Be Original America : A Talk at the Austin Jones Center

american design furniture

Hello friends! I came across this website that is all about celebrating original design called Be Original America. Truly, in a world of copycats, it is refreshing to see that a company is championing original design. Their members are all about the value of authenticity , their campaign goal is to establish a set of industry standards that encourages consumers, the architecture/design community, producers, dealers and media partners to fully support genuine creativity.

Because get this:

According to the International Chamber of Commerce, 2.5 million jobs have been lost due to fake products.

Estimated value of counterfeit goods in 2008:  $650 billion Projected annual value of counterfeit goods by 2015:  Over $1.7 trillion1

Supporting fake goods  and knock-offs may help your pocket book for a smidgen of a second but the cons far outweigh it’s pros. Next week, they are holding a lecture at the Austin Jones Center to support their manifesto and cause. Here are the details:

Why Original Design is Important February 25, 2014 | 6:00 – 7:00pm Presented by Jerry Helling, President of Bernhardt Design Imagine a world with no original design.  Everything would be a copy and nothing would be new.  Join us for a talk at The Contemporary Austin Jones Center about why original design is important.

The Contemporary Austin Jones Center 700 Congress Avenue Austin, TX 78701

Let us support this cause and help a new generation of designers with the same ingenuity as the Eames, the Meeks and Evans of past eras.

Do you have a Design question? Feel free to drop me a line here >>>

Kim West: Fearless and Confident Design

When it comes to spaces that deserves an enthusiastic ooohhh and aaaahhh, the description bold, daring and gutsy comes to mind. Going past the simple and safe is something that some of us have a hard time doing. But Kim West, a New York transplant will tell us how to do just that. Her home was featured at the Tribeza Interiors Tour and rightfully so. Her vision and design is exemplary and confident just like the bubbling personality that she is. Here’s an insight about her leap to the design world and her fascinating aesthetic.

eclectic colorful living room

1. From the fashion industry to interior design, what made you take the leap?

The move into interiors was organic for me, I think style is style and I have always looked for it whether it was a pair of earrings or a lamp. The exposure to a high level of design, loads of international travel and being a NYC citizen trained my eye. During that decade I spent in the fashion industry I was also obsessed with real estate, renovating and decoration. My developer husband and I loved buying apartments and turning them into little gems. When we sold them in one day with bidding wars I thought perhaps there is something there. When I left my position at Marc Jacobs and the city I wasn’t really sure what was next. A year later several people asked for my design work in their homes and Well Dressed Space was born.

kim west well dressed space

2. Some designers will say that they themselves were their hardest clients; were you an easy or hard client when you were designing and decorating your home? Why?

I find the hardest part of working with clients is comforting them into taking the leap away from safe choices. So I actually think I was an easy client. I’m more afraid of a boring space than a lively one. It’s sort of like one of Diana Vreeland’s philosophy’s… either be the best or the worst, just don’t be stuck in the middle.

eclectic colorful living room

  3. Designers continually evolve and are multifaceted, for your home, what main “style” did you lean towards and your initial source of inspiration?

This house is cheeky and charming, I wanted my family to live in a home that is playful and fun. My goal was to preserve and highlight the original details while taking it up a notch with strong hues and prints.


striped nursery nursery design kim west

4. For some, wall coverings or wallpaper is passé {which we totally disagree of course!}, why do you think it’s otherwise?

Hallelujah that it is back and back big time! Wallpaper is full scale art, mixing patterns with paper is one of my favorite design opportunities. On ceilings, on furniture, in an air stream trailer, I’m game for it anywhere. We are mixing two stunning papers in a client’s kitchen right now; I’m dying to see it once we finish!

5. You showed us that in your style and home, you’re not afraid of color and pattern; what advise would you give clients who are afraid to give it a shot but longing to do something more bold & daring in their space?

