Home Office Design Tips for Entreprenuers

My Top 5 Interior Design Tips for Your Home Office -Guest Post for Identité Collective

It's hard to believe but I've actually spent the majority of my Interior Design career as a self-employed creative entrepreneur. Not only have I learned a lot about business over the years, I have learned a lot about what it takes to efficiently and productively work from a home office.

Working from home and still getting the work done is a struggle for many entrepreneurs which is why I'm so excited to share the guest blog post I wrote for The Identité Collective, a full service creative studio serving boutique lifestyle brands. In this post I'll share my top five interior design tips for creating a productive and inspiring home office. 

You'll also get a a never-before-seen peek into The Indentité Collective founder's new home studio, including links to her favorite office furniture, decor and gadgets. If you like bright, white spaces you want to see this home office!

These tips work for everyone, no matter how much space you have in your home. Get my best home office design tips for entrepreneurs by clicking here

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.

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!

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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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? 

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.

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!

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? 

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!

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. 

How to Create an Inviting Guestroom

This Holiday Season Make Your Guests Feel at Home

The holidays are upon us which means your guestroom is about to get some heavy usage. Why not give your guests a five-start experience? Below are my top five tips for creating an inviting and comfortable guestroom (warning – they’ll want to come back!).

Design by Desi Creswell (Desi Interior Design)

Design by Desi Creswell (Desi Interior Design)

1. Get Creative
Guestrooms are an excellent opportunity to play with unique or bold design elements. Delight your guests and create a memorable experience with playful patterns, an unexpected color combination, or a curated collection you’ve developed over the years.

2. Stock the Basics
No one wants to feel like a burden. Set out plenty of fresh towels, a basket of travel-sized toiletries, and keep a stash of toilet paper in the guest bath so your guests never have to ask. Other useful items to make available are the WI-FI password and a spare key.

3. Clear the Closet
If you use the guestroom closet or dresser to store your overflow clothing, now is the time to de-clutter. Leave at least two free drawers, ample hanging space, and an extra set of hangers to store belongings.

4. Room-Darkening Drapery & Luxe Linens
Yours guest are on vacation – help them sleep in with room-darkening drapery and a “don’t-want-to-leave-this bed” comfortable set of linens. Guests will appreciate these touches (and it might give you a little extra time to yourself in the morning!).

5. Reading Material
Encourage relaxation by providing bedside reading materials. Out-of-towners may enjoy a local interest magazine or a book on the history of your area. For an extra special guest, pick up a book on one of their favorite topics or hobbies. Write a note on the inside cover to thank them for their visit and to encourage them to take the book with them when they depart.

What are some of the special ways you make your guests feel at home? 

Do You Suffer from Design Decision Fatigue?

Interior Design and Remodeling Projects Require You to Make So Many Decisions - Prevent Design Decision Fatique (DDF) with these Designer Tips

When my husband and I purchased our first home we moved from a one bedroom apartment to a five bedroom house. I didn't fill our entire house at once, but I did have to make a substantial number of purchases in order to at least fill some spaces so we could have people over and offer them a comfortable place to stay. Did I mention we were planning to host Thanksgiving and a holiday party just a month or so after moving in? No pressure there.

With so many decisions, from backsplashes and cabinet hardware to headboards and bedding, I found myself, someone very accustomed to making these decisions daily, becoming overwhelmed by my own project. Between filling the spaces in our own home I was pouring myself into my interior design business, bringing the very best of my skills to my clients. By the end of the day I didn't have any bandwidth left for my own home. I found myself stalling on some decisions and making other decisions simply because it was the easiest choice in the short term. I was suffering from Design Decision Fatigue (DDF).

Designer Tips Prevent Burnout During the Design and Remodeling Process

Even though furnishing a home is not a life or death decision, it's a lot of decisions and decisions require mental effort. The unfortunate news is that we all have a limited amount of mental energy to expend in a day. I'm guessing you have a few other things on your plate. With this in mind, here are my top tips for avoiding Design Decision Fatigue and preventing burnout during your next project.

