Your Environment Sets Your Mood

Everyday we allow our environment to determine how we feel. I know most of you are screaming at this thought. But here is what I mean, the majority of our every day decisions are made by mental processes that are put into motion by our environment and operate outside of conscious awareness and guidance. We make decisions based on how the information is presented to us, the context of it. We know that certain colors will effect how we feel. Some will make us happier, or more productive, or hunger. But it goes so much deeper than that. For instance, simply holding a warm drink in your hands when meeting someone for the first time will have you recalling that person as warm and generous when asked about them later. Just as if you are greeted in a short, brisk manner you will describe the room as cold and sterile. We use all of our senses at all times when we make a decision on how we feel about something. Our brains are set to go to the default zone 47% of the time. In this default zone we are pulling from past memories and unconscious thought that drive us everyday. So how do we use that and change it? This question is why I have continued to study psychology and the science of well being.

Here is where good design is about so much more that just arranging items. Good design is about using this kind of knowledge to achieve a desired outcome. Good design is just as much about how we use the space as it is the space. Let’s take the information about a warm beverage. If you have a receptionist that greets every new client with a cup of tea or coffee have you set the mood for the clients to be more open to you? Will they be more open? Will they spend more money? Will you be able to get the information you need to do your job better, in turn giving them better service?

We know that if we prime the brain for information it can be led to see things in the manner that we want. This can be good or bad. It can be bad because we know that due to belief perseverance that 75% of false beliefs will continue no matter the evidence to the contrary. These false beliefs are triggered by the current environment. The good is that we can create environments that bring into play the Kulechov Effect, creating an environment where beliefs are formed in context not in a vacuum. We can create environments that foster questioning and seeking knowledge. So how do we do that?

We can add beverage stations into all of our commercial designs.

We can place these close to the entrance of the space so that our clients are welcomed. This helps to but minds to ease and let potential clients know that we are more concerned with them than selling them. When clients feel like they are important and seen as a whole person they are more willing to open up and express all of their needs. This allows the business to truly help the client achieve all that they need.

We can add comfortable seating arrangements.

Creating an environment where clients and potential clients aren’t connecting with you across a desk makes them more open to you and sees you are more approachable. Conference rooms and offices are important but if your first connections with new clients are in a warmer set up you will have a better change of creating a lasting relationship. And as we have learned business is really about building relationships. We know that the current buyer is more likely to do business with people they know and trust. They want to know that you are driven by more, that you are working for a cause and that you have a soul. Your place of business needs to also have a soul.

We can add biophilic elements.

Plants and green elements increase oxygen in the air. They reset our minds and ease our souls. Biophilic elements reduce stress, increase creativity, and increase healing. Learning increases 20-25%. Productivity increases 8-13%. Attendance increases and people want to be at work. Don’t forget natural light and open spaces when adding biophilia.

It has only been the past few decades that science has really started to study how our environments effect us. But now we know it is our obligation to use this information to help our clients. To create commercial spaces that are open and transparent. That help the employees to work to their best abilities and to do the right thing for their clients. Creating a space that intuitively helps the occupants to to be healthier and better all around is not only possible but is our responsibility. Design is about the whole person, don’t forget the emotional and psychological sides.

Gratitude and Direction

We are now, I have no idea how many days, into this quarantine but I know we are somewhere around five weeks into it and I have to express my gratitude for all that I have been able to realize. This time has required me to slow down and take an assessment of what is really important in my life, what I want in my career and what I truly enjoy.

First, I have completely realized how much I miss being on construction sites and doing site visits. It is completely not the same to get pictures of all that is going on instead of seeing it first hand. These moments are truly best experienced first hand.

Each and everyone of these moments are turning points for the designs and mark points where you can see all that was in your head come to life. I have always said that I see in 3-D. That a drawing is not just a drawing but so much more and I can see myself walking through it as I am creating it. I am having to do that more right now and I am so insanely grateful for that ability. I know that I will never again take for granted or be frustrated for having to run to a site unplanned. I am going to savor the moments and be grateful for the opportunity to create something beautiful.

