Project Progress Lately

Since late 2015 I have been working on a handful of quite savvy and design forward projects. These were all bigger scopes with more complicated considerations which means the turnaround time for each was 4-6 months or more. It may seem like things have been quiet on the Veneer front because I haven't shown you any finished project photos in a few months, but they have actually been busier than ever. At last, I'm wrapping up these fantastic gems and in a few more weeks I will have the final glamour shots to share. To wet your appetites, I would like to walk you through what's coming your way very soon.

Hollywood Hills - First up, we are shooting on Saturday and its just so good I don't want to give too much away. An open minded client with good taste who was willing to push outside of her comfort zone to create a truly remarkable house. A house that manages to mix Laurel Canyon earthiness with the sexy slink of Hollywood glamour, while paying homage to its midcentury pedigree. Amazing. Here are sneak peeks of the entry and poolhouse only. You can only imagine what else is coming your way.

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Los Feliz - twin babies on the way were the motivation that put this home remodel and furnishing into overdrive. The remodel of the kitchen and two bathroom coincides with decking out the 3 bedroom home. Its going to be relaxed, masculine, comfortable, and hella cool. Those twins are beyond lucky to be born into a family of super loving parents with an excellent vision and attention to the finest of details. Here is a view of the custom kitchen cabinetry without doors, the sweet nursery on its way to being breathtaking, and the shelves I started styling while waiting on the kitchen. I know it looks like its a far ways away from completion but realistically its safe to say it will be done in 2-3 weeks.

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Oxford Square - I call this mid city project Windsor and it was the addition of a kitchen and master suite to an existing 2 bedroom house. The house was gutted to the studs and rebuilt. These kinds of projects take longer than anyone anticipates because marrying the old structure to the new can be complicated, along with updating the existing structure to current codes. Many cans of worms are opened, many city inspections slow down the progress. But the end is near and possibly in 4 more weeks they will be completed. My clients were super keen to use edgy color and material combinations. Plywood cabinetry, cement tile, cork, dark green doors. Cool stuff. Here is the view of the living room built ins and bathroom tile installs.

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Redondo Beach - a new construction house I started working on last August is ready for move in. Bright, beachy, and modern with a devotion to midcentury decor. My clients are truly building the dream house they deserve and its been a pleasure helping them realize their dreams. The kitchen is a supermodel; tall and sexy with a captivating mix of walnut wood flat slab cabinetry with glossy white, lots of brass accents, adapting vintage cabinets into bathroom vanities with modern clean lines. So pretty. It just needs furniture now and it will be ready for its close up too.

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Good stuff right? I'm very proud to wrap these up and show them off to you.

First Look - Beverly Hills Dream House

Stunning. I mean seriously. Here is the first look of the new construction 7300 SF house I have been developing with the uber talented Colega Architects with landscape architecture design by Gaudet Design Group  in the flats of Beverly Hills. These are only the photo realistic renderings. The real thing will be so much better. Hoping and wishing to break ground this summer. Its going to be quite the modern indoor-outdoor California living luxury residence. 

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Dream big.

Noteworthy 17

I'm about to go on another short trip to the Central Coast while the kiddos have their spring break. Follow the Instagram account to keep tabs on our wheelings and dealings. Before I go, here are some links worth noting. 

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1) This dip dye pet teepee will be going in a project for one pampered pooch. Sometimes you just go for it.  2) Gorgeous built-in dining by the cretaive talents behind Loom Goods 3) Vintage done well in a child's room 4) Everything in the portfolio of Paris Forino is stunning, but the Corner House is next level work to be admired 5) That's a cool DIY idea for a magazine bedside holder via Fantastic Frank 6) I will be checking out this new veggie hot spot  called The Butcher's Daughter on Abbot Kinney next week with my girlfriends. I think it will win me over in decor alone 7) Its safe to say Naomi Watts nailed it by hiring Ash + Leandro to design her Tribeca loft

Cacti Moment

In SoCal, I appreciate how hardy cacti grow in wild abundant sculptural formations as you walk along ugly concrete streets. Its nice to see their popularity is spreading to other parts of the country where the climate may not be as amenable in the form of indoor planters, framed prints, wallpaper, and murals. Tropical palm fronds are so last year, hello sweet prickly cactus.