Paint!! It is inexpensive and can be changed easily. You also have to let the eye adjust and live with it for a bit. Give yourself a few weeks with your new shade and see how it feels. Also take a risk in a small space perhaps a closet, utility area or powder room. The world of inspiration is never ending, join pinterest, spend some time perusing design publications and commit to a look.

6. Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and a slew of others have done it; which fashion designer would you love to see foray into the interior design world to make some home decor furnishings and accessories?

Good question! I can’t narrow it down to just one. I would love to see Irene Neuwirth designing light fixtures, textiles from Marni, accessories from Lanvin and any and every category from the queen Miuccia Prada.

Thank you so much Kim! Your style is adorable and Austin is lucky to have such an incredible interior design talent. And remember everyone, a daring and adventurous transformation to your space this 2014 just might be the first step to unleash your endless creativity and spunk!


10 Ideas for a Stunning Wine Cellar

I’m having a serious case of the winter blues and I can’t even complain as it’s been in the 70’s here in Austin this weekend {and it’s most definitely not what Atlanta, NYC or Washington is experiencing}. But looong weeks of dreary days in the 30’s a couple of weeks back is what I think did it. I love my sunlight & need to get my melatonin levels down and be bright, cheery and driven all over again!

Anyway, on a good note; last week, I went with a group of friends to the California wine country for a gals special birthday. It was rainy & dreary but the company was fun. We checked out great sights in San Fran, had amazing food and went to several wineries in Napa, Sonoma & St. Helena. I am no wine connoisseur {and don’t pretend to be} but here’s what I adore in wineries; the tasting rooms & cellars themselves. So cozy and so intimate. Here are 10 ideas for a stunning wine cellar:

1. In the center of the room, encased in glass.

2. In the basement in rustic crates for a vintage feel.

Country Living

3. X-boxes in the kitchen cabinetry for built-in wine storage.

4. Or in a linear fashion that goes from horizontal to vertical or vice versa.
5. The dungeon, stone carvings {holes} look for an old-world feel.
6. Turn the kitchen hallway into a curved wine case storage.
7. Have an almost floor-to-ceiling X-configuration built-in wine storage.
8. Or a whole library of floor-to-ceiling wine storage just across from your dining table.
9. The wine bar nook look, of course!
10. My favorite because it’s unexpected! The spiral staircase wine storage.

How about you? Any favorites? In other parts of the world and the country, the wine cellar is as important as the guest bedroom … for now, I’m sticking to my bar cart although I’m seriously considering having a wine cellar on my *want* list.

Do you have a Design question? Feel free to drop me a line here >>>

Black Walls White Floor

black living room

via Domino

I think this room is so wonderful. I have a new obsession with dark walls, whether it’s black or deep blue, maybe even an eggplant hue. So regal, so rich, so warm and in this space it totally works — the floors and ceilings are white, there’s floods of lights coming in the room and the space is further toned down by white, cream and taupe accessories {the rug, stool, throw, art, lamp}.

Happy Friday everyone, try to stay warm and enjoy and if you’re an Austin, check out the Austin Modern Homes Tour this weekend!

Do you have a Design question? Feel free to drop me a line here >>>

An Interview with Cornerstone Architects

modern foyer austin

What are you up to this weekend? Well, for more home inspiration and ideas, the 2014 Austin Modern Homes Tour is this Saturday. Learn about new building materials, how to make the transition between outdoor and living spaces seamless and ideas on design as well. I caught up with Chris Davenport, one of the architects at Cornerstone to talk about their featured home at Ridgewood as well as the new trends in building in 2014.

1. It’s 2014! What new trends are you seeing as far as energy efficiency in building and designing a home?  

With more and more homes pushing toward the modern vocabulary, we have seen a great increase in the number of clients who long for informal, functional living.  Extra Dining and Living areas are becoming much less frequent in favor of putting the effort and resources into spaces the family actually enjoys on a daily basis.  This drive towards practical and flexible spaces inherently improves the efficiency in building and couples nicely with the new technologies and building systems that are becoming increasingly more effective.

