WHAT DO TRAVEL AGENTS & INTERIOR DESIGNERS HAVE IN COMMON?

“Hiring a professional to do something you could yourself can be a good idea or a bad one. It comes down to the value you receive.”The Seattle Times, July 2011

 

I just got off the phone with my travel agent. 

Yes, I might be one of the few who still resort to this ‘dated’ practice, when it’s so easy to book your own travel plans online.

But here’s the thing.

Spur of the moment, my husband and I decided to plan a trip to Hawaii.

We called our favorite hotel and were told there was limited room availability at the start of the holidays – plus prices would be higher than usual.

Then we attempted to reserve a flight on the airline’s website, only to learn there was only room for one of us on any given flight.

Clearly, this wouldn’t do.

Enter the travel agent.

The beauty of working with a travel agent is that, for a minimal fee ($35 in our case) she was able to book a flight – for both of us – plus a hotel room at a reasonable rate.

She did all this, and saved us about $2000.

I compare hiring a travel agent to hiring an interior designer. I think you’ll be amazed by the similarities!

 

Expensive? Says Who?

Hiring a travel agent, or interior designer – or any professional, for that matter – won’t necessarily cost you more.

Changes are, you will even save money in the end.

This is because interior designers not only know the ins and outs of their business, they also know where to find you the best deals.

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THE ELEMENTS OF DESIGN – PART 2

This week’s article is a continuation from last week. 

(If you missed that article, you can find it here.)

And as I said before, it’s a bit of a teaser.

I say this, because I’m using various elements found in Nature to illustrate the Elements of Design – the so-called building blocks used to create just about any work of art – and  therefore the principal tools that designers, architects and all creative types invariably use in their craft.

So far, we’ve explored Color, Balance, Pattern and Rhythm.

Still to come?

Space, Line, Proportion and perhaps my favorite – Harmony.

So here they are….

 

Space

See that wide expanse of sky?

If that endless space was filled with stuff, this scene wouldn’t look nearly as tranquil.

Which means Mother Nature got it right again, knowing exactly when to stop.

In home design, this translates to “Less is More” an oft quoted remark from one of the 20th century’s foremost architects, Mies van der Rohe.

When it doubt, a good rule of thumb is to edit the finished design by removing one item.

That’s when you’re done.

 

Line & Proportion

In Nature, line and proportion are pretty much perfect.

After all, who’s to say a maple leaf should have a different shape, or that a bunch of grapes should be less round?

We accept them for what they are.

A mix of lines and shapes is always a good idea for interiors, as well.

And knowing when to place a large sofa in a smaller room, or vice versa, is just as helpful.

Is the coffee table the right size for the nearby chairs?

What about the bed?

Understanding the relationship between all these different elements is key to a successful project!

 

Focal Point

This is your immediate field of vision.    

With a view like this, it’s easy to see what that might be.

The Focal Point is the one thing that captivates you, that is so spectacular, interesting or inviting that people can’t help but notice it.

It’s what we situate our homes to take full advantage – especially when there’s a gorgeous view.

Inside your home, this translates to either the fireplace, a bed or seating area, or even the television.

Hmmm.

Which would you rather look at?

 

Harmony

This is an easy one.

It’s what we achieve when ALL the Elements & Principles have been used together – well, harmoniously.

Just like in Nature.

If your home is feeling a bit flat and un-inspired, you can be fairly certain that one of these key elements is off, or missing altogether.

THE ELEMENTS OF DESIGN – WITH A NATURAL TWIST

Today’s post is a bit of a teaser.   

While vacationing a few weeks ago in Eastern Washington, I spent a lot of time outdoors.

And on my bike.

While riding the scenic back roads, it occurred to me that much of what we see in Nature mirrors the Elements of Design – the principal tools that designers, architects and all creative types invariably use in their craft.

These Elements of Design include everything from color, space, balance, shape, line, proportion and much more – while lending interest and excitement to a space.

Just as they do in Nature.

Let me explain.

 

Color

Imagine the natural world without color!  

It’s almost painful to think of.

Everywhere we look, on any given day, we are welcomed by a riot of color in our surroundings – both indoors and out.

Sometimes it makes sense to balance the colors of Nature outside your windows, with a soothing palette inside. A neutral palette can make strong colors pop – just as you see in the vivid sunsets shown above.

