Behind the Scenes of A Real Interior Design Project: Part One

TV and Internet design have given us a warped perception about how the business of interior design actually works. We see rooms magically transformed in a number of days for ridiculously low, unreasonable budgets with cans of spray paint used willy nilly to DIY everything in sight. And we think, yes let's do that in my house! Why can't I renovate my kitchen in four days for $10,000?!? Well you can't. And I am here to show you why you really don't want to. 

As a part time TV designer and a full time real interior designer, I am here to show you what a real project really looks like. And believe me there is no magic wand and construction team working 24 hours a day to make a TV miracle happen. Real design projects cost. They cost in time. They cost in money. They cost in major amounts of stress and aggravation. 

A TV designer in my TV office on my real show Shop This Room. 

A TV designer in my TV office on my real show Shop This Room. 

I am here to be the wet blanket of reality on your Cinderella, makeover dreams. But I am also here to stick up for my industry and my business and to explain why doing it slow is really the right way to go. And how doing it right and spending the real time and money can be incredibly fulfilling. 

Buzz Kill Betty is back and she's taking no prisoners!

Case Study: Brooklyn Townhouse

I began working on this one family Brooklyn townhouse in the fall of 2014. My job was to transform a nondescript, extremely long, parlor room into a chic, space for entertaining. On the surface it looked like a decorating job. I was thrilled. No need for any construction here. I would just paint, wallpaper, and shop to my hearts content. Someone had been hearing my prayers. Hallelujah!

The extremely long room before. The furniture plan was not working for them. 

The extremely long room before. The furniture plan was not working for them. 

Beautiful mantle…. and I had two to work with. 

Beautiful mantle…. and I had two to work with. 

Hello down there! I knew I needed a better plan. 

Hello down there! I knew I needed a better plan. 

The Vision

I began my process of designing. I worked out a furniture floor plan. I worked out some architectural details I wanted to add to the space. It was creative heaven. It was all about giving the room some history and some depth. Some elegant touches that would make it feel like a real Parlor and less of a long hallway. I would add crown molding and a chair rail. I would add medallions on the ceiling to frame the chandeliers. I would wallpaper and paint. I would add in some furniture in the empty middle space. I would create distinct living and dining experiences. I would add in a bar cabinet, why not!?! I would play with art and accessorize to my hearts content. I was in design heaven. 

Furniture Floorplan with new furniture placement… done and done. 

Furniture Floorplan with new furniture placement… done and done. 

Fabric, Lighting, Wallpaper, Oh my! 

And then I began my design schemes. I presented two design schemes to the clients and we settled on one. This is the one truly creative aspect of my job and the part I enjoy the most. I try to savor it as long as possible since it only comprises about 10% of my job. I play with fabrics. I shop for vintage lighting and furniture. I put together the vision board of my masterpiece. I throw out fabrics and add them back in. I play with neutral palettes and add in accent colors. I troll the internet and hit the streets. And this project was a dream for me. It was a historic row house that needed some history and I was just the gal to bring it. 

A vintage light found for the entry vestibule. One of my first purchases for the project. 

A vintage light found for the entry vestibule. One of my first purchases for the project. 

Scheming. Looking at colors for my custom Malene B Rug. 

Scheming. Looking at colors for my custom Malene B Rug. 

So far so good no? Well kinda. What we didn't discus was the budget. And while I won't get into specific numbers I will give you some idea of the process. The client had a number in her head for decorating the room that was not in line with what it really costs. I had to break the news that we would be about 5 or 6 times what she thought and easily more than that. She thought I was crazy. Seeing all of these tv shows and blogs she knew it could be done on a dime. What she didn't know was what really goes into a project and what that really costs. More on that another day. Suffice it to say the TV model does not hold true in real life on real projects. 

So, anyhoo, moving along things were going well. Until I brought in my contractor, who is also my husband, to quote adding the decorative moldings. There has been some rumblings of ceiling trouble and a leak that I wanted him to check out but I wasn't prepared for what came next. 

