I will preface this by saying that I have some great clients. But all business owners will admit that there are a few things that clients do that make their job a bit tougher…OK a lot tougher. :-) My biggest pet peeve as a designer is lack of trust. One of the main reasons designers are hired is because we have the experience to help make a client’s dream and vision a reality. The key word here is “experience.”We know which materials work best with specific applications and have access to products our clients didn’t even know existed. Designers have a good understanding of the best colors because we have painted and accessorized more rooms in a few months or years than a client will have done in his/her entire life. Additionally, designers are constantly reading, visiting design centers and going to trade shows, so we have an excellent understanding of what the latest trends are in design.It is understood that designers should always keep their client’s vision top of mind and they should not do whatever they want with a client’s project (unless the client gives the designer carte blanche – a designer’s dream come true!). But I can say from personal experience, when clients let their designers push them out of their comfort zone – even just a little bit – the outcome exceeds their expectations and results in a much more beautiful room and satisfying experience. Trust your designer!

Asian-inspired furniture and accessories have seen increased popularity in recent years. I personally love the timeless quality of pieces from Asia and the feeling of serenity they bring to a living or work space. Below are a few pieces I’ve come across that blend in well when mixed with other decorating styles. With so many options to choose from today, it is easy to add subtle Asian touches to your personal space.asian-barstools.jpgAbove are Shinto bar stools from Green Tea Design based on the classic Chinese farmers’ stools found in the countryside. Not only are they beautiful, they are comfortable too. Are you an eco friendly decorator? All of Green Tea Design’s furniture is built from reclaimed wood salvaged from Korean farmhouses. And for those on a budget, Target has a great substitute in cherry.asian-buddah.jpgOne of my avorite sources for pieces is Eastern Serenity, an importer of Southeast Asian décor. Their store features a wide range of pillows, furniture, wall art, statues and much more. The above Khmer Style Deva statue in bronze would look fantastic on a side table, mantel or office desk.asian-candle-holders.jpgI also came across these twisted candles holders at Eastern Serenity that are carved from mango wood, a popular material in the Thai culture. Mango wood is frequently used by craftsmen because of its workability, light weight and ability to hold finishes.asian-pillow.jpgAs I’ve said in the past, pillows are an excellent way to mix in different colors and styles. This Thomas Paul Chinoiserie linen pillow from Design Public is the color of corn and features silhouettes of geishas and classic Asian scenes, and would really make an impact on a sofa.asian-desk.jpgLastly, this Shinto desk available at High Fashion Home is made of solid walnut from responsibly forested trees in China. An extremely well made piece of furniture, it contains no nails or screws because it was constructed using a Chinese wood joinery technique.I’m always on the lookout for unique Asian pieces, so please send me some of your favorites!

faucet-2.jpg faucet-3.jpgMade by Kohler, it’s called the Karbon Articulating Kitchen Faucet, and it is one of the most unique and innovative pieces of kitchen hardware I’ve come across in quite awhile. I’m using it for a home remodel and am so happy the homeowners love it as much as I do. It features five pivoting joints so you can literally move it in any position you desire. Not only does it look good, it’s extremely functional and can easily extend to reach any area of your sink. And when not in use, it folds up completely!

 hd-expo.jpgNext week I’ll be heading to the HD (Hospitality Design) Expo & Conference in Las Vegas and I look forward to sending back some reports. The expo lasts three days and there are over 1,000 exhibitors. Needless to say, I’ll be wearing comfortable shoes! I’ve enjoyed working with a number of hotel clients and expect I’ll get some great ideas to use in the future.A few of the sessions I plan on attending include the Green Day sessions, Economic Forecast and Todd Oldham’s talk on Design Conversation. In addition to the sessions, there is a networking event where I’ll have the opportunity to meet others in the industry and share experiences and challenges. To be continued…

