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MY FAVORITE INTERIOR DESIGN BLOGS & POSTS

Since I’ve become a blogger lately (and TV star, don’t forget), I’ve been spending a lot of time procrasti….er, researching this wonderful new world.

One of my favorite parts of this experience so far has been becoming a fan of all the other quality interior design blogs out there.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and V-Day is all about love. So to show how much I love you, I wanted to take the time to share my favorite high end interior design blogs. So far at least.

Because spreading the love is what it’s all about.

Click on the each of the titles below to see these great blogs for yourself.

The Peak of Chic 

I can’t get enough of Jennifer Bowles. Not only is she a blogger, but she’s the author of a fantastic book called In With the Old: Classic Decor From A to ZIf you’re looking for inspiration from some of the most classic designs of all time, look no further.

Quintessence

We’re always saying here that quality interior design is all about enhancing your lifestyle. Lifestyle is what this blog is all about. Art, architecture, travel, fashion, jewelry, books, films, food, wine…it’s all here.

Slim Paley

She started her blog on a dare and never stopped. Slim is all about beauty in its many forms. Don’t miss it!

Desire to Inspire

Two ladies who live across the world from each other and who have never met in person have created one of the most premium interior design blogs out there. Great eye, great ideas.

Double Decker: Weekend Retreat High Above Hardy’s Bay

We couldn’t do what we do without architects. Check out this example of how a fabulous architect completely transformed a home that seemed past its prime.

The Next Big Thing In Miami

As a Miami interior designer, I feel lucky to be part of the world’s hottest…and most high quality interior design scene. This post details a new development that is the best of everything Miami has to offer.

Biodegradable Lamp Grows From Mushrooms

There are few things more important to executing a premium interior design project than the furnishings–large and small. So you can imagine how much fun I had with this article about a design company that actually grew an attractive table lamp…from mushrooms.

Elements of Style – “Feminine Touch”

Premium interior design blogger Erin Gates walks us through a baby nursery that uses of the new, old, and everything in between to make those first precious years as beautiful and memorable as possible. Taste not trends.

COCOCOZY – “$20 Millon Dollar Estates For Sale – See This House”

Coco takes us on a cross country tour of some of America’s most luxurious, tasteful…and yes, expensive homes. Fun fun fun.

Houzz – “Binge on the Design of ‘House of Cards'”

Those of you who know me well know what a big Sopranos fan I am. The rest of you will soon find out. Still, it was a lot of fun learning about the premium interior design choices the creators of this new TV classic are making.

Returning Home – Interior Design Shrink

Our blog is called The Psychology of Design, so how could we not love our newest discovery…a site called The Interior Design Shrink. This article touches on one of our favorite themes: Finding balance inside before creating beauty outside.

House Tour: Angela Dunn + Colin Radcliffe’s Gorgeous London Home

When we see an example of amazing quality interior design, we have to bring it to your attention. Take a look inside to see some of the best work we’ve seen in awhile.

Lisa’s Vegas Regret

Not only is Lisa Hochstein from The Real Housewives of Miami a client of ours, she’s funny, dramatic, and always interesting. Check out her blog here at Bravo before the launch of her new site Lisa’s World.

12 Deadly Decorating Sins

Houzz contributor Kurt Cyr really hits the nail on the head with this one.

Toilets 101

A hilarious article about something every home needs but not everyone likes to talk about.


4 THINGS YOGA CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT MAKING YOUR HOME GORGEOUS

I’m a dedicated yogi as well as a high end interior designer, and I’ve found that the two practices inform each other. At the core, they’re both about balance and harmony.

Here are 4 things I’ve learned from my yoga practice about what makes for quality interior design. I’m confident you can apply them to their process of making your own home beautiful.

1. BALANCE
Balance in yoga means establishing your center of gravity so your movement around the center can flow easily. Establishing the center of gravity requires intense, unwavering focus, which can result in a deep sense of calm and fluid stability as all other thoughts in your mind leave.

