Posts belonging to Category IFFY


We were standing in the living room of my client’s home.

As we looked around us, taking in the handiwork of the previous owners, it was clear that my client wanted to make this house her own.

That’s when she declared “I want to have an absolute Zen-like space to come home to.”

That one statement set a very clear vision for the project.

Sparsely furnished, this particular home would be clean-lined and minimalist, with Asian overtones in the bamboo floors and accessories.

Plus, there would be plenty of built-in storage to avoid clutter.

It was the sort of project that took an entire team to pull off.

Well, you might not be in need of an entire team.

But, perhaps you’re drawn to the idea of a peaceful, Zen-like space to come home to.

You may also love the idea of having someone to bounce your ideas off of and help you pull the project together – from start to finish.

That’s what I call Total Zen.



“TO:  The Supreme Pontiff Julius II           

FROM:  M. Buonarroti, artist

RE:  Interior Decorating

Most Holy Father,

It grieves me that your Holiness is unhappy with the progress on the Sistine Chapel.

Admittedly, it’s taken a little time and we’re into a slight cost overrun, but Your Holiness must admit this isn’t something that can be done with a numbered kit.

It’s hard on the neck, too. And, while you don’t do the shopping,You must know the price of fresco colors is out of sight! A couple more years should do it.

Your obedient servant,


P.S. I beg to point out to Your Holiness that there is nothing in the contract about scraping the sash in the Vatican Refectory. As I’ve said before, I don’t do windows.”

(From an ancient account in Rome’s Vatican Library. Date has been effaced, but is believed to be circa AD 1510)


Yes, you read correctly.

This excerpt was written by that Michelangelo, the one of Sistine ceiling fame.

I happen to love this quote!

It’s a page straight out of history, yet – despite the passage of 500 years – not a lot has changed.

It could just as easily have been written yesterday.

Truth be told, the first time I heard this was at a meeting, where the speaker read it aloud before a room full of interior designers.

You can be sure it got a good laugh.

However, I think just about anyone can relate to Michelangelo’s words.

For example, if you’ve ever taken on a project that ran into cost overruns, or was not completed on time, this letter will sound painfully familiar.

Then there’s the part about the “numbered kit”.

Did such a thing even exist back then? (Apparently so).

What Michelangelo was basically saying, was that painting the Sistine ceiling was not just any old work of Art.

His letter makes plain that this was part of a very involved process – one that could not be rushed.



According to a recent study “the state of your home has a direct impact on your Relationships, your Self-Esteem & your overall Happiness”.


I thought I’d take a moment to explain the inspiration behind Designer-in-a-Box – specifically the three packages that I offer.

Let’s begin then, with the very first tier, the one I call Peace of Mind.

Why that particular name? Where did it come from?

Well, perhaps this describes you…

Is your home filled with furniture you bought years ago (in college, maybe?), or with things that someone else chose?

Maybe even leftover from a previous relationship?

So, here’s the thing.

If your home no longer reflects who you are, it’s like dragging a heavy weight around with you every day.

(Remember that study? Your happiness depends on this!)

Now, change the picture.

Visualize yourself coming into a home that truly supports your health and well-being and reflects the essence of who you are.

That is what I call Peace of Mind.

And, as I’ve mentioned, Peace of Mind also happens to be the name of the intro package I’ve created for my ultimate DIY interior design program– DESIGNER IN A BOX.

Of course, these words could mean something else entirely.



Next week marks the annual observation of our national holiday – the 4th of July.

For many of us, that means barbecues and fireworks – traditions we’ve held onto since childhood.

But sometimes, we tend to forget what the holiday is all about.

July 4th  is also known as Independence Day.

As you know, this harkens back to a time in our nation’s history when we first declared our independence from the mother country.

The signing of the Declaration of Independence made this moment official.

Webster’s Dictionary defines independence as:  1.The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on; self-subsistence of maintenance; direction of one’s own affairs without interference.

As you can see, there are many ways to declare ones independence.

Most of us have approached this phase of our lives during our late teens and twenties, when we tend to break away from our parents influence and strike out on our own.

