How to Work with a Color Consultant

nurseryA fantastic article, 17 Things Color Consultants Want You to Know, by lead Houzz contributor, Becky Harris, came out on this week.  It is very thorough and really explains working with a color consultant–the process, rough costs and the benefits.  I’m thrilled to be included in Becky’s article because I truly love learning about color and sharing my expertise.  As Becky aptly points out, color consultants love what they do!


One Door Closes, Another Door Opens: New Projects!


Right now, I’m tying up loose ends on a few projects–and I’m digging into some fantastic new construction projects right here in La Jolla.  I’m so excited about this!

This is one of the parts of any project I love the most:  the blue sky phase.  This is where we bubble out all the need-to-haves and want-to-haves and discover how we can make the home significant for the homeowner.

Then, we go to work on the schematic design.

The lot on my first project has a fabulous ocean view, so siting the house right is absolutely critical.  We’ve spent hours looking at the grading plan, walking the site and scurrying up and down ladders to get onto the existing structures so that we know exactly how everything looks from every spot on the property.  For the record, climbing onto roofs is not my favorite part of the project!

As I said, we’re just beginning the project and everything at this stage is still very schematic.  In other words, we have a general floor plan in place but we haven’t fully fleshed it out–not by a long shot–and everything is still shifting.  So, I’ll wait until we are more finalized on that to post about the floor plan…..

By the way, I’ve worked with the architect on this project for many years and because we’ve done so many projects together, we have an almost telepathic work style.  It’s going to be a lot of fun to team up with her again!

This family wants an indoor/outdoor home, comfortable for entertaining on an intimate as well as a large scale.  Since this La Jolla beach house will be a place for friends and family to visit and to gather, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about how to accommodate guests of all ages.

So, here are some of the thought bubbles I have so far, via Pinterest.

I’m really liking the idea of using part of the second floor family room for bunk beds.  It’s an efficient use of space.  I love the feel of tucked-away, cozy spots, which can also multipurpose for reading or just hanging out.

Or maybe building a great multi-bunk unit in one of the secondary bedrooms is the way to go.

What do you think of the bunk idea?

Looking forward to sharing this project with you as it progresses!  Hope you are all off to a great week.

Images via Pinterest.

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design Series: Galbraith & Paul

Yesterday, my very stylish friend and nieghbor, Sue, told me she was ready for a refreshing redo in her wonderful, breezy ocean view La Jolla home.  Immediately, the subtle block printed fabrics of Galbraith & Paul sprang to mind.  They are a perfect combination of elegant handmade artistry, fresh, yet sophisticated, colors and intricate patterns that seems perfectly suited to my friend and her amazing home.  And guess what?  Galbraith & Paul is perfect for today’s Mid-Week Made-In-America Series!

Galbraith & Paul was founded in Philadelphia in 1986 by Liz Galbraith & Ephraim Paul as a hand papermaking studio specializing in lighting.  Now, this studio workshop specializes in hand block printed textiles, handmade rugs, and studio printed wallpaper available to the trade. The wall covering is a newer addition and it is designed by Liz Galbraith.  (I am definitely seeing my friend, Sue’s, powder room in one of these gorgeous papers.)

By the way, these talented artists also make a line of block printed pillows and lighting exclusively for Room & Board.

Artisans in the Galbraith & Paul Studio work together to create fabrics with a subtle and elegant spirit.  In true studio workshop tradition, designs evolve in original and unexpected ways.  In my mind, this is what truly sets the design experience of using a handcrafted product apart from a machine made product.  Galbraith & Paul studio members care about the process of making as much as the product itself–and their dedication to their craft truly shines through.

What I love about Galbraith & Paul are the wonderful tiny imperfections in the hand-blocked surface. These are the telltale signs of craft.  If you take a look at the image of the G & P artist creating this Lotus pattern below, you can see what that is about.  Aaaah, Galbraith & Paul….you’re not perfect, but you’re perfect for me. Wasn’t that a Grace Jones song back in the ’80s?

All images via Galbraith & Paul.

