Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Wonderland: Navigating the storm

Winter Wonderland: Navigating the storm: "The TODAY show aired a segment this morning on how to drive in the snow. Alot of us forget how to do that when the first flakes begin to fal..."

Navigating the storm

The TODAY show aired a segment this morning on how to drive in the snow. Alot of us forget how to do that when the first flakes begin to fall. Scared silly panic and gripping the steering wheel within an inch of its' life (if indeed a steering wheel has a life) becomes the norm till the daffodils poke their little green heads out of the mulch patch. 

"If you have ABS don't pump your brakes - the system will do it for you" the reporter firmly stated. Well that strikes fear in all of us that learned how to drive without ABS (Automatic Braking System) or even power steering. I would assume it also strikes fear in the hearts of Prius owners. It seems the Prius has a mind of its'own when it comes to acceleration and braking.

"If you start to spin out turn your eyes to the solution, not the problem. Look where you want to go, not into the spin. That is the direction you will take." WOW. Are we talkin' about cars here? Because I think that little gem of handling wisdom could potentially touch every aspect of my life. Heck, I may even have a plaque made to put on my desk or needlepoint a pillow for my couch. Turn your eyes to the solution, not the problem.  I think that is my new motto for 2011. 

Happy New Year All!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Just a small town...

Driving home one afternoon in early December just about the time the sun turns magenta and starts to set, I was privileged to come across a scene so inheritantly American it stayed with me all evening. 

Being an artist I tend to see things that could be translated into a painting.  This was one of those rare moments, all ten seconds of it and I knew would make Norman Rockwell proud.  On a small street in the middle of the block in Dallastown PA a snippet of time stood still.  Dallastown is “Every Town USA”.  It is lined with well kept homes that reach the sidewalks, some Victorian, always adorned with flowers, sometimes a wreath on a door or banners that read “Welcome Friends”.  The folks all know each other and probably will until they depart this world.  Shop owners greet each other on the streets and open and close with a fanfare relegated to the silver screen.   

At this point in time, sitting at the red light close to “the square”, a woman was closing up shop for the evening.  Her consignment shop“Little Blessings” for children’s garments and outgrown highchairs was shutting down for the night.  The double doors were held open by the owner on the left and flanked by a young girl on the right.  Into her shop she was pulling a playpen that would be sold on another day.  The young girl, school aged in feet too big for her awkward body, in knee highs and plaid school skirt, khaki green sweater pushed up at the elbows with mousy brown hair falling across her soon to be beautiful features leaned back on the door.  She was picture perfect in her preteen aged stance.  The sun was turning the sky a deep pink and added a blush to her cheeks already reddened by the December cold.  The interior glow from the filmy incandescents fell out onto the sidewalk emphasizing the shadow and light of the scene.

In a world gone mad with cell phones, ipods, instant messaging, identity theft and road rage, a rare glimpse into the ghost of America past was revealed.  Have we strayed so far from what is really important?  What happened to keeping our children safe, getting a good education, and owning a piece of the American pie?  Have we really changed so much as a culture that these common threads of our society have become unwound? 

With the Holiday Season upon us and the shopping frenzy in full swing – can’t we all just stop and see the sunset, see that small town and begin to create our own Americana in our hearts?  Who knows - that glow in our heart may reach out to touch even the grinchiest Grinch and give us all pause to think about what is important in our lives.  I ask you to take a moment and give thanks for all that you have been given.  Remember those that can’t be with us, those that are no longer with us and our soldiers who haven’t seen their own hometowns in now ten years and counting.

So Merry Christmas to you all.  On my Santa List my item is but a small request – that you may fully enjoy the moments spent with family and friends this Holiday Season.  And when I raise a glass in toast to the New Year, I will have you all in mind, with wishes for the best life has to offer. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

You get me: Laughing all the way

You get me: Laughing all the way: "Currently I am working with a lovely customer to coordinate materials in her new kitchen and her exsiting baths. Her kitchen is an exo..."

Laughing all the way

Currently I am working with a lovely customer to coordinate materials in her new kitchen and her exsiting baths.  Her kitchen is an exotic veneer, Anigre, that will be stained fuschia - or hot pink. Countertops are a honed Black Absolute granite with a dropped down baking center sporting a grey marble with natural white veining. To top it off an Ice Pink Illuminations Corian countertop that will be under lit spans the elevated bar area on the island. 

