10 Design Resolutions for 2016

Happy New Year everyone! Can you believe it’s 2016? Anywho, I do not make personal resolutions anymore … I have practically the same goals I wrote on paper years ago. I thought of putting “making a blog post at least once a week” one of my resolutions this year, but heck, for me that’s extremely hard. I’m not making any excuses, it’s just not my thing anymore. Hello, the last one I made was April of 2015. But one thing I’m promising myself is to write when it’s my thing at the moment, when I enjoy it or when I know it will give some good information. Ummm, allow me to indulge in this notion a bit :). So, without further ado, here are 10 Design Resolutions for 2016.

1/ Commit to a bold new color.

JADE garden benjamin moore

Jade Garden by Benjamin Moore was the perfect pop of color for this project.

This may not be a not so new proposition but by golly, some are still in a rut of beiges {or grays for that matter}. I’m not saying using just neutrals is bad {and there certainly is an aesthetic & style where using neutral hues is a must} but maybe go for something a little more bold somewhere in the house. The powder room maybe? The guest bedroom? Heck, even the closet or pantry.

2/ Go for symmetry.

matching gray chairs

Identical settees are face to face in the second sitting area for a young couple’s Tarrytown abode.

You must think I’ve had way too much champagne celebrating the New Year as this idea again is not new news. What I’m getting at is recently, spaces or rooms that’s too symmetrical or balanced are given a bad rap so people tried so hard to make things not too symmetrical. Sometimes {or a lot}, symmetry is importan. You achieve this by having matching items and other times by having items that are not too matchy-matchy but still cohesive with each other.

3/ Take time to think about the details

details quatrefoil knobs

Brass quatrefoil doorknobs for the cupboards in this gorgeous kitchen was the right dose of sophistication.

Have you heard of the saying it’s all in the details? Well it is! These details make the whole vision come to life. Whether it’s choosing knobs, pulls or the hand towel in the bathroom, trust me, choosing the correct little pieces matter.

4/ Give wallpaper a chance

neutral geometric wallpaper

Taupe/Cream wallpaper in a trellis pattern adorns the stair landing at this Tarrytown home. The antelope carpet is not bad either!

Really, 2016 is the year for wallpaper at your casa! So get it going and commit to having a wall covered in one. Still having cold feet? Try having it first in a space you don’t normally frequent like the powder bath or have one in a muted color & pattern.

5/ Give drapery a chance

Gold and taupe drapery

Drapery in a gorgeous fabric gives depth, texture and layers to a room, just like in this Euro-traditional dining room.

A long time ago, I was one of the many people who didn’t believe in draperies. I felt they made a space too traditional and grandma-ish but really it depends on the fabric & the style you choose. To me, it makes windows picture perfect. I must admit, I’m still not a fan of swags and valances though.

6/ Add a splash of a different style

You may have heard the advice of looking at your wardrobe to find a common trend that will help cue you in what your home style should be. If your wardrobe evokes a more polished, classic style then Chesterfield sofas and Louis chairs maybe more your thing; or if you have tons of blacks & grays then tweed mid-century sofas maybe the best fit for you. But how about adding something a little more edgy to the dining room with your Louis chairs like an ultra-modern trapeze lighting or mix in a warm, exotic vibe with the tweed sofa by adding an end-table that screams global chic. Venture out in small doses though, too much out of your comfort zone is never good.

7/ Turn spaces you normally would not use as a functional nook

home office nook

The small hallway to the balcony at a client’s house becomes the extra space for getting bills and other home stuff organized.

I’ve seen it too often, spaces that becomes the catch-all space or room. Just don’t do it. Entry ways, mud rooms, hallways to balconies … give the space a purpose and design it for that purpose.

Every space is a chance for you to turn into something beautiful & functional at the same time.

8/ Put a lot of value to awesome lighting

brass dining lighting

A brass geometric chandelier was the perfect lighting over the Saarinen-inspired tulip table and mint green wishbone chairs for this dining room.

