Archive for the ‘Expert Advice’ Category

Failure vs. Failing

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I just had a setback as I was heading toward my goal. Something that I thought was a sure thing, that I worked toward for over 18 months, fell apart in what seemed like a nanosecond. And it was great!

No, I’m not crazy – it really was a good thing. Things that don’t work give me my very best feedback. Failure isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually very important for getting me closer to success. I really believe that we all need to fail often and quickly to get to our goals faster! That’s the biggest difference in my mind between FAILURE and FAILING.

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Failure is a teaching moment, really. Failing is when you give up and admit defeat instead of learning from the challenge or setback that you’ve hit. In some circles, failure is actually cool now. “Fail fast” is even a buzz phrase in the tech world. In today’s business climate, when you fail, it means you’ve been willing to try, to at least take a leap. And it means you’ve learned.

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Ideas that don’t work give us some of our most important feedback. I reframe failures before they even happen – I always imagine the worst-case scenario before I make any decision, but from an optimist’s perspective. I’ll think to myself: “If all I get out of this is x, then it will be worth it.”

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And then I can immediately see the value in any failure so it becomes not a failure but a learning experience and an opportunity for growth – and it ends up on my gratitude list. Yes, I do truly give thanks every day for what many people would consider failures. So successes are successes to me AND failures are successes to me. That is why I have no fear of either. I consider both of them good things. There is nothing to lose. There is no way to fail. This is my #1 tip to stop procrastinating and to take actions that feel like risks. There is NO WAY you cannot succeed.

So take risks, go for big goals, and just leap! You’ll always succeed if you are willing to try.








Alex Papachristidis and Pantone’s Color of 2014

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Yes, I’m jumping into the 2014 Color of the Year buzz today.  In the design world we’ve all gotten accustomed in recent years to hearing about Pantone’s Color of the Year announcement for what HOT color to expect to see most in design and fashion for the coming year. And 2014’s color was announced today to be Radiant Orchid, a lovely and fresh pinky version of lavender. Which I, for one, think Pantone has gotten exactly right for next year. Purple has been coming on strong in the design world for a while, and I think it will hit its peak next year.


One designer who uses Orchid and other glorious shades of purple masterfully is the brilliant Alex Papachristidis who was our special guest yesterday at my Getting Published event along with Sandra Gilbert-Freidus, senior editor at Rizzoli books and Alex’s personal book editor. And, as you can see in his charming photo above, Alex even wears purple well.


Just yesterday I told you about my favorite design books of this holiday season, but don’t forget about Alex’s glorious book, The Age of Elegance, that came out last year, and I am thrilled to now add an autographed copy to my collection. It’s an exquisite monograph that includes plenty of purple inspiration on its glossy and colorful pages.


Here’s a fun photo of Alex and his partner Scott Nelson with me at our event this week. Our attendees and I were mesmerized by Alex’s presentation and his work along with his genuine, unpretentious and endearing personality. And if you don’t already, you MUST follow Alex on Instagram, his self-professed new obsession, where he is known as “Alex’s Viewpoint” to appreciate his attention to detail. His feed is truly eye candy!

But for now let’s take a look at how Alex helped set this trend of Radiant Orchid and other beautiful purples including on the pages of Elle Decor




I particularly love this room of Alex’s and though the purple here is richer than orchid, the layering of purple with rich teals and cobalts will be very strong next year and works beautifully as Alex shows us here. In my opinion, a close second to purple for the color of the year this coming season is cobalt blue. So if you are a blue lover like most people are, you are in luck!


And I enjoy seeing red starting to make a big comeback in Design. In the coming years, I predict we will see a red resurgence and here Alex has expertly mixed red with purple for a super chic result.

past pantones of the year

Just in case you were wondering about past colors of the year, here are the  last 6 years including last year’s Emerald Green. Oh you know how I love GREEN. And you can see other past colors of the year on Pantone’s site, here.

So…what do you think? Are you a purple lover? Can you jump on board with Radiant Orchid for your home or wardrobe? Well, like Alex Papachristidis, I’m 100% on-board.

Happy Decorating Y’all!


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Soulful Sunday: Life is Short, Practice Gratitude

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I am in the middle of a weekend of total replenishment and relaxation. I have not officially “dressed” or put on makeup since Thursday. THURSDAY!!!! And this is Sunday. I can’t tell you how much my soul needed to be filled. My face needed to be free and my body needed to lay in bed or on the sofa and do absolutely nothing but exactly what I wanted to do!!!!


I have spent hours cuddling my daughter, building tents in the middle of the living room that she could nap in while she recovers from being sick and I have cooked her all sorts of comfort food from beignets, to buttered pasta, to chocolate chip cookies. Not too healthy but full of mommy’s loving kindness. And for me cooking also fills my soul. I’m a Southern girl, for me feeding people equals loving people.


Today, I am bringing this weekend full circle watching back-to-back episodes of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Brene Brown. We have spoken about Brene here before and her amazing TED talk. She is genius and I SO needed to hear her today.


She is talking about so many profound things, but here is what really resonated with me today. Gratitude….Gratitude is NOT an Attitude. Gratitude is a Practice. Did you hear that? It’s not enough to have a grateful heart, but you MUST PRACTICE gratitude. You must tell people you are grateful for them. You must write it down in a journal daily to make it real in your mind and your heart. What is keeping you from PRACTICING gratitude? Stop waiting, you don’t have to be perfect in your gratitude. You just have to be consistent. Remember my post on Life Practice, not Life Perfect? Well start today with Gratitude Practice, not Gratitude Perfect.