Others, such as my grandparents, declared their independence by leaving behind their homeland, and immigrating to the United States, dreaming of the possibilities for themselves and their families.

Independence, after all, is all about Freedom.



It’s official!

Designer in a Box is launching next week and I can’t tell you how excited I am to announce that Thursday, June 28 is the date – so mark your calendars!

Meanwhile, I thought I’d share a story that came up a few weeks ago.

As you might recall, I’ve occasionally made references to our rustic family cabin, nestled in the woods.

The one made out of logs.

In fact, I recently wrote about it in a post called “How to Decorate a Log Cabin”. That article was all about honoring the unique style of architecture in such a home.

This story refers to an unused shed on the premises that was converted to a guest cabin many years ago.

I know, that sounds fancy.

But trust me, it really isn’t.

What I love most about the guest cabin, is its small size.

It’s snug and cozy.

Yet, it contains everything you could possibly need, including a private bath. Although, I will admit, said bathroom isn’t much larger than what you’d find on an airplane.

Which is how we unwittingly flooded the place this past Spring, when we turned the water system back on.

Unbeknownst to us, the shower head was facing into the room, instead of the shower stall – and had also been left in the ‘on’ position.


Needless to say, that is how we managed to ruin the bedroom carpet since it was in close proximity.

It wasn’t a huge loss, though.



If you’ve been reading my blog lately, then you know that I’ve been gearing up to launch my brand new Interior Design Program DESIGNER IN A BOX.

And I’m guessing you have some questions.

Perhaps the most pressing one – correct me if I’m wrong – is this:

How do you know if Designer in a Box is right for you?

Well, here’s a hypothetical scenario:

Let’s say you’ve decided to redecorate your living room and create a space that is invitingly cozy and comfortable and reflects everything you are passionate about.

So, you head over to your favorite big-box furniture store that is currently having a big Sale.

An eager and attentive salesperson comes to your aid, and ultimately convinces you to buy a beautiful white, leather sofa.

You are certain this is exactly what you need.

A few days later, the sofa is delivered to your home.

You’re surprised to learn that it is a little large for the space – you thought it was such a perfect fit!

And while you still think the sofa is attractive, you’re not quite so sure anymore that you’ve made the correct choice.

So you call your mother, and some friends.



“The challenges we go through are often the raw materials we need for the solutions to break through.”  Christine Kane


I thought I’d take a step back this week and focus on a topic that many of us try to avoid – the fact that things don’t always go as planned.

Whether you’re re-designing your home, traveling or simply spending time with family – this seems to be a fact of life.

And this is what has been on my mind lately, after returning from a rather eventful, five-day trip traversing the country.

During my travels, I’d experienced everything from lost luggage  – not once, but twice! – a boarding pass that wouldn’t print (resulting in a missed flight), unexpected delays and late arrivals.

In some ways, it seemed reminiscent of an earlier trip this year, where I later marveled at how everything seemed to have played out exactly as the universe intended.

However, this was different.

When things don’t go exactly as planned, or expected, and our stress levels go through the roof – at that point we’re dealing with a whole different animal.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be messed up travel plans.

Maybe you’ve hired an architect to build a new home from the ground up, or have embarked on a home remodeling project.

Chances are you’ve run into a few glitches along the way, including unexpected mishaps and delays.

Let’s face it – they are to be expected.

Since delays on any kind of home remodel or design project are usually the norm, it helps to learn how to take things in stride and not fight the inevitable.

Meanwhile – in the interest of helping you maintain your sanity – here are some things you can do for yourself, regardless of the crisis at hand.


Acceptance is Key

The first step is Acceptance.

Whatever might have befallen your carefully laid out plans, I encourage you to repeat this mantra – “it is what it is”.

Do this as many times as is necessary.

Unless you’re dealing with something as serious as a death in the family, the situation likely isn’t the end of the world.

At least, that’s what I told myself when I was standing at the Austin airport, realizing my suitcase had remained in another part of the country.

While not exactly delighted about the situation, I also realized that things could be worse.