And elevation of the room with new moldings. 

And elevation of the room with new moldings. 

We need to completely remove the ceiling and put it back? Say what??? The ceiling as it turns out was not connected to anything. It was not secured to the joists and the leak if untreated would eventually lead to the ceiling falling down onto the floor. So in order to make my pretty room pretty we would first have to rip the whole thing apart.

Dreams deferred. Hopes sidelined. Skipping through the park cut short. The reality was that my ish got very real very fast. 

Say what??? 

Say what??? 

This story is to be continued. More on my very real design project in the weeks ahead.

Until Next Week

xx

d

Entertaining Edna: a designer's obsession with table top and barware

This week started off with a bang. I found out that I will be visiting the table top and barware showroom at 41 Madison and shooting a video with the folks at Editor-At-Large discussing my favorites of table top and barware. Thinking about visiting some of the most amazing table top showrooms got me all hot and bothered. Hermes and Christofle and Waterford oh my! I am pumped. 

As you know, as a designer I am obsessed with everything for the home. And table top decor and bar ware is one of those magical things I can't get enough of. I always picture myself and a brown version of Betty Draper sipping martinis in my favorite sitting room. Or a 70's goddess in a Mrs. Roper-esque kaftan sipping on a cuba libre in a room with palm frond wallpaper. From classic porcelain and etched crystal to vintage colored glass, table top and bar speaks to the pure glamour in all of us. And as a design, I try to infuse some of this elegance in my clients spaces.  Regardless, of what areas I design the table and bar always comes into play. Call me an inebriated romantic if you will. 

My Collection

My own collection consists of mostly inherited pieces. I grew up with an amazing array of dishes and glassware in my mom's breakfront that now have a home in my apartment. My incredibly stylish grandparents had some truly amazing pieces. 24 carat gold plated plates anyone? Twist my rubber arm. And the incredible tea cups and saucers from my grandmother's extensive tea cup collection. Ever since I can remember people would always buy her a tea cup and matching saucer during their travels. It was her prized possession. I also have some dynamite glassware. Gold rimmed vintage martini glasses, 70's era smokey tumblers and ornate glass decanters and ice buckets. It is from this legacy of great design that my love of table top and barware grew. 

My kitchen pantry. Photo by James Ransom.

My kitchen pantry. Photo by James Ransom.

Client Work: A Bar in every home! 

For my clients I always focus on the bar. I love this notion of creating spaces fit for entertaining. I like to carve out little spaces that encourage them to live with some grandeur in their lives. And nothing achieves that better than a well stocked bar. 

Park avenue deco bar cabinet. Photo by Patrick Cline.

Park avenue deco bar cabinet. Photo by Patrick Cline.

I found this incredible bar at High Style Deco in the Flatiron. This black lacquer piece oozes vintage charm. The clients already had an amazing collection of bar ware and I was able to give them a great place to display it. This practical vignette was a highlight of the project for me. 

New Rochelle Basement bar area. Photo by Patrick Cline.

New Rochelle Basement bar area. Photo by Patrick Cline.

The renovation of this basement bar room was part of a basement overhaul. We installed a brand new floor, stained all of the paneling, wallpapered, and painted the counter in a black lacquer paint. We kept the vintage style bar in place but added bronze mirror behind the shelves to give us some much needed reflected light in the room. I purchased several sets of vintage and moroccan glasses for the back bar shelving in tones of green. In the foreground, the decanter and tray are from Arteriors Home. The glasses I found at Crate & Barrel. Whether at a big box store or a local flea market, you never know where you will the next gem. 

Chelsea Law firm. Photo by James Ransom. 

Chelsea Law firm. Photo by James Ransom. 

When designing my friends office in an entertainment law firm, I knew we needed a small bar area. It is an entertainment law firm after all. So I used a shelf in his etagere to stage a small bar area. What I love about this simple approach is that all you need are a few key items: Stylish bar ware, in this case some smokey glass tumblers; Coasters, always on my accessory list for every project; a decorative tray, here the options are limitless; And of course some of your favorite hooch! 

