What is Perfect About Your Home? Nothing or Everything?

The power of a positive question

We are headed into winter here in Minnesota and that means it's time for the annual inventory of jackets, mittens and boots. So many layers. So many multiples to account for the lost items that will surely happen during the season. So little space to put it all. As I was sorting the things the kids had outgrown, bringing in the new, and rotating out the items that won't see the light of day until the spring thaw, I caught myself noticeably annoyed at our mudroom. Thoughts of "It's too small" and "The shelving and hooks are not laid out how I would have design them" filled my mind until I caught myself. This is our current set up so why am I focusing on the negative and causing myself unnecessary stress? Have you been in this position with your home?  It's so easy to focus on the negative and can feel challenging to search out the positive. A while ago I was introduced to the concept of a "positive question." Instead of leading us to negative answers, a positive question opens our thinking to new ideas, good thoughts, and invites positive feelings.

A window display from a recent trip to Montreal - "Small Things Are Done with Love"

A window display from a recent trip to Montreal - "Small Things Are Done with Love"

One of my favorite positive questions to ask is "What is perfect about this?" When I ask myself this question in relation to my mudroom I find it easy to come up with answers. For example, the most perfect thing I can think of is that I actually have a mudroom! When my husband and I lived in an apartment it was a dream of mine to have a mudroom (#designergoals?). The thought of a whole room, no matter the size, designated to store jackets and shoes felt like the ultimate luxury. Here is another one, because the space is small it motivates me to stay on top of organization and encourages me to donate items as soon as we no longer use them. When I take a moment to recognize the positives it puts me back in a state of appreciation and that is where I want to be. 

When we think about things that we want, in our home or other areas of our life, the default is to think of things that we want and still don't have, but what if you spent some of this time thinking about the things that we want that we already have?

What area of your home or life can you apply the concept of a positive question? Today I encourage you to take one scenario or space that you find less than ideal and come up with five reasons its positively perfect. I'd love to hear how it goes!

Can I Be a Minimalist and Still Own Tchotchkes?

Use these three simple questions to live a more minimalist lifestyle (and still own a few tchotchkes)

What comes to mind when you hear the word "minimalism"? A stark white interior? Only owning a prescribed number of items? To me, minimalism represents a pared down home and lifestyle. And at the same time, I own a few tchotchkes.

Even thought these items are decorative and not functional, they are items brought into my home, and kept in my home with careful consideration. 

This little sheep sits on my desk simply because he makes me smile. 

This little sheep sits on my desk simply because he makes me smile. 

Instead of looking at living a minimalist lifestyle as trying to avoid purchases or eliminate items in our life to the bare bones, I prefer to keep or acquire items based on the three simple questions below. If you're looking to live a minimalist lifestyle (and maybe own a few tchotchkes) you can use these questions too!

1.  Is this item useful? If so, is it actually used or will I actually use it? 

2. Why do I want to keep or purchase this item? Do I like my reason? You get to decide. 
What do I mean by "Do I like my reason?" Here is an example: I may simply find something beautiful and want to purchase it. There is a special spot in my office where I know it will fit perfectly. I like this reason - it feels fun to treat myself. Alternately, I may receive a gift that doesn't fit into my lifestyle. I feel guilt around giving it away so it sits in the closet. I don't like this reason - it feels heavy and burdensome. 

3. Would I invite this item into my life or buy it if I was purchasing it today? 

Asking these questions allows you to move away from an external vision of minimalism towards a minimalist lifestyle that rings true for you. Your answers provides a framework within which you can eliminate the distractions and clutter that build over time. They also allow you to focus on the items you feel are most important and hold the greatest value for you and your family.  

Every minimalist lifestyle and home will look different, and that's ok. The key is that we ask ourselves, on on regular basis, what objects add or subtract value from our lives. We answer honestly, act accordingly, and give ourselves the freedom to live with possessions that are meaningful to us in the present moment.  

Have you tried applying these questions to your belongings? Let me know how it goes? 

DIY Guide to Jump Start Your Design Project - Free Download!

Feeling stuck and don't know where to start your design project? Download this DIY guide today!

