Gift Guide: Valentines Home Edition

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Things for the Home


Who is in the mood for love?

I love an excuse for gift giving (and receiving) and we are just days from the most romantic and hopefully gift-filled day of the year! If you’re like me, I think chocolates are over-rated and I’d rather have something I really want like a fabulous design book, a gorgeous accessory or a glamorous new lamp. Yes, why not ask your Valentine for the perfect gift for the home this year. It’s the perfect treat for design-lovers like you and me? So here are a few of my favorites to add to your wish list.

Hoping your home suddenly get a fun POP of Valentine’s Red or Sweet Pink for your decor this week! xo,









  1. Penelope Pendant Lamp – Jonathan Adler’s Penelope Pendant Lamp in red adds the high gloss accent needed to say “va va voom” in your home!
  1. Wine Velvet Dining Chairs – Gather around the dining table with your special someone or a group of close friends in these wine Velvet Lydia Dining Chairs because this rich shade of red is definitely on trend this year!
  1. White and Pink Lacquer Tray – The white lacquer tray with a pink inset can be the perfect feminine touch you are looking to add to your vanity or desk. It’s great to hold your jewelry or your mail, or a bit of both.
  1. Rose Striped Bowl – We all know I love stripes and fresh flowers, so what better way to combine two of my favorite things than this bowl! Hopefully your honey fills it with a bunch of pink peonies as a bonus.
  1. Maison Jardin – Yuzu Rose Stonecrop Candle – With notes of yuzu, rose, and lavender this coconut wax blend candle is the perfect relaxing fragrance in a perfectly romantic floral tin.
  1. Gramercy Animal Print Rug – I love a leopard print, especially in a fun color like this red wool and silk blend from Kate Spade. What a chic print to add some pizazz to your home.
  1. Gold Heart-Shaped Bowl – Annieglass offers this roman antique glass heart bowl in gold as the perfect place to keep your jewelry from that special someone who stole your heart!
  1. Gilded Flower Studies – These romantic gilded metal floral sculptures from Tommy Mitchell are mounted on linen and hung individually in acrylic boxes for an artful display. It’s one way to keep your flowers looking fresh and beautiful for years to come.
  1. Gold Starburst Mirror – Add a touch of glitz to your home with this gold starburst mirror. This is one classic motif that I truly LOVE and so will you!
  1. Red Vase – A stunning red accent piece, this red vase, inspired by the naturally occurring color and pattern in agate, is perfect empty or overflowing with your favorite flowers. I’d probably fill it with lots of white hydrangeas.
  1. Garden Drive Jewelry Box – Kate Spade offers the cutest red lacquer jewelry box complete with her signature gold bow clasp! Perfect to punch up the color in your closet or vanity or it would look great on a desk or dresser too.
  1. Make It Happen Notebook – As you know, journaling is one of the most relaxing parts of parts of my day. In this journal, you can write down all of your goals and the steps to make them happen or write down your gratitude for all your many blessings like your sweetheart and all the other loves in your life.
  1. Hexagon Removable Wallpaper – What better way to revamp your space than with wallpaper? And this removable wallpaper means no long term commitment but you will love it so much that you’ll want to marry it.
  1. Ming Storage Chest – This rouge piece by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is a fun pop of color that adds functional storage to your space. This charming piece will have you falling in love with it for years to come.
  1. The Big Book of Chic – This fabulous book of interiors by designer Miles Redd is a stunning collection of eclectic design and in it’s Valentine color palette, it’s the perfect tome for the design-lovers in your life.
  2. La Rosa Fruit Bowl – What a lovely way to to add a touch of red to your kitchen with this whimsical rose motif fruit bow. Fill it up with treats for the apple of your eye.
  1. Red and White Stripe Throw – A fabulous textured stripe throw is great to snuggle up on the sofa with your special someone. This one is light weight and perfect for year-round cuddling no matter your climate.
  1. Pink and White Stripe Euro Sham – Feminine pink and white stripes are a great accent for any room and the perfect seasonal refresh for your bedroom.
  1. Kyoto Pillow Covers – A Japanese-inspired print with metallic accents can add a touch of glamour to your design and looks great layered with stripes for the perfect mix of sexy and sweet!
  1. Jewel Glass Lamp – Regina Andrew’s glass lamp in amethyst can be the moody accent color you need in your space. This gives a whole new meaning to “jewel” tones. It’s jewelry for your home instead of your hand.
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Tobi TV: 5 Great Ways to Use a Desk Beside the Bed

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As much as I love to design beautiful rooms, I also really want the rooms to function for the people living in them. That’s why I always try to use furniture that can serve more than one purpose, like a desk.