1. Create a Mood Board or Inspiration File
This little bit of extra effort up front will pay off big time in the long run. Start to collect images (from magazines, Pinterest, Instgram, etc) to bring awareness to your personal aesthetic. As you proceed, patterns will emerge reflecting your tastes and what you are naturally drawn to. Throughout the design process, refer back to the Mood Board. Do your selections fit with your vision? If yes, move forward. If not, consider an alternate. Need more convincing? Check out my article Why You Need a Mood Board for your Next Design Project.

2. Stop Second Guessing Yourself
Once you make a decision stick to it. It can be hard enough to make the decision for the first time so why torture yourself with revisiting the topic over and over again.

3. And Stop Polling the Audience
Once you have a better understanding of what you like, trust your instincts. Ask a friend if you are really torn between two items, but remember, you don't need anyone's permission to love what you love.

4. Give Yourself a Deadline
Set a reasonable amount of time to make decisions and work towards that date. This can be a day you put on the calendar for your knowledge only or you could set a more public goal of inviting friends over for dinner. Having a deadline ensures that you can't keep looking for something that might be incrementally better. At some point you just have to make a decision.

5. You Don't Have to Do It All at Once
It's not the end of the world if your space is not 100% complete before you share it with the world. If you have the major pieces in place and the thought of accessorizing is causing you stress, take a step away and gradually pull together finishing touches as you're inclined. This can be more fun anyways as it allows you to collect items when traveling or are out and about and find something especially striking.

Are you suffering from a case of Design Decision Fatigue? If so, I'd love to hear your challenges, questions, and antidotes!

Why You Need a Mood Board for Your Next Design Project

Creating a Mood Board for Your Design Project Will Help You Discover Your Signature Style and Keep You Focused

Anytime I start an interior design or remodeling project I begin by creating a mood board to narrow in on the design direction. New to mood boards? They are a visual tool, often in a collage format, that can consist of images, text, and/or tactile samples. Mood boards can be physical, with items placed on one big board or gathered in a central binder or folder or they can be created digitally using Pinterest or another online source. Mood boards have long been used by the design professional but can be extremely helpful for anyone starting a visually driven project. I like to think of mood boards as the first piece of homework you do in preparation for a project. Mood boards can be an excellent way to discover your signature style and they also keep you focused once you move into the implementation phase.

Above is a mood board I created while dreaming up some ideas for a master bathroom remodel. I used a new website, called  TRAYS , to compile the images. It's a user friendly, no-tech-skills-required option that will create a beautiful mood board to reference within minutes.    Image Sources (Clockwise):  Settecento New Yorker Glazed Tile ,  Gray Vanity 1  (via Pinterest),  Gray Vanity 2  (via Pinterest),  Cambria Countertop & Benjamin Moore Paint ,  Southern Hills Brushed Nickel Cabinet Pull , and  Hinkley Lighting Abbie Sconce .   

Above is a mood board I created while dreaming up some ideas for a master bathroom remodel. I used a new website, called TRAYS, to compile the images. It's a user friendly, no-tech-skills-required option that will create a beautiful mood board to reference within minutes.

Image Sources (Clockwise): Settecento New Yorker Glazed Tile, Gray Vanity 1 (via Pinterest), Gray Vanity 2 (via Pinterest), Cambria Countertop & Benjamin Moore Paint, Southern Hills Brushed Nickel Cabinet Pull, and Hinkley Lighting Abbie Sconce.   

In many ways, a mood board becomes a guide or set of loose rules you can refer to, and follow, throughout the life of a project.When you get distracted by shinny objects take a look at your vision - will this complement and enhance the overall aesthetic or is it simply a distraction? With so many decisions to make (even with a small scale project) you'll want to maintain focus to avoid what I like to call Design Decision Fatigue (DDF). I'll share some additional tips on how to avoid DDF in an upcoming post.

Not only can this aesthetic-focusing technique be applied to interior design, it can also be applied to other areas of life such as branding a business, updating your wardrobe, or planning a creative birthday party. Below are my top tips for creating and successfully implementing a mood board for your next project.

