Dress Your Floors with Diane von Furstenberg’s Iconic Prints

Diane von Furstenberg is a woman whose simple, yet elegant wrap dress reinvented women’s fashion. After decades as a fashion industry style-setter, the design and business legend continues to expand her ubiquitous brand with a rug collection. Her signature bold and glamorous interpretation of nature’s distinctive patterns and color palettes are presented in her artisan rug collection exclusively available through The Rug Company.

Her leopard and python designs are ideal exotic statements for traditional to contemporary decor. The 9 x 6 feet rugs are available in sophisticated hues of lilac, rich grey and blue tones. Each rug is hand-knotted with the finest Tibetan wool yarns by Nepalese artisans for the ultimate visual and tactile experience.

Plan on investing from $5,670 to $7,236 for one of DVF’s latest classics featured here with more designs to come.

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Cafe Design Notes

Have you ever had that moment when you clicked your heels in anticipation of a project you would love to design? Well, this contemporary cafe is one of my heel-clicking projects.

The cafe owner’s concept is an establishment that serves delectable, healthy food in a fun environment with educational support regarding healthy lifestyle habits from nutrition to exercise. His design vision was a sleek, contemporary space with clean lines and an infusion of warm and rustic elements. Think of a Miami/Midwest mash-up. Here is my inspiration board:


I oversaw the space planning, design process, furniture selection, food photography, custom art creation, paint color and placement. My process included working in close tandem with the owner to oversee the accuracy of his vision through interaction with the general contractor, architect and suppliers to bring the cafe to life.

Color + Design Story

White serves as the backdrop to a mix of grey, chrome, purple and lime green to amplify the brand. I selected a combination of straight and curved lines to utilize as much as of the angular space while incorporating some softness with the curved lines of the chairs and bar area.

We reclaimed wood throughout the space, stained it and integrated it throughout from the window frames to the base of the bar. I worked with a local organic farmer and artist to convert shipping pallets to a vertical garden. The concrete floor was stained a grey color that was repeated in the bar countertop surface, chair legs and pendant lighting.

White walls and tables were accented with colored chairs and vibrant, custom photography. A pop of green was painted on the bar ceiling and purple appeared in the middle section raised ceiling area.


 Seating to Serve

I maximized floor space and added visual interest with a combination of seating from bar height chairs, to standard seating and bench seating. The mix of single and group seating options with expanded configurations accommodated the patrons.  During warmer months, the front patio provides additional seating.



Due to space configuration and wall limitations, a series of hanging menu boards was designed for quick ordering at the cash register and to avoid interfering with the lighting. Additionally, I took into consideration simplicity and affordability of updating individual boards in case menu updates were necessary. Ideally, a future design will feature video menu boards.


It was important to showcase this new restaurant and menu concept with images of its food.  The chef and a food photograph worked with me to capture the beauty and visual taste of an array of menu items. I then had these professional images printed to custom sizes that fit the walls in specific places. I chose  plexiglass and chrome standoffs to accent the contemporary theme and showcase the food.


I also designed nutrition cards featuring superfoods that also referenced menu options with that particular superfood ingredient to further promote the owner’s healthy lifestyle message.


Vertical Garden

One of my favorite design ideas for this space was adding this vertical garden. It featured beautiful succulents on the bottom and herbs for the chef’s use in dishes. Plus, it is fabricated out of discarded shipping wood pallets.


Patrons have raved on social media:

“Great atmosphere.”

“The atmosphere is modern and clean.”

How can I be of service to you in bringing your cafe and/or restaurant design to life? Contact me.


10 Modern Decked Out Furniture Designs

Ah Spring. The rhythm of renewal begins. The sunny, cotton-candy cloud infused blue skies and the constellation starlit nights help you shed those cabin fever blues. It’s time for warm sand, water escapades, green grass under your toes and dancing on your deck.

As outdoor living continues to be a part of our lifestyles during warmer months, it is becoming just as important of a functional and visually stimulating space as the rest of the house. Decks, patios and balconies serve as scenic framework for hosting your social affairs, family playtime, romantic rendezvous, pet parlors and urban gardens.