Crazy right?

Her comment to me was "When I walk into these rooms I want them to make me laugh.  Do you see that?". Yes, I did. I replied "You want these spaces to be so unique, so beautiful that it makes you giggle out of sheer delight".  Her response "You get me".  

Some of the best relationships are simply the mutual understanding of who we are. While we strive for individuality we still want to be understood.  "You get me."  And it's just that easy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


It's a wonderful life

Is anyone else out there stressed to the max over one single day that rolls around on the same date every year? I just realized that today is December 16th, 9 days from the main event. There is no tree in my house, the decorations are half way complete and the gift list is long. I have no menu planned for my Christmas eve guests, not a cookie baked and I think maybe my hair is starting to fall out.

Sound familiar? I have never, not ever, been this far behind. I need a Clarence. I need an angel and an angle to figure it out this year. Part in blame is the puppy that stole my heart and my sanity that now lives with me, the other part is that I resigned one job to do my own thing and fortunately ended up being busier than I ever thought.

But yet I have had time to wonder what would have happened I had never been. The list of naughty and nice could be long, but I think of the little things in life that have hopefully made an impact. Years ago I met a young man that worked in a telemarketing room where I was employed as the marketing person. He came to me distressed because he wanted to resign his supervisor position to apply to medical school. I sat him down, told him to look at the big picture and wrote him a glowing letter of recommendation.  His father later contacted me to tell me he had been accepted to med school, so proud and happy I could hear him beaming through the phone.  I wonder where that young man is  now. I wonder about the lives he has touched. I wonder if Clarence would approve of that moment in time.

'Tis the season to pay it forward, and sometimes it doesn't cost a dime. Maybe that is truly the best gift of all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

All wrapped up....: Tinsel and bows

All wrapped up....: Tinsel and bows: "You've got to hand it to Martha. Her take on gift wrapping is quite inventive and often uses resources that are readily available. And are o..."

Tinsel and bows

You've got to hand it to Martha. Her take on gift wrapping is quite inventive and often uses resources that are readily available. And even eco-friendly. After all, who doesn't love a beautifully wrapped gift under the tree? I sure used to. Until the gifts were opened and the wrapping paper was all over the floor and stuffed into big green trash bags. Then onto the landfills and wastes and dumps. There was a time I spent as much time decorating and accessorizing a gift as I did selecting the gift itself. The outside was as pretty as what was on the inside.

As I become comfortable in my own skin, I focus less on the packaging. After all, the wrapping has wrinkled and the package isn't as sturdy as it once was. When all the focus is on the exterior, we begin to miss what truly counts - what's on the inside of all those lovely trimmings? What is the substance underneath the glitz? Is the gift sincere? Honest? Will it stand the test of time? What is the value, the true worth?

So often that excitement over the packaging overshadows the product, the "crux of the biscuit", the core, the marrow. We miss the true gift, one that has taken years to develop. The true gift of Christmas doesn't come in a box. In comes from reaching out a hand to another in a gesture of kindness and goodwill. It comes from the heart. And asks to be returned.


Saturday, December 11, 2010


Come what may...: 2010 the year that was...

Come what may...: 2010 the year that was...: "Usually I write more than a blogger should. This week I've attached two links that don't need alot of words. The first is Time Magazine..."

2010 the year that was...

Usually I write more than a blogger should. This week I've attached two links that don't need alot of words. The first is Time Magazines' photos from 2010. View the photos, then click on the utube link.
Nuff said. Welcome new year, come what may.



Sunday, December 5, 2010

At the end of the day

We called them the Pantry Pride Princess and the Duke of the Deli. They met at the local grocery store where they both worked - she a widow, he never married. Marie had raised two girls single handedly and he grew to love them as though they were his own. They made their home on Mayfield Ave off  "BLAIR Rd" (the correct pronunciation if you're from Baltimore. Also know as "Belair Rd") in a row house with a concrete back yard. Goetze's Caramel Cremes were perpetually mounded in the candy dish, replenished as soon as they were devoured. With lamp shades and furniture protected by plastic, sweaty in the humid city summers, Gert & Gare (as we called them fondly) settled into their own safe haven.