Other times, a desert landscape might call for bolder colors within.

Different colors dictate a different mood, and can lift our spirits.

In Nature, the most soothing colors are green and blue.

 

Balance 

Balance in a room is achieved through Symmetry or Asymmetry in the basic layout of your furnishings.

The essence of Symmetry is this:

If you were to draw an imaginary line down the center of a room, dividing it in half – each half would be a mirror image of the other.

In Nature, we can find a perfect mirror image reflected in a lake, just like in this picture!

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5 WAYS TO SHIFT THE ENERGY IN YOUR OFFICE

A recent article on creating Harmony in ones’ work place, has inspired today’s post.

Perhaps you’ve wondered how you might improve the energy in your workspace.

Whether or not your office is in your home, these simple design suggestions will give you something to think about.

By no means are these ideas limited to just your office – you can apply this to any place in your home.

 

Do Aim for Clean, Uncluttered Surfaces

We don’t always realize how important it is to have our work areas impeccably organized, with a designated place for everything to be stored.

The tendency is to have little piles on our desk, each one representing a portion of our To Do list for the next day.

Do you really tackle each of those little piles on a daily basis?

I know I don’t.

And yet, I’m fearful of storing things away, being very guilty of an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

Here’s the thing, though:  according to Chinese Feng Shui, having too many things on your work surface can impede the flow of energy, or chi.

There is a lot of truth in this ancient wisdom, so take heed.

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ARE YOUR KIDS MISSING SCHOOL?

Did you know that asthma is on the rise?

According to the latest statistics, more than 25 million people are affected!

Of even greater concern, is that asthma in children is on the increase, resulting in a lot of missed school days.

The culprit?

VOC’s – chemicals found in many household items, and what you should NOT be breathing.

VOC’s stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. Even the word volatile sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it?

You know how, when food has gone bad, it typically has a rather awful smell?

Well, think of VOC’s as being the household equivalent to rotten food.

Just as you wouldn’t eat food that has obviously seen better days – you really don’t want to surround yourself with toxins that poison your environment and the air you breathe, do you?

That is why we need to pay particular attention to our children’s sleep environment.

While statistics show that at least 57% of today’s children are sleep deprived, what we’re talking about here goes beyond just making sure they are getting enough sleep!

Let’s say your children are, in fact, sleep deprived.

If you add toxins and food allergies to the mix, they are at an even greater disadvantage.

So how do you ensure adequate sleep, aside from sending them to bed at an appropriate time?

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THE SECRET LIFE OF SOFAS

I’m guessing that you have a sofa somewhere in your home.

Most likely it is one of several focal points in the living room (the others being a fireplace or TV), and the one piece of furniture that everyone gravitates towards.

Perhaps it is incredibly comfortable, inviting you to cuddle up in a corner with a good book?

Then again, maybe it is the style of your sofa that is so appealing?

Or perhaps it’s the well-worn fabric and cushions, that have seated generations of your family before you?

Do sofas really have a secret life?

Well, maybe not in the sense that some people lead secret lives, but if your sofa has any kind of history, who knows?

Let me share with you a little bit about the origins of the sofa, and you will see what I mean.

Sofas have been a standard fixture in our homes for only a little over three hundred years.

The sofa made its first appearance during the reign of King Louis XIV, of France, during the late 17th century.

The sofa was a French invention, ushering in a new age of greater comfort in home furnishings.

It wasn’t long before it became all the rage among the upper levels of society. Of course, the royal household benefited first with the Queen, herself, an avid promoter.

With the arrival of the sofa, this was the first time in history that an upholstered, padded piece of furniture was available that could actually seat two people!

At the time, this was considered incredibly daring.

The sofa developed a reputation of being rather racy.

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WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM TV SITCOMS

Many years ago, I snapped a random photograph of my young son standing on the beach in Hawaii.

When my photos came back from the printers, I was surprised to find that not only did I capture him by the water’s edge – but also his shadow in the water.

Inadvertently, I’d even captured his shadow on the sand!

It was uncanny.

I called the photo “Ashley 3Ways” –because I’d unintentionally captured three different aspects of him.

I was thinking about that photo a few days ago while watching The Big Bang Theory on TV.

Have you ever watched that show?

It’s entertaining, in a goofy kind of way – ideal for those times when only something lighthearted will do.

