Interior Design

caboomsign.jpgCA Boom: the West Coast Design Show kicks off this Friday, March 14 – 16, in Santa Monica, CA. If you’ve never attended this event, I highly recommend it for both professional and aspiring designers. The focus of the show is non-traditional, modern and contemporary design and architecture. Besides getting a look at the newest products and furnishings from well-known brands like Herman Miller, Fleetwood and Scavolini, this year’s CA Boom will also feature a new modern kitchen and bathroom section.My favorite part of the show however, is the Design + Architecture Home Tours. Each day CA Boom gives tours of new or newly renovated homes in one of three neighborhoods (Pacific Palisades on Friday, West LA on Saturday, and Venice/Santa Monica on Sunday). Attendees can visit up to five residences each day and meet the architects or designers of each home. Shuttles are provided and it’s an excellent way to meet with top notch architects and get great ideas. This alone makes the show worthwhile. Friday is open to trade only, and Saturday and Sunday are open to the public. Check it out!

As an experienced designer, I’m asked a wide range of questions from people who are looking to hire someone like me. For some, this is the first time they have worked with a designer. Others may have had a negative experience in the past and don’t want a repeat performance.I welcome all questions because if the client feels good about whom they have chosen to redecorate their home, the overall process will run much more smoothly and the end result will meet, if not exceed their expectations.Here are five things I think everyone should take into consideration when choosing and working with a designer in order to ensure the best possible results.1. Ask for references from people you know. If you like someone’s home, ask for the name of their designer. What was their overall experience working with the designer? Did they stay on budget? Was the job completed in the timeframe that was agreed upon? Did the designer come to them with good ideas? Were there any problems on the job and how were they addressed?Although it is good to get references from a designer directly, just know that you will be given the names and numbers of the happiest clients. Ask for references of clients who went through a similar remodel to the one you are considering (i.e. kitchen remodel) so you can compare apples to apples. And don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions that I’ve listed above.2. Make sure your contractors are licensed. If you are remodeling your home, always confirm that the people who will be handling the construction are licensed and that they are covered by insurance. Sometimes the temptation to go with an unlicensed contractor is strong if you are on a tight budget. But, if you work with an unlicensed contractor and something goes wrong, you have no recourse for settling the dispute and it may end up costing more in the end. Licensed contractors are held to a higher standard and will be much more apt to resolve a problem than risk having you take it up with the license board.If a designer doesn’t work with a team of regular contractors already, make sure they have experience handling a project of your size. Otherwise, you may be given an estimate that is way too low than the actual cost of the job and you may run into communication problems between the designer and contractor.3. Pictures are helpful and recommended. I recently began working with a client who told me that their style was contemporary, and I presented a plan based on what I viewed as contemporary. Their definition of contemporary and my definition were quite different. Designers may have good taste and know where to find the best products, but they are not psychic. Pick up a few magazines and cut out pictures of rooms you like and furniture pieces you’re drawn to. This is extremely beneficial to a designer and will ensure that they find the best pieces for your home.4. Track project details and budget. If you are working on a remodel, it is especially important that you hire a designer who provides a detailed schedule as to what will be completed when. In addition, they should also give you regular updates on the budget. The last thing you want is to find out that you’ve blown your budget by 50 percent and the job will take twice as long as expected. You should be communicating with your designer on a regular basis and know where you stand on the project and budget at all times.5. Trust your designer. I don’t advise giving your designer carte blanche to do whatever they want to your home, but I do recommend letting your designer push you out of your comfort zone a bit. One of the benefits of having a good designer is that they can take your vision and make it more than what you could have ever done on your own – you just have to let them. They have expertise on what colors work best in what lighting, access to furniture pieces you’ve never come across, and can help you avoid the most common decorating mistakes.Lastly, choose a designer that you like. In fact, many of my clients I now count among my friends. Is this someone you can see yourself spending time with? If you trust and enjoy your designer’s company, you will have a much more positive overall experience and a result that truly reflects who you are.

