Designer Confessions: What I'm Really Thinking When You Invite Me Over

Let me in and I'll explain

A few bold friends in my life confess that having me over brings up the question "Is Desi judging my home?" These confessions come with justifications and apologies, all of which are unnecessary.  

When you invited me over did you worry that I'd arrive searching for all that could be improved in your home? That I would scan the surroundings, silently offering all of the design suggestions you should implement?

 Photo by Desi Creswell

Photo by Desi Creswell

I get it. I'm an interior designer. I'm trained to re-imagine a room's potential and envision the best in a space. And, at the same time, trust that I'm not there to judge. 

The truth is...I'm not looking for the good or the bad. I'm there to see you, my friend.

The truth is...I have kids too and I know they make messes. It's ok if you didn't clean up.

The truth is....I worry about you coming to my house and judging me. I'm a designer so I must have a perfect home - or so I tell myself. 

The truth is...I have personal preferences - just like you. My likes and dislikes have everything to do with me and nothing to do with your home. 

The truth is...I appreciate the invitation and the opportunity for connection.

When you invite me over I'm not judging your home. And that's the truth.

Simplify Design Decisions - A Quick Tip I Learned From Tim Ferriss

Free up mental energy and create a space you love with an efficient decision making process I call "No 7's Allowed"

Did you know that, on average, you make approximately 35,000 decisions daily? If you're remodeling, building a home, or even just giving your living room a design refresh, the number of decisions you have to make becomes even greater, and it can be exhausting. If you've read my post on Design Decision Fatigue you know it is a real thing!

Now, think about if you let yourself get caught up in the time-suck of indecision. You repeatedly say "no" because there is the lingering thought "what if there is something better?" Or, you might find yourself saying "yes" to items simply because you don't want to look at one more thing. With so many decisions in a project, ranging from mundane to meaningful, how do you make informed, yet efficient, decisions? 

Decision Making Tip Tim Ferrriss

One approach I've encountered is to ask yourself "Is this a HELL YES or a HELL NO?" I can kind of get behind this, but not entirely. First, H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks isn't in my daily vocab - I just don't have that kind of edge. Second, there is a lot of middle ground between those two options. What if it is a Hell Maybe?? When Tim Ferriss shared his simple tip for decision making on The Good Life Project podcast it appealed to me immediately.

All you have to do is rank whatever it is you are considering on a scale of 1-10. The important part here is that there are no 7's allowed! Think about it, if you rate something a 6 it's barely passing and should be a no. If you rate something an 8 or above you know you're feeling petty good about it. Sevens lead to ambiguity and indecision. When you're working on a design project you want to decide if you love it or if you leave it, because eventually, you will live with it. Take the time to consciously consider your options, commit to making a decision, and find yourself a little closer to enjoying your dream space. 

Leave me a comment and let me know how "No 7's Allowed" brings clarity and efficiency to your design decision making. 

Product Highlight: MegMade One-of-a-Kind Furniture

An interview with MegMade founder, Meg Piercy.
Hand-painted and restored furniture for everyday living.

Today I have a very special post for you! If you love the look of unique painted and restored furniture you need to know about MegMade, a Chicago-based showroom that offers furniture refinishing, upholstered pieces, and more. Since its 2012 inception, Meg Piercy, founder of MegMade, has grown her business from painting changing tables in her home basement to a booming business that has sold over 3,000 pieces of furniture and has shipped to over 30 states. 

 Wells Dresser by MegMade - Photo by  Aimèe Mazzenga

Wells Dresser by MegMade - Photo by Aimèe Mazzenga

I first heard of MegMade through one of my favorite podcasts, The Lively Show. In this episode Meg honestly discussed finding self-worth beyond work, marriage, and motherhood. I immediately checked out Meg's work and her one-of-kind furniture pieces have continued to appeal to me over the years. I believe it's important to bring objects and experiences into our lives that Elevate the Everyday, and Meg's furniture represents this so well. They are beautiful, functional pieces that you can incorporate into your daily life. After years of following her work I wanted to know more. Meg graciously agreed to an interview which you can read below! 

