Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gettin' My Schulter On!

Last week, I flew to one of my childhood favorite places to attend a seminar.  I hadn't been to Kansas City in over a decade and was so excited to see the City of Fountains again.  In both a great and terrible way- the seminar was very time consuming and we never actually made it into the city! 

Fortunately, the seminar was incredible and one of the best learning experiences I have ever had.  It was hosted by a company called Schluter- innovators in several technologies including underlayment for tile floors that help prevent cracking and water-proofing systems for tiled showers.

For two days, we were be lectured on not only Schluter products but proper installation methods of tile floors and walls and how they have evolved over time.  (It wasn't until 2 hours into the first day's lectures that the speaker mentioned one of Schluter's products- he was too busy teaching us about the installation!). After lunch- there was a live installation demonstration and after that....we got to install!
Here's a live demonstration of Schluter's Ditra product - the bright orange underlayment for tile floors.  The product is really technically simple but has incredible effects on the prevention of cracking in tile floors.

It looks like a giant orange waffle - the raised portions have air pockets which allow the subfloor (concrete) and the flooring (tile) to move independently from one another.  Concrete moves, expands and contracts at a different rate then tile (and the different types of tile- porcelain, ceramic and natural stone also have different movement rates). 

Typically, tile is laid directly onto a concrete floor with thinset (cement).  This direct installation doesn't allow the two entities to move at their different rates; under stress, the tile, grout or both will crack.  
The underlayment is also waterproof! When installed in combination with other Schluter products- you can use the Ditra to create a waterproof area (great for large bathrooms!).

Now it's our turn to install! Here is my Schluter rep, Les on the left and my Interceramic rep, Cristina on the right prepping the floor for Ditra installation.

On the second day- we learned about Kerdi- the waterproofing system for showers.  It's a simple membrane that is installed on the walls and can be installed on the floor to create a completely sealed area.  Most people probably don't realize that tile and grout are not waterproof- water can and does seep through the tile and grout thus the necessity for a waterproof membrane between the tile and the wall. 

To learn more about Schluter products...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Navid Ghedami

Houston is really one of the most amazing places to live- you can do anything, see anything and go anywhere. While at a Halloween party, Evan and I met an artist (who happened to be dressed as a giant baby- I'll let your imagination run with that one :)

His work mostly includes metal sculptures but he also does some beautiful plaster work.  After having some fun conversations at the party- he invited Evan and I to an art showing of his....and we were thoughtfully surprised by awesomeness and superb craftsmanship of his sculptures. (Evan couldn't stop marveling at his weld points- I'm not even sure what exactly those are :).
Here's Navid and I sitting in front of my favorite sculpture.

Navid has an amazing outlook on life and his art- he is not one to let anything put him down and will plow through anything with the biggest smile on his face.  If he's working on a piece and it isn't connecting with him- he sets it down and finds something that makes him happy (which many times may be leaving his shop and taking the day off :).  Not a bad way to make a living!

You can see more of Navid's artwork here....

And here's Evan and I in front of Evan's favorite piece.

Definitely looking forward to having one of these someday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I've got the Blues....

I have quite a few male clients- single men either never married or never want to get married (ahem...again)..... and I think these guys are evidence of evolution right before our very eyes.  How many times have men failed to read the directions before starting a project....or asking for directions when they're lost??

Well, I think these bachelors are some sort of new species of man...hiring a design to help out with their homes instead of trying to do it themselves. Think about it!

A new client of mine is super easy going and pretty hilarious.  He initially hired me to add some custom draperies to his master bedroom...."NOT girly" was the only design direction he gave me.  Really, that's the only stipulation he had!

 "Alright," I responded, "I'll run with that!" 
So here are his new draperies for his master bedroom - blue and beige striped silk panels with tinted sheers underneath that coordinate with his existing blue rug.

And we had to connect the bed in somehow so I asked, "hey...what about some coordinating pillows for your bed?"  

Sure...just not "girly." 
So, this bachelor's room is looking pretty good! There are a few more touches I'm hoping to add (a painting above his console and a mirror above the fireplace). Not too bad for a girly-girl designer designing for a man's man!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gotta love those Wieners!

About once a week I head over to my sister's house about a half hour away and stay the night.  Mostly so I have an excuse to play like a 3-year-old....with my 3-year-old nephew and 5-month-old niece!  But the other member of the family that loves it when I come around is the Wiener dog, Oscar.....mostly because I let him sleep in the guest room bed....(see below!)
He looks like a person snuggling in that bed!

On a separate but somewhat related topic....Wiener dogs are everywhere! The cute hot dog dogs have made quite a name for themselves in the design industry- from lamps and t-shirts, to......