The second thing I have realized when it comes to my career is that I don’t really need an showroom. For so long I bought into the idea that I had to have a showroom and that the bigger the better and that it had to be in the best location. Over the past five weeks I have been designing from my home office and surprise surprise everything is still getting done and in some ways I am more efficient than when I was at the showroom. I know that I have a specific time to get things accomplished as I will have to also help out teaching math and other subjects. I am still able to keep to a schedule and I can balance my time. We can still have meetings, although now on Zoom or Skype and we can still go over plans and share ideas. I miss seeing my clients in person but using the strategies I already had in place for out of state clients we are still moving forward on projects. Houses are still being built, rooms are still being furnished and I am still creating beautiful spaces for people to soar from. I am insanely grateful for WiFi, the cloud and email!

I have learned that life is so much more about how we connect to it and that as a designer I need to be aware of more than just the physical elements in the space. In a few posts back I talked about taking this time to increase my knowledge on design for well-being. I am happy to say that I have completed Yale Professor Dr. Laurie Santos’ class The Science of Well-Being. It was hugely eye-opening. In parts it was a refresher of things that I had learned years ago but with modern updated scientific studies. Even more so it has been a huge driving force to work harder on design for well-being, design harmony and incorporating the entire person in the design. Every single day we make decisions based on our environment without realizing it. We allow others thoughts and decisions to drive our thinking and how we live. But what if we could use design to help us to overcome environmental driving factors? What if we created spaces that are designed to keep us in the present and happy with our lives? If meditation and exercise can be more beneficial than any prescribed medication than why can’t we design spaces that incorporate what we know to be healing to the mind and body? And more to the point why aren’t we? So for me I am making the decision that my designs will focus more on the health and well-being of each occupant and user. I have always said that a good design gives you a hug as you walk through the door. I can do more than just the hug at the door. I can create designs that give hugs, peace of mind and clarity throughout. I can incorporate aromatherapy, forest bathing, color therapy, sound therapy and layouts to create not just beauty but healing. So on this journey of design for better health I am continuing my education with social psychology so that I can better understand how to design for peace of mind.

I am excited for this continued journey as I increase my skills and learn how to better design for health and well-being. In design school, we take a class or two on it, nowhere near enough to truly incorporate it into design. And if you aren’t specializing in healthcare design you may never take any classes past color theory. To have this time to increase my credentials and learn more about how our interactions with our spaces around us truly effect our well-being I am so grateful. I have learned that when we focus on what we are grateful for and savor those moments we can stop the anxiety and fear. So today I am savoring the ability to teach my children, spend time with them, continue my education, maintain a design business from afar and learn how to connect with others without being in the same space as them. What are you going to savor today?

House #4 HGTV 100 Day Dream Home

The season finale was just about one week ago and it ended with a house that was super special to me. It was special on many levels. First, the house was built in the MiraBay Community where I have been designing houses in since the start of my career. In fact, it was the main community that I was designing in when I returned from Colorado. I had a permanent construction pass to the community and was there everyday. I have seen every phase of the construction in MiraBay and have designed homes in each and every phase at every level. This community has been home to me for so long. To the point that when my parents decided to leave Sarasota there was only one community that I wanted them to purchase in. So for years my parents lived in MiraBay, my kids went to camp at MiraBay and some of my best friends live in MiraBay. So to be back in MiraBay building new homes was a dream come true. I was so excited when Brandon owner of Catalina Homes approached me to design brand new homes in the newly released section. The HGTV house was third house that I was designing with Brandon in MiraBay. At this point we have now designed and have built or are building 5 completely custom homes in this section of MiraBay.

I was already working with HGTV for the other 100 Day Dream Homes when we found out we needed another house for the show. It was perfect! I could connect Brandon with the show and we could really show off the amazing work that Catalina Homes was doing and showcase the hidden gem of MiraBay. So I made the connection and the Executive Producer and Production company loved Brandon and the Corey’s as much as I did. Success!!! I got to showcase one of my builders, in a community that is close to my heart while doing what I love the most! I couldn’t ask for anything more.

