Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Inspiration, Fabric, Workrooms and Bras?

Last week the whirlwind surrounding my life began to die down to a gentle breeze.  With the week off from school and the kids out also, I only worked one day at my internship – all the while nursing my wounds over losing my dream home.  With that behind me, it left nothing more to do over the long weekend than to enjoy some well-deserved fabric samples.  I dialed up my new Robert Allen rep and he dropped off the most fantastic menagerie of fabrics --- all for my collection!  I am giddy… 
 For those of you not grasping my excitement, there are others like me with some pretty intense opinions about fabric.  Take Jesse Ventura for example.   Ex-pro WWE wrestler, former governor of Minne-snow-ta and current host of television’s “Conspiracy Theory”. Mr. Ventura offers his own value of fabric when he said, “If I could be reincarnated as a fabric, I would come back as a 38 double D bra.”  Wow…now there’s fascination with fabric and then there’s fascination with fabric.  Jesse takes the cake.  Although I’m not that intense about my fabric fascination, I do believe that there are a few essential tools that a designer should have at their disposal – with fabric being one of them.  In addition to drive, skill and business savvy, a good designer also utilizes the following:

A library of inspiration – Architecture books, interior design books, color books, window treatment books, and tons of magazines make for a solid beginning to your library.  Each client and each job will have different requirements and you will want your own stuff to offer them.  Another good tip? An online collection of photos, organized by room.

A fabulous workroom – Drapery, pillows and re upholstery are a staple in the industry.  Find yourself a workroom that can deal with the volume that you are creating for your clients.  It should be reliable and you should work at keeping a strong relationship with them.  Lead times are critical to the process so make sure that everyone is clear about dates and expectations.  Could be messy…. I use Berkeley Fabrics right here in Frisco.

Sample books – Paint decks, fabric and flooring samples will all add to the client presentation, letting them actually touch and feel what could be right in their home.

My current living room after “the drop” of goodies from Robert Allen. Even though office space is an issue, these little jewels are definitely going to come in handy. 

With some well deserved downtime, I was able to examine each book thoroughly.  Broken down by color and then by fabric type (i.e. upholstery, drapery, etc.) it’s actually pretty easy to flip through the books to discover the perfect match.  Check out this elegant blue fabric:

And some newer patterns....
Offerings even include clean, crisp ocean reminensce pattern from Nautica.
dAlso with the goodies came two trim books - meow.
I love how the photography is so sharp now that you can see the texture on even the color pages...
Robert Allen and Dwell Studio have combined efforts to create a new line.  Frankly, these are right up my alley.  They have pop and are fun too - best of everything. 
Even though you may not be able to answer the doorbell and see your friendly Robert Allen rep laden with treasure for your trove, that’s what I am here for!  There’s not a more beautiful fabric in all the design world.  So… whether you are in the market for new drapery or need to recover your priceless piece, the ideas are flowing.  Contact me directly and I will pull a book for you! And no, I won’t show you the Jesse Ventura collection.

Happy fabric -

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interior Design Class Update

Thanksgiving brings to mind for most people pumpkin pie, turkey, lots of fatty starch and even football.  I’m not immune from that thankfulness either.  Thanksgiving prompts me examine my life and give thanks for the things that are in it, too.  There’s the traditional thankfulness for my health, my family and my kids.  But this year, I am adding something new to the mix -- thankful that I am now halfway through the remaining two classes.  Yeah!

What are the things that I am thankful for this year besides being halfway through?  Here’s a synopsis of recent months:

Marco French Studio is the light of my life.  I love it there! My internship there rocks and I’m learning a ton from the master himself.  Over the last few weeks, I have been:
·      Selecting and picking up towels & robes to be monogrammed for an upcoming bedroom
·      Shopping at top notch art galleries in search of art for said bedroom
·      Searching for items to be used on the bookshelves
·      Making the bed and arranging stuff early for the upcoming reveal of the bedroom.
·      Installation of a stunning HIghland Park bedroom. It’s breath taking... The clients‘ faces say it all when they are presented with the finished product (think lots of screaming and excitement...sheer drama.  They love it btw...) 
·      Returns – Driving around for 2 hours returning all the stuff we didn’t use in the install
·      Finance & Receipts – Matching all the receipts to the billed invoice to make sure we got it correct
·      Website – Getting together a plan on how we can update the firm’s website once free time ensues
·      Shopping for more towels and a frame with a picture of the family in the new bedroom.
·      Creating a high level strategy plan
·      Looking for spectacular high-end 1940‘s articles for another upcoming bedroom.

