Repurposing Your Feather Boas into a Holiday Wreath

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Michael Raun Home DIY Project:  Creating a Holiday Wreath

Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Creating a Holiday Wreath

It’s amazing how quickly the holidays come around and even more exciting, is the prospect of what you can create for the coming season. My obsession with nontraditional takes on the holidays has fueled my need  to find inexpensive, unexpected materials that translate into chic holiday décor.

Two years ago I was walking through Party City looking through decorations when I came upon a black feather boa. I was having my best friends birthday party at my apartment and thought the boas would drape well in creating  an over-the-top Art Deco party feel. Two months later as the holidays were approaching I immediately thought of repurposing the boas into holiday wreaths.   The sheen, color and texture would translate well as the base of a wreath and would set the tone for my  version of the holidays.

Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a holiday wreath

Using a black feather boa to create a holiday wreath

What you will need:

  1. Wreath ring orform (you can find item at Michael’s craft stores

    Michael Raun Home Holiday DIY wreath project

    Michael Raun Home Holiday DIY wreath project

  2. Feather Boa (s) (you can find item at Party City)

    Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a  Holiday Wreath

    Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a Holiday Wreath

  3. Hot Glue Gun ( You can find at the dollar store or at Michael’s)

    Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a  Holiday Wreath

    Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a Holiday Wreath

  4. Fabric Ribbon (you can find at Michael’s)

Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a  Holiday Wreath

5. Command Strip hook

Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a Holiday Wreath

Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a Holiday Wreath

The Process:

  • Purchase the appropriate ring that is sized to the wreath you would like to create (think of where you might hang it and how big you will want it to be)
  • Understanding the size and location will help in determining how many boas you should purchase.
  • If you can, take the wreath ring with you to the store to gauge how many boas you will need

Purchase a number of boas, making sure to have enough if not more of the materials.                          

****Remember, for the finished product to look great, it needs to look full and you can always return boas that have not been used.

Also, look for feather boas that have great sheen, luster and fullness 

  • Spread  plastic drop cloth across the floor giving yourself room to spread out
  • Lay out your materials and begin to coil the boas around the ring. Having a good sense of direction is imperative to completing the project well.
  • Now you know how to coil the boas and how many you will need, begin with the end glued to the back side of the wreath ring. We only want  to see the feathers on the display side.
  • Continue to wrap the boa around the ring, making sure to have the end of the first boa is glued to the back side. Trim the end of the second boa and glue it to the back side of the ring, continuing from where the first one ended.
  • Use the glue gun to attach the boas to the ring making sure that you’re careful with not getting the glue on the finished  feathers.
  • Once you’ve completed the entire wreath, check to make sure the feathers are full and there aren’t any bald spots.
  • Once you’re done, cut a strip of ribbon long enough to your desired hanging height, loop it around the top of the finished wreath and glue the two ends together.
  • Congrats, you just made yourself a wreath and you are ready to hang it up using the Command Strip hook
Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a  Holiday Wreath

Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a Holiday Wreath

  • I used black feather boas but you can feel free to use other colors that fit your color story
Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a Holiday Wreath

Michael Raun Home DIY Project: Making a Holiday Wreath

 

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Fluid Design: Allowing your Space to Evolve with your Perpetually Changing Self.

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Every time my in-laws come over, they are always astounded at the changes that have occurred since they last visited. And each time they’d ask why, I would say, “I’ve always been this way!” In the three years that I have lived in this apartment, I have changed the space at least 20 times. When I’m not painting or refinishing, I am redesigning, refining or reconfiguring and many times it can be a combination of all occurring concurrently.

So this last weekend when they visited, I was once again reminded of my ever evolving space, except that this time they just inquired about what was new to the space. They did not ask why but rather seemed excited at the prospect of seeing what new design component we were able to integrate.

My excitement by their interest quickly evolved into deep introspection, thinking of this continual need for change. I was sitting with a friend talking about this very issue as he perceived his changing space as an inability to commit.  While the latter could be true, I posed this question to him,

“If you’re constantly changing with the experiences of living, why do you assume that your space would not do the same?”

Are you ever the same person as you were a second or a moment ago? And subsequently, do you limit your creative prowess by closing yourself off to fluid change?

I always cringe when I hear people say “I know myself” and I usually follow the statement with “You know yourself to this point”; And even then, most of who we perceive ourselves to be in premised on who we were.

Within our discomfort of the unknown, are we willing to sacrifice the exponential possibilities, of which we are, in pursuit of limiting ourselves in confinement to whom we were or who we should be?

Many clients come into the process detached from this idea of fluid design. It’s usually a yearn to address everything in one swoop, not being cognizant of the fact that by the time we’re done, they would have changed.  The essence of design is to create, and creating is a conversation with your external self getting to know the essence of your soul.

