Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Art in the Family

Mother-in-laws get a bad wrap -- don't they?  There are sit coms written about them (picture "Everyone Loves Raymond"), there are cartoons drawn about them and songs sung about them (think Huey Lewis and the News).  Yet, the ironic thing is that these are the women that first loved our wonderful men.  So, when people ask me what prompted my dive into Interior Design, they are often shocked to discover that it is actually Diane Banks, my ever-energetic mother-in-law that provided my inspiration for this journey.  

Don't get me wrong...Both of my parents are incredible and I simply adore them.  Dad is an independent business owner and currently working on building his own boat.  Mom is a yummy baker and has made every one of my siblings at least one spectacular quilt.  Together, they have taught me practically everything I know about hard work, integrity and shooting for the stars.  But love of the arts and appreciation would come from Diane. My super mother-in-law, Diane Banks, is not only creative but also and she all teaches at James Madison University in Virginia.  This in and of itself is an accomplishment but what ranks right up there for me is the awesome analytical, financially savvy son that she raised also.  

My mother-in-law, Diane and her mother (also a fabulous painter)- still painting in her 90s!

Currently, Diane's works are on exhibit at the Textile Museum in Washington DC.  She is participating in an event called "Green the color and the cause".  This exhibit celebrates environmentalism by showcasing artists with works in such categories as: Color, Nature, Global Choice Interconnectedness, Repurposing, Sustainability and Adaptation.  Diane utilized paper, glue, wire, ink, thread and found plastic to create art out of everyday garbage.  What does it symbolize?  Nature's ability to absorb man's impact by adapting to survive and endure against great odds.

Several of her works in the exhibit

Along the many other exhibits, Diane also has two key pieces at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  Impressive from an artist standpoint, I am just amazed at her creativity and focus. 

This is a piece entitled "Blue Cone" was completed in 1997.  Constructed of wood, glue, paint and ink it was a gift to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in honor of her son (my hubbie).

Also made of the same materials, this one is called "Red Cone" and was completed in 1996.  Gifted to the Smithsonian American Art Institute, this piece was given in honor of her daughter, Sarah.

As you can imagine, Diane is like any other passionate artist - prolific with her creations.  Since I am never one to turn down a beautiful unique hand-made piece, the Moss family has amassed quite a collection over the years.  I finally decided to dedicate a wall in our home to Diane's work and it proves to be a great draw for our friends. 

  Diane showcased in our home

She created this for us in our wedding day -- made entirely of toothpicks and eggshells.  Brilliant!

Although this is just a smattering of Diane's ability, she is far from through with her artistic journey.  With more ideas generating in her head and coming out of her hands, Diane proves that you can combine your passion and your career into one incredible package.  I hope that Diane will be of some inspiration to you as well, faithful readers!  If you find yourself in need of a bit of inspiration for your home or office, please feel free to contact me and I can connect you to her gallery.  In the meantime, look out for her works to show up in a future client installation.  

Off to create,


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I love designer...Mary McDonald

Welcome to the premier article in a series entitled: "I love designer..."  Brought about by my natural attraction to those in the business that consistently capture my attention, my aim is to allow you to admire their work and get a glimpse into who they are as a person.  Enjoy! 

This week I'm am featuring LA Designer, Mary McDonald.

"Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your design grow?" A House Beautiful's "Top 100 Designers"  many times over, Miss Mary operates a hugely successful LA based design firm.  She's been featured in all the trendiest home magazines, including most recently in House Beautiful's Bold and Theatrical Design.

Notice how Mary takes timeless classics and makes it unique.

Featured in Veranda magazine article McDonald's Ideas for Home, this room exudes Mary's creativity and playfulness.

Mary grew up in Brentwood, California and attended Parsons School of Design.  She worked for a miliner having her designs features in Vogue, Bazaar and Vanity Fair.  Miss Mary has since earned acclaim for such projects as The Luxe Summit hotel in Bel Air.

Pink accents in this grand navy blue living room definitely add that powerful pop of contrast.

The mix of orange, blue and zebra got my full attention.

Not to mention the accessories and red accents in this fantastic living room.
Wouldn't you just love to sleep in the bedroom for one night?

This photo of Mary is one of my favorites -- Domino magazine we miss you!

Mary recently published her first book Mary McDonald: Interiors. In addition to her recent publication, Miss Mary's The Allure of Style, (which is my deepest pleasure to own) has provided me with limitless ideas while brainstorming for clients and also doing some homework. 

So, here's to Mary McDonald!  May she her design garden keep blooming with oodles of inspiration for years to come.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Room of the Month - The Office

One year at Christmas time, we received an interesting update from some family friends that I will never forget.  While explaining what each member in the family had been doing during the previous year, this stay at home mom wrote about herself that she was "serving as the CEO of (insert family last name) Enterprises."  That made me giggle a bit thinking of how cute it was that she thought so highly of her job as stay-at-home mom to give herself at title.  But as I gnawed on it more, I realized that this woman had a firm grasp on her reality -- she really is charge of a bustling enterprise within her own four walls.

