Being Real

Update 2.25.15: With the blessings of a growing business, I have realized the need to separate work & family on social media.  Therefore, I now have 2 Instagram accounts.  Please follow along with my public account for my business, @hcbinteriors.  Thanks!

Is anyone still there?  :)

I had to take a step away from the blog for multiple reasons: illness, holidays, birthdays, life in general. And there is one other reason...I was becoming too engrossed in social media & the blogging world.  Both my 3 year old & my husband had made comments about my time on my phone & iPad, checking emails, blog stats, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.  So, I made a conscious effort to put down my devices (I still use them quite a bit, but not as obsessively as before).  I think in some ways, checking in with a digital world gave me a connection to the outside world.  We don't watch much news - most of my TV watching these days consists of Disney Jr & PBS Kids - & I spend the majority of my time with someone much too young for full-fledged conversations about my feelings, hopes, & dreams.  :)

Reading blogs & checking Instagram or Facebook reassured me that my peers still existed, & blogging/social media became resources for sharing all of the ideas I have or wanting to know more about topics that interest me.  On top of that, my business & learning about my business rely heavily on staying on top of trends (even though I'm not a designer who uses a lot of trends), & home/DIY blogs & Pinterest have become a major influence on today's design styles.  So, I began to frequently check Pinterest, Instagram, & I read dozens of blogs, trying to stay on top of my game.  It got to the point that I began to post my Instagram & Facebook pictures based on what I thought would bring in the most readers to my blog, or would generate interest in my business.  As I heard at the conference I went to, those are good business moves for those of us in the design/blog world.  But what may be good for business is not good for me.  I began to feel like a product instead of a person.  Yes, lots of my pics are of my kid, but just as many are photos of things I thought others would want to see in relation to my work or blog.  And that became just too exhausting. I was no longer being true to myself.  If I thought a picture might turn off a potential client (like something relating to my beliefs), I was hesitant to post it.  I worried that maybe I was posting too many pictures of my kid & not enough design.  

And then, I got sick.  I could feel it coming; I even told my husband that if I didn't slow down & take a break, I was going to get really sick.  But, I didn't slow down.  And I got so sick that I spent 4 days in bed.  Those of you with a toddler (or kids) know that 4 days in bed really isn't an option.  But I was so ill that I physically could not get myself out of my bed.  And I began to think, this is so not worth it.  This is not a smart thing for a business owner to say, but my dream is not to be an interior designer.  My dream is to be the best mommy & wife, friend & daughter, that I can be.  If I can fit in interior design around that, great.  If not, I will be glad I gave it a shot.  But, I was letting the things that really matter in life take a back seat to the things that don't matter so much at all.  And my effort to keep up with the other home bloggers drove me to the point of being ill enough to not even be able to take care of my family.  Talk about having my priorities out of whack.  

So, I am starting over.  I am still going to write this blog & run my business, but I will do it in a way that is true to myself, & if that means that the clients leave & the readers disappear, so be it.  If I want to post 50 pictures in a row of my kid on Instagram, I will.  And if I want to write about the turbulent walk I've had with God over the years, & yet how in the end, He is always there to guide me & love me, I will.  And if one day I wake up and say, "I'm done with design & I want to walk away", I will.  Because the areas of my life that are most important to me are too affected when I try to be someone I'm not in the other areas.  I want to be real & joyous & thankful, and have that spill out so that others can see it, not choose what I share with others based on what I think they want to see.  Oh, & I'm going to remove the "interiors" part from my Instagram name.  Interiors are my interest, not my passion (people are my passion), & I don't want to give interior design more clout than it deserves. 

If you've made it through this rambling post, thank you.  I'm not sure when my next post will be or what it will be about, but I always always appreciate you reading.



Dressing Your Home & Yourself

     Fall is by far my favorite season.  And my home & clothes tend to reflect that: lots of cozy textures, warm neutrals, & subdued prints with hits of color here & there.  I always prefer my fall wardrobe over any other time of the year.  I tend to think that while we can appreciate the colors, textures, scents, & sounds of multiple seasons, we all probably have one season that we favor over all the rest.  Knowing this can help you in dressing both your home & yourself.

     For example, I love the ocean and the colors blue & green.  Both are found throughout my home & wardrobe, more so than any other colors (except neutrals).  But, I could never have a "summery" house because I need that warmth that only fall type colors can provide.  Below are some examples of rooms that I think tend to give off the vibe of certain seasons:

Winter, Spring, & Summer Room Images via BHG
Fall Room Image via
 Architectural Digest
          The "winter" room is full of soft, muted colors with just a hint of shine.  Think snow & icicles on bare tree branches, or the glint of champagne in a crystal glass on New Year's Day.  If you prefer winter, your wardrobe (or home) might include creamy whites, golds, tans, greige, & lots of texture (cable knits, faux fur, etc.).  