Modern home austin cornerstone architects

2. When designing the home at Ridgewood, what was the major challenge you were dealt with and how did you solve it?  

Most of the homes in this established Austin neighborhood are conventional in their layout with a front yard, rear yard, and a house that spans across the width of the somewhat narrow but deep lot.  In our case, we wanted to be sensitive to the heat gain of a Western rear exposure and also take advantage of a potential corridor lake view to the North or Right side of the lot.  A neighbor to the West was also a concern as their residence would be clearly visible from the rear of our house and yard. A “Fishbowl” effect with neighbors viewing in from all sides was in direct opposition with our goal to establish an enjoyable outdoor / indoor entertaining space with a pool.

In response to this challenge we implemented a “Y”-Shaped floor plan that turned the view from the Major living areas to the North.   A large stone Fireplace wall was incorporated on the West side to keep windows away from the neighbor and the hot Texas sun.  The Living Room wing pushes far enough past the North side neighbor’s home that the view to the lake was captured upstairs, and a sense of a somewhat private entertaining space was created.  We also left all of the existing trees and kept the pool snug to the house to increase the sense of one’s own space.

modern kitchen austin

3.Designing on a cost-conscious budget, what are a few examples of how you are able to achieve this for the Ridgewood home?

A common strategy that we employed on the Ridgewood residence was the “bang for your buck” philosophy.  We encourage the Owner to prioritize the spaces and features that are most important to them and spend their money there.  For most clients this means choosing high end materials and fixtures in the public spaces while pulling back a little bit in the secondary bedrooms and private spaces that only close friends and family see.

The reality is that simple paint grade finishes and monotone color schemes can actually be quite sufficient in a lot of modern expressions. They take emphasis off of the walls and put it on the Owner’s furnishings and artwork.  To further reduce cost, left over granite pieces were used as counters, and cost effective porcelain or ceramic floor tile was selected rather than traditional stone.

modern bedroom austin

4. What does it mean to be a 5-star green home?  

In the case of the Ridgewood residence this meant appropriate site placement, large overhangs, thoughtful location of windows, efficient heating and cooling, good insulation, and sustainable materials and plants.  A myriad of selections and systems had to be carefully coordinated between the Architect, Owner, Interior Designer, and Builder.  We are pleased to be a part of one of the most organized and recognized green building programs in the country, and the entire team worked together to achieve the highest rating.

5.Cornerstone has a wide range of portfolio from traditional to modern projects, aside from aesthetics, feel and look; how is a modern design project different from a traditional one?  

While the traditional concerns of Function, Aesthetics, and Budget are still important, I find that my Modern clientele tend to come to the table with additional expectations that challenge the norms of the “Traditional Home”.  Whether it be incorporating the latest green technology, using space in an unconventional manner, or simply driving towards a unique artistic expression, Modern homes tend to be less based in traditional archetypes and are more a result of an explorative process to express the unique needs, character, and desires of the client and site.

modern foyer austin

This home feels so spacious and refreshing. See this home and more at this weekend’s tour!

Images by Andrew Pogue

Do you have a Design question? Feel free to drop me a line here >>>


One Table Four Ways

When you buy a piece of furniture, do you instantly visualize how you are going to style it? Meaning what kind of accessories you are going to put on it to create the feel and look you’re going for? Because, really a night stand without a lamp is seriously blah, a bar cart without bar accessories and a bottle of wine just wouldn’t be right {and will be just downright ridiculous!} and a coffee table not styled? Well, you get the picture. I got to style a simple Ikea Lack table four ways for the premiere issue of Make it Over Magazine from the makers of Cottages & Bungalows and Romantic Homes. Here’s how I did it:

1. Modern Organic :

 What you’ll need: a tree branch, a clear globe or terrarium with succulents and/or air plants, geometric candle holders, hard bound books in muted earthy colors

modern organic table modern organic table

2. Romantic Elegance: A departure from the vignette above, this style is a bit glamorous, thoroughly charming and decidedly feminine.