Allowing the design of your space to evolve is to partake in a deeper conversation with yourself, about yourself.

I am always intrigued at art exhibits with people’s fascination with the composition of a piece rather than an interest in what the piece says about the state of being for the artist, when it was created. I look at it this way; we live our lives continually absorbing and assimilating the information of our experiences not always fully conscious of what we’re taking in and how it affects our way of being. When we create, we are accessing that life data and using it to inform our expression.

This expression of unconscious and conscious truth lets us understand ourselves unmasked. The work of art, or in this case, your space, is telling you more about yourself and your experience than you may be fully aware of.

 “It is that openness to experience and change that provides insight on our capacity to grow and evolve.”

Because you are continually changing and evolving, your space has to grow in a manner that is consistent with who you are right now. Design cannot be static, because creating is not. It is a manifestation of fluid creativity!  It draws on multiple influences, infusing into its DNA and speaks to a life, experienced. And it does so, on a perpetual loop, throughout time. If we are to have spaces that mirror our changing selves, we must be flexible and willing to evolve with that ongoing change.

And that change doesn’t have to be about bringing new furnishings or accessories into a space. It may be about resetting the energy of a space by seeing the room in a new configuration. Intuition plays a big part in affording you the possibilities of precognition; the ability to translate feeling into being.

Fluid design is driven by intuitive response and the capacity to be aware of it, the capacity to listen to it and the capacity to translate it.

So next time you feel the impulse to change things up, add  a new furnishing or accessory or reconfigure your space, don’t judge yourself on who you’re supposed to be. Allow yourself to feel your way through what feels right and your space will be honest in reflecting back to you, who you really are.

Find your voice, within a life designed, One room at a time!

Sex Designed: 13 Design Aspects that can Heighten the Experience of Making Love

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*Please press play on the music before you begin to read!”

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Candle light room

Candles burn dimly with a hint of Jasmine and brown sugar in the air. The room is dark with just enough light to see and caress the silhouette of a body as the intoxicating chants of India echoes in the background. The haunting vocal layered over a tribal-like bass is rhythmic and you can feel the fluid movement of your bodies. It’s warm and you feel the tug of the sheets as your feet pushes the comforter to the floor. Your hands reach out across the bed, intertwined and you can feel the warmth of breathe, breathing into the side of your neck.  And then, whispered words…

You’ve harnessed the feeling and energy of your space!

Every choice we make ads to the richness and experience of life and love-making happens to be one of the great joys of living. The right design, in the right setting, with the right ambiance and the right person can set the stage perfectly, for unimaginable romance. It’s indescribable!!

We’re conscious of our sex appeal as it pertains to our physical selves but do we take the time to translate our sexuality and sensuality into our spaces?

When it comes to creating the right environment for love-making, are you secure and empowered in your sexuality, in your personal space?

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Master bedroom

Nothing makes me feel sexier than living in a beautiful space that I’ve had a part of creating. It is the external manifestation of the beauty within that positively reinforces my sense of self. If I can see and appreciate the beauty created of myself, for myself, I can be confident in just being me! The expression of self that comes through is true to my energy, fluid and consistent with my experience. For me to readily access my feelings, to genuinely express my emotions, I need to exist in an environment that empowers me to be confident  in who I am.

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Metropolitan Museum

Some may ask, how do you interpret “sexy”  into a space? When we think of the human body, sexy can come from form, scale, color, texture and proportion. A room conforms to the same criteria and follows the same sensory stimuli as the human form.

 A well designed room, that is authentic to its inhabitant, is like a well dressed person secure in their sexuality.

When I think of a “sexy” space, I think of aspects that pertain to texture, dimension, form, depth, volume, saturation, shape and contrast.  More specifically, I think about the things I love; the things that stimulate my senses:

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Soft Fabrics

1. I love luxurious looking, soft fabrics that feel great against the skin and makes a space seem that more opulent e.g.  velvet, silk, faux furs and  soft cottons

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Color Contrast

2. I love vivid color that gives a room richness and depth. It’s amazing how beautiful everything  looks in a stunning space.

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating

3.  I love soft light that projects a glow on every surface in the room. It cast the right shadows and gives the room a definite mood.

Blue room

4. I love long, flowing drapes that play with volume and height and adds to the drama and romance  of a space.

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: MIrrored wall

5. I love reflective surfaces that bounce light around the room and gives a space exponential depth

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Chandelier

6. I love crystal and metal finishes as each can add an element of glamour to a room

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Flowers

7. I love the shapes , scents and colors of flowers. They bring life to a space, providing visual and aromatic appeal.

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Lamps

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Jewelry light fixtures

8. I love the form and texture in beautiful lamps and lighting fixtures. The right lighting can act similarly to a great piece of  jewelry.