Today’s furniture is designed to flow both indoors and out. The latest creations feature organic and geometric shapes, LED-lighting capabilities, bright colors and modular, space-saving solutions. This season, consider my 10 cool, modern furniture picks to deck out your outdoor space to accommodate lazy lounging to backyard bourbon BBQ’s:



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Check out these 10 modern planters for your outdoor plants and garden.




10 Stylish Modern Planters for Your Home

Ah, spring is finally here. The allure of vibrant flowers and lush green plants drives most of us to our favorite nursery to replenish our existing planters or add some more greenery and color to our space. Besides embellishing our interiors and outdoor landscape, live plants clean our air and replenish it with fresh oxygen.  They decrease our stress and ignite our productivity.

Therefore, the right thing to do is to place your plants in the most stylish, artistic planters that enhance their natural color, design and growth patterns. Here are ten of my favorite modern and artistic indoor/outdoor planters to add to your decor with your favorite flowers and plants.

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Check out these 10 modern furniture solutions for your deck, patio or balcony.


3 Style-Packed Interior Design Ideas for Microdwellings

Microdwellings are readily gaining popularity throughout the states. However, our American taste for vast space has spawned planned communities with 3,000 sq ft homes on large lots, McMansions in suburban subdivisions and a thirst for more garage space, storage space and in essence, stuff.

So, let’s face it. Although microdwellings are on the rise, the process to downsize from several thousand square feet to 600 to 1,000 sq. feet bodes some serious consideration. What will you keep? How can you have great style in such a small space? How does your day-to-day life function? My biggest question, where am I going to store all of my shoes? Answering these types of questions require a clear, intentional plan.

It can be done. From personal experience in choosing to downsize to researching hundreds of microdwellings, you can live in less space and with less than you might first think. In my recent Big Style ~ Small Space presentation, I shared the following tips for planning your smaller space for functionality while retaining your personal style:


A change is physical dimensions requires a different set of objects with multiple functions.  My tips include:

  • Reduce the size of furniture in relation to the scale of the space.
  • Select multi-functional pieces like nesting tables, ottomans that serve as tables and convertible furniture that can adjust to your needs as necessary.
  • Pop up furniture (my term), like the blue chair below, is crafted by an Amsterdam firm and provides sturdy support with gorgeous contemporary lines and is easy to assemble and stack.
  • Incorporate lucite furniture to add what you need with no visual weight. Tables, chairs and desks in lucite are fantastic solutions for room and style. The Kartell Ghost Chair is one of my absolute favs.
  • Break the rules! Traditionally, living rooms feature a sofa, loveseat, a few chairs and tables. You can have chairs vs. sofas; loveseats vs. couches. Think differently and try new options.
  • There is a resurging interest and need for murphy beds. The new ones are smart and clever such as the one below that serves multiple functions within a space maximizing every square inch.

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Mirrors and reflective surfaces such as lacquers are two great secrets to adding more light and thus the illusion of space to any room in any size of home.  The example below makes this mirror area a focal point. It could hide a Murphy bed or serve as a storage or wardrobe unit. Oversized mirrors such as the image below are perfectly fine in a small space. Try bold looks.




Use your wall space and functional space like stairs for storage and to add design details that won’t work on the floor of your space. And, for any home, there are many beautiful and creative ways to hide your junk in plain sight by making the storage boxes a part of your décor. You can add them to a dresser, console, desk or shelf. You can consider hanging baskets as art and storage as well.

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These tips are just a few ways to individualize your microdwelling interiors.The exciting thing about microdwellings is that once you define your style and space functionality, the existing and customized design solutions make the process very, very fun.


Big Style ~ Small Space Free Presentation

Microdwellings, in various forms, have been a part of numerous European and South American cultures for years. Within the past decade, Americans are becoming familiar and embracing the movement to reduce their living space and explore alternative dwellings in which to inhabit. The recent recession has spurred both necessity and desire to explore this way of living throughout the country from dense cities like Manhattan to the rambling fields of the Midwest and green hills of the South.

In Phoenix, sustainable living and microdwelling pioneer, Patrick McCue, plans an annual exhibit at Shemer Art Center and Museum featuring design features of modular structures, sustainable living tips and workshops.