And safe it was. His number one job was to look after her. She never drove, never had a drivers license, he took her everywhere. Diners and bingo and the Meat Cutters Union Hall were the norm, a visit to the VFW on occasion. A daschund named Sandy resided in that brick house. She resembled a loaf of bread on legs and was renamed "Lutsie Girl" or "Little Girl" ironic though it may seem. Life was low key but full of love.

On Mayfield Ave we knew we were cared for, comforted, secure. Tonight at the funeral home we said our last goodbye to Gary. Marie - at 90 - sat in a chair, tears in her stoic eyes. "Are you OK?" we asked. "As best as can be expected" was the answer. After over 40 years of companionship the long rides together had come to a rest. The words on the ribbon draped across the flowers on the casket did not read "Spouse" or "Husband" or "Father".  They read "Beloved Friend". Two simple words. Two words that told the world what they were to each other. Simple, succinct and safe. Just as they were in life.

Monday, November 29, 2010

When the dog bites, when the bee stings: Favorite Things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings: Favorite Things: "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens....do you remember the words to this one? From the Sound of Music with Julie Andrews singing this..."

Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens....do you remember the words to this one? From the Sound of Music with Julie Andrews singing this lilting number all the worries of the Von Trappe family disappeared even if only momentarily. The other day I got to catch Oprahs' Favorite Things Show. Since the show was SO BIG it ran two days long.  Judging by the gifts given - and heavens knows she is generous to a fault - there clearly is no recession in Oprahville. 

While I know that generosity makes her feel good - I could not believe the reaction of the audience. I thought some were going to faint, some were sobbing, hugging, jumping up and down like they were just given a cure for cancer. OK - I know - I wasn't there. How would I have reacted?

But onto Favorite Things. I thought alot about this and the reactions of the audience and got to thinking about Favorite Things. Things that are free. Here is my very short list. I would like to encourage you to just name FIVE of your favorite things that are FREE. Just five, and send them to me. I'll post the best of the best.

These are a few of My Favorite Things that are FREE:
1. Sunrise/Sunset. Yes this too is a song but I make it a point to see it every day. It gives me a sense of what is greater outside of me. And the colors are just the best in the palette.

2. Lying on my back in the grass watching the clouds and making them into animals in my mind. Yes, I still do this. Its' really fun.

3.  Walking in the woods with my dogs quietly, trying very hard to make no sound at all. Crazy isn't it? But thats' what the Indians did, probably on the very same ground I'm walking on now.

4.  Breathing in the night air looking at the constellations. If you really want to know your place in the world  - reverse your perspective and imagine you are on a star looking down at the earth to where you are standing.

5.  Watching the little brown birds fly in a flock at this time of year. I love how they float across the sky like little specs jostling for space. And think of all the energy they expend to simply be in flight. Amazing. And they know where they're headed.

6. The ability to read and write with a good command of the English language. My Mother once told me that people who curse all the time just can't think of better words to use. You know, I think my Momma is right. I fell in love with language and a thesaurus at a young age - I used to read it just to learn new words.
So now I'm going to ask you to describe yourself in one word. Just one. And you can use the thesaurus if you want. 

7. Hearing the whistle of a train right before it rains. The air currents shift and if you listen, you can hear things that you normally miss. I love the sound of a train.

8. Puppy paws. They're so new they are soft as velvet. The road map of life hasn't touched them yet.

9. Running into someone you haven't seen in years, and picking up the conversation like you saw them yesterday.

10. Silver white winters that melt into spring....in other words, HOPE. If you have - it keep it, if you don't - find it. As a good friend just told me "If you have life you have hope". And don't ever forget  it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


LOWEST Prices EVER!: SALE! SALE! SALE!: "Stores open at Midnight! Stores open at 3AM! Best prices of the year! So do you believe it? Is there anything out there that you really ne..."


Stores open at Midnight! Stores open at 3AM!  Best prices of the year!

So do you believe it? Is there anything out there that you really need must have can't live without? Maybe I'm just at a stage in my life where I am content, happy that clothes that are 15 years old still fit. Some are dated, some are back in style. Maybe I've read the The Not So Big House and feel that I've simply got enough. Maybe I understand the lesson that Wall Street taught and decided not to forget. Greed really isn't good.

