Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To market I will go...

Oh it was so fun!  I had just returned from vacation, and usually the day after I have some dread about getting back to the grindstone.  But not this time!    Yesterday, I attended my very first market.  The Dallas Total Home and Gift Market.
Needless to say, I was happy as a clam.

Me on the red carpet…ready to learn!

My friend Melissa, who is owner of Paper Affair, invited me to join her.  She owns 2 stores and soon to have a third – in Frisco, of course, just up the road from our neighborhoods in the Shops of Starwood.  Her quest – to purchase items for Fall, Christmas, Spring and Easter for her three stores.  My quest – to learn from the master and see firsthand all the home/furniture/lighting sources available to the trade. 

Melissa, Myself and Kari, a friend of mine and a employee of Paper Affair.

For the majority of the time, I just tagged along with Melissa.  She was fascinating to watch.  She had already been to the market the previous three days, and now had several meetings with sales reps of key products.  The thing I love about Melissa is that she is decisive and knows exactly what she wants.  As the sales reps shows her new lines of stationary, bags, frames and accessories, she know immediately if it will sell or has a chance.  She is quick to report what is wrong with certain lines and if she just doesn’t like something.  I love it.  My kind of gal.

Cute pups Melissa purchased for Easter.  Go see them at Paper Affair this Spring!

After learning much from Melissa, I headed to the Home for the Holiday section to view all the Christmas decorated rooms, featuring items from various places in the market.
 Having used orange accents recently with a few of my clients, I loved this room.

Love the couch and the legs on the coffee table...

The chandelier rocks.  I'm trying to imagine if my kids could keep that white sofa clean....

Wow...the peacock really adds some pop...

Finally, I decided to head to my type of vendors -  Furniture, drapery, lighting and home accessories.  Paradise found.

I loved the drapery at this vendor, Emdee International,  and am considering doing something similar to the re-make of my dining room.

This chest caught my eye immediately.  Chests are a key item at Sterling Industries Showroom. 

Finally, I went on my quest to find sconces for my friend Lisa’s home in Sun Valley (you will get to read more about her house next  week).    She lives in a wonderful home, featuring lots of details from Rocky Mountain Hardware.  Unfortunately, the previous owner decided to mix in some super modern sconces which totally look out of place on the staircase, thus need replacement. Although I found several, this one from Taylors on Ten, was perfect. 

Soon it was time to go, and I realized that next time I would attend market as the owner of Carla Moss Interiors. I am officially a member of the trade now, and I think I am ready to go solo.   But it sure was nice to get my feet wet, courtesy of Paper Affair.  Thanks Melissa!  J

Monday, June 21, 2010

Make Way for Ducklings...and Baby!

My oldest niece (Leah) is expecting in July and as my shower gift to her, I worked up a complete nursery design for her -- including all the accessories and bedding.  Armed with a design board and lots of fabric, I flew up to Wisconsin (Wausau to be exact) to attend the shower, visit family and toast a high school graduate.  Although I was not able to do the actual install myself (due to Leah just moving into her new digs), I left her with the confidence to follow the design board and written directions.

In an ideal world, I would have taken loads of pictures of all of my hard work for this blog but...that didn’t pan out so use your imagination with me to get a small glimpse of what her bouncing baby boy’s room will look like when completed.   Think woodsy but not too kitsch with a bit of refinement thrown in -- definitely warm and cozy.  Remember, they do live in an area of the country where it snows by the truckload most of the year.

Our journey begins with this adorable wooden duck that I found at a resale shop here in Frisco.  At first, I wasn’t making the connection of Make Way for Ducklings  being Leah’s favorite book.  All I could think is how simple and graceful this piece of art appeared in the middle of all the resale chaos.  Then it hit me --- her favorite childhood book and her mom’s favorite childhood book is all about ducks!  My perfect start was launched.  From there, the pieces fell together nicely.

