Monday, June 29, 2009

International Market Square

International Market Square (IMS) is the main design center for the upper Midwest. It hosts offices for designers and about 70 showrooms to the trade and some to the public as well. I first started going there while in interior design school and now have become quite familiar with many of the showrooms there. Some of my favorites include: Kravet, Francis King, Hoffsommer and Russ, Holly Hunt, Waterworks, Fantasia, and Schumacher.

Kravet and Schumacher and Hoffsommer and Russ have amazing fabrics and a huge selection.
Kravet Showroom

Francis King, Holly Hunt and Kravet have beautiful furniture to suit many different styles.
Holly Hunt Image

Francis King also has amazing accessories. I could spend an afternoon there.
Francis King Showroom

Waterworks and Fantasia showrooms are my favorite showrooms for plumbing fixtures and tile.
Waterworks Image

Fantasia has beautiful recycled glass tile that I love and is priced well.

Fantasia Image
During my internship we worked on a kitchen backsplash with this tile and I loved it. Someday I hope to have it somewhere in my house.

One of the many perks of being a designer in MN is showroom access to all of these and more of the amazing products out there in the design world. I love going for the afternoon and browsing the showrooms to see what is out there and enjoy the showroom design, even if I don't have a purpose for going there or a project I'm working on. Hopefully soon I'll have lots of clients that want to go shopping there with me!


A little off the subject of design, but I just got back from an amazing yoga class and I feel so much better. I started doing yoga about 6 months ago when school was pretty stressful and I was having a lot of muscle aches and pains and trouble sleeping. After my first class, I immediately felt better, just the stretching aspect of yoga was just what I needed after a long day of sitting through design classes. After a few months I started noticing my legs and arms getting stronger and my aches and pains lessening. I also had a better handle on some of the stress I was feeling from my last year of school. I always feel so refreshed after an hour long yoga class twice a week. I love that you don't need any equipment to practice it (except a mat if you want) and you can really do it anywhere from at home or outdoors or even in your hotel room on vacation. Yoga really has a lot of health benefits and is great for people of all ages. I've even had the five year old that I nanny for enjoy doing it!

Some of the benefits of yoga include:

Flexibility: Stretching your tight body in new ways will help it to become more flexible, bringing greater range of motion to muscles and joints. Over time, you can expect to gain flexibility in your hamstrings, back, shoulders and hips.

Strength: Many yoga poses require you to support the weight of your own body in new ways, including balancing on one leg. Some exercises require you to move slowly in and out of poses, which also increases strength.

Muscle tone: As a by-product of getting stronger, you can expect to see increased muscle tone. Yoga helps shape long, lean muscles.

Pain Prevention: Increased flexibility and strength can help prevent the causes of some types of back pain. Many people who suffer from back pain spend a lot of time sitting at a computer or driving a car. That can cause tightness and spinal compression, which you can begin to address with yoga. Yoga also improves your alignment, which helps prevent many other types of pain.

Better Breathing: Most of us breathe very shallowly into the lungs and don't give much thought to how we breathe. Yoga breathing exercises focus the attention on the breath and teach us how to better use our lungs, which benefits the entire body. Certain types of breath can also help clear the nasal passages and even calm the central nervous system, which has both physical and mental benefits.

Mental Benefits

Mental Calmness: Yoga practice is intensely physical. Concentrating so intently on what your body is doing has the effect of bringing a calmness to the mind. Yoga also introduces you to meditation techniques, such as watching how you breathe and disengagement from your thoughts, which help calm the mind.

Stress Reduction: Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Because of the concentration required, your daily troubles, both large and small, seem to melt away during the time you are doing yoga. This provides a much-needed break from your stressors, as well as helping put things into perspective. The emphasis yoga places on being in the moment can also help relieve stress, as you learn not to dwell on past events or anticipate the future. You will leave a yoga class feeling less stressed than when you started.

