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!


My Slow Luxe Life, Unplugged and Recharged

I just spent a week unplugged.  Not wireless, but totally unplugged.  Off the grid.  As in no iPad, iPhone, MacBook, iPod or other devices.

First, my husband and I spent a few days in Texas with my parents and my 99 year-old Grandma Lola.  Fortunately, there was not enough time for a Scrabble game because she still beats me every time.  It must be all that practice doing the New York Times crossword puzzle….

After that, we headed to my parents’ cabin in Ruidoso, in the mountains of southern New Mexico.  We loved being in the cabin and in the pine forest, hanging out on the porch with my folks and starting the day together with a long hike.

The deer and elk, by the way, live on the river facing their cabin and they come right up to the house every morning.
As always, I was inspired by my mother’s design sense.  While my parents’ home in Texas is edited and sophisticated and the cabin in Ruidoso is full of unusual collections and it’s a bit intentionally rough around the edges, both homes have a distinctive narrative.  They tell the stories of their city life and their country life, their family and friends and they tell the stories of artisans and craftsmen who have contributed to them.

The cabin is full of art done by local artists (friends of my parents), books, family photos, quirky collections like my mother’s paint-by-numbers, embroidered testers, Western bronzes, bears in trees and the menus she collected when we lived in Paris.  In anyone else’s hands, it would be a horrifying hodge podge, but Phyllis May’s curatorial eye organizes all this into something so wonderful you don’t ever want to leave.

Moving on, we spent the last few days of our vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with my brother and sister-in-law and our cute, cute nieces, Tessa and Samantha.  Hiking through the mountains in the morning is awe-inspiring.  It reminded me of something I was told years ago and try to remember:

All of your design problems are solved in nature.

What do you think of that?  Is Mother Nature ever “off”?  How are you inspired by nature in your own design?

Happy to be back and feeling quite energized by my technology break!  Have a great week…..

Day #29: Finish Something!

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue

29 Ways to Stay Creative

Well, here we are! Day 29. The End. The Grand Finale. That’s a wrap. Pencils up. Finish Something!

Sometimes, we can’t wait to finish. Sometimes, there’s still so much more we want to do. Sometimes we’re satisfied. And sometimes not so much. The beauty is that as soon as that door closes, another one opens. And whatever you learned in the last round, you can take with you into the next round.

Today is Day 29 of “29 Ways to Stay Creative”, which means I’m finishing up. It was a way to get myself off to a start and find my blogging voice. And now that I’m finishing that, I’m excited to start doing all the things I came to do here–to introduce you to some inheritable products and Slow Luxe Design, a little at a time.

See you in a few days!

Going to the Flea! Day #28: Have Fun

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue

29 Ways to Stay Creative

Today is Day #28: Have Fun. So, well, I guess you could say I’m just following orders. I’m heading up to the flea market to do a bit of hunting and gathering–which is, like, I don’t know, in my top five things in the world to do. I love love love it.

Usually, I go with someone–my friend, Kerry, for example, who I met while she was working at our former Waterworks showroom; she has a fantastic eye and loves a hunt. Or my friend Emily, a graphic designer who also has a great eye but looks nervous when I ask her if she wants to go to the Flea with me (after I dragged her all over Paris hunting and gathering last year, she knows how seriously I take this stuff.)

But, today I’m on my own and I’m on a mission.
I’ll give you a full report tomorrow, but for now, I’m off to Have Fun. Gotta do it. It’s Day 28, folks.

Where’s that notebook from Day #2? On Day #26: Got an Idea? Write it Down

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue

29 Ways to Stay Creative

#26 on the list is: Got an idea? Write it down.

The other day, I posted about asking my subconscious mind to solve my more stubborn creative problems while I sleep. Well, because that strategy is so effective for me, I keep a pad of paper and a pencil by my bed. There’s nothing worse than having a great idea and not remembering it.

I keep note pads and pens tucked away anywhere inspiration might strike, including my car, my purse, my laptop bag, my kitchen and my bathroom. I have ideas all day long–when I’m driving, cooking, showering, and of course, when I’m working. Good ones, bad ones, crazy ones, mediocre ones. I write them down or sketch them. I can evaluate them later. I can develop the worthy ones. But, if I don’t write my ideas down, there’s a really good chance they’ll disappear into the ether. And, believe me, I’ve let a lot of good ones get away. Probably some pretty lame ones, too.

Have you ever had the experience of forgetting a great idea because you didn’t write it down?  Tell me about it!

Handpainted French Wallpaper, 1930s

Congratulations! It’s Day #25. You Can Stop Trying to Be Someone Else’s Perfect

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue

29 Ways to Stay Creative

Congratulations!  You’re not perfect!  It’s ridiculous to want to be perfect anyway.  But then, everybody’s ridiculous sometimes, except perfect people.  You know what perfect is?  Perfect is not eating or drinking or talking or moving a muscle or making even the teensiest mistake.  Perfect is never doing anything wrong – which means never doing anything at all.  Perfect is boring!  So you’re not perfect!  Wonderful!  Have fun!  Eat things that give you bad breath!  Trip over your own shoelaces!  Laugh!  Let somebody else laugh at you!  Perfect people never do any of those things.  All they do is sit around and sip weak tea and think about how perfect they are.  But they’re really not one-hundred-percent perfect anyway.  You should see them when they get the hiccups!  Phooey!  Who needs ’em?  You can drink pickle juice and imitate gorillas and do silly dances and sing stupid songs and wear funny hats and be as imperfect as you please and still be a good person.  Good people are hard to find nowadays.  And they’re a lot more fun than perfect people any day of the week.


