Small Changes

An e-design client lives in a small, NYC studio and is looking for just 2 items to help organize her home: a bookshelf, a hallway runner. She's a photographer who works from home and already has an abundance of furniture, so my job is to design a furniture plan to make her live/work space feel more spacious yet retain all the necessary pieces of equipment and furniture that allow her business to thrive. Her style is clean, contemporary, black, white and grey. She already has some quality furniture pieces like a DWR bed and a Ligne Roset sectional in black. She uses essential Ikea pieces in white for office furniture. I'd like to throw in just a hint of color with the hallway runner. And some warm, wood tones in the bookshelf; and a touch of the outside with staghorn ferns.. Since it's a rental, we can't paint, but I'd also like to introduce some visual interest on one wall using removable wall tiles. I'm also going to suggest some plug in wall sconces for either side of the bed. Do you think these pieces work together?

  • DWR Min Bed Queen
  • Ligne Roset Togo Sectional
  • Hygge & West Removable Wallpaper Tiles in Petal Pusher Gray
  • West Elm Ladder Shelving 
  • Wayfair Nourison Karma Blue Hallway Runner
  • Schoolhouse Electric Holmes Sconce
  • Pistils Nursery Staghorn Ferns

microwaves: one of the things I obsess over

I hate microwaves. I hate how they look. I hate what they do to food. (Although, I will use them if in an absolute pinch and there's no alternative.) But when I moved into my current apartment, there's was one already installed over the counter. With some precarious climbing and scrambling, I removed it, rejiggered the shelves, and created open-shelving, much more conducive to how I like to organize my kitchen. And created a perfect cubby for my wall clock. Just one of the many things I obsess over.

First Impressions

What's the first thing you see when you walk through your front door? Is it a welcoming sight? Or a jumble of unopened mail and things waiting to be put away? I'm a combination of OCD and forgetful, so I need my landing strip to serve two functions: remind me to take certain things with me as I walk out, and be an orderly place to drop things off when I get home. I never have to look for my keys or scarves because they're always in the same place. I also like to take my shoes off when I come home, so I keep a stool by the front door. During the winter, the basket contains a variety of knit hats and gloves. With the early arrival of Spring in Portland, I recently swapped out all that stuff for beach towels, pareos, and swim goggles. How do you keep your landing strip organized?

Combining the Old with the New

When I moved from Honolulu to Portland, I brought only a few pieces of furniture with me. The heaviest and biggest pain in the tukus is a teak credenza that I bought from Bali Boo in Kailua in 2005. Even though I love it and its a convenient place to store everything from bed linens to office supplies, I've wanted to get ride of it multiple times. It was usually the one piece of furniture that required a flatboard truck and more than one person to move. But I still have it and its now survived 6 moves. In my current home "office", I use it as my standing desk. Combined with more current purchases, I think it keeps the space from looking right out of a West Elm catalog. What furniture have you held onto that plays well with newer pieces?

Function AND Form

I live in a small apartment (aka garage-less), and I need to store my board. Those standard black, wall-mounted surf racks just won't do. They are definitely utilitarian but lack in beauty. Luckily, PBTeen had a great solution. (Don't knock shopping teen home-goods and clothing until you try it. Products may err on the side of cute, but Its always more affordable.) It comes with racks for 2 boards, a shelf, and 2 strips of peg hooks (I'm only using one strip); perfect for hanging wetsuits or bikinis/board shorts to dry. I can see it being used in a large laundry room, garage, or even a small, urban apartment. What do you guys think?

Final Project

Client: 74 year old, retiree in Cannon Beach; no children/pets, loves to entertain.
Room: Living room with old school brick fireplace and 3 north-facing windows.
Request: Create a cozy but sophisticated room with plenty of flexible seating.

