Archive for July, 2012

Expert Advice: Erika Ward

Posted by

Hi friends and welcome to the last day of July! Today also happens to be the last day of my ‘Expert Advice’ series. Before I share our final guest post, I want to take a minute to thank all of my extremely talented and amazingly insightful friends. WOW! You guys really have some great advice and I have been taking note all along the way! I appreciate your willingness to share with all of us!

For our final guest post I’m excited to have Erika Ward of Atlanta-based Erika Ward Interiors here to share some insights on the delicate balance between time and money — don’t we all need some insight on this topic!! Erika is a genius at creating affordable interiors that are super chic and are a true reflection of their owner. Sit back and take in this last piece of expert advice — it’s one you will not want to miss. Enjoy! xo, Tobi

Before I experienced my first economics lecture in Sanford Hall at The University of Georgia my late Grandfather, an architect, taught me his version of the time and money principle. In his lecture, time was always more important than money, “You can always recoup costs, but you will never regain time lost.” Part two of his lesson simply stated that you have either time or money, “Whichever you have more of will dictate your actions.”

His words have always stuck with me and drive my business decisions on a daily basis. In the beginning I had a disproportionate amount of time versus money and performed necessary tasks to get my business up and running. True enough, start-up cash would have made it a lot easier, but the time I spent at the foundation has been an invaluable asset for me. Now, there are specific tasks that I delegate so that I am efficient in my client work, but I can proudly say that a task will not go undone because I don’t know how to complete it myself.


His lessons in time and money also dictated how I handled by business’s profitability when the phone calls became fewer. With more time on my hands, I learned how to resuscitate sales with writing opportunities where I could share my knowledge about design with other design enthusiasts, potential clients, and whoever else happened upon my article via internet searches. The decision to do so has been time well spent because the information I provide remains accessible on the web and works for me even while I’m asleep.

Now as a wife and mother (expecting baby number 4), his time and money lessons are the measuring sticks I use to maintain work/life balance. Knowing the intrinsic value of both helps me to decide which design jobs I will accept or reject in order to effectively serve my family and business.

Whether you are a solopreneur or have a fully staffed office, reassessing your attitudes about time and money will help to correct existing imbalances that exist in your business and perhaps even in your personal life. A decision to value one over the other is strictly a personal decision; there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. Careful examination of these two factors combined with necessary changes will lead to a more satisfying business experience and will simplify your decision-making process.

Are you reaping optimal benefits in how you manage your time and money?

Live Well,


[Images courtesy: Erika Hollinshead Ward]

P.S. While I’m sharing some insights from one of my favorite Atlantans, I want to mention I will be in Atlanta with my good friend Kathryn Greeley on Wednesday, August 1. Kathryn and I will be sharing a presentation called DecorEAT: Designed to Dine at America’s Mart. You can find all the details here. Hope to see you there!! -Tobi

Expert Advice: Michael Jefferson

Posted by

The experience of buying art and collectibles, and auctions in general, are two things I get questions about often. Today, I thought it would be fun to have a true expert here to give us an intro to this often so-called world of mystery. Michael Jefferson is a senior specialist with Wright auction house in Chicago and I’m thrilled to have him here today to share his expert advice. Enjoy! xo, Tobi

To the uninitiated, buying at auction can be a daunting process.  However, knowing a few simple rules, you can easily begin to buy with ease and success at auctions.

First of all, what is an auction? An auction can take many forms, but the simplest way to describe it is: A public sale of goods or property that is sold to the highest bidder. Auctions can range from high-end sales of paintings that reach millions of dollars, to estate auctions, where one dollar will buy you something of considerable quality. At Wright, we focus on mid-century design and post-war and contemporary art that falls in the upper middle range of the spectrum.

Auction houses regularly hold auctions and it pays to research who sells the goods you wish to collect. It is recommended that you sign up with auction houses to receive notices of sales and utilize their websites to view the goods that are to be sold. In our area of the market, dealing in design that is of merit and quality, it really pays to pick up the phone and speak with a specialist. I often form very close relationships with my clients and advise them on goods in our auctions, as well as those items they come across elsewhere. In my view, I want my collectors to obtain the best things they can find…I hope they buy most of them from our auction, but providing expert knowledge can go a long way to ensuring clients return to me when adding to their collections. The advice auction house experts provide can help clarify the condition and quality of items you have an interest in. Furthermore, experts can help assess the true value of an item by citing precedents for similar items that have sold. This type of information is free and invaluable to collectors because you can make mistakes buying uninformed!