Now that winter has passed, my mailbox is full of catalogs featuring outdoor furniture. I’ve definitely seen an increase in options over the last few seasons. No longer are homeowners limited to wicker or teak. Today there are many materials to choose from that stand up to the elements. Additionally, today’s outdoor furniture can be just as stylish as the furniture in your home. It’s not uncommon to see sectional couches and even daybeds in an outdoor space.When creating a furnished outdoor space, there are three things to consider: Style, Materials and Accessoriesoutdoor-chaise.jpgoutdoor-classic.jpgStyle – As mentioned, there are many styles to choose from, so where do you begin? A good rule of thumb is to choose something that blends in with your indoor furniture. For example, the chaise lounge above in espresso would be a good choice for a modern home, whereas the curved sofa and matching side chair might work better in a more traditional home or in a tropical garden.Materials – Once you’ve determined the style of furniture for your outdoor space, you next need to take into consideration the material of which it is made. Wicker tends to erode over time so many outdoor furniture manufacturers have introduced resin made pieces that look like wicker but hold up amazingly well to UV rays, rain, sand and dirt.When considering wood, teak is a tropical hardwood that stands up extremely well to the outside and can even be left untreated because of its natural oils. And if you like the look of metal, you have many options – cast iron, cast aluminum, forged iron and bronze to name a few. Don’t forget to ask if it has been treated as some metals can rust. And if you have put aside a generous budget for your outdoor space, furniture covers are recommended. They not only protect the furniture from the elements, you won’t have to clean the furniture as frequently.outdoor-pillows.jpgWhen selecting cushions, pillows and umbrellas for your patio, make sure the material is stain resistant and fade resistant or your furniture will look old and drab in no time. These two pillows in an Asian textile motif are from Pottery Barn and made of spun polyester which also stays cool and comfortable. They are so stylish, you’d never know they were made for the outdoors!outdoor-dinnerware.jpgoutdoor-light.jpgoutdoor-run.jpgAccessories – Lastly, don’t forget to add the finishing touches. Rugs, attractive outdoor dinnerware, lighting (candles, lanterns, hanging lights, chandeliers), and even curtains will all help bring the look together. The soji lantern above is actually solar powered. You are really only limited to your imagination when it comes to creating an outdoor space, so have fun!

Pick up any fashion or design magazine and you will quickly recognize that this spring is all about color. Hot pinks, bright greens, bold yellows and one of my favorites – orange! Below are a few unique orange furniture pieces and accessories that are sure to brighten up any room.orange-desk.jpgThis orange parsons desk from West Elm is a great choice if you are interested in bringing life to a neutral colored space, such as a home office. It would work well as a console to greet you in an entryway. They call this color “polished saffron” and even managed to fit in two drawers.orange-chair.jpgOne thing to remember about orange is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be bright or neon. I love this spicy orange chair from Room & Board because it features a really rich, vibrant shade of orange. This would be equally beautiful in a home done in warm fall colors as well as a beach-inspired home decorated in relaxing colors of sandy browns, spa greens and turquoise blues.orange-swival-chair.jpgIf you have a modern space, here is chair from Room & Board that is just for you. Called the Sutro Swivel Chair, the smooth curved lines and rich orange leather could easily be the standout piece in a mid-century living room.orange-lamp.jpgFor those of you who want to add a splash of color without spending a lot of money, consider this affordable script desk lamp from CB2. This lamp is a modern twist on the classic pharmacy lamp done in hi-gloss orange lacquer for under $60. I can easily see this practical and eye catching lamp sitting on matching bedside tables.orange-pillow.jpgIt’s safe to say that most people wouldn’t feel comfortable painting a room orange (I’m the exception!). For those who don’t want to go so bold, small splashes of color on items such as pillows can also update a drab room. This luxurious velvet pillow features a graphic floral pattern in orange. Pillows are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to experiment with color because unlike paint, you can swap out pillows seasonally.