  • Combine luxurious velvets and patterned textiles on traditional seating, mixed with contemporary casegoods and metallic lighting, to create a warm and cozy room. 
  • Pick up colors from owner's painting and PNW coastal environment; use copper and gold for accents. 
  • Demo existing red brick fireplace and surround, replace with electric fireplace (easier for elder client) with lower profile copper surround. 
  • Cover the wall around the electric fireplace with decorative wood tile to emphasize this architectural focal point.
  • Create a secondary focal point with owner's original painting; flank with gold, diamond-shaped wall sconces.
  • Cover remaining walls with custom, hand-painted, textured treatment in deep blue from original painting.
  • The custom-covered upholstered furniture combine solid velvets with geometric, organic & small scale patterns.
  • The wing chairs, upholstered bench & cube ottoman will all have hidden casters for flexible seating.
  • Use symmetry to create rhythm and repetition to calm the plethora of textures.
  • Pull up existing wall to wall carpet and cover with luxury vinyl planks in "fumed oak".
  • Define the conversation area with a silk, hand-made area rug; in light grey found in original painting.
  • Convert 3 windows into a wall of french doors with plantation shutters.
  • Gift client plants to cozy up the room.
  • Final effect: woods, metals, plus textiles and greenery combine to create an inviting room that reflects the colors and mood of the PNW coast.

Back to Reality

I'm sure you can all relate to the post-vacation blues. Well, I've got 'em bad. But I fully realize how fortunate I am. I'm so grateful for 6 golden, sun-shiney days of waves (even if they were small); 1 day of surfing in thunder & lightning, and watching a funnel cloud form & dissipate on the horizon; snorkeling with turtles; meals with friends; time for 1 nap; and the 1st world ability to even take a tropical vacation while a full-time student. 

When I moved to Portland, I never thought of it as a forever move; only a detour to get better educated so that I could increase my earning potential and possibly return to the warm tropics. Right now, while I'm missing the salty waves on a visceral level, I'm finding it hard to focus on that "long game" (as my dear friend K calls it).

But, fortunately, I've got the distraction/motivation of my final project in interior design fundamentals, which is due in a little over a week. And little bits of nature to keep me connected to the islands. I've pulled the shades open to let as much PNW sunshine in as possible. Easy tricks for making my apartment feel warm-ish; until the 70 degree days forecasted for later this week. Life is good. And reality ain't a bad place to be.


Interiors Shopping in Honolulu

There aren't many places to shop for quality furniture in Honolulu. And what does exist is not cheap. But one of my favorite places to fantasy shop is Pacific Home on Ward Avenue. They've got amazing pieces that fit the island style, many of which can be custom covered with indoor/outdoor fabric. Here are a few of my current favorites:

  1. Ocean Breakers Console
  2. Baladi Mirrors
  3. Malibu Up Hanging Chandelier
  4. Lakehouse Platinum/White Area Rug
  5. Dorell Chair
  6. Geometric Coffee Table
  7. Olive Bottle Clear
  8. Ainsley Sofa

I Just Said "No" to a Potential Job

Aloha from paradise, 

I've been freelancing (aka unemployed) for 6 months, and a full-time student for 3. Its REALLY tempting to take graphic design job offers, but I'm holding out for an interior design job, even if its relatively entry level. It would be such a waste of my tuition, homework hours, and new endeavor efforts to jump on the first available/income producing graphic design gig.

Remind me this if I'm tempted again.

New Endeavors

On the eve of a return trip to Honolulu, I'm readying this blog to link to my other social media accounts. Up until now, I've been working in the comfort and safety of relative obscurity, only sharing it with a few friends, classmates and teachers. But writing a blog for a select few is akin to carrying on a monologue at a small dinner party. As an aspiring interior designer and natural-born hermit, I find this expanding level of exposure extremely uncomfortable. But my hope is that by sharing my learning experiences, and search for employment and legitimacy in this new professional endeavor, I'll grow creatively, become a contributing member of this industry, join the larger community of interior design bloggers, and inspire more dialogue. Aloha!

Tips for Picking the Right Size Ceiling Light

Sunset Magazine's April issue features a list of great life hacks for everyday problems and interior design tips. My favorite: #19 Pick the Right Size Ceiling Light. " ... To size a chandelier as the focal point of a space ... measure the room's length and width. Add those numbers together, and the sum (in feet) is the approximate recommended diameter of your chandlier (in inches)." Below are a five of my latest favorites.

  1. Schoolhouse Electric Isaac Chandelier - Natural Brass
  2. Pottery Barn Faux Antler Chandelier
  3. CB2 SAIC together pendant light
  4. DWR Drop 1 Pendant, Grouping of 11
  5. Lamps Plus Possini Euro Hemingson 33" Wide Edison Bronze Pendant Light

In Search of More Time

Full disclosure, I'm still in school full-time, studying interior design at the Heritage School of Interior Design. I'm in classes five days/22 hours a week. And, because this program is so rigorous, I average 24 hours/week on homework. Essentially, going to school is my full-time job. Updating this blog is my part-time job. I tell you this not to complain, but to explain why I'm not taking on full-service clients right now, just remote clients. In May, when I start the MBA program at the University of Portland, my schedule will actually be more forgiving, and I'll be available to do more full-service jobs. Until then, I continue to learn about my new trade, Portland's many industry resources, meet my local interior designer peers and mentors, and get inspired by the uber creative residents and verdant natural surroundings.

