Finding Calm and Inspiration

As many of you know the building and housing industry is going crazy right now. And by crazy I don’t just mean super busy. It is crazy on so many levels. There is lack of product, extremely high prices for basic product like lumber, long wait times to get product, 22 weeks for impact windows, and houses that aren’t on the market for more than a minute. New construction is sold before the footers are even dug and the price to build the house will now double before completion if we keep at the same rate. So what does all of this mean to the design industry? It means having to be constantly thinking on your feet. Having difficult conversations and needing really good connections in the industry. It also means that you have to pace yourself or you will get burnt out, fast! If you are a new designer and haven’t lived through this kind of growth and insanity you are probably eating it up and thinking this is the way it is always going to be. I remember when I first got into design and we were in this type of market. It was great to ride the ride. Although when it came to implementing things not just putting the design together reality set in. That lack of product and long wait times made for unhappy clients. Finding labor to do the job at the price bid became next to impossible and stress became a daily event. It was in those times that I realized how important it was to have really good vendors and contractors. That building those relationships would be key to being successful in the industry. It also taught me that I needed to take care of my mindset and to continuously find way to be inspired.

I have always been a sunrise person. I love watching the sun come up and bring a new day. I think it goes back to growing up on the water and loving to see it send shimmers. As a child I would sit on the dock with my feet in the water and just listen to all of the sounds of nature. As I got older I would take trips with my aunt and uncle hiking in the mountains. The trip I will always remember was to Arcadia and the mornings watching the sunrise from the mountain over the ocean. For me these morning sunrises have always been my reset. Whether it has been stress for work, family, children, divorce, or just finding myself the sunrise has been the perfect morning meditation time. I wish that I could say that I find the time everyday to watch the sunrise and have my morning coffee and meditate but that would not be life. What is life is finding time to go away, reset and take breaks from the daily grind. This week I have taken off to Destin. This has been a great trip for the kids to be kids. Swimming, fishing and just exploring new things. But it has also allowed me to have my morning time walking the beach, watching the sunrise and putting life into perspective. Taking time to set goals for where I want to be in all aspects of my life.

Each morning I enjoy the sunrise with a cup of coffee and then walk the beautiful beach. Some days my mind is going a million miles and I find myself walking super fast others my mind is clear and it is a slow introspective walk. Other days it is stopping along the way to talk to the other early risers who are walking the beach or fishing. It is finding new shells and seeing the colors bounce off the water. It is saying hello to the birds and being greeted back.

It is watching the power of the surf and realizing how small we are in comparison. The beautiful rocks that jut out into the ocean with no agenda just to be and stand firm. The rocks that are worn away over time by the surf and yet come out even more magnificent with each wave that hits them.

So when life is crazy and everything seems stressful it might really mean taking a step back and refocusing. Remembering what you love and what inspires you. For me, I see new color combinations in each and every sunrise. I see building designs in the sand and rocks. I see new paintings ready to be created from the shell and wave designs. I see new directions that I want to take my business and life. I see goals forming and creating. I see inspiration in each and every sunrise.

Where will you find your inspiration? How do you find your calm? Share with my your morning or evening rituals to bring you focus and direction.

Designing and Creating

With all the changes that this year has brought I have continued to have some of the most amazing clients and am so thankful for the beautiful projects I have been able to work on. Last week I did the first round of install on this home that we gutted and redesigned. This beautiful pool home was ready for a big update and I love that this client wanted a modern flare to the space. We redid the kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, doors, paint, trim, lighting and the exterior. Basically a complete redo! I am in love with how this kitchen came together!

The white cabinets with the cushion backsplash really brings the space together and brightened the whole house. Love how we created a build in fridge look even though is wasn’t a built in fridge!

The master bath now has two sinks and is truly a functional space!

We brought in all new furniture throughout and did a big day one install with artwork and lighting.

Love how all of it is coming together and check out those huge paintings! Tomorrow will be the next round of installation with accessories and little finishing touches. Check back to see how it comes together and the spaces keep updating to create the perfect comfy home!

