My Travels in Spain

I recently returned from a whirlwind tour of Spain and wanted to share what I learned and a little about this beautiful country.

I was invited to attend a week-long familiarization tour and trending session from Cosentino Group.  Cosentino is a global, family-owned Spanish company that produces and distributes innovative surfaces for designers and architects.  Cosentino has seven production factories, 14 natural stone quarries and 15 processing centers around the world and is the company that invented Silestone. The history of this family-owned business is very interesting and worth the read.  http://www.cosentino.com

Patricia Herrera Dominguez, Vice President of KB and Design Sales, was our host for the week and was amazing.  Her gracious hospitality was second to none.  I’m sure it was not easy herding 20 interior designers around all week but she did it with finesse and ease.  Thank you again Patty!

From the moment we landed in Barcelona, we were on the go.  All of the designers met for the first time at the fabulous Asador De Aranadas restaurant in Barcelona and had an amazing meal.  The food was delicious, the wine was flowing and the service was impeccable.  Needless to say…this trip started out right!

From Barcelona, we took a flight to Almeria, the headquarters of Cosentino.  There we toured the quarry, got up-close and personal with the factory and process for making the engineered stone (top secret and no photos allowed) and then attended a brainstorming/trending session, which was amazing.  To top it all off, we met with the President, Francisco (Paco) Cosentino and his son Eduardo.  Mr. Cosentino wanted to learn from us, wanted to know what, they, as a company, could do better and what types of products and colors we would like to see incorporated into their line. Some of the products being developed at Cosentino are cutting-edge; I am particularly excited about their newest line, Dekton.   We were all very impressed with the Cosentino family.

From Almeria we took a bus through the beautiful Spanish countryside to Grenada.  Grenada is a tony little town, with mountain views and fabulous shopping.  We visited the amazing Alhambra Museum, an ancient palace and fortress of the Moorish monarchs.  It was a spiritual experience and one I will never forget.  We also had an amazing meal at Restaurante Las Tomasas.  This restaurant is located across from Alhambra and the views were stunning.

From Grenada, my friend and fellow designer, Kimm, and I took a train to Seville.  This city is so interesting with the old Spanish architecture along a building such as Metropol Parasol, the worlds largest wooden structure.  The shopping in this town is off the hook and everywhere you turn Flamenco dresses are for sale.

We stayed at a lovely little boutique hotel called Alcoba del Rey de Sevilla .  The decor was decorated in the traditional Spanish style and was just perfect.  I would highly recommend this hotel for anyone visiting Seville.

The markets in Seville were crazy good and of course I couldn't leave without buying a piece of art from an amazing artist.  He asked me if I would represent him in the United States, and I am seriously considering doing so.

On our last night in Seville we saw an authentic Flamenco Show. The show was incredible; the artistry and talent – wow! 

Every town I visited had its own unique personality.  The textures, patterns, tiles, colors.  So inspirational and inspiring - a designers dream!  Spain is a beautiful country that is definitely worth the visit.

Art Collecting for the Savvy Shopper

I always say a room is never done until the art is on the walls! But when you’re decorating a new space, the finishing touches can seem daunting.  What color, what size, how much should I spend?   I’ll tell you a secret: no matter what your budget, it’s not impossible to curate an art collection you love that won’t break the bank!

The first piece of art I ever bought was a watercolor titled “Second Liners.” I purchased the piece in New Orleans in 1993 while traveling on business. I had never been to the Big Easy, and I fell in love, from the beignets to the antique stores to music on every corner. What a fabulous place!  That trip was the beginning of my love affair with buying art.

My walls are lined with photographs, oil paintings, watercolors and mixed media.   I try to stick to around $500 or less per piece, if possible. For someone starting out with a limited budget, you may want to start by buying prints of an artist you love. It’s a great way to get your feet wet. I have seen some gorgeous art for less than $100, so don’t ever devalue a piece of art because of the price tag. If you love it, then it’s worth every penny.