When it comes to a new design project the dreaming stage is fun, but when it's time to actually make a plan it's easy to get stuck in overwhelm. And we have all experienced what can happen when we feel overwhelmed - nothing. So how do you taking your design project from dream to reality? Subscribe to my newsletter and get instant access to to five easy steps you can use to jump start your design project, take action, and finally enjoy your new space!

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Gratitude for Our Home After Vacation

There really is no place like home.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado

After returning from vacation I always feel so much gratitude for our own home. We are just back from a nine day retreat in the Colorado mountains, and my appreciation for home is high. When we travel as a family my husband takes great care to find accommodations through Airbnb or VRBO. The homes we rent are beautiful, often larger and grander than our home in Minneapolis. Yet nothing beats coming home to our own beds, a kitchen stocked and organized just the way I like it, and living spaces designed with our family's needs in mind. I even see this appreciation through the eyes of our 4 year old as he is reunited with the toys and stuffies that didn't make the packing cut. 

We make gratitude a daily part of our family life, each sharing something we are grateful for at the dinner table. After a vacation I am always grateful for the experiences we shared as a family on the trip. But most of all, I feel grateful that we have a home and a life that that we look forward to stepping back into after time away. 

We did a little shopping in town while on vacation and came across a sign with a quote from The Wizard of Oz,  one of my favorite childhood movies. The storyline piqued our son's interest as soon as I mentioned the Wizard. As I retold the tale many times, as one does with kids this age, I couldn't help but think that Dorothy had it right. There really is no place like home. 

Interior Design Blogs with the Best Product Roundups

Let these interior design blogs narrow down the choices and do some of the shopping for you!

The vast number of interior design ideas and products available on the internet is an amazing opportunity for consumers to find the perfect piece for their space. At the same time, it can be incredibly overwhelming, not to mention time consuming, to sort through all of the options. This is one of the reasons I love finding interior design blogs with product roundups and design guides. This cuts down on the leg work, narrows down the choices, and provides a starting point. This can be really helpful, especially if you are not working with an interior designer who would typically take on this role. It's also an excellent way to find new resources and online shops that fit your aesthetic. Today I'm sharing some of my favorite interior design blogs for product round-ups. 

Fabric: Kufri - Samarkand - Purple & Pink

Fabric: Kufri - Samarkand - Purple & Pink

Style by Emily Henderson
If you don't follow Style by Emily Henderson you need to start. Whether you are looking for kid friendly sectionals, dining tables for every style, or the perfect office chair, this blog is a great place to begin. Roundups aside, Emily Henderson produces beautiful content, sharing her design process and vision in an authentic way. 

Design Sponge
Design Sponge is the first design blog I discovered and it continues to be a favorite. Not only does Design Sponge offer great roundups such as 10 Shops for Affordable Artwork and 10 Online Wallpaper Shops We Love, there are amazing home tours, interviews, and design related essays that you won't find anywhere else. 

Lark & Linen
Jacquelyn Clark, the interior designer behind Lark & Linen, has established a gorgeous blog over the years. Clark shares helpful roundups for items such as ready-made throw pillows, beautiful brass pulls, and the best gray paint colors. You'll also find posts on entertaining, fashion, and more.

Studio McGee
The husband and wife duo behind Studio McGee design beautiful interior spaces and produce an equally beautiful blog. You'll find a collection of decor highlights such as their favorite flushmount lighting, dining chairs, and cabinet paint colors.  Studio McGee also has an online shop that I recommend checking out. 

What are you favorite interior design blogs? 

5 Tips for Designing a Room or Home with Your Significant Other

Create a space you both love and enjoy the process!

For the most part my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to our design aesthetic. But sometimes he proclaims his love for a particular piece or style and I find myself going "uhhh" in hopes that he forgets about it and we can move on. Anyone else experience this? It might be the occasional difference of opinion or you may fall on drastically different endpoints of the design spectrum, but there is no question that designing a space with a significant other can be a challenge. So, what do you do? How do you reconcile two people's different tastes into one, cohesive whole? Today I'm sharing five tips on how to successfully design a space with your significant other and keep everyone (mostly) happy. 