Yes, I get paid to spend someone else’s money and do light office work.  Someone pinch me

 Remember when I told you I couldn’t draw?  Never doubt the skills of the highly trained professors at the Art Institute of Dallas.  They have taken a once sickly artist and transformed her into a healthier artist.  Below is an example of my first 1-point perspective drawing. 

Although the drawing is not museum quality art, it does the trick.  Shading and the hardware pulls seem to be the trouble spots. For those of you who are still not sure what the drawing is -- think bedroom...

Just when I thought my preschool days were behind me, up pops the Color class.  We have been mixing colors and painting like crazy.  The mixing and experimenting is all part of learning the capabilities of the colors to get the exact one that you need to use.  Crayola had nothin‘ on us.   We had to paint 84 colors by mixing them!  No combining colors to make a new one -- we did the whole thing from scratch baby!  You can imagine the state of the bathroom at the school during the process but we cleaned up after ourselves.  (No need to freak, mom.) Once the colors were mixed, we had to create some type of artwork to display them in an orderly fashion.   

For those die hards who have been following my blog this whole time, you will remember that I am crazy over “The Dress” from my previous post "The Dress" done by artist Todd Murphy.  Inspired by what may be easily considered my all time favorite piece, I created my own take on “The Dress” featuring all 84 colors!  I wish I had been able to spend more time on the project but it works and showcases my effort very nicely.

With three major projects due each week, this class almost killed my design aspirations and me.  It was intense.  Despite all the workload, I did learn a ton.  Nothing that was too mind-bending but certainly time consuming!

Below is my final board for my Basics class.  The best way to describe it is as a summary of all my assignments.  The class was required to draw a floorplan, pick out furniture, flooring, paint, fabrics -- the whole shabang!  Take a look at mine :

What’s always been funny to me is how simple this process looks and yet how complicated it really is to do.  Talk about long hours and tedious work...

With the class over and my final grade of an A recorded, I’m going to sleep for a few days and let my mind breathe.

And since its mid-semester you know what that means....time to register for next quarter!  I’ve signed up for three more classes including:  Design Basics (a 3D drawing class), Space Planning  & Programming I (where I learn how to arrange furniture) and Observation Drawing (drawing in perspective).  I’m making progress, but it’s so slow…Graduation target -- 2014.  Ugh!  That would mean that I would have to take 3 classes each quarter which is a better blend for my family and my work.

That’s the latest in the life that is Carla Moss.  Oh, except for the fact we lost the house we were going to purchase - the one I talked about last blog.  Someone bid higher and had no contingency.  I'm a bit sad.  So...off to my parents for Thanksgiving to see my family and eat with my hubbie and the kids in tow.  Maybe while I’m there, I’ll take a much needed breather also. Goodbye Frisco, hello Branson (at least for a week).

Gobble, gobble-

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Move or Not to Move?

Things are heading south in our lives, and by that I mean that they are actually headed on the compass in the southward direction.  It’s actually true.  The life that we have carved out for ourselves in this little bit of suburbia is being reconsidered as we look to Dallas.  It seems as if all of our life is centered around Big D and getting more so that way each day.  We used to joke about moving and now we are actually taking it seriously.

For those of you who have been with me on our recent journey, you will recall that over the last few months we have made some mega changes in our lives.  Change numero uno is most obvious – I took the plunge and returned to design school in Dallas.  Followed closely by a design firm internship in Dallas.  Add to that, we have begun mentoring a family on the south side in Dallas.  Also, we have changed churches and are attending in Dallas.  The only thing that has not changed for us is Matt’s job in Dallas.  Did you notice that all of the above sentences end with the phrase “in Dallas?”

Now all of these things are good….but all of these things are definitely located south of our current existence.  This is where the rub occurs.  With no intention of leaving our suburban bubble, our lives have morphed into something that does not include our current locale. 

With that in mind, we have come to a decision.  We have decided to place our home in the burbs on the market and place a contingency bid on a home in Dallas – specifically the Park Cities.  Assuming that the home doesn’t’ sell anytime soon and our home sells really fast, this site would be our new digs. 