Less is more these days, Hummers are gauche, low key is a high note. And I for one am glad to see it. There is a change in design where we are looking at spaces for longevity - not trendiness, not just fads. There is a staying power in design today that says "This is who I am, and I'm not afraid of it showing. I want to be comfortable in my own space".  We've come a long way baby from Mediterranean dark wood cabinets to the lighter, cleaner maple and cherry woods.  Cork floors are earth friendly and friendly to our spines. Natural stone on countertops, floors and backsplashes are softer, able to stand the test of time. The flamboyant materials have given way to the sublime.

Ease of use, ease of operation and easy to care for have replaced high maintenance.  As my alarm clock stikes straight up twelve I eyeball it and curl up till morning. The BIG SALE doesn't phase me, I have all I need. And if Christmas is all about finding that perfect gift - think about giving of yourself a little more instead.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just breathe: I'll Stand By You

Just breathe: I'll Stand By You: "Cancer doesn't care, she said. It doesn't care how old you are, what color you are, if you're a man or a woman or a boy or a girl. Cancer do..."

I'll Stand By You

Cancer doesn't care, she said. It doesn't care how old you are, what color you are, if you're a man or a woman or a boy or a girl. Cancer doesn't care. 

And she was right. This year as we sit down to feasts and festivities breathe the moment in, feel your lungs expand, hear your heart beat. Inhale the fragrance of Thanksgiving - let it settle into your being. Be grateful for even the most unconscious things we do each day.

A few months ago a close friend and fantastic designer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She is the one of the most creative, talented designers I have ever worked with. If you have a space designed by her consider yourself darn lucky. Her kitchens have graced the covers and pages of many magazines and I am grateful to have had time to really know her. 

As she fights this cancer and realizes the road ahead is the toughest she'll ever climb, I think about all of the lives shes' touched in some way. And there are many. Not only in creating the space that memories are made in - the kitchen - the heart of the home, but though coworkers, family and friends.

Cancer doesn't care, but we do. Realize that each time you touch a life you touch many. As my dear friend walks through her treatments and on this path she has been given she should know how many are willing to be there with her. Willing to stand by her and waiting to see her smile again. Willing to send prayer or send energy or send whatever you believe in. Willing to stand by her and stand tall. Willing to be there all the way.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Here are we are. No sooner did we finish the Halloween candy did the Christmas decorations and sale events appear in stores. One Holiday morphs into another then they are gone. We melt into the ice & snow of January, the festivities far behind us.

Does time really go faster the older we get? Or consider that mass merchandising and marketing no longer allow us to enjoy the Holidays - one at a time? What if we just said NO? Halloween has become an adult holiday. We had fewer kids than ever at our door and more 16 year olds with plastic bags from the Giant. We live on a hill, so anyone that treks up our driveway gets the treats. But I think that this is no longer a day for children.

The leaves are waning and the feel of fall is crisp in the air. Thanksgiving has become a precursor to Black Friday. Salesalesales. Here they come. The hunt of the best bargain. I stay home. No way will I get involved in that craziness. I'll shop online or take an  L-tryptophan induced nap. Or go to the gym. Again marketing and merchandising trips that trigger for us to go - heaven forbid - TO THE MALL. As you may have guessed I am not a mall shopper. I like the feel of the Open Air Malls so much better. Maybe they just let you breathe.

Here comes Christmas. Here it comes with all the stress, extended family issues, the sniping about never getting a "good" gift. Can we just stop it before it starts please? You have the power to do so. If you haven't given yourself permission to stop the insanity - do it now. This year let each holiday become an opportunity to cherish the moment, cherish the time we all have together. At our home we have an annual family Christmas Eve gathering. We have wonderful food, good wine, all the kids together growing up so fast. It is my favorite time of the year.

The most important thing this holiday season is to immerse ourselves in the time we have together. We don't really know what the next moment holds, what the outcome will be. Merchandising and marketing have ingrained and tapped into our triggers while Reality TV has taught us that bad behavior is acceptable. Turn off the TV, turn on to your life. Celebrate each moment we have been given and cherish it like it never ends. Prepare for the holidays not with a Christmas Club but with an open heart and the spirit of giving. Renew, reevaluate and strengthen the bonds of family that hold us together. Hold them all close. These are the gifts we all have been given - recognizing them may not be that easy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Flat Screen Dilemma

He sat furiously typing on the laptop, staring at the screen. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Looking for a Hooker" was the response. "So tell me when you find one OK?" "Sure". 