Continuing to Reconnect

I talked about how recently I have been reconnecting with myself. Who I am as a designer. Who I am as a Mom. Who I am as an artist. Who I am as a business owner. And who I am as a person. When you have spent years being everything for everyone else this can be hard to truly acknowledge what it is you want and need. It has been great connecting with other Mom’s and hearing their stories about mom life. And a huge shout out to Mom Life USA, I can’t wait for the t-shirts to show up! Thank you for asking me to be a part of your community and I look forward to rocking some super cool clothes!

The one theme that I have heard from all of the Mom’s that I have been talking to is the huge amount of guilt that we share when we aren’t doing something. That if we have five minutes that aren’t scheduled we should be doing something for the kids, cleaning dishes, vacuuming the house, strategizing how to grow our businesses, meal prep and planning or doing laundry. Sound familiar? This past week taking time for just me felt weird. I missed my kids terribly but I also found a person that had been long gone. I had moments where I did nothing. Yup absolutely nothing. But the big thing I did was take in all that was around me. I enjoyed going through art galleries. The Susan Swartz gallery was amazing. She has had her work all over the world including in international embassies. It inspired me to continue with different techniques in my painting.

Although I studied painting in college I focused more on design, printmaking and sculpture so I know many techniques but had not practiced many. The time away and my explorations drove me to experiment with impasto techniques. Many people know this style of painting from Van Gogh. But this style was used back in the time of Titian and Rubens. The translation simply means to apply thick paint. Often the paint is applied with a palette knife and as modern art became more and more popular the impasto technique became a requirement in the painting community. Modern art took on the idea that the brush strokes and texture created in the medium could and did convey feeling and the artists response to a subject. So for me creating pieces in the impasto style was about connecting more and more to myself. The energy and excitement that came from tapping into who I am as an artist had me create three new pieces since my return.

Falling From Clouds
The Fires

Working an impasto style painting is invigorating and therapeutic. Working with the thick paint felt like I was creating a sculpture on canvas. Each layer upon layer was like laying down part of my soul, connecting with the medium and the colors. I got such an understanding of why the modernist painters felt that one had to use the impasto technique to truly connect with their work. The ability to manipulate the light and depth through the technique is fantastic. The paintings feel like living breathing works. I believe I will continue with this impasto series and continue to explore how emotions and part of me mix with each piece. One thing I have learned, although I am putting part of me onto every canvas I actually feel more whole than every before. The connection I am finding in painting again is connecting myself to who I am in all parts of my life.

If any of my pieces connect with you they can be purchased on on Etsy site. Yup I re-activated the Etsy site I started back in 2012. Who knows you might start to see some of my handmade jewelry come back onto the site. Making necklaces for the strawberry festival got me itching to make some more pieces.

Self-Care, Anxiety, and Mom Time

I have to admit I have a really hard time talking about an being vulnerable. So this blog post is hard to write and yet there is part of me that is driven to write it for accountability and to let others out there know that they aren’t alone. Designing for better health has to start at home.

As a mom of three and business owner anxiety is a regular emotion. And the act of self care and taking mom time can be guilt ridden as there is always that feeling in the back of my mind that I should be doing something else, that there is something else more important than me. Any other moms, parents, business owners out there that feel this way?

At one point in my life I let myself give so much of me that I was constantly living in a Lupus flare and missing out on so much of the wonderful things in life. Part of designing and tapping into the creative process is putting part of yourself into each design. When you aren’t adding back to you the process is exhausting. Add in parenting and trying to be the perfect wife and I was living looking forward to the vacations that I would schedule to have a week where I could shut things off with the high hopes that the vacation would be perfect. And I am sure you would know what happens when things need to be perfect, they rarely are and the unrealized expectations just make the situation worse. The anxiety would rise. I needed to find a way to believe that what I wanted and needed was just as important as what everyone else needed and that if I kept giving all of me to everyone else there wouldn’t be anything left of me.

