Woot Woot! We're back with another installation of the kitchen color series! And I figured what better color to do on National Pink Day than BLUSH PINK!
This year blush pink as definitely become a growing trend in fashion & home decor, serving almost as neutral and getting paired with lots of metal tones and/or dark dramatic hues. I am living for all of it, and this is coming from someone who does not like pink... at all! But despite, it's growing popularity, it's definitely one of those colors that are a challenge in the kitchen -- how do you do it without dredging up old school kitchen nostalgia? Needless to say, pulling this list together was not easy, however, it also wasn't as hard as I anticipated.
In the spirit of National Children's Day...
It's a funny thing that happens when you're a working mom. Not only does the outside world see you differently, but you see yourself differently. I know personally, I've become hypercritical of myself -- even more than I already was -- because it's almost as though I'm living an oxymoron...
Isn't being a mom already work? Can I be fully vested in both or will one always suffer? What's the cost to my mental & physical health?
These are just some of the questions that I battle with on a regular basis; but then an added layer to this is, as someone who believes that my physical space and headspace are intrinsically linked, I really become to nitpick & judge myself. The busier or more overwhelmed I am, the less put together my home is; and inversely, the messier or more cluttered my home is, the less creative or focused I feel. Bottom line, if my home & mind aren't aligned, I'm all out of whack! And this isn't some new thing -- I've always been like this -- but I'm certain I've become more sensitive to this now that my life has runneth over with things to do, specifically, with keeping up with a growing toddler.
To be clear, this isn't some deep introspective piece on the woes & perils of motherhood & entrepreneurship. No. Instead, I want to talk about some of the common misconceptions people have when it comes to my home life as a work from home mom & as a designer, and then how I really keep my home (and sanity) with my baby girl.
Happy National Making Life Beautiful Day!
No, I did not make that up (google it) but I knew that today would be the absolute perfect day to talk about why of my very favorite design topics -- Feng Shui. This shouldn't be surprising, since my tagline is "love your space, design your life."
The words "Feng" and "Shui" have very simple meanings -- "wind" and "water" -- that represent the presence of balance & harmony. The overarching principle behind the art of Feng Shui is about creating harmony in your everyday life through the flow of energy. This is why so often, although sometimes misused, we'll hear people talk about Feng Shui when referring to their furniture layout -- how is the energy moving throughout this space? That flow of energy is your "chi" and at the center of really establishing good Feng Shui and ultimately setting the tone for your space.
“A well-designed room can not only improve your chi but your life.”
Growing up I always found Father's Day easier to shop for compared to Mother's Day because I've always found men easier to shop for. As an adult this hasn't changed at all, which is why 2 weeks before Father's Day, I've already got my gift guide ready to go! I will admit, however, this'll be my husband's 3rd Father's Day, and shopping for him has become increasingly more difficult (I'm still the better gift giver). Every year I try to not only be pragmatic & sentimental when it comes to giving gifts, but also unpredictable. I manage to surprise him every year when it comes to giving gifts and I expect this year to be no different.
About 3 years ago when I decided to take my visual merchandising expertise and switch gears to focus on interior design, I honestly had no idea how that would look. I began by working with a furniture showroom & after a whirlwind of events, ultimately decided to launch my own business. After a year of working with different e-design platforms, I discovered what kind of designer I wanted to be and more importantly, what kind of entrepreneur I wanted to be.
So here I am hitting the reset the button, focusing on virtual styling and building the subscription service, all while completing my masters degree. My plate runneth over! The hardest lessons I've had to learn while wearing all these hats have been on the more administrative/operational side of things. I remember getting my first client outside of being an independent contractor and wondering how the heck do I manage all this information?! In my head, I knew how I'd want this to play out, but here I am, business license, website, trade memberships, and all that jazz, yet still foggy on how I was going to accept payments or send swatches or upload designs; basically all the stuff that would ultimately enhance (or destroy) the customer experience, I couldn't decide on.
Fast forward to today, and I think I've got this. If you're any kind of entrepreneur or just wondered, "How the heck does she do it?!" here's a peak behind the scenes that is my life as an entrepreneur, student, and mom...