According to Mr. McCue, “The goal of the movement of Microdwelling is to infuse the community with ideas about availability of building materials and resources, affordability, and to demonstrate hands-on construction techniques. It is the desire to of the organizers of this series of events that Microdwelling will be a springboard for a groundswell of activity that takes sustainable living to a new, more widespread level within the community.”

Some people may feel like sacrificing space means sacrificing style. That is not true. Learn how to maximize space and reflect your style in a small structure. Join me on Saturday, February 28, 2015 from 1:00pm to 1:45pm for my free presentation about interior design ideas from furniture to technology for microdwellings.




Design Transformation: Traditional to Contemporary Mid-Century Mod Mix

Some houses just have great bones. You know the ones that are chameleons and can support a range of styles to suit the inhabitants. This house was such a house. The original owners had very traditional tastes with some outdated colors. The new owner had a vision for a contemporary, cool space. All it took was some paint, the right furniture and a love for contemporary and mid-century modern furniture in a classy mash-up and honoring the bones.

Here is a visual transformation of one room. Bye-bye salmon walls.


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What does your space want to become? Let’s discuss. Contact me here.





Blue Notes: Interior Design Trend Inspiration

Blues form the colors of the sea and sky. In some way, they ground us. Soothe our souls. The dimensions and layers of blues in a crystal clear ocean are breathtaking. The midnight navy of the sky is spellbinding. This season offers a spectrum of blues to incorporate into your home from original art to paint to unusual furniture. The ultimate fun in interior design are the infinite ways to combine styles, patterns, colors and shapes to express your individuality.  Hopefully, these items will spark your inspiration.


Aqua/Turquoise/Lapis  Inspiration



Color Palettes



Paint Colors


Image Credits: Unknown; Benjamin Moore and Ralph Lauren




Image Credits: Total Wallcovering; F Schumacher and Cole and Son


Original Art


Image Credits: TobiasTovera, Design for Mankind; “The Abyss” Original Art by Jen; Paintings by KEGilmore



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Image Credits: Jonathan Adler; Edward Fields and Unknown

Decor Accessories

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Image Credits: Murano (chandelier); Instyle-Decor (glass lamp) and the rest unknown





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Image Credits: Hollywood Inc. (1st chair); DelaWarr Pavilion Chair (2nd row); Brabbou Saari Sofa, Boa sofa 









Mid-Century Modern Furniture Enthusiast Turned Store Owner

During my Midwestern walkabout, as I refer to it,  I stumbled upon a hidden treasure  owned by this very cool and eloquent man.  As a lover and collector of mid-century modern furniture and design, I was missing my jaunts in Los Angeles and Phoenix where I would typically get my thrills. Dave’s store, Mad Modern, thankfully gave my heart a new beat.

In this interview, Dave  shares his story of turning his hobby and love for mid-century modern furniture and design into a business where people can learn more and purchase some outstanding classics.  Check out our chat.

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Feature Image from LA Modern, Edward Wormley’s Listen-to-Me Couch


How to Add Fine Art to Your Workspace

Art is a representation of the human experience. It takes us through the spectrum of human emotions from laughter to anger; despair to hope. It taps our intellect by questioning or reinforcing our beliefs. It possesses the power to ignite our creativity and expand our view of the world. Art frames our perspective of the world.

Workplace Wellness
The business case for fine art in a commercial setting (classroom, healthcare, government facility or professional office) is fairly simple. It helps define the business’ brand to employees, customers and vendors. In various studies, the results show that art increases productivity by 15%. Any savvy business person knows that if employees have some sort of voice in selecting workplace art from viable options, their happiness, job satisfaction and pride in themselves as well as the company increases. These types of results typically contribute to employment longevity.

After all, we spend the majority of our waking hours and life in some type of work environment. Job satisfaction is a big deal. According to Anne Stamats, Founder of Black Earth Gallery, “Original, fine art is exceptionally important in the work environment. It sets a mood that shows both employees and clients that their state of mind is important. It also supports artists locally, regionally and nationally. It can play a large role in attracting more talented and intelligent employees.”


Chart courtesy of International Art Consultants

Watch this interview for one company’s employees’ feedback to their fine art collection:

Most businesses are aware of some of these benefits, but are unsure about where and how to start incorporating fine art into the workspace. My art experts and I have collaborated on some starting basics, starting with style.