With an appealing driveup and right smack next door to our longtime friends the Cox Family, this home is everything we could ask for and more.
The layout of the home offers us great usability and would allow us to plunk our furniture right into the house without losing much in the way of time or pieces. 
This photo does not do this laundry room any justice.  But let me tell you…it’s a dreamy place to be.  With the washer and dryer located on the second floor along with the bedrooms and this much square footage in the laundry room alone, it calls to me in a deafening voice “Buy me!
White kitchens are truly my thing but this one will due in a pinch.  I much prefer to dream of turning it into one like the kitchen found below all in an ethereal white scheme.
And yes, this photo is from my endless interior design tear sheet files.  I'm glad it came in handy for me this time.
What could be better than a back porch and a glass of wine?  Friend to join me, that's what!
Although we are used to a spacious backyard, this yard provides a tastefully landscaped area with room for the boys to run. 

You might be wondering exactly what were our considerations when trying to decide whether to move on down south or not.  Being the wife of a numbers dude and a former business woman myself, it made perfect sense to chart the pros and cons of a move.  That being said, the decision split right down the middle.    Take a look at my following comparisons:

Matt’s commute 8 minutes
Matt’s commute 45 - 1+ hour
Carla’s school commute 5 minutes
Carla’s commute to school 35 minutes
Carla’s work commute 3 minutes
Carla’s commute to work 45 minutes
Commute to church 10 minutes
Commute to church 25 minutes
Commute to our mentoring family 10 minutes
Commute to mentoring family 15 min & 1 hour on Sun
Great Public Schools
Great public schools and we know them well.
Nice potential house with everything we need
Great current home and things are almost how we want them
Right next door to the Cox family
Excellent friends and relationships in Frisco
No fixes need to existing house that we know of
Fixes needed, but we have the cash to do them
Price of home – not exactly cheap.  We would be giving less away in a trade for giving more of our service time
Lots of equity in our home and much cheaper mortgage payment, with possibility of payoff soon.
Neighborhood is filled with kids (42 on one block), but boys don’t know anyone yet
John doesn’t want to move because he’s had the same friends since he was in diapers
No bus.  I’d have to take the boys to and from school unless I can figure out a carpool
Bus comes to our door and saves me time
Need to move in next 10 months as John would be starting middle school in 5th grade
If we don’t move this year, we would need to stay put as we ‘d hate to pull out the boys from school middle/high school
We wouldn’t need to change any of our downtown commitments and have more family time
We would need to move some of our “downtown” commitments back out to Frisco as they are really eating into our family time

UUGGHHH!  I thought for sure that after I made a chart, the answer would become crystal clear.  No such luck.  So…what to do?  As I mentioned earlier, we decided to go ahead and put our home in Frisco on the market and see if it moves in the next few months.  We have placed a contingency contract on the home in Dallas.  The shocker on that contract is that the current owner actually accepted our contingency terms.  And now we wait.  The waiting process is so difficult for a woman like me who is decisive.  If you know of anyone in need of a beautiful home up north of Dallas, give us a ring.  I just happen to know a wonderful family that is looking to sell quickly.

Can’t wait for the first party,
or perhaps the "staying put" party -


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Interior Design Books

Bibliolator; bibliomaniac; bookman and bibliophile.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, they all mean the same thing:  a lover of books especially for qualities of format. Did you notice the ending on that sentence?  “especially for qualities of format.”  Not only is a book maniac in love with the paper literature but a specific topic of paper literature.  That is a perfect description of me.

You know you really love something when you have the great urge to ingest every last bit of that topic. You also know that if you are not reading the stuff you would normally be reading all the time…. you must be working WAY too much.  With a mere week left of an online class, let me just say that I am ready to rest and read.  So, what will I be perusing when all of this mayhem has died down?  I’m so glad that you asked!

First stop on my perusal will be Alex Hampton’s new release entitled The Language of Interior Design.  Since it was on my pre-order list from Amazon Prime, it has been lingering on my night stand for several weeks now beckoning me to begin.
As daughter of interior designer Mark Hampton, author Alexa Hampton received a primo apprenticeship at her father’s knee.  Traveling the world with her father and touring the great architectural landmarks bestowed upon Alexa an indescribable gift of design perfection.  The training did not end there but rather morphed into a life dedicated to design beauty.  She gained knowledge of good design language, the vocabulary to speak it and the elements that define it.  Through the pages of The Language of Interior Design, the reader is transported to 18 of her archetypical spaces – including a 1912 McKim, Mead & White restoration located on 5th Avenue in NYC.   Ms. Hamton has been listed in Architectural Digest and House Beautiful  as one of the nation’s leading designers.  With licensed products for the home (including furniture, fabrics, carpets and lighting) I assume one might say that Alex Hampton “has it made.”