Aside from providing illumination, the right lighting sets the mood for a room or space. Style, size, placement, wattage…all of that matters.

9/ Don’t go shopping without a plan

For impulsive shoppers, this idea probably doesn’t sound good. But for home stuff where a cabinet costs substantially more than that new trendy cropped top you’ve been eyeing, impulsive buying is just not the right thing to do. Of course, once in a while you’ll find that gorgeous lamp that you are totally in love with; hopefully when that time comes, you already have a style concept down and you know exactly where that magnificent piece will go.

10/ Hire an interior designer

I’m a little self-serving here {ya think!} but really, if design is not really your cup of tea but you do want your space to be beautiful and cohesive; or you’ve got tons of ideas and you know the style you are going for but can’t seem to edit everything down; or time is not really on your side with work stuff that has overtaken your life or kids with places to go and projects that they need your help on … then it’s time to hire an interior designer. Of course, these are not the only reasons why you should hire one. The reason is specific to you, but whatever it is, take that jump and connect with one that’s the best fit for you.

Cheers to 2016 everyone! May your spaces scream of beauty and awe and your rooms effortlessly curated. Interior Design Austin and beyond.

*** All images are mine. Please ask for permission if you would like to use any of the images.***

Design questions or dilemmas? Drop me a line! Click here >>>

Patterns and Hues in Paradise

I am seriously in love with this getaway in the Dominican Republic, a gorgeous respite designed and decorated by the amazing Celerie Kemble for her family. I doubt it’s on Airbnb & Homeaway…darn it, but oh my goodness! It’s a study in playing with patterns and colors, tying known brands {Henredon, Natural Curiosities, Stray Dog Designs} with local artisans, custom and retail, vintage and new finds. It’s airy, refreshing, bold yet playful and whimsical all at the same time.

Celerie Kimble Dominican Republic home

living room celerie kimble dominican republic bath and sitting room celerie kemble dining room celerie kimble dominican republic bedroom celerie kimble dominican republic bath and sitting room celerie kemble sunroom celerie kemble

Take me away to this place! How gorgeous is she, oh & her kids have the most adorable names — Rascal, Wick, and Zinnia. See more of the home at Architectural Digest here and prepare to swoon some more. You have to check out the front facade & the pool area … cabana heaven!


A Q & A with Mark Wilkerson // Austin Modern Homes Tour 2015

Winter is always eye candy season for design enthusiasts as home tours are back to back during this time. This weekend {yes, already!}, it is the famous and always fun and engaging Austin Modern Home Tours. Modern Home Tours, the outfit which produces the tour has now grown to include both the US & Canada with events in various cities to boot {with cities like Vancouver, Santa Fe ,Chicago & New Orleans to name a few} but it all started here, Austin. This year, there is more modern inspiration to come!

I had the privilege of doing a Q & A with a prodigious designer, Mark Wilkerson. I was instantly captivated by the home he designed because of it’s world class and avant-garde art selection in a backdrop of clean and beautiful architecture.

garbage frames


1.Art is the hardest thing to source for a design client because it can be so subjective and personal, what’s your magic tip or trick when choosing art for a space?

Art is most certainly subjective and highly personal however when working closely with a client you develop an understanding for their likes and dislikes as you make decisions regarding furniture, lighting , accessories…All of these decisions involve the same psychological process that takes place when you  purchase art. The clients aesthetics and the project budget give me a good platform for understanding where we will enter the market from a financial perspective and allows me to narrow the hunt. I tend to encourage purchasing as major a piece as one is willing to invest in and I guide my clients towards listed artists with a successful auction records in the larger houses like Christies, Sothebys and Philips. Not everyone can afford a large scale original Warhol or Serra but most people engaging the services of a designer have the budget for a minor work by a major artist; which is an excellent place to start a collection. There are beautiful original pieces for any interested purchasers at all levels of pricing; most importantly, I encourage my clients to purchase what they love.

art sitting room

2. What is your favorite feature of the home at 600 Terrace? 

600 Terrace Mountain has been a labor of love. I genuinely adore this property and will be continuing finishing the space out over the next few months but I would say my favorite feature of the house is the large Jean-Michel Basquiat on the second level. This piece is full of life and movement and sets an enigmatic whimsical tone for the majority of the common spaces upstairs. Aside from being a historically significant piece I have always been a personal fan of his work, unfortunately there is not much of his work out there to be seen, thus I feel fortunate to have the chance to spend so much time with this one.