~Stephen Manes, Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days!

Day #24: Create a Framework

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue
29 Ways to Stay Creative

Welcome to Day #24. Today we will be Creating a Framework.

And it’s a good thing, as Martha says. Because, if you’re anything like me, with a tendency to get a little, uh, tangential, in your creative problem solving, a framework can keep you focused.

Your framework is your narrative structure. In my case, the overall framework for my interior design work is Slow Luxe Design–Inheritable Design. Then there’s the framework of the project itself: What is the style? What is the scope? Who are the clients? I design within this framework, with well-considered, high-quality, local, handcrafted, vintage and antique items that tell a unique story.

When I look at products to use in my design projects, I look for those that fit within my framework. If you look at some of the companies I admire, you can see that.

Leontine Linens’ offers heirloom quality, handcrafted linens, made in Hardinsburg, Kentucky. The Urban Elelctric Company’s offers beautifully designed, timeless, handcrafted luxury lighting made in Charleston, South Carolina. Madeline Stuart’s upholstered and case goods combine stylish comfort with a refined aesthetic–and they have a small carbon foot print, being made right up the road from me in Los Angeles.

Without a starting point it can be difficult to even get going on some projects. If you want to flesh out an idea, you have to have a skeleton, right?

Okay, final thought on Creating a Framework. Sometimes, when I start a project, I use a piece of fabric or a tile detail, for example, to help me create my framework. Then, I start building my design narrative around that particular item. The palette comes out of it, the materials and finishes are inspired by it, and I let it guide me through the design process. I’m not trying to “match” it–I’m just using it to stay focused on my vision.

Speaking of projects, I’m starting an exciting project soon. It’s a Slow Luxe Design Project–and I plan to take you along as I post. It’s two lots in the village of La Jolla with knock-out ocean views. I can’t even tell you how rare an ocean view is in the village. Definitely worthy of some Inheritable Design. Can’t wait to share this process with you!

See? I’m off on a tangent…..

Attention Verbivores: On Day #23, Read a Page of the Dictionary

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue
29 Ways to Stay Creative

As my family will gladly tell you, I am an enormous word loving, grammar and punctuation freak. Annoyingly so at times, like last night when we went to dinner and spent ten minutes debating why a guy’s sweatshirt was incorrectly punctuated. I won’t go into the details. Like I said, some people find it annoying, even though I find it fascinating and could discuss it for hours.

So, how great is this? Day #23: Read a page of the dictionary. Heaven!

By the way, I use my grandparents’ dictionary, which I got when my Grandma Lola moved out of her home. It’s Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. I hope my sibs aren’t reading this. They may be jealous that I inherited this family heirloom, which used to sit on Lola and Trube’s coffee table on a lucite stand. Every Sunday, we would haul it into the dining room for a big Scrabble game and Lola would win, just as she does today, at age 99. Only now I have the dictionary (not that it’s given me any advantage).

I just opened my dictionary to the M’s and saw the word, “malapropism.” Great word. A malapropism is “a humorous misapplication of a word or phrase”, according to my dictionary. I used to work with an art director who frequently used malapropisms. One morning her creative partner walked into her office and asked how things were going. She looked up from a drawing board buried in layouts and said, “I’m just undulating with work!” When she told me the story, I imagined her writhing and flagellating around her office.

Anyway. Hope I haven’t inundated you with too much on this subject. Go read your dictionary.

Day #22: Don’t Force It

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue
29 Ways to Stay Creative

On Day 22, we’re reminded not to force it. In other words, Don’t Try Too Hard.

By the way, this is where I go on my rant, in case you want to sneak out of this quietly. That’s because nothing kills creativity faster than Trying Too Hard.

Trying Too Hard kills the process and Trying Too Hard kills the end product. It takes all the fun out for you–and believe me, it will take all the fun out for the end user.

The great news is you don’t have to Try Too Hard. Have faith in your subconscious mind to solve your creative problems for you. If you’re “stuck”, sleep on the problem. Before you go to bed, visualize the problem, tell your subconscious mind to solve it for you, and when you wake up, it will be solved. A very wise creative director shared that trick with me about twenty years ago and it really works. Try it!

When someone is Trying Too Hard, we feel it. It’s like that woman who matches her makeup to her outfit. It’s contrived. It’s forced. Think about French fashion. It’s effortless chic. That’s one of the reasons why the French have always led in fashion creativity. They never look like they are Forcing It. The French build wardrobes of quality essentials and they brighten them up with unexpected accessories. (Not a bad way to design a room, by the way…..)

That’s why I gravitate to Slow Luxe Design. It’s a mix of high-quality unexpected design elements that are collected over time to tell my client’s story in an unpredictable and effortless way.

So, that’s my rant on Trying Too Hard. I’ll stop there. I think I might be on the verge of Forcing It.

Happy 18th, Alisa! Love you, love you.

Day #21: Break the Rules

Credited to Life on Michigan

29 Ways to Stay Creative

Day 21 is the day I get to break the rules. Well, that’s awesome, because I have been sitting here doing paperwork all day in an effort to catch……up! So, now I can break my own self-imposed rule that I would finish my work and clean my messy office before I went anywhere.
I can let myself out of this cage and go watch the Superbowl! So, that’s it for today. I’m knocking off early. Go break a few rules yourself, ok? We’ll catch up tomorrow!