I am so beyond excited to tour 41 Madison next week and promise to share some of my favorite finds from that trip. In the meantime Salut, Skal, Proost, Cheers, Chin-Chin, Sante and all that good stuff. 

Until next week…. 

x

d

The Collected Home

So as designers, we often talk of the collected home. Having a place to reside that reflects who you are and your unique experiences on the planet. But what does that really look like? What are the bells and baubles that make you who you are? I've decided to show you a few of mine. The trinkets that make up my journey and the back stories behind them.

While I am very clear that the things that you have don't define you, I am also wedded to a love of personal items that tell a story. Those tchotchkes that give a a home a soul. I am no minimalist. In many ways I am envious of those who can live with so little. And yet, I can't seem to curb my collecting ways. Also inheriting so much from my mother has resulted in a house that is brimming over with stuff. So, in this week's musings we are going to play a little game called I'll show you mine, if you show me yours. 

Vignettes: Lessons in Story Telling

I really enjoy putting together vignettes. Its something that as a designer I pride myself on a bit. I'm usually pretty modest around my decorating skills but the finishing touches are my thang. Even if I did suck, I think I would just love doing it. Arranging and rearranging. Design therapy at its best. 

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom

The photo on the left shows an incredible iron and marble table that I inherited from m mother… who inherited it from my incredibly stylish grandfather (more on him another day). I lived with this table in the entry hall of my mother's house my entire life. To see it in a new space just made it all the more special and beautiful to me. On top sit some of my favorite design books (I'm pretty much obsessed with coffee table books) and an oversized marble ashtray from my mom that now holds keys.  The painting is my husbands and one of the first things of his I moved into the apartment. It is a piece by our friend Jerome Lagarrigue who actually introduced us. I love the juxtaposition of the simple framed art against the more ornate table. And I love that my husband and I meet here stylistically in the entry to our home. C'est Magnifique!  

The photo on the right shows some shelving in my living area. An incredible photo of my mom that I had never seen before was given to me at her funeral. Tear jerker much? The blow fish, sculptural glass vase, and Chinese vase on the top shelf are all items from my childhood home. Ever an art enthusiast, I purchased the African comb framed on kuba cloth when studying in South Africa my senior year of college. The metal necklace on a stand was from a sample sale. It was supposed to go to a client but clearly she had other plans. The mercury ball on a stand I purchased from another designer intended for a client. Do you see a pattern developing? And the photo on the wall features the company I formerly danced with, Robert Moses Kin, a million years ago. Past, present, old and new all find there place. 

Inherited Gems: A legacy of taste

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom

My hallway is one of my favorite areas in my house. It leads from a light and airy living room to a light and airy bedroom. My design philosophy around small, transitional spaces is to go bold. Perhaps my favorite thing in the space is the light fixture inherited from my grandfather. My mother never installed it in her house and I found it hiding in the attic eves. And when I moved into this apartment, I knew I had the perfect place for him to live. The coolest part about the fixture is that it used to live in a powder room in one of my mom's childhood homes. My grandfather painted the walls black, hung this fixture, and about a dozen gold metal starts from the ceiling. As a kid, I would always imagine what that room must have looked like and how crazy people must have thought he was for going so bold in the 1940's. 

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom

Another great small moment at home is here in my bathroom. The table is from my grandfather…. again. He really had amazing taste! Obvs. I had it refinished, lacquered black, to bring it back to its original glory. I use it daily in its new place. 

The black and white metal jars are from my mother. In my home growing up we had a black bathroom, completely tiled in black, and a white bathroom, similarly completely tiled in white tile. These jars lived in the black bathroom, my mother's bathroom, and I always remember being drawn to them. I love how they look in this new setting. And they give my bathroom some added flavor! 