3. Being so vastly traveled {wow, 30 countries!}, which city have you been most inspired by?

I have be influenced greatly by travel and have been fortunate to see some amazing places across the world. I have so many favorites, but I would say the most influential, from an architectural perspective would probably be Singapore or Hong Kong and from an interiors and art perspective I’ve been influenced by several Eastern European countries like Slovakia and Austria…There of course is Paris which I feel like could possibly be the epicenter of design and luxury living and is still one of my favorite cities to shop for antiques, art and objects, as well as Mexico City and San Francisco.

I told you there were a lot!

facade 600 terrace mountain

4. Tell me more about your process when designing a space.

My process for designing a space starts with simply listening to the client’s needs and translating those needs into a reality through design, art and objects. Most people have an understanding or vision of what they are trying to achieve with design, and in most cases just have trouble communicating that vision. I have found by working closely with a client and being able to translate the likes/dislikes into a workable space is easiest achieved my spending time with that person, seeing their current home, photos of interiors or art that interests them and even shopping trips together. Designing someone’s home is a very personal and intimate venture and you get to know the client on a personal level quite quickly, I mean you usually see their bedroom on the first meeting for goodness sake!


Thank you so much Mark! I am thoroughly inspired! The art selection is truly unique & captivating and it’s great to know that the process of curating this home is still evolving. And yes, design is so personal & intimate and bedrooms {and may I say the restrooms too can reveal so much about a person!}.

Check out the Austin Modern Home Tours this weekend everyone! See this home and more:

Get your tickets

Saturday, February 7, 2015

10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (CST)

 Have fun, get inspired & learn more about modern design!

A Q & A with Meredith Ellis // Tribeza Interiors Tour 2015


I can’t believe that it’s been a year since the first Tribeza Interiors Tour! Last year, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing the amazingly talented Tracey Overbeck Stead. It was great to peek inside the homes of the most celebrated interior designers in Austin and look closely as to what inspires them and fuels their creativity. One big thing about Austin, the designers are laid back, approachable, friendly and their homes? The same way as their talented owners … that is what sets Austin interior design apart — design that’s creative yet never out of reach, beautiful yet never stuffy.

This year, I am so lucky to do a Q & A with one of the designers for this year’s Tribeza Interiors Tour, Meredith Ellis. I was instantly drawn to her aesthetic because of it’s warmth, life and design that’s utterly personal. It’s curated over time with mementos that speaks of a hundred memories.

NML_Tribeza_Designers_Meredith Ellis

1. What is the best lesson you learned when you got a gig working with the amazing Bunny Williams?

The most valuable lesson I learned from working with Bunny Williams was to be patient in advancing my career.  When I landed my entry job with her at 23 I wanted to be doing the “decorating” and advance up to a designer right away.

I was naive, and didn’t realize at the time how valuable progressing slowly, smartly and really spending several years “working”in the field was important before becoming a true “designer”. It’s not always about being creative, it’s mostly about  problem solving, and always being three steps ahead.

Working for someone REALLY good, established, and with major large scale projects taught me so many facets of the business that I never could have known without years of due diligence.

Amy Bartlam-Travis Heights Home - 02

2. I absolutely adore the character & the “life” your home evokes, which vignette/s is your favorite & most definitely reflects your personality?

Hard to say, because I change things all the time!  I buy something and then I totally reorganize everything.  That’s my favorite part of design… reinvention!

