Sunday, May 30, 2010

DIY’ers and the Painful Truth- Anne Lubner's blog post

Every now and then, I read a blog post that mirrors my own thinking and philosophy so well, that I just have to share it with my readers.  Such is the case with the talented Anne Lubner.  Her post, this week, is so spot on, I think it should be required reading for anyone considering doing their own interior design.  Enjoy!

This painting is Time Saving Truth From Falsehood and Envy by Francois Lemoyne. There are many things that make it difficult to tell the truth. Who among us hasn’t been in this position: We’ve been asked for our opinion by someone who doesn’t really want the truth. The person asks for our opinion, but we know that to be 100% truthful would create hurt feelings, disappointment, and maybe even jeopardize the relationship. The problem is that when people ask us for our opinion, often what they really want is our validation. They want us to like whatever they did.

As Guylaine Rondeau, a graphic designer at Guylaine Rondeau Design wrote, “In a world becoming quickly and obsessively a do-it-yourself-everything, someone will inevitably one day come and ask you the painful question. The most difficult time for being honest is when someone designed something on their own and asks a professional designer for their opinion on the final result.”

As interior designers, we get DIY’ers who show us their do-it-yourself projects and wait expectantly for our response or ask us outright for our opinion. It’s awkward because we know what they really want to hear is that they did a good job and it looks beautiful. It’s awkward because 9 times out of 10, we see the mistakes and how we would’ve made the project better.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. We all hire experts all the time to get the best results. The tailor, the plumber, the caterer, to name a few. Few of us dare risk ruining our expensive suit. Hardly anybody feels competent enough to fix their hot water heater. The very idea of preparing a gourmet meal for our daughter’s engagement party has us calling our friends for help–to find a good caterer, that is. Oh and let’s not forget the hair stylist. I don’t know a single person over the age of 5 who doesn’t get their hair cut by a professional. Who’d want to risk having to wear a hat for 6 weeks?

So why do people feel they can be their own expert when it comes to interior design?

HGTV has fueled an explosion of interest in interior design and decorating. Decorating shows appeal to people who have a genuine interest in making their homes beautiful and I’m all in favor of that! Unfortunately, viewers often infer that interior design and decorating are not difficult, that anybody can do it, that it can be reduced to a formula. This can lead to the totally unrealistic expectation that everyone “should” be able to decorate their homes beautifully. People need to realize that decorating shows are entertainment, not education. Sure you can pick up tips, but don’t be surprised if your results don’t look professional, because there is a lot that goes into designing interiors. The shows do not tell the whole truth about what good interior design involves, nor can they in 30 or 60 minutes. Most of the real work is done off camera, somehow labor costs are usually not included in the budget, and beautiful furniture can be picked up for a song. Watching a design show in order to learn how to design and decorate your home is like trying to learn what giving birth is like by watching a woman having a baby on a sitcom. You can see what’s going on but still not know what the experience is really like – and the baby sure appears a lot faster than in real life. Not that there isn’t a wealth of design talent to learn from. It’s always inspiring to see good design; one show I’ve always enjoyed is Candice Olson’s “Divine Design”.

You can learn a lot about what you like and don’t like by looking at pictures in shelter magazines and reading the articles. My favorites are House Beautiful, Veranda, Elle Decor, and Traditional Home. There are always good tips and beautiful rooms you can study to help train your eye. That’s still not enough to make anybody an interior designer though.

While I believe we are all born with creativity and an appreciation for beauty, that doesn’t mean everyone has the talent to create interior beauty in their home. People can learn the elements of good design, and which steps to follow, but good interior design goes beyond following a formula. Anyone can take an art class and learn to paint a landscape, but that doesn’t make them an artist. Good design involves more than education, there’s artistic talent involved, and while appreciation can be taught, some talents are just inborn. This applies to anything creative: writing, painting, music, cooking, dancing, singing, anything design related. Expressing beauty is harder than it looks.

Interior design is a marriage of right brain and left brain, of creativity and art with analytical and project management skills. And we may have talent but not enough, like Salieri in the movie “Amadeus.” I have clients who have an eye for beautiful furniture, but not how to combine colors; who know how to arrange accessories but not pull the room together. I sing well enough to get compliments in church, but believe me, nobody would ever compare my singing with Celine Dion or Lady Gaga.

And this leads to my next theory on why people feel the desire to be their own interior designer. I suspect they think if they hire an interior designer, they can’t take any credit for how good their house looks. That can be true with some designers who are more concerned with “The Look” than with the client, but they are in the minority. That’s certainly not how I work.