The shower curtain is from West Elm. I looked and looked for that final piece and when I saw the tie dye I knew it was the one. I love the pattern on pattern play here. . 

What's Old is New Again

I found this vintage kimono in a furniture consignment store in Riverhead, NY. I was out visiting my aunt and we have a tradition of always going to see what the store has. And more often then not we leave with something. And there she was. I didn't know at the time what I would do with her but I knew she was mine. That salmon color. The embroidery. It was all too much. Psycho eyes meet happy dance and the rest was history.  And then when I brought her home and saw how well she played with my Sol Lewitt mural I knew I had a winner. 

The story behind the mural is that a previous tenant did installations of Sol's work around the city. I imagine he came home with this piece and installed it for himself. It was the very thing that made me pull the trigger on this apartment. Original art in my dressing room now office? Yes and yes! 

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom

I must confess that sharing this with the world feels a bit strange, a bit too revealing. But at the same time writing about the things I love and objects that define my life simply leaves me feeling incredibly grateful. I am so thankful for all I have and all I've been through, both the good and the bad. Even the most painful and trying times can lead to amazing beauty and joy. And my journey is a great example of that. 

Until next week...

x

d

Designing a Fantasy Room and the Culture of Giving Back

One of the first charitable experiences I had in the world of interior design was participating in Housing Works Design on a Dime event in 2013. Design on a Dime is an annual event in which about 60 designers get together to create unique vignettes of all donated items. The featured items are then sold with the proceeds going to Housing Works, who work tirelessly in support people living with HIV and AIDS. It is an incredible and noble cause and an amazing experience as a participant. And it is incredibly energized and fun to boot! 

Design on a Dime 2013. In my completed vignette on opening night. Proud, happy and TIRED! 

Design on a Dime 2013. In my completed vignette on opening night. Proud, happy and TIRED! 

It takes months of planning and coordination on all sides to pull off this incredible event. And it all culminates in a frenetic weekend in which consumers are able to purchase high end designer items at an incredible discount. Opening night is a veritable tornado, where a well heeled crowd grabs things with unbridled gusto and occasionally a slightly scary, psycho eyed aggression. What else would you expect? This is New York City after all.

As a designer, there is an incredible freedom in designing this space. It is all about fantasy and getting as much as you can donated. The goal is to raise money. Period. And if you can do so by meeting some aesthetic goal at the same time then kudos. And even if you try to design as you would a normal project it doesn't really work out that way. The reality is that you accept what you are given with gratefulness and a sense of relief that you won't be standing in front of a empty stall. You put it all together and hope that you have a space that looks deliberate and not some hodge podge mess. But the reality is the goal is to raise as much money as possible. So hodge podge mess or not its going in! And as you will see, my first year out, I was very lucky! 

It all began with a vanity. Bungalow 5 was the first to say yes and with this vanity an idea was born. 

It all began with a vanity. Bungalow 5 was the first to say yes and with this vanity an idea was born. 

All gonna fit? Unclear. 

All gonna fit? Unclear. 

The glitz, the glamour… the process. My long time installer John Fasano came through. Installing this amazing AphroChic juju wallpaper square by square… (don't be scared if you love this paper. It normally comes in rolls)

The glitz, the glamour… the process. My long time installer John Fasano came through. Installing this amazing AphroChic juju wallpaper square by square… (don't be scared if you love this paper. It normally comes in rolls)

My plan started with the gold and black juju hat wallpaper from my friends at AphroChic and a fantastic mirrored vanity from the generous team at Bungalow 5. With those two donations in place, I came up with the idea of "designing" an Urban Girl's Dressing Room. I thought of so many ladies who would love to have a place to primp and prep. It was to be a fantasy room for a cool urban chick. I also decided to do a space that would reflect my own eclectic, bohemian sensibilities and taste. I would go bold. I would use rich color. It would all be a wonderful experiment. 