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Pillows
9. I love the exotic feel of patterned pillows and the depth they provide when the fabrics and prints are mixed

MIchael Raun Home Interior design and Decorating: Scented Candles

10. I love non-aggressive,  nicely scented candles that act as a great backdrop to awesome décor. It informs the space and the moment by stimulating your sense of smell.

11. I love hearing sensual music and sounds that set the mood by relaxing the mind. They echo the design of the room and act as a liaison between the energy of the space and the energy that you embody.

Michael Raun Home Interior Design and Decorating: ELLE Decor Feature

12. I love intricate moldings reminiscent of another area that add to the romance of a space. If you don’t have these features, you can add them with paint or by adding molding to your walls.

Michael Raun Home INterior design and decorating: Jonathan Adler Designs Michael Raun Home INterior design and decorating: Jonathan Adler 2

13. And finally, I love a space with humor that integrates accessories that allows it to be light-hearted and accessible in feel.

A heightened state of being, where the bodies and minds are stimulated on multiple levels, can make for great sex.  From the lighting, to the scents, to the colors and textures, the right design can be a catalyst to great love-making.

Find your voice, within a life designed, one room at a time!

Traditions in Design – Your Life’s Narrative:The things that Define our Memories and Experiences

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It’s 8pm on a Monday night and I am with new clients deciding on which of their existing furnishings they want to use at their new apartment. Their relationships  with the items are varied but defined by their emotional connection to each piece. And yet, underlying each is a story, a narrative built on memories of the life they have lived together and apart. I am intrigued by these stories and more so, reminded of the collective narrative told by the things we own, of the life we have lived, live and will live. In a world of individual identity I wonder, what do our furnishings say about us and who we are?

Tables similar to these


Two antique tables are a point of discussion, mainly because of differing associations to the items.  They look fragile and reminiscent of furnishings you would find in an old home from the early 1900s. They were once in the home of the wife’s grandmother and when she speaks of them, she speaks of a connection to her past and a connection that she’d like to carry through to her future.

THV-400F30-DELIGHT-PALLADIUM-685x487_kle_atomic

I understand that connection; I live that connection. I grew up in my grandmother’s house, a house characterized by her special touch  – from the mid-century chairs in the living room, to the faux flowers in the overly embellished vase in the corner of the living room, to the china cabinet set to the right of the room, filled with fine dinnerware my grandfather had brought back from his travels around the world.

I remember laying next to my grandmother, head tucked into her arm, staring at a picture of the Taj Mahal that hung in her room, just across from her bed. I imagined myself there, and the feeling of standing in the presence of this great place, engulfed by an overwhelming feeling of love, nestled in the comfort of my grandmother’s embrace.

Moments like these are what lives are built on and are central to sharpening our ability to understand emotion in the things we have in our lives. This is the connection my client felt with her grandmother’s end tables and the emotion of memories, that will become a part of the narrative that she will pass on to her children, and their children.

Our lives are collections of well curated memories, cumulatively creating the narrative to our individual and collective stories. Our ability to be story tellers is steeped in being able to create visual and imaginative constructs;  backdrops to each memory. These settings contextualize the memory, provide detail and dimension, allowing us to feel a spectrum of emotions. These differentiated emotions provide a scale of range, allowing us to articulate what and how we’re feeling. We can then better gauge and categorize each memory to reference at different points in time when we need to draw on an emotion and place in time.

What we choose to include in our lives, to use as the backdrop to our memories,  is essential to being empowered to construct every memory as we wish to remember it. Being an active participant and life stager allows us to  create the types of memories we would like to remember and draw on in times of need.

“When all else is gone and we have nothing else to draw on for strength and positive reinforcement, great memories can be a resource of emotional fuel.”

Understanding your connection to the things in and around your life is to speak the language of emotion and to translate it into your space. Find your voice, within a life designed, one room at a time…

Styling your Fridge to Better Eating

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Fridge Styling 1

It’s 7pm, I just got done working and I head to the fridge to determine what I’m going to make for dinner. The fridge is full, full of stuff and I can’t quite make out the options, unless I rummage through everything.

Last Thursday’s vegetable share was still there and it seemed ever growing with the addition of this week’s. I was overwhelmed! As I stood with my arm propping the fridge door open, all I could see was bags and more bags, masking the beauty of the fresh vegetables.

I find myself uninspired on days where I have to cook just for me and I’m challenged by the prospect of not finding the right ingredients. Are there so few options that inspire or am I not inspired by what I can’t see? It’s a problem I face too often and it’s a problem many of us face at home.

