IDzinechat: Interior Designers help you on Twitter

Over the last 9 months, I have had the great privilege of getting to know a phenomenal group of women in the interior design world (and great gentleman too). We have shared design successes and frustrations, asked each other questions and gotten to know one another all via Twitter.  Now, we read each other’s blogs and comment and sometimes we even blog about each other!  We follow each other on Facebook, link on LinkedIn and generally support one another.  I’m not sure where we are going or how it’s going to all turn out, but one thing I know is this – I am loving the ride.

I am the first to admit that I went into social media kicking and screaming.  I am still a technophobe and require a great deal of technical handholding.  I still can’t understand how anyone with any business sense would respect an app called Twitter.  And I still can’t quite get my head around doing a Facebook fan page, not because I don’t see it’s value (I do), but because I have not yet figured out how to make the Facebook model work for me and for my business.

That being said, all of social media, and Twitter most of all, has been one of the most rewarding though frequently challenging experiences of my life.  As a ‘mompreneur’, there are only so many hours in the day for work, family, networking, volunteering.  While I do meet with people at events and have coffee, I am still limited.  And frankly, some of that is by choice.  I have a strict rule that I miss out on tucking in DD no more than 3 nights a week.  And one of those night is reserved for date night with my husband (my secret to a great marriage – but that’s another post).  But through social media, I can connect with other designers and people in our trade, while my daughter is sleeping and my clients are enjoying their own lives.  The other challenge is that I have had to take everything I learned about marketing in business school 13 years ago and turn it upside down, sideways and backwards.

Simply said, the old rules don’t apply.  There have been a few frustrations with that (well how else do we grow?), but many rewards.  If your childhood dream was to write and for people to read what you write, start a blog.  What could be more simple?  And if you’re not sure how, well not too many people are going to follow your blog at the beginning.  Just keep writing and you will figure it out.  If you want to connect with a whole bunch of new and exciting people across the globe, join Twitter.  If you want to see what your old buddies from high school are up to, join Facebook.  And the list goes on…

But one admonition, you had better have patience and be prepared to be completely real, because that is what the new model entails.  Success will not come over night and people will know when you’re blowing smoke or just in it for you.  I remember being jealous of people with over 1,000 followers.  Now I am one of them.  I still can’t quite believe it and frankly would be supremely happy even if I didn’t have 1,000, because the relationships I have already built are so great.  Of course, I welcome more!

1,000 followers did not happen over night.  I believed in it.  I was passionate about it.  And I worked at it.  Still do, still am and still do.  Day in and day out building relationships, just like in real life.  I know too many people who take a stab at social media, don’t even attempt to learn the rules, and vanish into thin air or worse yet crash and burn.

After nearly a year on Twitter and about 9 months blogging, I am just beginning to reap the ‘rewards’ of that hard work.  I am in the process of putting together a Look Book for the Decorating Diva @DecoratingDiva, which is due any day now…aaaahhh…  Never realized how hard it would be to choose from so many options!

I have gotten some speaking opportunities through various social media including blogging.  I have gotten a client through LinkedIn.  I have been able to generate some more traditional PR as an outgrowth of my involvement in social media.  All that aside, I have learned so much from the people I have met from so many different walks of life.  I wish I had a way to get all 1,000 + of us in one big room – it would be so much fun!

The absolute pinnacle so far has been the honor of being asked to be one of the designers to participate in IDzinechat (#IDzinechat).  Leslie Carothers – @tkplesie suggested to Wanda – @WandaSHorton that we have a scheduled Twitter event – a Design Chat.  Wanda did a magnificent job of arranging the first one.  If I listed all of the great designers here I would inevitably miss someone and then feel horrible about it.  But if you go to #IDzinechat you will find everyone and the great conversations.

Those of us asked to be the design experts, so to speak, were given instructions to answer questions and get to know what consumers wanted.  There was to be no advertisement, no promotion of our own businesses.  Imagine that?  Free design advice based on consumer needs.  We had a free-flowing conversation that knocked my socks off.  I could hardly keep up with it.  The hardest part was explaining the how to of interior design in 140 characters.  We had experts in all areas from kitchen design to draperies to feng shui.  The best part is we were all keeping it real.