Here we are with that age old dilemma - what type of furniture piece do you use when you've purchased a flat screen TV for a living area? If you don't know, Hooker is the name of a manufacturer of furniture - quality wood furnishings at a pretty decent cost. We've had the TV in an armoire for the past 13 years. When the screen starting to black out my husband did the HD dance. The quest and questions began about what to look for, what to purchase and the most terrifying of all -  WHAT will this do to the decor and style of the Great Room? I have fought this transition for quite some time, enjoying the fact that the TV could simply disappear into a furniture piece.

Options, there are options. Let's explore them. One - create a bookcase wall using custom or semi custom cabinetry with a wood panel to mount the screen on. That is an option that I have designed for clients and the costs can begin at $10,000 and go up depending of course on the length of the wall, ceiling height, design and wood species. And it looks fabulous - only not to my wallet.  So we went with the Second Option - locate a furniture piece that works with the open floor plan and the Transitional/Arts & Crafts style home that we have. Definitely more cost effective. Definitely do-able.

First of all, please note that most furniture style pieces fall between 28" - 35-1/2" high.  Determine the length you need by the horizontal dimension of your flat screen.  A good rule of thumb is to allow 6" on either side. Determine your storage needs - will this house cable boxes, DVD players, gaming equipment and more? Make a list and check it twice - and above all measure your space before you go on the quest.   

I've got to say that for someone that fought this kicking and screaming - I love the look of our space and think that Football Sunday at our house has reached a whole new level. High definition not only defines your screen it's the way you live your life.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Change Will Do You Good

Remodeling has certainly slowed down from years prior but you can still hear the sounds of nail guns and  hammers swinging in your neighborhood.  So what's the buzz? Whos' doing what?

The hot ticket is the Bath Remodel. Those whirlpool tubs that everyone had to have when new homes were being built 15 years ago are on the way out. They're taking up valuable real estate and the tile is showing it's age. Verde green is so over and new elements run from bringing the outdoors in to sleek contemporary to in between. The bath has become "themed" and style & design follow formulas to keep the space clean, calming, open and yet display personal style.

Tile still plays a major role but the choices have exploded. Ceramic has been replaced by the porcelains and the choices are endless. The porcelains have become affordable and have true depth of color as opposed to the ceramics.  The lower end ceramic can show actual pixelation on the tile from the screening process.  Go for porcelains that have interest, variation in color and a natural appeal.  They will continue to delight your senses each time you enter the room. 

Even a smaller shower can be transformed into a "Spa Space."  One of the little luxuries is the spas shower spray system which can be as simple as a shower head or dual body sprays. Aging in place has become fashionable. A grab bar can coordinate with a faucet or fixture and don't be shy about installing it.  After foot surgery this year I sure coulda used one....it's not about aging but ease of use.

Here are just a few links I think are great. Remember - coordinate color, go for a themed approach and always ask a professional for design advice. This is one area that you don't want to scrimp on. To borrow a phrase from L'Oreal "Go ahead - you're worth it!".

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taking it for Granite

OK I now know how to get hits on my blog. Post a picture of a puppy. 

But seriously, lets' get back to talkin' design. What's THE hot surface for countertops and what are the BIG FEARS about natural stone? Let's get the whole picture here. Granite out sells any solid surface hands down. There are other surfaces - Silestone, Cambria, Zodiaq, Caesarstone & more. These surfaces are generally 93% quartz while the percentage remainders are resins that hold the quartz particles together to create a slab. And quartz has its place. The color and pattern are consistent albeit subtle and subdued. Or they can provide a pop of saturated color. They work well in a contemporary space or for someone who is afraid of granite.

WHAT? Afraid of something that Mother Nature made? It happens. Any solid surface is a big investment, making a decision stressful. As soon as you fall in love with granite another one comes along. It's a tough call sometimes. Granite is not perfect. Although sealed prior to fabrication, there are inherent fissures, imperfections, pits, ranges of color, mica deposits and veining.  All the things that came from the earth created over millions of years. Each imperfection is earned, beautiful and unto it's own. It is unique.