      The "spring" & "summer" rooms are similar, but there are differences.  The spring room's warmer tones & drapery show the transition from cold winters to hot summers.  The colors are still a little muted, like spring buds that are emerging but haven't quite blossomed into bright colors.  Spring wardrobes may include both whites & off-whites, lighter hues of color (lavender, spring green, robin's egg blue), & softer textures (like thin cotton sweaters).  

     You can see the difference in the "summer" room immediately.  The whites are pure, the color in the room is both brighter & cooler in hue, & the textures are smooth & slick (the chairs) or rough like the outdoors (the wood table reminiscent of driftwood).  This feels like a room that would provide cool relief from the hot summer sun.  There are no drapes, & only one of the windows shown has any type of coverage at all.  Summer wardrobes hope to counteract the heat of summer: gauzy linens, lots of white, bright colors (inspired by the ocean, sky, 4th of July, etc.), & favor any texture that feels cool to the touch.

     Finally, the "fall" room is full of the colors of harvest time.  Books & throws, cozy fabrics like the velvet on the sofa, creamy paneling, & darker toned woods invite you to snuggle in & prepare for longer days & cooler temps.  But, it's not a dark room - the overall color (on the paneling, built-ins, & rug) is still a light neutral, the paint just barely darker than off-white.  It is the accents in the room that provide a cozier feeling.  Fall wardrobes might consist of jewel tones, darker neutrals, leopard prints, leather, etc.  

     As I mentioned above, the favorite items in my home & wardrobe are "fallish" in feel & color.  To give you an example of how wardrobe can influence home decor & vice-versa, I created an outfit based on the fall room above (designed by the talented Gil Schafer).  The outfit was inspired by the room's feel, but is not an exact copy - the colors refer to each other but aren't matching.    

What's your favorite season?  Is it reflected in your home & closet?

Happy Monday!



Taking Chances, Part 2: Our New Home

   My computer is once again working, & we finally have internet.  Hooray!  Hoping that my posts will be a little more regular from here on out.

    I wrote in this post about how I tend to play it safe, & rarely leave my comfort zone. But taking the risk of starting my business & blog has blessed us many times over already, & if nothing else, it has taught me that a little stretching & growth is not the scary experience I usually predict it will be.  The purchase of our home is no exception.

    In early May, I was invited to attend a Designers Lunch & Learn (wrote about it here).  My cottage client happened to be Julie's (from Milk & Honey Home) neighbor & when I told her what a fan I am of Julie & Anisa's work, she encouraged me to contact Julie. After emailing back & forth a couple times, Julie graciously invited me to the Lunch & Learn.  She & I were chatting, & I mentioned that we had been looking to buy in her neighborhood, but we were having a hard time finding the right place.  In fact, we had resorted to putting notes in the mailboxes of some of the homes in the neighborhood, hoping someone might be so flattered they'd want to sell their home to us (or they might think we were creepy stalkers.  It was a 50/50 chance).  Julie asked if we would be interested in looking at her home.  I knew it wasn't on the market, since I had been memorizing the real estate listings for months, so I wasn't sure if she was serious (plus, c'mon.  This is a home designed by a talented team, and it's been published.  It already seemed surreal that I was at a lunch with ladies whose blogs I read on a regular basis.  The possibility of buying one of their homes seemed totally improbable).  But she encouraged us to come look at it, we did, & the rest is history!

     Something else that seems a little crazy - I have had the below image on my Pinterest boards for forever because I loved the shelf over the range instead of the usual hood.  I will now be cooking from this spot.  How wonderfully bizarre.  


     It still seems a bit unreal - at this time last year, I was simply a blog reader & design fan.  Now, I have my own design business, blog, & we own a house designed by someone whose work I have long admired. There's no way that God & my mama didn't have a hand in this - it seems too improbable a story otherwise.  We feel incredibly blessed & undeserving but oh so grateful.

    As for our plans, I am already tweaking what I said in this post (did you guess I was talking about my own home?).  After having lived in the house for a month, we are starting to get a feel for how the house works, & what we would really like to do to put our stamp on it & truly make it ours.  I completely respect all the work Julie & her family have put into this house, but I wouldn't be worth much as a designer (or be true to myself) if I didn't implement my own ideas.  It will be slow-going as we will be saving up for each project as it happens, but I will be sure to share all of it here.

     Here are just a couple before shots from move-in day.  Excuse the poor quality: my good camera was stolen on vacation last year, & we still haven't replaced it.  I also was in a rush to get the photos as movers were bringing furniture in while I was taking them so I had to be quick!


     I hesitated to write this post, because I didn't want it to come across as boastful.  But, I decided to go ahead because 1) I want to encourage others to take chances & not let fear stop you from following your dreams, 2) I want to document what we do to our home & what better place than my blog, 3) my own home is the best place to experiment with my ideas, so that I can share the successes (or failures) with my clients/readers for ideas in their own homes.


Doing Good - For Yourself & Others!

Sorry for the long absence!  In the past month, we've moved, celebrated birthdays & our 10 year anniversary, & started school. On top of that, my computer did not fare well in the move, but I hope to have it up & running very soon.