Read more of this article here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Design Intelligence

I was emailed an interesting article today from Design Intelligence about using design to better society. I always like reading articles like this because they plant a seed in my head about ways to use design talents and ideas in a way that not only beautifies and enhances space and increases function, but takes it a step further and really benefits society in some way by addressing a need/issue and presenting a solution to that issue. You can check out the article here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Plinth and Chintz

I don't know if you have heard of Plinth and Chintz or not, but I must share this site! The mission of Plinth and Chintz, as stated on their website, is this:

To bridge the gap between the student / educational community and the professional / manufacturer community of the interior design world, and not to die of boredom while we do it.

The website is a series of articles geared towards interior design students, emerging professionals and professionals. The articles are written by designers and students in the industry offering up their advice and experience in everything from finding that first job, to etiquette while dining out with clients and co-workers, to math tips for designers, and dressing for the job. You could spend a full day delving into these articles and you wouldn't even be close to finishing. There is so much good information on this site! Designers can even write for the site by contributing articles on subjects where they have something to share and add with other designers.

Check it out!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why use an Interior Designer?

Ten Reasons to Work with a Designer

*excerpts from American Homestyle.

1. Interior Design, or decorating, looks easy - until you try it yourself. Your little weekend project stretches on for months. You realize you can't return that sofa that looked so perfect on the showroom floor. And as a whole, things are just not going as well as planned.

2. The ability to solve problems. Whether you're plagued by lack of storage, a featureless room or poor traffic flow, a designer is an expert in understanding color, scale, light and space.

3. The expertise to prevent costly mistakes. Most people remodel or redesign once or twice in their lifetime. An experienced designer will ensure you journey down a smooth and well traveled path.

4. Access to a much wider range of resources. The world of interior design is limitless with your designer at your side. "Trade only" is no longer a closed door.

5. Contacts. Any design is only as good as its execution. Designers know and work with the best workrooms and trades-people. Their connections and clout make sure the job is top-notch.

6. Guidance. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of design is selecting from the multitude of choices available. A designer knows the sources and can help edit down the options and offer seasoned advice to steer you through the process.

7. Better quality and longer-lasting style. Timeless designs and well manufactured furnishings coupled with keen insight equals a longevity that an interior designer can help you achieve.

8. Help set priorities. A designer will give you advice on how best to spend your money now - and plan for future phases of the design process.

8. Arbitration with your significant other. A designer can be the third party with out vested interest and help ease through disagreements.

9. An advocate. Designers work with trades-people, showrooms and manufacturers on a regular basis and have more leverage to get things repaired or replaced when needed.

10. The ability to get the job done. How often have you just not been able to get the job completely done? It is the designer's job to follow through with every aspect of the process and see that each detail and every element is complete and to your satisfaction.

image from Molaia Design.

I found this article and decided to post it because I really like how it explains how designers can help their clients and make their lives easier. I think it is especially important these days to be able to let people know the value of interior designers and how they can get things done right the first time, especially in this economy when people are into DIY and saving money. I may come up with my own reasons and include them in my FAQ section of my website for my interior design business.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Working Girl

I am so excited that I found Polyvore today! What a fun tool to put outfits and rooms together. Here's a casual office look I put together to test out how the site works. I'd wear this to meet clients, working at the office or running around to pick up samples.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Here's a kitchen that I'm loving.

  • I like how it feels fresh, open and inviting.
  • The glass tile on the wall over the buffet is interesting. I like how it doesn't cover the entire wall and highlights the shelves.
  • I love the built-in storage nooks, pantry space and coffee machine.
  • I like how the dining table in the middle of the kitchen doesn't crowd the space and adds so much more workspace in the room.
  • The wood floors are amazing!
  • The bright pops of orange keeps your eye moving throughout the space.
  • I like the industrial looking chairs paired with the marble-topped wood table.
  • I love the Wolf hood and range combo.