As the donations came in things got interesting. And against all odds a clear vision emerged. More donations came in from Bungalow 5, including their gorgeous mirrored Shanghai chest. An incredible rug designed by my friend Malene B. and donated by Surya, brought in another layer of graphic texture. And a vintage chair, lamp and black sculpted console table from my long time upholsterer brought in a sense of classic elegance. The generosity of so many was simply staggering. The willingness of people to give beyond heart warming.

Soon a layout emerged...

Soon a layout emerged...

Lighting from Aero Studios, my fellow Design Star Jordan Capella, and Lulu & Georgia. Sconces from designer Tammy Bolden. Pillows from my design crush Michelle Varian. Assorted furniture from my other design crush Inga from Area ID. And a wood block stool from my other other design crush Tucker Robbins. Black velvet furniture from The Company Store. An incredible, super high end mirror from Cliff Young. Accessories from Palecek and my friends at Newlywish. A vanity mirror from Clayton Gray and a juju hat from my friend at Authentic Africa. A lucite ultra chic vanity chair from Plexicraft. And dropdead gorgeous jewelry from the amazing ladies at Stella & Dot. And my dream, wish upon a star, green velvet sofa from Room & Board came in at the 11th hour. It was mind blowing and head spinning all at once. What did we get? What do we need? Does it read dressing room? And how the hell is is all going to fit? 

My Room & Board Sofa below Vogue prints and a chinese panel from my mother. 

My Room & Board Sofa below Vogue prints and a chinese panel from my mother. 

A vintage chair meets the beautiful Bungalow 5 Shanghai mirrored chest. Patterns a prints reflected beautifully. 

A vintage chair meets the beautiful Bungalow 5 Shanghai mirrored chest. Patterns a prints reflected beautifully. 

And then the coup d'etat! The donation that took it all over the top. The artwork. Conde Nast had recently set up a new business, Conde Nast Trade, with New Era Portfolio to sell their artwork to designers. And they were willing to donate anything I wanted. Wait what?!? Anything? Anything!!! Let's just say I was in heaven. Vogue photography and me… yeah this was gonna work out just fine. Fashion, art, color, pattern, jewelry… DONE! 

As friend Patrick Hamilton said, "Float it!" Bursting at the seems I brought some furniture out to the front. 

As friend Patrick Hamilton said, "Float it!" Bursting at the seems I brought some furniture out to the front. 

Stella & Dot jewelry vignette on a vintage console. And the Emerald eye Vogue print brought the color palette together. 

Stella & Dot jewelry vignette on a vintage console. And the Emerald eye Vogue print brought the color palette together. 

My dream team… Ari and Sarah. They made it all happen and still looked cute for the opening party. 

My dream team… Ari and Sarah. They made it all happen and still looked cute for the opening party. 

The calm before the storm… all tagged and ready to go. 

The calm before the storm… all tagged and ready to go. 

And then the opening night party… or shall I say Par-tay! When the proverbial whistle blew people descended on my space like crazed vultures. They had been hovering around the edge for about 30 minutes prior to the start but nothing prepared me for the bum rush and sheer annihilation of my space that ensued. My beautiful, pristine, jam packed vignette was picked apart inside of about 45 minutes.  Photos taken from the wall. Pillows grabbed. Chairs dragged away. It was beautiful madness. They were people after my own heart in search of a small precious thing at a great price to help an even greater cause. Go forth and purchase people! Go forth! 

Meeting Sabrina Soto for the first time…. and on camera. Notice the missing artwork.

Meeting Sabrina Soto for the first time…. and on camera. Notice the missing artwork.

Watching the madness with the every colorful Daisy Lewellyn. (Check out the Clayton Gray duck mirror in the foreground… so good)

Watching the madness with the every colorful Daisy Lewellyn. (Check out the Clayton Gray duck mirror in the foreground… so good)

And then the friends. There are so many new friends I met over the course of the Design on a Dime week that I now consider old friends. It was an amazing community coming together for something beyond ourselves. We got to do what we love in the spirit of creativity and giving back. And at the end we got to act like giddy fools! 