Until then, I wanted to mention two causes close to my heart. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  I am giving a large part of my proceeds from any new clients in September or October to these causes, in the hopes of furthering research & preventing any other families from having to experience these awful diseases.

Fall is a great time to organize your home or spiff up a room before the holidays.  And, if you hire me to help you, you will know that you are helping others as well.

Happy Fall!



Taking Chances, Part 1: Haven Home/DIY Blogger Conference

  Ok, I lied.  I said I was going to take a break from blogging for a little bit (& if I was smart, I wouldn't be using packing time to blog), but I'm afraid if I wait I will forget all the wonderful things I learned last weekend at the Haven DIY/Home Blogger Conference.

     Let's start out with this: I am not a risk taker.  At all.  My husband likes to tease me & say that we met during my 6 weeks of rebellion in college.  I like tradition, stability, routine.  Ironic for a military wife, huh?
 The positive side of this is that I tend to be fairly organized & I invest a lot of time before I start any type of work project.  The negative is that I don't like taking chances & if I don't feel properly prepared for something or assured of success, I'd prefer to just not do it at all.  But, as I've said before, my mom's example of a well-lived life encouraged me to take the risk of starting my own business & blog, even though I have no way of knowing the outcome.  But thank goodness I finally took a chance, because it has led to some great (& some surreal) moments, including the conference.

I read a lot of blogs, at least 25-30, maybe even more.   I don't read each one every day, or even every week, but I like to check in fairly often to see what's going on in the DIY/Home blog world.  Blogs provide me with a ton of education & inspiration, more so than any of my design classes, maybe because they are written by real women (& men) who have decided to take their passion & just go for it.  They write about both the successes & the setbacks, and I try to learn as much as I can from them.  So when I saw a chance to attend the Haven conference, I just had to go for it.  I was nervous to attend because I am such a new blogger, & because I didn't think I would know anyone else going, but I knew I would kick myself if I didn't attend.  And I am so glad I did!!

     I met so many wonderful people, including this great group of bloggers & artists below. I was super nervous (as I usually am in social situations), & was grateful to meet these sweet ladies the first night.  Our time together was filled with laughter.  Thanks for making my first conference a great experience!

(L to R): Cheryl (New House to Home), Dana (an incredible artist),
 Brandi (Toodlelou Designs), me, & Allison (Soiled Rotten)  (photo courtesy of Brandi Smith)

    I also met some of the authors of blogs I have long read & admire.  Ashley (The Handmade Home), Erin (Two Story Cottage), Sherry (Young House Love), Katie (Bower Power), Sherry (Design Indulgence), & Emily (Emily A. Clark) were so incredibly nice.  I put my foot in my mouth several times (as I often do), & they all graciously ignored it. Thank goodness for other people's ability to sense my good intentions.  :)

     In addition to meeting some of my favorite bloggers, I learned SO much.  Most of it was helpful, but some of it gave me anxiety because I learned all the things I'm doing wrong or that I should have done already but haven't yet.  My to-do list when I got home was a mile long.  I am looking forward to growing & improving this blog/business armed with all my new knowledge.  A big thanks to the ladies who put together the Haven Conference; it was a wonderful experience & I am so glad I took the risk to step outside of my comfort zone!!



A little break and big news

I'm not going to presume that anyone reading this has been anxiously awaiting my next post.  But I also didn't want my 8 loyal followers to think that I've quit this blogging business.  ;)

Truth is, I am swamped & it's only going to get busier before things even out.  I am lucky to have taken on more clients and to be attending the Haven conference this week in Atlanta.  Big nerves about that one...I don't think I'll know a soul, but I'm hoping to learn a lot & make some new friends.

But the main reason I've been absent (& probably will be for the next few weeks) is because most of my days lately look like this:

That's right.  We are moving.  Again.  But hopefully, this is the last time for a loooong time (maybe even forever?).  And don't be fooled.  That may look like a meager amount of boxes, but I'm packing 4-8 a day in the hopes that I'll be ready when the big day comes in 2 weeks -  it feels like I've already packed hundreds!

We have been looking for our long-term home for a while now.  As in, it's been at least 2 years.  We have very patient family & friends in the real estate/mortgage business.  And our new house deserves a post all itself, but I will share its fun background.  Some of you may recognize the kitchen from places around the web.


Through a series of events that could only have been orchestrated from up above, we purchased the home of Julie from Milk & Honey Home.  And while we do plan to tweak some things to make it our own, we are grateful for the beautiful home Julie & her family have created that will now be our family's place to love & grow.

I'll most likely be busy packing, moving, & trying to squeeze in the last bits of summer over the next few weeks.  I do post to Instagram on a regular basis so follow hcb interiors  for more updates!

Have a fantastic week!


Balance (& being a Master Designer)

     Don't we all strive for more balance in our lives?  If we tilt too far in one direction, the ripples can be felt in all areas of our life.  There are 2 things I have struggled with since starting this business - the balance of family life & work, and the balance of greedy consumerism vs appreciation.