Creating balance in interior design is to create a center of gravity in a room, which we call a grounding. Once the grounding is established, all elements that you select, such as furniture, art, color, etc., will flow easily, which creates a sense of calm and stability in the room.

You can have the most expensive, luxurious items but if they are not balanced correctly in a room, it can cause a feeling of instability not only to the eye but internally as well.

2. SIMPLICITY
Yoga is not about twisting your body into a pretzel (although if you can do that it can be quite challenging and fun). What it is about is simplicity. Simple, slow, deliberate movements that can clear the mind and eventually create strength, calmness, harmony and unwavering alertness.

Simplicity in quality interior design is the opposite of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. You have heard the statement over and over again that less is more. A chaotic atmosphere will definitely create a lack of balance and harmony. Simple, deliberate choices in furnishings, art, accessories and color will foster a sense of a balanced equilibrium.

3. FLEXIBILITY
Yoga is about increasing flexibility slowly and consistently. Practicing each asana, slowly and reaching for the extra stretch when you are ready will allow you to obtain the goal of more flexibility. Flexibility then results in a more balanced, harmonious, healthy and hopefully longer life.

With quality interior design a look unfolds bit by bit, and you need flexibility to follow where it goes. Certain things just cannot be forced. The goal is always to keep a balance and to create an atmosphere of calm and harmony. When a design is forced, you will most certainly feel it, within moments of walking into a room.

4. DISCIPLINE
Yoga does not work without living the right kind of lifestyle. It is important to incorporate good eating habits along with living spiritually.

If you have the opportunity to work with a premium interior design professional, it will be important not to let the home fall into disarray afterward. Maintain the home’s harmonious atmosphere by keeping the clutter to a minimum, allow the fresh air in, and by all means do some yoga.


3 TIPS FOR STRESS-FREE FURNITURE SHOPPING

Does the thought of shopping for furniture overwhelm you?  If you’re like most people, you may not feel you can make a decision unless you involve all of your friends, family and entire social network.  Part of this uncertainty comes from not knowing how to organize your options.

As a high end interior design professional, I have to practice organization to keep me focused on my clients’ needs and wants and budgets.  My background as an executive assistant helps me achieve this by applying the same principles I used then, to my life and career now.  While picking out furniture can be a stressful experience, now you can learn from me how to do it stress-free.

USE SPREADSHEETS
Does this sound tedious?  It may actually be exactly what you need.  Once you have determined the furniture requirements per room, you’ll have tool to help you get exactly what you want for the amount of dollars you want to spend. It doesn’t need to be complicated, just a few columns; one for furniture, another for vendor/store and the last for cost.

What do you need this for?  Well, having well-thought out list will ensure you won’t veer from it. As result, you’ll know just which items you need to look for and compare prices on.

MAKE A DECK
The ultimate organization tool for me has been to use Powerpoint to load all of my furniture choices and schemes.  I use it ritually!

It’s kind of a joke around the office, “oh there’s Adriana, making another PowerPoint.”

Let them talk—it’s been a big secret to my success. Powerpoint allows me to easily present my clients with the selections for their design, giving them the ability to interact and become part of the decision making process.  They love when I email them a pdf or slideshow of their design concept.

It’s great to organize your rooms and pieces together this way. Not to mention, if you still need your best friend or special someone to give you their approval on your furniture choices, you can email them the slides. Now they can weigh in on the decision making with you.

CREATE A GOLD BOOK
At Interiors by Steven G. I must create what we call a Gold Book for every client.  These are basically specification books that show each and every item that is going into their home’s design.  Each page has a signature stamp where our clients are able to sign-off on every item noted. However you’re approaching the design of your home, I strongly recommend you take a page out of our book when it comes to this technique.

The process of putting together a book with all the design elements you’ve come up with helps you decide on your furniture finalists. It also gives you an organized way to get others involved in the decision making (family, spouse, designer, etc.).

I notice many designers use Microsoft Word or other word processors for this step. But for me, creating it in PowerPoint and turning it into a Gold Book is a no brainer.