But if I have to answer I would say our Living Room.  I love our Living Room because it’s such a combination of Hunter (my husband) and I… I love textiles, and accessories,  and I especially love color.

I want people to walk into our home and know something about us… our books, our photos, the artifacts and important things that are framed and displayed all over the room, they tell a story … that is OUR History.

Amy Bartlam-Travis Heights Home - 14

3. Tell me more how you chose the vibrant hue of your kitchen cabinetry. Any advice for people that’s afraid of color?

I wish I could take credit for that color, but it was here when we moved in.   It’s one of  two colors in our house that has remained.  I actually loved it, and worked the rest of the house around it.  

We did make it a little bit better though by installing a new backsplash which I thought was more appropriate for the house.

Amy Bartlam-Travis Heights Home - 13

 4. What is with English interiors that you are drawn to it?

I think particularly I am drawn to the old English Country houses… they are comfortable, and exude a sense of history without feeling too stuffy.  They are elegant and sophisticated.  I think of pretty  hard wood floors, rush matting or old oriental rugs , ornate bookcases, piles of antique books, perfectly soft and aged linen prints, beautiful dutch paintings  and collections of blue and white porcelain.  It’s just romantic and relaxing.  I think I just described Downtown Abbey.

Amy Bartlam-Travis Heights Home - 48

5. Travel is such a big inspiration for creatives; which of your travels has been the most inspiring for you & why?

I really love San Miguel De Allende. Several years ago my husband and I were married there.  But in the planning stages we had the opportunity to go into several private homes & hotels as we did research for places for our guests to stay… you walk down these small cobblestone streets, and the walls are all painted bright colors of aqua and yellow and orange.  You have no idea what sits behind the unassuming carved doors.  It’s magical… everyone we went into had a garden or courtyard overflowing with bougainvillea, jacaranda trees and greenery.  I also love the colonial Architecture, the European influence , and the all around artistic vibe.  Not to mention the shopping is pretty great.  

Profile Image by Nicole Mlakar, interior images by Amy Bartlam.


Thank you so much Meredith! You are spot on that interior design, apart from creativity is all about problem-solving.

I am so excited to come to the kickoff party and mingle with my design friends as well as meet new ones, shake hands with the best of the best. I also have my walking shoes and tour-goer gang ready to be inspired. Austin, I hope you have your winter outfit for the upcoming tour. Read more about the homes & the designers. Get your tickets here & mark your calendars! See you there!


JANUARY 24TH, 2015

10:30 am –  4:30 pm

Seriously Delightful Lighting

If I was a light fixture, I’d be one of these swanky ones — I must be looking at furnishings and decor items waaaayyy too much and in the world of design, the right lighting can make or break a space. These ones at Delightfull are just that, seriously delightful & definitely unique!

1. Floor Lamps

Janis Standing Lamp // A long-stemmed candelabra … yes, please!

Evans Standing Lamp // Charles & Ray will love this black & brass accompaniment to their iconic chair

2. Wall Lighting

Atomic Sconce // Atomic attraction has never looked so good

Parker Sconce // Simple yet not understated

3. Suspension Lighting

Matheny Suspension // Big, bold & cascading

Duke Suspension // A balancing act

Do you have a Design question or dilemma? Drop me a line and I’ll answer them for free {and absolutely no strings attached!}. Click here >>>


Shops to Love at Blue Genie Art Bazaar 2014

Ahhh, ’tis the Season for gift giving! And if you’re like me, I like receiving gifts that are one-of-a-kind, artisanal & the not-going-to-the-regift pile. It’s time for the Blue Genie Art Bazaar again, seriously the best place to find handmade Austintatious gifts. There’s lots of shops to love of course in this curated shop exhibit but I’m a sucker for these ones:

1. Found Object Art

Found objects pieces things together that’s all about interesting stories, a surefire conversation starter! This one is called Cinderfella. And yes, I’m not over vintage things yet!