     First, the balance of family & work.  For the six months after I had my girl, when I went to work, I didn't always want to be there, but while I was there, I focused on the task in front of me.  And when I was home, I focused on my family.  I was mostly balanced.  Then I was blessed to be able to stay at home for the next 18 months.  And my family was my work, so I was mostly balanced again.  But there was a small part of me that felt like, even though staying at home had always been my desire, I needed something just for me. I began to feel off-kilter.  Working & being a mom is HARD, no matter if you work outside of the home, from home, or in the home.  I have done all 3, & I am here to tell you they all have their pros & cons. So let's stop beating other women (& ourselves) up for their (our) choices, okay?  Sorry, tangent.

     Anyway, I figured that starting my own business & working from home would give me the flexibility I needed, the ability to be home with my girl, & the creative outlet that I craved.  BUT...it has been so much harder than I thought.  I'm not saying that working from home is harder than working outside or inside the home.  I'm just saying it has been much harder for me personally to find the balance.  Because my days still primarily revolve around my child.  But, my phone dings constantly with emails, phone calls, & texts from clients.  I zealously read books, magazines, & blogs for education and inspiration, and Pinterest has become an obsession.  My phone is both a curse & a blessing.  Because I can be reached 24/7 in all manner of ways, & inspiration is all around me, I feel like I'm never truly not working.  I knew I wasn't doing a good job of balancing it all when CC asked me to put my phone down & play.  Guilt overload.  I'm working on doing a better job.  Because she is what truly matters to me.  And if she ever thought that my work was more important than her, it would do me in.  So I've learned to let things go.  My house is a mess.  Our meals aren't very detailed or creative anymore.  All of my DIY projects have been pushed to the side.  And I often go to bed around midnight or later because I work after she goes to bed.  Right now, it's worth it.  And when that doesn't work anymore, I'll figure out a new balance.  But man, achieving that balance is hard & constantly evolving.  She's so worth it though.  How could I not give my all for this sweet face?

     The other big thing I have struggled with is maintaining my inner compass while working in a field that is, on the surface, about external beauty.  I'll admit, more than once, I've gotten a case of the gimme gimmes.  I would stare at the walls of our military housing & dream of the days when I could have my own house with everything just the way I wanted.  But you know what?  This turned into constant planning for our "someday" house.  Dreaming & planning is great, but when you can't also enjoy the present because all you can think about is how if you could just change X, Y, or Z, then you'd be happy, that's not so great.  The struggle of enjoying beautiful things while not becoming consumed by them can be difficult.   
     Luckily, I found the Master Designer Manifesto.  Darlene Weir, of Fieldstone Hill (the same designer/blog I focused on during my Design 101 posts), has it figured out.  And she kindly added me to her Master Designer blogroll, & asked me to share about it here.  

     Here's the thing.  True happiness doesn't come from material goods.  But you can still appreciate them, as long as you remember what really matters in life.  I struggled to find this balance, because I sometimes felt like I was being materialistic by enjoying design & dreaming about it.  

     I think my favorite part of her design manifesto is "I appreciate fine and lovely things, but they are not my treasures.  I know what is truly important, and I do not aim to 'store up my treasures here on earth' {Matthew 6:19}". I have worked as a pediatric nurse for very sick kids.  My husband is a war veteran.  We have endured miscarriages, infertility, & the much too early passings of my mom & Army friends.  I share all this only because it is these experiences that have taught me what life is truly about, & it's not the beautiful things that I work with everyday. 

     Thank you, Darlene for once again inspiring me.  I am proud to be a Master Designer.




     It's so fun getting to work with clients across the country.  This summer, I've been busy working on a few different e-designs.  It seems to be a formula that works well: after the consultation, I email a design board to my client, who then goes out & shops on their own.   We stay in contact via email, phone calls, & texting, with lots of pictures & "whaddya think?" to round it out.  A lot of flexibility comes into play, as they can buy either the exact items I recommend or they can use the board as an idea for the room & shop on their own for similar products.

    Even though these projects need to be finished & tweaked, I thought I'd share some of the fun progress that has been made.  I love receiving updated pics of their rooms (remember, these are iPhone pics my clients send me & they're in progress, so please be kind as I know they have put a lot of work into these rooms).

     First up is a master bedroom for a young, newly married couple.  She moved into his bachelor pad, & we've been sprucing it up ever since.  Started out with school bus yellow walls, & fishing rods for wall decor  :)

The design idea board:

     As you can see, changes have been made to the design as she finds things while out shopping.  Instead of the custom drapery made out of the fabric seen on the board, we used World Market's Parker & customized them with a fun trim on the leading edge.  She purchased a remnant of carpet at her local hardware store & had them bind the edges to make a custom size rug for a fraction of the price.  The photo on the left shows the room with all the new bedding but pre-paint & window treatment.  The right shows the paint (BM November Rain), drapes, & the chalk paint bookcase.  She also sent me this pic to discuss floorplan - thinking we will move the bed back to the windows so it can be framed by the drapes.  Furniture placement, wall decor, & final sprucing need to be done, but I'm happy with the changes so far.  And more importantly, so are my clients!