What I absolutely love-love-love about interior design is the creative design process, the happy satisfaction I get from helping people discover their own style, their inner creativity. It’s the joy that springs from the synergism of collaborating together to create a space that perfectly reflects who they are and how they want to live in their home. It’s a partnership not a dictatorship.

Maybe people think hiring an interior designer is expensive. Consider that it can easily cost a few hundred dollars to have the plumber come fix your water heater, to have your carpets cleaned, your trees trimmed, etc. Anytime you have a professional come to your home to perform a service, it costs but it’s worth it because in the long run, it actually saves us money. Surely spending that much to make sure your DIY project isn’t heading for mediocrity or disaster is a worthwhile investment too. Nobody ever thinks their DIY project will come out anything but great, but there are a lot of not so great DIY projects out there. It’s a shame to spend your budget on furnishing and decorating a room, or remodeling a bathroom, only to have it turn out just okay, or worse. If you’re going to work that hard, you want it to turn out great!

Many designers, including myself, do consulting work for a reasonable fee as well as offer complete design services that are well within budgets much more modest than those seen in Architectural Digest and other shelter magazines. It doesn’t matter how big our homes are, we all deserve to feel our home is our castle!

Which means that before you buy that furniture, hire an interior designer to design a space plan for you. That way you will know before you go shopping what the focal point will be, which pieces will work best for how you’ll use the room, which pieces it’s worth spending a little extra on, and what pieces you can spend less on, and you’ll know the furnishings will be in appropriate scale to the room. You’ll know that your investment of time and money will pay off in a beautiful room that’s just right for you.

You may not be able to afford Mario Buatta’s designs, but most designers don’t charge his fees either.


And certainly before you go painting your living room, hire an interior designer to help you select the right color, one that won’t have you gasping in dismay when you see the painted room. This is a very reasonable fee, one that can save you hours of back-breaking re-painting. [Don't even think of trying to duplicate the above wall finish on your own, this is a project that needs to be specified by an expert and accomplished by an artisan!]

But what if you didn’t hire a professional and you chose to do it all by yourself, should you ask a designer their opinion? And if you’re the interior designer being asked, should you be honest?
I think if the selections haven’t been ordered yet, and there’s still time for a designer’s input to be implemented, and one makes it clear that one really is looking for guidance, then it makes sense to ask a designer for their opinion.


But if someone has just spent thousands of dollars on new furniture or a basement remodel, would that person really want to hear how the project would’ve been improved if XYZ had been done instead?

Let me put it this way: If you’re at a party where the appetizers are just okay, and the hostess who’d made them asks you what you think of the hors d’oeuvres, how would you feel? What do most people say? Right. Good manners trumps Truth.

When I’ve been put in this awkward position, I say what I like and hope that’s enough. I’ve toyed with the idea of saying what I would’ve done differently, if only to demonstrate that I really do know what I’m doing, but I don’t. I don’t want to jeopardize the relationship.

So I say that if you really want an honest opinion, ask an interior design professional, but ask them at the beginning of the project, not the end. If what you really want is validation, ask your friends. But please don’t ask an interior designer for their opinion when what you really want to hear is how good a job you did. As Guylaine says, “if you can help it, please don’t ask, we love you and we just don’t want to hurt your feelings.






















Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spring Cleaning, Mom's way.


My Mother is force in this universe. She has always had amazing energy and still does in her 70's. She is friendly to everyone, loves to have laugh, is a mean jitter bug dancer and a fierce housekeeper. In my childhood, I knew that this time of year meant the dreaded spring cleaning.  The stuff of urban legends, only in our home it was no myth. When my Mom decided that the spring cleaning should commence, no corner of our house was safe. We washed windows, cleaned carpets, and scrubbed tile with comet and elbow grease (whether it needed it or not). Non-existent cobwebs were twirled on brooms out of ceiling corners, sofas and chairs were de-cushioned and vacuumed, and dust bunnies were banished. This was a time of cleaning out drawers and closets, as well as, scrubbing baseboards and door frames. In Spring Cleaning mode, the driveway and porch were scrubbed, the beds weeded and flowers were planted. I hated this whole process! It kept me from playing with my dolls, roaming the hills and otherwise enjoying the pastimes of a young girl. But, I loved the results! At the end of this cleaning frenzy, the house sparkled. There was a fresh fragrance in the air, a sense of renewal and peace seemed to emanate from the house, as if it had appreciated the attention. I will admit, I am behind on my own spring cleaning this year. I will never hold a candle to my Mom in this department, yet, I will press on with my own version of this tradition. I know my children feel the same about this process that I did, but I know that they will enjoy the result like I did as well.