Images from Fiddlehead Design Group.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Art on a dime

The other day I bought a few white frames from Ikea to put on the shelves in our bedroom. I really wasn't feeling any of the artwork there, but I was also hoping to find some for cheap. So I came home and created these two pieces. I took the first letter of both my name and my husbands. Then I grabbed our favorite quotes to use in the background. I figured it would be an inspirational piece of artwork to look at as we wake up in the morning. I'll post pictures when the artwork is in the frames and the shelves are complete!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Emotional Side of Color

Blue-serenity, loyalty, sincerity, justice, peace, sadness, anecdote for red

Yellow-optimism, cheer, wisdom, warmth, irritability, hostility

Red-love, passion, courage, danger

White-joy, hope, purity, innocence, cleanliness, enlightenment

Green-growth, birth, envy, refreshment,wealth, compassion

Gray-steady, stable,negotiable,protected, dignity, resignation

Orange-active, bold,cheerful,fun, exuberance

Color is an amazing tool that allows us to evoke a certain feeling or mood. If we take advantage of color we also reap the physical benefits as well. For example, blue reduces blood pressure and is good for concentration. Yellow sharpens memory and aids digestion. Red increases blood pressure and aids digestion. Green is good for rejuvenation, balance and absorbs the after image of color (used in operating rooms). Orange decreases irritability, decreases hostility and improves social behavior. Take a moment to consider how color affects you in the rooms you design and live in.

Images courtesy of: Room Envy, Orange Room, Country Living, ShakinStyle, Coastal Living.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Reading Wish List

One of the things I love to do in the summer is to grab a lawn chair, a fruity drink and lather up with sunscreen to sit outside and enjoy a good book. Here are a few interior design books on my summer reading wish list.....

This book looks like a great reference book as well as a good tool to work on interior design drawings from sketches, to plans, elevations and sections. I have a pretty good handle on Auto Cad at this point, but I would definitely like to improve my hand drafting and sketching skills. In a client meeting we won't always have the luxury of Auto Cad near us and should know how to quickly sketch an idea or plan concept.

Has anyone read this one from House Beautiful? I love the magazine so I can only assume the book will be just as good.

This book looks really interesting. I think that most of us would like our design work to help the world and not hinder it. Coming from a social work background, I often struggle with the fact that I left a field dedicated to helping people, but finding ways to help people creatively with design is the best of both worlds for me and helps relieve some of that guilt.

I have this book and have only skimmed through it so far to help with writing my letter of agreement for my design business, but it has tons of forms that interior designers use in their business practices from contracts, to purchase agreements and other legal forms. It even includes a CD-ROM of all the forms so you can easily use them and make them your own.

I started reading this book while I was in school for my Professional Business Practices class. I love this one because it is filled with practical information that every designer needs to know before starting her own business. I have to finish reading this one this summer since I didn't get through it during the school year.

I'm hoping this book will help strengthen my perspective hand drawing skills. (one of my summer goals) Find out more about it here.

So those are just a few of the books on my list, but I know I will be constantly adding more as cross some off of my list. I'm hoping the library carries a few of these or I will be reading these at a slow pace so I don't break my piggy bank.

How about you? Do you have any great interior design books on your shelf that you can't live without? I would love any and all recommendations you might have!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Today's Inspiration-My Garden

Where to find inspiration

Anywhere! No, really if you pay attention to the little details in life you can find inspiration everywhere. For me, spring and summer are the best seasons to find inspiration because there is so much beauty outside-flowers, grass, blue skies, clouds, rain, fresh scents, breeze, and even those little floaty cotton things.

Here's a list of 10 places where I find my inspiration....

1. Nature-if a color combination exists in nature, then it is automatically beautiful and acceptable to use in your home.

2. Design Magazines-(duh!) you can always find amazing things to look at and copy here. Some of my favorites include: House Beautiful, Interior Design, Metropolitan Home, Traditional Home, Coastal Living and I could go on and on.

3. Blogs- yes, it's true, I spend hours a day reading blogs and overwhelming my brain with all the gorgeous photos, and interesting writing, swoon-worthy rooms and crafty crafts that are updated everyday, non-stop. I literally find a new blog every day that I love and can't stop reading. It's awesome. Check out my blog roll for some of my faves.

4. Books-although I've been spending a lot more time lately reading blogs than books, I still love getting lost in an intriguing story and imagining the beautiful environments that the characters in the books are living in. The more descriptive the writing the better, but I love leaving some details up to my imagination too!