Me and Rio Hamilton! As you can see fast friends and always just as ridiculous together. 

Me and Rio Hamilton! As you can see fast friends and always just as ridiculous together. 

My first time meeting Joy Moyler! And it was on camera. Who knew we would now be dinner buddies and design confidants. 

My first time meeting Joy Moyler! And it was on camera. Who knew we would now be dinner buddies and design confidants. 

Antonino Buzzetta aka Mr Chic. His room was to DIE for! When can I move in?

Antonino Buzzetta aka Mr Chic. His room was to DIE for! When can I move in?

Nicole Gibbons, Malene Barnett, and me in Nicole's classic space. Amazing how so many relationships were solidified here. 

Nicole Gibbons, Malene Barnett, and me in Nicole's classic space. Amazing how so many relationships were solidified here. 

Jeanine Hays of AphroChic, Tanika Ray, Sarah Taylor and me! My girls rallied in support. 

Jeanine Hays of AphroChic, Tanika Ray, Sarah Taylor and me! My girls rallied in support. 

Like most people, taking time to look back and reflect on my life and accomplishments is not something I do on a regular basis. But, I have to say it is cathartic as hell. And also pretty encouraging as I gear up for Design on a Dime this year. Seven weeks and counting folks. I am so excited to reveal where this year's journey takes me. I'm ready for round two. 

Until next week… 

xx

d

These are a few of my favorite things… (Don't call me a one trick pony!)

So, first of all, let's be clear. I'm not giving you all my secrets… then I'd have to kill you. But I am going to share some of my favorite design solutions… once in a while and only if you've been good. And by good I mean that you've actually read something that I've written. The bar is set really, really low. Claro! 

Without further ado… Here are some of my go to design solutions. 

Classic White Linens

I'm a white linens kind of girl. And admittedly not always the best bed maker. I'm pretty envious of those who can layer pattern and color and texture with abandon. Regardless, there is something about classic white sheets that does it for me. Give me some contrast color piping and I'm in heaven. My go to: The Italian Hotel Satin Stitch Collection from Restoration Hardware. I love this for the most classic duvet and sham combo. And as you can see I use it… a lot. 

RH sheets in a Moroccan inspired room in Harlem. 

RH sheets in a Moroccan inspired room in Harlem. 

Classic wlue and white on the Upper East Side. 

Classic wlue and white on the Upper East Side. 

And the perfect compliment to my Ralph Lauren Wallpaper in New Rochelle. 

And the perfect compliment to my Ralph Lauren Wallpaper in New Rochelle. 

Kuba Cloth 

I am a sucker for this incredibly rich raffia textile from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is geometric, a bit rough hewn and incredibly modern. My go to's: The pillow is from Wisteria and the bench is from West Elm. These affordable options are the perfect way to bring some culture and modernity into any space. 

A little pattern and texture in a Chelsea Law Firm. 

A little pattern and texture in a Chelsea Law Firm. 

A Kuba Cloth bench completes a Guest Bedroom vignette. 

A Kuba Cloth bench completes a Guest Bedroom vignette. 

Juju Hats

What can I say these beauties from Cameroon are everywhere… And there is a reason. They are incredibly beautiful artwork that come in a staggering array of colors. I was introduced to them through a client and have been hooked ever since. These feathery beauties add some unexpected texture and color into any space. Alone or in groupings, they are at once timeless and modern. My go to: Check out my girl at Authentic Africa in Harlem for your own version. 

My first published feature for Uptwon Magazine. My client had these up and I've been a lover of them ever since. 

My first published feature for Uptwon Magazine. My client had these up and I've been a lover of them ever since. 

Teal Juju hat against concrete wallpaper in Harlem. 

Teal Juju hat against concrete wallpaper in Harlem. 