Here are ten fantastic places to look for that special piece of art:

1.      Carrier Collective

One of my favorite pieces I own is from Carrier Collective. Artist Angie Carrier’s pieces are whimsical and fun. When I looked into the eyes of Coco, I was a goner and had to have her. I met Angie at HighPoint Market while she was showing her line, and I hope to see her again this year. On her website, Angie sells original paintings, wood reproductions, and giclees. Some of her pieces sell for as little as $20 to $100. If you love animals, Angie’s paintings are worth checking out!

Titled:  Coco

Titled:  Coco

2.      Suze Ford

I recently discovered artist Suze Ford while surfing the net. Suze paints bright, happy paintings and also offers prints and custom painted ornaments. Although her original artwork can be a little pricey for first-time buyers, her prints start at just $35. If you’re looking for larger prints, they go up to $160, which is still a great price.

Titled: Happy Place

Titled: Happy Place

3.      David Williams

A local Virginia artist that I am loving right now is David Williams. His landscapes are stunning.  I must admit I am a bit biased as they are mostly all Virginia countryside. If you live in the area, you might also want to check out David’s painting workshops and classes.

Titled:  Morning Song

Titled:  Morning Song

4.      Art Finder

For some lesser priced alternatives, check out the fabulous Art Finder. Art Finder is a global marketplace for affordable authentic art. They connect over 6,000 talented independent artists and galleries with art lovers who value craft, quality, and originality. Shop for paintings, photographs, and other hand-crafted artwork. There’s a wide selection of pieces under $300, including many options under $100. Some of the extra-large paintings are reasonably priced at around $500. Art Finder also offers a 14 day money back guarantee, so you can buy in confidence.

5.      ArtStar and Little Collector

Another great website to check out is ArtStar and its child-focused counterpart LittleCollector, which partners with artists to offer a curated selection of artwork from around the world. Affordable, limited-edition, signed, and numbered prints range from $50 to $750. Each ArtStar print is accompanied by an authenticity card containing the title of the work, the artist’s signature and the edition number in order to maintain the value of your specific edition.

6.      Uprise Art

Uprise Art operates as a type of layaway. Buyers can shop the online gallery for contemporary, curated pieces and then set up an account to purchase them over time. It’s a great solution if you want higher-priced art but don’t have the budget for it now. On the other hand, if you’re looking for affordable artwork now, they feature a shopping section for pieces under $800. Some of the artwork sells for as little as $80.

7.      Custom Made

Custom Made is a site that’s designed to deliver just that; custom made. Simply describe what you want, get quotes from artists, and have your artwork made for you. You will find everything from jewelry and furniture to paintings, photography, sculptures, and more. You can also browse existing designs, including thousands of pieces under $100.

8.      Etsy

Etsy is a marketplace for handmade goods, including clothing, jewelry, costumes, and craft supplies, but that’s not all you’ll find there. If you’re a fan of vintage artwork, there’s an entire section of the site devoted to it. In the Arts & Collectibles area of the site, you can purchase prints, paintings, glass art, ceramics, and more.

9.      Local Art Galleries

Although you can buy artwork from anywhere with the aforementioned sources, don’t forget to visit your local framer or art gallery. They typically carry pieces by local artist and can help you find the perfect piece for your home.  Many times they offer picture hanging services. My local go-to framer is Broadway Gallery. Caron Broadway is also a fine art painter and offers commissioned artwork. She painted this piece for a client’s bedroom. Love it!

Titled: Surf Side

Titled: Surf Side

10.  Juried Craft Shows

Aside from your local art gallery, there are likely other places and events in your area that are good for finding affordable art. One such option is craft shows. You'll never know what you might find and at what price, but it’s worth checking out.

Local flea markets sometimes feature original artwork as well, and you may also enjoy art school exhibits. Don’t be afraid to check out events like these when you’re traveling too; you just might find the perfect piece of art while on vacation or a business trip.

The most important thing about buying art is that you love it! My art brings me joy each and every day reminding me of the trips I have taken and the wonderful times I have had.

Do any of these websites or local options speak to you? Which one will you browse first to find that special piece of art you've been dreaming about?

7 Surefire Ways to Spark Design Inspiration for Your Home

Is it just me, or does it feel like another year has come and gone in the blink of an eye? You feel it, too?  It's nice to know I'm not alone!