The Basics: Auction houses collect items over the course of several months and create a catalog of goods to be sold on a specific date. At Wright we typically hold sales once every four or five weeks, but a search on the web can find auctions happening just about every day of the year. Websites like host thousands of auctions online around the world all year long, and it’s a good source for people to explore what is being sold elsewhere.

Each item in a sale has a lot number which simplifies the identification of an item, each item is subsequently called a “lot.” In addition, each item is given a full description which includes the designer name, the manufacturer, year produced, dimensions and an estimated price. Auctions start low and end high, whereas in a retail situation, you start high and discount down to come to an agreed price. Auctions are conducted in lot order, and nearly without a break, until all the items in an auction have been offered and sold.

To bid, you have to contact the auction house and register. Registration is the simple process of providing your name, billing address and contact information. In return the auction house will give you a bidder number for the specific auction you wish to participate in. There are many ways to participate as a bidder. The traditional way is to be in the audience and bid live during the auction. With the ever shrinking world we live in, however, it is very easy to participate in auctions anywhere in the world without being in the auction room. One way is to leave an absentee bid, which is the maximum amount you agree to pay for a specific lot. Absentee bids are executed on your behalf by the auction house. The auction house is obliged with an absentee bid to purchase the lot for the lowest possible price. Sometimes you will purchase a piece well below your absentee bid amount, sometimes it lands right at the top of your bid, and other times you will be the underbidder, someone whose highest bid has been topped by another bidder. The best way to bid, if you cannot be there in person, is to register to be a phone bidder. With this, you are called by an auction house employee during the auction and that representative will bid with you live for your lots of interest. Phone bidding allows you to gauge the level of interest in a lot and to decide in the moment what you wish to bid on so you can bid a little more if necessary to win a lot. Finally there is internet bidding. Technology has gotten quite good and websites such as Live Auctioneers allow an ever greater pool of bidders to bid on auctions remotely.

Auctions can be high energy affairs and lots can be sold as quickly as one per minute.  It is this energy that can be really captivating and also dangerous as you are swept into the moment. Auctions are very good ways to determine the fair market price for an item, and it is based on the number of ready bidders at any given moment. Many collectors prefer to buy at auction, since competition is the reflection of what something is really worth in the open market, whereas a retail situation is a price set by the dealer.

Another important rule to remember is that there are fees when purchasing from auction. Auction houses make their money adding a “buyer’s premium” to the hammer price at which a lot sells. Often this premium can range from 10% to 25% and should be taken into consideration when submitting a bid amount. For instance, Wright charges a 25% buyer’s premium therefore; if you win a lot at a hammer price of $1,000 your invoice will reflect the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium which would make it $1,250. It is easy to get swept up in the excitement that auctions create – it is fun to win a lot after some competition and often it can produce a bit of euphoria. Be sure to set limits for yourself, however, as there are always more auctions and more goods to be purchased later.

By starting with just one auction, you can easily become a veteran of the auction process.  Auctions are a great way to purchase items for your collection or home at fair prices, or to obtain very rare and collectible works that will prove to be a good investment. In general, the auction process is quite simple, democratic and ultimately a great deal of fun.

Wright’s next auction will be on September 27, 2012. Living Contemporary is one of our most anticipated auctions of the year, featuring a unique mix of functional and non-functional design from the 20th and 21st centuries. Jump in at!

I hope this advice provided some insight in the world of auctions!

A bit more about Wright…

Wright is a Chicago-based auction house specializing in 20th and 21st century art and design. Wright has pioneered whole fields of collecting and transformed the market for modern design. Wright’s auction schedule can be viewed at In addition to auctions, Wright features Wright Now, an online marketplace of stylish and significant works available for immediate sale. Visit Wright Now at

[images: Wright and Google Images]

Expert Advice: Shay Geyer

Posted by

As a Style Spotter for High Point Market and author of the Designer Detective blog, Shay knows a thing or two about using details to pull a project together. Today she’s sharing this advice with you. Enjoy! xo, Tobi

It’s all in the details…

I often hear people say that they just can’t pull a designer look together or their room feels like something is lacking.  Designing a room is not just about space planning & selecting furniture. The best advice I can give my clients is to make sure they allocate room in their budget for those designer details & finishing touches. Lamps, rugs, art, draperies & accessories are what tie your whole design story up into a finished pretty little package.