You clearly take great pleasure it giving new life to a piece of furniture. What is your favorite part of the process? 

I don’t know if it is a gift or a curse, but I can literally picture exactly what they will look like when we get them. Because of this, I still think the finding of the piece is the best part. Obviously the final reveal, where the beauty is displayed is pretty awesome too!

What draws you to a piece of furniture and how do you decide if it's a good candidate for painting, refinishing, or new upholstery? 

Gosh, there are so many different aspects of a piece that draw me in. Sometimes it is the shape of the piece, the grain of the wood, the hardware and hopefully, all three at the same time. The brand is also a big draw because now that I have done over 4,000 pieces I know quality and there are definitely certain brands that deserve respect when it comes to craftsmanship, so even if it is not ideal hardware or grain, if it has the right lines, we can change the hardware and paint goes a long way. When I am looking for vintage pieces to re-upholster, I look for the lines of the piece. I am not currently into furniture that does not have a break int he upholstery. I love when the arms are wood or there is wood trim around the top. I love it because then you break it up with a pop of a different fabric or a piping that is a different color. Makes it more interesting.

 The before and after transformation!

The before and after transformation!

What are your favorite finishes and colors being produced in your shop? Do your favorites align with what customers ask for?

Although I am a sucker for a good restore, our most popular color is Benjamin Moore Polo Blue. It is the perfect shade of blue that goes with anything, whether you are going preppy and nautical or dramatic with black and white - polo blue is the perfect color for you!

With so much great inventory I would want to keep everything for myself! How do you decide which pieces to bring into your home and how do you use them in your daily life?

Right! It used to be a problem and our house was a bit of a revolving door. It still sometimes is if I meet the perfect piece, but I take so much joy in finding the perfect spot for my most favorite pieces in client and customer homes now as I know they will appreciate it just as much as I do!

If I offer the phrase “Elevate the Everyday” what does this mean to you? How do you elevate your everyday?

Find the best in everyday. There is something to be thankful for in each and everyday and if you are able to hold onto that then you will stay positive and encouraged.

Thank you to Meg for taking the the time to chat furniture and more! To get more of MegMade, follow along on Instragram to catch the latest furniture coming out of her shop and to get some major interior inspiration. 

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? 

Paleo Carrot Coconut Soup

This carrot coconut soup is perfect for the spring months with its light texture and ginger zing. 

I recently took inventory of the freezer meals I have on hand and realized I have one of my favorite soups just waiting to be enjoyed! I'm talking about this dairy-free, gluten-free, and Paleo carrot coconut soup. So delicious and so easy. This is a lighter soup so I suggest adding a protein or salad on the side to make it a full meal. Enjoy! 

Paleo Carrot Coconut Soup Dairy Free Gluten Free

Ingredients
Carrots - (10) Large
Green Apple - (1) with Peel
Onion - (1) Medium
Garlic - (4) Cloves
Fresh Ginger - (1) 1" Piece
Coconut Milk - (1) 13.5 oz Can
Vegetable Broth - (2) Cups
Orange Juice - (1/2) Cup
Lime Juice - (1) Tablespoon
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Imprecise Instructions
1. Roughly chop the carrots, onion, green apple, and garlic and place in a large soup pot. Grate or dice the ginger and add to the mix. 

2. Pour the vegetable broth, coconut milk, orange juice, and lime juice into the pot. Add salt and pepper. 

3. Boil until the ingredients are easily pierced with a fork.  

4. Blend the ingredients using your choice of blender. Note: If you like the creaminess that cashews lend to a soup (as used in my Paleo Dairy Free Broccoli Bisque) add approximately (1/2) cup of cashews in with the other ingredients prior to blending. 