Ultimately, these 3 tips will your organized when assessing your interior design needs, making decisions to bring them to live, and sharing them with people who need to be in the know.


HOW TO CURE YOUR BLUES THROUGH REDECORATING

After a hectic ten hour workday, I need a peaceful, relaxing sanctuary to return to. My home is just that for me. However, it takes a lot of time to keep it the way I want it. It can be exhausting, but the finished product is well worth it.

Luckily by being around so many different designers at work, I’ve learned the difference between environments that improve life vs. those that take away. Everyone has his or her own style and taste.  I have the luxury of working amongst the best and definitely take advantage of their talents.  My co-workers/friends have given me many tips that can make it easier to create a home environment that improves my lifestyle while maintaining a full time career.

YOUR HOME SHOULD MAKE LIFE EASY
In the quest for the perfect home, people often overlook the psychological element involved. At the core, despite what passes for luxury during whatever era you live in, your home has to be about you as an individual or family.

For example, I love being outdoors, I love to cook, and I love music. A lot of what I’ve chosen for my home reflects that. My wine cooler and sound system are integrated into my design choices, especially those having to do with my kitchen, so I don’t have to struggle to get my hands on the things that make me happy.

At the same time, I know that it’s usually dark when I leave for work and dark when I return. That’s why I’ve paid serious attention to strong (but not harsh) lighting complimented by soft colors.

THINK BACK TO HOW YOU USED TO FEEL
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to weaving happiness into quality interior design, start by thinking about what colors, textures, surroundings, and items you were surrounded with during peak moments of your life, regardless of trends.

My younger daughter wore only white for her first year. As a result, white makes me feel good.  It’s clean, crisp and fresh. Beige is a close second.  Likewise, my hobby is photography and many of my favorite memories include times when I was doing it.  So instead of paintings, I accent my walls with photographs.

The list goes on.

Your interests and hobbies may not be the same as mine. For you it may be fitness, Renaissance sculpture, or classic cars. Whatever that is for you, make sure your home contains elements of it.

In short, high end interior design means making an environment for yourself that never fails to improve your mood. Take the time to think back to your happiest moments and your most cherished passions, and let your home reflect them to the very core. You’ll never want to go anywhere else.


4 THINGS TO DO IF YOU WANT TO HATE YOUR HOME IN FIVE YEARS

Remember the days of Z. Cavaricci pants, leg warmers, head bands, huge shoulder pads and teased hair?  Go ahead and admit it, any of us who lived in this era sported one of these comical fashion choices at some point in the 80’s.  These short-lived trends clearly didn’t stand the test of time, and our current closets have been re-invented many times since.  The interior design of your home should be thought out in a similar way.  So, assuming you’re not a hoarder, here are four tips on what not to do, unless you want to hate your home in about five years tops…..

1. LET YOUR INTERIOR DESIGNER DO ALL THE TALKING
One of the most important parts of our business is communication.  Imagine going in to your hair stylist and coming out with a mullet because he/she just knew this look would be good on you.  You have to remember that this is YOUR home and YOU will be living in it.  Talk to your designer in detail about what kind of environment you would love to live in, your daily activities, and how you will function in the space.  I don’t care what you say, no matter how experienced or how fancy your hired high end interior designer is, we are not mind readers and we are not psychic.  YOU have to speak up and do some of the talking.

2. PLUCK YOUR LOOK FROM A DESIGN MAGAZINE
If you want to see a showroom, then go to a furniture store.  Referencing a design magazine definitely helps with inspiration, but use it as a tool, not your bible.  No one wants the drapes that match the bedding, that match the chairs, which match the throw pillows.  Adding in your own personal warm touches will help your home feel designed, and not just decorated.

3. LISTEN TO “THEM”
Peer pressure is a thing of the past.  We are all adults here.  Listening to what some people think is “cool” or “in”, could be a disaster in no time.  Please reference the photos in this post and then come talk to me.  Trends change just about as fast as electronics do.  The bones (as we like to call it) of your home should be timeless.  Now, I’m not saying to be super boring, but you can easily spark up the place with artwork, or a few pops of color in accessories and throw pillows, which can be easily swapped out for a total transformation down the road (without having to break the bank, or do any major demolition).