I started thinking of what I could do to change my perception of the contents of my fridge and in turn, inspire me to create great, healthy dishes. My first thought was of the way I shop when I go to the store. While I complain weekly of the prices at #Wholefoods, I remind myself of the experience and therefore the cost to shop at this store. There is an ease to shopping and being inspired when the products are presented in an environment that is conducive to seeing and appreciating what’s on the shelves.

If brands work to have their products packaged and presented in a way that is most appealing to the consumer, why are we not more cognizant of the way we present our food to ourselves? Does the items in your fridge or cabinets have appetizing appeal? Do your products show best in allowing you to be inspired to cook with them?

I am not sure if it’s the same for all of us but I can only convey what I’ve learned from my own experience of having too much and not knowing what to do with all of it. In pursuit of not feeling without, we’ve managed to foster a way of thinking that clutters our fridges and pantries, clutters our minds and diminishes our connection to the food we consume – A cluttered fridge is like a cluttered mind; things get lost in the chaos.

Coming from a design perspective, I soon realized that the solution was the same approach  to reinventing a space – I needed to organize and style my fridge. I need to keep just the right amount of food that is uncluttered and visually appealing that allows me  to be empowered in being creative with my dishes.

Rule to Follow: Think about how you like things to be presented to you when you’re making a purchase and work on translating that sensibility into how you serve yourself.  You have to work hard at selling and pleasing your toughest customer, you!

Take Inventory: When I was able to take inventory of the fridge’s contents by dividing the items into those I would keep and those that had expired, I could repackage the items in clear ziplocks, to better display them. I then color coordinated everything and grouped by category – greens together, fresh fruit together, beverages together, colored vegetables together and condiments together.

Clean Surfaces: I wiped the shelves off and cleaned every surface of the fridge and this set the backdrop for the items to be displayed. Everything looks better in a clean space and your fridge is no exception.

Fridge Styling 7b

Organizing and Styling: The condiments and juices were organized into the door, with labels facing forward. On the widest bottom shelf, I displayed the greens to one side and bottles of water and  cartons of almond milk to the other. In the produce bins I placed the colored vegetables and additional greens. On the second shelf, I layered the trays of eggs to the left and displayed bottles of beer to the back with fresh tomatoes in a glass bowl to the front. The top shelf was used for packaged mushrooms, beets and hummus.

Fridge Styling 9

The finished fridge-scape was one that allowed for the products and produce to be showcased in an accessible, appetizing way.  The colors paired together, created contrast, giving depth to the produce in the fridge, making them appear that much more appetizing.  The organized products could be deciphered, allowing me to know exactly what I had to work with. There were just the right amount of goods, allowing me not to feel overwhelmed by the quantity. I could see my food, appreciate my food and be inspired to create for myself.

Find your voice, within a life designed, one fridge at a time!

The Art of Hanging Art

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A couple of months ago a friend and client asked me help him decorate this office. Having worked on his home earlier, I had a good sense of his taste and wanted to make his office an extension of his space at home.

He and his wife are drawn to a mid-century and Art Deco sensibility. Their furnishings embodied their style which in turn, reflected their fashion sense. They were and are a modern couple with classic tastes with a vintage feel. Nothing, to me, exemplified this more than New York City itself.

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View of New York cityscape from the Office

.As I stood in his office during the consult, I remembered the expansive view of the New York skyline. Floor to ceiling windows framed the building, allowing me to see the south and east cityscape.

Picture6

I always had a fascination with this urban cityscape, ever since I was a little boy. We would come to NY from Barbados, most summers, and I would sit on the chair of the L train and watch the NY skyline passing in the distance. It was magical and in the mind of a young child from a small island in the Caribbean, the city seemed like a field of shapes.

Standing in my client’s office, staring down Madison Avenue, I could not help but smile at how far I had come. I was amidst the shapes and I was going to translate New York City through the eyes of a 7 yr-old. I knew I was going to draw on the shapes of the sky scrapers to hang his artwork and I would use the Art deco feel of the buildings to inspire the look and feel of the space.

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The Art Deco Style of the Chrysler Building

Where do you look for inspiration to define form and shape?

NYC Skyline

Inspiration is all around us when we’re receptive to the energy of the world. Things that exude energy are the things we’re most inspired by. In a city like New York, decorating an office space with that much exposure to the cityscape needs only to be translated as a part of its environment. I only needed to look out the window to find my inspiration.

As a designer, I usually see the world in shapes, whether it’s the circle of a lampshade or the square of a picture frame. I look to the physical environment, both internal and external, to help guide me with form.  A collection of shapes becomes a bigger shape, and bigger shapes can be used to mimic patterns.