     My next e-client is just getting started in a new career after being at home with her kids, so she wanted a room that would function mainly as her office but could also accommodate overnight guests when needed.  Here is her before:

Guess her pups wanted in on the action :)

The design - lots of warm woods & texture with hits of orange.  The walls are BM Edgecomb Gray, & in real life look more like the sample on the design board than in these phone photos.  (And yes, she knows the drapes need to be changed).  She found the giant board at the Ballard Outlet - a bargain hunter's gem in North Atlanta.  This corner needs more color (& the board needs to be hung), but it's at least functional for now.  Install day is still a ways off: right now we are picking the fabric for the bedskirt, trying to decide on a headboard, & waiting on the bookcase's arrival.  

     Sometimes clients get nervous at this point in the process - nothing is completely done, & it can all seem a bit random.  But Install Day makes all the difference.  And when a client is already excited & happy in the middle of the project (like these 2 are), that means the world to me!


Design 101: Turning Your Style Words Into Tangible Design

    Sheesh!  Is it just me, or is summer flying by?  I had hoped to post multiple times a week, & each time I go to post a new entry, I realize it's been at least a week since my last one.  But you probably didn't stop by to hear about my time-management skills (or lack thereof), so let's get down to business, shall we?
     In determining our style words, we can figure out what is truly important in our homes.  Homes & memories often evoke strong feelings - wouldn't you like your home's memories to be pleasant ones?  Style words are very personal & will be different for each person; along those same lines, the same style word can take on different meaning for each person.  Therefore, I think the easiest way to explain how to turn your style words into actual, touchable design is for me to walk you through what my style words mean to me, & how that shows in my home.

Classic, charming, kid-friendly, sentimental, joyful, cozy.

     When it comes down to it, I'm more traditional than modern, & I'm not super trendy either.  In fact, for my wedding, my mantra was "classic, simple elegance" (& the byline of this blog includes simple elegance as well).  To me, this means that a lot of my choices will hopefully stand the test of time.  They are not too flashy or ornamental, but are well-made & enduring. My big purchases are classics, & I hope I will still have them in 20 years.

Country Living
Audrey Hepburn via
     The two pictures above exemplify the word classic to me.  Audrey Hepburn's style continues to inspire; even her simple bike riding outfit of black sweater, cigarette pants, & flats can be found in stores today.  The chesterfield sofa has been around for over 300 years, & is a style found in both showrooms & retail stores - Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, & West Elm are all currently selling their version of this great sofa.  What I love about the one above is that, while the style is classic, the color is a little more fun, so the room could go in many different directions: country, retro, traditional, cottage.  But that's a lesson for another day.

     This is one of the more subjective terms.  In my home, it can also tie in with classic & cozy.  A lot of the charm of a home, for me, has to do with the details & architecture of the house.  Great millwork & lighting, flooring, tile work in the kitchen & baths.

This beautiful kitchen is from Joan at For the Love of a House.  There are so many charming aspects of this room: the fireplace, built-in cupboard, mix of countertop materials, flooring, lighting, etc.  Charm is often lacking in many of today's cookie-cutter neighborhoods.  You don't have to spend a fortune to obtain that charm; with just a bit of elbow grease & DIY skill, you can add your own woodwork to make your home stand out from the crowd!

     Kids can be rough on furnishings.  An errant marker swipe here or a shoe buckle scrape there can instantly mar a piece of furniture.  Between my dog & my toddler, things need to be resilient around here.  Luckily, there are more choices than ever that can stand up to the daily wear-&-tear of family life.  Leather, seagrass, slipcovers, outdoor fabrics - these are just a handful of designer tricks used in households with kids.  Some of my better investments have been our slipcovered ottoman/coffee table (easy to throw in the wash when dirty, although it wipes up with a damp cloth pretty well too.  Plus, it's padded, so no bumps & bruises from walking into it, climbing on it, etc.) and our seagrass rug.  Forgive the iPhone pic, but I was too lazy to get out my real camera & then edit. ;)

hcb interiors

Did you know that seagrass is more durable than sisal or jute?  Because it grows in water, it's more impervious to liquid stains since water is its natural habitat.  I won't go into graphic details, but let me assure that ALL types of liquids have cleaned up easily with our rug.

   I have always appreciated the history & memories of family heirlooms, no matter their value.  However, it wasn't until my mom's passing that I really became aware of how much it meant to me to weave family into our home.  Every room in our house not only contains family pictures, but also a piece of furniture, art, fabric, etc. from a family member.  The vanity my mom used as a child & teen is now my bedside table.
hcb interiors - excuse the iPhone photo!
We refinished different pieces from my great-aunt's dining room (like this sideboard on the left), & they are now scattered throughout our house.