4. THINK OF YOUR HOME AS A WORK OF ART
The days of having formal living spaces are over.  People want to enjoy their home in a more casual setting.  Who wants that room that no one is allowed to walk into? That’s the equivalent of having a sofa that is covered in plastic.  The interior of your home has to reflect your own vision, and be comfortable at the same time.

So, by all means, choose to spend your money not listening to the four tips above. But if you do, something tells me we’ll be hearing from you sooner rather than later. 😉


THE ZEN OF HIGH END INTERIOR DESIGN: HOW TO MAKE DECISIONS WITHOUT FREAKING OUT

We’ve all been there.

Your design project has been going for weeks…or months…but your place looks like a tornado just touched down. Not only is it hard to imagine it ever getting done…you can barely recognize the place anymore.

So what do you do?

Scream?!

Well…no… even though that’s the approach I used to take until I learned about meditation.  In order to help you not lose your mind or your voice, here are some simple steps you can use to organize your thoughts and make decisions without freaking out.

First Step: Practice Focus

Don’t let the obstacles around you distract your thoughts.  First, think of the bigger picture in order to put the small puzzle pieces together. Then, focus on one element at a time and work your way from there.

However, staying consistent throughout this process is key.  Don’t let what others say make you stray from your new wider-lens focus.

Second Step: Practice Quiet

Despite what I said in the first step about focusing, you’re still going to encounter those “wtf am I doing?!” moments.

When that happens, you need to make time to clear your mind. Sit back and stop thinking about anything. Downtime may feel like a waste of time, but it’s often the most important time of all. If you is clear your mind, it will be much more likely that you’ll get the results you want.

Third Step: Practice Wholeness

Once you’ve conquered the art of focusing and resorting to quiet time, then and only then can you achieve wholeness.  This is when you can finally begin to see all the small puzzle pieces as what they are—building blocks to your new home interior. High end interior design is all about details, and meditation helps you find the quiet space to bring an avalanche of details into harmonious whole.

What do you do to deal with stress?


WHY IT SHOULD NEVER LOOK LIKE YOU HIRED AN INTERIOR DESIGNER

Most people are under the perception that when you hire a high end interior design firm, your space should look refined and designed with trendy colors, matching patterns, and color coordinated accessories.

The truth is that spaces with the highest quality interior design do not appear to be designed at all. The best designed spaces are those with character. They seem as if they were conceived effortlessly.

In short, truly beautiful interiors don’t look like they were worked on by a professional interior designer at all… they look like they were simply put together by someone with great taste. They say something about the lifestyle of their owners.  They are timeless in detail and character and do not rely on fads and clichés.

A TELLING STORY
I once had a client who told me she was completely tired of her home. When I asked her when she had last had it designed, she said, “four years ago.”

Frankly, I could see why she felt the way she did.

Her main living room was all about paisley.  Her wall coverings were paisley. Her sofa was paisley. Her ottoman was paisley.  She had a painting of paisley.

I couldn’t tell where the wallpaper ended and the painting started.

Not only that, but there was teal green everywhere – a color that was deemed popular by the Universal Color Fashionistas 6 years earlier…with complimentary accents of brown and…yes, you guessed it, orange.  It felt like the Miami Dolphins’ locker room.

But half a decade earlier it was the height of style.

INTERIOR DESIGN ISN’T ART
Here’s the problem…

Many homes that have a high end interior design look aren’t about the person living in the space. They’re about the designer. (O LOOK WHAT I CAN DO.  I can match colors!!)

Most high end interior designers are creative people. As a result, they often view their clients’ homes as places to showcase their artistic experiments. And a lot of art, like other forms of culture, is big on trends.

The thing is, even the most luxurious home is not a museum. Believe it or not, for most people a home is a place to live— often for many years to come.

