Sunday, January 27, 2013










Tuesday, January 22, 2013


 Many years back, during a telephone interview for a magazine feature, the writer asked me to describe "my style". Cunningly, I turned it around and said that I would be curious to know her answer to that question. 

"I would say that your interiors are soft" she said. 

Soft? Interesting. Up until that point I had never really considered that I might have a specific style though clearly a common thread was apparent to this journalist. It was then that I decided I would do a creative exercise.

I sat down and went through all the images of my work and wrote down what ever I saw occurring time and time first it was broad but over time I began to notice "patterns" and it helped me to identify the most common elements of my design style or formula* that showed up in the work:


*(I hesitate to even use the word formula because it makes it sound as if every interior I create is cookie-cutter - and we know that this is certainly not the case by any means. Especially if we are talking about residential clients) 
Did my work have an element of softness?  Absolutely.  But I prefer to substitute the term "SOFT" for the word "EASE".  

You see, for myself to consider an interior successful, the space  has to exude an innate sense of ease. It should be livable while being carefully curated and it should always be approachable. This steers me away from anything to the contrary.

More importantly, maintaining a sense of ease in the client's space allows me to graciously open the channels for how the client wants to connect with their environment. Ease is a carrier- a conduit- for emotion to show up; connection to occur; and the essence of the client to be ever present.

Read that again and let it sink in.

 Ease is a carrier- a conduit- for emotion to show up; connection to occur; and the essence of the client to be ever present.

Do me a favor - I want to you to recreate a memory in your head and pay attention to how you physically feel. Ready?

Think about an date you had with someone you really liked that was completely awckward. Remember what occurred? Conversation was forced? You silently kicked yourself after everything you said? There was no relaxing.

That felt pretty tense and unpleasant just now, didn't it?

Now-  remember a time when you were out with someone and everything just fell into place. (Maybe its with your current love or a best friend.) Honestly, I don't even need to take you further into this memory because INSTANTLY all that tension and uneasiness dissipates. Right?

The minute I say to you "everything just fell into place" the body physically reacts. Maybe your chest released tension; your breathe returned  to a comfortable cadence or your shoulders dropped back; and maybe you even let out a a sigh of relief? 

THAT, my friend, is ease and it was the ease in this memorable situation which you just recalled that allowed you to be fully present and deliciously satisfied with such a magical moment.

Here is some food for thought:

Does your space evoke a  sense of ease? 

If it does- then why is that and what elements help that to be true for yourself? If you identify these particulars then you can use them time and time again as barometer for what is a "yes" and what is a "no". 

If your space does not have that sense of ease then-  what is it that is preventing that from occurring? Perhaps you need to edit some things out of your environment? Are you holding onto something out of obligation? Maybe you just need to add something that is alive to your space? Could that be a vase of your favorite flowers? 

Or maybe, just maybe, it is time for you to get really clear about how you want to connect with what surrounds you so that how you feel inspires how you live rather than trying to go about it from the opposite direction.  

(Secret: that is what I really do. Only you think it is all pillows and paint colors.)

Either way, I say, let's try to do it with a little bit of ease. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012



When I was first hired on to transform cluttered, everyday, spaces for TLC's Clean Sweep- I was told that with this next wave of designers what they were looking for was more detail and to "up" the level of design.  This was perfect because I was fortunate enough that my experience up to that point in time was gained working for firms that dealt mainly with "high-end" projects where EVERYTHING is about "custom this and detailed that".  The challenge came then from the budgets that came with this particular show and every episode that all of us designers had to work with. 
They said it was "two days and two thousand dollars" but by the time the organizer (now Oprah's go to guy) Peter Walsh had purchased what he would need to make organized magic of all the mayhem - we were left with something to the tune of one-thousand dollars...maybe twelve-hundred on a good day.  It was here- working on these episodes- that I quickly discovered how something so small as taking twenty or forty-dollars from one area of the budget (say fabric for example) and allotting it to another area (such as accessories) could make an entire world of difference.  
Even better, I learned to hone my eye for items that were intended to be one way  or one thing that could actually and easily be used or transformed into something entirely other (and usually for the  better). For example- if you are in a store such as World Market you may see a silk Ikat curtain panel with a fabulous color pallet..and this is where most people's thinking is a curtain panel.  My mind sees that same curtain panel and I think - "Wow, what great 24" square pillows that would make and what a steal- nearly three yards of silk for only $29.00"! You get the idea?

 The $64.00 dollar metal wall art I found and purchased.
When you learn to look past what is put before and let your mind imagine that it could be something else- well, this is a skill that we (as designers) have learned to harness to our advantage. 

Case in point an inexpensive metal wall art piece I stumbled upon at a big box decor store that is not know for high brow style. This store is about masses of products and for little investment.  However, on a mission and trained with my "television" eye I knew I would find some great pieces (metal wall art and a faux leather foot stool) with a ton of potential for a project that needed a super quick turn around and a luxe look but on a reasonable budget.

The half-sphere metal art with its visible black grid looked as inexpensive as it really was but those colored washed domes were what was really exciting about this piece. I knew that if I could use these little gems sans the grid then magic could happen. 

With a bit of elbow grease to pry them off their grid; some industrial Velcro; and an organic formation this sixty-four dollar investment was well worth every penny. 