What you’ll need: a girl bust, brass candlesticks, french-style decorative books, vintage glass vase with etching, vintage opera glasses

romantic table romantic styling

 3. Vintage Rustic: The character of vintage mixed with the depth and layers of rustic elements.

What you’ll need: a vintage camera, cobbler shoe forms, weathered books, a vintage hardware, glass cloche and fill with twigs, moss, pebbles and faux wildlife, black and white photos, nest

rustic vintage table rustic vintage table

 4. Coastal Shabby Chic: Light and bright, breezy and refreshing

What you’ll need: Corals, Vintage bottles {dipped in off-white paint}, doilies

coastal shabby chic shabby chic styling

 All accessories are mine — I must say, I’m a bit of a hoarder, an edited hoarder that is…if there’s such a thing! Photos are by this amazing guy Waytao Shing. The magazine should still be in newsstands or grab one here.

One last thing, designers are amazing at accessorizing and styling. Their great “eye” allows them to look at all the stuff you think are tired and should either be chunked or forgotten and give them new life in your space. They can also tell you when something works and doesn’t work. I may be biased but a well-edited and beautiful space is truly invaluable in your home.

Have a question on how to get everything together — design and interiors styling wise? I do love answering them, contact me here.

An Interview with Element 5 Architecture

modern home austin

I must say that Austin is truly multifaceted when it comes to design. Fresh from high doses of interiors inspiration this weekend with the Tribeza Interiors Tour, another great design event is coming up this weekend. Although decorating is my passion, one cannot deny that without building and architecture; well, a home will have no bones. I’ve been to the Austin Modern Homes Tour and they never disappoint. From each home, you’ll always take with you new ideas and learn from the best architects in town. I caught up with Nick Mehl of Elements 5 Architecture about their work at one of the homes that will be featured in the 2014 Austin Modern Homes Tour.

1. It’s 2014! What new trends are you seeing as far as energy efficiency in building and designing a home?

LEDs all the way! We’re seeing a growing interest in using LED lighting throughout and a growing interest in incorporating Smart Home technology – integrating lighting, wifi, computer networks, electrical outlets and HVAC controls into the design of the home.

living room modern home austin

2.”Modern, environmental designs on a strict budget,” I like that! What are a few examples of how you are able to achieve this {cutting costs, etc}?

Keeping to a strict budget is even harder than it sounds. It means we, as architects, have to possess the knowledge of how much each and every aspect of the design costs. Architects often rely on builders for that information, but our office has built many of our own projects. We work very closely with builders during the bid process and have learned (the hard way) the factors that drive the cost.

kitchen modern home austin

3. When designing the home at Daugherty, what was the major challenge you were dealt with and how did you solve it?

The Daugherty Residence was a challenge because, as with most modern designs, integrating the mechanical system is difficult with flat roofs, hidden structural beams and lack of attic space to run ducts. It sounds somewhat boring, but designing the mechanical system to work smoothly is something important for architects to consider.

4. Tell me more of how you designed the back patio.

The back patio is not completely finished, but I’m glad you like it so far. Our concept was for the living room to feel like a part of the back patio. Towards that end, we have a large wall of floor to ceiling glass and a ceiling that visually transfers from inside to outside. The patio itself features some really beautiful pavers that the owners found.

backyard modern home austin

5. Your firm is also keen on highlighting the natural elements unique to Austin, can you expound on that?

There are two aspects to designing with the natural elements of Austin. The most obvious is using materials that are found in our region – limestone, certain species of wood, concrete, steel and glass. Secondly, there are the skilled craftsmen unique to our region. We have a great source of skilled masons and stucco contractors. Integrating nature into our designs also helps tie it into the region, and there are some award winning landscape architects in Austin who work with a unique palette of materials.

dining modern home austin

Get your tickets here. The event is Feb 1st and starts at 11 am. See you there folks!