So we were off and running and there was not a thing that went into the beautiful house that I didn’t plan, design or help to bring to life. When working with Catalina Homes the clients work with me and my team not just to make selections but to truly design a custom home. We start at blueprints. I draw up the starting plans, meet with the clients, adjust redraw and then eventually send them to the architect and engineer. There are not any set plans. It is all what will work best for the client. There are many drawings like this that go back and forth:

This is just the beginning. From here there is cabinetry design, plumbing design, lighting design and all of the selections of tile, flooring, paint, molding, hardware, feature moments and so much more. To build a truly custom house you can’t do it in two meetings at a design center. It is drawings and details, form verse function meetings, redesigns and problem solving. It is late nights and early mornings. it is creating a beautiful work of art that is used everyday. So with all of that here is how this piece of art turned out.

So at the end of the day, really more like at the end of a very very late night when all of the finishing touches have been added, including live plants, we have this livable work of art. A work of art that graos and adjusts with those that live in it. And for me I had the ability to better someone’s life through design and art.

Design For Better Health

As we continue to dig into this stay at home quarantine I have been taking the time to continue to increase my knowledge and skills. I have always talked about how design is influenced by psychology, that things like color theory have a basis in our thought patterns. I have been doing a great deal of continued study about the inclusion of natural elements to spaces to increase happiness. These are things like plants and how the increased oxygen and other elements increase the serotonin in our brains. My studies have continued on to include how sleep affects our moods. I have been taking a class offered by Yale called the Science of Well Being. This may seem like it has nothing to with design but the connections are huge.

In the US we are the most unhappy nation and it turns out we are also one of the most sleep deprived nations. We have this belief that the more we work, the more we push ourselves, the better we are. One of my favorite saying was always when you want it as badly as you want to breathe then you will be successful. But here is the thing, if we are constantly in the mindset that sleep is not needed and we put those who are functioning on the smallest amount of sleep on a platform are we really helping ourselves or hurting our own chances of happiness? So let’s look at some of the information we get from the studies. We have found out that anything less than 7 hours of sleep a night is sleep deprived. And once we hit only 5 hours of sleep a night we start to have negative affects on our mental and physical health. In fact, we find that negative thought patterns increase to the point where we focus on the negative more than the good with this low level of sleep. This means that simply the lack of sleep can make us less in love with our partners, can make us hate our jobs and can lead us to bad decisions. It also means that our bodies don’t get to do one of the most important functions and that is the waste removal. Without sleep you are not giving your brain the ability to remove the “trash” it doesn’t need and reorganize what it does need. This means your body starts doing things like storing fat, becoming insulin insensitive and increasing the likelihood of diabetes and heart disease. This happens for many reasons but the science backs up the fact that simply getting more sleep allows for our brains to focus on the present and the good in our lives instead of ruminating on the negative and looking at external factors to make us happy. It gives our bodies the ability to regenerate and restore.

That brings me to design. How do we design spaces that make us want to do the right things for our bodies and minds. If we incorporate science into how we design we know that we need to be getting more sleep. So let’s look at bedroom design for better sleep habits. We know through scientific studies that what is close to us and what we see regularly we will be more prone to have in our daily lives. This is as simple as if the candy is on the counter we will eat more than if the candy is in the drawer. Let’s apply this thought to bedroom design. We know that blue light before bed will hinder sleep and slow the production of melatonin. So can we create a bedroom without blue light? We know that the proper temperature in the room will allow for better sleep. What elements do we need in a room to create the proper temperature. Multi-use bedrooms take our minds away from the most important use of the room. Our brains are going to focus on what we see. This means we need to design bedrooms for sleep and intimacy only. No more designing bedrooms to also be work spaces. I also believe that our senses need to be involved in the design process. So this means that we have to incorporate the right scent for sleep in our bedrooms. So this leads me to what should we be putting in bedrooms and what should we be leaving out if we truly are using design for the health and well-being of our clients?