    Beyond family heritage, I also want it to be immediately apparent to anyone visiting our home that it is the people, & not the things, in my home that are most important.  Reminders of the true blessings in my life are in abundance in our house.  There are some in the design world who believe a home can have too many photographs; I am not one of those people.  And I have multiple gallery walls to prove it.  :)

    I want our home to be a happy, loving environment.  A respite from hard times & a harsh world.  This can tie in with the sentimental items, as it brings us joy to see my daughter sleeping in my mom's childhood bed.  I am all about traditions, such as using a certain plate every year for birthdays, so those also create a sense of joy.  And finally, we like to fill our home with the things that make us happy - good books & music, art that speaks to us, and those gallery walls that capture our best memories.

     Cozy makes me picture fires in the fireplace, warm blankets on the bed, & the smells of fall in my kitchen.  But it also means good lighting (preferably on dimmers!), both natural & painted wood, & textures that are inviting to the touch.  It's an ambiance that invites people in, & makes them want to stay a little longer. Nine & Sixteen's kitchen renovation (shown below) is one of my favorites of all time.  It's not huge (& cozy usually isn't), but there seems to be a place for everything.  It exudes homeyness & warmth, has beautiful finishes, & is well-laid out.  Plus, the lighting kills me!  I am absolutely in love with her window placement, pendants, & sconces.  Didn't Tessa do a great job?  

     Whew!  That ended up being more of a novel than a quick lesson.  Hope it gave you some ideas of how to translate your style words into design.  And, of course, I'd always love to help you turn your words into reality!  Just email me at hcbinterors{at}gmail.com

Have a great week!


Design 101: The Aha Moment! Discovering Your Style

     I had planned on creating a whole series on how to determine your style & what to do with that knowledge.  But, as mentioned in my previous post, I stumbled upon Darlene Weir's Style Bootcamp, & was so blown away by what an incredible job she did that I didn't think I could do it any better.
     Instead, I thought I'd expand on what I learned (& what you will too!) from her series.  Go on, grab a coffee, visit Fieldstone Hill, & come back to me when you're done.  I'll wait....

     Pretty great stuff, right?  Let's talk about my favorite aspects of the Style Boot Camp: the personal style words & the signature style board.
    Two things surprised me when I finished this exercise.  One is the fact that none of my style words are  visually descriptive design words - in other words, you can't use my style words to paint an exact picture of a room in your head.  Instead, they describe how I want my home to feel; this is much harder to pin down, but also much more helpful in making decisions for my home.
    So what are my style words?  Classic, charming, kid-friendly, sentimental, joyful, cozy.  My next post will delve further into what these words mean to me, & how I achieve them in my home.

Via http://pinterest.com/hcbinteriors/cozy-classic-character/

    The other thing that surprised me was the pictures I ended up choosing for my signature style board.  I went through Pinterest, & chose the pictures that made an instant connection.  I didn't think through what I liked about them, or if they would go together in a collage.  If I loved it after a quick glance, it went into my "favorite images" file.  Narrowing those favorite pictures was harder, but I finally chose the ones that drew me in over & over.  Again, I didn't think about why I liked them until the whole process was over - I didn't want to put too much thought into it, because then it wasn't as likely to be a gut reaction.  And this is what I came up with:

Via http://pinterest.com/pin/210402613813719896/

     What surprised me about the pictures I chose?  They are full of blues, a little bit of green, creamy whites, warm woods & metals, and natural textures - all things I have said before are my preferences for a home, so no shocker there.  But when I compare it to my previous homes, even though there are a lot of similarities, I can see that there is way too much brown & beige (the safe neutrals).  If you look at the above collage, brown grounds most of the pictures, but as an accent, not as the main color.  Even the one picture that has a lot of brown neutrals in it, as seen close-up below, has lots of white, warm metal tones, & some pattern.  I do not have any colorful patterned drapes in my home - only neutrals - and I am ready for some fun!  It's time to cast aside the safe stuff & go after what makes my heart sing.

     In trying to be safe (because I tend to "tweak" my house a lot), all of the big items in my home are brown, tan, etc.  The reasoning behind this isn't necessarily bad; my thought was that the more expensive items in my home should be neutral so that I can add in accents that can be easily changed out (& I still think this is a good plan for a lot of people).  But here's the problem - my accents ended up being neutral also!  Too much color can overwhelm me on a busy day, but not enough can lead to my home feeling flat & blah.  Finding the happy balance is the solution.

     I think the style boards are a good idea not only for discovering your personal style, but also for planning a room from scratch.  As an example, when designing a kitchen, I prefer painted (usually white) cabinets, wood countertops &/or floors, and lighting that makes a statement.  However, mixing these 3 things could create millions of different combinations.  So, creating a kitchen style board can give me a good starting point for my overall design.

    All of the pictures above have at least two of the three elements that I mentioned.  In addition, blue cabinetry/wall color, open shelving, & lots of natural light can be found in most of them.  This helps me narrow my preferences down even more.  Seeing some of my favorite kitchens side by side also helps me determine those aspects that I don't really care for & would leave out of my planning.

     I hope that this information has been helpful in guiding you toward determining your personal style.  I know the process was helpful for me!  Stay tuned for the next post - we'll figure how to translate your style words into design ideas.



Design 101 - What is Style?