By now you already know my feelings on color in the kitchen! I'm here for all the POP and WOW you can introduce into the place you're making meals and entertaining guests. Gone are the days of tacky wallpaper and wall mounted corded phones. Instead, kitchen decor has become as prevalent in home design as all your other spaces.
So after telling you that pops of color are one of the sexy ways to turn up your kitchen, I decided to take it a step further and do a full on color series!
"Albie, say what?"
Let's say you take my advice, and realize that the areas you have surrounding the kitchen feature a pop of yellow and that's going to be the color you thread throughout. You've picked your color but now you have NO IDEA what to buy in yellow. I'll be putting together kitchen accessory color guides to help you along the way while shopping.
I decided to kick off the series with a color/tone that's become all the rave recently: COPPER!
Copper (really metallic tones) have become increasingly popular in design and is one of the easier ways to really jazz up your decor; however, done incorrectly, you can go all the way wrong (we talked about this here).
So I've put together 20 of my favorite copper kitchen finds for your shopping pleasure. You're welcome!
For a lot of people, the school of thought is that designing your kitchen means doing a full remodel and renovation and all the hoopla you see on HGTV.
Not only are renovations costly, not everyone has that luxury -- for example, in a rental. I doubt your landlord would take to kindly to you deciding to knock down a wall. But whether you own or rent, there are a number of things you can do to turn up your kitchen. Some can be small purchases that you make and others can be larger cosmetic upgrades. Check out 3 of my favorite easy peasy kitchen upgrades.
Working with couples is always funny, because 9 times out of 10, you're really just working with one person and the other one is just along for the ride. This couple had just relocated and wanted to upgrade their living room area. Although they weren't super particular about their style, they did note that they wanted this space to feel "grown up" and sophisticated, without being to "stuffy" because this is where they'd be watching television, hosting friends, and just plain ol' hanging out. One of them did have one very specific request:
Since I live with my boyfriend, I'd the room to compliment his tastes as well. A mixture of items that are fun but don't scream "girly" or overly feminine.
Well that I could totally relate with. Although I never considered myself to be someone who had super feminine tastes, after living alone for so long, when my husband and I first started living together, I wanted to make sure he didn't feel out of place.
I took a look at their inspiration photos and that gave me a general idea of the direction we'd be going in. Using a soft grey as the primary color, I created a design that was modern & serene, to suit their aesthetic & functional needs. The soft tones were balanced with textured & metal accents for a look that would appeal to both of them.
One of my absolute favorite go to vendors for sofas is Interior Define. They have a fairly "small" catalogue, compared to maybe some other sofa vendors, but all their stuff is made to order and they have some of the best collaborative collections. I first discovered them when they collaborated with The Everygirl, one of my favorite sites for information and inspiration. This was maybe a year ago; and I've since sourced about a dozen of their sofas for different projects, including their swoon worthy Rose Sofa (from their collection with The Everygirl). They have these amazingly modern yet timeless designs, and it's like you're getting a custom sofa every time!
So when one of my clients told me she needed help styling her Miles Slipcovered Sofa from I/D, I was completely geeked out. A little bit about Miles...
So often, my clients are either couples or single females; very rarely do I get single male clients. That can be poor marketing on my part or simply that men prefer to hire in person designers. In any case, any time that I get to work on a "bachelor pad" it's always a treat.
This client just moved into a luxury apartment building and we were starting from scratch in the master bedroom. He was clear in wanting a space that featured "dark neutrals" -- black, gray, gold, silver -- so this design is dramatic & modern, while still possessing the soothing vibe you'd want in your master bedroom.
It's all about the contrasts -- a dark upholstered bed grounded in a lighter textured rug; and a flanking seating area that mimics this design blueprint. A dramatic accent wall frames the space, and solar shades provide privacy while still allowing in tons of natural light to really soften up the space.
Wait... Is it May already? How are we doing Mother's Day shopping when I was just picking out Christmas tree decorations? I'm in serious denial over how quickly this year is going! Especially since acknowledging Mother's Day would also mean acknowledging that my baby girl is turning 2 (Mother's Day this year lands on her birthday) and I'll be the first to admit that I am just not ready for that kind of reality check!
