The Real Meaning of Christmas: making sense of Sandy Hook

The Real Meaning of Christmas

I usually post about interior design but in light of yesterday’s tragedy just two towns over, I find my heart and mind with the families of Sandy Hook, CT. I just cannot find the right words to begin to express my grief. How do we begin to help those families heal?

As a parent, I am devastated. Where in the parenting handbook is the chapter on how to tell your child 20 kids your age were senselessly massacred yesterday? How do we begin to wrap our heads around this tragedy? How do we continue to live in a world that feels increasingly less safe with each event?

I started this year with the diagnosis of our daughter with Hemophilia C, then the murder of my best friend, got through an historic storm that devastated the lower level of our church, Trinity Episcopal in Southport, and now the most horrific thing that I could ever imagine has happened – innocent children have been shot, witnessed unspeakable acts, had their innocence ripped from them in the moments in which a terribly troubled young man went off the deep end.

And yet what I recognize as real life has swept through my back yard is there are places all across the world, where people suffer these sorts of horrors daily, whether war or famine, children are the innocent recipients of some dreadful messes.

So what is our response this Christmas? Do we just pull the covers up over our heads, bury our heads in the sand or crawl back under our rock?

Or do we work hand in hand with our friends and neighbors to begin to change the world one little corner at a time? You ask how? Where could we possibly start?

Start by looking inside. Do you judge your neighbor for his unkempt lawn? Maybe he has a cold or is taking care of a family member and can’t get to it right now. Are you unkind to the checkout gal who just might be having a bad day? Maybe she has to work a second job to pay the bills and really wants to be home with her kids. Do you walk by the homeless guy and wonder why he doesn’t just get a job? Maybe he was laid off and lost everything.

There are a thousand stories and we cannot begin to know which one any one person is living through right now.

This Christmas, smile a little more, bake your home bound neighbor cookies (that’s what our daughter chose to do), cut someone a little slack, let the harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line, pick up the trash you see on the ground even if isn’t yours, put a coin in the Salvation Army kettle, feed someone at a shelter, listen really listen when your child tells you that long story again, call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time, forgive…

Make one small change each day and one by one we can heal the world!

Wishing you peace, love and light,
Catherine

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Holidays at the Office

Hey, Melanie Solimine here! I am a marketing intern at Avery Design Interiors this fall and a student at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. I am stepping in today, because Catherine is working on her launch for her new website.

Here are some inspirational photos for your holiday interior decoration at your office!

Catherine is passionate about bringing her client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

Thinking about redesigning your office in the new year? To set up your complimentary consultation call, please contact us at info@averydesigninteriors.com.

Love to hear from you in the comments – how are you decorating your office for the holidays?

Simple Gifts – Thanksgiving Table Decor

This Thanksgiving more than ever I have so much to be grateful for. We were fortunate to survive Hurricane Sandy unscathed, but our church did not nor did many of our friends’ homes. As you decorate your home and table, cook up the meal and spend time with family and friends, please take a moment to remember those who are much less fortunate. Perhaps, you could spend the morning serving a meal at a local soup kitchen or donate a turkey to a local organization (we gave ours through our church’s Adopt a Social Worker program, which is a part of Covenant to Care here in Fairfield County, CT) or provide some warm coats and gloves to those who lost everything. Maybe your children can make a Thanksgiving card for a soldier or write a special blessing to say at dinner. Please just take a moment to give thanks.

It is so much fun to help set up my interior design clients homes for holiday parties. Table settings are a great place to start your holiday theme.

stuff-and-nonsense.net

Source: bing.com via Avery on Pinterest

I love how so many of these tablescapes feature fresh fruit and vegetables – after all Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks for the abundance in our lives.

Love to hear from you in the comments below:

How will you decorate for Thanksgiving this year? What are you grateful for?

(For more great holiday decor ideas, head to my Give Thanks board on Pinterest)

How to Choose the Right Office Space: Location, Location, Location

This is the first in a three part series on choosing the right office space for your business.

Whether you are considering expanding out of your home office or just relocating, there are many factors that go into the selection of your new office location even before you start the interior design.

The first rule in real estate is location, location, location. But before anything else, assess your budget. What can you afford to spend on a per square foot basis? How much square footage will that get you in your first, second or third choice neighborhood?