1) Cacti are so popular here in LA, they have an entire shop devoted to just them in the epicenter of cool, Echo Park - The Cactus Store. Image by Almost Makes Perfect 2) A cactus is a wonderful low maintenance plant for an indoor planter, as long as it gets plenty of sunshine. Image by Benttgarden 3) A wall sticker by WallsNeedLove can give an illusion of a tall saguaro growing indoors 4) The gorgeous work of Wilder California captures the ethereal essence of our cacti friends 5) One of my clients clued me into the print it yourself poster option by Sycamore Street Press 6) IF you are feeling true love and are ready for the commitment, Milton & King offers a pretty cactus wallpaper 7) Anewall Decor makes a large watercolor mural size installation, lovely for a nursery 8) A sweet art print from Society 6 to grace your walls.

1) Cacti are so popular here in LA, they have an entire shop devoted to just them in the epicenter of cool, Echo Park - The Cactus Store. Image by Almost Makes Perfect 2) A cactus is a wonderful low maintenance plant for an indoor planter, as long as it gets plenty of sunshine. Image by Benttgarden 3) A wall sticker by WallsNeedLove can give an illusion of a tall saguaro growing indoors 4) The gorgeous work of Wilder California captures the ethereal essence of our cacti friends 5) One of my clients clued me into the print it yourself poster option by Sycamore Street Press 6) IF you are feeling true love and are ready for the commitment, Milton & King offers a pretty cactus wallpaper 7) Anewall Decor makes a large watercolor mural size installation, lovely for a nursery 8) A sweet art print from Society 6 to grace your walls.

Welcome to Miami

Oh how welcoming indeed my time in Miami Beach was. It was a super short trip - maybe 30 hours - that I will attempt to recap. Wayfair generously flew me to Miami Beach so that I could be there in person to accept their award. My flight got in Thursday morning and I wasn't expecting my room at the SLS South Beach to be ready, but it was. Score. I put down my bags, changed, and went out for a walk to get acquainted with my tropical surroundings. 

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I hadn't been to my Miami in 20(?) some odd years so I was curious to see its transformation into the sleek Art Deco inspired party destination I had been hearing about. The weather was warm and balmy in a good way as I started my walk south from the hotel. I walked along Collins Ave. and I wasn't super impressed. The hotels clustered near my hotel were very cool - larger complexes with Art Deco facades that had been restored and super modern interiors - but the further south I walked it seemed a little tacky and there was there nothing noteworthy beyond tourist supply shops and budget hotels. I knew the historic Art Deco corridor was between 15th and 5th streets, but I just wasn't really into it. Until I turned the corner on 5th St. towards the ocean and then it all clicked. Along Ocean Drive were block after block of preserved charming pastel Art Deco low rise hotels with a vibrant cafe/bar scene streetside. I couldn't get enough.

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Across the street from these cuties is the main attraction, the ocean, and all I have to say is wow. Living in LA near the beach spoils you but I must say Miami Beach has a prettier, cleaner, warmer, more inviting beach. Sorry Pacific. Its tropical and the water is a clear aqua green.

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By that point I was feeling the effects of my redeye flight so I walked back to the hotel by way of sweet pedestrian path that wove its way between the beach and the back exits of each beach front hotel property. You could sneak a peek into their outdoor lounges and get a sense of the pool scene in each hotel. Back to the hotel to nap before the main event.

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

Wayfair hosted a dinner for the Trade Tastemakers Award Winners at The Bazaar by José Andrés. One incredibly crafted and interesting small dish after another. I barely had time to taste a delicious bite before they whisked the dish away to bring in something new and equally exciting. I love eating that way, tasting a little bit here and there without committing to one big portion of one thing. And every bite was incredible. All the winning designers were very sweet and easy to talk to. I ended up spending the most time talking to judge Mat Sanders of Domaine fame, Lindsey Bentis of Thread, and Susana Simonpietri and Josh Kay of Chango and Co. They were all very sweet and sincere. It was fun to talk shop and compare notes.

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

Dinner and the delightful conversation was over before I knew it and it was time to move over to the poolside party at Hyde for the awards ceremony. By that point we were all very comfortable with each other and relaxed by a few drinks so the awards ceremony truly felt like a celebration, photo booth and all.

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

image courtesy of Wayfair

Once the awards were given out with a cute video and quick speeches, we were free to mingle and chat and drink and dance outdoors. Such a blast. And then that was over before I knew it too. So sad, too bad.

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I got to gloriously sleep in the next morning until 10:00 AM. Then I rushed to to check out and find breakfast, seaside on Ocean Drive of course. I took a scenic walk back along the beach and ubered it over to the airport. Back to my babes in LA. I was anxious to leave initially, but so happy I made the trip. It was a not to be missed event. Thanks again Wayfair! You rock.