Fabric: Susan Connor New York - Artemis - Lake

Fabric: Susan Connor New York - Artemis - Lake

1. Create Separate Mood Boards
Begin the process by creating separate mood boards. This allows each of you to independently narrow in on what you love and provides visuals so that everyone is on the same page. What you might refer to as "modern" might mean something totally different to someone else. In a full room image make note of the specific elements you're drawn to. You might love the sofa pictured but your S.O. could be totally distracted by the flooring. If you'd like tips on how to best create a mood board check out this previous post, How to Create and Use a Mood Board

2. Consider Your Priorities and Areas of Compromise.
I guarantee there will be things you will disagree about during the design process. Decide which priorities or specific items are non-negotiable and also consider where you are willing to compromise.  Share these with each other and respect where your partner takes a strong stand. No one likes to feel forced into a decision. 

3. Compare Notes and Create a Design Framework
Gather up your top inspiration images and share them with your partner. Start to look for common and complementary threads such as color palettes, materials, and the overall feel of the space (ex. casual vs formal, calming vs energetic, etc). These don't need to be exact matches, mixing styles can actually add interest to the overall design. For example, a sleek, modern chair can add an unexpected twist to a traditional interior. After you've honed in on your joint style, take time to create a design framework from which you can work. 

4. Make New Purchases Together
Commit to making major purchases together. You can shop together or put one person in charge of gathering options for joint consideration. That way no one feels like they are "stuck" with something the other person purchased. 

5. Consult Each Other When Discarding Old Items
When dealing with items that you already own, remember to be empathetic to the sentimental value material items can hold. If your S.O. really wants to keep something and it's not your taste, try to find a middle ground. Perhaps the piece could go somewhere in the home you seldom use. If you or your S.O. struggle to part with sentimental objects, check out this past post, Why We Have Too Much "Stuff" - Part 3 - Sentimental Objects, for ideas on how to enjoy the object without actually keeping it. 

It's easy to get caught up in wanting to get your own way, but remember, what's most important is that both of you feel at home for years to come. Blending styles adds interest to a room, and if done with care, collaborating with your significant other on a design project can actually be fun!

What's the biggest challenge you face when designing a home or room with a spouse or significant other? 

Wallcoverings That Will Survive Your Kids and Pets

Design Dilemma: You love the look of wallpaper but you're worried that it won't be able to withstand the wear and tear of kids and pets. 

Washable Vinyl Wallcoverings

Wallpaper is one of my favorite ways to add color, texture, and pattern to a room. However, the material can be a bit delicate and difficult to clean. This can be an issue if you have kids and pets. One solution to this common design dilemma is vinyl wallcovering.  Now, before you discount vinyl, let me say that it has come a long way and it deserves a second chance!  Many of the new vinyl wallcoverings on the market imitate silk, linen, and grasscloth quite well.

Even if you don't have children or pets, vinyl wallcovering can be a great option for high traffic areas in the home such as a mudroom. Vinyl wallcovering also works well in areas that are at risk of minor splashes such as a powder room or laundry room. 

Not all vinyls are created equal so I've rounded up a few of my favorites.

Phillip Jeffries - What a Gem
What a Gem is a versatile geometric and is available in an array of classic and vibrant colors. 

Image via Phillip Jeffries

Image via Phillip Jeffries

Phillip Jeffries - Vinyl Silk Road
Phillip Jeffries also offers a wide variety of vinyls that mimic natural wallpapers.

Image via Phillip Jeffries

Image via Phillip Jeffries

Maya Romanoff - Weathered Metals II
Depending on the colorway, Weathered Metals II could work in a wide range of interior settings. Another metallic vinyl look to consider is Hurly Burly II. Check out Silver Gunmetal which could go glam or industrial.

Image via Maya Romanoff

Image via Maya Romanoff

Designers Guild - Savine
Designers Guild always offers a gorgeous color selection and Savine, a contemporary tie-dye pattern, does not disappoint.

Image via Designers Guild

Image via Designers Guild

Vinyl won't be the right choice for everyone and every project but it is a great option to consider if you want the look of wallpaper and the wipe-ability of paint. What do you think? Would you give vinyl a try in your own home? 