Since I was having trouble finding ready made bedding to coordinate with Mr. Duck and I wasn’t about to let my new found friend go, I decided that a trip to Horchow Finale was in order.  At Horchow, I found some incredibly discounted bedskirts for “big people” beds that were in a perfect pattern to be custom fitted into a crib skirt.  The picture above shows the pattern (remember, think baby bed...)  Since I was fairly convinced that the crib skirt was a sure thing, I decided to buy an additional “big people” bed skirt to craft into a valance for the window covering.  Things were really falling into place for Baby’s room!

Of course, you remember that I am on an orange kick (flashback to my first install with the orange wall) so this bedding had it all --- including Leah’s favorite color of lime green.  The lime and orange paired together really boosts the seriousness of the chocolate brown in the room for a spike of whimsy.  Imagine all of this with white crib sheets and a chocolate bumper pad.  Fun!  Bonus: we have enough fabric left over from the crib bedding that my sister is making a keepsake quilt for Baby.

Paint Color
Without knowing the landlord's policy on painting, we weren't sure that Leah would be able to do much with the walls of her new place.  That being the case, I decided to add some color in other areas of the room.
Benjamin Moore's Middlebury Brown (HC-68) will adorn the bookshelf and the entry as well as the closet doors.  Baby's name will be painted in Benjamin Moore's Stem Green (2029-40) in crib letters similar to the ones show in the Pottery Barn picture below (remember to use your inner design eye to picture this):

One of my favorite pieces to be added to the room is a rockin’ orange hand-me-down dresser (similar to the one in the picture above) that we added some updated knobs to for interest. (and to drag it kicking and screaming into the current time period) It turned out fantastic and I hope to be able to show you a picture of the actual dresser soon.

My outstanding sister-in-law picked up three dark wood frames (similar to the picture above) for framing some of the actual pages from Make Way for Duckling to be hung on the nursery wall.  Even though the frames she purchased have places to hang by nail, our pictures will hang on the wall behind the changing table using thick twine/rope for added texture and interest. 

And then of course, I could not have made it through the initial installation process without Super Dad!  As always, his help was critical to completing my latest home project.  The two of us together created an elegant cornice board (perfectly measured don’t ya know...) and stapled the heck out of that fabric!  Adam, if you’re reading this please don’t forget to go by and hang it as instructed to you several times over.

I hope to see pictures very soon as it all comes together.  I hope it proves to be the perfect little nursery for the perfect first child!  I hope that my family will enjoy the room for years to come and it provides the most wonderful start for a new life.  Here’s to a happy baby and a happy room!

Bye, Bye -


My first school quarter has ended and it was a complete success.  Yes, I did get all As, but more importantly, I just love it!  I know I am in the right field and can’t wait to learn more.  Next Quarter starts July 12th and I will be taking:

Drafting II
History of Furniture & Architecture II
2D drawing

I’m heading to see my best friend Lisa next week in Idaho.  She has a super awesome vacation home, so I will share pictures when I return.  Next week while I’m away, my friend Erin McCabe from Art Institute (all those in Quarter I give a shout out) will be a guest blogger.  I can’t wait to see what she has to share about her first quarter of school.  You will absolutely love her!

Bon voyage...cm

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Family Dynamics

There are critical moments that determine a family’s personality.  I definitely remember a few.  
One of my first jobs was working in the men’s department at JCPenney.  We often marked down suit jackets or sportcoats, as they were called.  I remember the day my dad got wind of the sale, and appeared on the sales floor eagerly waiting for the great deal.  He bought plenty…and don’t get me wrong, he got a great deal.  But keep in mind the jackets he was purchasing were the bright salmon, pink and bright green.  At first, I was concerned.  But then I realized that the clothes totally fit his personality.  My dad is colorful, always has been.  He is always the guy standing out in a crowd talking up a storm to just about anyone.  Colors works for him. 

Then, there is my youngest son, Ethan.  He is of the same mold as my dad.  I was at a block party last weekend, and as I introduced myself, they replied,  “Oh you are Ethan’s mom.  We talk often on the block while he’s riding his bike.”  It's not surprising that everyone knows him, he just can't stop talking.  One year he even returned home with a political sign and a flag pin saying he we should vote for the really nice man on the corner who was running for election.

