IS DESIGNER IN A BOX FOR YOU?

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.

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HOW TO DECORATE A LOG CABIN

In my FREE Offer “7 Ways to Create Harmony in Your Home”, I discuss the need to honor the architectural style of your home.

I also emphasize the need to keep in mind the century in which you live! 

What do I mean by this?

This past weekend, I realized I had the perfect example to share with you, sitting right in my own back yard, so to speak.

You see, my family owns a log cabin nestled in the woods.

This log cabin gives the impression of being straight out of “Little House in the Big Woods” – the acclaimed series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder – although, unlike the cabin in the book, we do have electricity and running water.

Even so, it’s quaint and rustic, and cozy all in one package.

So, how does one decorate a log cabin?

How does one honor the unique style of architecture in such a home?

To my mind, the name alone evokes images of a quaint and rustic lifestyle, and that is a good place to start.

The location of the cabin also figures in and is always an important consideration. In this case, it’s in the woods – as I mentioned – with a river outside the front door.

In the off-season, the heat and water are turned off, and even though the climate is generally mild it can still get very cold and damp inside.

(These are always things to think about, regardless of where you live).

All of this would suggest nothing too fancy.

With that in mind, one could easily focus on the rustic style and invoke a traditional lodge look with lots of wood furnishings and chintz, and maybe a set of deer antlers above the stone fireplace.

I think you get the picture.

The interior is dark, by the way, due to all the logs that make up the frame of the cabin.

At times, adequate lighting is a challenge, especially at night.

One trick I’ve used to lighten things up, is to offset the darkness with creamy white, and other light colors – in the sofa cushions, towels and linens, and colorful throw pillows.

Another approach is to furnish the place with cast-offs from a previous residence.

You know, those things that many of us tend to have around the house that still have some life in them, but no longer serve a purpose?

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A TEMPLE FOR YOUR BODY

“They are architects of furniture who designed comfortable, livable pieces that define space in a dynamic way….They built temples for your body.”

David Jameson, Architect                                         

 

The above quote was in reference to Hans Wegner and Poul Kjaerholm, two remarkable furniture designers of the early twentieth century.

Think about it.

Imagine having a “temple for your body”.

I don’t know about you, but I think that sounds heavenly.

As I write this, I’m on a quest. I’m looking for comfortable furniture, specifically a perfect chair – one that will envelope my body and fit me like a glove.

I dream of a chair that will allow me to sit comfortably for hours on end, without having to constantly re-position my posterior for greater comfort.

Or squirm in my seat to keep from sliding off, because my feet don’t quite touch the floor.

Being ‘height challenged’ – seating of any kind is usually too deep. (Plus most countertops and upper cabinets are too high, but I digress).

In a typical day, we put our bodies through a lot of stress, from physical exercise, hours sitting at a computer, poor posture in general, and – oh,yes – carrying around excess weight.

Any one of these places extra stress on our muscles and joints.

It’s no wonder, then, that at the end of the day our tired, sore bodies are craving a comfortable place to rest.

A temple, so to speak.

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WHAT IS YOUR COMFORT ZONE?

As any well-seasoned traveler can attest, navigating airports these days is often a challenge. We may encounter any number of inconveniences from long wait times to erupting volcanoes.

Have you ever noticed, while traveling, what your level of comfort might be at any given point during your trip?

In fact, depending on your hotel accommodations, or your in-flight experience, you may actually be more aware of a lack of Comfort, than anything else.

Of course, on an airplane, being seated in First Class is the way to go if you’re looking for comfort and some in-flight pampering.

Yet, for those of us sitting in Coach, it is often a very different experience.

On a recent flight, I found myself seated next to a mother and her young baby. The woman had not booked a seat for her child, and was hoping I might not show up.

The baby was perfectly happy until she had to give up her seat and be held firmly on her mothers’ lap. At that point, she let out a blood-curdling scream of protest.

Comfortable I was not.

The baby clearly needed a seat of her own, and I needed some peace and quiet. Much to my relief, the stewardess ushered me to a new seat in one of the exit rows.

I now had plenty of leg-room, the baby had a seat several rows behind me and well out of earshot, and all was well with the world.

I was very comfortable.

On any given day, our comforts levels are frequently tested, and for each of us, that definition is unique.

And when it comes to our homes – well, there is almost no end to the number of ways consumers can pamper themselves with what seems comfortable to them.

Whether selecting furniture, linens, paint colors, fabrics or household appliances – and that’s just naming a few – you will be faced with many decisions.

However, before you choose, why not step back and ask yourself the following very important question.

What does Comfort mean to you?

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DESIGNING NOT SO BIG

“…of course, bigness isn’t the solution. It’s not quantity of space we need. It’s quality.” Sarah Susanka, architect & author of ‘The Not So Big House’

For those of you not familiar with Sarah Susanka and her inspirational series of books about “The Not So Big House” the above quote neatly sums up what it’s all about.                                           

According to Susanka, a Not So Big House is one that is “about you, and what makes you feel at home. Its scale isn’t its most important characteristic.”

For some, that might be a radical approach.

And yet, it makes perfect sense!

By placing a greater emphasis on the quality of your living space, versus the quantity of square footage  – not to mention all your stuff – the focus automatically shifts.