As all of us are. Any natural imperfection should be viewed as a rare jewel and celebrated. Freckles, shades of color, personal choices and nuances should be appreciated as an outward expression of the years of inner growth. Not maligned or discredited because it is different from what we know. Choices in design are as difficult as choices in life and should be taken into careful consideration before we chose to bring them into our home. 

We are, after all, not made of stone.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Patter of Little Feet

What was I thinking? I had been craving the patter of little feet. Four paws that is. And then an opportunity to go puppy peeping in New Hampshire appeared.  A gorgeous ride through six states emblazoned with the glorious arrival of Fall had me in sensory overload. An October harvest moon hung in the night sky dotted with stars above. And the prospect of a pup? Too much. 

Well you can't go see little spotted dogs without taking one home. So here he is, keeping me and my existing dog hopping. Not quite the patter of feet that I was anticipating. There are snarls and snaps and growls and barks. Occasionally they get along. Integration into the pack is not the Norman Rockwell image I was hoping for. 

It occurred to me that this indoctrination is much like starting a new job. There are personalities, snarls and big dogs circling each other for position. And there are some that wag their tail and accept you for who you are. But you still have to prove that you can run with the pack. You hope it settles down - we are the ones that walk on two legs.  

It is important to view these personalities so that they all mesh well, produce as a team (or pack) and simply get the job done. The interview process reveals alot but finding the right "fit" for both parties takes effort. If you ignore the red flags, the growls or rumbles, you may as well chase your tail to get a functional and efficient team. Either that or try howling at the moon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Remember when

Driving in the chilly rain in the funeral procession with Chris Bottis' haunting trumpet rendition of "Time to Say Goodbye" hanging in the air, family and friends gathered to pay final respects to Aunt Ann. Someone whose presence graced our gatherings and whose love for family was boundless. Someone whose impression is etched on many hearts tonight.

You hear it said sometimes - the love of his or her life. It's hard to believe it really happens - but I'll tell you that it's true. Marriage is never what you expect. Yet looking at the wedding photos that are now 63 years old, Ann and Tom got it right. Till death do us part doesn't happen much anymore. It's easy to walk away. Love, honor and obey are hard words to say (OK I admit, as a native Baltimorean I said "Old Bay". It seemed to work at the time). Part of what we have lost is keeping common courtesy and simple kindness to one another alive in a relationship. Aunt Ann & Uncle Tom epitomized those traits. There was no MEMEMEME about it, they were in it together. And it showed, even today.
Smiling photos were everywhere at the funeral home, "remember when" was repeated throughout the room. Hugs and smiles and tears were the order of the day. As we left the church the sun began to peak through the clouds. Chris Botti turned his attention to "Someone to Watch Over Me".  Indeed, a lifetime of love and the love of Tom's life shone though the grey skies. Her gentle kindness had rained down on all who were lucky enough to have been a part of her life.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

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Closet musings

Friday night was spent in a closet. Literally, in a closet. Too much on my mind to even sit and watch tv, the focus on reading a book was lost. It began by restlessly putting away the laundry. Shortly then after I was standing in a puddle of cotton and wool - all the clothes pulled off the closet shelves and onto the floor to begin the sorting process.

Sometimes the only way to clear out the clutter is to jump into the middle of it. Sort what is worth holding onto, what is worth letting go. This is a good time of year to wool gather - not only in your closet but in your mind. Fall brings a sense of change, of showing us there is beauty in the leaves that will soon be gone. That changing color doesn't always mean changing form - but shedding our external "leaves" to begin a process of renewal.

In current design trends closet and closet organization have become a field unto its' own. There are all types of accessories to be utilzed in every room of the house. Storage equipment that gives us the ability to organize the clutter that creeps into our lives. I find that when living space is organized it allows us to think unfettered. We can see past the clutter and move forward more freely. 

The weather is turning colder, the flip flops will be stored in the hopes that they'll soon reappear. Those carefree days of summer put away until their return. The sturdy boots come out, the cozy sweaters wrap us in warmth. The seasons change with each passing day and with each season a new reflection begins.  It's time to put away what is no longer necessary and embrace what is already waiting for us.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rituals of the day

Sometimes while driving early in the morning before the sun rises I watch the lights turn on in houses as I pass by - one by one. In small towns and cities all across the country our morning rituals are performed day after day, probably in the same order. The alarm goes off, we stretch like lazy dogs in the morning light, rubbing our eyes and stumbling into the kitchen to brew that first cup of nirvana.