Last week during his first week of summer, he arrived down for breakfast with a smile.  “Ethan, I said, “you are dressed and ready to go.  Nicely done!  Do you think your outfit matches?    “Of course,” he replied without missing a beat, “I look like a carrot. “ 

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I think color has much to do with a person’s personality.  Some people love to stand out in a crowd.  They are comfortable with themselves, their clothing (even if its obnoxious) and things just wouldn’t be right any other way.  Others, like my older son and my husband, like to play it safe.  They don’t like standing out.  Blending in is fine.  And frankly khaki goes with everything, so why add any additional colors to make it complicated? 

This is true of design, too.  People often ask me what my style is. Oh, I definitely have one, but it’s not yours, my neighbor’s or anyone else’s.  It’s mine.  I think the best job I can do is to find your style and make it stand out in your home.  People should walk into your home and say, “This is so you!  I love it”.  Not, “This is so Carla Moss.  I see her stuff everywhere”.  My goal is to find that in every client.   I will find your style…and then try to make it standout in its own way. 

Although sometimes my dad and Ethan don’t get color totally right, color is needed.  Miles Reed to is the perfect designer for my dad and Ethan. He’s explosive and fun!

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How else could put pink (close to salmon) and red together for such a great combo?

Or could use kelly green in such a great way…
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On the other hand, this would work great for my husband and John - conservative, comfortable and totally neutral.  A great combination of looks from Restoration Hardware… 
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And where do I stand?  Well, I guess you could say my dad, Ethan and I have a lot in common. While I'd love to see this style in my home...designed by one of my favorite designers Kelly Wearstlser, I 'm married to more of a conservative type.. 
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...so I guess you could say Jan Showers works perfectly for me right now.
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All that being said, how colorful are you?  What does your perfect room look like? 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My first official install...

I did it.  I actually did it.

I think I mentioned that along with school and family, I do have a few clients.  I can’t really count my own home, or the few friends I have helped here or there with a few small items.  But I can now officially say its real.  My first actual client is a friend, who was willing to pay for my expertise and re-work her dining and living rooms a bit, and totally change up the media room.

With school and family, I am a bit hesitant to take on new clients, unless of course, I know them well.  And with Lisa W., I really do.   I get her, she gets me, and we can work together.  When she suggested we get this thing cranking before Memorial Day, I rose to the challenge.

Lisa loves maroon and beige.  We stuck with that in the living and dining rooms.  But for the media room, I decided to push her a little.  How do you feel about green?  (Absolutely not!)  How about a little orange?  “Orange”, she says, “hmmm…can we stick with maroon..or how about cranberry? “   Here were a few of the ground rules she set:
  1. Keep all the furniture
  2. Don't buy all this designer stuff.  IKEA and Pottery Barn are fine.
  3. Involve me, I want to pick out the items
  4. Get it done by Memorial Day
"Keep the couch and the coffee table...I'm ok getting rid to the rug on the wall, "she said, "and not to mention the dart board next to it."

"And keep this chair...but you can do whatever on the windows and walls...just nothing too crazy...."

"The TV stand stays..but a new tv is coming..."

At my initial meeting, I went through all the pricing and got an idea of what she needed.  I snapped a few pictures of her home and then took off.   We met several times after that.  One meeting at Starbucks I hauled out rolls of fabric and several pillows for her to look at - she laughed hysterically at the fact I would even do such a thing.   I completed a few items in the kitchen and living room and them we implemented the entire media room on the Friday before Memorial Day.

I had been a bit worried about the deadline because I had to purchase a chair, and most places can’t ship that fast.  But thanks to Z-gallerie being in the area, I managed to get it on one of their trucks for the next week and agreed to have my husband pick it up at the warehouse.  And speaking of my husband, he deserves a huge prize.  He agreed to be my implementer.  Hang drapery rods, install seat cushions, hang mirrors and art.  And even put together some West Elm bookshelves that were so complicated, it took him several hours….all while Lisa, I and my kiddos were enjoying a quick bite to eat.


I painted the back wall a darker brown than the corresponding walls...some punches of orange in the pillows and accessories livened it up...

The comfy chair, quick ship from Z-gallerie...and I love the fun pillow from Pier One...and yes, those are the challenging bookcases, but they look great once together.