5.Interior designer's websites-I frequently google search designer's websites in my area for inspiration on many things such as website layout and ideas, business structure and pricing, their portfolio work and styles and their press. Today I found this website and blog. I'm officially in love.

6. The Internet-the world wide web is my oyster...I am constantly soaking up knowledge wherever I can get it and the web is by far the fastest and most broad source of information you can find. Google anything and you can find some inspiration.

7. Food-what's not to love? Seriously, look at the colors of your food. Hello, inspiration!

8. Garage Sales- Other people's junk is your treasure. I think it is a real talent to be able to look at someone else's throwaways and see all the possibilities it still has left in it. I am inspired by Censational Girl's blog almost daily-she is the queen of re-purposing. Check out one of my favorite re-designs she recently posted.

9. Showcase Homes-In my last post I talked about the 2009 ASID Showcase home here in MN. I loved being able to talk to the designers who created this lovely home and to be able to draw on the creativity of their work. If you have any of these showcase homes in your area, I highly recommend going on the tour.

10. Creative People- Surround yourself with creative people and you will be constantly inspired by what they do and how they live their life. Take notes. I've been lucky to spend my time with my mother who creates gorgeous handmade jewelry, my aunts who create unique handmade cards, interior design students who have blossomed after three years of design school, ASID members who have been in the industry for many years and my husband who always comes up with great graphic design ideas for websites, my business cards, my logo, and countless other things. I'm so thankful that he always pushes me to do my best, leave my comfort zone and take leaps even when I am feeling like a million other people already do it better.

Thanks for reading about my design inspiration! Where does yours come from??

Kitchen image from

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

2009 MN ASID Showcase Home

Yesterday I attended the 2009 ASID Showcase Home here in Minnesota. This year's house is a Mid-Century Modern home that was remodeled and redecorated to fit into the needs of a family with two young kids. It was a really fun day for ASID designers and industry partners to visit the house and meet with the designers (Public tours are open Wednesday-Sundays). Each room was designed by different designers working collaboratively to make the house as a whole flow together. Meeting the designers was really fun and I loved listening to them describe their rooms and thought-processes about their design. I think they did an amazing job and I was really impressed. My goal is to someday be one the designers on a ASID Showcase home! I only have a few sneak peek pictures to show you unfortunately, as we were not allowed to take photos. I'm hoping that once the tours are over at the end of the month that they will post more pictures for us to see. I'll post them here if they do. If any of you have access to Msp/St. Paul Home magazine, they did a big feature on the home this month with sketches of each room and a list of products used and where you can find them. I'll try to scan some pages in later today but I'm not sure how they will turn out. In the meantime, enjoy a few sneak peeks...

Friday, June 5, 2009

LEED Certified Home

My senior studio project for school was a 3400 sq. foot residential home in which I chose the outer building shell and then designed everything on the inside from doing the space planning for all the walls/rooms/areas in the house including window placement and door locations to the furniture, fabrics, flooring, plumbing fixtures, appliances, paint colors,accessories and lighting plan. The only requirements that we had was that it must be at least 3,000 sq. ft. and have three bathrooms and two levels. It was a huge project that we spent the entire semester working independently on. I decided that I wanted my house to be LEED Certified at the silver level so I chose fabrics with recycled or eco-friendly content, renewable bamboo flooring, FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified woods, zero-voc paints, energy efficient appliances and used space-planning techniques such as placing windows on the south side of the home to take advantage of the sunlight to save on heating costs, using a tankless water heater, and using SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) to construct the home instead of typical framing to save up to 60% on energy bills. It was a really fun project to work on and I learned a lot about LEED and sustainability and the eco-friendly materials that are available now.

I had originally planned to study for the LEED exam this summer since I would still sort of be in "school mode" but once I graduated I realized that a month to study for the exam just was not enough time. A lot of people spend at least six months studying and since I am someone that needs to feel prepared before I do anything, I decided to put it off until I could study more. The only disadvantage to that is that they are changing the LEED exam this June and it requires taking two exams now and I've heard that it is more difficult. eek! I guess I'll just have to get studying!

Sorry the pictures aren't the best!
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