“I approach a large wall like a big canvas and on that canvas I can use any shapes to play with scale. Commit to an idea and allow that process to evolve without limitation!”

The Process: Taking Inventory and Planning

Frame Layout

I laid out the artwork the client requested I use to hang on the walls. Each piece was square or rectangle which made it easy to imagine how I would play with shape. As my eyes moved across the room, from window to wall to window, I knew I had to hang the artwork to mimic the lines of the skyline. I needed to play with scale to capture the energy of the skyline and I could only do that by continuing the buildings from outside inside.

But what Iconic NYC building could I use as a template for hanging the Artwork?

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

“I began to organize the shapes to create the intended form to mimic the lines of a skyscraper.”

Picture frames             Picture Template

I had the form and I knew exactly where I was going to hang the artwork. I knew I wanted to integrate an end table into the base of the form, so I used the furniture piece as the starting point for positioning the rest of the artwork. Once it was centered to the wall space, I measured and hung the first piece.

Hanging Artwork

The subsequent pieces were all hung centered to the wall, with each layer creating the framework of the building.

Hanging artwork

Once all were hung, the finished form fit into the overall look and feel of a New York high-rise office space.

Office Space

When It comes to hanging artwork, sometimes thinking outside the box is the best solution. Allow your environment to inform and guide your design decisions and you’ll capture the right sensibility.

Find your voice, within a life designed, one room at a time!

The 7th Sense: Design Sense

Every aspect of our lives is governed by sensory perception; data or signals derived from our senses, received and interpreted by our brains, giving us differentiating sensation that informs our life experience perception. I’m always intrigued by the symbiotic workings of our world and the interrelationship between different aspects to create the experience that is life.

On a fall day, I found myself in the middle of an apple orchard, engulfed by the experience of nature. Usually cautious to the unknown, I embraced this situation and allowed myself to be emotionally accessible to all around me. What I found when I was sensory engaged was a heightened experience; a collection of extraordinary moments informed by concurrent signals from all my senses.

The air was fragrant with fermenting apples, leaves were blowing in the wind and you could hear the thump of apples falling to the floor. The trees hung over our heads like a canopy of green speckled by variations of different sized red dots. I felt my boots crushing the green grass beneath my feet; I could hear the cracking twigs and I could feel the flesh of the apples crush against the weight of my foot.

The orchard was expansive! Row upon row upon row of apple trees, as far as the eye could see, felt like a scene realized from Alice in Wonderland. I could reach above my head and rub my hand against the bare skin of the fruit and feel a sense of life. We searched amidst the trees to find specific types of apples but the only differentiating process was to bite into as many as we could eat. Some were tart, some were sweet and some just were…When it all came together and I was aware of all these aspects in the moment, I smiled; I smiled from my eyes, I smiled from hands, I smiled from my mouth, I smiled from my heart.

I believe it’s impossible to fully appreciate anything without contextualizing it to the other things around it. I don’t appreciate the world by isolating aspects! Each aspect, working with each other, gives dimension and depth to the fabric of life. They are what allow us to perceive difference. In the orchard, I could hear, I could see, I could taste, I could touch, I could smell and I could feel – All aspects that informed my experience of apple picking,  informs my writing experience and my life experience as a whole.

Sensory perception also affects how we engage with a space. Beyond the five senses, a well designed space will stimulate you on many levels, including your intuitive self. The sum of the parts is greater than the individual components.

Preston Bailey Wedding Design

I was listening to a friend talk about her friend’s wedding and the level of attention to detail. I remembered thinking about how much time and effort people put into defining the experience of the most important day of their life but not do the same for the other days that they’re living. What if every day is the most special day? What if we sell ourselves short by not heightening the experience of our lives, by not being attentive to detail? What if we’re limiting our depth of experience and connection by not being cognizant of the emotional sum of those details?

When it comes to design and decor, nothing influences your way of being quite like your environment. It’s the way I felt when I was aware of my emotional well-being in the apple orchard; it’s the way my friend felt at the memorable wedding and it’s the way you’ll feel when you explore design as the 7th sense – The culmination of the senses working in unison to create a heightened experience in every moment.

We’re all well aware of the 5 senses and the 6th tends to be an area of discussion, as to whether our intuition plays a part. From what I do and how I translate emotion through design, I am of the mind that it does play a part in our everyday lives.  Translating emotion, for me, comes through intuition and therefore through cognition. Being present in the moment, being aware of your sensory signals and how they collectively affect your experience is a big part of your perception.

“The future of design is about the collective experience and how all the sensory stimuli contribute to the overall experience.”

What stimulates your senses at home?