Another view at night, showing the “ember” drapes from Pottery Barn.  “That name is much better than orange," Lisa told me, “that name I can swallow”.

It's always good to make the accessories personal to the client.  Lisa loves dogs and has one of her own who helped oversee the install, so I thought these bookends would fit perfectly (along with a few hardcovers from Half Price Books $1 aisle)

And, unfortunately this photos didn’t’ focus well on my iphone, but Lisa did bring a few accessories she wanted to work in, including the snow globe from Chicago.  Ha! I have to say, I love the moss balls with the orange candles.

All in all, I learned a ton - Lowe’s is open late, so it's easy to get those extra drapery rings.  And although bookshelves might look easy, they not always are.  Vendors are willing to work with you if you are nice and willing to pick things up on your own.  Yes you can design a room quickly and inexpensive, if you are willing to look (everything was from Horchow Finale, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Zgallerie, IKEA, Pier One or Lowe’s).  And clients are open to new things if you push them a little...but be sure to stick to nice sounding colors...which is exactly why paint companies spend so much time naming their paint swatches!  

The downside?  I do need a better camera to capture the before and after pictures…and would someone please help me get everything right in Quickbooks already?

So much to learn…but I’m having the time of my life.  Thanks Lisa!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Office Space...the red stapler!

Anniversary number 5 for my hubbie at his work.  Many of you might not know that this is a celebration that does not go unnoticed.  In the hedge fund world, number 5 is a big deal.  So big, that last week darling hubbie was graced with an amazing present – a red stapler! Which only reminds me of my former consulting days - via an extraordinary flick.

For those of you that are old enough to remember the movie classic “Office Space” that came out in the early 1990‘s you will understand that HBK simply had to gift him with a red stapler.  What would a real office be without a red stapler in the midst of all the boredom?  For those of my readers who are not familiar with the gift, I have placed a link below to youtube where you can see the scene from the movie.  Disclaimer:  my husband in no way resembles the character portrayed in this movie clip --- he’s way more smarter, hipper and hotter than that guy.

Words cannot describe the crimson monogrammed wonder now adorning my husband’s desk....

I am very thankful for the job that my husband has at the hedge fund.  It may sound very enticing but it is actually very detailed work.  He found a job that allows him to capture his fascination with numbers and put it together with his love of working independently.  Don’t get me wrong -- he’s a blast to hang out with but managing others is not something that invigorates him.  Numbers are his thing (as are the thing for most of the other people that work there).

I jokingly say to Matt that I could (under the cover of mid-day) sneak into the offices at the hedge fund and set up shop - complete with an office - and  no one would notice me until Friday at happy hour.  That’s when the free beer brings out the socialite in everyone!
Now that the love of my life has his own stapler (which he refuses to let me touch...), it got me thinking about what my dream office would be in a world where colors abound and the possibilities are endless.  No way could I just sachet into 4 walls and a desk without some sort of flair -- such as the red stapler.  After all, isn’t that what makes the world go round?  Color, art, furniture and living plants? As compared to grey scale, computer screens and plastic foliage?
Mine would look something like this bright and airy oasis from designer Suzanne Kasler as featured in Elle Decor.
Even though I’m sure that the corner office is unavailable, maybe I could squeeze into her workroom.

Then there is always something more intimate, like this inspiration from Kelly Wearstler, with a modern ease to it.

Or perhaps this pop of sunshine as seen in this House Beautiful room...

My year-round favs of red and green...

Or even a pop of glam with the glistening chandelier paired with understated hues..

Finally, there’s always the classic neutrals that are so hot this year partnered with the whimsical modern furnishings, closer to the understated design of the firm...

Never mind...the thought of trying to institute any of these ideas in a numbers-only environment causes my tummy to rumble.  Totally bad idea.  With all the effort required to make my dream office a reality, at some point surely they would notice a new suite mate in their midst.  But hey - there is a possibility that it could lead to a big contract from one of the wives.  Now there’s a thought...

So, I’ll continue on my journey to rid the world of blah and replace it with a  blast of color -- bringing many moments of happiness and joy to my clients.  Just like the red Swingline did for the character in Office Space.