But to be fair, I've always had a thing about postponing Mother's Day for as long as possible. Let me explain...
I come from a Haitian family and, as is the case with many other cultures, our Mother's Day isn't celebrated at the same time as the US of A. Haitian Mother's Day is celebrated the last Sunday of May, so that easily buys me 2 additional weeks. Yet here we are, mere days before the calendar Mother's Day & I'm almost certain that I'm not alone in not having thought twice about a gift.
Now it's funny that I mentioned my daughter is about to be 2, because it's automatically assumed that Mother's Day gives me all the feels. Nope. No feels here. Mother's Day 2015, I was 2 days past due & extremely miserable because she was a "sunny side up" baby (if you don't know what that means, all you really need to know is that it hurts... A LOT!) Mother's Day 2016, my husband was away on active duty & even though he sent me awesome gifts, it was just baby girl & I. Our Mother's Day consisted of installing her baby gates, since she was officially on the move, and taking my new Bissell deep cleaner for a spin (also, because she was on the move). So here I am, my 3rd "official" Mother's Day & I hardly have any of the feels, much less all of them. And I'm still dragging my feet till the end of the month for everyone else *insert shrug here*
I love working on projects where the client knows early on what they want for the simple fact that it feels more like a collaboration than a job; and this remodel was, from start to finish, an awesome collaboration! She had a great vision in mind for updated their kitchen. We weren't making any changes to the actual foot print -- this was all cosmetic, and all fun.
The initial mood board was inspired by their style, as well as the style of the house, since th the kitchen is part of an open concept floor plan.
If all else fails, buy succulents!
Although I say that jokingly, I also say that with a twinge of seriousness. Because after you've moved into a new place, even with everything, you'll still find yourself wanting to put your special touch on this new place. But where do you start?
What do you get?
How do you bring it all together?
The one common thread for me every time I've moved is that I'd slowly get my marquee pieces then I'd layer in my decor. Now this isn't because I have amazing self control -- I wish! But for me it's a few things, with budget reigning in at #1. It's very easy for me to be an impulse buyer -- I see, I love, I buy -- but with my home that would give me extreme anxiety because I'd worry about overspending, and/or finding something better (or cheaper). I lament returning things & for my home I literally have to live with these things, so my pockets have always done an awesome job at keeping me in check.
Nothing excites me more than a client with a big move. A fresh start & a blank canvas allow us to explore new possibilities and really have fun with the space in a way that the client may not have been able to do before. With that said, I was super excited to get to work on this design for a fellow west coast transplant. I could identify with her moving out west to start a new chapter & she wanted her apartment to be reflective of this milestone. Her one prerequisite:
I'm obsessed with rose gold and grey!"
New York City living is practically synonymous with small space living, so whenever I tell people that we used to live in a NYC studio apartment, in the heart of Manhattan no less, the expressions on their faces tend to alternate between amazement, confusion, and pity. But for 16 months, my husband, daughter, and I all comfortable fit in our c. 500 sq. ft. studio.
So in my lifetime I've moved 7 times. With every move, I found myself constantly trying to define my life via my space. I'm someone who lives in my head, and with that, someone who's always planning and envisioning and daydreaming.
I'd get lost in thought planning changes I'd want to make; because no matter what was happening around me, I needed to be able to control my home. With each move this has never changed. But also with each move, I've learned just a little bit more about myself, the people in my life, and honestly, the world around me.
When I moved into my NYC studio, this was my first time, however, that I was furnishing an entire place by myself. I was always planning what to buy, whether I could afford it or not, and I was ALWAYS moving my room around. There would be nights where what started as folding laundry & organizing my closet is now me moving the bed & putting down carpet at 3am -- confused my mom every time, lol.
Now this isn't about how I've always known I wanted to be a designer. No. Not even close. Although, in hindsight, it seems like all paths lead here, but I digress.
Moving into a new apartment & starting from scratch can be fun & exciting, but also very overwhelming. The foundation was already laid with a new sofa & rug, however, we needed to break up all that grey; so I created a design, anchored by those grey tones & featuring organic fibers & metallic accents for a cozy & eclectic setting. By introducing woods, leathers, and other natural materials, we would make the space feel pulled together & inviting, while still maintaining a modern appeal with clean silhouettes. As we worked through this design & brought this mood board to life, we were ultimately able to create the perfect setting for relaxing, working, and entertaining.