From left to right, my Mom, Jo, Catherine and Emily

As a designer and stager, I often see homes in real need of a good cleaning. It is interesting how people can live with, get used to, and ignore basic household hygiene. They spend money on beautiful furnishings then leave piles of mail, layers of dust and dirty windows to detract from space.  If a beautiful home is important to you, don't forget the dreaded spring cleaning!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

101 things I hate to love...


My Facebook friend James Swan has a Facebook page entitled 101 Things I Hate About Your House.  This is a particularly fun page because of the photos and discussions that are posted.  While I am not about to list 101 things I hate to love, his site prompted me to think about the things we grew up with and thought were the bomb.  Things that, as designers, we would rather not admit even liking!  The thing is, there are certain home furnishings, that elicit such strong childhood memories that we can't help having a fond spot in our hearts for things that James Swan would hate!  My dad, for instance, had a recliner that would've given the tv character Frazier's dad's chair a run for it's money.  My mom replaced it once with a smaller, more attractive chair and his big frame tipped it backwards on the first recline!  While I avoid oversized recliners now, when I see one I secretly smile. 
Another thing that I hate to love is my grandmother's tatting.  Tatting is a technique for handcrafting a particularly durable lace constructed by a series of knots and loops. Tatting can be used to make lace edging as well as doilies, collars, and other decorative pieces.  Tatted doilies topped her tables and rested on the back of some of her chairs.  While these are not used in this manner in today's interiors, I must admit that framed, they make wonderful textile art pieces.  Personally, I would love to be able to go back in time and rest my head against her tatting covered chair!

The last thing on today's list is outrageous cookie jars. My best friend's mom had the most amazingly ugly cookie jars you have ever seen. The thing was; they were all filled with goodies. Some had cookies, some had marshmellows, other had candies, it was a veritable smorgasbord for kids. Knowing those cookie jars sat on that countertop waiting for us at the end of our play, was like the cherry on top of the sundae.  Let's hear it for ugly cookie jars!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Favorite showrooms from the High Point Market... Yes, There is Still Much to Share!

Each year I share photo's from my favorite showrooms, this year is no exception. Global Views always has inventive merchandising, gorgeous lighting, and the products are great too! This market they had several rooms that were worth sharing. In the first photo, everything is coming up roses, literally, with this lovely rose and brown color story.
In the next room, pewter and silver were mixed with green and pops of turquoise to create a contemporary bedroom. I loved the velvet headboard in charcoal
Turquoise and chocolate create a yummy bedroom space. The pattern on the wall is achieved by using fabric mounted inside of trim boxes for a stunning effect.



 

Calgon Take Me Away...

Calgon Take Me Away...
soak your troubles away in this stone beauty

Bathtub becomes fountain... fabulous!

cottage charm!

perfect for your mountain retreat!

Where I belong...

The AIDP Charlotte Chapter Board Members

The AIDP Charlotte Chapter Board Members
Seated from left, Davetta Moore, National Board Member, Wanda Horton, Vice President of Communication, Jane Ann Maxwell, President, standing from left to right, Nancy Martin, Vice President of Membership, Mary Santini, Secretary/Treasurer, and Marianne Parker, National Board Member

Emily's New Room

Emily's New Room

This desk was the inspiration for the room

Decorating for Christmas in Adult and Kid Zones...

Decorating for Christmas in Adult and Kid Zones...
Adults will love the beauty of the luxe mantle

This bright, bold mantle is kid friendly

This lovely arrangement is sophisicated and elegant

Kids tables need centerpieces too and these serve as favors to take home afterwards!

The Holiday Table...

The Holiday Table...
This table setting would make a beautiful Thanksgiving breakfast table

Greenery - simple and elegant

These pictures illustrate the idea of using what you love...

These pictures illustrate the idea of using what you love...
One home owner loves classic traditional decore, the other mid century modern. Look at what they created using the things they both loved!!!

Grouping beloved collections create impact

Two collections united by color

Pictures from the Coastal Vibe Project

Pictures from the Coastal Vibe Project
The chair fabric was designed just for this client and then made into yardage just for these chairs!

The living room seating area. The client wanted it elegant and yet relaxed, with the idea of being at a house on the beach.

We added the built-ins and had the paint changed before the homeowner moved in. A cozy seating arrangement and momentos from world travels warm the space.

another view

These pictures illustrate "staging" principles

These pictures illustrate "staging" principles
This beautiful room was designed to be cozy and full. This room is an example of NOT staging to maximize the square footage. Thanks to House Beautiful for the image

This serene room is designed for maximum spaciousness! Notice that you see lots of floor through the legs of the coffee table. Lots of breathing room in this space. Thanks to House Beautiful for the image.