Original Artwork

I am a die hard art lover. It is that thing that moves me and transforms any space from average to exceptional. Whether its; an original painting or a framed photograph, artwork is the thing to invest in. My go to's: Artist and friend Jerome Lagarrigue. For something more reasonable, check out my friend Leo's site. Sound of Art. 

Jerome's Work in a Brooklyn Duplex

Jerome's Work in a Brooklyn Duplex

Sound of Art Photography leading up the stairs

Sound of Art Photography leading up the stairs

Another painting by Jerome in a downtown office. 

Another painting by Jerome in a downtown office. 

Until next week… 

xx

d

I Got it from my Mama!

Like so many of the most meaningful things in my life, I got my love of design from my mama. 

My mother was an incredible woman. She raised me with a fierce determination and focused intention. She raised me consciously, as one does who tries to make up for their own problematic upbringing. She gave me access to all of the things that she wanted for herself as a child. And exposed me to love the arts in all its forms. She took me to the MET and the Whitney and to BAM and the New York City Ballet. She made me memorize the names of the impressionist artists and all of Alvin Ailey's dancers. She found creative ways around our financial struggles to expose me to a deep and diverse world of art, music and dance. And I was in heaven. 

She was beautiful. The kind of beautiful woman who doesn't know her own beauty. And she was a latent artist who didn't realize she possessed a gift. What my mother had was "an eye". She had impeccable taste. In fashion. In decor. In art. She had style for days. She decorated by mixing modern with global with traditional before it was a thing. She bought what she liked and wasn't attached to things looking perfect or even decorated. She cherished beautiful things that made her heart sing. And her home was her ever evolving pride and joy. She gave me a love of beauty and a knack for creating spaces with soul. 

My Mom, holding my brother Martin, in front of her 70's red black and white graphic wall. She was a DIY pioneer. 

My Mom, holding my brother Martin, in front of her 70's red black and white graphic wall. She was a DIY pioneer. 

Before I was born she lived in an apartment in downtown Queens. She decorated with bold color and pattern and even had a white leather sectional she reminisced about with tremendous affection. It was full on 70's glam. As a kid, obsessed with photos of her pre-me days, I would stare at this dream place for hours. It was so different from the traditional tudor where I was raised. To me it looked like some kind of fantasy land and she some chic goddess so foreign from the mother I knew in my everyday life. 

Just looking too fly in front of that floral curtain wall. 

Just looking too fly in front of that floral curtain wall. 

Soon after her death, I found myself on Design Star on HGTV. It was a crazy whirlwind time and I went into the show in a dazed stupor of grief. Creativity was my salvation. It was my escape. 

For the second challenge, we were faced with the infamous White Box Challenge. And in a flash, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something that was inspired by my mother. I wanted to do something that would honor her memory in a way that words alone could not capture. I wanted to pay homage to that 70's glam palace my mother created so long ago. This was the perfect chance to do just that. 

I worked for hours figuring out the layout alone. And then the execution was the next few days. It was incredibly hard work and beyond stressful. But in the end I felt like I had worked through something. And through my effort, I had honored her memory in my own small way. 

Painstakingly laying out my design. My homage to my mother a few months after her death. 

Painstakingly laying out my design. My homage to my mother a few months after her death. 

The finished product earned me second place. Not too shabby. 

The finished product earned me second place. Not too shabby. 

The reality is that everything I have I owe to her. Everything, I am capable of she instilled in me. It is a great gift in this life to have someone who pours all their love and belief into you. I had that for 35 years. And this is simply to say that everything I do I do for that beautiful, stylish woman who didn't know how incredibly amazing she was. 