Color Crush: Earthy Green

6 Unique Color Combinations for Earthy Greens

Lately I can't seem to get enough of earthy green colors. From my closet to my home decor....I want it everywhere! Which is why it's today's Color Crush. As I started playing around with earthy green color pairings it was hard to stop because there are so many ways to use this versatile and timeless hue. 

I've used Benjamin Moore paint swatches as a starting point but I also encourage you to think beyond painted walls. Experiment with these color palettes using fabrics, furniture, and accessories. 

All paint colors in this post are paired with Courtyard Green (546) by Benjamin Moore. 

Earthy Green Color Combinations.jpg
Benjamin Moore Paddington Blue

Pairing 1 - Energetic Blues
Benjamin Moore Paddington Blue (791)
An intense blue adds a lively punch to an earthy green. This particular blue reminds me of the semi-precious stone, Lapis Lazuli, another gorgeous color found in nature. 

Benjamin Moore Springhill Green

Pairing 2  - Yellow Greens
Benjamin Moore Springhill Green (412)
An earthy green paired with a yellow green is reminiscent of the tone on tone color palette found in foliage. Pantone named Greenery, a yellow green, the 2017 Color of the Year. Popular home decor products using this combination include palm tree and tropical prints on wallpaper and fabrics

Benjamin Moore Heirloom

Pairing 3 - Blush Pinks
Benjamin Moore Heirloom (023)
Blush pink or "millennial pink" continues to be a popular color and it pairs perfectly with earthy greens. If you love blush pink as much as I do, check out a previous Color Crush post to see more color palettes using blush pink

Benjamin Moore Tomato Tango

Pairing 4 - Red Based Oranges
Benjamin Moore Tomato Tango (CSP - 1145)
Red based oranges add a zesty twist to earthy greens. This is an easy way to add an unexpected pop of color to a room. If this red-orange feels too energetic, an alternative pairing is a burnt orange with more of a brown base. 

Benjamin Moore Smokey Taupe

Pairing 5 - Earthy Neutrals
Benjamin Moore Smokey Taupe (983)
Grays continue to be the neutral of choice. Try a warm gray to balance out and enhance an earthy green. 

Benjamin Moore Dalila

Pairing 6 - Sunny Yellows
Benjamin Moore Dalila (319)
A sunny yellow paired with a earthy green feels like a daily dose of summer indoors. Sunshine year-round, what more could you want?

 

Which color combination is your favorite? How would you use these color palettes in your own home? 

Designer as Client: Why I Choose Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops allow you to spend more time enjoying your home and less time worrying about common spills and maintenance.

Whether I’m designing for myself,or for a client, it’s important to ask how much time, money, and effort am I or the client willing to be spend on maintenance.  As a busy mom of two I’m always on the lookout for products that are beautiful and easy to maintain. Below I share why quartz countertops are one of my go-to kitchen and bath materials.

Interior Design by Desi Interior Design (The New Victorian Mansion Bed & Breakfast)

Interior Design by Desi Interior Design (The New Victorian Mansion Bed & Breakfast)

No Ongoing Maintenance
The main reason I love quartz countertops is that they are so easy to maintain - quartz requires no periodic sealing, polishing, or reconditioning. If left unsealed or not maintained on a regular basis, stones such as granite, marble, and soapstone are easily stained and may be permanently damaged by something as simple as a spilled glass of wine. Quartz is very stain resistant making it perfect for kitchen and bath applications.  

Daily Cleaning Ease
Cleaning quartz countertops is as easy as wiping them off with mild soap and water. Because the product is non-porous and stain resistant, you never have to worry about the surface harboring bacterial from raw food or soaking up a spill that you didn’t catch right away.

Strength
Quartz counters are made by combining 93% natural quartz stone with a small amount of resin binder and colorant. This creates an extremely hard, strong stone that is stronger that granite or marble, and is very scratch resistant.

Unique Colors, Patterns, and Finishes
Whether you want a pattern that mimics natural stone or are in the market for a color not found in nature, you’re likely to find something that fits your aesthetic.  Cambria, a leader in the quartz industry, recently launched a matte (vs polished) finish that offers a previously unavailable low-sheen look with the same great performance.  

If you’re interested in seeing more examples of quartz countertops I highly recommend checking out Cambria, Caesarstone, and Silestone.