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with this fabric - but I'll find something adorable to make with it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Uhpinions Posted my Submission!

Ok, this requires a long back story- but it has a funny ending....

First of all- There are a few blogs I follow for comedic relief throughout my day, one of them is called "Uhpinions." The blog is a collection of actual reviews people have left online for places, products and other things.

Next- Recently, I have been looking for a new apartment (long story) and have spent hours scouring a website called  This website allows people to post reviews of just about every apartment in the USA and most of these people are brutally honest in their opinions.  The managers of the apartments also have the option to comment on any review left about their complex.

Then - I toured an apartment complex called "Three Fountains" and later went on to check the reviews.  Without realizing it, I clicked on the reviews for the "Three Fountains" in San Antonio- not the one in Houston.  It isn't until after one particularly nasty review that I realized I was at the wrong one. However, the review and manager's response was so funny that I was giggling out loud sitting on my bed late at night.

Conclusion- I knew I had to submit this review to the blog "Uhpinions." And you know what....they posted it last week!!  Click below to see the actual blog or you can read it below.  Don't stop reading after the first review- make sure you read the manager's response....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

This can't be the same!

Fun fact for the day:
As stone is quarried from the earth - many times it changes and sometimes can drastically change. That's why it is always important to have recent up-to-date samples of a natural stone you would like to install.  A piece of marble one month may look totally different the next month - but as long as it's quarried from the same area- it will have the same name

This is a problem I am running into with some flooring selections- the sample of "Tuscany Walnut Travertine" in a showroom isn't at all the same that is being quarried today.  In fact, different sizes of the same product are different colors. See the photo above - all of those tiles are called "Tuscany Walnut Travertine;" can you image having the darker pieces installed when you had selected the lighter ones!!!

Myself and the distributors of this travertine have spend several days trying to find just the right color.  The floor pattern I have created is a mix of 12x12s and 18x18s and the last thing I want is a checkerboard floor! This is Jaoquin driving the fork lift trying to find me samples...just another day in the office!

You can really see the difference here- the tile on the left is what I want the flooring to look like - the tile on the right is current stock of the same material.  Crazy, huh?!?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

18 Pillows, 3 Pairs of Window Panels, 2 Coverlets, 2 Sets of Sheets, 1 Rug....

It is so nice to finally have projects getting to a point where I can post pictures to show everyone what in the world I've been doing down here in Texas!

Recently, I had a client hire me to create some custom bedding for her master bedroom and two guest rooms.  The bedding collections turned out unbelievably beautiful!
There were so many custom pillows and coverlets, I had to borrow my mentor's car just to deliver everything for the installation.
Total count for car....
18 Custom Handmade Pillows
3 Pairs of custom Window Panels
Hardware for Window Panels
1 Huge comforter
2 Custom Coverlets
2 Sets of Sheets
1 Giant Rug

It looks really fluffy in the back of the car!

While there are some finishing touches still underway- here is a sneak peak at the amazing bedrooms!
Guest room 1 
Teal, Cream and Black color palette inspired by the contemporary artwork.

Guest room 1
Sleek and elegant color palette of all metallic shades highlighted with black.

Master bedroom
Beautiful and very unique color combination of purlply red, taupe and brown!

Stay tuned for more pictures!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Halloween 2011!

By Design is part of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA) and they like to throw some great parties. The networking event for October was, of course, a costume party and all of the women from By Design spent weeks creating their costumes. The day of the party was like the backstage of a crazy Broadway performance; everyone was frantically making sure their costumes were perfect.

From left to right starting on the stop row.....
A Waitress, Queen of Hearts, Cadet, Alice in Wonderland, Belly Dancer, Gold Digger
Pirate, Black Swan

I decided to keep my costume a secret and got ready at my apartment before the party.  I covered my eyes with sunglasses as I drove to the party despite the fact it was already dusk.  After walking into the wrong party- I fluttered my way into the GHBA networking event and struck my best ballerina pose!

And what would a costume party be without a costume contest? I spent way too much time on my costume to not enter the contest and after dancing around like a twisted ballerina for several minutes, I ended up winning "Most Original!" 

In fact- I didn't ever really leave character. I danced around pretty much the entire night :)

Even Evan made an appearance as Miami Vice :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Single File Line, Please

After walking through one of my of my projects- a new home construction in Cypress, TX -I walked outside to find this long line of cement trucks pouring the slab of another new home.  Just another day at the office :)

This is the home being built- everyday something new and exciting has been completed and it's so fun to wander through the spaces that I grew to know so well on paper. Can't wait to start showing more pics!