Search Merriam Webster online and you will find a plethora of definitions for "office" -- most of them politically related. And quite frankly, most of them very boring.  You've got the usual "function", "service", "duty" and "divine position" that rank at the top of the pecking order. Followed by the fifth place definition of what we majority of everyday folk regard as important "office: a place where a particular kind of business is transacted or a service is supplied; the directing headquarters of an enterprise or organization; the place a professional conducts business".  Now, you may not be a financial tycoon on Wall Street like my friend in the story above, but you are in charge of some sort of business transactions in your life -- be it the checkbook or the utilities -- and your workplace should be tailored to meet the needs of your "organization." 

I adore the airiness and open feel of this office from "The Devil Wears Prada" - fresh.

Here are some thought-provoking  questions you should ask yourself before getting started:

1) What will you be doing in there?  
Whether it's bookkeeping, bills or surfing the internet, make a detailed list of what will go on in your office.  It may include a place to do our job outside the home once the kids go to bed or it may mean sharing workspace for homework.  Once your list is complete, assign a percentage of time to each task directly onto the paper.  This will allow you to see what your office will be used for in your home to better allocate resources (in other words, it will tell you what to spend the majority of your money on during the project). 

Bills, homework, computer games, taxes, outside job are just a few examples of home office space usage.

For the Moss family, the office is a place to do my design homework, create masterpieces for my clients, keep up with my books, pay bills, manage budget, check email and store our family computer.  Elementary school homework and art projects sometimes find their way into my office as well.  All in one concise, friendly place in our home.

2) What supplies and items do you need?
Certain activities require certain supplies.  Here comes the list again....(can you tell that I am way into list making?).  Pencils, paper, printer needs, reference books and file folders are a solid start to your office needs.  Homework supplies are also a necessity for our home office - rulers, pens, markers, crayons, lined paper, construction paper,etc.  Additionally, there may be items that you need to complete your work from home.  Jot all those items down so that your storage needs become visual immediately for you.

For my work I need access to my fabric samples like above.  What you do need access to?

In my case I need all the basic office supplies.  Fabric books and design books also play an important role in my life.  They require lots of table space to spread them out so a table separate and apart from my desk is vital to the Moss Office.  

3) How should I store all these items?
Utilizing your list from the above, start figuring out what you will need for storage to make your office tidy.  Those items with direct reach access should be ones that you use on a frequent basis - daily or every few days.  Items with limited access should be ones that get used on a less frequent basis -- maybe even weekly or monthly.  Bookshelves are another item to consider for your office.  A desk with drawers is a no-brainer for some while others prefer a more tailored look to their desks.  Filing systems are essential for any home office.  And then the final decision - where and how to warehouse all these basics. 

Depending what tools you need, you may need bookshelves and basket to store items.

For my predicament, I require oodles of storage.  As in the office above, fabric books and design books all need a home where I am able to see them quickly.  The items should be readily available without having to open and close too many containers.  Client files, supplies and personal information should be in reach but not within view.  In this instance, hidden is good. 

4)  Who will be using the space?
Knowing who the primary user of the office will be is the primary driver.  Sometimes our offices are used by many people.  Other times they are dedicated space for one person in the family.  

Maybe you need to design a space for two if your office is shared....

For example, in my space I am the primary user. 90% of the time it is used by me with school and my design business.  The other 10% is used by my family.  My husband might need to do a quick check of a spreadsheet or print out of boarding pass.  My kids sometimes do art and homework in here, so I have a cabinet with school items (pencils, crayons and other art supplies) just for them.  In my instance, I plan for the family first and give the remaining space for myself.  

5) Lighting
If I have said this once in this blog, I have said it a million times  -- do not overlook the value of lighting!  Lighting provides a boost in productivity and enjoyment as well to any space - office or not.  I am all about the view so typically I chose to place the desk where the user can see out the nearest window.  Without a window, place your desk in front of something enjoyable to look at while working.  A dazzling painting, motivational quote or photograph provides much needed visual interest. Can you guess what I am going to say next?  Make a list. 

Do you want to look out your window?  Need a lamp on your desk?  A mirror is great to add refection and make it took bigger...

6) Furniture and the like...
In addition to the needs above, scan your original list to come up with furniture for your space.  Additional seating for clients, team members or family members may be necessary.  Also think about how to cover ugly computer cords, shelving, floor coverings and the incidentals.  

Tory Burch with team members in her office space as featured in Elle Magazine.

7) Color
Whoever will take advantage of the office the most will get to choose the color.  Our home office is blue, brown and white.  Not only do the colors promote productivity for me but also my kids.  However, if I were to do an office for hubbie it would be more masculine with some touches of his accomplishments, awards and favorite hobbies. 

Designer Kelly Wearstler's office....

8) Make it your own.
Represent!  Whatever you do in the home office, make it personalized to you.  It doesn't have to be boring but at the same time you may want calm.  Pick out one item in the room that truly represents who you are and build from there -- could be a lamp or a paint color.  Most of all have fun!  

This is far from boring...
...or perhaps yellow is more "you"....

