I listen to podcasts when I work. I’m lucky that I can still get my work done while half-listening to “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” I have a minimum of one earbud in. I get through lots of audio during the day, it’s a rare occasion when I’m not listening to something. When I really need to focus or the stress is too much, I turn to music to change my mood. My mood is upbeat this week due to my latest download:
This week, I’ve been obsessed with the new Vampire Weekend album, “Modern Vampires of the City.” I can’t just listen to a new album, I must have it on a continuous loop until I know ALL the lyrics. We’re not there yet, so any one who rides in my car…will be subject to some loud singing of incorrect lyrics…
I’ve been listening to their first two albums in preparation in a wonderful way. It’s different. Darker–their words, not mine. Lyrics about faith, growing older, frustration. Lots of good stuff. I realized that I’m about the same age as Ezra Koenig and Rostam Batmanglij–maybe we’re going through the same stuff–maybe I’m trying not to think about how we’re the same age and they’re who they are and I’m who I am (but I have a blog!?).
Would you rather be awesome at one thing or pretty good at many things? I don’t know.
I daydream about my future HGTV show (that I host) and how universally loved it will be and what other offers it would lead to… A furniture line? I’m not really a furniture designer, but that kinda makes sense, sure—I’ll do it. A line of fabrics with Maharam? I’m not a textile designer, but my God, it’s MAHARAM, yes of course! A fashion line? (Because, while I may be hosting a fantasy TV show on design, I will be dressed impeccably). No. Absolutely not. I’m not a fashion designer. I don’t know how to make a thing. I could attempt to draw something, but it wouldn’t be as good as someone who knows what they’re doing. But then I would sing and they would love it and then I’d record an album without knowing how to write songs, read music, or play an instrument…*
*The only place any of this exists is in my mind. None of this is happening.
I like Kelly Wearstler, but when I heard she was coming out with a fashion line, I was skeptical and then proven wrong. Vera Wang does a lot of stuff well—wedding gowns, linens, jewelry. I smile any time I see a Diane Von Furstenberg logo. Did I buy a Tory Burch lunchbox at Target? I certainly did.
Is being good at “design” a blanket term for being good at lots of things? I don’t know. I’m interested in design, I work at it and in it, but, I know I’m not good at ALL things “design.” But MAYBE, if I took these scissors to my favorite shirt…I could just… Nope. Ruined it.
I love television. I wish you knew what an understatement that is. If I’m home, the tv is on. It keeps me company, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry. We’ve been like this since I learned to hook up my little 13” tv to the coaxial in my little bedroom in elementary school. Parents today would be horrified (and yes, my parents made me go outside to play and grounding was mostly “no tv”), but I have a normal social life and am able to communicate in “real” life without too much awkwardness (I have just the right amount).
I never thought much about my unusual obsession until it came to a junior year design project. We were asked to design a “green” house with modern amenities that would still work in a nearby historical neighborhood. I placed a big and beautiful flat panel television in the casual living room of the house, surrounded by built-in bookshelves—you know—integrated/designed into the space. My professor was not pleased. She wanted me to add doors to cover it up when not in use, because that would help the house fit better with the period. Sigh. I stood firm, I did not add doors. This house was supposedly being built today, not in the 40s (which by the way, still had tvs as a piece of furniture—the big wooden consoles, right?) I don’t remember my grade exactly, but the tv remained a point of contention.
I loathe armoires for televisions. I can’t stand faux artwork that slides out of the way and a tv magically appears! Why? Because those armoire doors are always open You end up with a piece of art on tracks that you have to stare at when you do want to watch tv! This is what it would be like in my house anyway. Maybe you’re more of an occasional PBS documentary watcher, but I’ll spend the money on a thinner, more beautiful television.
Don’t get me started on putting on the remotes in some decorative box…
Interviews are the worst. Not even just for jobs—client interviews, relationship interviews (i.e. dates), I think the only kind of interview I would like to do is be a guest on Jimmy Fallon, but I would insist on playing Catchphrase or Pictionary afterwards. (Note to self: plan game night…)
I’ve never been good at interviews. In design school, we did mock interviews with a real-life interior designer. The critique I received? Don’t interrupt your interviewer. I talk more when I’m nervous (occasionally, I retreat into complete silence). When I do talk very fast, I realize I haven’t been breathing, so I stop to talk a deep breath which gives me a chance to notice how they all stare… I do this at presentations too, it’s probably fascinating to watch me.