As I prepare for 2016, I am excited and motivated. I’ve set some major goals for myself and believe this year is going to ROCK!

In addition to laying out plans/goals for my design business, I have been thinking about my home. I call my house “Little Jewel” because it’s a small, cozy two bedroom, two bath townhome, and it’s all mine. It really is the perfect size for me and my son. I actually prefer smaller homes. There’s less to clean!   

With the new year and all this planning underway, several questions arose:

  • Does my home make me happy?
  • Does it work for my lifestyle?
  • Is my home a reflection of me and my style?

And the answer is no.

I’ve been so busy helping others making their house a home that I’ve neglected my own.

2016 is the year I make MY house a home.

Hopefully you’re feeling the same energy and motivation to take your house to the next level this year, but before you start choosing paint colors and shopping for new accessories, you have to know where you’re going with your new look. That starts with inspiration.

I’m kicking off the new year with this goal, but like any homeowner, I’m not immune to the inspiration stage! Here’s what I’m using to draw inspiration from, and I hope you’ll consider exploring some of the same sources for your 2016 home remodel projects.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a fabulous choice when it comes to home design. I have over 54 boards and 3.5K pins with categories ranging from living rooms all the way down to closets and hallways.

Granted, you don’t have to go that crazy with it! I pin items for both my own home and my clients’ homes.

However, if you’re planning a full-home remodel, I suggest creating a separate board for each room so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for when you design the final layout.

Then, search Pinterest and follow relevant boards, but don’t forget to pin from other websites when you see something you like.

Houzz

Like Pinterest, Houzz.com is a fantastic site for exploring photos and browsing home categories. What makes Houzz great is that you can search for local professionals to help with your projects. You can also shop furniture, appliances, accessories, and more.

Download the mobile app to share ideas with family members or designers. You can also search professionals and shop for your home on the go.

Instagram

When you think about Instagram, you’re probably picturing endless selfies and photo filters. In that case, you may be surprised to find that Instagram is a hotspot for design inspiration.

For example, you can visit inspirational profiles like this one from one of my favorite designers, Miles Redd

Otherwise, just search hashtags like #living room, #master bath, or #kitchen to discover an endless stream of beautiful interiors. And, of course, you can always “like” the photos to view them later.

Travel

What do you see when you travel? When I travel, I see an endless supply of inspiration. A trip to New York, for instance, might inspire a funky, modern, or industrial interior. After a stay at a beach resort, you may find seashells and sisal rugs your inspiration.

I’m lucky to have visited places like South Korea, the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic, so I’ve witnessed many foreign cultures and design ideas that I can pull inspiration from.

ALWAYS have your camera ready when traveling, whether it’s your phone or an actual camera. I have so many fabulous photos from trips I’ve taken that continue to inspire me.

Here are just a few of the photos I took in Korea!

However, you don’t have to travel around the world to find inspiration. I find inspiration in the city, the country, just about everywhere. One of my favorite places to visit for inspiration is the local DC museums. What a treasure trove!

Nature

When you’re not dreaming up your new home design while on vacation, get outside and see what you can find there.

You might discover the perfect color for your bedroom in a bird’s feathers. Perhaps you notice a flower you want accented in the living room. Maybe a fallen tree inspires you to choose hardwood floors over carpet or you find that three acorns inside a leaf-shaped dish makes the perfect centerpiece on your coffee table.

Take a walk or plan a weekend trip outside the city to gather ideas. Don’t be afraid to bring a camera along in case you spot something that moves you.

Movie Sets

When you’re watching movies, you’re probably analyzing the plot or character development. Me? I’m checking out the set design and making mental notes.

For example, have you seen the set design on the movie Something's Gotta Give with Diane Keaton? The set designer, Beth Rubino, designed a gorgeous home that many people have tried to recreate in their homes.

Take a look at Apartment Therapy’s link of the 20 most unforgettable American movie interiors. You might also want to read Elle Décor’s list of 20 movies to watch before decorating your home . The possibilities are endless!

The idea isn’t to copy the movie sets, but there are certainly plenty of ideas to draw from and incorporate into your own home.

Design Magazines

Like Houzz and Pinterest, design magazines are pretty much a no-brainer go-to for design inspiration, and you don’t want to miss them.