     One of the things I hear the most from my clients is that they're not sure how to define their style.  Figuring out exactly what you like is a difficult task.  I'll be honest - I still struggle with this.  As a designer, being exposed to so many resources & ideas can give me design ADD. However, after a lot of experimentation & contemplation, I can finally discern the difference between what I actually like and what I admire as beautiful but isn't for me.  Sometimes figuring out what you don't like can be just as, if not more, important as what you do like.

     I take issue with the magazine articles that try to define your "style" in 10 questions. First, they usually only include a few (very general) style terms: country, cottage, modern, traditional, vintage or romantic.  Those terms are way too broad to be of much help.  Second, how many people can actually be pigeon-holed into only one style?  Even if you know that you love all things country, what type of country are we talking about?  Rustic, woodsy, Americana?  French or English?

    The 2 images above show how subjective naming a style can be - they both appear in the same post about Americana style, but one is definitely country while the other has modern touches.    By the way, this subjectivity is one reason why it can be helpful to hire a designer.  If you went into your nearest home store & asked for Americana items, which of the looks above would you be hoping to get?  A designer can guide you toward your preference without a lot of costly mistakes.  

     Oftentimes, a person's preferences will lean towards one or two major stylistic influences, with an appreciation for other types.  For example, I love the cottage look, but for me, it has to be a mix of Southern traditional/prep + New England coastal with a dash of European influence thrown in.  The fictional story line of my home would be a Southern belle who moves to a weathered, shingled cottage on the Nantucket shoreline & marries an English farmer.  Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it also provides the perfect visual image for me to know if I will love a piece of furniture or fabric for a long time, or if it will be a passing infatuation.

cottageliving.com - tammy connor id - the holiday movie

Cape Cod + Southern + English

     I can't tell you how many things I have purchased in the past because I thought I loved them, only to give them away 6 months later.  I truly liked the table, chair, pillow, etc. at the time of purchase, but because it didn't fit my overall design style, I ended up tiring of it quickly.

What stands the test of time for me?
  • Natural textures: seagrass rugs, burlap, & woven baskets
  • Muted coastal colors (watery blues & greens, the browns & grays of driftwood) with accents of brighter colors (especially artwork)
  • A mix of wood & painted pieces
  • Leather or slipcovered chairs
  • A mix of metals: brass & pewter, gold & silver     
  • Ginghams, Buffalo Check, & muted Toiles     

     I designed the Keeping Room idea board below based on my list above.  The basics of this room would work for me for a long time, & I could easily change out the art & fabrics with the seasons or as my tastes changed.

hcb interiors keeping room

     So, how do you figure out your personal style?  One of the best ways is to go through magazines (or the genius idea that is Pinterest) & tear out anything that catches your eye.  Then, review your tear-sheets for any common ideas or themes.  You should start to see some repetitiveness - maybe you chose a bunch of images of white slipcovered furniture or you notice that you seem to like clean lines & no clutter.  This is a great way to begin your style discovery process.

     For even more in-depth analysis, I highly recommend taking Fieldstone Hill Design's Style Boot Camp, by designer Darlene Weir.  Darlene's process of determining personal style is the best I've seen & was incredibly beneficial to me.  One step of the Style Boot Camp is to create a Style Collage.  I have to say, I was surprised to see what ended up in my collage (which I will share in my next post), but when I actually took the time to think about my choices, the collage I made is absolutely me - I just didn't know it!
If you do participate in her boot camp & style collage challenge, please be sure to let her know I sent you!

     If you would like more help with the process of determining your style or with any other interior design aspect, contact me at hcbinteriors@gmail.com.  I would love to work with you!



Big Dreams & Plans

     Wow!  Where did the month of May go?  The end of school/start of summer, combined with working on multiple client projects, has kept me going 24/7.  Sorry for my absence!

     I can't share all the details for another month or so, but I will soon be embarking on one of my biggest design projects to date (big as in an entire house.  The budget is on the modest side).  My wheels have been in constant motion, with ideas filling the pages of multiple notepads.

     What's more, I will be following in the VERY talented footsteps of another Southern designer (whom I will share more about when it all becomes final).  As a designer, I am excited to put my own stamp on these already beautiful interiors.  As a design fanatic, I am nervous to change a space that has been published in shelter magazines on numerous occasions & is all over Pinterest.  Will it seem like criticism if I make any big changes?  Will people like my ideas, or will it seem like I've ruined a great design? My ideas are different from the current design - not better, not worse (I hope!), & not even hugely drastic changes - just different.  I hope that when I am able to share the befores & afters, they will be seen for what they are:  my personal perspective of a beautiful home.  No two designers will see a space exactly the same way, & I think that's a good thing - variety is the spice of life, right?  OK, enough justification.  On to the planning. :)

     I don't yet have pictures to share of the space, so I will give a verbal tour of some of the main spaces I've already begun planning, & fill in with inspiration images.  In the near future, I will share the design idea boards for some, if not all, of the rooms.