I read an article the other day that had a headline like, “The 5 Most Important Interview Questions EVER!!!” I had to read it because I assume everyone will ask me the most clichéd questions (What’s your worst quality? “I work TOO hard!”). I heard of a designer being asked if she was a “Roark” or a “Keating.” (This does not correlate to being a “Betty” or a “Veronica”) It was really a trick question to see if you read Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” So I read it out of fear that I would ever be asked that question (it was a good book, but let me save you some time—you want to be a “Roark”).
The article posed that a terrifying question someone may ask you is, “Describe yourself in one word.” I could only think of negative things—jerk, impatient, uptight. We should date! I was obsessed with the question for the rest of the day. Here’s where I’m at now: the word I have chosen is “casual.” One of my project managers told me that I may be the most laid-back person he’s ever met. I was shocked. I think of myself as an impatient, uptight jerk (not my best Stuart Smalley moment), but it goes to show how differently you can be perceived by others.
Here’s what I think it is–I like to level the playing field. If I’m presenting a design, I make it clear I want you to interrupt me, this is a conversation, let’s talk about it, etc. If we can all sit at a table great, if we’re all standing—let’s do that, let’s all be doing the same thing. Let’s work together! I crack jokes. I don’t stop for anyone; this is not something I consciously do, my nerves get the best of me. I self-deprecate, I point out how we’re not rocket scientists—we’re picking colors here people! I will do anything to make you smile at me. I need it! I will not stop (again, not something I do consciously) until I do! Have you heard that you’re supposed to film yourself giving a presentation and then watch it to improve your presentation skills? I know this, I’ve heard it from many different resources, yet I cannot bring myself to do it. I know I should.
Casual—I want everyone to be at ease. I want us to be friends. I desperately want you to like me! (Don’t we all feel that way?)
It’s wonderful to take a break. It’s essential. It’s what helps your eye to stop twitching. Sometimes the only break I can manage is to walk a lap around the office—rest my eyes, get my body moving, refill my water bottle to get that 8/8! But this past weekend, I took a break with my sister (just in time for National Siblings Day?) and we went to as many restaurants as our stomachs would allow in Austin. It turns out my sister, who has lived in Texas her whole life, has never been to Austin. I’ve only been for short trips like ACL or for work—not enough time to explore the city.
We started by making a beeline for Foreign & Domestic (we heard about them via Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives) for their famous popovers (gruyere and black pepper). Everything was delicious! Do you know what ramps are? Me either! Turns out they’re similar to onions and they make a delicious bright green risotto.
I loved the design I saw in Austin. There’s new developments downtown, so you’ve got your clean, sleek, modern stuff. But there’s also lots of re-development (is that a term?) of existing structures that just simply well done. Clean, simple, beautiful. It renews my urge to purge and clear off all the surfaces in my apartment.
We were only there from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon but it was enough. We ate so much food and drank fancy things and just enjoyed ourselves. I don’t know why it takes moving locations to do that, since we have ample restaurant scene in Fort Worth. (That would mean less driving too…)
I’ve been accused of being snob more often than I’d like to admit. Is it high standards? Is it only wanting to do your best and be your best self? Am I telling myself these things to build up my self-confidence? (which clearly, I don’t need to do because I’m a snob…)
I buy quality over quantity pretty consistently. I wouldn’t dare call myself a “foodie,” but man, fancy cheeses are awesome. Ina Garten is my homegirl (find me a shirt that says this, please!) and hers are the only cookbooks I trust. I don’t like shoes under $100; I am convinced they will be uncomfortable (my sister gets very upset at me for this one). If I don’t know a brand, I don’t buy it. Simple as that.
I guess there is “pride in your work” and “putting your best foot forward (in $100+ shoes).” I take pride in the designs I send out and I do my best to make sure they’re perfect. I figuratively beat myself up when I see “adn” or “hte” in the notes. (Let’s not forget the time I called out for super dark brown paint to go on the walls of a teeny tiny bathroom, instead of the door frame.) It upsets me to see halfhearted attempts. My expectations are almost as high as my nose is in the air.
With snobbery, there’s also being a jerk and being above everyone else. I think we’ve all had the chance to work or interact with someone like that. Sometimes they push you to do your best work and raise your level quality—that’s when it’s great! Sometimes it’s awful and you can’t get past how terrible they’re acting and then the rest of the team bands together in solidarity against that person and goes to happy hour without inviting them—not the best working situation.
I hope I’m the first kind—challenging others and expecting the best. There are times when I’m tired and weak and I’m just the jerk. I try to avoid that by not criticizing without a solution. “I love your idea to use green on the walls! Maybe we could find one that’s more green…” I always try to acknowledge the other person’s hard work and thought process. That’s just plain respect! (Find out what it means to me! i.e. Thursday Thoughts). That’s the best part about collaborating! Challenging and learning from each other—isn’t that the whole point of this season of Project Runway?