Do you have a Design question? Feel free to drop me a line here >>>

Images by Atelier Wong

New Crop Shop | The Muse’s Musings

new crop shop Textile

I’ve always been enchanted by the work of global artisans. There is something to admire about these gifted people who piece by piece, weave by weave and strand by strand patiently creates a work of art that is full of history, enchantment and character. To know their stories and even learn from them is a dream. A good friend of mine, a doe-eyed beauty with an amazing soul is living that dream! Charmie and her boyfriend is living in a beautiful hut surrounded by a lush garden in Chiang Mai,Thailand; and along with lessons of what’s important in life, they are meeting these artisans and showcasing their work at their new store, New Crop Shop. I learned more about their inspiration and their process in an interview below with the shop’s muse.


1. Why did you name your shop New Crop and what does it mean to you?

As odd as it may sound, the name New Crop actually found us! It came beautifully written on a ribbon when we bought a sack of rice! The name resonated with us because it symbolized a “new crop of products that come alive through the organic and timeless process of working with your hands. In a day and age where our world perpetually spins faster towards a technological age and everything is instant, we wanted to highlight those who are rich in time, in tradition, and a master at their craft. Some items take months to make, and many items require a group of women working together to piece together the final product. To me, this slow and beautiful process is very similar to the act of harvesting rice or planting your own food. It takes time and intention.

2.What is your process in finding the artisans and items that best fits your manifesto?

Our process is a mix of hunting, digging, and nomadically being a curious cat. We prefer to work with independent artists/artisans who’s pursuing their creative freedom by making beautiful items as they visualized it, and want their work to be seen, heard and appreciated as is. We ask a lot of questions because their personal work is also very personal to us. We ask if we can come over to where they make it, and spend a day with them making their craft. This has to be one of my favorite parts about the job. I learn so much about the craft, their culture and them as an individual which bonds us even more with their art.

Jewelry new crop shop purses new crop shop

3. Tell us your favorite story so far in meeting these artisans.

One of the first things we ever gathered for our shop was leather journals and we’ve always enjoyed speaking with leather artisans about their workmanship. One leather artisan in particular was named “OY”. We met him during one of our motorcycle road trips, and he ended up inviting us over to his workshop to watch him work on his leather goods. We showed up to a beautiful wooden hut he built himself in the midst of the mountains. We sipped coffee, talked, as he worked and blasted his playlist of 70’s rock and some good ol’ reggae. The vibe was incredible, and Aaron ended up leaving with a pair of custom made leather moccasins!

Chestnut leather journal

4. What have you learned about “creativity” from such humble “makers” who are not in it for money or fame but for the love of the craft itself?

We’ve learned the simplicity of loving your work, and how it can nurture your soul and can even be therapeutic at times. They don’t go in it with a 5 year business plan,do lots of market research, nor watch the clock. They put all their pride and time in their work and it shows. It truly is humbling to have met such talented artisans who are happy doing what they love, living simply and being rich with time. Because before meeting them I never thought working, therapeutic, and being rich with time could ever be in the same sentence.

purple exotic pillow

Thank you so much Charmie! This hurried life and the famous idea of instant gratification in the Western world can be incredibly exhausting at times. Living simply and doing what you love is a worthwhile goal for all of us. Check out New Crop Shop.

Do you have a Design question? Feel free to drop me a line here >>>

An Interview with Tracey Overbeck Stead

I firmly believe that interior designers live by a common ethos…and that is to make a home that truly reflects who they are and surrounded by things they love. This weekend, whether you are a design enthusiast or not, you should check out the Tribeza Interiors Tour. It showcases the interiors of big names in Austin in the world of design {and beyond of course!}. I still don’t know what to expect but I do know I will be thoroughly inspired. Today, I couldn’t be more honored to do this interview with an amazing interior designer, Tracey Overbeck Stead. Her work is fearless and at times offers a pleasant shock-value that others may find uncomfortable but secretly aspires to be as bold as her in her choices. Here it goes…

tracey overbeck stead

1. With so many design styles you are exposed to, how would you describe the style you chose for your own home?

I love so many styles and I design using a number of styles because I tailor to each of my client’s personal aesthetics. For my own home, I would call my style modern eclectic. It’s schizophrenic truly. I have mixed my family’s antiques, with client leftovers, along side pieces I’ve found while traveling.

tracey overbeck stead home 2. With a slew of residential and commercial projects under your belt, what has been most helpful for you that continuously inspires your creativity?