Over the past year and a half I have been consciously working on taking care of myself. Setting boundaries. Taking time for friends, going hiking, painting and my favorite thing skiing. I realized that I can’t keep working 60+ hours a week. The high altitude of the ski mountains is amazing for my lupus. It may be getting out of the humidity in Florida or the peaceful settings and adjustment of oxygen levels. People talk about altitude sickness, I feel the best at higher altitudes like my body is brand new and the lupus doesn’t exist. So for me self care is not just taking care of mind and body but also finding ways to make sure I keep my lupus in check.

These views bring such peace to my soul. I have to say there was definitely some serious mom guilt going on, that this week I am out exploring a new place and skiing without the kids. And they definitely let me know that they wished that they could be with me. There was so much guilt about going by myself. Everything from did I really want to be states away from my kids, what if something happened? Did I really need to spend the money on myself? Am I taking away from something I should be doing for my kids or my clients? But in the end I realized that I can’t keep running on empty. That I needed to be inspired to bring new ideas back to my clients. That I needed time to myself where I am not worrying about everything going on with the kids. And even bigger that I made a commitment to myself to keep healing me so that I can recognize the anxiety, fear and pain that came with the past and move forward. To not live in it, to acknowledge and release it. This can be scary and so satisfying when accomplished.

Today I had a huge moment. I am rarely ever nervous about heights. I was a gymnast, I was the kid that would walk on top of monkey bars. I walked construction sites on the top floors while pregnant with no stairs/railing, solely going up ladders in heals. Roller coasters and amusement rides, all things I love to do. So today when I got to the top of the mountain there was a panic that set in out of nowhere. Yes it was high, over 9,500 ft but I had been higher. It was a new run for me and for the first time this week I had a realization that I was out here alone. But it wasn’t a sad alone it was a connection to me. It was a heightened sense of being that I was super aware of everything around me. The view was amazing.

The top of Empire

The signage on the lift going up says no easy way down. And there was no easy way down but there was an exhilarating way down. The sense of accomplishment to overcome the nervousness, to have faith in my abilities and to trust that I was capable. A little over a year ago I had never taken a run down a mountain by myself, even though I have been skiing since I was 8 years old. Today I am on a week trip skiing by myself and not stopping myself from going to the very top of the mountain. I am putting myself out there swallowing the fear of not being perfect and just being me. Realizing that it is ok to say that I don’t know everything, that I do need breaks and that self care is just as important as the care I give everyone else.

So here I am, about to turn 41. Letting go of the voices that tell me I’m not good enough. Looking to a future that doesn’t let others dictate how I see myself. Setting an keeping boundaries that respect me. And learning how to celebrate each and every moment, even those where I am not perfect.

So join me in celebrating all the parents and business owners that are finally taking care of themselves. Give them a smile, a like, a nod to the fact that you know they are trying as hard as they can. Find a way to look for positive intent and be the helping hand they are too afraid to ask for. And if you have found a way to overcome your anxiety and guilt I want to hear about it!

The White Barn

On my first night in Park City I came across the cutest local Italian Restaurant and Bar. Lucky for me it is right across from my hotel! I chose to sit at the bar get a great class of Sangiovese and have a bit to eat.

Looks amazing right!?! It was and so was the company of locals that were also hanging at the bar. There is nothing better than wandering into the place that the locals go, you know the food will be good and you can get great tips on things to do and see. So I asked what was the one most iconic architectural place in Park City. The answer came back without a doubt the White Barn.

The White Barn is a historic landmark here in Park City that was originally the homestead of the Harrison McLane Family. It dates back to 1886 and was purchased by the Citizens of Park City in 1990 to preserve the history. It is a very cool location and now has cross country trails, bike trails and walking trails around for all to use. The original property was a 160 acre farm. 80 acres were sold to the McPolin Family in 1897 and in 1922 the barn was erected from recycled timber salvaged from the old mines. If you didn’t know this whole are was silver mines and many made their start in these mines.