1. Gather Anything that Catches Your Eye
Grab a stack of magazines or books or head to the internet. Start to collect anything that catches your eye in relation to your end goal. The images can be color palettes, specific furniture or lighting items, photos of full rooms or even text evoking a feeling or emotion. Make sure to note the image source - down the road you may what to purchase something specific and then you'll know where to source it. It's best to set a time limit on this phase or you can easily get sucked into the vast amount a material available or get stuck on this daydreaming phase and never take action.

2. Take a Break
Take a step away from the images for a few days and then go back to reassess and pair down your imagery. In images with multiple items crop or cut out anything you don't like so your vision is clear. Eliminate anything that you've grown stale on. If it can't sustain your interest after a few days it certainly won't stand the test of time. Also eliminate anything that clearly does not fit your lifestyle.

3. Identify Major Themes
Review the remaining items and aim to identify a few major themes. Is there a certain style or color palette you gravitate towards or have you pulled 10 images of a similar chandeliers?  Even if you are drawn to a couple of different styles there are typically some common threads. Perhaps you tend to like geometric patterns over floral or are always drawn to the color blue and there is no trace of red.

4. Make it Portable
If you have a an actual board, take a photo. Loose sheets? Make a binder. Using Pinterest? Download the app on your phone.  You'll want your inspiration on hand so that it is easily referenced. The exercise of creating a mood board can be beneficial in itself, but you'll receive the most benefit by referring back to it on a regular basis.

If there are multiple decision makers (ex. a significant other or a business partner) you can start by doing Step 1 and 2 individually. Once each party has paired down their desires, come together and work through Steps 3 & 4. See where there is overlap and see where there are disparities. Look for images and items that speak to both of you so that as you move forward everyone is invested and on the same page.

Have you created a mood board for projects or are you new to the process? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Love the One You're With - Embracing the Less than Perfect

Interior design and decoration is a process - learn to love what you have while looking toward a future vision

Let's be honest, you probably don't love every last item in your home. Styles change, you change, or you're slowing replacing inexpensive placeholders with more permanent investment pieces. This could be an item you purchased a while back or a piece you inherited that serves its purpose for now but it's not a long term love. While you're going through this process it's easy to lament the fact that you might not be able to replace everything in your house at once. But I actually think there is something to be said for slowing bringing in the new or new to you. This is where you learn to love the one you're with.

Design Tips to Embrace the Less than Perfect

What do I mean by love the one you're with? I'm suggesting that you actively embrace and elevate current items by basing new purchases on your décor vision for the future. You'll freshen up the existing and actually make what you already own look better. New items can loosely complement what you already have but keep moving you in the direction you ultimately want to go. Let go of the idea that everything needs to "match" as you make your transition. Bringing in items that are more in line with your overall aesthetic vision will uplift the lingering items you want to replace. Trust me.

Here is a specific example. You have your eye on a modern rug with a crisp, geometric pattern for your living room but your current sofa and coffee table have a traditional aesthetic.  How do you blend the two? Consider how you could bring a few other modern touches to the room without much investment. Swap out old throw pillows with a design that complements the rug or select a decorative tray with clean lines to style on top of the coffee table. These simple touches become a bridge that links the old and the new. Rather than perpetuating the style you have outgrown you're enhancing what you already have and intentionally moving towards your future style. The other benefit of this approach is that mixing styles creates a layered, collected experience in your home which makes it easier to bring new things in and edit old things out.

So what's my "love the one you're with"? It's the two neutral chairs I purchased from Room & Board when we moved into our first home. One of my issues is the way they have worn - the down filling in the back in not substantial enough and I'm constantly fluffing to revive them. The other is that they have become too clean-lined for me. Back when I started the process of decorating our home I gravitated to more modern lines and that is very much reflected in my initial purchases. Today I find that while I prefer clean lines I also find something very welcoming about traditional design elements. There is nothing horribly wrong with these chairs and my husband isn't exactly excited about replacing them since they are only a few years old. So while I wait out their retirement here's what I've done. First, I went to the upholsterer to have the interior cushions wrapped and beefed up. I've also layered on a colorful throw pillow to draw the eye away from the back cushions that I so dislike. Lastly, I purchased a side table with organic lines and a warm wood top to soften the chair's straight lines. These small changes cost significantly less than replacing the chairs and I can now appreciate how the chairs work in the rest of the room.