Sight:

White Box Room

Paint design sets the backdrop for this room and comes to life against the furnishings and wood floors

Color, texture, pattern and form all contribute to dimension within a space. When you’re able to manipulate and layer these variables effectively, you’ll begin to evolve your sense of spatial depth. It’s the effect you get from having gray flat painted walls with white high-gloss molding, in a room with a navy blue velvet couch and fuchsia silk pillows with a light-gray patterned cashmere throw. The beauty in each is heightened by its presence against the others.

Smell:

At home, I love to use #Voluspa Candles

Floral Arrangements.

Flowers aren’t just pretty; They smell amazing!

How your home smells definitely affects how you or someone else will perceive your space.  It is equally important to define the smells and scents that you are positively receptive to. I tend to use candles, home sprays, flowers, fruit and incense at home that have scents that I love. Maybe you love the smell of lemon, or rosemary or lilacs; or you love the smell of mint or leather or vanilla.

Vanilla

Scents can be steeped in memories and may characterize a moment when you were very aware of life and living.

“They can keep us in a place we love to be and can trigger emotions that feed our mental and spiritual well being.”

The right scents, used sparingly and with purpose, can provide the sensory backdrop to engaging in a visually beautiful space.

Sound:

Music and sound is a constant in my life and tends to accompany most, if not every activity. For the last two weeks I’ve been listening to sounds of India, a relaxing Zen-like blend of rhythms that allow me to be centered in my office space, while I’m creating.  Whether it’s the sounds we introduce to a space or the external sounds that define a particular experience, what we hear affects our mental foray into the engagement of things.

“Sound can transport you back to a memory; sound can transport you back to a place in the world and sound can activate and access our emotional capacity to engage and feel.

Taste:

Interior By # Kelly Wearstler

Taste, from a design perspective has more to do with your sensibility. Sensibility and taste, to me, are intuitive and varies depending on the individual. Many times, my sensibility or design taste is informed by my visceral feeling to things. It is the rationalized emotion derived from a feeling toward something. My intuitive self, driven by my emotional receptiveness, informs my brain on how to interpret how I feel toward certain things. Those collective feelings about many things begin to form patterns that ultimately evolve into my design taste.

Sense of taste, in our ability to discern certain substances and foods, can also be an extension of your design style. In the same way that smells can transport you to other places and times, so too can food and the taste of food. When I’m entertaining at home, I try to be aware of being able to play with taste, especially with specialty cocktails or even more complex desserts that play with the balance of savory and sweet, quite like my personality.

Fresh herbs like basil are fragrant when used in the home

Then there is flavor which is an effect of dual sensory perception; taste and smell and can be affected by factors such as odor, texture or temperature. At home, I love to have foods on-hand that are fully entrenched in my experience; foods and cuisines that remind me of places I’ve been to around the world – Foods like fresh fruit, fresh herbs like basil and cilantro and regional seasonings like curry and asian spices.

Repainted Kitchen

Creating the right space décor can affect how we taste things. To capture the right experience that sets me up to be fully engaged with what I eat, I painted the kitchen a bluish gray that allows vibrant colored foods to contrast and appear that more appealing.

My partner bakes during the holidays with the taste and smell of shortbread cookies with fig jam permeating the space and evoking a feeling of the season. “The tastes of foods we prepare at home are an extension of the space we live in.” They are the embodiment of our experiences and are shared each time we invite anyone into our home.

Touch:

Harlem Hoilday living room decor 124c

Step into your living room, close your eyes and pass your hand against a number of items. Can you feel the softness of your couch, or your feet against your plush rug? Can you feel the roundness of your lamp shade or even the weight of your curtains? Touch informs our perception of any room.

“It allows us to see with our hands and informs our receptiveness to a space.”

Intuition:

When I step into a room, I experience the energy of a space first. It is the force created by combining all the aspects that contribute to that space. Whether that energy is good or bad is subjective to the person who is experiencing it. While I cannot control a person’s openness to my space, I can define a space that embodies my energy and reflects it.

I think intuition toward things and people varies by the authenticity of that thing or person. If the space seems aligned and true to the experience of the individual who lives in it, then I think others will be receptive to it. Now I am not saying they will love it, but they will respect it as an expression of self.

Letting your intuition guide your feelings toward the things you surround yourself with is a good way to approach decorating and life, in general. Be true to you and what you love and you will convey that sentiment to others and to yourself.

When it comes to defining our style, most of us defer to some external source: magazines, books, television, people, all inform who we should be. The key here is to strip yourself of all the social conditioning and allow your intuition to evolve your emotional self. Your gut feeling will usually inform you if you are actively listening

When I style a space, I tend to use 70% intuition as to what feels right for me. What feels right allows me to be secure in my choices of placement, of color, of texture.

“When you surrender to the voice of intuition, you’re allowing yourself to speak the language of your soul.”