Following is Jonathan Adler's Happy Chic Colors and stop number two.  With his brilliant mind unleashed in non-traditional ways, he is reminiscent of my younger son Ethan (given the chance for Ethan to create his own firm).  Released on November 2nd with a reasonable price of $17.95 combined with Amazon deals, this read is near the top of the pile. 
In this book, Adler quips about one color scheme, his favorite paint chips (of which I have gathered an entire spreadsheet dedicated to those chips) as well as his preferred fabrics.  Perhaps the most insightful part of the book is his reflection on personal muses Diane Vreeland and Grace Jones.  It’s absolutely remarkable how Adler is able to weave together a cohesive design with a smattering of vibrant color.  The fun doesn’t stop there – check out his website.   

Following Adler, I will be picking up the recent release Peter Pennoyer Architects.  Emphasizing the unique relationship of architecture and design, this hardback brings inspiration to the forefront.
Next up…Mary McDonald.  Since my Amazon account is running low, perhaps I will ask Santa to bring me this gorgeous tome – Mary McDonald: Interiors, The Allure of Style.  With a price tag of $34.95, this is one not to be missed.  Ms. McDonald has been in the business for over 15 years and continues to rise to the top of the design circles.  Consistently classified as one of House Beautiful magazine’s premier designers, Mary McDonald is based out of L.A.  She has a keen sense of combining bold patterns, chinoserie and Indian influences with contemporary lines splashed with impeccable color sense.  Truly, there is none like Mary McDonald.  Just as appealing as the designs in the book are the photographs – striking to say the least. 
Last but not least, is the other pre-order on my list being released today --- A Passion for Interiors: A Private Tour  by Carolyn Roehm.  The red cover evokes buttery Christmas memories for me and is the ideal Christmas coffee table book – right up until the end of February.     
In this book, Ms. Roehm shares her lifelong love of classical architecture and design by graciously inviting the readers into her preferred spaces in three notable homes: her own dazzling Manhattan prewar duplex (another indicator of success in the design world); her antique filled Colonial era stone house in Connecticut; and a special friend’s Aspen residence representative of 18th century Sweden.    

Ms. Roehm embarked on her career as a fledging design assistant to the famous Oscar de la Renta (remember…first jobs make a huge difference).  Since that humble beginning, Carolyn Roehm has lived in numerous residences, designed countless homes and has penned many books including A Passion for Blue & White, A Passion for Flowers,  A Passion for Parties, At Home with Carolyn Roehm and finally Presentations.   Considered one of America’s foremost tastemakers, Roehm proves that an impressive beginning with one of the world’s kings of fashion oozes success.  She is also a columnist for Veranda and a frequent speaker on the lecture circuit.   

A Passion for Interiors contains well over 300 photographs and proves to be just the cure for your decorating doldrums.  An admitted Roehm devotee, Oprah Winfrey admits: “Whenever I’m having a stressful day, I just want to open up Carolyn Roehm’s books, look at beautiful things and dream.”

If Oprah can find time to enjoy her favorite decorators, then I suppose that little ol’ me can do the same.  And so, this week (after my classes) I will attempt to do just that with the book listed above.  I will read and rest with the hopes of one day adding design bibliophile to my resume. 

Until then…


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Room of the Month - The Dining Room

“Them that has china plates themsel’s is the maist careful not to break the china plates of others.”  This insightful quip from Scottish writer James Matthew Barrie (best known as creator of Peter Pan) from the 1900’s rings true even today.  Barrie’s assessment of the situation?  Don’t mess with someone else’s plates because they will mess with yours.  So, this obsession with plates (in particular fine china) surely didn’t end with the modern invention of the microwave.  Every designer I know is a tad obsessed with these flat geometrically shaped devices used to transport food.  For me – I have way too many.  Since I enjoy a hodgepodge instead of matchy-match at my table, I find it hard to resist plates when I encounter them at vintage stores or discount retailers.