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2016 Trade Tastemaker

You guys, I am honored to share the fun news - I won a Wayfair Trade Tastemaker Award for best commercial space for the Pegasus office I completed last Spring. They are flying me to Miami Beach tomorrow night to accept my award at a dinner on Thursday. This Thursday.  

Its kind of amusing to me because I got my start in corporate interiors (see previous post) and after all the residential work I have done to distinguish myself, I end up with an award for a corporate interior. The universe is a cheeky girl, isn't she? Regardless, I'm uber excited for my 30 hours in Miami Beach. I'm looking forward to meeting the other talented award winners and quickly exploring the immediate surroundings of my hotel. Any tips for a quickie visit  to Miami Beach?  

Lessons Learned 02: How to Get Started

I had meant to turn the Lessons Learned category into a more normal occurrence but the last one was probably a year or so ago. Oops. Lately I have been getting emails and coffee date requests from sweet strangers and friends of friends who want to pick my brain about how to get started with an interior design career. Its super flattering, although I don't know how strong a candidate I am to be giving career advice. In the interest of saving time and repeating myself on multiple coffee dates, I will try to write a post to cover whatever ground I would if I was chatting with you, the future interior designer, in person. This is going to be a long read so grab a cup of coffee and pretend we are at a hip new cafe.

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I usually get inquiries from either freshly graduated college students who realize they picked the totally wrong major (business! law!) and are thinking about going to grad school for interior design. Or women in their 30s who realize they have a new found passion for interior design and want to start a business asap. I would give different advice to the two categories but first, let me tell you how I got started and why I'm not the best person to ask....

I didn't always know I wanted to be an interior designer but I realized very early on that I had academic aptitude along with artistic talent. I didn't want to go to art school because I would miss the academic challenges of a traditional degree and I didn't want to go to a traditional major because I would miss being creative. Lo and behold I discovered interior design and I was lucky enough to be able to attend Cornell University and study design there at the College of Human Ecology. For me, it was the best of both worlds because I knew if I decided not to be a designer I would have an Ivy League degree to use in any capacity I wished.

Any course of study at Cornell was intense and competitive. The interior design program demanded large chunks of your time. I believe it was 3 blocks of 4 hour studio classes per week, every semester. Until you graduated. Whatever project we were assigned demanded more of our time beyond the studio hours developing our concepts, drawing plans, elevations, 3D renderings, and presenting to our studio mates for a critique. We were expected to pull a handful of all-nighters each semester. And this on top of our core requirements and facilities management and ergonomics classes. We took our design studies very seriously. The only other majors that were as time demanding were Architecture (duh) and Apparel Design. 

Along with my coursework, I did three professional internships during my summers in NY and LA - at a boutique architecture firm, a large architecture firm, and the real estate department of a large corporation. By the time I graduated I had the confidence, skills, and resume to start as a Junior Designer in the Corporate Interiors department of a large architecture firm.

Then comes the boring part. I worked at 3 different companies from 22-31.  I worked on all manner of projects. Working in the corporate sector is less creative than one would like but you learn everything A-Z about how the pieces come together in a project both from a planning and a construction standpoint. At 31 I had a small baby at home and it made me really sad to be away from him, working for others where I felt unappreciated and uninspired. Like, what am I doing this for? To be honest I had wanted to go off on my own starting at age 25, but I didn't have the confidence that I had enough skills to carry my own projects, or enough money saved up to pay my expenses while I was building a business. It was at that point in my life at 31 that A) I had the confidence in my skills and B) I was married to a supportive spouse who encouraged me to take the leap. He could carry us financially while I was building up my clientele and I could be home with the babe. If he didn't believe in me,  it probably wouldn't have happened.

The first couple of years were slow but I also wasn't in a rush. I had a toddler and then a second baby so there was only so much I could handle anyway. I developed my voice and the clients who "got" my style found me. I did very little marketing besides a website and a Houzz profile. The more projects I completed and professionally photographed, the stronger my brand became, the more consistent my work load got, and about 2 years ago I felt like I had succeeded in the goals I had originally set for myself. Now I'm busy busy with awesome projects and cool clients. I only take on projects I feel excited about because again, I have two young kids at home and I want to be there for them. I only work with people who I like because I'm not desperate for work. I also have a lot of confidence in my talents and I have a viewpoint that people are lucky to work with me. Life is too short to work with people who stress me out and don't appreciate my services. I know I sound so obnoxious and privileged, but it is what it is. I know not as many people can be so lucky. I get that.