First up - the Dining Room:

     How often do people use formal dining rooms these days?  Not much, I don't think.  I am a big believer in not having empty or non-functioning spaces in a house, so for this room, I've created a design that combines dining with reading, music, etc.  The room is fairly square, with a big bay window on one wall.  I picture built-in bookcases filling the wall across from the window & will have them painted a nice gray-blue to draw attention to the importance of the books & art filling the shelves. If it's in the budget, I'm thinking grasscloth wallpaper for the walls; if not, creamy off-white paint is the backup choice.

     I hope to find decently priced upholstered seating for the bay window that will pull double-duty as both a spot for reading and as the head chairs at the dining table when needed.  The table will be a round pedestal table floating in the middle of the room so that it can be used for reading, display, & dining.   These 3 images combined give an idea of what's floating around in my head.  :)

Color - atlantahomesmag.com
Creamy Buffalo Check & Round Table - southernliving.com

Built-ins & Ambiance - mynottinghill.blogspot.com

Living Room:
     This is a light, airy space with board & batten walls, a cathedral ceiling, & a fieldstone fireplace with a glass door on one side of the fireplace & a window on the other side.  The fireplace is the first thing you notice when you walk in, so I figure why not paint the door & window trim a dark color to pop with the fireplace.  I'm thinking Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze for the trim.  At first, I was resistant to choosing Urbane Bronze because it seems to be a trendy color right now, but I have to admit it's a great shade of dark gray with a hint of brown.  I chose Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige for the walls for both light & warmth. 

Accessible Beige

SW Accessible Beige Board & Batten
Regan Baker Designs - houzz.com


Urbane Bronze

Restoration Hardware

 The Upholstery will include an English roll arm sofa in a neutral fabric & 2 vintage chairs slipcovered in this ticking stripe (from Walmart of all places!)

     I can't wait to get started on this beautiful home.  Look for more details (& plans) mid-July.

Happy Weekend!


Lunch & Lessons

Last Friday, I had the honor of being invited to a luncheon attended by many of the Atlanta designers whose blogs I follow.  I have to admit, it was a little surreal having my online world collide with the real world.  Women whose work I have studied in numerous publications, & who I feel I know personally because I read their blogs on a regular basis, were in attendance.  Of course, my natural tendency in intimidating social situations is to become practically mute & simply observe.  I tried my best to mingle, but I was still a little in shock that I was actually a part of the shindig, so I'm not sure I said more than 10 words the whole time.

Sweet Julie from Milk and Honey Home was the one who so kindly invited me to the lunch, & she shared some bits of wisdom on getting started in this business.  Although she was full of good advice, the main thing I took away was this: act like you're supposed to be a part of wherever you are, like you know what you are doing, and others will follow along.  I can be a perfectionist at heart who does not take failure or criticism well.  I have a hard time enjoying the learning process, & making mistakes just about does me in, but the only way to hone your craft is through continuous practice.  Luckily, my mistakes tend to only be detrimental to myself, never to my clients.  The good thing about design is that, unlike my previous profession, mistakes are not life or death matters, just embarrassing (& sometimes what starts as a mistake ends up being the best part of the design!).

I left the luncheon inspired by the beauty of the setting (Lindsey Hene hosted - talk about a gorgeous home!), & by the creative genius of the attendees.  I feel so lucky to have been included in the company of those who inspire me - being invited to an event like this honestly never even entered my realm of possibilities, so to be able to look back & record it here is more than a dream come true.

Hope you have a fabulous week!



A Renovated Cottage

     Last summer, I had the privilege of being asked to help these homeowners with the design & renovation of their new home.  A Cape Cod-ish style cottage, it was already a great home, but the homeowner had a vision for how truly wonderful it could be (not to mention she has fantastic taste, so working with them was a dream).  I was honored to take on the role of consultant & stager.  They blew out the small kitchen, & created the beautiful, light-filled space you see below.  It was so much fun for me to be a part of the ride.  Even more fun, the work I did for them last fall has to be redone due to the construction, so I still get to spend many enjoyable mornings at this home, reorganizing & styling bookcases, hanging pictures, moving furniture, etc.

     They expanded the kitchen, changed the floor plan, added an island, & most importantly, made these incredible windows the focal point .  The wife had a good idea of what she wanted, & used me as a sounding board & the deciding vote when it came down to Choice A vs Choice B.  For the island paint color, we had only an hour to pour through images, magazines, & paint decks before the final decision had to be turned over to the cabinet maker.  Happy to say that it turned out beautifully!

     When you are in the beginning stages of your career, having a client/boss/co-worker who believes in you  & gives you the green light to run with your ideas can make all the difference.  Helping with this huge project confirmed for me that the ideas in my head can translate into the real world.

     The home has wonderful built-ins in the two main living areas, and it has been a fun challenge for me to re-use their things in a fresh new way.  This is a real home, full of character & a few imperfections that make it all the more perfect in my eyes.  Nothing is off limits to kids, & their love of family is evident in each room.

     I have been so incredibly blessed with wonderful clients who not only encourage me but make it a goal to help me be successful.  This project has been the most fun learning experience.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your home!