To truly design bedrooms in this manner it means removing televisions and electronics. Creating a zen environment. This is a great time to use textures and dimension on walls to highlight natural light. This frees up space on dressers and large walls for pieces of art, plants and other items that allow us to ruminate on the positive things in our lives.

If we aren’t focused on creating spaces centered on TV we can center the space on the actual user. We can focus on social connections and inner-connections over a fascination on electronics. We make bedrooms a no electronic space. With this change we increase melatonin production, we decrease exposure to blue light, we help our brains make the right decision and we start to change our client’s health.

Temperature, is a huge element to sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. So how do we achieve this? First, let’s look at how we control the temperature. Are we allowing tons of heat into the room throughout the day because we didn’t incorporate window treatments? Or if you are in a cold climate is the room too cold because there is nothing on the windows to hold the cold out? Do we have a thermostat that allows for regulation of certain rooms? Do we have fans or properly spaced vents? Do we have season appropriate bedding?

So often we design a space and forget that it is a living space. Seasons change and we need to make sure that the space continues to change and be functional with the seasons. Designing with the health and well being of our clients in mind means that we have to be thinking of how the space is used throughout the year not just at that current moment. This also allows for the ability to have a refresh and change up the space throughout the year. In science we have found that out brains actually stop seeing what is constantly in front of us. So even if we love something we get so used to it we actually forget that we love it. Designing for seasons allows our brains to get small breaks and remember how much we love each of the seasons and each of the designs for that season. It is training our brain to be happier. Think about it this way. Have you ever gone away on a great vacation? You stayed in amazing, beautiful hotels, but when you walked through your own door to your bedroom you were so happy to see your own bed and room? This is in part because you gave your mind a break from something you really loved but had gotten complacent about because you saw it every day. So when we design for the season we can have a better control of the temperature of the room but also we trigger the part in our brains that got complacent about the design that we loved in the very beginning.

Scent is so important in design. It is something we don’t always think about in interior design but it is driving so much more than we know. Retail has learned this lesson and has been creating signature scents for a long time. Aberocrombie was one of the first retailers to really take hold of this idea and saw sales skyrocket. Now a days you can’t go anywhere on the internet and not see people talking about essential oils, their uses and how to diffuse them. But sleep products and designs have had these elements for years without realizing how important they really are. We know that if we can slow down breathing and create a more meditative state we can increase mental and physical health. We also know that this is required for good restorative sleep. So what scents promote better sleep? The top four scents for better sleep are lavender, jasmine, ylang-ylang and bergamot. Lavender has been proven to significantly inhibit anxiety and depression like behaviors. In fact, in studies, lavender oil actually produces similar results to anti-anxiety/anti-depression medications. Read that again. Simply smelling lavender oil for 7 days produces the same result as taking an anti-depression medication. Want to know more check out the studies by Gellar and Vogel. Bergamot oil has been proven to reduce blood pressure, inflammation and anxiety while boosting cognitive function. This means that simply diffusing bergamot oil in the air can help the physical health of our clients.

Candles, diffusers, and aromatherapy pillows are all great ways to incorporate scent into the bedroom. Pillow and sheet sprays are also great ways to have the right scent in your mind as you fall asleep. My personal favorites are bergamot, lavender and eucalyptus. For me, these scents allow for better mediation and deeper sleep.

So when it comes to design we need to stop thinking just about how it will look in a space but also how it affects our clients on the whole. We can no longer just design to design. We need to take into account the entire well being of our client, educate ourselves and provide a product that is truly the best product for all aspects. No longer can we separate physical space from mental and physical health. We must design for better health!

House #3 HGTV 100 Day Dream Home

So the season finale just aired Sunday night and I have yet to catch everyone up on the house from the two weeks before. I am sorry as many of us have been trying to figure out this whole quarantine and how to work through the process of moving work and schools to home I will admit I had that same issue. So I am promising to do multiple blog posts this week so that by the end of the week you will be caught up on the houses from 100 Day Dream Home and know what we are doing at Artful Conceptions.