And that brings me to why I am not the best person to give career advice. Because I didn't decide I wanted to do this at 31 and started my own company with no previous experience. Because I studied, and interned, and worked boring corporate jobs for a decade before launching my own firm. That's not to say it can't be done. Lots of designers have no formal training. I just wouldn't want to take on the stress of that steep a learning curve. When someone is spending $20-$200k on a remodel, that's A LOT of responsibility. Yes, its super fun to pick out tile and light fixtures for them, but you need to know how the details come together and anticipate what can go wrong so things flow seamlessly. When things go south, and it was you who recommended a certain application or product, you are on the line for making it right. I hate that part of running my own design firm, but its worth it for me because I know I have the knowledge base and things will go smoothly. And if they don't I know how to problem solve. I'm actually pretty impressed with designers with zero training or past experience who decide to go for it. That's ballsy. 

My advice would be: if you don't know how to draw a floor plan or elevation in AutoCAD, create a 3D rendering in SketchUp, make a design board in Photoshop, read a set of construction documents, know local building codes, and be super organized to track orders and specifications in Microsoft Office, then you probably shouldn't start your own design firm. Being able to pin pretty pictures and shop is probably not enough. Your clients will expect the former over the latter. My obvious advice would be to take some classes first to learn those basic interior design skills. Learn the software. Then get an assistant job or internship at a design firm to see a few project cycles in person. Interior design is super gratifying and it can be fun, for sure, but there are many stressful and draining aspects of it like any job. Its not all rainbows and unicorns and you should see it in person.

If you are in your 20s and are considering going back to school to get your graduate degree for interior design....I recommend you start with a job in the design industry before committing to being a  designer. There are actually many support positions that give you insight into how it all works along with daily contact and collaboration with designers. Jobs  like a sales rep for a product line (furniture, fabric, lighting), working as a sales consultant in a high end showroom, or working in the business or marketing departments of large design firms come to mind. If you did this for a year or two after graduating you would get a steady professional salary while you figure out if being a designer is for you. If it is, then you apply to design school and make that commitment without going in blindly. If its not, you haven't taken on more debt and you have built your resume in the meantime.

If you are in your 30s and beyond, you may not have the same time flexibility. You need to get something going stat to pay your bills. Its a pretty saturated field of competing interior designers, some with experience and training and some without. To establish that you are serious and passionate about interiors the first thing to do is start a blog/website. Write about the interiors that interest you and define your style. Of course, I highly recommend taking classes whether its a formal program or a boot camp type weekend seminar to teach you the basics. Offer to design your friends' spaces for free and take good photographs to build a portfolio. A Houzz profile is key so update it regularly and clients will find you. Start by asking pretty low fees just to get professional projects under your belt. As your projects get more complex and better looking, submit them to interiors blogs and magazines to get exposure.

Because I am risk averse, I would take on only decorating projects first before tackling other people's kitchens, bathrooms, and additions. If you really believe in your style but know you lack the skills to illustrate your concepts, you can always hire out drafters and renderers to create the drawings for you. I actually know a few designers who do that, but then their fees have to account for the outside work, and they have to be super confident in their creative input to justify the pricing of their output.

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Its not an instantaneous thing. Is a slow organic process that builds on itself. That's really the best I can offer if you haven't gone to design school. If you are super talented and have confidence, it will happen for you. And one more note, I should hope if you want to be an interior designer you live and breath design. Every building you look at, you see something to catalog. Every room you walk into, you redecorate in your minds eye. You consume every design related blog post, website, and magazine ceaselessly. You are always thinking about it. Your brain is always "on" and committed to making the built environment prettier and smarter experientially. I think that will really make the difference in whether you succeed on your own or not. 

Good advice? Bad advice? How did I do?

Children's Bookcase Round Up

Needless to say, who doesn't encourage reading in their home with the kiddos? Its especially good for their malleable little brains. After finding a way to stow away toys, creating a friendly reading corner is an important element of any kid space.

Source: Homepolish

Source: Homepolish

To that effect, I have pulled together a round up of kid friendly bookcases to house those oddly shaped smaller books. He key is that these are all lower height so as not feel imposing to the littles, packed with style, and under $500.

1) The Land of Nod has a few fantastic options. The white and black Issue bookcase is my favorite for its minimal Scandi influences 2) Another winner from Land of Nod is the acrylic bookcart. I like its versatility. You can use it as a storage cart for anything in virtually any room.  3) The Ashlyn bookcase from World Market would fit right into any midcentury home and I like that their wood is nice quality. It doesn't feel plastic. 4) The Max bookcase is groovy, its cute, and its $169 5) And if you can spend a little more, the Ouef mini library is one of my favorite designs.