How I Became an Interior Designer : Part 1

>> Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I get a lot of emails with questions asking me the path to becoming an interior designer. The most honest answer is, there are several paths. Some of the most talented, successful interior designers I know have no formal training. You see their work on the cover of shelter magazines everyday. On the flip side, some interior designers have both an undergraduate and a masters degree in design. They are your design professors or the head of interiors departments in commercials firms, like my insanely talented friend Heather who was just named one of Nashville's 40 under 40 (baller!) Me? I am somewhere in between. But if you want to hear my story, I'm going to make you start in the beginning. And so I bring you a new blog series...

How I Became an Interior Designer 
Part 1

The year, 1988. 
Just doing second grade, one day at time, occasionally gazing into mirrors to remind myself how lucky I am to be a child of the 80's.

And then one weekend in that very formative year, our elementary school had it's annual school fair. There was a fortune teller at this event, who I knew was not legit because she was my second grade teacher, BUT I was willing to overlook that in hopes of gaining some insight on my future. So, being the planner that I am, I went straight for the meat...what am I going to be when I grow up? She looked into her crystal ball and said "an interior designer." And I said "what do they do?" She said something along the lines of picking out fabrics and decorations and getting paid for it, and I was like uhm, ok! 

And so at the ripe old age of 7, my career plans were set and I have not changed my story since 
(minus that stint after college where I hated my job and wanted to take the LSAT)
Be back soon with part 2.

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New Year . New House . New Baby!

>> Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015, I'm so excited about you.

After tons of groaning and feeling sorry for myself, we found a house in November that we closed on last month. We are homeowners! Again! Yikes! We are renovating a small portion of the house before we move in, so we are relishing the benefits of apartment living (on call emergency maintenance services) for just a few more months. This phase of renovation will include the kitchen, a downstairs bathroom, and a back area that we will use as a family room.  I realized last week that I am basically renovating a small apartment inside a larger house. I'm like an animal who has lived in a small cage for 6 years, I need to be eased into larger surroundings, lest I totally freak out. And then the rest of the house is going to have to sit empty for the next 10 years while we save money to furnish it:) I did buy a bouncy house for the formal living room. So unless bouncy houses are the new Chippendale armoire, don't be looking for us in the next issue of Elle Decor. But you can follow along on IG under the hashtag #asabberenovationstory

Here is a quick mockup I did of one of the kitchen walls when doing a materials study.
I keep telling Bryan that it's going to be like a modern Dowton Abby kitchen. He's like mmmkay, whatever.

And, in other exciting news...I'm 23 weeks pregnant with a GIRL! My boys call her Strawberry Mary. Remi actually started calling her that weeks before we knew it was a girl, which is kind of crazy. He says she has red hair and red fingernails. Last week he added red eyes, also kind of crazy. But no matter what she looks like, we are so excited to welcome her into our family in May. 


And, more exciting news, she won't have to sleep in a closet!

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It's Cold, Let's Time Warp to Martha's Vineyard in August

>> Wednesday, December 10, 2014

All of my New England friends are spitting out their coffee as they read me complaining about it being cold. It's not that cold here, but it's cold enough to where no one really goes to the park. I met a mom two weeks ago at the park, we were the only two there. She just moved here from Chicago and is also no stranger to playing outside in frigid temps, we decided we needed to hang out a lot. Indoor parenting is not my forte.

This weekend I plugged my real camera up for the first time in months and came across photos from our trip to Martha's Vineyard this past August. I have prayed this before and I will do it again, Dear Lord, when I day, may heaven look just like Martha's Vineyard. We've been there every summer since Remi was born and always stay in the same little cottage in Edgartown. I am kind of a creature of comfort and only like to be away from home for so long, but when I go to Martha's Vineyard, I want to stay forever. Well, forever if it were always August.

This year we rode bikes a lot. The boys were both big enough to be pulled in a trailer. And because I knew we were moving and I may not get back to the island for a long time, I decided I wanted to spend one morning documenting everything that makes my heart happy. The homes on Martha's Vineyard make my heart very happy. Here are some of my favorites.

Hot legs there is also my favorite.

And for laughs, our best attempt at a family photo.
Something else that makes me happy, and I have mentioned before, are sunsets in Menemsha. Everyone brings dinner to the beach and watches the sunset. We never miss it. 
This year we were lucky enough to have the Roses join us. This picture of our babies melts my heart.
And then...
Dying? I know, so am I. I think when he's 18 and old enough to date, this guy is going to be my ladies man.
 Our big boys are also buddies.
My boy, listening for the ocean, while sitting next to the ocean:)
It truly is heaven on earth.