Some of my personal favorites are:

  • Architectural Digest
  • Elle Décor
  • Garden & Gun

However, any design magazine should do it. You don’t have to worry about a subscription, although having the magazine in-hand is nice. Instead, you can start at the magazine’s website. There, you’ll find plenty of photographs and tips to draw ideas from. Better yet, you can pin those photos to Pinterest to keep all your ideas organized!

With these sources of inspiration in mind, I’ve collected some pretty cool ideas throughout the years. Some of this year’s projects will be small, like a new paint color, and others will be larger, like a half bath re-design. It should be an adventure. I hope to share these projects with you, including before and after photos.

How about you? Does your home make you happy? When you think about the New Year, what are your goals/aspirations for your home?

 

Piazza De Liberace - Palm Springs, CA

Last month I traveled to Palm Springs, CA for the Bold Summit Luxury Interior Design Conference.  I had the pleasure of attending a private reception at Piazza de Liberace, one of Liberace's many homes, to celebrate the Interior Design giants, Kelly Hoppen, Joan Behnke and the always entertaining, Martyn Bullard.  It was amazing meeting them and touring the house.  

Credit:  Allen Barry Photography

Credit:  Allen Barry Photography

And what a house! I fell in love.  Not only was it beautifully decorated by Christoper Kennedy,  but the house itself was gorgeous.  Mid-Century modern with a twist.  The layout of the house was fantastic and the perfect size...I don't understand the love of mcmansions, do you?

 I especially loved the wall of glass doors that opened up onto the pool with the spectacular mountain views!    

Here is an interesting little video clip where Christopher talks about the project  http://www.desertsun.com/story/life/2015/02/17/liberace-house-tour-modernism-week/23563691/ 

Take a look at these wonderful photos of the newly designed interiors.  Photography Credit:  Kerry Pucket 

While in Palm Springs, I made sure to get out and have some fun.  On the left is my dear friend Maureen, who attended the conference with me.  We met in design school and love traveling together.  I also posted a photo of my new friend Kimm, whom I met at the conference.  She was so fun and turns out we will be traveling to Spain together.  I am blessed to know both of these very talented and lovely ladies!

meandmo.jpg

One of the many things I love about traveling is meeting and supporting local artists.  I was lucky enough to stumble upon Mario Cespedes, an artist from  Bolivia, now living in Palm Springs.  I bought this piece of art and can't wait to hang.  It will look perfect in my all white office!  He was a lovely man and so interesting.  Each of his paintings have a wonderful story.

I would love to know - how do you feel about art?  Do you seek out art during your travels like I do?

 

Miele Appliances

Last night I attended an ASID and Hearst Magazine sponsored event at the new Miele store located in Tysons Corner, VA.  Wow...who knew!  I thought they only sold vacuums!  They have some incredible new appliances that are a homeowner's dream.  Plus they look fabulous!  Oh, and did I tell you I have had a Miele vacuum for over 11 years and have never had to have it serviced!  I LOVE IT!

Paloma Contreras was the guest speaker for the evening.  Got lots of great tips on blogging and design in general and really enjoyed meeting her.  Love her work too!  Check her out at www.palomacontreras.com

If you haven't been to the new store and live in the area, check it out.

 

Hotel Interiors

Have you ever walked into a hotel and been utterly captivated by the design?  Kimpton Hotels are some of my favorites to visit.  This past weekend I was in Pittsburgh and stayed at the Hotel Monaco downtown.  Loved it!  Besides the fab interiors, the staff and the food were wonderful.  Each Kimpton hotel is designed differently and equally as stunning. 

 One of the things I love most about hotel design is that, as a designer, you can push the boundaries and create truly unique and thought-provoking spaces.    Kudos to Ave Bradley and her team at Kimpton for designing some of the most interesting hotel interiors around.  Take a look at some of their other stunning properties. www.kimptonhotels.com  What are some of your favorite hotel interiors?