If you are interested in reading about my essential kitchen tools for quick and easy meal prep check out this post.

5 Function Questions to Ask Before Starting a Design or Remodeling Project

Consider these five function questions before diving into your design or remodel project to make a lasting impact on the longevity and impact of your new space. 

When designing a space, whether you are remodeling a kitchen, or getting some new furniture for the living room it's easy to jump to the pretty picture, inspiration-gathering part of the process. But in order to get the most out of your new space you must consider function. As an interior designer I not only uncover my clients' aesthetic, I am also a detective. I ask probing questions to get to know my client's preferences and needs so that a space not only looks good on install day, it functions for everyday life in the long run. Today I'm sharing my top 5 questions used to uncover the functional requirements of a space. Consider your answers to these questions when working with a design professional or when working on your project solo. 

 Fabric: Marble in Smoke by  Rebecca Atwood  

Fabric: Marble in Smoke by Rebecca Atwood 

1. How many people will use the space (both on a regular and occasional basis) and who are the main users? For example, you are a family of four that likes to watch movies in the living room on Friday nights. You'll want to have enough comfortable seating that faces the television to accommodate all four of you. On occasion, the kids will have friends over for movies. This means you'll also need some less permanent seating to pull in as needed. Potential solutions include chairs from an adjacent space that are easily moved or a big pile of floor pillows that are brought out for this occasion. Aside from quantity of people, the type of people is also important. The way a toddler utilizes a space will be very different than an empty-nester. 

2. How is the space used and what are the main tasks done in the space? Are there secondary tasks to consider? In a kitchen the main ask is usually cooking. However, within this general task there can be variation. For example, if you are a passionate cook you'll place priority on certain features over others and may want additional work surfaces. Secondary activities that need to be addressed may include space for nightly homework or working from home. 

3. What level of durability does the space require? Are food and drink likely to be spilled on the dining room chairs (hello children!) or is it a more refined dining environment for adults only? Also ask yourself how much upkeep are you willing to do? Be honest :) In an ideal world you might be committed to resealing that showstopping stone yearly, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life will it actually happen? There are many beautiful, low maintenance items to select from if that's what you need. It's simply a matter of planning for minimal upkeep rather than realizing you need it after the fact.  

4. What currently does NOT work in the space? What DO you like about the existing space? Use these answers to inform decisions during your design project planning. It's easy to get bogged down in what you don't like or doesn't function well, but there may be elements that do work well. You'll want to take note of these too so they can be incorporated. 

5. Are there any special needs that should be considered? Perhaps you are petite and would benefit from a smaller scale chair with less depth. Or maybe your home office would benefit from a particular set up that is unique to your job. Consider how you would ideally function and move about in the space and work backwards to find the right solutions. 

Scrolling through Instagram might be more fun, but considering these function questions before diving into your design project can make a lasting impact on the longevity and impact of your new space. Are there areas of functionality in your space you struggle with? Let me know in the comments section and I'll help you uncover potential solutions!

Designer Secrets to Selecting a Paint Color You Love

Based on years of experience as an interior designer, I share my paint selection tips that will decrease overwhelm and ensure that you select a color you love! 

Painting is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to update a room. However, selecting the perfect paint color and finish can be challenging. Last week I wrote about the emotional resistance that can arise when selecting paint, which I tie to our internal fear of getting a major life change "wrong."  Today I'm going to give you some practical tips, based on years of experience as an interior designer, that will help make this selection feel less overwhelming and ensure you end up with a color you love. Below are my top five designer tips for selecting paint colors. 

Designer Tips Paint Color Selection

1. Start with a reference point
If you aren't sure which color direction to go in a room look to the colors you are drawn to in the items you already own. This could be a piece of art, an area rug, throw pillows or other accessories. Pull your favorite color from these items and start to consider the options within that color family. If you are redecorating an entire space, leave the paint selection until other major elements are selected.  There are an infinite number of paint colors to select from, while items such as area rugs or upholstered furniture pieces might be more limited. Save yourself some trouble and wait until the end of your selections to select the paint.