Questions about using quartz in your kitchen or bath project? Leave me a note and I'll respond!

Designer Confessions: I Have No End Tables (and I'm OK with It)

You want to put your glass down somewhere? Well, I'm sorry, I don't have a place to do that.

When people hear that I am an interior designer they often exclaim "Your home must be sooooo beautiful!" It's such a complement, but in my head I worry that you all envision one Pinterest-worthy room after another. The rooms would feel "done," everything would be in its place, and the bookshelves would be perfectly styled instead of overflowing with an ever-expanding collection of Curious George

Fabric: Schumacher - Bermuda Blossoms - Slate

Fabric: Schumacher - Bermuda Blossoms - Slate

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but we have no tables in our living room. As soon as our oldest became mobile they had to go. No matter what I brought home there was always an issue. Corners too pointy. Too lightweight and the table would be knocked down. Too heavy and, if knocked down, it would hurt him. No one will get hurt but the style/color/shape doesn't work. We now have another baby and are back at square one. I decided to let it go. 

I'd love to say my house looks like a page out of a magazine, but it simply doesn't. We are in the thick of this season of life. Our home is beautiful to me, and, it's also set up to allow ourselves a lot of grace when it comes to living with two small children.

So there you have it. The cobbler's children have no shoes and I have no end tables. This intentional design, however incomplete, works for our little family of four. I wouldn't have it any other way.

In what ways have you let go of the way your home "should" look? 

Everyday Upgrade - Unbreakable Melamine Dinnerware

Summer Outdoor Dining Without the Worry of Breakage

Melamine dinnerware is lightweight and durable, making it perfect for outdoor dining and picnics. Its unbreakable nature allows you to enjoy summer outdoor dining without worrying about a shattered plate. Below I share some of my favorite melamine dinnerware sets to keep your summer dining simple, casual, and stylish.

Pottery Barn - Swirl Melamine Dinnerware
Each piece of the Swirl melamine collection has the beautiful appearance of hand-painted and glazed ceramics, but is completely unbreakable. The color selection is gorgeous!
 

Pottery Barn Swirl Melamine Dinnerwear

Kate Spade New York Melamine Collection
Kate Spade's New York collection features salad and dinner plates with fun phrases like "What a spread!" and "Salut!". The vibrant stripes and gold accents are are a playful addition to your summer spread.

Kate Spade New York Melamine Dinnerwear

Unison - Heller White Melamine Dinner Set
Heller's modern salad plates, dinner plates and soup bowls were designed in 1964 and remain timeless. These also stack perfectly for easy storage!  

Unison Heller Modern Melamine Dinnerwear

Q Squared - Heritage 12pc Melamine Dinnerwear Set
The Heritage collection from Q Squared offers a more traditional aesthetic with its delicate chrysanthemums and soft blue hues. Q Squared produces a large variety of unbreakable dinnerwear. Check out the Q Squared website for a variety of other designs. 

Q Squared Heritage Melamine Dinnerwear

Crate and Barrel - Regatta Melamine
The Regatta melamine dinnerware from Crate & Barrel features a  graphic maritime pattern and a classic navy and white color combination. 

Crate and Barrel Regatta Melamine Dinnerwear

How to Create a Personalized Design Framework for Easy Decision Making

Putting constraints on design decisions can actually allow you freedom and focus

Between Instagram, Pinterest, and design blogs there is an infinite amount of inspiration from which you can draw. While this is amazing in so many ways, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and lacking focus when it comes to designing your own space. Even as an interior designer I can fall into the trap of loving everything and having a hard time committing to anything. Today I'd like to offer a design approach that puts constraints on your design decisions. While this might sound limiting, creating a set of personalized design rules provides you freedom and focus within the framework you create.

Fabric: Shumacher - Abstract Leaf - Indigo

Fabric: Shumacher - Abstract Leaf - Indigo

Create your design "rules" or framework using these two easy steps:

1. Identify Key Words to Describe the Predominate Style
What is the design style that you are continually drawn towards? Examples of interior design styles include modern, contemporary, classic, traditional, transitional, eclectic, industrial, vintage, minimalist, mid-century modern. Choose one or two words (ex. modern-vintage) that resonate with you and use these as your guide as you make decisions. If you need guidance on defining your design style a mood board is a great tool. Read my post on how to use a mood board to define your style here. 