Suddenly, you are creating a home that truly speaks about you. Again, to borrow from Susanka, “what makes it better than other houses, is that it allows you to feel comfortable.”

Cause here’s the thing:

More space doesn’t necessarily mean more comfort.

In fact, the more overwhelming a room is in size, the less inviting it might be, which means the less likelihood the room will even be used.

Why?

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MUSICAL CHAIRS

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.

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PSYCHOLOGY + DESIGN – A WINNING COMBINATION!

I’m sure you’ve see the image of a psychiatrist’s couch.                        

The study of Design Psychology is, according to Dr. Toby Israel, an nationally known expert in this field, a little like “making buildings  lie down on a couch and telling her their problems.”

Of course, that’s a bit difficult to do. However, as individuals, we have the ability to speak for our homes and reveal whatever secrets are hidden there.

As it happened, I shared with you last week my own experience of personalizing a ‘home away from home’ while on vacation. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that I had touched on the relatively unknown concept of Design Psychology –those unconscious forces that essentially drive each and every design choice we make.

Not only in how we furnish our homes, but also what kind of home we are drawn to in the first place.

It’s that feeling you get when you first step inside an unfamiliar space and think “This is home!”

In fact, I’d venture to guess that anyone who has ever searched for a new house or apartment has had this experience. And for every potential dwelling that you walked away from – you did so for a reason.

At the time, you probably explained that vague feeling as ‘something didn’t feel right’

What we fail to realize, is that every time we find ourselves in such a situation it is usually something from our past that is speaking to us – something that says “No, this won’t do. Keep looking.”

What do I mean by this, exactly?

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SUMMERTIME MUSINGS

I’ve just returned from my summer vacation.  

Yes, it’s starting to fade from recent memory – vacations have a way of doing that – but I’m still feeling pampered and relaxed.

Even though we didn’t go far, the eastern part of Washington State always feels like a completely different part of the country. It’s so unlike the lush, forested landscape west of the mountains.

Indeed, those mountains pretty much divide our state in half.

Still, I love the long, leisurely drive through the mountain passes, giving us time to let go of city life and the everyday stress that most of us deal with on a regular basis.

For this annual escape, we always stay at the same place – a comfortable time share condo, that is ours for exactly one week, Thursday to Thursday.

The place is tastefully furnished with your basic seating, tables and beds – even a hide-a-bed for extra guests – plus a well stocked kitchen.

When we arrive it is sparkling clean, with everything neatly arranged and orderly. It always looks the same, inviting yet completely generic – much like a hotel room.

There is no trace whatsoever of the previous occupants.

Yet, in no time at all, as we unpack our gear and haul it inside, the space is transformed into something much more personal.

Of course, it’s entirely possible to arrive with nothing more than a suitcase, a magazine or two and perhaps a cooler – the place is that well furnished.

However, I’ve never been known to travel light – apparently it isn’t in my DNA.

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WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN STYLE?

“How you spend your days is how you live your Life.”  Annie Dillard

I read a passage the other day, that describes the many things (translate that to ‘stuff’) we use to decorate our homes.

It went on to explain how these things, when properly combined, are exactly what create the feelings of home we all yearn for – comfort, love and security.

Some of us are sophisticated in our approach, others more laid back or minimalist.

Yet one thing is certain – designing our homes gives us permission to tap into our creativity – and our personal design style.

Maybe you’re wondering “What does that even mean?”

When it comes to furnishing your home, your ‘Design Style’ refers to your overall tastes in design.

In fact, your ‘design style’ is probably not all that different from your ‘fashion sense’, or how your tastes run, in general.

It’s really that straight-forward.

Try this for yourself. Simply explore your own closet and see what jumps out at you. Most likely you will gravitate toward your favorite color accents and the things you most like to wear.

Translate this to your furnishings and see what you get. Are you traditional or modern? Perhaps you prefer shabby chic?

Do you typically dress in layers?

Those same ‘layers’ often apply to our homes, as we play with throw pillows and accessories, switching things out as our moods or the seasons, suggest.

Compare this to the accessories you wear, and switch out on a daily basis – a belt, or scarf, or even jewelry – it’s essentially the same thing.

With greater awareness of your surroundings, and your personal preferences, you will see that there is a strong connection between your house, and what your life is like.

Understanding your tastes, and your design style, adds meaning to the many things we use to furnish our homes.

The things that, when properly combined, are exactly what create the feelings of home we all yearn for.

WHAT DOES YOUR HOME FEEL LIKE?

Your home is like a 3-dimensional self-portrait.  

It says volumes about who you are.

Not to mention how you live.

I work with clients all the time who have a clear sense of what they’d like their homes to look like. (They’re just not sure how to put it all together).

Yet, it’s quite another thing to know how you want your home to feel.

It’s an elusive quality, hard to define.

On one level, this is likely because what works for one person, might be meaningless to another.

On another level, it’s because knowing how you want your home to feel means tuning in to your deepest desires and understanding what makes you feel whole.

What you want you to home look like, is based almost entirely on your sense of vision.

You might focus on your favorite colors, a certain fabric, or a particular style of sofa.

If you’re selecting new appliances, your choices are based on a combination of appearance and function.

Cost figures in too! (In the end, we always need to think about dollar signs).

However, let’s focus for a moment, on how you’d like your home to feel.

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