Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I thought my mom had a lot of Nutcrackers!

Now, I thought my mom had a lot of Nutcrackers, but it turns out, I found someone who has way more!  A friend and client of Cindy's has been collecting Nutcrackers since her children were little boys (now they're all grown up with kids of their own).  We had her Christmas wonderland.....aka her home....professionally photographed and are currently writing a story about her collection.  But here's a sneak peak of her collection....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Not Off the Production Line"

Here's a third blog post Cindy and I wrote together.  With how accessible and inexpensive items are, we have lost some of the value of something handmade.  

"Today, we live in a heavily manufactured society. Millions of identical products are stamped out to look and function exactly the same as the product before it and the product after it.
In several respects, its great- millions of decently priced items are right at our fingertips. However, we have lost a sense of uniqueness and the value of the handmade item.

This particular dining table is made over seas and every layer of finish is applied by hand- no wonder it takes several months to get!  But the customization options and handmade qualities make this a one-of-a-kind piece you won't find in any ordinary furniture store.

Because my team and I design specially for each individual client, every job is unique, every day is different and every end result is special. But one-of-a-kind design means that there is a lot of human elements involved:

*A faux finisher hand painting a finish on a wall
*A piece of furniture made by a single person
*Hand painted art, blown glass, or handmade baskets
*Tile patterns that are designed to look like art
*Upholstery finished by a specialist with custom fabric and trim selections
*Window treatments sewn by hand

All of these human elements add their own character that will never be created exactly the same again. By selecting these items and using artists and expert craftsman, products don’t look like they’ve rolled out of the manufacturer’s warehouse- there are some degrees of human quality.
When an item is handmade, an unusual corner here or a splotch of paint there doesn’t necessarily mean it is damaged. In Chinese calligraphy, the painter purposefully adds an error to remind everyone that a human created it. It most handmade products, there are human ‘errors’ involved but many times, it’s those characteristics that make something so special."

Monday, January 24, 2011

"My Litmus Test"

Here's another blog Cindy and I wrote together about how we select items for a client, how we narrow down thousands of possibilities to just 3.

"If you have ever stepped foot into the By Design Interiors studio, you would see hundreds of fabric books, catalogues, tile samples, rug squares, wall paper books and much more. But, when I have a meeting with a client, I usually only have a handful of products to show them. Up to and not exceeding three of each selection is my magic formula.
My job for each project is to sift through thousands of items and ideas and only select the perfect possibilities for each space- including quality, price point, lead-time and design aspects.
So my litmus test for selecting products is pretty simple actually, my team and I handle every project as if it were our own homes. Would I pay this much for this product? Is it in budget? Would I put it in my own home? Is the quality good? Does it work with the rest of the design? Would I be happy with this?
These are all questions I ask myself about each and every piece of furniture, art, lighting, or tile I select for a client. It I can’t honestly answer ‘yes’ to those questions, I won’t even show it to a client.
Because what I do is so personal, I will never steer a client wrong; I do everything I can to properly set expectations. And well, you should trust me because I know stuff."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Making it Right

Here's a recent blog post Cindy and I wrote together about some of the difficulties that arise during out job.  "Making it Right" talks about how problems arise and how we fix them.

"I hate to admit it, but more often than I would like, something goes wrong in this profession:

*A fabric is back-ordered for months
*A moving person drops and breaks a brand new piece of furniture
*A manufacturer is slow to respond
*Not enough tile is ordered
*A product is stuck in customs after its month long voyage at sea
*The list could go on and on…….

While I am admitting to things, sometimes the cause of a problem is my fault (I have a beautiful sideboard in my house that I did not mean to order for a client and could not return!) but many times things (like receiving a fabric with an error in it) are beyond my control.

This bathroom is an instance where the originally selected light fixtures didn't fit right into the space.  But instead of trying to convince myself and the client that they were ok- we reselected the fixtures to make sure the bathroom was perfect.

Whether it is beyond my control or not, I will always do my best to keep my client informed and always strive to create a happy ending for everyone involved. If plan A falls through, there is always a plan B, and C in my back pocket. I only work with trusted vendors, contractors, and craftspeople to ensure that the end result is as perfect and smoothly executed as possible.
Remodeling a home can be a frustrating ordeal and the last thing you want is for something to go wrong. But when something does, I always admit an error and apologize, fix the problem, and create a beautiful design for your space to give you a great reason to keep working with me."