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One place that you might not expect me to use a desk is right beside the bed, as a beside table. But if you look through my portfolio, it’s one of my favorite things to do! Why? Well I’ll give you 5 good reasons:

See? Using a desk beside the bed just makes sense! Let’s review those ways to use a desk beside the bed again:

1. Using a desk as a bedside table not only adds sophistication, but it’s also a great place for your computer, to charge electronics, a place to store magazines and books, or to use as a vanity.

2. A desk offers more height than other tables – which makes it perfect for lamps, particularly for people who like to read in bed.

3. Putting a desk beside the bed in a kid’s room is a win-win! Not only do you have a great bedside table, but it’s also a place to do homework and crafts, or to even store those bedtime books.

4. I really love to use a desk between twin or double beds in a guest room. It’s the perfect length to set the beds a little further apart from each other than a bedside table would, and it’s a great place for your visitor’s computer and electronics.

5. And then, of course, using a desk in a guest bedroom gives you another function for that room: It can now be a home office as well as space for your guests!

So have I convinced you yet? Try a desk beside a bed in your home and see how well it will work for your family!







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10 Obstacles Holding You Back from Success

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-An obstacle is often a stepping stone- (1)Designers: What’s holding you back from your biggest success? What obstacles are you putting in your own path? Too often, we are our own worst enemies, so I want to give you an idea of how to avoid the Top 10 issues that can keep you from realizing your best success, and better profits for your business!

Obstacle 1. Commoditizing Your Services. Do not commoditize your services. What does this mean? It means there isn’t a going hourly rate for all designers like there is corn, or chickens, or soybeans or any other commodity. We are all different and we each offer a different experience and expertise to our clients. You must be sure that you’re offering services that have a lot of VALUE  to your particular group of clients – and that includes your customer experience. You should also think carefully about charging an hourly rate that can set up a comparison between you and another designer purely based on your hourly rate, not your experience, not your signature style, not your level of service, and not your uniqueness. Consider moving to a fee-based structure or maybe a block system for hours that will remind your clients that you are a creative consultant, not an hourly worker.

Obstacle 2. Not Requiring Up-Front Payment for Service and Merchandise. Are you a sofa salesperson or a creative consultant? Your clients need to pay you for the time you invest in creating their design, and that means an upfront payment or at least a retainer for your creative concepts and intellectual property. And they absolutely have to pay you before you order one stick of furniture. You are not a lending institution and you are a not a furniture store. They have to pay you for the goods before you order them. Period. And a 50% deposit really isn’t enough.

Obstacle 3. Maintaining a Costly Facility/ Overhead and Large Staff. This is the age of lean-and-mean business. Do you really need that large office? Or any office at all? Do you really need five employees? Can you use outsourced help rather than full-time employees? Are there some jobs that you just don’t need to do at all? Find your sweet spot between being overstaffed and understaffed, because going too far to the other extreme (i.e. taking out the trash and running errands yourself) can also really hamper your profitability. Ten years ago I wanted my business to be BIG BIG BIG, now the only thing I want to be big are my profits!

-An obstacle is often a stepping stone-

Obstacle 4. Not Knowing Your Current Financials, Client Pipeline, and Earnings Goals. If you don’t get your financial house in order, then you aren’t going to ever be profitable. You have to know how much money you have coming in and going out each month and if all you have is one type of design service where you wait for the phone to ring from a new clients, it’s going to be REALLY difficult to project your revenues for the months ahead. And you have to know your markups and margins and which services you offer (because hopefully you have several) are most profitable and which you should even stop offering. Plus you have to have financial goals and one eye on future business. Planning for future growth and profitability is the key to less stress and more financial and time freedom.

Obstacle 5. Not Investing When Necessary to Grow in Profitability. As I said in #3, there is a fine line between paying too much in overhead and expenses, and not paying enough. Understand the difference in something that really is just an expense, and something that is an investment that can help you truly grow your business. This can include key hires, consultants/coaches, marketing/PR, professional photography, web design, and more.