Many people today seem to be taking steps to go green – they recycle, car pool, buy in bulk…But when it comes to light bulbs, I’ve noticed that most folks have a hard time switching from the incandescent light bulb we all grew up with to the energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) on the market today.Their reasons for not switching are plentiful:

  • They cost is too high
  • They are ugly
  • Don’t like the light it emits
  • Too much effort to recycle

I’m not going to explain how CFLs work, that’s what Wikipedia is for. But I can tell you that today there are many great reasons and new options that make fluorescent an excellent choice when choosing lighting for your home.1. CFLs are the most affordable option on the market today. In fact, they use 75 percent less energy and last ten times longer than incandescent bulbs. The result is a savings of $30 or more in electricity costs over the life of the light bulb. I don’t know about you, but I hate changing light bulbs – especially when they are located in a hard to reach area. And if you live in a large home, a $30 savings per light bulb adds up to quite a bit.2. There are many, many options to choose from today. When most people think of CFLs, they picture the curly shaped bulb that looks like this:clf-bulb.jpgMost incandescent bulbs today can be replaced with CFLs that look almost identical. All the commonly used light bulbs below are actually fluorescent.clf-bulb-2.jpg

3. CFLs now give off the same warm inviting light that incandescent light bulbs do, and most are even labeled with the equivalent to the incandescent light bulb you are replacing. Soft white, three way switch, or dimmer – they are all now available in fluorescent.

4. OK, I’m not going to lie to you; CFLs are not the easiest thing to recycle. Although it is legal in many US states to dispose of CFLs in your regular trash, the best thing you can do is take them to a recycling center. But the payoff is huge. According to ENERGY STAR, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a CFL bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.As you can see, it is easier than ever to do your part to help the environment without having to sacrifice on attractive and effective lighting.


il-furniture.jpgMany of my clients have started to ask for eco-chic furniture for their homes. There are a number of great designers out there, like Jill Salisbury (above), founder and designer of Environmental Language (el), who strictly follow the definition of eco-friendly. If you are looking for these types of pieces, you should have an understanding of today’s current environmental standards. There are six key things that should be considered when you are shopping for eco-friendly furniture:

  1. Reclaimed or recycled wood – This means that an existing tree did not have to be cut down to make the furniture piece.
  2. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified – Products bearing the FSC logo are guaranteed that the wood comes from a certified well-managed forest.
  3. Highly renewable products – These are woods that grow/replenish themselves at an extremely rapid rate. Wood that falls under this category includes bamboo, beech and lyptus.
  4. When it comes to adhesives and finishes, stick to products with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Water-based products have the lowest levels of VOCs and will ensure that your furniture does not emit harmful fumes. Bioshield is a company that makes paint and finishers derived from natural and easily-renewable resources without harmful chemicals, toxins and additives. Its paints, stains, thinners and waxes are made from natural materials including citrus peel extracts, essential oils, seed oils, tree resins, inert mineral fillers, tree and bee waxes.
  5. Avoid formaldehyde. One of the main ingredients in core materials like MDF, formaldehyde is toxic and is also found in adhesives and finishes.
  6. It is also beneficial if you can buy products made locally ensuring that it took less energy and created less pollution transporting the product to you.

Below are a few eco-chic pieces that I’ve recently come across:rc-green-sofa.jpgThis sofa by RC Green incorporates a number of eco-friendly materials. The sofa frame is made of FSC certified wood and the springs and screws are made of recycled steel. All glues and stains are non-toxic, water-based and formaldehyde-free, and the cushions are made of natural latex wrapped in 100% organic wool and organic cotton with pillows of natural feathers.greenmodwoodweb1.jpgThis Green:Mod bedroom dresser utilizes bamboo for the frame and FSC certified birch plywood for the interior (both materials are made with formaldehyde-free adhesives.) The front is made of domestic solid walnut and it is finished with a low VOC water-based lacquer for healthier indoor air quality.rugs.jpgIn2green makes beautiful throw blankets using eco conscious materials. I love these two prints in particular for $125 each.