On my bucket list...design a boutique hotel :-)

Best Of Northern Virginia Magazine

I am very excited to announce that I was voted Best Interior Designer in Northern Virginia Magazine's Best of NoVA 2015 issue.  What a wonderful surprise to receive this honor and so grateful to be able to do what I love each and every day.  My sincere thanks to all who voted for me and a big shout out to Amanda with Authentic Portrait,  www.authenticportrait.com  who shot my photo for the magazine and the photos below!

Professional Photos

If you read my last blog post, you know how I feel about lighting!  Lighting can make or break a room design.  Well, the same can be said for photographing a room.  Every interior designer knows the importance of having professional photos taken of their work.  An average room can look spectacular with the right lighting.  Many designers even hire stylists to put the finishing touches on their rooms before a photo shoot.  A professional photographer can be pricey but worth it for the right shot. 

I recently had a couple of rooms photographed  for a client in Fairfax Station, VA.  I am helping them with the design of their entire house, but we are doing it in stages.  I am currently working on the design for their wine cellar, wine making room, bar, game room, workout room, and craft/gift wrapping room!  Will be posting the photographs of the photo shoot below soon.  Stay tuned! 

             

             

My photographer, Bob Narod, doing his thing!  www.narodphoto.com

 

It's All About The Lighting

Some more fab finds from my trip to High Point...  

Lighting design is a critical part of any interior – and what type of lighting or lamp you choose is even more important.  Lighting directly affects the overall feel, look and functionality of your home.  Take a look at some of the fabulous light fixtures below.  Hopefully, these photos will inspire you to rethink the lighting in your home!  Do you have a favorite?


Mirror Mirror on the Wall...

I promised to show you some of my great finds from the High Point Show.  Today it's all about the mirror.  I love using mirrors in every space I design.  They bring light into a dark space, can make a room look larger and who doesn't like a little sparkle!   Check out some of the beauties below.  Which one is your favorite?

Coco the Dog!

While I was perusing the aisles upon aisles of incredible lighting, rugs, accessories and art at High Point, I came across this wonderfully talented artist, Angie Carrier.  She is a gifted painter and artist and hopefully, will be  a life long friend.  What struck me, at first, was the whimsical nature and fabulous color pallet of her art and fabrics...but then I laid eyes on Coco and it was over.  I HAD to have her!  Anyone who knows me well...knows I LOVE dogs.  Look at the eyes on this sweet girl! 

                     Miss Coco

                     Miss Coco

Angie Carrier, Artist Extraordinaire 

Angie Carrier, Artist Extraordinaire 

I would love a whole wall of art with faces just like Coco!  I will definitely be visiting her booth again when I go back to the High Point show in October.  Who knows who might be coming home with me next time?

Below is her booth that I stumbled upon. Sitting in the chair is her fabulous husband who was there supporting and helping her.  What a guy!

Can't wait to buy some of her pillows and use them in some upcoming projects. Check out her work and get something special for yourself.

www.carriercollective.com

Angie's booth at the High Point Furniture Show

Angie's booth at the High Point Furniture Show

Highpoint, NC Furniture Show

I had the most incredible time at High Point this month!  I had not been to the show in many years and was so inspired by all of the gorgeous things I saw and the wonderful people I met.  I went with my dear friend, Caron Broadway, with Broadway Gallery.  We sooooo enjoyed ourselves and plan to go back in October.  I will be sharing LOTS of fabulous finds with you...stay tuned!

Caron and Liza enjoying mudslides at Phillips Collection Party!

Inspired Living

As I thought about writing my first blog post, I knew that I wanted to write about Passion. Passion has led me to this career and the joy I feel each day when I'm doing what I love. I believe that passion is a blueprint for success. Living passionately is living a more fulfilled, happier life. How great is that?!

In this busy world of technology and side hustles, projects and to-do lists, I think it is essential that, from time to time, we all take a step back and ask ourselves:

  • Do we know what our true passion is?
  • Are we allowing passion to inspire us every day?
  • Are we encouraging the passionate life we dream of living?

I believe questions like these can help inspire us to live and work more joyfully. Are you ready to take the challenge for a more passionate life? I'm excited to take this plunge and I hope you'll join me! I long to share my visions with others because I believe that beauty, like life, is better when shared.

What about you? How have you found passion guiding your life? I wonder - if money were not an issue, where would your passion lead you today? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.