But sometimes I just need to take a break and feed the well of inspiration. Last weekend, I had a good friend in town, visiting from Palm Springs. We went to the Portland Art Museum. They have a great exhibit of indigenous art, a top-notch permanent collection of traditional European and contemporary American art. I highly recommend checking it out.

French Country

My remote-design client in New Orleans saw my inspiration board for a French Country livingroom, and wants to know where she can find similar pieces. Below are a few suggestions for basics.

  1. Ethan Allen Aged Silver Provincial Mirror
  2. Anthropologie Burnished Wood Console Table
  3. Sage & Co. French Market Botanical 12 Piece Framed Graphic Art Set (12)
  4. Anthropologie Luxe Fur Occasional Chair
  5. nuLOOM Handmade Country Floral Centerpiece Wool Blue Rug
  6. Anthropologie Navarra Dining Bench 
  7. Constanza Classic French Accent Chair
  8. Gilt Constanza Classic French Accent Chair

Mid-Century Livingroom

I have a remote-design client in Palm Springs who has asked me to pick out some authentic mid-century furniture for his living room remodel. He has specifically requested for no kitsch, no mint green. He wants furniture that is handsome and sophisticated. What do you think of the pieces below?

1. Bertoia  Diamond Chair   2. Nelson  Bench   3. Nelson  Clock   4. Eames  Bent Wood Chair   5. Noguchi  Coffee Table   6. Saarinen  Tulip Table   7. Knoll  Sofa

1. Bertoia Diamond Chair

2. Nelson Bench

3. Nelson Clock

4. Eames Bent Wood Chair

5. Noguchi Coffee Table

6. Saarinen Tulip Table

7. Knoll Sofa

Furniture Ideas for a Studio Apartment

My studio apartment is currently over-furnished. I made the classic mistake of being so excited about furnishing it, that I started buying furniture before I moved in. I had the dimensions, but I should have waited and lived in it for a few days, then shopped. If I had it to do all over again, I'd consider the pieces below. What do you think? How would you mix and match them?

1. Regina Andrew  Jute Pendants   2. Rejuvenation  Cedar & Moss Pendant   3. Rejuvenation  Haleigh 8" Pendant Lamp   4. MGBW  Ansel Chair Brass & Tibetan Fur   5. ddc  Gilda Chair   6. DWR  Cuba Lounge Chair   7. Crate&Barrel  Sierra Nightstand   8. West Elm  Natural Tree Stump Tables   9. Rejuvenation  Copper & Jute Bench   10. Pacific Home  Monkey Pod Sofa   11. DWR  Tuxedo Sofa

1. Regina Andrew Jute Pendants

2. Rejuvenation Cedar & Moss Pendant

3. Rejuvenation Haleigh 8" Pendant Lamp

4. MGBW Ansel Chair Brass & Tibetan Fur

5. ddc Gilda Chair

6. DWR Cuba Lounge Chair

7. Crate&Barrel Sierra Nightstand

8. West Elm Natural Tree Stump Tables

9. Rejuvenation Copper & Jute Bench

10. Pacific Home Monkey Pod Sofa

11. DWR Tuxedo Sofa

So Many Moves

7 moving.jpg

In the past 30 years since college, I have lived in 8 different cities, and in at least 20 different apartments or homes. I'm a pro at packing, moving & unpacking. But over the years, I've acquired alot more stuff. I've got it down to 27 large plastic bins (sustainable, because I use them over and over again), not including furniture or surfboards. What I could once pack & move in a weekend, now takes a week. And another week to unpack. Putting it all in it's place, however, is an ongoing effort. I love nesting, designing my living space to be both functional and beautiful. In this latest move to Portland, I have arranged and rearranged my furniture 6 times. I think it's less about being indecisive, and more about trying to create functionality in a small apartment. Plus, my home is also my office. I'll post photos once I get the arrangement JUST right. ;)