One of my clients was recently faced with an important office decision stay or relocate? Her rent was about to increase 30% one year into her lease. Her number one priority was her office location. She is an investment manager in a small town with a prestigious address. Her clients would expect nothing less. Her office offered her close proximity to home so that she could be home when her children get off the school bus. She could walk to the post office, the train to New York City where she commutes at least once a week to see clients and to downtown for lunch or a cup of coffee.

Getting your office space location right can make or break your business. If you are a retail store, you want to be located with other stores, near lots of foot traffic, restaurants etc. If you are a technology firm, it may be less important to be located down town depending upon the types of employees and clients you want to attract and retain. And then of course there is the precarious balance between budget and your idea of the perfect place.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you start your search.

1. What kind of neighborhood is it? Will your employees feel safe leaving there at any hour? If the cost per square foot is low check to see if the neighborhood has a repuation for safety. Likewise how will your clients feel coming to that neighborhood? Is it easy to get to? What image does the town or city project? Is it hot and trendy? Traditional or family oriented? Urban or suburban?

Source: archinect.com via Avery on Pinterest

Clients will make immediate judgements about your business simply from the address. My client needed her New Canaan, CT business address for that prestige. In Fairfield County, if you are a high end residential interior designer it doesn’t matter if you work from home but you must have a trendy town in your address – think Greenwich or Westport. If you are a corporate interior designer, having the Post Road or Stamford or Norwalk in your address is much better. And you are not nearly as likely to be working from home. Small boutiques fare best in small trendy towns while we expect to see our large corporate offices in our local cities.

2. Is your office readily accessible? What is the transportation like? Can your employees take a bus or a train to work? Is there ample parking for your employees and clients? Keep in mind that if you are interested in green initiatives that these questions take on even greater meaning. Can you provide a bus or van from the train station if you are located too far away? Assess your existing employees daily commute as it is now and compare it to your future location. Consider alternative travel routes for visitors and clients.

3. Which amenities are nearby? Are there local restaurants where your employees can have lunch or you can take a client for a meal? Is there a printer nearby for a last minute brochure? Can your assistant run out for office supplies if needed? Is there a local bank, pharmacy or grocery store, where your employees can run their errands at lunch or cash their paycheck? What about access to day care? Convenience buys lots of employee goodwill.

Next time join us for choosing the right building for your new office in part two of this series.

I am passionate about bringing my client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

To set up your complimentary consultation call for your new office, please contact us at info@averydesigninteriors.com.

Love to hear from you in the comments – what would be your number one factor in choosing your ideal office location?

(all photos found on Pinterest and attributed and linked as above)

How to Design a Productive and Profitable Home Office

Home Offices: Invariably the first thought that comes to mind is “do I want to work from home or in an office?’ Most entrepreneurs have this flexibility and more companies are providing flex time allowing employees the opportunity to choose this option.

I now have an office away from home. I find myself to be far more productive perhaps being away from the siren’s cry of dishes in the sink and laundry to be folded not to mention the countless interruptions by delivery men or the home phone was what led me to take a space. Primarily, I made the move because it’s hard to explain how I design corporate offices and not have one of my own. That being said, there are many who love working from home.

So how does one do this and make it work effectively?

Avery Design Interiors

1. Carefully choose your space. A computer in your bedroom is not a great option. Bedrooms are for sleeping. Either you are going to be falling asleep at the computer or awake late at night thinking about that screen beckoning you for one last email.

I have placed offices in under-utilized dining rooms, kitchens, spare bedrooms, shared guest rooms, basements and even reconfigured closets.

At our Silvermine (Fairfield County, CT) house, we had a large shared office in the spare bedroom (see above). In our current home, we have used the shared guest room technique – small desk, small daybed. My husband has a sizeable home office space in the lower level family room with a large project desk that any of us can use for drawing, fabric layouts or arts and crafts for our youngest office user. In a New York City apartment I created a desk area from a closet.

2. The family balance. Is there really work life balance? That’s a different post. But I know from personal experience that short of a padlock, it’s unrealistic for work at home moms (and dads) to keep their littlest ones out of their home offices.

Source: tipjunkie.com via Avery on Pinterest

Create a small area (if you have enough space) with a mini desk or table and chairs designated just for the kinder set. I love the little seat/nook shown above for a child to curl up in and read a book. This home office was tucked into a closet. Provide them with their own “office supplies” crayons, pencils, etc. so they can “work” too. Children love to help. Have some envelopes you need stuffed and stamped? You might just have an able assistant at your side. Can’t hurt to ask. And after a little while, they just might decide playing with trucks or Barbies is a whole lot more fun.