These Hand-Printed Made-In-America Textiles Are Spot On

On Friday afternoon, I kicked off a great weekend with a spin around Mission Bay on my bike with my husband. It was beautiful San Diego weather and exactly what I needed. Riding my bike makes me feel like a kid. I grew up in a small-town Texas neighborhood where we spent all summer long on our bikes. Schwinns with banana seats. We rode to the tennis courts, swimming pools, friends’ houses and didn’t come home until dark.

Polka dots have the same energizing effect on me. They never take themselves too seriously. I love them in almost any kind of room to inject a bit of freshness and levity and these are some of my favorites, all hand-printed in America. Some are from Galbraith & Paul out of Philadelphia and some are from Studio Bon Textiles out of Dallas. How about you? Do you connect with the dots? By the way, all of these images are via my Pinterest, although wouldn’t it be awesome if I really did have a bike like that? 

So Long April Showers, Hellooooo May Flowers!

I don’t know about you, but I am quite ready to stash my umbrella and enjoy some glorious Spring sunshine and all the beautiful blooms that come with it. (Yes, contrary to those lyrics, it does rain in southern California….)  And to celebrate the arrival of May, here are some fantastic florals–from vintage to watercolor–to add to your interior landscape this season. Happy days!

By the way, I gathered up the lovely framed blooms on the wall below in Paris over the last ten years. They are original French textile designs from the ’30s through the ’80s. They can be a combination of watercolor, gouache, pen-and-ink and colored pencil. Some became wallpaper, some became fabric and some became beautiful scarves. There are recognized textile houses and designers, and occasionally I hit upon one of these, but as with most collecting, I just pick what I like. And what I really like is seeing the artist’s hand and a glimpse into the creative process.  The framed bicycle below the textile “garden” is by the German artist, Konrad Klapheck, also brought back from a recent trip to Paris.  Perfect in my home of avid cyclists!

How about you?  Are you ready to bring some May flowers inside?

Images via Pinterest. Photo below by Bronson Pate, Bauman Photographers.

My Mid-Week Made-in-America Slow Luxe Design Series: Leontine Linens

Welcome to the first article in my new Mid-Week Made-In America Slow Luxe Series!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to share this with you every week.  Sourcing luxurious locally and domestically handcrafted items for the home is so key to my Slow Luxe Design philosophy that I really want to let you in on some interesting Made In America stories.

Well, there are few Made in America companies that epitomize the luxury of local hand craftsmanship more than New Orleans’ Leontine Linens.  So here’s their wonderful story:

While preparing for her wedding, Leontine Linens’ founder, Jane Scott Hodges, came across her grandmother’s trousseau in the cellar of her parents’ 1780s Kentucky farmhouse. Inspired by her discovery, she began seeking for her own bridal trousseau emblazoned with her new monogram. After scouring the New Orleans shops and boutiques where she and her soon-to-be husband lived, Hodges was surprised and disappointed by the lack of custom fine linens, identifying a need in the marketplace. Shortly after, she discovered the Kentucky-based Eleanor Beard studio, an historic all-female company that, since 1921, has hand-created linens known the world over for their superb quality.

Jane Scott began Leontine Linens in 1996 to showcase the artisinal work of the Eleanor Beard Studio.  In 2002, Leontine Linens acquired the historic Kentucky-based studio and to this day carries on its tradition of guiding clients through the selection process and crafting each piece of couture linen entirely by hand.

And, by the way, it is a swoon-worthy selection process!  In addition to all of the exquisite monogram styles Leontine Linens is known for, there are so many elegant border treatments, edge trims, accessories, fabric choices, and of course, there are beautiful quilts, table linens, sheets, towels, blanket covers, nursery accessories……  So many completely delicious choices!

So back to the Eleanor Beard Studio:  Everything Leontine Linens creates is tailor made to order by one of the 25 specialized artisans in the original Eleanor Beard Studio workroom in the tiny town of Hardinsburg, Kentucky.  The Studio’s first product and main focus for the first years of business was the hand-quilted comforter.  A special form of quilting called Trapunto was revived by the studio and is still done today.

I absolutely love receiving an order from Leontine:  Each piece comes with a beautiful card signed by every one of the artisans who created the piece.

