Monday, December 31, 2012

Check out these Interior Design Pinners!

Who doesn't love a good pin?

I do.

And I've compiled a list of great interior design pinners for YOU to follow.

So, don't miss out.  Have a look.

Check them out HERE!  

Come know this is your guilty little pleasure too!

Do you know anyone who should be on the list?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

25 Extraordinary Christmas Trees

Visit my new blog to see 25 of the most extraordinary Christmas trees you've ever seen!

See you there!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Budget Friendly Guest Room

Up on my new blog, Designed w/Carla Aston, a budget friendly guest bedroom with links to sources and pricing.  Just in time for the holidays when all your guests will be coming!

Stop by and check it out HERE!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

FYI: I've moved 'out of the woods.' My new address is:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Elements of Design and My Purpose for Blogging

There are lots of terms specific to this business that people comprehend fully, but there are also others that can be confusing. And because I oftentimes find myself defining these terms with my clients, I feel this post -- perhaps my last post to be published on Design In the Woods :( -- would be an appropriate place to discuss the basic elements of design.

Side-note: Just because I'll no longer be posting on this Blogger account, doesn't mean I'm retiring. I'll just be packing up my virtual sketch board and relocating it to a new address that can be found at the end of this post.

Now hang in here with me, alright? I'm going to be referring back to my college textbook for a moment and need you to pardon some of the "boring" definitions I'm about to lay in front of you. However, with that said, I still promise this post to be highly valuable to all walks of life. So stay with me, okay?

"Elements of Design"

This is a term that describes some of the basic tools used to come up with a design solution. This term is often used to define anything that makes up the whole, however the textbook definition describes it thusly:

"There are several elements of design that interior designers use according to some basic principles to create spaces that satisfy the functional and aesthetic goals of a problem. These design elements and principles are used by painters, graphic designers, sculptors, and other visual artists."* 
 In other words...these are the tools of the artist.

1. Form - linear, flat, round, curved, cylindrical, square......all types of forms make up interior spaces.

2. Scale - "the relative size of something as related to another element of known size"*

3. Color - color can be a powerful design tool and is "one of the most dominant perceptions of the physical world"*

4. Texture - adds another layer to the complexity of a space, can be tactile or just visual

blogpost - Project Reveal - all about texture

5. Pattern - the repetition of a decorative motif or image

blogpost - Pattern

6. Light - light affects all of the above, how we perceive objects and spaces

blogpost - Patterns of Light

The unique combinations created when these elements are combined are endless.  The absolute BEAUTY behind them is that these principles are UNIVERSAL.  Once you've learned them, you can apply them to any aesthetic endeavor , and they will help you...

...understand...develop...create... any visual medium, whether it's interior design, fine art, advertising art, fashion, product design, photography, landscape design, architecture, etc.  

Why do you think it's easy for designers to "cross over" into other markets?

  • Ralph Lauren designs everything from clothing to bedding and furniture.  
  • Michael Graves is an architect who was also tapped by Target for product design.  Now you can buy an incredibly unique broom at Target that feels good in your hands, functions beautifully, and looks good too. 
  • Phillipe Starck, architect and designer, now designs clothing, even automobiles.  
These legends are able to "cross-over" because they understand The Elements of Design.

The universal truths all designers use as the backbone of their work.

As I prepare to leave this blog and move on to my new one, I wanted to revisit the basic Elements of Design so I could tie up some loose ends and remember the purposes behind why I ever began creating this tiny bit of space in the digital universe for my thoughts. You see...

To talk about design in its purest form is a pure experience in itself. 

It's at the crux of 

WHY things are done on a project from the beginning,

WHY decisions are made along the way,

WHY everything impacts the whole,

WHY the end result is a combination of many elements and not just one,

WHY design is multifaceted and complex yet so simple and straightforward,

WHY design is important and why understanding it is even more so.



...subtly and without pronouncement, but with


(Can you tell I'm a little passionate about this???  ;-)

I'll be continuing to use these as my guide with my new site, but also with so many other endeavors in my life.