2. Jackalope Card by MakeATX

It’s a jackalope! And he’s intricately laser-cut at that! I would totally put this one in a shadow box for a quirky display!

3. Melissa Mencini Ceramics

And how about these porcelain tumblers? It’s dainty pastel hues contrast with gold pistols is such a beautiful juxtaposition — this is not your regular OJ containers.

foxwares pottery






4. Foxwares Pottery

A little Southwestern and Ikat inspiration in these gorgeous earthenware. It’s very Alyson Fox if you ask me & super cool to put on display.

5. Akwood & Design

From little things to small and large scale furniture, fine crafted wood pieces is the expertise of the duo behind this woodworking shop. As a grown-up, I say goodbye Ikea & hello magnificent, exceptional, well-made {I’m not running out of adjectives yet} pieces.

So, if you haven’t checked it out yet, the Blue Genie Art Bazaar is a “must visit” for holiday shopping!

> The annual four-week holiday shopping exhibit for its 14th year on November 28th,opening at 10am.

> The bazaar runs seven days a week from 10am to 10pm (with the exception of 6pm closing on December 24th)

> Where: Marchesa Hall & Theatre, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd., Austin 78752, across from Highland Mall

> Featuring more than 200 Texas artists, the bazaar offers free admission and a hassle-free shopping environment.

Do you have a Design question or dilemma? Drop me a line and I’ll answer them for free {and absolutely no strings attached!}. Click here >>>

10 Tips for a Beautiful Holiday Table

Are some of you on vacation for Thanksgiving already? Woop! Woop! I’m getting my baggy pants ready for turkey, pies and such for the festivities tomorrow. Aside from that, I hope to help get the Thanksgiving table ready at my in-laws. It’s true… I’m a #TablescapeAddict. The lovely people at Wayfair asked me to dish out my Top 10 Tips for a Beautiful Holiday Table. Read on and grab ideas from some of my tablescape projects.

gold edge menu cards

gold vases blue and orange thanksgiving table

See all of the tips here. Today, I may do two sessions of my Brazilian Butt video {yes, I succumbed to Leandro!} to prepare for all the gobble tomorrow.

Do you have a Design question or dilemma? Drop me a line and I’ll answer them for free {and absolutely no strings attached!}. Click here >>>


Roundup: 5 Designer Finds

It’s Thanksgiving week everyone! Are you running amok with grocery shopping and getting the casa ready for family & friends? We’ll be visiting my Grandma & Grandpa for the week for my little bebe {he’s 2 months old now!} to meet more of the family.

Here’s a little round-up of new designer finds I’m currently swooning for {and you will too!}. Check out the rest of the article here >>>

designer finds

1/ The design world’s infatuation with bar carts is still a “do” & moreso with the holiday season approaching.

2/ Aside from gorgeous lighting, Apparatus Studio in NYC has decorative objects that are swoon-worthy as well.

3/ Although this is not a Venetian-mirror, it is equally gorgeous and delicate.

4/ I have an infatuation with marigold hues and yellow citrine lately & this sofa is a gem beauty!

5/ Wallpaper murals is coming back with a vengeance & this one at Cole and Son depicting old-world architecture is amazing!

Thanks to Terry’s Blinds for this Design Insights article. Have a jubilant week everyone!

Do you have a Design question or dilemma? Drop me a line and I’ll answer them for free {and absolutely no strings attached!}. Click here >>>

Single Graphic Art

Happy, absolutely beautiful Fall Monday all!

Stumbled across this image from a photo shoot we did last year. I haven’t had enough of wall collages yet but sometimes a single graphic art is all that’s needed. I asked my friend Kaleigh to make this YOU + ME graphic art which now graces our living room.

modern bedroom Shot at Kimber Modern; pillows by Stone Textile

Have an amazing week everyone!