Design Sense: Experiential Design

Experiential design is about the experience of living and how you live, When you put all 5 rational senses together and allow them to be guided by feelings, of intuition, you begin to experience the world on a heightened plane.  Not only will you see it, touch it, hear it, smell it, taste it or have a taste of it, but you will also feel it. When you’re able to design life based on a harmony of the 6 senses, you begin to live in the moment and each subsequent one to follow.

Experiential design is an all-encompassing  heightened state of expression that defines sensory perception of a space by stimulating the mind on multiple levels.”

This is usually the feeling we seek to capture during a wedding and this is the feeling I sought to experience in the apple orchard, In a world of technology and things that detract from our personal engagement with ourselves and each other, is it not important to exist in a space that continually positively reinforces who you are?

Find your voice, within a life designed, one room at a time!

Resetting the Energy of your Space.

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Life can sometimes be consumed by negative energy usually derived from some suffering – Stress and attachment to name a few. People in our lives, the physical environments we live in and our metal state of being can affect how we perceive the world; of how it was, how it is and how it will be. As humans, we are receptive to that energy around us and should be aware of how it affects our way of being. It is for that reason that I am a firm believer in continually harnessing and recycling all the positive energy life has to give.

It is within our individual and collective reach to shape the world we want to exist in, and it usually begins by first being engaged in our own lives- our personal, physical space. If home is where the heart is, then it has to be a place that exudes love for you.

For me, home has been and is a sanctuary; a refuge where I can escape all the externalities of the outside world to find alignment with myself. It is the singular place that most reflects the essence of who I am. That’s why I find it so important to invest the time and work to create a space that continually feeds my spirit. Resetting my space reinvigorates and renews the energy of my home, and in turn gives the positive reinforcement I need to excel and succeed.

How do you know that your space is in desperate need of a reset? Well, when you begin to feel stagnant, unhappy or uninspired in your space, it’s time to make a change. Many times, your internal emotional wellbeing will manifest itself in your physical space – A cluttered home is a cluttered mind.

Change begins by reevaluating who you are at this point and how you can translate your happiness into your home. Who you were at a different point in time, is not who you are at this point in your life. That means that you need to be cognoscente of shifts in your being and aware of what brings you happiness and unhappiness. In the grand scheme of things, defining your space to mirror who you really are, when you are aligned with your true self, is essential to living your best life.

Resetting can be an easy process of taking inventory of your emotional receptiveness to the things you have in your life and defining a new perception of how you want them to be presented collectively to best reaffirm the joy of living.

Tip: Change Wall Color to best showcase furnishings

Things have a way of taking on a different life when you contextualize them to a cohesive color story.  Wall colors like blues and grays work well with wood tones and as the perfect backdrop to vibrant colors.

If you find that you have an eclectic mix of colorful furnishings, painting the walls a stark white is an awesome way of showcasing your pieces and allowing them to build a narrative. Much like a gallery effect, white walls allow the pieces to be the star.

Tip 2: Change accessories seasonally

Changing out accessories is also an effective way of translating the season throughout your space. It is also a great way of rotating many your favorite items, allowing each to shine on its own for a period of time without having too many pieces grouped together. In addition,  using flowers and plants  is a  great way of finishing a space by adding color and greenery.

Tip 3: Reconfigure your space

Other than changing your wall color and accessorizing, reconfiguring your layout is an effective way of resetting your space. Feel your way through the process by being reactive to your visceral response to placement. Also allow yourself to be free enough to play with new and interesting configurations. The payoff to thinking outside the box can be huge when you open yourself to entertaining new ways of placement. A new space plan creates a new perception, giving a room a new dynamic energy – a source of positive energy that will inspire you in every facet of your life.

Find your voice, within a life designed, one room at a time!

The Beauty of Emotion

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“I came into this world on the fringes, born of a broken love, marked and scared by a hurt set into motion long before my first breath.”  

I was born into a struggle I could not avoid, destined to be my life’s challenge, spending each and every moment convincing myself that I am worthy, that I am good enough;  good enough for me, good enough for them, good enough to have a place in this world. Thrust into a world without my parents present and accessible, I was introduced and dysfunctionally nurtured by this marginal state of being. I yearned for a sense of belonging, constantly questioning why and how, set on a journey with no map, going in no direction.

At my core was an empty spirit space, surrounded by walls built on mistrust, firmly held together by my fear of abandonment and no matter how I tried, no matter who else tried, nothing could repair the loss of that which I never had. I lived in a reactive state, with no sense of being, no real sense of self.

As a child, I imagined reality as I wanted it to be, the framework to a life built on constructs of a young mind. I found refuge in imagination, forged relationships with the inanimate and began to understand, relate to and converse with the physical world around me. Things were and just are; no pretense, no disappointment. I could understand them more than I could understand people, more than I could understand myself.