Although I'm having a little anxiety over leaving my google ranking, I'm going to leave this baby here in it's entirety. I'll refer back to it from time to time and you can feel free to do the same. It's been a great place to get my feet wet, to find my voice, to experiment, and take some missteps without making too much of a wave.  I'll always be able to look back on it and remember why I wrote some of those posts, what problems had come up on projects, what issues I was having with clients or contractors, what I had successfully been able to express to my clients and the viewers of my work and, of course...what I had not.  

Friends and family often ask me why I waste time with this "blog-thing," and I reply that it's just become a part of me.  It's my creative outlet where I can say anything I want about something I care deeply about. I can't NOT do it! To my followers, supporters and those who stopped by once in awhile, I would've been here whether you came or not, doing exactly this...but it was so nice to share it with all of you. 

For all who have read this far...

Thank you. I value your friendship more than you know, and hope it can continue to grow even stronger as we take our relationship to the next level on my new website... }

I hope you'll join me there...

Image Sources: Amelia Handegan - Southern Accents,  Dick Bories and James Shearon - Elle Decor, Jonathan Berger - House Beautiful,  Aston Design Studio, Gideon Mendelson - House Beautiful, Zamzam Riad Boutique Hotel

* Definitions taken from Interior Design Reference Manual, David K. Ballast.

*All information in quotes taken from Interior Design Reference Manual by David K. Ballast, AIA

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Where to Put The TV?

The age old question.

Do you try to hide it? Or just admit....we watch tv!  You know everyone does.  

Most rooms are designed without tv watching in mind. Even today.

Here are a few beautiful ways to incorporate flat screen tvs into your home.

Dee Dee Taylor Eustace - Traditional Home

Beautiful built-in tv in a kitchen above.  I just love how it's so trim and fits into the space so well.

Aston Design Studio

Here's one of my projects above.  When there's a large tv to be used, I like mounting them in a dark space, like the dark, stained cabinets above.  It minimizes the size of the screen when its off...dark on dark.

Like so....

small space style blog via Emily A. Clark

Whenever I design cabinetry for a tv now, I do a false back like the one above, so the tv can be mounted on it.  We cut a large grommet, usually so big your hand can fit through, to be able to pull wiring back and forth easily. Then there is a large slit of a grommet in the counter on the cabinet above, behind the false back. Having things as open back there as possible helps make it easier to hook up new equipment down the road.

mix and chic blog

Aston Design Studio

design manifest blog via pinterest

I also love something that can be covered up with doors, especially if looks good when they are opened.  This is great if the tv won't be used that much. I love the subtle X pattern created on these doors and the unique antique mirrored doors below.

tg interiors blog

So.......what is your favorite way to set up the tv in your house?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How I Came to Have A Studio Outside My Home

My clients are always a little curious.  Many independent designers work out of their homes in an effort to keep overhead low, especially in these slower economic times.  Unless there are several full time employees, most elect to carve a place out at home for this very.....”cluttered” business.

The acoutrements of a design business can be a bit overwhelming.  Tile samples, stone samples, drawings, fabric samples, catalogs, sample books, pieces of hardware, little metal finishes, pieces of patterned glass, wood finishes, you get the picture.  The more you work....the more you accrue.

And, you can imagine that with every new project......well, you need more. You simply don’t have that special sample of something unique that fits that particular client. When you get it, you hoard it, because you just know you’ll need it again....maybe....and that’s good enough.

I was once at a metal fabricator’s shop and was so excited when they let me pick up a bunch of their leftover bits of patterned sheet metal.  Quilted stainless, burnished brass, perforated metal pieces in various patterns.  It was like hunting for Easter eggs when I was a kid.  They were happy to oblige and sanded the edges down so I wouldn’t cut my fingers.  I still have those and I don’t give them up for anything. :)

You can imagine that this stuff collects in the nooks and crannies of your home....workspace, garage, dining room, hallway, living room....behind chairs, sofas, in decorative boxes, baskets, plastic tubs in the closets, and on and on. It multiplies while you sleep. I promise.

As a designer....these are your tools.  These are the things necessary for your work.  These are your collections.  

These are the things of inspiration

To know how to use them, you must see them first hand, touch them, compare them with something else, view them from far away and examine them in detail.