2. Consider how you want the room to feel
Color plays a big role in how a space feels. For example, do you want your room to feel light and airy? Go light.  Or do you want the room to feel intimate and warm? If you are going for the later, consider a deep, saturated hue.

3. Get samples
This is the fun part, but have some restraint. Just because you can take home all of the samples doesn't mean that you should. The more you take with you the greater the chance you will feel overwhelmed when you get back home. Start by pulling lots of options but see if you can narrow things down before leaving the store. If you can, bring your reference point (or a photo) to the store so you can easily eliminate options that are clearly not going to work. 

3. Hang samples on the wall to narrow down your choices
Once you have a few front-runners, tape the samples to the wall. It's important to hang the samples on the wall because that's how you will actually experience the color - not looking from above if they are spread out on a table. Remember, adjacent colors can change your perception of a hue. Isolate the particular swatch in consideration and hang something neutral, such as a blank piece of paper, behind the swatch if necessary. 

4. Consider finish
Finish is both a practical and aesthetic consideration. From a practical standpoint, a matte finish is not as durable as an eggshell finish but it is easier to touch up. A finish with a higher sheen wipes clean easily but it will emphasize imperfections on the wall. With that said, paint technology continues to improve and the matte finishes are getting more durable. Showrooms such as Hirshfields are a great resource on the latest paint types. From an aesthetic standpoint using multiple finishes can create interest and variety in the design. 

5. Test the color(s) and leave up for at least one day
Do a test sample on all four walls in the room you are going to paint. I recommend doing all four walls as the color can actually look different depending on its orientation in the room. Look at the samples throughout the day to see what the color looks like with different light sources (natural vs artificial) and at different times of day. Certain color undertones may be highlighted or be less noticeable depending on these factors. You'll want to make sure the color appeals to you at all times. 

A last piece of advice is to not over analyze. There are so many colors available it's easy to drive yourself crazy. Remember, you can always repaint! Do you plan to repaint any rooms in your home? What are the biggest challenges you face when committing to something new for your home? 

PS - If paint selection or other home decisions are stressing you out I share my tips to prevent design and remodeling decision burnout in a past article which can be found here.

A Can of Paint and New Beginnings

Sealed within a can of paint is a sense of revitalization, possibility, and new beginnings. 

Painting a room seems to be one of everyone's favorite ways to transform a room. This makes sense. Color can dramatically alter the look and feel of a space, the materials are relatively inexpensive, and, if so inclined, most of us have enough skill to complete the job ourselves. But what about the less tangible allure of a fresh coat of paint? I'd argue that sealed within that metal can is a sense of revitalization, possibility, and a new beginning. 

A Can of Paint and New Beginnings

Consider when fresh paint is often applied. Often it is because a room is about to serve a new purpose. There is change in your own life. You move into your first home and want to put your mark on the space. Perhaps a room is converted into a home office where you will begin your entrepreneurial adventure. Or, the former guestroom will become a nursery where you'll spend sleepless nights, experience moments of joy as you hear a first giggle, and realize with utter frustration this tiny human does, in fact, have a mind of their own. 

When I look at selecting paint with my designer eyes I see the technical aspects explaining why it can be so difficult. Extrapolating how a tiny sample will appear when the color is applied to all four walls or understanding the nuances of color undertones can be tricky, but what about the emotional aspects of choosing a paint color? When there is little certainty around life changes, as there rarely is, we can cling to things we can have control over. Could it be that the pressure we put on ourselves to get our new beginning "right" transfers to a concrete decision we can make right now - like a can of paint? 

Does this idea resonate with you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

PS - Advice on how to select paint colors is one of the most common requests I receive. Next week I'll share my designer secrets to selecting a paint color you love. Stay tuned.