Obstacle 6. Working With Non-Ideal Clients. A non-ideal client can actually cost you more than she can pay you. If you have a difficult client, or a client that doesn’t pay well, that one person can drain you creatively and professionally, taking you away from other clients and from the work you need to do to get more business. Ask yourself if that person is really worth it. If you spend hours in stress that you could be marketing and networking or you spend hours chasing down payments that you could be creating an effective business development system, then the client is not worth it. So stop telling yourself you can’t afford not to take every client that comes along. The truth is you can’t afford to say yes to them!

Obstacle 7. Inconsistent or Non-Existent Design Procedures. What is the #1 best quality in an interior designer? It’s the ability to LISTEN, really listen to the client. That should be the first step in your design procedure, but you also must have a good, organized plan that will keep you on track. A solid process, an organized schedule, and a detailed task list will keep you on track, no matter what challenges are thrown into your path.


Obstacle 8. Not Listening to What the Public – or Your Existing Clients – Want. Again, it’s all about listening, whether it’s to what is happening out there in trends and new ideas, or listening to your clients and what they need in the way of service and experience. Keep your ears, and your eyes, open.

Obstacle 9. Never Taking Action. Take Action! Many people have no problem imagining what they want their business to look like or run like, but they never get there because they don’t put the process of HOW to achieve it on paper. All great success begins with the first step, and any action is better than inaction.

Obstacle 10. Fears that You are a Fraud or a Fake. The idea of Impostor Syndrome has been a hot topic recently – it’s the idea that you are going to be unmasked as a fake, as a person who doesn’t know her business. This is such a self-destructive idea that women in particular feed themselves over and over. Don’t do it! It will undermine your professionalism, your confidence, your commitment to your business and your ability to sell yourself or your design visions. Of course you don’t know everything. No one does. But listen up! You are NOT a fake – you are a professional who deserves respect – and that includes respect from you!

So are you putting any of these obstacles in your path to success? Make it a goal today to clear out those obstacles, even if you have to work on them one at a time. Print this list, hang it by your desk and knock out all 10 of these obstacles this year. You’ve still got time to make this happen in 2016. But only if you make it a priority. Taking even a small step to knocking these challenges out of the way will make your business stronger and more likely to survive the inevitable changes we will continue to see as small business owners.

You can do it!







PS – Too overwhelmed to tackle these obstacles on your own? My Designer MBA  event can help put your financial house in order, get your fees in place so you’re charging what you’re worth, and will talk you through my sure-fire design processes! It’s set for May 10-11 at ADAC in Atlanta and I’d love to see you there! Click here for more!

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Saturday’s Secret Sauce: Finding the Courage to be Imperfect

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So I don’t really consider myself a perfectionist. Did you just laugh? No, there are definitely people in my life that I think hold that title and I often watch them struggle with thinking anything they do or have is ever really what they wanted it to be. I don’t think that is me. Rarely is anything good enough for these perfectionist people in my life and they beat themselves up in the pursuit of perfection. I don’t do that. Or do I?

Let me be clear,  I think I definitely strive for an extremely high standard. But in my opinion, I am not a person who thinks what I create and what I do is never good enough. I am often satisfied with my work and my accomplishments. I think I am good at many things. I know I am an expert at times. I definitely hit a point of satisfaction and “good enough” for me in all that I do. Eventually.


But isn’t is funny how our self-perceptions aren’t always totally accurate. Isn’t it odd how we can see ourselves one way when the world may see us differently? If I am honest with you (and me), that bar I’ve set for myself in all that I do is pretty darn high and I have to really bust my buns to hit the level where I think I can stand back and admire my handy work, where I think I have accomplished what I set out to. I am a visual and creative person and my visions are not simple or easy to reach. In fact they are often grandiose. So is it perfectionism…I don’t think so. But maybe. Kind of. Sort of. Ok, possibly.

Just this week I found myself wondering if I was at least 50% perfectionist. Or maybe 75%. But certainly I am not 99%. I mean, seriously. Is perfectionism an all or nothing trait or would we be more honest if we looked at our “degree” of perfectionism and how we rank on that scale when it comes to  REALLY reaching our goals and dreams. And am I 50% in my cooking and 87.5% in my interior design? And what about in my self-image?


Ultimately, these are the questions at hand. Can we give ourselves a break? Can we relax and not be striving all day every day. Can we relax? Can we have less proving ourselves, and more being ourselves? Can we feel more comfortable than ever in our very own skin? Can we be at peace? I think those are the answers to whether we are a perfectionist or not and I am beginning to look more and more like a perfectionist with each one of my answers. Yikes!