Organization helps, but’s all about square footage.

Working out of my home was becoming terribly inefficient.  I couldn’t keep enough products and samples there to do me any good and there was so much in the way….everywhere!  I was driving all over Houston every time I needed a different stone material or tile sample.  The time I spent hunting down products was draining the profit right out of my business. It was all terribly frustrating.

My office at home in 2008. Honestly, I'm one of those people that knows exactly where everything is.

Not to mention how the stuff I had spread like wildfire throughout my home.  My kids would tiptoe in through the front door as the open floor space in the entry hall would be covered with materials.  I’m really not a hoarder...this is truly the nature of beast!

Then there were my dogs. Every time I got on the phone it seemed they would start barking at the squirrels outside. With an open plan house, that was a problem. My husband, who didn’t want me to spend the money to move the business out just said....”take the phone outside when you need to talk.”  ????? Oh  yeah, that’s efficient. I felt very unprofessional and it was just really hard to work.

My little Missy is a yipper.

Bear looks dead here, curled up next to his toy squirrel.  If he sees a live one through the window....look out!

I had other designer friends that told me that the best way to make a profit in this business is to keep overhead as low as possible. No rent. No employees. Being the optimist I am, I always thought my road would be different. I could do it. Things were so inefficient now,  wouldn’t I be able to cut my costs (time, because time is money) so dramatically that it would soon pay for itself?

It is difficult, judging when the best moment is to move out. When the recession hit, I thought for sure it would be another few years before the time would be right. I thought the dream of having my own studio, designed to fit my needs, would have to wait. And I’m not getting any younger, so I wasn't very happy about that.

Moving the business out of my home was my dream!  I had always wanted to relocate to a more professional environment, have employees, and everything I needed at my fingertips to make me more efficient and productive.  I’d been dreaming that dream for many years, visualized it, collected images of designer’s studios, and I was just waiting for the right moment.

Ah yes, a place for everything and everything in its place.

About 3 years ago, a local contractor approached me about opening an office within his new location.  He wanted to have a showroom of sorts, with a designer on site, to help him with his projects and vice versa.  It hit me right at the perfect time….I was so fed up with working out of my home.  He offered free rent and space for all my samples.  That offer was just way too good to pass up.

A reliable friend in the business had referred this contractor to me and although I hadn’t done business with him before, he had a good reputation, some of the people I knew in the area thought well of him. I liked him, his energy, his enthusiasm, his vision.  So….I made the jump.  I was so eager to get out of my house and I thought it was just such a good deal.  This was finally my moment.

I had a nice set up in the corner of the building.  I built my sample library, hired an employee, invested in furnishings, computers, everything but rent.

We remodeled the space that took it from this.......

to this.

See my nice sample room in the back!

Oh yeah, I was in there lock, stock, and barrel.

But this was 2009 and……there was a recession going on.  Within 4 months, my contractor had moved out of the building under financial hardship, and I had to pay some of the rent to stay on just until the end of the month.  I was right in the middle of a bunch of projects that I was completely busy with and didn’t have the time to find a new space....and spend even more money!

My employee and I moved back to my house....that was soooo hard.  Not just physically, remember I had lots of samples, and furniture, and stuff, but it seemed like I was failing at this in just a matter of months!  Even the most positive of business people would feel like this was a huge setback.

Unwilling to give up and let the universe tell me to stay put, I found a new space…. in the same neighborhood as our first office.  I signed a lease and was going to be the first tenant in the new building.  Great location….first floor with lots of windows and natural light. I could design it the way I wanted and it looked a whole lot like how I always imagined it would. That's a good sign.

But that’s another story.  

For another day.

The great thing is, two years later....

I'm still here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Powder Room Remodel

The perfect time to redo a small bathroom is when you're already doing another bigger project in your house.  You have to go through all the same steps, with the same subcontractors, why not kill two birds with one stone? 

I worked on a remodel of a master bath in this house and we tacked the powder room on too. I'll share that project, here's the before pic of the powder room.


A little tired, a little dated, and ready for a facelift. Ooooo, that pedestal sink!