So let’s get into house number 3 for the super sweet DeAnn. As a single woman who has a great career and a vision for her life it was super important to create a “Queendom” for her. She needed a space that was completely hers and allowed her to not only function but be able to thrive. She is a physical therapist so a safe home was super important. She loves to craft and her family and friends are a must have in her life. With those things in mind we went to work to create a beautiful, functional space that she could live, work, entertain and eventually raise children in. We also knew that she needed to be able to be creative and her crafting was a high priority. She had been using a tv tray in her parents home before this. DeAnn also loves the time that she spent in Montana and wanted to incorporate those elements into her house.

Enter my team and how we addressed all of these needs and wants. First, I brought in the fantastic team from Naffco to do the flooring, tile and carpet. They have so many great selections all in one place that it was fantastic to be able to get many of the selections done in one meeting. We found a great tile for the decorative elements that felt like a geode and reminded DeAnn of Montana. We also found this amazing dolomite stone for the countertop. Combining these elements really gave me the perfect direction for the home. Check out this great kitchen, it is so light and airy.

In the “Queendom” we needed to make sure that it was soft and inviting while combining all of the functional needs that DeAnn had expressed. We also wanted to give her some drama and mixed in a fantastic wallpaper that is a deep green with texture to feel like banana leaves and highlighted with a gold leaf touch. The mix between soft, airy and passionate drama is where this house came to life.

For DeAnn we also needed to give her a space to craft and be creative. This was a fun surprise and I was so happy to be able to bring in my guys from ClosetArt to create the perfect craft room. And I got to shop may heart out at the craft stores to stock the craft room!

We cannot forget the outside as we wanted to make sure that DeAnn had a great place to sit and enjoy her backyard.

I love how we were able to mix together the client’s needs with a fun look. Each house we do as in alignment with my design philosophy is all about the client. So many times in design people forget about who they are designing for and only concentrate on making themselves look good. This is the biggest injustice in design and I love that I work with a team that follows my philosophy and truly cares about each client. And I am completely using the word “Queendom” for all of my amazing, driven women clients!

Designing From Home

I know that I am not the only one working from home at this time. So I thought I would update everyone on all that we can still do from home. We have full design capability from our home office. In fact here is my morning view.

I love the light in my home office! It is such a great place to design and it is so full of this beautiful light throughout the day. I love the morning with my cup of coffee, and I am completely rocking the fantastic mug that my daughter got me this past holiday!

I have added lots of new great items to the online store. Check out the fantastic pillows, throws and artwork that are all new today!

There are great options for online design services. We video conference with you, teach you how to measure your room, take pictures and work with you to get all the information that we need to design the space of your dreams. Whether you are bored of your home and want a consult on new paint colors or quick changes to refresh your space to full design plans we have the option for you. Our awesome vendors are working with us to get samples out quickly so that we can create design boxes for you. I want you to be confident on the designs and selections we are making. So on many of the online packages we not only send you digital plans but we video conference with you, create design boards and send samples.

I work with a great questionaire (if you have read or own Designing You you have a sample) so that I can get a full picture of your design style. As you know I strongly believe that your space needs to be about you. These questions help to make sure that we are all on the same page. One of my favorite tips to find your style is to take your five favorite outfits from your closet and see what colors and style you learn towards. I have been using this technique for 17 years and I just saw an HGTV Host use it. (My ideas ROCK!) I use it in my own home!

I are here. I am still designing. I can still video conference with you. I can still put your plan together. I still have contractors that are working, so we can still get a remodel going. I can still do a video conference on how to stage your home for sale. I can still put together a staging plan for you. You can shop online adn I am here to answer all of your questions about my curated items!