3. Be sure to invest in a proper chair and lighting. Balancing the laptop on your lap while you sit curled on the sofa all day is asking for hours at the chiropractor. As much as your local chiropractor would love the work, they value your spine and want you to value it too.

Source: houzz.com via Avery on Pinterest

Ideally, you want a sunny spot where the light does not reflect on your computer screen. In the absence of or in addition to natural light, Nikken makes a wonderful full spectrum light called the Kenko II, if you don’t want to bring in an electrician for an overhead electrical overhaul.

Want to learn more about setting up the furnishings in your home office? Click on Office Ergonomics for more details.

(From top: cartoon from Brad Shorr’s guest post on Spark Plug CEO, photo Avery Design Interiors, all other photos from Pinterest)

The World of Work: Colorful Office Spaces

Some weeks I just want to play on Pinterest and post photos. I find the inspiration for office design is outstanding. So this is one of those weeks just to kick back and enjoy the photos… Please let me know which one is your favorite in the comments section below.

Source: trendirs.net via Avery on Pinterest

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I am passionate about bringing my client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

Ready to add some color to your office but don’t know where to start? Contact us at info@averydesigninteriors.com for a consultation.

Join me on Pinterest

How to Wake Up Your Office: Lighting

On Thursday, I attended the Business Showcase at the Webster Arena in Bridgeport. I bumped into a business associate, James Sweeney of EcoTronics, who has expanded his business into eco-friendly lighting. We are scheduled to meet to discuss the latest in LED later this month.

One of the most important parts of designing your office is lighting. There are lighting designers specifically trained to provide you with the best installation features. As a graduate of Fairfield University’s Interior Design program, I was required to take a lighting course. But this is a field that is rapidly changing with the green initiatives springing to the forefront and designers are required to take continuing education to stay up to date on changes in our industry.

Under the Clean Energy Act of 2007, incandescent bulbs will be phased out by 2014. Incandescent are those every day bulbs you buy right at your local drugstore – the ones invented by Thomas Edison.

Why are they being phased out you ask? Because 90% of the energy emitted by incandescent bulbs is wasted as heat. Excess heat means more air conditioning means more energy means less green. Ok I boiled that down to the basics.

On to exciting things like how to light your office! The best projects have three layers of light: ambient, task and accent.

1. Ambient light is primarily the light available in the environment. It is uniform and should be diffused light. A big part of ambient light can be natural light, which is so important to the wellbeing and health of your employees and clients.

I am not a big fan of most fluorescent lighting. This is because it tends to be those fluorescent panels with standard cool light which is harsh on the eyes and skin not to mention draining. Those harsh bulbs can be replace with warmer bulbs or with daylight tubes.

When I am working at my computer, I prefer to leave the lights off and just work by the daylight from my window or I turn on my Ottlite, full spectrum lighting, for those darker days or intensive detailed desk tasks like drawing.

LED lighting has come a long way and they can last up to 10 times as long as fluorescent. Some LED tubes can replace fluorescent tubes. You can also dim LED lights and there is less heat buildup.

2. Task lighting takes into consideration primarily light for reading. Optimal lighting of a desk surface is 50 foot candles. A foot candle is the amount of illumination created by a candela from one foot away.

Good task lighting is not just about the amount of light but the contrast, so it’s important to consider where to place your task light. You don’t want it directly above your head where you cast a shadow on your reading materials.

Options are desk lamps and overhead lights, such as undercabinet lighting that pinpoints directly on to your desk surface. Julie Clark recommends the Kenko Light by Nikken shown below as it provides “Healthy Full Spectrum Natural Sunlight”.

Kenko Light II by Nikken

3. Accent lighting emphasizes an object or a specific area of a room. For example, these lights could illuminate art, accessories, books, your company’s sign, even a special textured material on the wall.

This light can be used to highlight a focal point in the room and helps to vary the light level which holds interest for the eye.

LED rope or strip lights are great for accenting the interiors of bookshelves.

Wall washers can be used to highlight a textured wall as shown on the stone behind the reception desk. Note how the front of the desk is backlit for visual interest.

Just because accent lighting can be fun…and don’t we all need to have a little more fun at the office?

I am passionate about bringing my client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

To see the rest of the photos on my Pinterest board, click here Office Lighting.

(Photos from Pinterest unless otherwise indicated)

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