It was simply unbelievable.  The next day I was still floating on air.  Still am.

Bottom line:  I can’t wait to do it again.

Would love to hear about how you are keeping it real…

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Treasure Thursday: Great Furniture for Interior Design

Another new series in the ongoing revamping of my blog.

Each week, I will show one great piece of furniture that I just oooh and aaaah over.  For the record, all of my choices are my own and are not paid endorsements or the like…

This week’s choice is from Irwin Feld Design.  Marcy, aka @irwinfelddesign, and I tweet often.  I have fallen in love with the furniture in their showroom here in Stamford, CT.  They are one of the few, if not only, modern showrooms here in antiques loving CT.  Of course, pretty soon, modern will fit under the moniker of antique (anything that is over 100 years old)!

Red Velvet Ottomans Irwin Feld Design

Red of course!  I do seem to have an interior design love affair with red.  I love the line of these ottomans, the color, the plush velvet contrasting with the nailheads.

Another view in the Gallery

I found this ottoman as I am putting together a Look Book for the Decorating Diva, which will be out in mid-March.  I decided to create a dining room inspiration instead, so this did not make the cut, sorry Marcy.  But stay tuned, because my Look Book will have a different piece from Irwin Feld Design.

Magical Monday: Relaxed Elegance (interior design style)

This Dining Room by designer Stephan Eicker is bold in chocolate brown and red.  First, this is just a color combination I don’t see very often and in two words, love it.  The pops of red draw the eye up to the sconces and who doesn’t want to sink into the oh so comfortable looking leather chairs with the great nailhead detail.

Love how the alternating horizontal bands of chocolate and white set off the art and pick up the dark flooring.  The draperies are perfectly neutral so your eye moves to the center of the room.  For all of the intensity of color in this room, it is refreshingly underdesigned.  Do you know how you don’t wear all of your jewelry all at once?  Well this jewel box of a room would have gone awry if there were one more detail added.

This is interior design at its best – breathtaking, elegant and yet still relaxed.  Can’t you just imagine drinking wine, eating a sumptuous meal and laughing for hours with friends here?  I can!

I would love to hear what you think.  What is your dream dining room for relaxing with family and friends?

This Magical Monday interior design brought to you by House & Garden magazine UK, October 2009.

Happy Chinese New Year! Interior Design Inspiration is Everywhere

What could be more fun that escaping reality for a day with your family!  At the last minute we jumped into the car and headed into New York City to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  I love how we can drive an hour from Fairfield County and feel like we have entered another part of the world…

We took the subway to Canal Street, because C loves riding the subway.  Really, C loves everything about the city.  It must be the vibe.  We break out the stroller, which she loathes.  But… for the city, she will gladly ride in style.  It’s just so much easier for us to keep tabs in a busy crowd with C firmly planted in her stroller.  At nearly 5, she is getting way too big for the stroller, but I digress.

We started our day out with the most delicious dim sum at Ping’s and then walked all around Chinatown.

Onward to our trip in photos…  My design eye is never turned off so the camera is a must!

Fish Market

You really have to know fish to buy at these markets.  The freshest fish around – outside of Fulton Fish Market – heads, tails and all!

Brilliant Colors

Kites, flowers, toys… kid paradise…

Bracelets

I love the simplicity of the bracelets lined up in rows by colors – eye candy.

Shopping

I am ever attracted to fretwork on furniture and a big fan of greek key design – must be the simplicity of the lines and the pattern.

More fretwork

What can I say?  Drawn to it…  One day I will find the perfect large panel of fretwork and it will be mine for our master bedroom headboard.

More shopping

Because it’s hard to be an interior designer, if you don’t like to shop.  Just have to say, perfect pair of plump pigs because I can.  LOL!  A sense of humor, doesn’t hurt either.

Chinese Dragons

You can bet C insisted on taking home one of the dragons.  Can you guess which color?  Why pink of course…

Tea

Buying loose leaf jasmine tea for my dear friend who adores it.  I just happen to love jasmine too.