Or you would love to display those favorite pop culture images you have been saving, such as the case of this office designed by Mary McDonald

With endless options, you can get overwhelmed easily.  Stick to your list and allow yourself some flava with a personal touch or two.  Draw inspiration from varied sources and go with your gut.  Form and function are most essential - no matter how beautiful the wallpaper is in your abode.  And remember, you are the CEO of something.  A home office is not out of the question. 

Back to homework at Moss Enterprises, 


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My current client: Master Bath Redo

Billy Wilder (a genius hollywood motion picture director from the 1940's and 50's) sums up what I consider to be the standard for bathroom redesign - "I would rather sleep in a bathroom than another hotel."  One of only 5 people to ever win and Academy Award as writer/director/producer of the same film, Wilder knew what he was talking about....his travel schedule was crazy.  But would we say the same thing about our hotel stays today?  Many of the amenities available to us in this decade at a hotel bog box are startling -- exquisite shower heads, yummy tile and a soothing spa experience greet most of us travelers.  Then we come home exhausted to our ho-hum digs.  Oftentimes our own bathrooms provide little if any sense of excitement for us.  This is why I was so pumped to work just recently with my sweet friend on her master bath redo.  The energy is building inside of me so much that I can't stand it!

Our first order of business was to re-work the space design.  With "cave-like spa" as my marching orders, I set out to add some modern touches to the bathroom for her.  This all came to fruition by her actually tearing out magazine pages of bathrooms that appealed to her so that I could get a strong idea of her tastes.  I even sent some pictures her way via email until she found something that was both suitable and interesting for her.  Below is the inspiration picture and we built her bathroom from there:

Although an advertisement for Lutron Electronics Maestro dimmers, this proved to be "the one"

After an initial meeting with the contractor (which I mentioned a few blogs back and am SO thankful for), we hit the pavement for a countertop.  Being that natural countertops are not only pricey but also limited in color, I thought that this was the most logical starting point.  Whereas the choices for matching paint is almost limitless.  Once the counter was chosen (which was fairly drama free because that my client is very decisive), coordinating the other items in the bathroom were breezy.  A few stops by kitchen and bathroom showrooms in the Big D design district as well as the Dallas area and we were on our way to bathroom nirvana.  The client absolutely fell head over heels for an amazingly complicated and beautiful tile from Ann Sacks called Idyllwild for the countertops.  I'm completely jealous! (in a good way, of course...)

Idyllwild will grace the countertops -- gorgeous, an I right?

While browsing the design district, we also picked an elegant tile to grace the floor of the master bath.  Aptly named "Suede" this tile will be placed in an 8x24 pattern on the floor - exactly like the picture above.  My biggest concern?  Ordering the correct amount.  With that in mind, we were careful to measure twice due to the cost of the pieces.  They are expensive and I wanted to make sure that we got our numbers exact so that the tile guy could have enough to match patterns but not so much we could redo another room!

To keep the tub they never use (for resale value) or to replace it with a double head shower?  That was our next stumbling block along the redo road.  After much discussion, we decided that the point of this bathroom was to simulate a spa experience at her home without giving up valuable space.  Why fret over resale at some point in the future?  Good choice!  Plus, there was another tub in the guest bath anyway....So, off we traipse to KIVA in Dallas for shower heads and the like for her custom built dual master shower bay.  It came down to: polished chrome or polished nickel or satin nickel.  Lucky for all of us, Joanne (our wonderful sales rep at KIVA) did a superior job of showing us all the options for the shower pieces as well as the toilet pieces. We left there happy campers.
Nothin' says sexy like picking out a new toilet to meet local codes.  Hot!  This Toto Eco Drake model meets code and only used 1.28 GPF - that's gallons per flush for you newbies.

Our next step was getting the cabinets switched out.  Armed with an primary CAD drawing of potential cabinets, we ended up in desperate need of changing out some of the layout.  With no cabinet guy there to do it for me, enter the drafting skills that I so bitterly complained about in my classes at AI.  TA-DAH!  My prof always said that these skills would come in handy and boy was he spot on.

My creations for the contractor to make some changes to the cabinets.  Think of how much easier this will be with CAD course under my belt?

Albion Single Sconces from Restoration Hardware- another great choice...

Finally, hardware and accessories for the bath. She chose a mirror from Restoration Hardware and sconces to boot.  Monogrammed towels (a personal favorite lavish upgrade) and paint along with stain and we are just about near completion.  "Without further adieu...May I present to you Rhonda's bathroom?" (Excuse the Candice Olson reference but can't a girl have some sense of accomplishment?)

Sure, I have done other projects with designers at my work but this is my first job under my own name and I am thrilled.  Stay tuned.....in 3-4 weeks I should have some before and after pictures of my first official master bathroom.  If she smiles after "reveal", I will be happy.  If she cries, I may just have to ask to come try out that new custom built shower. So, here's to making your bathroom at your house into a place that you can be proud to call your own - whatever that may look like.  Using a step by step process and thorough space planning, you can turn your space into something that even Billy Wilder would want to spend the night in!

Off to soak with some bubbly-