And so it goes day in day out. That first inhalation of that addictive aroma, hands cradling our favorite cup for warmth, the aaaaahhhhh after that long starter sip. The day begins.

Coffee has become a billion dollar industry. From single cup to built in units that grind beans for each cup that is brewed - perking that coffee is a common ritual in many households.  There are bean grinders, espresso makers, fair trade coffee and the ongoing debate of Starbucks vs Dunkin Donuts. We choose sides. We talk about the crema, the boldness, the blend.  We stop and savor the moment just for that split second - we allow ouselves to just BE. 
Why shouldn't we take the time to inhale - just inhale - and just BE? Why don't we stop to smell the autumn change in the air? Listen to the crunch of leaves under our feet, watch the V shaped pattern of geese glide across the sky? See the color in the sky as the light fades to dark, feel the cool clean air fill our lungs and just BE. The world moves so fast that living in the moment has become elusive. When was the last time you stopped to hear childrens' voices as they play in the school yard, heard the beat of the city beneath your feet, felt music melt into your pores, into your very being?

Stop and smell the coffee - taste the sweet bitterness of complexities that brew inside of you everyday. BE in the moment - just BE. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010


The BEST Price

What is THE BEST PRICE? We are all asking for it, we are all negotiating everything everyday. Myself included. But how do we know what THE BEST PRICE really is, when it is in an industry we are NOT in? Take construction for example. You are trusting someone to open your walls, take electrical wires in their hands, repair them, and then TRUST that they are correct. If not done correctly, they could start a fire. You are trusting someone to build a floor that you won't fall though. You are trusting someone to make sure all the plumbing connections are secure so that you don't spring a leak. What is the cost of trust?

I have seen some instances on some jobs where the contractor went from being low bid to outrageous crazy when unforseen circumstances arose. Were they unforseen or overlooked in order to get the low bid?  Do your homeowork. Get references, call vendors that supply the person that will be in your home.  Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints. Make sure they are licensed & insured. Trust your gut instinct. Are they so low because they can't get work?

When it all comes down to it, the BEST PRICE is a fair price given by fair people. People that are working in your best interest with their best price to the best of their ability. So what is the real cost of the best price? What are you willing to pay?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Color Cat looks at Paint

Wow oh wow. The Brown Truck just delivered a box o' goodies - paint fans from Benjamin Moore.  Among them is the Affinity Colors fan deck, for use with the Aura line of paints. Since I intend to paint this weekend, this delivery was akin to opening the box with the big red bow on Christmas morning. For a person that primaily wears black, I love color. One of my clients once dubbed me "The Color Cat" and all I can say to that is meow.

The Aura Paint collection is a low VOC line, with GREENGUARD approval for childrens' rooms & schools. VOC translates to Volatile Organic Compound and refers to off gassing and/or that nasty odor that makes you sick when painting a room (refernece Modern Family's Phil on cracking open a can of paint). 

While this is all great - here's the REALLY great part.....EVERY color in the fan deck works with EVERY color in the fan deck! I love that ceilings are no longer "ceiling white" or trim is not just "anitque white" anymore . Painting your celing or trim can instantly change the atmosphere in a room. I love the fresh combination of colors - Blue Echo works with Coriander Seed works with Kona Brown. And - by the way my dream job would be to name the colors in the paint fan. I am such a colornerd.

Check out the link - and please comment if you've used the Aura line.  I'll test it out soon and let you all know my thoughts.....!!! Keep seeing your world in color - bring your space to life!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Ripple Effect

While swimming laps yesterday I began to realize that good design - like a good attitude - has a direct ripple effect on us and those around us. Did you ever step into a room, home or building where it just felt right? Alot has to do with proportion. The "Golden Mean" or the rule of thirds where all things are in propotion/scale to each other can create a harmonius space.  Let's take this another way - have you ever walked into a room where all the framed photos or pictures are hung well above eye level? How did that feel? Could you tell there was something disjointed about the space?

