in this stairway:

Board and batten walls, slate floors and a mix of wood and woven furniture are right up my alley in this pool house; I could spend all day every day right here!

A classic white kitchen that lives larger than its relatively small footprint.  Love the glassfronts, the oversize hardware on the paneled refrigerator and the drawers and cabinets facing the dining table:

Those woven chairs, moss covered pavers and outdoor fireplace make my heart skip a beat:

A gorgeous butler's pantry with stunning wood countertops and more glassfront cabinets:

This guest bedroom is beautifully layered and while I normally gravitate to cooler tones in bedrooms, I'm loving the pops of muted red here:

Black and white photos look divine against a striated paint treatment and a pop of red from the banded Roman shade:

Tongue and groove paneling, slate flooring and a Dutch front door are a stunning first impression and a beautiful peek at what's to come in the rest of this house:

The exterior of a remodel/renovation Samet worked on with landscape designer Michael Derrig; it doesn't get more classic than black and white with pops of red:

A better shot of that striated paint treatment.  The jute chandelier and vintage oars are the perfect nautical nods:

That screened-in porch is my idea of outdoor perfection:

There's so much more to love (I had to limit myself to posting only a few so as not to look like a complete stalker!)  Be sure to check him out @tomsamet

Happy Hump Day!


get the look: victoria hagan's nantucket hideaway

I can't believe it's been a whole fourteen days since I last blogged!!  The hubby has had leave the last two weeks and so we took advantage of each and every single minute and soaked up some serious family time.  We were at the beach last week for some much-needed R+R and as sad as it was to come back home, I was excited to see the latest Architectural Digest waiting for me in my mailbox, specifically, interior designer Victoria Hagan's gorgeous Nantucket hideaway!  Hagan is one of my favorite designers, with her classic, American decorating style and her elegantly tailored spaces that are both fabulously chic yet warm and welcoming at the same time.  Her beach house is no exception, with its muted color palette of crisp white and soft blues, lots of texture, a mix of warm woods and lots of bright, natural light.  Anyone who knows me (or has ever been to my house) knows this is exactly the aesthetic and feel I love most and strive for in my own home, so it's no surprise I'm smitten with this gorgeous, shingle-style beauty:

Cedar shakes and crisp white trim.  So timeless:

Does this not take your breath away?  THIS is how you do a beach house - white walls, gauzy linen curtain panels, seagrass rugs, a mix of woods.  Absolute perfection:

I love the striped dhurrie and wicker chairs in the dining area; just the right amount of color and texture to add a little interest to an all-white space:

Classic white kitchen:

I would never leave this light and airy master.  Seriously.....just add some black out liners and I'm good to go!

 A gorgeous pool with a privacy hedge and simple lounges are another example of how simple elegance abounds inside and out:

Here are my picks for creating a similar look (sans a killer oceanfront view, of course):

Miramar chair / Silver double gourd lamp / Oversize clam shell / Knotty bubble pendant light

Wicker dining chair / Barley twist coffee table / Topiary / Star vase / Timur weave pillow

Tala Blumarine pillow / Nailhead end table

Striped Rug

Hope you're having a great week!