Artfully Curated

With all of the craziness that has been going on with the Covid-19 virus so many of us are at home looking around and realizing that we would love to do some updates to our homes. So with that in mind I have reopened the online store. I had gotten away from posting all of our available products online because I really wanted to focus on the the design aspect. However, I have been getting so many requests to know what are my favorite products, what accents I love for a quick update and how my clients and their friends can get my advice and wisdom when we are all stuck in our houses. So with that being said you can now find some of my favorite things available on the website. I have started with the easiest items such as wall art and accessories. These categories will be growing but I want to keep the category items small and unique. I will be changing out the items regularly. So if you like what you see make sure to order right away because it may not be there next week. I want to offer curated products to my clients. Pieces that are unique and that will bring you a smile. Here are some of the recent adds:

Each item will ship directly to you. Super easy no worries and we will give you the full update as to how many are in stock and when you should expect your items.

The upcoming add will be the option for online design services. With these services you will have the ability to work with me through email, skype and phone. Depending on the level of package that you choose you will get one to two drawings of your room design, an online room board, an online design and if you select I will send you a box of samples of all of your fabrics, wallpapers and finishes where available. I will give you specific direction as to how to measure your room, take pictures and how to implement the plan. Everything that is suggested in the plan you will be able to purchase easily when you open your online proposal. Expect to see this feature soon.

But, in the meantime, check out some of my current favorite pieces many of which inspired or were seen on the recent HGTV show 100 Day Dream Home. http://www.artfulconceptions.net

Be safe, stay healthy and be inspired! Love the Space You’re In!

100 Day Dream Home – House #2

Did you watch last night? Were you in love with this fun family that was clearing a jungle lot to build their dream home for their family? Want to know more about the process and how it all came together? Well let’s talk about this fantastic home.

The first step is getting all the background information on the homeowner. Watching videos to get to know them and asking questions of the builder to find out all about their budgets and style. This means lost of research and meetings to make sure I have all the right information. Then I get to work pulling samples and putting together three different options to be presented to the homeowner. Here is the set up getting ready for Jaclyn and Jon to see the selections.

Once we have everything selected it is time to talk about special projects and what we will be doing for the homeowner. For this house the very first thing that came to mind was to create a living wall. For Jon being a chef I couldn’t think of anything better than being able to grab the freshest herbs while cooking. I am in love with live plants in homes. If you have been reading this blog you know that. So I was adamant that we really needed to do this for this family. Besides making it easier for cooking it also was going to be a great way to help keep the air cleaner which is so important with a new baby. Ok it is important no matter who is living in the house. Adding design harmony to a space is essential! Thankfully the network and producers agreed with me and I got the green light to get the process started. Luckily as I got into the project we found that it didn’t cost as much as the original quote so we had more money for other gifts for Jaclyn and Jon. Which meant I got to work with Moe to design and create a raised bed garden along with hand-making a beautiful crown for the baby’s crib.

Now it was time to start planning the furniture layouts and what would be needed for the home.

This is the starting point. It is a fluid design as we have 24-48 hours to completely furnish the home. So this is how we start the shopping and selecting of the items. I put these together for each house that we do. Working with a stager has been so helpful so that I don’t have to completely empty my showroom and warehouses and have more options available.

Here is how it all came together! This beautiful painting behind the sofa and the gerber daisies were the inspiration for the entire color palette. And one of my favorite decorations are family pictures. Adding them to this home was extra special as it brought tears to their eyes at the reveal.

Do you absolutely love it? We had a great time designing and creating this home for Jaclyn, Jon and their growing family! Want to make your home your “dream home” we can help. Whether you are local or not we have an option including online plans and consultations. I want to help you to “love the space you’re in.”