Leontine’s flagship store on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans, opened in the late summer of 2005, was inspired by the Eleanor Beard boutiques of the 1950s.  This serene and airy space, designed by local New Orleans architect Brian Bockman, serves as a refuge from the typical retail experience and recreates the “salon” atmosphere that Eleanor Beard herself pioneered in her couture linen stores.

I could possibly go on all day about Leontine Linens, but here are a few things I haven’t mentioned.  First, what Leontine Linens has brought to heirloom linens is a youthful, fresh approach.  It works as well in traditional settings as it does in modern settings.  It goes places no monogram has gone before.  It just plays well with others.  In the room with the punchy yellow monogram (that’s Alcott), I paired it up with Kelly Wearstler for Groundworks Lee Jofa prints on the window and bed drapery and Studio Bon for Schumacher on the bench.  That hardly says “Meemaw”.  In the more classic blue and white room, I used the Trey monogram with an Oscar de la Renta chevron ribbon silk drapery backdrop.  It’s timeless.

Now, here’s the most fantastic thing about Leontine Linens’ couture products: They are meant to be used and enjoyed every day. And that’s the ultimate luxury. Speaking of which, enjoy your day–and the rest of your week! Back Monday…..

Is This the Best Design Advice You’ll Ever Get?

I just read my latest issue of House Beautiful, as I do every month–cover to cover. And this month it features an impeccably decorated New York prewar apartment by one of my personal favorites, Suzanne Rheinstein.

Whether or not you like Rheinstein’s restrained aesthetic (I love it!), this article contains what I would say is the single best piece of design advice you might ever get. Says Rheinstein,

Have fewer things, but better things.

So, there you have it. The best piece of design advice you’ll ever get. And it just happens that these six words are the essence of Slow Luxe Design.

What I call “inheritable design” doesn’t happen overnight. Or, as Rheinstein puts it in the HB article, “It’s not 10-minute decorating. But, I’ll tell you what I tell the young people who work for me: If you buy one good thing a year, in five years, you’ll have five really good things.”

To me, having a few good things and working toward adding more good things makes more sense aesthetically, financially and even environmentally than serially consuming trendy mass-produced goods with a big carbon footprint.

Here’s one way to think of Slow Luxe Design decision making. It’s like making a choice to eat a fresh vegetable every day instead of grabbing a bag of potato chips. Is it easy to do? Yes. Once you’ve made that commitment, you know it is pretty easy to choose something nutritious over something filled with fat, salt and chemicals. Is it hard to do? Yes. It means overcoming a strong habit. Is it worth it? Yes! Because, over a year’s time, if you choose a half-cup of broccoli over the chips, you will take in about 65,700 fewer calories. That’s a weight loss of about 19 pounds.

And the same goes for making the commitment to fill your home with good things, however slowly, and not the empty calories of cheap, trendy overseas mass production.

Am I saying that Slow Luxe Design is good for you? I am. In many ways. And it’s not just good for you. It’s the farm-to-table of the home. It’s good for the artisan who creates it. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for the economy which makes it good for the community. It’s a thoughtful part of your personal narrative. And I think all of that is worthwhile.

What do you think? Is this the best design advice you’ll ever get? And if so, what are you dreaming of adding to your home?

Bob Vila Welcomes Me to His Family

In case I haven’t mentioned it previously, in addition to being a designer/decorator/blogger, I am, above all, the mother of three (fantastic) kids.

David is 20 and winding up his sophomore year at Tulane in New Orleans.  He’s a pre-med Econ major.  Alisa is an 18 year-old high school senior, heading to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts in the Fall to study journalism.  (Maybe she should be writing my blog.) And Max is a 13 year-old 7th grader who likes to surf, cycle, play basketball, read, swim and play tennis.  He will be hanging out with me and my husband right here in La Jolla in the Fall. Hooray for Max!

My kids have grown up around construction and design.  With both David and Alisa, I was in labor while designing bathroom tile.  I like to immerse them in the process early! Max started visiting job sites and showrooms when he was just a few weeks old and he’s been riding shotgun ever since.  He could probably specify my jobs for me in a pinch.