It’s those designer details that turn a ho-hum room into something that looks well thought out and designed. They can really bring a room to life. Details should be carefully chosen. Too much going on can throw a room off & be distracting & displeasing to the eye. Use pieces that have significance. You may have art or accessories that have special meaning to you because you picked them up during your travels.

Or, you might have your designer use a Greek key tape as the leading edge on drapery panels to dress your windows and subtly draw attention to your gorgeous golf course view. Accessories can be used to add pops of color and varying textures and finishes to your story. 

You can add fun details to your furnishings as well. Use a contrasting band or welt cord to spice up a simple chair. Nail heads can be used to make designs on ottomans, chairs or upholstered headboards. Certain chair frames allow for using multiple fabrics where you could have a solid fabric or leather on the inside & a coordinating pattern or print on the outside.

Monograms are a fabulous way to personalize a space.  Add them to pillows or center your monogram on a headboard.  I’ve also used monograms on cornice boards for draperies in kid’s rooms.  You could even monogram the backs of your kitchen table chairs.

These designer details will distinguish your home from your neighbors’ and help tell the story of who you are and how you live.

I hope you enjoyed this bit of advice and that you’ll follow me on these channels throughout the web: My Blog, Pinterest, Twitter and Houzz.





One Kings Lane Inspiration Boards

Posted by

Have you checked out my One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale?

Well I had a little fun putting together a few inspiration boards with the great items that are available in my sale. Which one is your style?

One Table, Two Color Palettes…Are you a coral, yellow, and navy lover or is coral, chocolate, and spearmint more your style?

Thinking about a new office design? How about going preppy with my favorite color…Kelly Green?

If Hermes Orange makes you happy, you’ll love the sunny hue of these fun finds!

Or maybe a Charcoal and Yellow Neo-classic room would make you smile. These gorgeous classic finds won’t go out of style!

Looking for a new palette for your space? Maybe Lavender and Chocolate with a punch of Chartreuse will have a fresh appeal.

Or if you want a Hip Hangout perfect for a guy or a gal, try these handsome picks for your chic retreat.

Hope you’ll check out all these lovely luxuries at great prices before my One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale ends Monday Morning at 8 am PST/10 am CST.  You’ll be glad you did!

xo, Tobi

Expert Advice: Laura Casey

Posted by

Laura Casey is a talented designer with a keen eye for the classics. Today she’s here to share a few words and pieces of inspiration from someone we all love — Bunny Williams. Enjoy! xo, Tobi

In the spring of 2010 I had the opportunity to hear Bunny Williams speak in Charlotte, NC. It was wonderful to hear her discuss the elements that are important to her design process. During this talk she strongly reinforced the need for proportion and bringing in exceptional, personal pieces to create a well-defined and unique space. Every detail and element in her rooms are meticulously considered. I think about these points now during my own design process.

 I am most inspired by her ability to select such unique pieces that transform the entire feel of a space. This antique mirror is beautifully detailed and well-proportioned.

The Bentwood rocking chair is a pleasantly unexpected choice and doesn’t interrupt the view.


In the 2009 Kips Bay Show House she chose a complementary mix of colors, textiles and prints.


Aren’t the chairs in this kitchen fantastic?

The beautiful embroidery incorporated into this canopy defines the room.

I love that someone approaching this chair from behind would never know that this interesting fabric is on the front.

When I saw this photo on the February 2011 cover of Elle Decor I was very curious to see who the designer was and of course, Bunny Williams did it again by defining a space with interesting and unique elements.

I love how the aged columns just barely do not touch the ceiling, which is otherwise free of ornamentation. She mixes everything together so well.

One of Bunny’s sayings that has stuck with me and I will always remember is, “The process is like scrambled eggs, you mix it all up and hopefully it comes out soufflé.”


[Designs Shown by Bunny Williams]