In order to work towards a cohesive whole, give some thought to what the future space looks like as it evolves (I say evolves because in my mind a room is really never "done"). Hopefully this gives you some ideas as to how to embrace those items that are less than ideal. I think the idea of loving the one you're with is something we all can, and should, embrace.

 I'd love to know what in your home you're learning to love and what you're doing to embrace the perfectly imperfect. 

Rethinking a Room's Purpose - Interior Design Tips to Reimagine Underutilized Spaces in Your Home

What to Do with a Room or Space in Your Home that You Don't Use

Do you have a room or transition space in your home that goes unused or is used infrequently? Wouldn't it be great to get more function out of the space you already have, not to mention eliminating the feeling of a dead zone in your home? Think for a moment. If you could add a room to your current home, what would you add? Do you wish you had a dedicated area for working from home, an area to cultivate a hobby, or an area where the kids can do as they please? Which of those activities do you think you could incorporate into an under-utilized room or space in your home?

New Purposes for Underutilized Rooms in the Home

Rooms to consider are a formal dining or living room, only used when it's your turn to host Thanksgiving, or a grown child's bedroom that is only used for an occasional weekend visit. Less obvious spaces to consider include an extra closet, a space under the stairs, or a nook along one of the home's transition areas. The room pictured above is a space in my own home that I'm considering converting. It used to be the "library" where we would read on the weekend. Now we would like an additional play area for our growing family and this might be just the space (stay tuned...).

If you are converting the function of a stand-alone room the top task you have is shifting your mindset from the old function to the new. If you are adapting a space that is an integrated portion of your home, e.g., incorporating a home workspace into your living room, you'll want to make sure that the new addition feels intentional and blends with its surroundings. Below are three tips for creating a cohesive aesthetic between an existing space an its new purpose.

1. Consider color palette. 
Piggyback off color choices from adjacent rooms or choose a complimentary color scheme to what already exists. This will allow the spaces to connect visually even if there are different functions occurring side by side. 

2. Invest in storage.
I'm a fan of organization to begin with, but if you are going to place an office or a playroom on your main level be sure to have a way to calm the chaos  when needed.  

3. Don't get stuck on the type or style of furniture you "should" have in a particular area of your home.
Choose pieces and finishes that reflect what works best for you. Function and style can co-exist! 

Today I encourage you to think about your home in a different light. What possibilities could exist if you disregard the intended purpose and start to envision your room as a space that serves your unique needs? Instead of trying to force a space to be something that doesn't fit you or your lifestyle, embrace the freedom to make your home your own! 

Color Crush: Blush Pink

Versatile Color Combinations for Blush Pink

Spring is here and it's the perfect time to celebrate the many ways to incorporate blush pink into your home décor. Pantone, the world-renowned authority on color, named Rose Quartz, a blush pink, one of the colors of the year. While blush pink has been identified as trending, I think it's a very classic and versatile hue. Using Benjamin Moore paint colors, I've created five color palettes centered on blush pink to get you started.

Benjamin Moore Blush Pink Tissue Pink Color Combinations Pantone

The blush pink shown in the color palettes is Benjamin Moore paint color Tissue Pink (1163).
Pairing colors are listed below.