Candy

What could be more fun than lots and lots of glass jars filled with candy? Enough said…

Confetti

You can’t have a parade without confetti.  Right?  Right?  Right?  Really. So. Cool.

Brrrr...

Brrrr… or why we had to leave before the parade started.  We secured our great viewing spot at 12 noon for the 1pm parade.  At 1:30pm, the parade had still not started.  I have to confess that even I was getting tired of waiting.  I give C credit for hanging in that long.  And what fun is it to be bundled up to the eyes for a parade?

So we called it a day and went back to the apartment for a “picnic” of hot chocolate, cheese and grapes – much more fun than sitting outside in the cold.  Our parade viewing will just have to wait til next year.  Or til Disney where hopefully, it will be a bit warmer!

Starting tomorrow, I will be posting “Magic Mondays” – each Monday a view of one breath-taking room that I think is magical.  This is all part of my overhaul to my blog and other social media.  Let me know what you think!

A Little Snow Music (or the Sound of Interior Design)

View from the Deck

The other night as I was driving home under the branches heavy laden with snow, I couldn’t help but think how the music I was listening to fit the mood of the view.  It was Scarlatti’s Sonata No. 118 as played by Horowitz.

The first time I heard this music played on a piano was by Chick Corea at Caramoor.  I was in love with the purity of the sound.  And it reminded me of the purity of the fresh fallen snow.  I am yearning to be back at Caramoor, preferably with the same great friends who go us hooked.  Caramoor is an outdoor music space in the most beautiful garden setting you can imagine.  Are you seeing that this is going along the lines of my “I am so sick of winter and I can’t wait for spring” theme? Yeah, ok, so I won’t go there again…

Music (and lighting but that’s a post for another day) is a critical element to any interior design scheme.  Whether your budget is along the lines of a Bose Ipod docking station or a full-fledged state of the art integrated sound system, having the ability and the place to enjoy great music is incredibly important.  Gone are the days when you had to have 4 or 5 components on an ugly rack with extra-large speakers.  So let’s take a quick look at some of the options that are out there in musicland.

Bose Ipod Sound Dock

What could be easier that a Bose Ipod docking station?  Our home was already built in the plank and beam style and laid out so that we could not run wires to create an entire home sound system.  I love to listen to music in my living room, while reading a good book.  I love that my Ipod has all of my music in one place.  My saint of a husband downloaded all of my CDs and separated them into files.  Have friends coming over for the holidays?  Simply select the Christmas file and let the party begin.

Sonos BU150 Multiroom Music System

Now this is tempting…  Sonos has a multi-room music system.  I have not yet tried it, as I have generally been against using wireless systems.  But technology is changing so rapidly that I plan to test run this system soon.

If you are in the market for a full fledged state of the art sound system for your home, we will take a trip to Southport to meet at Westfair TV’s showroom.  They are great people to work with and know all the latest in technology.  Put your feet up, watch the big screen and be prepared to be amazed by the sound quality and the knowledge of the salespeople!

To hear Horowitz playing Scarlatti, click here 07 Sonata In F Minor, L.118_ Andante.

As many of you know, I am not the most technical person and this is my first venture in to using music on a post (thank you Melissa Galt).   If you know how to set up WordPress so that the music plays during the post, please let me know!

And if you have a favorite music system, your comments are always welcome.  I would love to hear your thoughts…

Social Media Near Disaster Averted (or Thank God I have a Facebook Account)

I just had a near miss on a social media disaster.  I was copying the third part of my latest blog and lost it!  First thought, PANIC!  I have to confess, I am a bit of a Type A perfectionist.  I meditate several times a day to offset this.

Second thought: stop, don’t think and breathe.  OK, breathe some more.  Not thinking is still a relatively new thing for me, so it took a good bit of breathing.

Instead of old me swirling through the 100 reasons why I will never remember my brilliant point and just what was my brilliant point, I stopped long enough to think of another option.  My friends would be so proud…  LOL!

And here’s what happened.  Breathing helped me to redirect my thought process.