When I moved into my Hell’s Kitchen studio nearly 5 years ago, I had no hesitations — large kitchen, washer/dryer, and an amazing view all equaled a no brainer. The square footage didn’t matter to me because it was just me.
Then I met my now husband.
THEN we had a baby.
Suddenly my perfect bachelorette studio started to resemble one of my many shoe boxes.
Even before we officially decided to move, I would fantasize about designing wherever we would end up -- floor planning, coordinating color schemes, wish listing -- doing all the things I would do for a client. Fast forward, to when we started doing apartment tours and then to when ultimately chose a place, I was super excited about having a space to really flex my design muscle (not for lack of trying in our NYC studio).
We gave ourselves a pretty decent budget [for people starting from scratch] and I got to shopping. With my palette in mind -- blue hues, with grey & gold accents -- I put together my design; however, knowing that this apartment would only be "temporary" (one, maybe two years) I decided to scale back some of my ideas (without sacrificing my original design plan of course).
My style favors mid century modern with touches of glam & minimalism, while my husband is very minimalist with hints of mid century modern & industrialism, so combining our design styles was really easy. I decided on a short list of retailers and some go to favorites to keep it budget friendly, convenient, and immediate -- IKEA, Wayfair (and that whole family of stores) Target, World Market, Home Goods, and Amazon.
The living room was the first area we tackled, followed by the bedroom, home office, and then lastly the dining room. Needless to say I was geeked & my husband graciously came along for the ride.
After having my daughter, I started blogging, not for any other purpose than to be active & if the information I wrote about helped even one other mom like me... well that would just be an added bonus. In one of my blog posts, I talked about being a "mompreneur" and how to navigate that. I've since hardly talked about that part of my life -- mom meets entrepreneur -- but a recent instagram post from stylist Emily Henderson really sat with me in a way that most posts dont; it actually struck a very personal cord with me...
When I started on this journey just over a year ago, I honestly had no idea where it would take me. I had a vision, if that, because I hadn't completely fleshed it out. I wanted to continue styling spaces but I didn't want to be a visual merchandiser anymore. I wanted something more meaningful and purpuseful; not that I was trying to save the world, but I wanted to really feel connected to what I was doing. I contemplated going back to complete my architecture degree... but I knew in my heart of hearts, I still didn't want to be an architect; at least not in the traditional sense of what I knew an architect to be. So then I considered interior design but I honestly had no real grasp of what "interior design" was because for years I'd seen the title used in so many different ways. What exactly did an interior designer do? And how? I had no idea how I fit into all of this because I didn't really fit into any of it. I just knew whatever it is I was going to do, I wasn't going to get there by working for someone else and trying to climb up someone else's ladder.
During this time of self evaluation, I had become a new mom, a new wife, and a new student. It was an exciting time but also a very overwhelming time; so I needed a shortcut. I started looking at what other designers and entrepreneurs were doing and how there were doing it.
Fun Fact: you can't copy and paste life.
We’ve all heard the adage, “home is where the heart is”, and I don’t know anyone who’s ever disputed that to be true. So besides “the heart” what makes a home, a home? What does that even mean? Okay let’s think about it this way… have you ever gone to someone’s house and it’s simply beautiful? It’s so beautiful, it’s breathtaking? Yet it didn’t feel “homey”? Well that’s the difference right there — a house is a structure; walls, beams, paint, fixtures, etc; a home, however, is much more than that…
So what goes into creating a home?
Now it’s time for the fun stuff, so break out your credit cards and let’s start shopping
We always think about making sure we don’t let our physical selves get run down but what’s to be said for the space that’s supposed our place of refuge — our homes? How good will we really feel if, even though we don’t look run down, our home does? I don’t know too many people who, after a long crap day, wouldn’t mind walking into a space that looks (and therefore feels) like peace. Think of the next step as a spa treatment for your home. You’ve purged, cleansed, and organized; time to rejuvenate!