As a family, we’re always involved in building something, whether it’s a job in our own home, a development project, renovating one of rental properties or helping a family member with their home.  Fortunately, my husband, Ira (a veterinarian) also loves building and we are a great team!

When David was about 3, the two of us discovered This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop on PBS.  My then-toddler and I spent hours discussing Bob Vila and Norm Abram and their projects. I really can’t admit how many hours we logged watching woodworking projects on the “New Nankee Workshop” and broadcast visits to various This Old House construction sites. Many hours.

Well, a few days ago, I got an email letting me know I had been chosen to be one of the featured national contributors for Bob Vila Nation. I’ll post about Slow Luxe Design–inheritable spaces that celebrate the luxury of mindfully curated vintage and antique pieces and locally handcrafted goods. To say the least, I am beyond excited about this opportunity.

Unbeknownst to him, Bob Vila has been a part of my family for years, but it’s a huge honor to be welcomed into his. So, please be on the lookout for my posts on Bob Vila Nation soon. And in the meantime, check out some of the great articles on the Bob Vila nation site about home design and renovation.

Inheritability is Sustainability

It’s Earth Day, which means it’s a day to think about how our choices affect this big beautiful place we call home: our planet.

And for me, that ultimately comes down to Slow Luxe Design. Whether I’m designing for myself or for clients, I think the epitome of sustainability is inheritability.

I believe that living with fewer items of higher quality–things that are timeless and enduring–now, that is truly green design. When you have something that is worthy of passing down to a future generation–something that was carefully chosen, handcrafted, and carries a story with it–I say that’s true sustainability. I also happen to think that it’s a great luxury.

Happy Earth Day!


Well-Considered Detailing: That’s the Benchmark of Slow Luxe Design


    In my last post, I showed you a happy selection of textiles from Studio Bon’s handprinted collection through Schumacher in the color way Sun.  In it, was a custom end-of-bed bench that I had done in Studio Bon’s Bellows fabric.

I thought I would show you in this post what went in to creating that bench for my client on my end, the design side.  And first, I want to tell you that the bench you see at the bottom of the page is not the bench that was originally part of my design.  So, here’s the story:

Originally, I had ordered a bench from a supplier in Los Angeles, along with the bedside tables.  When I followed up on a delivery date, I was told that I had picked up the bench.  “Uh….why would I be calling if I picked it up?” I asked.  Well, as it turns out, two of the same bench were ordered the same week by my firm and another firm, but only one bench got ordered–and, you guessed it, it was the other designer’s.

Okay.  Here’s the first thing about design:  We are all about contingency plans.  Things happen.  The show must go on.  I already had the Studio Bon fabric in my office.  I couldn’t wait for the bench.  So, after thinking it through, I came up with a plan.

I got quotes and determined that I could execute my plan within budget and on time and then I put together a small concept board with a sketch, a photo of a similar vanity bench with acrylic legs, a swatch of the fabric and I headed over to see my client.

I know my client well and know that she loves Hollywood Glam, so I thought the acrylic legs had a good chance of selling the idea.  I also thought they would do something fun visually with the zigzag rug that would relate to the Webster border on the Leontine Linens blanket cover.   Long story short, she very thankfully signed off on the idea.

The next step was to take the Bellows fabric and design the bench.  You can see by the drawing that I sweated the detailing, making sure to center the pattern and size the bench exactly so that it would scale properly to the bed and have the exact number of full repeats across.  I also wanted to make sure that the pattern would line up from the front with the top.  Finicky business, but worth the trouble, and all the information on the drawing takes the guess work out of fabrication for the workroom.

By the way, I ended up making the side view of the legs look the same as the front view after I got a call from the acrylic manufacturer, telling me my leg design wasn’t going to be stable.  One of the best parts of design is that I have had the opportunity to learn from experienced craftspeople, trades, suppliers, vendors, reps and colleagues every day.

So, there it is.  That’s what went into this Slow Luxe bench.  It was made by hand locally, not overseas in a factory.  The fabric is handprinted in America on natural linen.  It was mindfully designed and crafted by hand in my own community.  It’s inheritable, unique and it celebrates the luxury of artisan craftsmanship.