Yes, this powder room has a shower.  There's a room next door that can be used as a bedroom. The homeowner wanted to keep the limestone tile floor that spread into the hallway and we decided to replace all the other finishes and fixtures.  She wanted a warm look, with golden tones and wood finishes.


A cultured marble shower box, dated wallpaper, and fixtures didn't do this home justice.

construction  progress - great tile job


We used more of the same limestone that was on the floor of the bathroom in the shower with a nice subtle pattern, a new custom built vanity to fit perfectly in the niche, a shapely limestone counter and splash (because you know I love a curvy backsplash), and pretty wallpaper in a rich, coppery color. 

The result....a warmer look that relates to the existing finishes elsewhere in the house that feels a lot more special!

(My new website is still being tweaked for a bug.  I'm  hoping for next Monday! This is killing me!)

Update - July 2, 2012 - My new blogsite is up! Please stop by for a visit.
  Designed w/Carla Aston

After photos by Miro Dvorscak

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Update For A Master Bedroom

We were pushing the budget here.

We remodeled the master bath in a big way. It is DIVINE! I'll share later when I get into my new digs.

For this update for the bedroom, we saved the furniture for later.  That can be added in without all the dust and mayhem that construction causes.  Time to get the mess made now, when there was a bigger mess just next door.


Things to fix....awkward fireplace surround with its little door for the gas key and cheap tile, crown moulding in the alcove that chops up the space, tired carpet, two different sized windows (both wider and different heights)...alternating....around an octagonal room, and we need a nice light fixture.  Lots to fix.

See the different sized windows?  Finishes complete here....ready for window treatments.


during construction

slate tile butted together with no grout and bullnosed edges for the's all about the beautiful, natural cleft  material....go ahead, touch it, you know you want to, 

my design sketch (we didn't go with the band at the top)

new wood floors,

no crown moulding in the alcove and a paint color that covers the entire area so that the space expands and appears less chopped up,

simple panels on a single metal rod (actually quite complex...custom made to fit like a glove so that when closed a wall of evenly spaced drapery makes a clean backdrop...and those draperies gliiiiiide across those rods so beautifully), 

and a pretty new light fixture to top the cake.

  The shell is complete. Fill in at your convenience. 

A lovely ambience...simple, peaceful, done.

...for now.

After photos by Miro Dvorscak

Linking to:
Open House Party at No Minimalist Here
Feathered Nest Friday on French Country Cottage
Inspiration Friday At the Picket Fence

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I have to admit....I could really do this.  

via Haifaa Tanous - Pinterest

I could get totally obsessed with something and collect it over and over.  Okay, I've done it.

Part of my creamware collection.  Oh, and in the fall, I collect pumpkins too.

Country Living

Not everything.  Not a bunch of junk.  Not really hoarding,

compulsively compiled blog

but interesting, meaningful, beautiful objects that have a commonality.  A purpose.  

eclectic revisited blog

threads and snippets blog

I'm not really a more is more kind of person, but obsessively studying one type of item by collecting a variety, so that I can fully appreciate the genre's beauty, uniqueness, quality, is totally in my make up.

Elle Decor

Like getting caught up in not seeing the forest for the trees.

Honing in on one type of tree and studying every tiny characteristic, appreciating every detail, exploring every nuance, as compared to one more tree...then one more....then another.

Country Living


Johnny Valiant - House Beautiful

Although I often describe myself as a big picture kind of person.  I'm  happy sitting back, thinking, analyzing possible paths, outcomes, what it takes to arrive somewhere, and then making a plan.

Getting lost in the minutae, ever so appealing.  A weakness.

I can detail something to death.

I can get so absorbed in one aspect of something that it becomes an obsession......  
I prefer to call intense interest.
The little things that can matter so much.

So, I have a soft spot for collectors.

Stephen Falcke - Elle Decor

I love to see what they collect and learn all the intricacies of why they select the things they do, what they appreciate about it, how it arrived at their door.

Country Living

There's always a story.

Country Living

Behind each and every piece.

They offer a peek into the soul of a person.

How about you?  Do you collect?  What do your collections say about you?

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