Next time something sparks your interest- especially if it is a detail on something- I'd like you to pause. Then consider this thought: What could this become?  You might just find that you have hit the jackpot. 
That faux leather foot stool? That worked beautifully  (paired with pillows and Moroccan wedding blanket from West Elm) on this same project as you can see below:

Monday, August 27, 2012


This morning a video blog from Bec Robbins regarding "killing fear" inspired me to share my weekend fumble with you.

I am certain that this has happen to you. You get an inspiring idea for your home or a project  You mull it over and over again in your head. You research the heck out of it- maybe shopping online for that "perfect" certain something; maybe hunting down inspirational images to support your client pitch; maybe drawing everything up in 3-D on SketchUp; and then you go for it.

You are confident and assured. There is a pep in your step and you are thinking to yourself "This is going to be fantastic! I HAVE GOT THIS!"

You proceed with conviction and full of intent.

And then it happens...your fantastic idea, or pitch, or concept fizzles.

It crumbles.

That perfect paint color is terrible.

You hate that painting you just purchased.

That rug really IS too small - JUST LIKE YOU THOUGHT.

No one shows up for you and supports your ideas. 

God, please.


You have failed- BIG TIME. Lame-o. Looser. No good. Has been. Life ruined. Career in the dumps. Home in shambles. Husband upset. Weekend lost. Money gone. Stuck with those terrible, ugly, Starburst lemon yellow walls.

The result: I'll never do that again.


This month, I have experienced my share of these moments. The kind that keep me and my brain circling and circling like a pup chasing its tail and making me long for the days when I could actually fall asleep before its morning again.

This weekend, I took action on one of those "great" ideas. (You know what is coming.) Turns out that building in storage under my refrigerator isn't as fabulous as I envisioned despite the fact that this idea was something I labored over for what seemed like an eternity.

It started that spiral of negative thoughts and fear based  assumptions about - well, everything:

What was I thinking?! What a waste of time, energy and, not to mention, money.  And on and on.

So why in the world am I fessing up and sharing this with you? Why would I display my "mistakes" for the world to see?

The answer: 

The Agenda: Its all about honesty and keeping things real.

These posts are about the universality of experience and through sharing my stories using design as my vehicle - hopefully-  inspiration.

We have all encountered this same experience and it keeps us from moving forward and trying again.  We give up. We come to the "conclusion" that our goal really isn't important any longer and we resign our need to be fulfilled and fully express ourselves in life or in our surroundings.

Follow me here. 

Bad paint choice = Why did I think I could have a beautiful room =  It is not really important = I'll just "live" with it = Why bother?

That's exactly where I landed.

So how do we have the conviction to put another coat of color on those walls? To muster the energy to put that rug back into the trunk of our cars; endure the line at the store (one more time) and exchange it for another. And once more if need be?

The secret is these two words: So What.

The truth is that the every decision and choice we make right now is replace by the choice we make next. My idea to put storage under my fridge wasn't as great as I envisioned it might be. Now I know- and isn't that better than remaining to look at that space wondering "what if"?

I renovated the lobby of skilled nursing facility and everyone was against my hunch of installing Paprika colored wall covering. In this instance the payoff was worth the effort. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't.

I would say that covering your walls in a paint color that makes you cringe is an opportunity to rule out what doesn't work or make you happy.

Mistakes and fumbles are here to help us as I have been reminded of lately. They help us realize that we are x, y, or z more than what we imagined.  They help to keep us connected to expressing our authentic selves.

Better yet - I think that situations like my "brilliant" idea above keep us keeping on. In with the good/what works and out with what doesn't work.

Be bold. Try that paint. Purchase that rug. Move that sofa off your wall and float it in your living room. Try what ever it is you want to try. You live. You learn. You Grow.

And you always have the option of saying so what.

(Click the link above to watch the video Blog from Bec Robbins that help me say So What) 

Thursday, August 16, 2012



Collected. Curated. That’s my aim in every project I take on.  Come to think of it - its is way of seeing spaces that seeps into almost everything I do.

Environments are so much more interesting when there are little discoveries of the treasures that one holds near and dear. They are more captivating when you have this nook and that nook for seating. Most of all, every space is at its best when you can touch, see, smell, etc. the essence of the individual/s who inhabit them.

It is about experiencing their design story - what I call their interiorDNA- fully.

Take these fabulous steel shelves I had the pleasure of curating on a collaborative project with Blanton Design & Staging.

Even though the client is one that exists only in my head - still there is consideration about the story I want to tell. What is the impact of this collected expression I want to convey? Is there rhythm? What about the tug of war of opposites? (Such as the industrial vintage iron items and at the same time the gleaming, modern, Lucite cubes.)

Too often people just throw things up on shelves. Cram them full with out consideration.

You need not wrap every book in white paper as seen far too many times in the pages of shelter magazines.

All you need to do is

A. acknowledge that these spaces are equally important

B. mix things up a bit.

C.  Think of these kinds of spaces as miniature galleries.

D. Better yet: autobiographical windows that eb and flow just as your life does.

Today you might show off black and white photographs; vintage brass; along with lacquered boxes... and then you may switch to something entirely different.

Its your story and what you wish to show.