The space needs to reflect that.

IT’S ALL ABOUT TASTE
Great design is not about matching colors or patterns. It’s not about using the popular color of the year.  (Actually, any good designer should avoid the popular color of the year like the plague.) Good design is about contrasting texture selections and using them in a real way that speaks only of itself.  It is about choosing colors that have a timeless quality.

Good design should reflect a client’s soul and personality.  It should enhance and contribute to the way one lives.  In fact, the most premium interiors designs look as if the client did it all on his or her own with the best imaginable taste.


WHY FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU HATE IS THE SECRET TO HAVING A HOME YOU LOVE

I recently underwent a small renovation at my home combining two guest bedrooms into one larger one.  Easy breezy for a high end interior designer’s home, right?

WRONG.

When it’s your own nest that you are shaking up, making design choices can be a mind-boggling experience.  Nobody wants to make a mistake.   Mistakes are money.  And everyone wants a great space (or at least those of you interested in reading this).

So how do you make the right choices?

WHY YOU’RE MAKING BAD DECISIONS
It’s natural and very common to be confused when trying to determine what you want for your personal space.  It is, after all, the one place where you can be you; where you can shut your door and shut out the world if you wish.  It’s also the one place that represents your lifestyle, your vibe, and your personality.  Not easy stuff to play around with.

When I first meet a client, they usually fall into one of three groups:

1.     They know what they want but can’t convey it

2.     They think they know what they want but are all over the board

3.     They know exactly what they want

Group #3 is a rare breed. Most people fall into Groups 1 & 2. That’s why you shouldn’t get frustrated if you don’t know what you want.

More often than not the reason someone doesn’t know what he or she wants is that too much research has been done.  In our world of Pinterest & Houzz, it’s so easy to get inundated with beautiful ideas.  But when you’re that overwhelmed, how do you figure out which of those ideas are right for you?

WHY WHAT YOU LOVE WON’T WORK FOR YOU
Selecting a design direction isn’t any different than buying clothes.  Just because the model looks amazing in the photo shoot doesn’t mean you will as well.  Appreciating beauty is different than living with it.  So how do you avoid the trap of only getting ideas from looking at what you love based solely on your reaction to its beauty?

WHY YOU NEED TO GET PRIMAL
Hate (or at least dislike) is a strong emotion.  It’s a primal feelings that comes from the pit of your stomach.  That’s why by editing out what you know you don’t want, you lighten the stress of wondering what you do.

Let’s use another analogy:  going to a restaurant while starving.  With eyes big and the back of your mouth salivating, you could eat just about anything.  What’s the first thing you do with the menu?  You go through the selections quickly, don’t you?  Scanning the menu, you say to yourself, “I am definitely not in the mood for seafood.  Nope, not pasta.  Maybe chicken but I can make that at home…”  And all of the sudden you have narrowed down your choices to a few delicious items.  The stress is off.  Let’s order!

START BY TEARING OUT UGLY PHOTOS
So how do Groups 1 & 2 get on track?  All they need is a little push; a little “homework.”

The homework is this:  grab some quality interior design magazines, search the web, dust off some coffee table books, look at top high end interior design blogs, whatever works.  But instead of taking your time and pondering over each page, RUN through the material!

Each time your gut says stop or pause, take note of what raised your brow.  Tag what you hate as well as what you love.

Why?  It’s simple.  When you dislike something, you usually know instantly.  By scanning quickly through images and making fast judgments, you create patterns.

In the end, you will be able to say “I guess I hate chairs with patterns,” “I like bright rooms but not bright colors” or “I like gloss and shine but not necessarily glitz”.   You prevent yourself from getting lost in a maze of beautiful rooms that may not be right for you.

Try not to focus on the fact that this is your haven you’re messing with.  Stay primal and listen to your gut. Everyone trips. But with the right guidance or with the help of a high quality interior designer, you will be in great hands. And who knows? You may find that you are going to have a whole lot of fun discovering yourself.