Until next week… 

xx

d

Are you a Designer? No, I just play one on TV

Okay, well that's not entirely true. I am a designer. An Interior Designer that is. A real life, flesh and bone, creative spirit and glorified schlepper to the rich and (in)famous. It is a career, much like my last one as a modern dancer, that garners a lot of ooooohhhhs and aaaahhhhhs from envious (and slightly delusional) people who have no idea what I actually do on a daily basis. Being a designer is a lot. Having your own firm, a lot more. It is creative (a bit); it is details and logistics (a lot); and it is dealing with an abundance of people and personalities (often too many and too much). You are part detective, part producer, and part artist. It is exhilarating to see your ideas come to life and it is frustrating when you can't realize your vision for one of a gazillion reasons. It is a compromise and a collaboration. It is fantasy and it is reality. And it is, besides all of the romantic notions, a job. 

On camera probably talking smack. Don't judge me. 

On camera probably talking smack. Don't judge me. 

In 2012, while hobbling along as a designer trying to earn living, I got into TV as a fluke. That long and crazy story I will save for another day. Since then, I have had a myriad of strange and beautiful experiences on TV. I won a design competition. I shot five episodes of a show where I was the host and helped to craft the overall concept. I was the designer on two specials, one about Christmas with Bebe Winans and one outdoor extravaganza with Chris Lambton. And this year, I shot an episode of travel show that felt like a natural fit. And although none of those experiences has been long lasting (yet), they have been extraordinarily fun. And today I want to share some of the reasons, both serious and not so serious, that I love being a designer on TV. 

The Collaboration

What can I say, I love working with people. I love the energy of creative people getting together and making something extraordinary. Something bigger than ourselves. Bigger than the sum of our parts. Something no individual could do alone. The crafting of a story and the telling of a tale. Creativity and productivity meet in a great, and often extremely trying narrative.There are a ton of moving parts, high stress levels, short timelines and minuscule budgets. There are on-set logistics, production factors, and network directives. There are producers, and camera men, and sound engineers, and talent. Its a big hodgepodge of a million different things going on at once. And yet in middle of all the chaos, I find myself energized and happy to be a cog in the wheel. What can I say, I have masochistic tendencies. Im a glutton for punishment.  

Ummmmm SCARY!!!! Hope I have something to say in 3,2,1…. Day one of shooting my own show, Shop this Room. 

Ummmmm SCARY!!!! Hope I have something to say in 3,2,1…. Day one of shooting my own show, Shop this Room. 

The Real

One of the things I like best about being on camera is that it forces you to be absolutely, 100 percent Present. There is no other time or other space. There is no past and no future. There is only the now and everyone is watching. To be good on TV you have to be present and you have to be real. Phony doesn't fly. The camera reveals everything. Be in the moment, be present with people, and reveal who you are. Otherwise, you might as well drop the mike. 

The Craft Services

Ummmm…. I'm serious. Every snack you can imagine can be yours in between takes. I'm just saying… the perks is the perks. 

  Slating myself… if that is a thing. 

 

Slating myself… if that is a thing. 

The Communication: Geeking Out

After graduating College I was a teacher. A first grade teacher actually. Not a career for the faint of heart, but incredibly, undeniably rewarding at the same time. And then I taught dance in public schools. I was pretty much a cross between an army sergeant and a pumped up version Debbie Allen on Fame (if that is at all possible). Needless to say, I loved it! Teaching is in my blood. Explaining. Talking. Illustrating. Sharing. Coming up with ideas and finding creative ways to express them. Constantly learning. Continuously growing. TV gives me a chance to do that in a different way. I get to talk about what I love and share my views with anyone who is willing to watch. The more problems to solve the better. The more I get to geek out on design even mo' better. And the better I get at sharing something that people can really use in their lives... the best! 

The Lingo

Let's face it the lingo is cool. "Wheels up at 8:30." Walkie Talkie antics. And who can beat saying "Copy That"?!?

 

Until next week... 

xx

d

dcdny.com is LIVE!

The day has finally come… 

It has been a long time coming but I am truly so excited to be able to bring my voice and my vision to the world in this new way. I am here to share and to learn. I am here to answer questions and show a behind the scenes look at the work I do. Please write me. Please ask me anything. I am here… and this is NOW! 

Let the journey begin! 

xx

d