Finding Zen

It is International Women’s Day and I thought it was important to talk about how we as women handle so many things. It is also super important for us to stop putting ourselves last. As a Mom and business owner it can be so hard to find time for myself. It is super easy to do for everyone else. To make sure that the kids are not only getting everything that they need but that I am a few steps ahead of the game, making sure the schedules are all taken care of, that they are prepared for tests, have enough time with their friends, make sure their lunches are perfect and they have the best balanced dinners. Special snacks, desserts, crafts, extra curricular activities and family time are all part of the routine. But what has not been part of the routine for a very long time is Sara time. With work I am constantly thinking about and working on client’s projects. I am completely guilty of not charging for all of the extra time and putting their projects first. This happens when I forget my value because it is easier to take care of others than to stop and focus on my needs.

So for the past week I have been working on creating the perfect space for me to work from and in my home. I am in love with white and organic design and it helps me to calm my mind and focus. Here are some of the designs that inspired me to change up my living and work spaces.

Neutrals, organic textures and forms give me peace. I have found over the years that the longer that I have been designing the more I gravitate to whites. I love color and I love creating beautiful colorful designs for my clients but for me I need a break from all of it at home. Here are some of the changes I made in my spaces.

Adding in crystals and plants add to the depth and the organic nature of the design. Crystals help to clear the energy in the space and plants are all about regenerating and growth.

Designing is about combining the elements and energies to create a feeling in the space. It is about creating a place to be comfortable and achieve all of your goals and vision. This can be as simple as having a place to rest and as complex as having a inspiring space that drives you. Whether you want to call it feng shui, hygge, design harmony, or zen we all function better when we are in balance and our space is in balance.

So take a moment or a week. Celebrate who you are and be ok with putting yourself first. Stop putting off updating your home. Update your wardrobe. I made the decision today to celebrate the 35lbs I have lost and go get some new clothes. I had been in full mom mode and didn’t think that I needed to spend any money on me. But the reality is walking around in clothes that are too big or cycling through the same few outfits doesn’t help to raise your own self esteem, it doesn’t help to remind yourself of your value. And women we have so much value! We keep so much together and are constantly the rock for so many. Be your own rock and celebrate who you are!

Happy International Women’s Day! Celebrate your value!

Let’s Talk Design Process

So often I am asked what my process is and what trends I am loving. So I thought I would talk a little about the process and one of my favorite design directions right now. As many of you know I have been talking about how maximalism is a lot of the current trends that we are seeing. These looks are fantastic and the depth of the colors and pieces make them great items to mix with other looks. I love a black and gold design like no one else. But not every client can pull off that kind of fantastic rich look. It is definitely not for everyone. There are some great elements to add to a more natural and organic look and so I thought that I would show you a design board that I was working on for a client that brings in some of these maximalist pieces but softens it and adds the muddy color for depth.

I love to start a design with a inspiration board like this. I may not use any of these pieces or I may use every one of these pieces. This look is taking that black, white and gold style and softening it with the textures from the rattan chairs. Mixing metals with the console table. Keeping it organic with the linen fabrics on the sectional mixed with the wool pillows and rug. The patterns are soft, geometric and organic. Adding in the gold and glass wall shelves along with the gold and crystal chandelier the whole room just took a major step up and the casual atmosphere has an understated elegance. These idea boards are huge and how I work with not only clients but especially the production companies for HGTV.

There are a few things I always have to add to every design. The first are live plants. Every home/office/work space needs live plants. There are so many reasons but the main reason is the health of the end user of the space. When I talk about health I am not only talking about the physical health but also the mental health. Plants help the clean the oxygen in the space but they also help the body to release endorphins simply making you happier. The technical term for using plants in the design process is called biophilic design. This encompasses more than just plants but also the lighting and the energy usage of the space. This in itself is another topic and I will definitely do a whole post or series of posts about it. But to get started in the biophilic design world start by bringing plants and colors of nature into the space.

The second thing that every design needs is a touch of black. This design has more than a touch, but black is a must for all designs. It grounds the space and adds depth. It makes all colors truer to their actual color and is the perfect neutral. It can be as small as picture frames and as large as the sofa. Just find a place to use it!