New thought:  where could I have this information so that I wouldn’t have to reinvent it?  Hmmm… I didn’t write in in Word.  I wrote it straight into WordPress.  Step One: search WordPress for a back up copy.  Ok, no luck.  Breathe.  Breathe again.

Where else have I posted this?  Aha… Facebook!  Maybe, just maybe… Facebook has my brilliant thought.

Yes!  Crisis averted.  Amazing.  Cut, paste, save.  What could be easier?

Breathe…ahhhhh…doesn’t that feel great?

Five Things my (nearly) Five Year Old Daughter Taught me About Interior Design

Frank Lloyd Wright meets Cesar Pelli

1.  Loosen up. When I was in Fairfield’s Interior Design Program, I discovered that I rendered pretty tightly.  I envied one of my classmates, Maggie, who had this loose relaxed style of watercoloring.  It was beautiful.  DD loves to watercolor and I have joined her.  It is so much fun!  And it has really loosened up my drawing style.  I still prefer my pastels but now they are a whole lot smudgier (is that a word?).  I had to show these wonderful Valentine’s cakes (below) my daughter made because they are so creative, cute and so not perfect.  Like her art, made with love.

Yum

2.  A new perspective on my home and my clients’ homes or how to make a home kid friendly without losing the adults.  I live this every day.  What I mean is this: after you install all the safety locks and gates etc… (call me if you don’t know where to get started on this), get some small open bins, stash the toys in them and then put the bins into cabinets at the end of the day.  I know, I know, we can’t fit the dollhouse and the play kitchen in the cabinets (ahhh…for an extra closet), but we can get all those little bits our adorable little people collect off the floor so we don’t step on them.  And no reason, little hands can’t pitch those items right into those bins with a bit of a race incentive against mom or dad.  Voila, space transformed!  I see my rug.   Off to bed, little one, mom and dad are lighting a fire and opening a bottle of red wine.  CSI anyone?

3. Speaking of perspective – See. Really SEE the world. Every. Amazing. Breathtaking. Detail. Each moment in time. What could be better than lying flat on the grass on a warm summer’s day looking up at the clouds and guessing the shapes? Right now anything with warm and sunny in it sounds amazing, but at 20 degrees and (brrr…) white blanketing the ground, I digress… Though I am up for some sledding tomorrow morning before it melts! Which brings me to #4.

Fresh snow...delicious...

4.  Be a kid again. Build Lego towers.  Don’t you just love Legos?  The tower in the first photo is built my daughter.  I know this because I asked my husband and babysitter and they didn’t build it, which pretty much leaves DD and the cat.  And cats don’t have opposable thumbs, soooo…  The sky-high garage tower with the helipad on top has a later Frank Lloyd Wright quality with a twist of Cesar Pelli (architect of 2IFC in Hong Kong).  Don’t you think?  I can’t help it, I’m a designer.  And this is a design blog.

Point is just get out there and go crazy.  Play.  Get creative.  Make snow angels.  Build a snowman.   Eat snow.  If you are in a warm clime (oh, how I envy you), build sandcastles – perhaps skip eating the sand.  But do laugh until your sides hurt.  Breathe in the air deeply.  Dance.  Live.  Dream.

Wonder where she gets her love of shoes? LOL!

5.  Speaking of dreaming, here’s an entrepreneurial lesson.  The other day in the car, I asked DD what she wants to be when she grows up.  I expected to hear Spanish teacher or fire man or Clara (from The Nutcracker) or …  But this is (approximately) what she said.  “Mama, I’m going to be a fashion designer.  I’m going to make skirts and dresses in lots of colors.  I’m going to have a store where all the skirts and dresses are and people can come shop…”  My Grandma went to fashion design school and then worked in a millinery in the 1920s.  Can you imagine how cool the hats were?  So it’s a great dream and may be not such a stretch.  One never knows.

No matter what, don’t dream small, dream BIG.  I mean really big.  Map it out.  Envision each detail.  Write it down.  Cut out pictures of your dream and put them on your vision board.

Dream it.  SEE it.  Build it. Live it.  BE it.

Get it?

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