My creativity is inspired continually through travel, design blogs, and very progressive local showrooms like Scott + Cooner and Wildflower.

tracey overbeck stead eclectic room

3. What do you think is the biggest hurdle homeowners have in defining their own design style?

I think the biggest hurdle my homeowners have in defining their own design style is being afraid of change and taking risk. I find they also get trapped in trends instead of truly listening to their hearts on how they like to live stylistically.

4. Beauty before function or function before beauty? What is the sequence of importance in your design process?

I don’t think you have to sacrifice either of those. They both are so incredibly important that I never do one without the other. In other words, many of my clients have animals and/or children. I can always find durable fabrics, finishes that are incredibly beautiful as well to satisfy both needs.

cottage tracey overbeck stead

5. Your bio states that you are inspired by the “minimalism of High Modernism”; the play of words is quite intriguing in itself; can you expound more on this?

Inspirationally, minimalism of high modernism is basically “less is more”. Maximum impact with minimum clutter. In other words, I am inspired by spaces that have less pieces with a large design “punch” rather than seeing many pieces in a space with less high design.

tracey overbeck stead home

6. How would you describe the state of interior design savvy that Austin have or doesn’t have?

Being an Austinite, I have seen this city go through major changes over the years. I think Austin has an incredible passion for interior design. I think this city is design savvy and the growing population will demand more showrooms and increased resources for designers. Right now design-wise, we are in a city in flux. We have the interest, the desire, and the right minds but we are still a small city struggling to become a larger city with resources that you would find in a large metropolis.

7. What advice, ideas and tips would you give to new interior designers and decorators?

I love to speak to UT students during the year as a guest lecturer. I always tell them they are entering the most creative and one of the most satisfying professions.

Tip 1- Check your feelings at the door!

Tip 2- Listen to your clients!

Tip 3- No inflated egos allowed!

tracey overbeck stead bathroom design

I am giddy with excitement about this tour. Here are the details:

Saturday, January 25, 2014, 10am-4pm Get tickets here.

I do hope to see you there. All of us can learn so much on how “they” do it… that is how to create a home that’s inspiring, full of character and impeccably curated.

The Wall Space above the Masculine Night Stand

masculine night stand decorating

Items: Mirror by Jayson Home and Garden, Wall Antler, Art Print from Natural Curiosities, Lamp by Ralph Lauren, Nightstand by Vanguard Furniture

One of these days I’ll let you know if “Men are from Mars” when it comes to design and decorating. Being new in interior design, I must say most of my clients have been females of course but get this, my first ever client was actually a male. It was a disaster. After multiple attempts at trying to get his design vision, he broke up with me. Don’t get me wrong, I did a lot of work, I just never got him and I’m sure he never got me. It wasn’t a match and although I’d like to think it’s his fault…I’m sure it’s mostly mine, my inexperience at that time and perhaps not listening intently to what a guy has to say.

Well, fast forward and I’m having a few male clients again and tell you what… they are awesome! I am seriously starting to like doing masculine design. The little board above is for a male friend-client. I love a guy who understands that a well put-together space is important and yes, especially if you’re a bachelor. We got a pair of fabulous Vanguard furniture night stands with a gray and dark brown wood finish options and to get together the area, here are my recommendations for accessorizing the manly way:

(1) Go for a limited number of hues, 2 or 3 at the most.

(2) Go for textures that is organic and comes from nature — like horn, wood and leather.

(3) Go wild! Tasteful taxidermy is always good.

(4) With art prints, go abstract or geometric.

Happy Friday everybody! What’s in store for you this weekend?

Do you have a Design question? Feel free to drop me a line here >>>