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Out of Towners

>> Monday, December 1, 2014

Right now, 90% of my workload is still outside the state of TN, which has actually been working out great. I have been working with out of town clients since I went out on my own back in 2009. My first residential project was in Manhattan. One client I have been working with for a while is in Rochester. I get a lot of text pics from out of town clients, as they are basically my constant on-sight eyes. Here are some recent ones from Rochester. 

A teeny powder bath getting some navy + Teil Duncan action.
I think the very first thing we did in this house was wallpaper the foyer. It was a great jumping off point in that I knew if she was going to let me use this wallpaper, she was going to let me do some really fun things:)
This room used to be a dark, wood paneled office. They were going to rip the paneling down because they didn't think it felt like a kid's room.
I convinced them to just paint it. Now I want full height paneling in all of my nursery projects.
I posted this beaut on my IG account this weekend. My client's dad made this. And it's kind of amazing how well the wood coloring works with the Samantha French print. I love Samantha French's work.
We actually used another one of her prints for a client in Ann Arbor earlier this year. Such tranquil, happy pieces. 

But the furniture dilemma in Rochester was mixing styles. Nellie had this antique piece (below) from a family member. And then we purchased the reclaimed dining table. The third piece was tricky. I didn't want to do anything painted. I thought it would cheapen the space. But I thought introducing another wood species would just be too much. So her dad made her this clean lined buffet (she leans more towards modern) and the wood matches her antique piece. 

I swear I almost died/cried when she sent me the photos. It's just perfect. 
Just waiting on hardware. 

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Your Definition of Good Design?

>> Monday, November 17, 2014

I am working on a really fun local project right now which has got me thinking about my own definition of good design and how that definition came about. My strange guilty pleasure these days is reading the comment sections of various Facebook posts. When I want to feel good about the world, I read Humans of New York. When I want to be kind of scared of the world (I like scary movies) I read comments under the Obama administration posts or Houzz.com. My point is, we all have opinions, really strong (sometimes scary) opinions and all of those opinions came from somewhere, right? My little boys don't walk into my kitchen and say "uhh, ugliest cabinets ever" and trust me, if they thought it, they would. My three year old informed me last week that I needed a bigger neck, fortunately I am very confident with my neck size. But in thinking about design, what have been the major influences on my life? I came up with a few.

Nashville! and good southern architecture

I grew up in Nashville and a couple of school projects in my elementary years involved some of the local historic sites. Two big ones were the Belle Meade Plantation and the Traveller's Rest, which I built a sugar cube model of in the third grade and many moons later danced my first dance as a married woman.



Porches, shutters, shingles, that's my love language. 

TV and movies

I was a child of the 80's and I believe pediatricians were a little bit cooler on the tv allowances back in those days. (30 minutes a day, come on!?) Needless to say, I watched a ton of tv. Anyone remember when Stephanie and Michelle got a bedroom makeover on Full House? Is it weird that I do? 


That room was the bomb. In adulthood I do not think that room is the bomb, but you know what I loved the most about it and still do? Sisters sharing a room. I love that my boys are currently in the same room and hope they want to stay that way until they go to college (doubtful but hopeful). After all, nothing is cuter than a pair of twin beds and the thought of them sharing late night thoughts on life (boys do that, right?)

Home Alone, the movie that had us all wishing that our parents would up and totally forget us on a family vacation AND that our home would be invaded by robbers. Questionable story line, spot on architecture.


And oh Father of the Bride. 


Let's not forget the nursery. I'm glad 8 year old Stephanie had no idea she would be bringing her babies home to a closet. The irony would have just been too much:)

Other things that come to mind are my grandmother's kitchen, which has the dining table right in the middle. I just loved the energy that was always around it. And my great grandmother's garden, she lived in a trailer but had such a luscious array of beautiful, perfectly arranged flowers on her property, you felt like you were walking in the gardens of Versailles. And I'm sure I could rack my brain for more, including some from our time in Boston.

But it's funny to think how something as simple as our preference in design came about, isn't it? Because even if we say we don't, we all have a preference. And like most of our opinions on things, that preference was somehow shaped by our lives. It may seem trite, but people are as passionate about their design preferences as they are with their politics. If you don't believe me, spend some time over here. I have come to the conclusion that some people have stronger opinions about different species of granite than they do over who controls the Senate, making me feel very validated (as a design practitioner) and very scared (as a human being:)

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