Marc Jacobs Waterford "David" at Macy's

So, what’s with my obsession?  It’s simple really.  Plates are accessories to the dining room.  In recent years, dining rooms have gotten bad press.  In our rushed and informal world, it’s not uncommon for me to hear things like: “Who does formal dinners anymore?” or “I never use them. I’m not registering for fine china”. I vowed this lackadaisical attitude would never take root at my house.  As a matter of fact, I rarely miss a chance to pull out the fine stuff – birthdays, anniversaries, friend parties and the like.  Heck – even if it means the boys wipe their hands on the chair seats, we pull out those china plates to use in the dining room.  I’m hardcore.

Besides the plates (which obviously hold a high level of fascination for me) what else is essential to a dining room? With the turkey season poking its head up in the next few weeks, I want to make sure that you are prepared to wow those guests with all that a dining room is meant to be.

Dining rooms need a bit of sparkle – if only for the fact that it’s a place where you spend time with people that are significant in your life.  A practical touch involves installing a dimmer switch to control the mood of your gorgeous chandelier.  Another consideration of the lighting is to install pink light bulbs.  (You may or not may not realize that many stores use pink bulbs to enhance customers’ complexions.)  Consider adding those little pink jewels to table lamps in rooms also.  A final addition to your dining room would be both a mirror (wall or otherwise) and don’t forget the candles!

A beautiful table by David Jimenez.

There are times when you want the room to look “nice” and there are the times when you feed your entire family of 40 for Christmas.  My rule of thumb: don’t’ decorate it for a group of 40 but keep that in number in mind when choosing a table.  You want to purchase one that is able to accommodate your largest possible crowd. Many of you are immediately drawn to a rectangular table that usually performs beautifully.

But don’t nix the circular table just yet.  Not only does it allow for better conversational flow but it has a tendency to beckon diners into the room.  In research conducted by Hall (the father of proxemics) people are more apt to talk to one another when sitting horizontally from one another.  Thanks to my recent education for that insightful fact.

Since no dining room is complete without a buffet (and I’m not talking the Chinese food variety here…), you really should not sign that final order form until you do some major measuring.  Here are some simple rules to follow:

Dining Tables:  are about 30 inches high.  Allowing 18 inches of table width per person is a good rule of thumb, but feel free to cut that number to 6 for holiday dinners (just kidding!)

Chairs:  need a minimum of 19-20 inches square in order to be physically comfortable to sit on.  If arms are added to these chairs (at a minimum width of 2 inches each) the measurements increases by the thickness of the arms and becomes 22 -24 inches wide.  Chairs should be 18 inches in height to provide maximum comfort.

Chandelier:  Hanging the chandelier 26-30 inches from the table top will allow for the possibility of conversation among all of your guests and avoid the bumping of heads when standing.  With this piece of dining room hardware, it’s not necessary to just stick with one chandelier – sometimes more than one in a room create a spectacular impact. 

Despite our desire to have the perfect table and chairs, your dining room can still be amazing with the perfect setting on your table.  As I said earlier, mix and match is a surefire way to create instant pizzazz to your table.  Grab knick knacks from nature to put on your table or purchase some gorgeous flowers and separate them along the table for punch.  Once again, candles play an important role in your tablescape. Place cards assure your guests that you thought of them individually before the meal and certainly eliminate the awkwardness of deciding where to sit.  Splitting up spouses and/or dates, as well as groups of friends, ensure that the evening is destined to be spicy.

Check out some of these for inspiration.

I love to cook, but with this busy schedule it can be brutal.  One of your delectable delights should be homemade to the core and absolutely perfect.  There might be room from that point to skimp on some yummy store bought items --- think Maggiano’s take out. The day before, set the table completely.  With that out of your way, there leaves little room for stress except to pick up your Maggiano’s and grab a glass of wine after you return.  It’s vital to remember that this is about time with our guests that we treasure not wringing your hands over the possibility of over dry chicken.  

With Thanksgiving upon us, my hope is that you found some sort of inspiration in dealing with your dining room as well as some brief entertaining inspirations.  As for me and mine, we are venturing off to my mamacita’s home near Branson, Missouri, this year to dine and sleep.  The turkey is mouth-watering but the pies…oh the pies… May you find your china plates all in tact after this holiday season and may you be able to share your love with those most precious to your heart.

Gobble, gobble-