This is an example of Benjamin Moore Aura paints to go with the About Paint post

This is an example of Benjamin Moore Aura paints to go with the About Paint post
One of the many beautiful colors in the Aura collection

Aura paints have low VOC's which means it's healthier for everybody!

To illustrate the post "Art For Your Walls"

The following pictures are artwork from some of my favorite local artists. The fabulous thing about these folks is that they will do commissioned pieces especially for you! Enjoy...

Local Artists...

Local Artists...
Richard Anderson

Celia Flock

Sany Seipert, an older work, her newer stuff is better, this was the only image I had...

The following pictures are from the October High Point Furniture Market.

These are some of the showrooms and displays that I thought were terrific.

Bella Luna was one of my favorite showrooms!

Bella Luna was one of my favorite showrooms!
everything on display was quirky and elegant

One of my favorite finds, this mirror is a piece of art!

These sassy stools help tell the Bella Luna story

Cyan design always has unusual and neat things

Hot Color Trend shown at the Spring Market in Highpoint!

Hot Color Trend shown at the Spring Market in Highpoint!
black and white and malachite!

Luxury Lighting!

Luxury Lighting!

Favorite New Accessoires...

Favorite New Accessoires...
Contact us for more information or to place an order...

love this!

simply elegant!

fabulous silver platters that are even better in person

These make such a great centerpiece for a dining room table

FALL MARKET 2008 - GORGEOUS COLOR, FOCUS ON "GREEN" DESIGN, FUN WITH LAQUER...

FALL MARKET 2008 - GORGEOUS COLOR, FOCUS ON "GREEN" DESIGN, FUN WITH LAQUER...
New color combo that was everywhere, butter and pewter, so pretty, soft and fresh!

Gorgeous Global Views - always my favorite venue

Gorgeous Global Views - always my favorite venue
soft butter and pewter

"GREEN" in both color and sustainablity is a beautiful choice...

"GREEN" in both color and sustainablity is a beautiful choice...
These pillows made from abaca leaves and coconut beads are eco-friendly and good for the workers of the developing country in which they are made.

Old favorites are still in play...

Old favorites are still in play...
aqua, teal, peacock are still popular-- note the laquered mirror!

Before and After pictures are always fun!

Before and After pictures are always fun!
This is a "before" picture of a recent project.

After #2!

After #2!

Before #2

Before #2
same room, different view

AFTER!

AFTER!
new carpet, upholstery, paint, window treatments...

More from the High Point Spring Market My Favorite Overall Venue - Global Views

More from the High Point Spring Market My Favorite Overall Venue - Global Views
terrific accessories, uniquely displayed

black, white, red, silver punch!

note the male figures at the bottom of the ropes climbing out of the vases!

Favorite Find at the High Point Spring Market

Favorite Find at the High Point Spring Market
Pablo Mekis Artisan Pillows

the hand stiching is fabulous!

more Pablo Mekis

A designer is as good as her team...

Every designer relies on a team of people to help execute her design vision. I have worked very hard to assemble a top notch team of craftsmen and professionals to rely on for excellence in execution and customer service. I have nick named them "The "A" Team". This name is so appropriate because this group brings their best effort to each task. There are many folks out there that will give you adequate, we strive for exceptional.

The following pictures will introduce you to some of the work done by these guys...

Introducing...

Introducing...
Marilyn Croteau - the BEST window treatment workroom on the East Coast

Introducing...

Introducing...
Heavin Woodworks - beautiful trims and built-ins

Introducing...

Introducing...
G.Richard Anderson Faux Finisher. He does fabulous work!

Oeco Textiles

Oeco Textiles
all natural and all green

A staged breakfast room

A staged breakfast room
We recovered the chairs to co-ordinate with the area rug and added a fresh bunch of flower from the grocery store!

This week...

This week, I am working on two interiors that are either on or are near Lake Wylie, SC. Both homeowners are interested in incorporating a coastal "vibe" into the design for their homes. Working on two homes with the same design direction has never happened in my business before. It will be fun to see just how differently we approach each home. They will be as different and unique as their homeowners and we will be sure to include some after pictures in about 3 or 4 months!

Something's Gotta Give

Something's Gotta Give
from the movie "Something's Gotta Give" the set design for the Nantucket living room is inspiration for a coastal interior that I'm working on right now...

Coastal Inspiration

Coastal Inspiration
another coastal inspiration

this rug from Aspen Carpet Designs is very close to the one in the movie!

BVI's Virgin Gorda - beautiful!

great garden bench