Posts belonging to Category Designer Recommends


Are you familiar with the history of the chair?  

Did you know that the chair, as we know it today, has only been around for a few hundred years? Back in the 16th century, you had to be somebody Very Important to sit in a chair, let alone own one.

In fact, that is where the word “Chairman” comes from.

As in, Chairman of the Board. The ‘Chair’ of a committee. The head of the table.

The person with the Chair!

In earlier times, everyone else sat on hard wooden stools or benches. No-one concerned themselves with thoughts of comfort. Indeed, the very idea of comfort didn’t even exist.

It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?

In celebration of the modern chair, I thought I’d share with you two of my favorite designs.


‘Ghost Chair’ by Philippe Starck

This chair, pictured above, is by the notable designer Philippe Starck. It is one of my all-time favorites, and here’s why:

I love that it’s inspired by a centuries-old design of a Louis XV Chair – straight out of 18th century France. A chair that, 250 years ago  was the height of modernity & comfort.

Today’s Ghost Chair is also completely modern – with a ‘barely there’ presence – since it is made out of clear polyurethane, rather than wood.

This classic chair has been given a completely updated look, simply by changing the material. I consider this the best of both worlds.



Ah, the joys of travel.                      

Not only do we have to deal with the hassles of flying, but other healthy habits such as diet and exercise often fly out the window, adding to our level of frustration and fatigue.

I know it can be very hard to maintain our eco-friendly ways while on the road. We tend to opt for convenience when crunched for time, or when we’re tired and far from home.

Still, it is possible, and needn’t take too much effort.

So here are my tips on How to Travel Green:


Stay Hydrated

While it’s definitely important to stay hydrated while traveling, I think it’s equally important to consider the type of bottle you’re drinking out of.

Yet, how does one maintain proper fluid intake without going through gallons of water packaged in plastic bottles?

My method isn’t foolproof, but here it is:  I travel with a stainless steel water bottle. I empty it prior to passing through airport security, then request a refill at the nearest Starbucks.

A friend of mine gave me this tip a few years ago, and it really works!

Your second option is to buy bottled water, refill the stainless steel bottle, and then recycle the plastic container in the nearest recycle bin.

It may not always be possible to find a recycle bin, but I think this is more about doing what you can. Every little bit helps!

Remember – you’re travelling. It isn’t going to be perfect. If it comes down to choosing between quenching your thirst and staying ‘green’ – personally, I would choose the water every time.


Linens & Things

Have you noticed that more and more hotels are giving you an option whether to have your sheets and towels changed on a daily basis?

Sure, the luxury and pampering that comes with fresh linens every night is definitely nice, but is it really necessary?



Do you remember the TV commercial from the 70’s – the one with the little old lady at a fast food joint, demanding to know “Where’s the Beef?”                       

Sometimes I ask “Where’s the Magic?”

I do this instinctively with interior design, whether flipping through a magazine or seeing a vignette that feels less than exciting.

It’s the same idea, really.

Both scenarios imply that something is missing.

Good design tells a story. It engages and envelops you. The excitement, the magic that I speak of is subtle, but it’s there.

It’s what puts a skip in your step, or makes your heart skip a beat.

It’s a sense of being taken care of, of feeling cocooned in your own home because it is furnished to reflect the lives – and loves – of you and your family.

Are you wondering how to achieve that kind of magic in your home?

Whether your style is minimalist, clean and orderly, or a more laid-back, ‘lived-in’ look –  rest assured.

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Congratulations – you’re on your way!


As an Interior Designer, I’m constantly exposed to exciting new products that come on the market.

Every so often, I see something that is so drop-dead gorgeous it elicits a gasp.

As in “Wow!”

Such moments are really exciting for me, because they inspire me to think outside the box and imagine infinite possibilities for my clients.

I happened to have one of these inspirational “wow” moments just yesterday, while viewing – drum roll please – wallpaper.

Yes, wallpaper has come a long way.

Gone are the days of the plain, boring old papers that our grandmothers might have used fifty years ago, to dress up a bare wall.

These days you can choose from a wide range of materials, including Asian inspired grass cloth, Japanese rice paper, or the natural look of cork or raffia.

You can choose from a plain weave, in a wide range of colors, or jazz things up with metallic fibers or bits of metal.

It is like jewelry for the walls!

Yet it doesn’t stop there.



Does your home speak to you?                                       

Does it have a story to tell?

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of re-visiting the Gamble House, a turn-of-the-last century Craftsman style home in Pasadena, California.

This 100 year old gem of a house was designed by the architectural geniuses Greene & Greene.

I have to admit, I admired this home just as much the second time around, both for its turn-of-the-century simplicity and its incredible attention to detail.

I use the word ‘incredible’ – yet, this doesn’t adequately describe what the house has to offer.

Astounding is more like it.

The effect of these rooms bathed in a golden light, is almost magical. It literally takes your breath away.

From the moment one first steps into the darkened entry, you realize you are in for a treat as your eyes gradually become accustomed to the light.

You notice first, the lovely image of an oak tree etched into the leaded glass panes of the front door, its limbs stretching far and wide into the transom and side light windows.

You notice it in the smoothly rounded edges of the polished Burmese teak, framing the grand central stair.

You notice it, too, in the delicate silhouette of a lantern in the shape of a crane, a bird that – in Japan – represents longevity.

You notice the repetition of certain motifs – trailing vines and the ever-present Chinese ‘cloud-lift’ – everywhere you look.

It’s present in the leaded glass light fixtures, the carved mantle and friezes, in the stair rail and even the carved inlays on a bed frame.