2. Select a Core Color Palette
Limiting your color palette to three core colors is an easy way to create a cohesive look. Select one neutral, one main color, and one accent color. Feel free to vary the tints and shades within the palette to create interest. For example if your main color is navy you can include other shades of blue such as a blue-gray or a bright robin's egg blue. If you need some inspiration for your core color palette, Color Snap by Sherwin Williams is a great place to start. Simply upload an image you like and the tool with turn the image into a color palette using Sherwin Williams paint. 

Some of you might be concerned that these constraints will make your space boring. However, I assure you that within this framework there are many ways to add interest to your space. Consider design elements such as scale, balance, texture, and line to create an aesthetically pleasing mix. While there is freedom to express your style, the framework keeps you focused. This makes design decisions much easier saving yourself from design decision fatigue and a paralyzed state of indecision. Your result will be a cohesive design scheme for you to enjoy. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I'll send you a response!

How to Create a Floor Plan and Furniture Layout That Works for You!

Have you ever made a furniture purchase only to realize it doesn't fit in the room or the scale is completely off? Not only is this a waste of time, it can be a waste of money. There could be a significant return shipping or restocking cost, or you may not even be able to return the piece! Whether you're designing a living room, bedroom, or office it's important to plan out the space before making purchases. To do this I recommend creating a scaled floor plan to guide your decision making process. A scaled floor plan allows you to focus your efforts on finding the right size, shape, and type of furniture. This doesn't need to be a fancy furniture plan completed on the computer. It can be as simple as using graph paper (one square equals one foot) to draw out the space and potential furniture options. You can even use painters tape or cardboard cutouts to mark the furniture dimensions and layout on your floor. 

Below are my top 6 designer tips for creating a floor plan and furniture layout that is both aesthetically pleasing and functions well for your daily life. 

How to Create a Floor Plan and Furniture Layout Designer Tips

1. Measure the Room
Start with the general perimeter measurements, ceiling height, doors, and windows. If doors or windows open into the space mark the direction of their swing. Lastly, note the width and height of any doorway opening the furniture will need to pass through in order to get to its final space. 

2. Measure Furniture You Plan to Keep
You probably have a general sense of how your existing pieces fit into your current setup, but you need to know how they will mix with new items. When measuring existing furniture, don't forget about arm and seat height. For example, you don't want to find out your existing sofa seat height is much too low for resting your feet up on the new ottoman. 

3. Identify the Types and Quantity of Furniture
Questions you should ask yourself include how many people will use the room, how much storage do I need, do I need an area rug to soften a hard surface floor? If you need help thinking through this step, read my post on the Five Function Questions to Ask Before Starting a Design or Remodeling Project.

4. Consider Traffic Patterns and Clearance
How are people going to enter into, move through, and settle into the space? Utilize furniture placement to invite people in at certain points or direct them around an area. Allow for enough clearance around the furniture. I prefer at least three feet of clearance going around major areas of circulation. Remember to be mindful of fixed items such as kitchen countertops, built-ins, or pillars. 

5. Create Activity Zones
Identify what activities you want to take place in the space and think how the furniture types and placement can facilitate these activities. Will this be a space for entertaining, intimate conversations, or a cozy nook to curl up with a new book and a cup of coffee? Each scenario requires different furniture pieces and layouts. 

6. Play with Scale and Shape to Create Balance
As you start to layout the various pieces take note of the visual weight. If the furniture feels cramped there may be a disproportionate number of large-scaled items. Alternately, if the pieces appear to be floating in the space they may be too small and need to be anchored by a more substantially sized item. You can also play with mixing linear and organic shapes to add interest and variety.

Once complete, a scaled floor plan can act as a road map providing clear direction as you complete the room. Keep this furniture floor plan on hand while shopping so it's easy to reference the size, quantity, and shapes you need. You'll stay focused on the task at hand and save yourself from the frustration of purchases that simply don't work in the space.

What are the biggest challenges you face with floor plans and furniture layouts?