Fine art typically encompasses paintings, photography, ceramics and sculpture. The most common workplace styles are in the landscape/nature genre as well as abstract paintings and photographs. The style and type of fine art does vary between industries. According to Anne, “Different industries should think about what is appropriate in their work environment. for examples, healthcare spaces need to create calming environments for patients and visitors. Therefore landscape and nature images accomplish these goals and are easy to understand when viewed.”

In addition to the style of art, “The subject matter of the images is imperative to consider first. What you might place in a health care environment might not be the ideal artwork for a law practice,” states Ted Decker, Private Art Dealer/Independent Curator/Art Educator. Ted takes type and subject matter to another level for his corporate clients by establishing art curation and collection processes. “These include providing employees a formal way to provide their feedback to artwork that is especially placed by their space. This type of policy allows for employees to buy-in to the program and maximizes the benefits of placing art in the office.”

As with all purchase considerations, once you identify your style, then it is time to budget for acquisitions.

The budget to allocate filling space is a unique proposition. Several variables such as space, type of business and industry, overall interior furnishings budget, number of employees and work stations, meeting rooms and more factor into setting an art budget. Anne suggests starting at five percent of the building cost. Whatever the final percentage is, it is really important to dedicate funding for original, fine art.

Anne related that some companies express concern over investing in art for the fear of looking bad. “My response is to remind them that they are asking clients to spend a considerable amount of money with them. The type of art on the walls does correlate to the company’s product or service pricing. Companies that charge premium prices are essentially expected to reflect their standards with the interiors of their offices, including their art.”

“There is a way to provide high-quality, original fine art and pay attention to budget. Some of my clients have interwoven student fine art with the work of more established fine artists,” shares Ted. “This type of approach provides emerging artists the opportunity to receive both income and exposure, provides the company with the opportunity to support both local businesses and artists and can provide both their business and selected artists with public relations opportunities. These win-win scenarios are important and beneficial to all parties.”

Ted reminds clients to budget a framing allowance. In tandem, if art is purchased for shipping to your location, it is wise to invest in the proper shipping packaging and service to protect your investment.

Both Anne and Ted reiterate to their clients that fine art is an investment and can be treated like other company assets. As with other assets, the size, quality and investment of each piece should correlate to its placement.

Art in the office should have designated places. According to Anne, “when planning art collections and installations, I factor in peoples’ need to have their eyes rest on walls or spaces that don’t have anything on them. Too much art creates visual overload.” Visual overload can become distracting and draining for employees as well as visitors. “Even when I look at the blueprints and plan spaces, I still do a walk through to feel the space. During this process, I pay attention to walls that might “scream” at me for a work of art. When that happens I listen. That “feel” is usually accurate. This is advice I extend to people for their homes as well.”

Even though some art might be more visibly seen then others, such as the reception lobby versus an employee kitchen, it can be tempting to mix original, fine art with mass-produced art to save money. The result usually sends mixed messages and is not aesthetically balanced or pleasing. Mass-produced art can have its place, but it provides no true brand DNA distinction which is important to emphasis to employees, vendors and clients. Original, fine art is memorable; a desire of every company.

“Art is like the frosting on the cake. You can spend a fortune on a building or build-out, but we all know the real refinement of a space comes down to the frosting,” declares Anne. That frosting can be sweetened with time. You can start off with fewer, high-quality original fine artworks and expand the collection in increments. Ted creates strategic plans for his clients to assist them in building a long-term collection. His plans can include permanent and rotating pieces.

Investing in original, fine art, “gives your workspace a personality that truly distinguishes the company’s brand DNA. It shows community support and makes your business appear more intelligent. In today’s competitive talent race, the quality of life inside and outside of the office is a winning factor,” notes Anne.

Watch this video to see one of the most interesting, expansive and beautiful collections in an office:

Art in your workplace can literally improve your company’s bottom-line through the acquisition of the happy, intelligent, creative and productive talent and a reputation for community goodwill. Please reach out to the experts in this article to assist you in establishing your company’s visual voice.


Black Earth Gallery


Featured art ‘Listen’ by Beth Ames Swartz.