Good design relies on repetition.             

Designers and architects alike know this, and rely heavily on such simple tools to create an innate rhythm of beauty and celebration throughout a clients’ home.



“Do not keep anything in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  William Morris

Do you ever feel like you’re a bit behind the times?

I certainly do.

Just by chance, I came across a Facebook posting from life coach Martha Beck, featuring IKEA’s “Life Improvement Project”.

This was the first I’d heard of the Life Improvement Project, and I was beyond impressed, especially since their focus is on building a better Life and Community through good design and responsible environmental choices.

It’s always encouraging to learn of others who share your philosophy. I’m now adding IKEA to my list, along with proponents of The Not So Big House and the Slow Home Movement.

What we refer to as the Butterfly Effect is essentially a ‘ripple’ effect – the idea that every action, no matter how small, can make a difference.



We all have our favorite colors.    

The ones we’re drawn to instinctively in the way we dress and what we surround ourselves with in our homes.

Me, I like blue, especially a faded blue, one that leans toward blue-grey. Other days I might be more in the mood for yellow.

Speaking of moods, who among us hasn’t had ‘one of those days’, the kind where you look in your closet and nothing suits your dark mood but black.

So you dress yourself in black, head to toe, and head out the door.

That’s a good example of your Internal Color Compass dictating what you should wear, based on your mood.

Of course, this internal compass can serve you just as well when you’re feeling sunny and upbeat, and it can also help determine the color palette in your home.

The following four Color Palettes were shared at a recent Sherwin Williams Color Forecast presentation.



I’ve just returned from a wonderful, relaxing vacation on the island of Lana’i, in Hawai’i.                              

On our last morning, as we were leaving our hotel, a fellow passenger said “Say goodbye to Paradise” as we rode the shuttle to the airport.

His comment couldn’t have been more true.

I suppose that those of us living on the West coast have it easy, since Hawaii is a relatively ‘short’ six hour flight away.

Even so, the flight home can easily undo the complete state of relaxation that my body had become accustomed to during the previous week.

Yet, no matter how long, or tiring the flight, it couldn’t take away my memories of the breathtaking ocean views, the warm sun on my skin, fresh papaya for breakfast each morning and the feel of being gently tossed in the ocean waves as they rolled ashore.

I suppose this could describe any place in Hawaii, but for me it’s part of the magic of Lana’i.

The island of Lana’i  may be among the less popular of the Hawaiian Islands, due to its small size and the number of visitors who come here.

Yet for my husband and myself, that’s precisely what we like about it.

Here’s what else is unique about Lana’i:

  • It is a place of contrasts, offering both luxury and simplicity, with warmth and sunshine on the coast, or cool breezes and a chance of rain further inland.
  • The population is roughly 3100.
  • There are only 30 miles of paved roads. The speed limit is 35. If you really want to tour the island, a 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
  • Earlier this century Lana’i was a pineapple plantation, owned by Dole Pineapple.
  • The main town is Lana’i City. Actually, it’s the only town. It’s small, and quaint, taking you back in time about 50 years.
  • There are only 3 hotels.
  • Two of these hotels are Four Seasons Resorts, each with its own world-class golf course. They are located at Manele Bay, and the Lodge at Koele (a former plantation house), respectively.
  • The third hotel, Hotel Lanai’i is located in Lana’i City, and is small and quaint, just like the town. It has an excellent restaurant and features a live band every Friday evening.
  • You can spend your day playing in the waves, or relaxing on the beach at the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, Manele Bay. Or, you can enjoy a game of miniature golf or croquet at its sister hotel, the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele.
  • Since the temperatures are easily 10 degrees cooler at The Lodge, you might even find yourself enjoying afternoon tea in front of a roaring fire in the rustic Great Room.
  • For a nominal fee, there is a shuttle service that transfers hotel guests between hotels, or into town.
  • In town, you’ll find a gift shop called Dis ‘n Dat, which carries exactly what the name implies. When you walk inside, you’re greeted by a symphony of wind chimes blowing in the warm breeze.
  • The word Lana’i means “hump” in reference to the volcanic eruption that formed the island many eons ago.

All this and more is the magic of Lana’i.


When I was in design school, we were given an assignment to design a Children’s Museum.                             

Since this was a class project, we didn’t have an actual client, meaning it was the perfect opportunity to pull out all the stops and let our imaginations run wild.

I decided to have some fun.

Being the daughter of a museum curator does have its advantages. I was able to visualize the museum project from the viewpoint of a child who was taken to museums probably from the time I was old enough to walk.

I admit, I didn’t always go willingly. Cause, let’s face it, a big stodgy old building, as most older museums tend to be, aren’t exactly a child’s idea of a good time. It can be downright boring.

I know this from experience.

Plus, I’m now a bonfide museum docent who tours school children young and old, and I can tell you things haven’t changed.

Entertaining kids in a museum can be a challenge, but it can also be a joy.

For my project, I decided to give the children an exciting, hands-on experience, without the usual “Do Not Touch” approach. In fact, in my museum, touching was not only encouraged, it was the whole point of the experience.



Are you familiar with the term trompe l’oeil, French for ‘fool the eye’?

At some point, you’ve probably seen a painting, or wall finish, such as the one to the right, which looks so realistic you’d swear it was the real thing.

In this case, the life-size statuary and carved moldings, appear to be the classical edifice of a building.

Except that it isn’t.

Paintings such as this can be especially deceiving. You think you are looking at statuary, or a still-life arrangement of books that are so convincingly 3-dimensional you feel you could reach into the painting and pick them up.

It literally fools the eye.