If you quiet your thoughts from all the external noise just enough to hear the  physical world’s echoing voice and see its true, enduring beauty, you’ll begin to understand the language of emotion. Where people could not speak to my soul authentically with this language, the physical environment spoke to me through color, and texture,  and shapes. This, I later came to realize, was and is the way through which I would speak to the world around me.

I found purpose in my passion for design, life-design; life designed. I found strength and assuredness in my creative voice. I began to feel worthy because a collective something was listening, speaking to me. I felt like I was not alone! My identity to that point was premised on who I came from, what they could not give and not on what I was born into; a world of extraordinary beauty with a higher consciousness that spoke to my spirit. I surrender to that voice!

I lived my pain, in the shadow of my self; faceless, voiceless, hiding in the shame of my parents past, limited in possibility by what I did not have. And only when I was able to find my language, to speak that language, was I able to hear my voice, resounding, loud and clear. I could intimately speak the language of my conscious self.

Underlying the beauty of things is a stream of emotion that transcends the physical and speaks to the soul.  A life, openly communicating with the physical space, the backdrop to life’s experiences, of each memory, is a life that allows the world around me to speak to me, about me – “I am not alone, you are not alone, and we deserve to be here, to be heard, to be happy.”

On this journey, find your voice within a life designed, one room at a time!

“Find your voice, within a life designed, one room at a time.”

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I started my design business under the precept that the modern woman has a very different value system as compared to maybe the women of my grandmother’s era. Today’s woman, professional woman, all woman, characterizes a new definition of femininity, defined with no limits. I stand in awe at this real life “Wonder Woman”.

And then as I sat down for the initial consult with many of my clients, I began to understand a woman articulating the same fears, the same concerns, the same wants of any woman, at any time. I felt her expressing her truth, as concisely, as honestly, as openly, as any woman could at any point in time.  I realized early on that I was privileged by what I do. I had a front row seat to an intimate show aptly titled, “The Identity of a Woman”.

I had a personal connection to understanding that woman. Hearing her wants, her fears actualized and verbalized, could help me reconcile my past. For years I had a skewed perception of my mother, and of this identity. In the mind of a child, and for that matter, in the mind of an adult emotionally stuck at a point in childhood, I kept asking myself, “If women are maternal creatures and protectors, why did my mother leave me when I needed her most, abandoned to that kind of love only a mother could give, creating a void that no one else could fill?”

On the road to discovery, somewhere between the past, the hurt, and the now, I came upon “self”; a loner, aimlessly walking, hoping to be found and guided back to meaning and purpose. It felt unwanted; I felt invalidated! I carried the burden of rejection, used it to feed my insecurities and fears and allowed myself to be mired in my dysfunction; too weak to take the time to find and connect to my “self”. But I was soon reminded this was and is the story of my clients, the story of many women, the story of my mother. Amidst their unfolding narratives, experiences expressed with great emotion, each client poignantly gave me insight to a woman’s mindset:

“I feel like I am not enough!”

“I don’t take time for myself!”

“Where am I in the equation?”

“I need a change!”

“I don’t feel like my space reflects who I am.”

I never would have guessed that my life-design would come full circle by being present, spiritually accessible, so connected to what I do through understanding other people’s experiences. And that to me is the essence of progressive womanhood. These modern mothers, wives, professionals, friends and lovers are on a movement toward an alignment with self and being cognoscente of the all-encompassing human experience we share. Against that, and more relevant to my mother’s situation, I also realized that if you don’t have a sense of self, you can’t give that which you didn’t know, at that point. I was blaming her for not being able to give me what I already had and have, my sense of self.

Beyond the aesthetics is an underlying emotional current, driving our impulses, our receptiveness to life and experience. And what I’ve learned, within my design cognition, is that the modern woman defines herself with a greater yearn for connecting with her “self”, even though she holds to many traditional values. I imagine she’s saying to herself, “I can get married, have children, run a household, be professionally successful, have an opinion that counts and most of all, make time for myself.”

With the ability to think freely and live in a world progressively stripped of oppressive social conditioning, the modern woman is at a point where she can define her life by who she truly is, rather than by what she is not. In the wake of my initial uncomfortable feelings toward a client’s tearful expression of gratitude, I am consistently reminded that she’s not just crying or being happy for a pretty room, but rather, she is seeing her “self” actualized in her space. Imagine how it feels to wear a pretty dress and the feeling you get from being confident about yourself? Now magnify that one thousand times as you find yourself engulfed by a space that positively reinforces all that you are.

On this journey, find your voice within a life designed, one room at a time.