I really enjoy throwing dinner parties at my home because I believe that small groups of old and new friends, and an intimate setting are the perfect formula for interesting and stimulating conversation. If you are thinking about throwing a dinner party, here are a few of my favorite tips to guarantee you and your guests will have a memorable evening.Make clean up as easy as possiblebamboo-plates-1.jpgDon’t you hate that moment after the last guest has left and you enter the kitchen to find it piled high with dirty dishes? I do, but I couldn’t imagine using disposable plates…until now. These environmentally friendly bamboo plates from World Market are intended for one-time use and are much more chic than paper or styrofoam plates. Made of organic bamboo, they are biodegradable and peeled directly from the stalk. They are sold in three sizes starting at $4.99 for a set of eight.Go with a themecocktail-napkins.jpgTo spice things up, I usually try and have a theme for the evening that ties in the food and the décor. Although I like to use cloth cocktail napkins whenever possible, I recently couldn’t pass up these colorful paper cocktail napkins from Crate & Barrel. The bright colors and psychedelic design would be perfect for a sixties themed event. Now I just have to figure out what I would serve!?Create an ambiance with lightingsmart-candles.jpgThere is nothing like candles to create a warm and intimate setting, and I love to have them all around my living and dining room when I have guests over. That said, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found wax melted on pieces of furniture or dripped on carpet at the end of the evening. I came across these smart candles from Crate & Barrel recently and they’re great! They give off the same ambient light flicker that real candles do but without the cleanup. They use two AAA batteries which are included.pendant-woven-lamp.jpgAnother lighting option and a definite conversation starter are these abaca pendant lamps from West Elm. They would look amazing strewn outdoors for a spring cocktail party. I especially like them in clusters the way they have them featured in this photo.Make your guests feel specialshell-place-card-holder.jpgSince I live in Southern California, beach parties are a must in the summertime. I was recently given some unique place card holders made from sea shells (I also received matching napkin rings). Place cards are an especially good idea when you are having a diverse group of people to dinner who may not know one another. I think it also adds a special touch because your guests know that you’ve taken the extra time to create the cards and think about seating. These are from a nautical store I found online.

z-gallery-chandelier.jpgMy design philosophy is defined as “modern mix,” and this unique glass chandelier from Z Gallerie is all about modern interpretations. Each of the 230 glass loops is interchangeable, giving you the freedom to configure the shape and length of this one-of-a-kind lighting fixture. I love that this chandelier pays homage to its traditional counterpart, but it’s designed in a very modern way. It would fit right in with a number of design styles, and you can’t beat the price at $295!Where would you hang it in your home?

bamboo-bathroom.jpgWe all love spas, and these bamboo accessories from Crate & Barrel allow you to capture a bit of the spa zen in your very own home. Bamboo can conjure up images of a tiki hut to some, but these pieces feature clean modern lines and warm tones. I’ve also found that really nice but simple soap dishes and dispensers can sometimes be tough to find, so when you see great understated pieces like these, grab them!Additionally, bamboo is not only eco-friendly, it is naturally antimicrobial and moisture-resistant making it the perfect material for a bathroom.

If you are looking for an amazing custom furniture designer or want a unique piece made, one of my favorite vendors to work with is Coverdales, Ltd, located in Poway, Calif. I’ve known the owners Gabriela and Harry Coverdale for a few years now and have had them make numerous pieces for some very satisfied clients.I’ve worked with a number of hospitality clients, and this is Coverdales’ area of specialty. When working with hospitality clients, it’s imperative that you have a vendor that can be relied upon to create a large number of quality pieces, on budget and in a reasonable timeframe. Coverdales’ furnishings can be found in countless hotels including the Four Seasons Biltmore (Santa Barbara), Mandalay Bay Resort (Las Vegas), Las Ventanas (Cabo San Lucas), Trump Taj Mahal (Atlantic City), The Grand Del Mar (San Diego) and many more. This piece is from the Ivy Hotel in San Diego.ivy-cocktail-table.jpgThere are a few things that make Coverdales stand out from other custom manufacturers. One is their attention to detail and ability to work with a variety of materials – stone, wood, metal, even fiberglass! Although Coverdales caters predominately to commercial and hospitality clients, they also work on residential products too. This is a custom piece I had them design for me recently:cocktail-table.JPGLastly, Coverdales’ customer service is unrivaled. As an interior designer, my business is all about keeping customers happy, and working with a team that gives as much attention to their customers as they do to their furnishings is a wonderful thing. I highly recommend Coverdales to anyone interested in well made custom furniture pieces.In the upcoming months I will highlight other vendors and products that I have found to be exceptional and think you might enjoy as well!

Next Page »