Lastly, no space is complete without a rug. Working in Florida I hear people say all the time that they don’t want one because it is a tripping hazard. I say BS. There are options to use rugs without the being a hazard and most if the time there is an issue because the rug is too small. We do not want coasters for our cocktail tables! Rugs are there to ground the space and create a conversational area. Use them and don’t be afraid to layer them. Let them bring in the needed texture to the space. The can also be the source of pattern for a design. Area rugs speak to the room and make it all come together, so don’t leave them out!

So these are my favorite trends right now with some of my new favorite furnishings. Love the pieces you see on the inspiration board let me know and I can have them shipped directly to you! Have a design project you want to get started on but don’t know how to start? I’d love to help. I can get you started with the design boards and the plan or go all the way through with completing and installing the design.

House Number 1 for HGTV 100 Day Dream Home

The first episode that we designed aired on the 16th! I think the house looked amazing, if I do say so myself! We worked with a fantastic team from Home Frostings to achieve this fantastic look mixing my designs with pieces from Artful Conceptions and Home Frostings for this fantastic outcome. Check out this great room!

Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Great Room
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Great Room
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Great Room
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Great Room
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Great Room

This house has a huge front room, in fact it is almost like two great rooms and a dining room put together. Not your typical floor plan. So to create the look, feel and function that we wanted for the homeowner we added a bar to the end of the room, went with a huge sectional, oversized white painted chairs and console and lots of great finishing touches. This meant we also had space for a second large console in the space, one of my favorites from Sarreid Ltd made from reclaimed wood and blue stone. We did a lot of mixing in this house of natural elements and touchable fabrics with clean whites to keep it light and airy.

Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Dining Room
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Kitchen
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Coffee Bar
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Breakfast Nook and Kitchen

This new homeowner was a “coffee snob” so we not only gave her the top of the line built in coffee machine (yes we did the Wolf built in) but we created the perfect space for all of her coffee accessories!

Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Master Bedroom
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Master Bedroom
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Master Bedroom

A master bedroom always needs more than just a bed. This master had a great space for a sit down vanity and two sitting areas. We love the white, blue and natural wood tones that tied everything together and gave this house such a nice Florida feel.

Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Guest Bedroom
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Guest Bedroom

The guest bedrooms got the proper treatment as well with great pieces of art (all original canvases plus fantastic pieces from Palacek) and fantastic want to sink into beds. You don’t have to do the typical dressers in every bedroom you can have fun with different console pieces like this one with the sliding barn doors.

Karen (Home Frostings) and myself (Sara Chiarilli)
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Hang Out Room
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Study
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Study
Mike and Sara 100 Day Dream Home Study

So are you as in love with the house as we are? We had so much fun creating this fantastic living space for Mike and Sara both inside and out. I know you didn’t get to see Karen and I on screen (just me moving rugs and Karen’s leather skirt) but I think our work speaks for itself. And so you remember what we look like and hopefully you will see us a whole lot more on the upcoming episodes here we are when we had just completed everything.

Sara Chiarilli (Artful Conceptions) Karen Post (Home Frostings)

4 More Days Until HGTV 100 Day Dream Home!

If you have been following on Instagram and Facebook you have probably seen a bunch of posts about HGTV and some new things that we have been working on. The biggest thing is that I have been honored to be the designer on 4 of the upcoming houses on the brand new show 100 Day Dream Homes. The show airs on Sunday at 10pm EST on HGTV and I am so excited to let everyone know that the first house is one that I worked on! I can’t show pictures yet, have to wait until after you have all seen it premiere, but how about a couple behind the scenes photos.

Special projects sometimes require us to get our hands dirty!
Having the right teams makes all the difference!

Each project has been inspired about the families we are designing for and what they find important. For some of these homes that means nature, design styles and moments in their lives.

The starting point for a beach inspired home
Nature brought together this color palette
Lifestyle started this design
Each design is about creating moments

Check back after Sunday to see the images of the first house you will see on 100 Day Dream Home! Each week that we have a home being revealed we will post the pictures after and let you know how we achieved the looks you saw and why we did what we did. So get your questions ready because I am looking forward to talking with everyone about the process!

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