Jan/Feb Edition of Texas Home and Living

Check out the recent edition of Texas Home and Living (January/February 2011 issue) to see a bathroom project I worked on with Cindy - "Sensuous Master Bath Retreat!"
The master bathroom was featured as one of the 2011 Bathroom Designs, a spread by Jack Frink and was even featured on the 'Contents' page of the magazine!
Click here to read the entire article! Or if you're in Texas, you can pick up a copy of the magazine at any local bookstore or grocer. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cindy's Audition Video Outtakes

My boss, Cindy, has recently auditioned for HGTV's hit show "Design Star!" She headed to Dallas twice to do an open casting call and then was asked back for a screen test and more in depth interview.  She then had to create a 5 minute video describing herself and her design style.  While I can't show you the actual video, I can show you a collection of outtakes.....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Tile

Although By Design's office has millions of samples....we don't have them all.  Occasionally I come across something new that I've never seen before while visiting a showroom.  A tile company called ICI that we have begun sourcing had these pretty little guys that totally caught my attention.  I think I need to find a home for them in the near future!
The blue, gray and gold mix above was recently featured in a design magazine, maybe Elle Decor!  Its beautiful and very reasonably priced! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Project in Process

Bathrooms seem to be a big hit lately in the remodeling world and here is a beautiful one I am working on with Cindy.  
This older home located near Rice University, underwent a major transformation through its 5-month renovation.  The bathroom was completely gutted and now enjoys brand new cabinets, floors, countertops, plumbing fixtures, lighting and beautiful tile work. 

During a bathroom remodel, one of the biggest and simplest improvements to make is to add is a handheld shower head along with the stationary one.  1. They allow for much easier cleaning!  and 2.  This is an easy way to have different showerheads.  Here, the husband and wife prefer different shower heads- he likes the rain head and she prefers something with more pressure.  With a simple valve, this couple can have both! 
That piece of paper taped on the wall is my drawing of the bathroom! Pretty cool seeing the drawing and the real thing together!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cowboy Rainboots!

Santa surprised me with an awesome pair of cowboy rainboots!  (Actually, I picked them out and very specifically showed them to Santa....but still so excited to have them!)

Although my mom thinks they are horrible, I'm not the only one who like the crazy patterned, pointed-toe boots!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Band Reunion

Before moving to Texas, I had an urge to get together with my old band buddies; there were 16 of us who stayed in band through high school and we became a pretty close bunch.  Most of us had not seen each other much since high school and since we were so close back in those days, I thought it would be fun to meet up at a bar.

When ensued, was one of the most hilarious nights of my life; wild karaoke singing and a few people going through a quarter-life crises.  So, I decided we need to make this an annual thing.  Here are the only images I took of the night....based on where we are in the photos, you can probably guess what the rest of the night was like!
Annalisa Grunwald and Lisa Taylor - Lisa was an honorary member of the reunion this year since she only stayed in band through 8th grade. 
The guys shopping around..... 

Still figuring out how to work my camera on my phone! 

Alex Lindsey (getting his masters degree in weeds at MSU), David McGuire (working in Washington DC - not sure what he does), Nick May (writing, recording and playing music around the Lansing area - need to get him out to Houston to play!), and Annalisa Grunwald (2nd year law student!)! 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't already excited for next year's possibilities.  However, after this year's shenanigans, I'm not sure how we will top it next year!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Home for Christmas

There isn't anything quite like being home for Christmas!  There was a beautiful blanket of snow on the ground, I got to spend time with old friends and wonderful family....and Santa made a little visit!  Here are just a few of the highlights of my trip home.....
Meggie, Lisa and I after a fun dinner at "Gracie's Place," a new restaurant in Williamston. Meggie has started her own business as a Parelli horse trainer and you can visit her website by clicking here!  Lisa is in her last semester of law school at Harvard and after taking the bar during the summer will be working and living in Washington, DC!
Attempting to figure out how to work my new phone with Trav! Santa gave me a new iPhone and I am in love! It especially helps me with many of you know I am known to get lost in a paper bag!
My second helping of Grandma's amazing borscht during Christmas dinner! I only ate 9 bowls in three days!  This is my next recipe to try while the weather is a bit chilly. 
The aftermath of Christmas dinner! Joey is trying to coax Nikki off of the couch to play!

Visiting home always makes me homesick for family and friends! It was so wonderful to see everyone again....until next time,