recliner.jpgI recently came across this leather flight recliner at Design Within Reach. Besides the fact that it comes in 12 different colors, it has a great retro look with really clean lines. I love recliners as much as the next person, but have always disliked their bulkiness and the amount of space they take up. This one has a small footprint and takes up very little room when opened making it a great option for a small space. No wooden reclining arm sticking out of the side either! Jeffrey Bernett’s experience designing ergonomic in-flight seating for Northwest Airlines definitely came into play here and resulted in a great piece.

Have you ever noticed how calm and relaxed your life seems to be after you’ve organized your closet, papers/documents, garage or a particular area of your home? The very idea of having my junk drawer cleaned out or electronic gear organized is enough to keep me happy for days. With this in mind, many designers and home decorating stores are offering great storage pieces that are practical, stylish and help keep our lives a little bit more organized. Here are a few items that can be found in popular stores now.


Gone are the days of the gray metal filing cabinet. Not only are they available in different colors, some are indistinguishable from nice furniture pieces. Above is one from Crate & Barrel that would be great for a home office.


These clean looking canvas boxes from West Elm are excellent for holding seasonal clothing and can be collapsed when not in use. The one on the bottom with the window is actually a hanging shelf drawer that expands to nearly 20” long.


With iPods, digital cameras, cell phones and PDAs now the norm, there is a definite need for centralized charging stations that keep wires hidden and all of your frequently used electronic devices powered up. This year, I’m starting to see a few on the market that look good and serve their purpose. This wooden one is also available in black and mahogany stain at Pottery Barn for $79.


These folders are great for getting organized and color coding your important papers. They just went on sale at The Container Store for $5 a six-pack.



This bed just came out from Design Within Reach and has lots of extra storage for blankets, clothes or anything else you need to hide. Below is also the Sapien Bookcase from the same company. Not only does this piece display literature in an interesting and visually appealing way, it takes up much less space than regular bookshelves. Each shelf holds up to 20 lbs. and the tall shelf will hold up to 70 books.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’ve decided to feature my favorite new “red” discoveries.

This three-drawer chest done in distressed red lacquer would look amazing in a luxurious French style bedroom. I especially like the matching mirror. These pieces can be purchased through Williams Sonoma Home.

I can see this Ralph Lauren Home velvet chair in a den or library. The U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego was built in 1910 and recently got a $56 million makeover. The décor of this historical landmark is amazing – a great mix of old and new – and this chair would fit right in.

It’s easy and affordable to spice up any room with pillows, and this great red-toned pillow cover is available for only $7.99 at IKEA. Their popular LINNARP bookshelf with tempered glass doors is also available in red for $349. I’m really drawn to its clean lines and think it would add some pizzazz to a home office.

Looking for the perfect entry piece? Above is a great console table from Pottery Barn in Ming Red. The best thing about this piece of furniture, besides the great color, is that the middle drawer includes five plug-in points for cell phones, digital cameras and other devices. I wish more furniture pieces included this feature.

Do you have any favorite red pieces or rooms you’d like to share?

I’m Deborah Cañedo, an interior designer born and raised in beautiful Southern California. I started this blog as a way to share some of my favorite design tips, ideas and products.

My design philosophy is called Modern Mix. I believe that modern isn’t defined by a particular era or style, but rather the way a particular design idea or unique architectural detail enhances and celebrates an individual’s personal style. I try and capture my clients’ individuality by integrating personal tastes with modern interpretations, textures and colors to create an updated, fresh look.

In 2000, I started Cañedo Décor and currently work with a wide range of high-end residential and commercial clients. I’m very fortunate to work with an amazing team of contractors and product experts that allow me to not only take on design consulting jobs, but also major renovations.

My inspiration is my grandfather who is a retired contractor and jack-of-all trades. He built his own home of 70 years as well as my childhood home that is still in the family today.


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