The Red Chair Workroom

I’m not sure if this research has been done yet but I’m pretty sure Austin is high up there as far as population density of people working from home or coffee shops or co-working spaces, etc. It’s also the most collaborative, creatives seeking co-creatives. It’s the same in the interior design world here in our small, big town. That’s why when I heard that Anita Erickson, founder of Red Chair Market is building a place that will nourish this camaraderie, I had to know more about it. I asked Anita a few questions about this new project, it’s goals and dreams for the Austin interior design community.

red chair workroom














As a design enthusiast and having met a lot of design professionals in Austin, how do you think the city’s interior design environment is evolving?

I’m a design enthusiast but not a professional designer, so I had a chance to ask a lot of “dumb” questions as I’ve been researching this project and have learned a lot!  Austin is definitely coming in to its own as a respectable design city, but I love that it’s maintaining its character. There is a desire to work with local retailers, craftspeople and artisans and to make sure projects have a unique flair. There has also been a lot of talk about the business model of the design profession, some are going the straight fee route, some are doing the traditional product markup. The internet has changed a lot of things, with clients being much more able to access products and ideas on their own.  I think there is an opportunity to really educate consumers on the value of a professional beyond the product-acquisition role; from making sure that all the creative ideas fit in to a real home to managing the headaches of installation.

Some formally trained designers have embraced other designers who are not formally trained, others haven’t, what is your take on this debate?

This is a dangerous one for me to dive in to! I respect people who are passionate, professional and dedicated to what they do.  People like this come from many paths, and for some projects it’s most important to find someone who you connect with personally and aesthetically.  For others you really need someone with formal training or lots of specific experience.  Fifteen years of experience can substitute for four years of schooling, but I think the frustration comes in in that it’s hard for the average consumer to know how to evaluate. If everyone can call themselves an Interior Designer, there’s a concern that an experience with someone who isn’t professional will taint the whole industry.

red chair workroom




















Tell me more about the Red Chair Workroom & how it sees itself in the next 5 years.

In a nutshell, we want to create a hub for the design community.  I’ve met with over 70 design trade pros in the last few months: architects, registered designers, decorators, retailers, vendors, even color consultants!  Many of them are independent practitioners, and what I hear most frequently is “collaboration”, followed by access to products and help with managing the business details. All this input guided the vision for the Workroom; summed up by our mission statement: Together, we are more productive, more profitable and have more fun. 

We’re building the space right now, and I often daydream about a day in the life of a Workroom Member to keep me focused.

You walk in to the Workroom and are greeted by name by the receptionist who asks if you’ve found the perfect side table for the Smith project. In the nearby lounge there is a member you’ve been meaning to connect with, so you grab a cup of (fantastic) coffee and sit down with your colleague to get some suggestions for a tile installer.  A clients is coming that afternoon, so you head back to the quiet area to plug in your laptop and finish up the presentation, then to the print room to make some handouts.  Lunchtime comes and you join some of the other members for a lunch-and-learn in the conference room; it may be a vendor presentation on the latest wallcoverings or a “business basics” discussion on employment tax.

At this point your clients will arrive soon, so you start to set up the reserved meeting room.  The presentation will be shown on the flat-screen monitor, but samples are also tacked to the wall. You head back to the break room and put together a tray with coffee cups, a fresh pot of coffee and real cream.  When your clients arrive they are shown to the meeting room and a lively discussion begins.  Halfway through, someone wonders if hand-scraped oak or Brazilian cherry floors would be better, so you pop out to the resource room and grab a sample of each. Decision made, without leaving the Workroom. 

It’s been a productive day but you decide to stick around; realtors from a local agency have been invited to happy hour to meet and network with the members.  You’re busy, but it’s always good to make new connections!  At the end of the evening you scoop up your project materials and stow them in your locker for the next visit.  Tomorrow’s a work-from-home day, but you’ll be back again on Friday to see what’s new.


Thank you so much Anita! Thanks to visionaries like you, the Austin interior design environment will continue to flourish. To help this project, please click here.

Do you have a Design question or dilemma? Drop me a line and I’ll answer them for free {and absolutely no strings attached!}. Click here >>>