The White Barn

This iconic barn sits in the middle of mountains and off of a now 4 lane highway. One one side you can park and hit the trail heads. On the other side is the White Barn. There is an amazing tunnel that goes under the highway and you definitely want to use the tunnel. (Don’t be like me the first time and try to run across the highway!) And you will want to experience this tunnel as it is a beautiful mural.

I never in a million years expected to see this kind of beauty in a tunnel under a highway. The modern mural with the elements of the area speaks to the combination of Park City. There is this dichotomy here of history and tradition and new modern elements. And as you talk to the locals you will get some of the frustration of the history being removed and taken over. But yet they are open and friendly and are excited to tell you all about their favorite places.

When you come out of the tunnel there is this peaceful place where the barn sits in the middle of trails and mountains.

There is a river that runs through the front of the property and the cutest bridge with trees that just call out for you to hang in. And you will see people doing all kinds of photo shoots at the location. It is the a number one spot for wedding pictures. I got to see a girl doing what looked like senior pictures in a bright red ball gown in the snow. Brrrr!

Throughout the property there are plaques that tell the story of the White Barn and the owners.

There has been so much of the farmhouse design style and seeing this historic barn in person made me smile. There are elements that I love and the combination of wood, metal and concrete. I also love that they still have the old farm equipment on site so you can really feel like you are back in time.

Check out those garage doors! I bet you thought the ones everyone has been doing the past few years were a new thing. Nope, here they are glass with those awesome beams. I love the siding that is both horizontal and vertical. Check out the stone base, this is the same process as how the Romans built. I love that this site has been saved for all to enjoy. Go experience the history and be inspired to bring some design elements into your home. Historical elements never go wrong!

Park City Inspiration

A day in a new place starts with checking out the downtown area. Here at Park City Main Street is a cute collection of shops and restaurants multistory buildings that sit in the side of the mountains. There are lights strung across the streets and great sidewalks for all the strolling you want to do.

Main Street Park City Utah

There are tons of galleries that range from paintings to sculptures. One that caught my eye was Tresor Du Monde. The front window had a T Rex fossil head! This is my oldest son’s favorite dinosaur and had me walking in.

T Rex Fossil and yes they have the entire skeleton that will be donated to the university!

The no brainer to walk into the store that had a dinosaur in the window led to some of the most inspiring pieces. The entire store was filled the most fantastic items I had ever seen. And they were all made by nature. Everything from fossils to crystals and gemstones created the most beautiful tables, lights and artwork.

Geode Cocktail Table
Multi Level Geode Side Table
Quartz Crystal and Iron Floor Lamp

The quartz pieces were just to die for and were huge! All of the iron bases are handmade by artisans specifically for each crystal.

Quartz Crystal

This piece stands about 4 feet tall and has the most amazing energy about it. If you have been reading my blog over the years you know that quartz is a healing crystal and clears the mind. Talk about crazy healing power with this one!

Giant Ammonite Fossil

How about this giant ammonite!?! These sea creatures lived 240 million years ago and were once the most abundant sea animals. Picture this with what looks like a giant octopus coming out of it.

Fossils and Amethyst

Check out these amazing pieces of art made from fish and plant fossils. And yes those are giant amethysts next to them. I am so in love with all of these pieces as I can see them going in so many different styles of homes. They fit beautifully in our high ceiling open floor plan houses. Whether you like traditional or contemporary design the versatility is perfect.

Gemstone Artwork

They also have these amazing pieces of art made by an artist named Zee that are gemstones in copper and are lit from behind. They take up an entire wall and set the mood for any space. I see these working in everything from a five star restaurant to a contemporary beach house.

I am so excited to have a new source for unique art and sculptural pieces. Check out this wood sculpture!

Custom Wood Sculpture

Meeting the owner and this fantastic family was such a highlight! I am so excited to see what project will be the first that we get to one of their amazing pieces! Finding new places was always my favorite thing about market and for years I got so stuck on having to find places only at market that I can’t believe I missed great places like this family owned business. Oh and I of course had to find just the right pieces for the kids to bring back. So I will be coming home with Mosasaur tooth, a megalodon tooth and a heat shaped solid pyrite for the kids. Don’t know what a Mosasaur is (neither did I ) but check out this cool dinosaur.

