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.
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.
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.
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…