Just as I was thinking about this idea of perfectionism this week and struggling to tackle my to do lists at home and at work,  a profound article by one of my favorite gurus Brian Johnson hit my inbox. And in it he said “Let’s quit setting ourselves up for failure and burnout by thinking we need to be perfect and just get on with the business of becoming a little more courageous day in and day out!”

Wow! I hadn’t ever thought of how courageous it is to set out every single day to just do your best. I hadn’t ever framed our constant pursuit of our goals and to use our gifts and talents as courage. Courage! What a relief. Just showing up is courageous. That feels good! We don’t have to be perfect. There really is no such thing. All we have to be is courageous.


Brian is totally right! Life is so hard. Even for those of us who have it easy in the grand scheme of things, who have jobs (or even dreamy jobs) and have food and shelter and love and friendship. Even for THOSE of us, life isn’t easy. I mean just dragging our tired selves out of bed each day to start down the monstrous list of to do’s we have can be totally overwhelming at times. And if we throw perfectionism in on top of it all, if we have ridiculous standards of how those “to do’s” are done, then how can any of us ever feel accomplished, feel joy or feel at peace? We can’t.

It is true. It takes REAL courage just to show up everyday. It takes courage to take our gifts and give them away. It takes courage to face the expectations of life and of the world and of our friends and our family and our clients and our community. But most importantly it takes courage to face the expectations we set for ourselves.

The moment we can stop trying so hard to be perfect and just accept ourselves for who we really are in all our perfectly imperfect glory, THAT is when we find true joy.


Brene Brown in her fantastic book Daring Greatly talks a lot about courage and how to be vulnerable and show up in life. She was inspired by the great Teddy Roosevelt when he said…”It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who’s face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”

Wow. Leaves you speechless, doesn’t it. And I love this quote from Brene’s book Daring Greatly where she says…“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

How profound. We can never feel at home in the world, if we don’t feel at home in our own skin; if we can’t give ourselves permission to be who we really are.


And from Brene’s book The Gifts of Imperfection she says, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

Talk about needing courage! Can you show your TRUE self? I am a bit nervous just thinking about this concept. And I do strive to be honest and authentic in all that I do…but wow! Our true self–the one that is vulnerable, and doesn’t know everything, and is flawed. Can you show her?


Well that brings me back to Brian Johnson and his admiration of the wisdom of Alberto Villoldo in his book Courageous Dreaming where Alberto says…

“There are no perfect human beings! Persons can be found who are good, very good indeed, in fact, great. There do in fact exist creators, seers, sages, saints, shakers, and movers… even if they are uncommon and do not come by the dozen. And yet these very same people can at times be boring, irritating, petulant, selfish, angry, or depressed. To avoid disillusionment with human nature, we must first give up our illusions about it.”

We are human, friends. And humans aren’t perfect.

And Brian also highlights the words of Abraham Maslow who said “No, what we need is to be honest about what it means to be human: that we are fated to miss the mark of perfection but achieve small and impressive acts of courage and greatness. Instead of thinking that some people are flawless, we ought to take inspiration from the fact that our heroes, celebrated or not, brought themselves back on course again and again whenever they realized that their behavior was out of alignment with their intent. Simply saying, “Enough—I’m moving on!” is an act of courage that breaks the spell.”


So can you do it? Can you show up as your perfectly imperfect self? Can you give yourself a break? Can you do less proving yourself and more being yourself? Can you achieve “small and impressive acts of courage and greatness” each day in spite of your “human-ness”? Well, I am an optimist, so I think we can. And this my friends, is definitely the Secret Sauce to a life of joy.

Happy Saturday from this imperfect almost perfectionist. xo,

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What Is That Color? Ethereal Green

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I love to create calming, quiet spaces for bedrooms – after all, getting enough rest is critical to our health! Color is so important to making a space feel restful and soothing, and that’s why I love soft shades of sea tones or other colors from nature. This tranquil green really fits the bill!

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It’s a great color called Rainwashed from Sherwin-Williams! It reacts well to natural and interior light and, just like deep sea waters, it can appear blue, green, or a lovely neutral, depending on the light source. I paired it here with a very crisp white and a deep dark black to give great contrast and to keep the palette classic and refined.

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The result is a tranquil bedroom that’s welcoming and ethereal, ready to help you unwind and ease into a great sleep. I would also use this gorgeous color in a bathroom or a formal living space, where it would be amazing to see it reflect the light!

So what do you think of this Rainwashed green? Where would you use it in your home? Let me know in the comments section below!

Colorfully yours,






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