This aquatic sea reptile lived 60-80 million years ago and it’s name means lizard of the Meuse river and I was lucky enough to be in the shop while they were unboxing these fossils! There might be a fight between the boys over these teeth! Finding inspiration and getting so excited to get back and design some amazing spaces!

Life, Vision and Reality

It has been awhile since I have posted and while there are many excuses the biggest answer has been major changes that have gone on in the world and in my life. As the world is starting to get back to what will be our new normal I am still searching to figure out how to return to or create what I want as my normal. I have spent the quarantine time learning new skills, reconnecting to myself and remembering who I was before quarantine, before marriage and who I am after divorce. I have picked back up the painting that I used to do before I got married and had two more kids. I have realized how much I missed painting late into the night. I missed how my oldest son, then a small child, would have his drafting table next to mine and we would draw and paint. Recently I have been able to do that again with him, now an adult finding his own creative self.

Here are some of my recent paintings.

I have found that where I used to paint more realistic pieces I am loving working on more abstract pieces. I am finding myself pour parts of me into the work while also finding so much of me that I didn’t realize was lost. I have realized how much I let go of myself and my vision and direction to be the perfect wife, mother and business owner. I thought that I had to be everything to everyone and that all anyone wanted was someone who could handle everything and be perfect. But reality is life is messy and the more that we give of ourselves to everyone else the less we have for ourselves. I realized that my vision was so much more about what I wanted to achieve so that I could give more to the people in my life. I realized the people that should be in my life would never want me to give up those parts of me. That asking me to give up those parts was not love, it was control, fear and hurt. And this is not about blame because I willingly gave up those parts because it was what I thought you did when you loved someone. I thought you sacrificed yourself to create a new life. Reality, giving that up was the start to the end because it makes everyone unhappy and resentments happen on all sides. When we forget what really moves our soul and where our passion comes from to make someone else happy we hurt ourselves.

Here are some of the works I used to do before, when I would go from creating interior designs during the day to painting at night.

So in this search for who I am and what truly makes me excited and fuels my soul I realized these things. I love being a mother and I am a much better mother without having to be perfect. That it is ok to be open and honest and allow my feelings to be present. That I am a better mother when I am not following a rule book that bedtime doesn’t have to be set all the time. That sometimes chores can wait because snuggles and family time are so much more important. That creating a safe space where my kids can always share their feelings is more important than being an authority figure.

I have found how much I missed traveling. That new places and experiences are something that my soul needs. That to be inspired in design and art that I need new experiences and new places. That we cannot create in a vacuum, the there has to be inspiration and collaboration. Before my life completely changed I had been working on a plan to travel once a month to new locations to get inspired, see new things and bring back new design styles and how I want to incorporated them into what I do. My soul had been begging for me to remember who I am and what I needed. To write about what I found and what inspired me.

It is time for me to start acting on that and not continuing to hold back and wait for things to settle down. I have learned that there is always going to be drama and that if I keep putting my life on hold until the drama ends my life will have passed me by with no one hurt but myself. That the more I play into the drama the more there is still control over me and it keeps me from being the best person that I can be. So I am working on letting go. I am letting others have their judgements and opinions that really have nothing to do with me and everything to do with themselves. So instead of looking at things as being forced to give up my kids every other weekend I am going to look at that time as potential trips to find inspiration. It doesn’t mean that I won’t miss my kids, I miss them the minute they walk out the door to go to school or friends houses or activities, but I am not going to let that stop me any longer from finding ways to enjoy the time, finding ways to be whole so that I can be even more for them.

So today I am writing this from Utah. A place I have never been before. I am going to go out and see the sights, check out places that the amazing locals I met last night advised I check out and see where the wind blows. I am letting go of having to have everything planned and lined up and seeing what it is like to just let inspiration and creativity drive me. It’s ok to not be perfect, it’s ok to still be working on your vision, and it’s ok to start over.

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!

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