What I noticed about several of the main characters – who all live in the same building, by the way – is that each apartment appears to be identical in layout.

Maybe the floor plan is flipped, but the layout is still the same.

Yet each of their homes looks entirely different from the other.

It’s a little like that photograph – you’re seeing the same thing, but in three distinctly different ways.

In this case, their homes tell a story about their respective characters.

The set designer (as opposed to, say, an interior designer) personalized the space by choosing furnishings which perfectly encompass what each of the characters represents.

(It is a TV sitcom, after all).

For example, in one apartment, you have Sheldon & Leonard, two physics nerds who work together and also share an apartment.

Their home reflects a typical bachelor pad, with leather furnishings, electronics and a subdued, masculine palette of brown and black that says “men live here”.

Across the hall we have Penny, a bubbly blond who lends a much needed feminine touch – and her apartment reflects that.

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HAVE YOU CLEANSED YOUR HOME?

We hear a lot about Cleansing and Detoxing the body.

But have you ever considered a Cleanse for the home?

It’s the same idea, really.

You’re getting rid of the old to make way for the new.

A friend recently suggested that I read a book called “Soul Space” and I wanted to share this with you because I’ve been absolutely captivated by it.

I think it’s a must read for everyone – plus, it so closely resembles my own design philosophy, it’s uncanny.

You see, a few weeks ago, if anyone had asked, I would have said there are very few things in my home I don’t love.

The idea of celebrating the beauty around you and surrounding yourself with things you love is something I’ve written about many times.

After all, it’s a key step in writing you Bio.

(You know, the one that’s written without words).

Until I read this book, I never thought twice about the living room chair that I ‘inherited’ from a former retail space – along with the business – when a former business partner and I parted ways.

So here’s the thing.

I don’t love that chair.

Do I use it?

No.

It’s too big and deep for me, and I avoid sitting in it whenever possible.

When you look at it that way, it’s kind of silly to keep it, isn’t it?

Do you have anything similar to that in your own home?

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A SUMMER QUIZ

“Your home is your personal canvas – a place for celebrating Beauty”.

 

Here’s a little quiz I’ve put together, to re-vitalize your home decorating skills during these hot, lazy summer days.

Please note, this is intended to be fun!

Even better – your answers will not be graded.

 

Question #1:

Summer is the worst time of year to even consider an interior design project.
T or F

False. If you are thinking of re-decorating, or having a picture perfect new dining room by the holidays, NOW is the time to kick things into high gear!

Especially if your plans involve anything custom, or lining up vendors and/or contractors – you need to plan several months ahead.

Why?

Most workrooms and manufacturers have a cutoff date for the holidays. If you wait too long, your dream project simply won’t happen in time.


Question #2:

The best, and most obvious, reason to hire an interior design is because you can afford to do so. T or F

False. The best reason to hire an interior designer is when you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, and short on time & ideas.

Not to mention having access to a much broader scope of resources, for whatever your heart desires.

By the way, if you love interior design and are always re-arranging things in your home, check out this link – especially if you frequently worry “Am I doing this right?


Question #3:

Working with an Interior Designer can sometimes lead to bargains. T or F

True. Some designers will pass along showroom discounts; other times, you might be lucky enough to score exactly the item you are looking for – on Sale – at an exclusive designer showroom.

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A TRUE STORY – MY STINT ON HGTV

A few days, I was talking to a business coach and the conversation went something like this:

She: “You were on HGTV??!!

Me:  “Oh, that…yes, I was.”

She:  “How come you never talk about it? I mean, you were on HGTV!!!!!”

Me:  “It was such a long time ago.”

I have a tendency to play things down, I know.

But yes, I really was on HGTV – about eight years ago now, if memory serves me correctly.

I’d practically forgotten.

She was right, though.

And so, I thought I’d take some time today to share that experience with you.

The way this came about, HGTV was contacting local designers to see who might be interested in being featured on the show “Designer’s Challenge”.

They already had a local family lined up, who were eager to get some professional design advice for their somewhat traditional living room.

The premise of the show was that three different design teams would present a completed concept to the homeowners.

By concept, I’m referring to a fully fleshed out solution to their design challenge, complete with drawings, furniture and fabric recommendations, and any other finishes or materials required to complete the project.

So, I partnered with another designer, and together we took on this project.

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