Pairing 1 - Neutrals
A crisp white and a deep warm gray take blush pink from sweet to sophisticated. Pairing black with blush pink is also a classic combination. 
Benjamin Moore - Dragon's Breath (1547)
Benjamin Moore - Cloud White (967)

Pairing 2 - Coral & Bright Pink
The orange undertones of coral and a sugary punch of pink makes this soft pink look fresh and feminine.
Benjamin Moore - Coral Gables (2010-40)
Benjamin Moore - Pink Popsicle (2001-40)

Pairing 3 - Hunter & Spring Green
Add a masculine touch to blush pink with hunter green. Alternately, channel warmer weather ahead with a yellow-based spring green.
Benjamin Moore - Peale Green (HC-121)
Benjamin Moore - Spring Meadow (486)

Pairing 4 - Navy & Light Blue
Go bold with navy for high contrast or go light and pair blush pink with a pastel blue. In 2016, for the first time ever, Pantone selected two colors of the year. What color did Pantone choose to pair with Rose Quartz? Serenity, a light blue.
Benjamin Moore - Hale Navy (HC-154)
Benjamin Moore - Sweet Innocence (2125-60)

Pairing 5 - Burgundy or Eggplant
The brown undertones of burgundy and eggplant add a layer of warmth of coziness to blush pink.
Benjamin Moore - Fresco Urbain (1253)
Benjamin Moore - New London Burgundy (HC-61)

Light pink is so often associated with baby girl rooms. While that is certainly one way to incorporate the color into your home, I hope I've shown you how adaptable the hue can be. How would you choose to utilize blush pink? Do you have a favorite color combination? 

Kitchen Organization Tips for an Efficient Morning

Organize Your Kitchen for an Efficient Morning Routine

Is your lack of kitchen organization slowing you down in the morning? I used to think it was tough to get myself out the door on time in the morning, but now that I have a toddler to get to preschool, mornings are even more chaotic. I've always been an organized person but more and more I am finding that calming the chaos in the physical space will calm the chaos in your daily routines. These kitchen organization tips are about using the space you have in the most efficient way possible - no kitchen remodeling required!

Kitchen Organization Tips

1. Store Items in the Order in Which They are Used
In this first step, consider how you move throughout the kitchen as you prep for the day. What is the sequence of items accessed? Utilize this information to inform where things are placed within the kitchen. For example, I keep all of our zip lock bags and lunch containers in a drawer directly adjacent to the refrigerator. As I'm pulling together food for the day I have everything I need on hand. There is no walking this way and that. Our kitchen is not large but the back and forth (especially when navigating around a toddler that wants to be picked up and a dog looking for crumbs) can really slow you down!

2. A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place
I can't stress this enough. Select a spot for every item in your kitchen and always put it back in the exact same spot. You'll be able to function on autopilot as you grab for ingredients, utensils, etc. It might sound extreme but I even have a spot for where the honey goes - bottom shelf of the pantry, next to the vanilla extract. This also makes prepping for grocery shopping so easy. With a quick scan of the shelves and the refrigerator I can immediately pick out if there are staples missing that need to be replenished.

3. Eliminate Multiples & Items You Don't Use
If you have multiples of items that you don't need or use, give them the boot! Not only are they taking up valuable space, they are additional items to sort through to get to the things that you actually do use. Which leads me to my next tip....

4. Toss Broken Items & Replace with New
If something only works half of the time you're going to spend a lot of wasted energy, and become frustrated, when said item is out of service. And as you know, things tend to not work when you are the most pressed for time. Make a list of what needs to be replaced and head to Target or Amazon. The second part of this is to toss, donate, or recycle the old items.  I often find that after a replacement is purchased, the damaged version is kept as a back up. If it's broken or not in service it's not really a back up. Clutter is only going to slow you down.

5. If Something is Not Used on a Consistent Basis, Store it Outside of the Main Space or Donate
Take stock of what you use infrequently, especially if you are short on space, and find these items a home in an alternate area such as the basement, under the stairs, etc. Even if you have enough space in the main kitchen area, I still recommend separating the infrequently used items from the frequently used items in the pursuit of efficiency.  These could be items such as a bread maker or holiday-themed servingware, but I also encourage you to look for other items that might be getting in your way. For example, my spice drawer only contains my favorite staples. Spices that I use infrequently I keep in the pantry. That way, when I'm cooking I don't have to sort through extras. Re-evaluate periodically if you do store the items out of sight. If you haven't used an item in a year it's time to donate.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to efficient kitchen organization? Do you have any tips that help you move through the kitchen with ease?