The same goes for a good attitude. OK, sometimes I wear my attitude on my sleeve and it shows. We get so wrapped up in how we feel  that we forget how we present ourselves to the world. We forget that words carry weight and affect not only how we are perceived but how our words affect those around and close to us. We become disjointed, or out of propotion. As in design, take a step back and see what's off kilter - what is disjointed. A little adjustment can go a long way in redefining your own atmosphere, and making that atmosphere around us a better place to live.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Just back from a funeral in NJ, I began to think about our lives and those we touch. And this lady was one particularly beutiful soul in this world. As we talked about times together and viewed photos I pondered the traditions that are so entrenched in family life. They are what hold us together.

A very touching part of the procession to the final site was driving past the home where Aunt Kay lived. How very telling in the story of our lives. Her dwelling, her home was honored as an integral part of where the love, the bond sprung forth.

In our own space, our own home, our own dwellings we define who we are. I have iris in my garden that I have moved from home to home (sometimes stored in black plastic bags) that I have had now for over 30 years. You know, the pale lavendar blue kind that smell like grape popsicles. Part of the tradition of the iris is to give them away when I separate them in the fall so they may prosper in friends' lives as well.

It's time to part the iris again and let a part of me bloom for someone else. Our traditions weave a rich bond with those in our lives. Design a tradition of your own that keeps that bond growing and pass it on.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Live in Fashion

It's Fashion Week in NYC. Color and change are in the air - we are what we wear. Fashion and interior design are synomous. I learned a long time ago that the home  industry bases their design ideas - the furnishings, carpets and wall color - on womens' fashions. Consumers will buy home fashions based on their taste in clothes.  This fall trumpets the colors of olive green, muted metallics, camel and gray.  Colors I could roll in and wear like a dog rolls in a new smell.  Fall is my favorite time of year.

Take a look in your closet - then look at your living space.  Are there similarities?  Are the colors, textures and patterns in your home the same as what you wear?  Does the color and style reflect your personal style? We are a compliation of our life experiences, our outlook shaped by both internal and external influences.  The outward expression of our personal style and home design should reflect the culmilation of these life experiences.  For these are our "colors" of the face we show to the world.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Designed with love

We talk about design with a capital "D". The magazine worthy type that comes with a high price tag. What I saw over the weekend is truly inspired design - a Mom who took her children's rooms and created an enviroment that reflects each offsprings' individualism.  Imagine that - a Mom that accepts, enourages and celebrates who these people are.  It took paint, insight, a few Fatheads and a wonderful sense of both intuition and knowledge of the individual. And how does her family feel about it? Each one is proud of their space - and their Mom. Kudos to you Mom for taking it to the next level with your creativity and ability to see the whole picture. The rooms may change and the children will grow - but they will always know you're on their side.
Design that makes sense - and shows the love.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Where do the pillows go?

Design Trend:
Freshen your space with new pillows!
But realistically, how many pillows can one own before they own you? And where do they go when their day is done? Relegated to the back of a closet? Or off to the landfill to kabitz with the carpet and other household items that are simply filling up the Fill?

Instead of a quick fix - take a moment to think about your Christmas ornaments. Are they safely boxed away, taken out one at a time to remember the moment, where you bought them, what was going on in your life? Now look at your pillows. Do they hold any emotional attachment? 

Design should have that connection with your life.  In Japan there is a design practice called Tokonoma. One item is placed in a niche and that items is reflected upon until it is time to replace it with another item that gives meaning to the household.  Your home should reflect the life you have led. Design your space with memories - in a frame or in a cherished vase passed down through families, or in the purchase of a single item that evokes a memory everytime you look at it. 

Create a haven that is comforting, a reminder of your connections in this world. Save a pillow, save the planet. And dwell in a space that is truly your own.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

REDesign started with a fire. Truly, the kitchen stove caught on fire when my husband made his "best gravy ever". He sat the ceramic dish on top of the stove, it cracked in half and all that great gravy went into the stove and it burst into flames. No one was hurt - just the greatest gravy ever.

I have been in design about 15 years, lately, kitchen & bath. And I'm cheap. We have beautiful custom natural cherry cabinets that are 13 years old, and they look good. Good, not new, good. They don't need to be replaced and I can't afford it.

So began the wish list - double ovens, professional range, new countertops, new backsplash, new new new. Then came the budget. By being creative, efficient, and cost effective, I instantly updated the space by adding unique elements utilizing the existing materials. And what a WOW. Check out the before and after, then we'll talk about redesign, renewal and renovation that costs less than you think. Good for the wallet, good for the landfills, and just good design.