Do you know what Brene says is the hardest emotion for people to deal with? JOY! WOW…really? We can’t accept the good things in our life. Sounds crazy, right? But I think for many people, this is true. We can rally around and totally get into the drama of all the challenges in our life. But when Joy shows up we don’t know what the heck to do with it. And Berne even took it a step further. She said so many people live their life not able to accept the joy in their life because it seems too good to be true. They are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.


I am an optimist, so I don’t really struggle with this as much as some. I love to see the world through “Rose-colored glasses”. But my husband is exactly this. Understandably so, because he lost his mom to breast cancer at age 17. So he has experienced great loss and vulnerability. Brene told a story of a man who went through is life never being too happy or getting too excited because he would “rather be pleasantly surprised than eternally disappointed!” WOW…my husband has been using THIS EXACT PHRASE as his life’s philosophy the entire time I have known him. And in Brene’s story, the man lost his wife in his late 50’s and came to realize that no amount of protecting himself by “waiting for the other shoe to drop” prevented the pain and devastation of losing his wife. So he went on to say that he wasted SO many times when he should have been happy and grateful for the joy and abundance in his life, when he should have been relishing the moment and living in the present instead of wondering what bad thing would happen next. He should have told his wife every day that he loved how she set the table, or how her laughter or her smile filled his soul.


Brene put it this way…”We are trying to dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch.” But guess what…It doesn’t work. And only gratitude, practiced daily, can help you really experience the joy in your life and survive the pain. I’m speechless…What a gut check for my husband and me!


What does this say to you? Does this give you perspective on what is really important in life. Just yesterday, my friend and Mastermind Group Member Lisa Mende, shared this amazing post on her blog about the last moments with her son, Walker. I know Lisa knows exactly what the man in the story above feels. I know she now cherishes every moment in life with a completely different set of eyes than before. And she struggles with the regret of not living in the moment with her son while she still had time.


So this weekend, as I work to get back on track with my self-care, my meditation practice, my healthy eating and exercise that fell by the way-side with all my travels this year, I now realize that the most important thing that fell by the wayside was a PRACTICE of gratitude and perspective on what is really important in my life. So as of today, my schedule for summer looks completely different than it did a few days ago. Photo shoots are pushed back, work is eliminated or delayed, and the next 3 months while my daughter is out of school will be FILLED with living in the moment with her and practicing gratitude for it all the while.


Will you join me in re-prioritizing your life and practicing gratitude? Will you start today? I said it yesterday and I will say it again…Life it Short.


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Fun Video Interviews from Lamps Plus!

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Just yesterday I was sharing on my monthly #DesignerMBA Twitter Chat how important it is to know what your goals are for building authentic relationships at industry events! And one really fun and exciting connection I made at the Design Bloggers Conference this year was Lamps Plus — they are a team with such great energy!

They interviewed me about my advice to new designers, what I have going on in the near future, and how I approach lighting in my designs. To get my answers, see the video below!

And for a bit of extra fun, they asked a bunch of designers what rules they love to break! I give my answer in this video, along with lots of other designers including Susanna Salk and Scot Meacham Wood who are joining me for Design A to Z in May, back by popular demand! Listen to what everyone said:

I hope you enjoyed these! Tomorrow, I’ll be bringing you the things I’m most excited about as I depart for High Point market!


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Houseplant Hostess Gift ideas from P. Allen Smith

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Unusual Houseplant Hostess Gifts Made With Items From the Housewares Aisle

Cup and Saucer Cup and Saucer with Philodendron Cup and Saucer used to Decorate

Take a cup and saucer, pop in a philodendron and presto-“ instant hostess gift! Later my friend can use this cup and saucer for their morning cup of Joe!

The Dilemma

I’ll bet this situation has happened to you at least once before. Recently I was invited on short notice to dinner at a friends’ house. I didn’t want to arrive empty-handed.

The Solution

As luck would have it -“ I was able to find some extra housewares I had stashed in a cupboard from a recent shopping trip. I already had some nice houseplants growing out in the greenhouse. A match made in last-minute-gift-giving-heaven!

It occurred to me that everyone can use an extra bowl or container for entertaining or a nice coffee cup to use at the office. These unusual planters can be made quickly with impulse items found in the Housewares Department plus a little imagination. Next time you’re out at the mall or in a big-box store — look around the housewares department for unique vessels to hold plants, herbs and vegetables. There’s no need to spend big bucks on containers.

The How-to

Once you find an item you want to use as a planter, you are halfway there.

Next, choose the right plant to complete the look. Small containers can hold a nice ivy or small, compact plant, whereas a larger container, such as a deep bowl, could nicely hold a collection of succulents. Tall spiky plants are a good fit for more squatty vessels. But, if you are not sure, simply place the potted plant in the container, then step back to take a look.

Place in the plant, nursery pot and all, and to keep it from wiggling around, just tuck in some floral moss and out the door you go.

Wooden Bowl Wooden Bowl with Croton Wooden Bowl used to Decorate

This handsome wooden bowl is the perfect container for this colorful croton. Look how nicely the two combine to add a pop of color in the corner of the parlor. Later the bowl can be used to serve a dry snack or a bowl for some dip to eat with chips.

Using Houseplants Together

If you are grouping several houseplants together, select those with contrasting foliage and textures, such as broad and waxy leaves next to fine and feathery foliage to create more interesting compositions.

Ceramic Bowls Ceramic Bowls with Sedum, Paddle Plant and Earth Star

Place larger plants in the background of smaller plant groupings. When combining several plants in a container or basket, use a trailing houseplant, such as ivy, to conceal the edge of the container to give the arrangement a more finished look.

Happy Gift-Giving!

P. Allen Smith

Thanks so much for sharing these great ideas with us!  To read more of P. Allen Smith’s wonderful ideas, visit his blog!