After all, we had arrived safely.

I had my family with me.

And surely, such material things as a toothbrush or a change of clothes, I knew that I could easily manage without for just one day.

That’s the real message here.

Regardless of the crisis you’re currently dealing with, ask yourself:

  • How bad is it, really?
  • If your project is delayed by a week or two, is that completely unmanageable?
  • What is the worst that could happen?

Knowing that you can’t change what is – that’s the first step toward Acceptance.


Be Kind to Yourself

When you feel you’re at your breaking point – rather than give in to your anger and frustration, and feelings of hopelessness – that’s when you need to step away.

It’s now time for some pampering.



In the past few months, the hotel where I routinely stay in Asheville, NC, has undergone a complete overhaul – taking the newly remodeled lobby entrance from drab to “wow”!

At least, that was my first impression, upon entering the revolving front doors.

I thought the new décor was fun and vibrant, and instantly uplifting.

Later, I asked my fellow attendees what they thought, and the response was surprising.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said one person.

“It’s stupid,” said another. “It isn’t safe.”

I saw immediately what was going on.

“Ah,” I said. “That’s the thing – it’s the difference between aesthetics and function.”

As an interior designer, I had initially observed the lobby from purely an aesthetic viewpoint.

But for those who’d actually been lounging in the chairs and sofas, their discomfort level was intense.

“The ottoman is too small & squishy for a big person,” was the explanation. “You could roll right off it.”

“Not to mention the chairs in the dining room,” someone else chimed in. “They’re much too small!

She predicted they wouldn’t last more than a year.

I was then reminded of the previous evening.

While seated in one of the deep, cushy sofas in the bar area, I had been acutely uncomfortable – unable to lean back against the pillows without my feet dangling off the floor.

My back was tired.

In other words, even though the aesthetic – or visual – experience might be a huge WOW, if the design isn’t also working from a functional – or practical – standpoint, then it has failed.

As an interior designer, these are the things I know.



Are you ready to create the home of your dreams?  

Well, what if I told you there is now a fabulous on-line tool that can help you do just that?

I’m thrilled to announce my brand new Interior Design program – DESIGNER IN A BOX – the Ultimate DIY Course for designing your own home!

A little over a year ago, I came up with the idea to introduce an Interior Design program in the form of an on-line tutorial.

“Wouldn’t it be great,” I thought, “To have an on-line tool that helps you design the home of your dreams?”

The creative wheels have been turning ever since.

It’s moments like these that remind me why I created this program in the first place.

It’s because I truly believe everyone deserves to have a beautiful home!

Not only that, I believe access to professional interior design advice should be readily available and affordable to anyone.

In order to do this, I realized I would be sharing a lot of information that includes not just the A,B,C’s of interior design but also insider tips, worksheets and plenty of personal advice.

I specifically tailored this Home Study Course towards anyone who is a little more “hands on”, preferring to handle much of the design work yourself while having access to professional advice along the way.

My intention with this program is just that – to help you create a beautiful home that supports and nourishes you in every aspect of your life.

So, how do you know if Designer in a Box is right for you?



A few months ago, an acquaintance of mine mentioned that her two-year old grandson had been quite sick over the past few months.

The poor little guy had been in and out of our local Children’s Hospital, subjected to one test after another.

After all that, there was still no clear diagnosis.                             

However, doctors were beginning to question whether the real culprit might be the new carpet recently installed in the family’s home.

It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?

I was shocked when I heard this, but I wasn’t surprised.

The truth is, fumes from fresh paint, new furniture, new carpet and fabrics, and that new car smell – those fumes are what’s referred to as “off-gassing” and it’s all highly toxic.

The toxicity comes from the VOC’s, or Volatile Organic Compounds, that are present in any of these products.

You might be wondering, is it even possible to avoid them?

Well, you’ll be happy to know there is a way, and you can do that by considering healthier alternatives such as zero VOC Paints, organic fabrics and water based finishes.

You can read all about this and more in my new guide “LIVING GREEN”  – available either as a downloadable file, or a printed booklet that will be shipped to your front door.