I’m going to stay a snob. I’m going to expect the best (with the exception of this blog), and I hope to get the same from you!
Thursday is my favorite day of the week. I’ve been a sucker for NBC’s Must See TV since Friends first aired. US Weekly arrives Thursday evenings directly to my iPad. I usually stay up too late because I work half-day Friday’s, so who cares if I’m a little sleepy and my hair is a mess? (People actually do care about that one.)
I’ll be honest, I’m still trying to figure out this blog thing. Should it be once a week (because it’s far from it)? Once a month (then what’s the point)? Should I post about new products and do a collage numbered with links? (There are plenty of other blogs well!) Well then, what’s the point of this website? It’s to get to know me better. It’s a space for me to share my thoughts and opinions related to interior design as well as give you an insight into my design philosophy. (Please don’t ask me for my design philosophy because it’s just a bunch of question marks in my head).
In an effort to post regularly and share my thoughts and ideas with you, I thought I would try “Thursday Thoughts.” Why not incorporate something fun and self-indulgent into my favorite day of the week? I should probably eat a cupcake while I do it…
And yes, I know the first post was last week, but that was a fluke. I’m going to do this for reals* now.
*Guys, I’m don’t have an English degree. You would have hated reading the papers I wrote in college. I actually got one back with a paragraph circled in red ink “too casual!”
My Uncle Mike was an academic. It seemed like he was always in school—master’s degree, doctorate, writing research things. He was a smarty pants, and also extremely encouraging in whatever field of study I chose. When I started college, I was in the RTVF program on my way to be the next “Orson Wells,” (then I was going to be the next “[insert famous film editor]” then I started watching too many episodes of “Trading Spaces”) and I had lots of books from Uncle Mike to support my dream.
After one semester of college, I decided it was time to shake things up and change my major to Interior Design. Almost instantly, I received a gift subscription to Architectural Digest from Uncle Mike. It’s such a big, beautiful magazine with amazing images of the best of the best. Something all designers should aspire to—how do you make it on the AD100!?!
I was intimidated, “This is what I signed up to do?” “How do you even start to come up with a thing…” When I subscribed to AD (for many years thanks to Uncle Mike), I remembered many of the pages looking like this:
It is beautiful. This room made someone super happy. But I can’t create it. I can’t make that space happen. This is not a space I want to live in and that’s okay. (I’ve learned to say that to myself in the mirror.) How could I create that for someone when I don’t like it for myself?
Architectural Digest is now more accessible, more livable. With the explosion of blogs, we’re seeing more “real world” content (not the MTV show and I hate that I used “real” incorrectly, the fancy stuff is “real” too). We see more homes featured from people like us. We’ve got hand-me-downs, we shop at IKEA, we see the cords to our computers, and that’s a relief! We’re all insecure about our own home décor (or lack thereof). When, I go to someone’s house for the first time, they know I’m an interior designer and say, “Oh, don’t look around too much! It’s not done…” And I say, “Too late! It’s been assessed!” The worst is visiting other interior designer’s homes—we list off all the things that need to change before you have a chance to see what’s there! This is probably why we never invite each other over…
To me, the role of a residential interior designer is to get your home to a place where YOU love it. I don’t love my space right now and it’s not half bad, I’ll admit, but I’m always looking to improve it AND THAT’S OKAY. It will always be a work in progress. It doesn’t matter what your home looks like as long as you enjoy it.
Tonight is an epic night for the Fort Worth shopping community…we got a Madewell.
It’s right next to our precious J. Crew at University Park Village–think of the convenience! I can’t tell for sure, but I think it’s a little larger than Northpark store.
You could still smell the fresh paint (which is oddly, a smell I love, along with sawdust). The staff is delightful and sweet and fashionable without being intimidating. As in, they would probably help me pull of that effortless, layered look, but could they help me wear red lipstick and make it last all day?!
As a designer that does mostly large scale commercial projects, I’m always amazed at boutique, high-level detail design–how do you spec this clothes rack? Bobrick doesn’t make this? They’ve done a lot with very basic, classic stuff.
I don’t even know what these are, but they were neat and artfully displayed atop a neat display case.
Great job, Madewell! I look forward to visiting you regularly!
So, the third time’s the charm, right? Last Monday was my third attempt at Simple Elegance and my theme was “Science Lab!”
I can’t take full credit for the table, the concept came from Philip–when he first suggested it, I thought, “An elegant Science lab? Hmm…” Then he showed up with a water pump for the centerpiece, so we were well on our way!
I found the flasks on Amazon, as well as the test tubes (part of Martha Stewart’s line). I went to Central Market that morning in hopes for some crazy flowers and they did not disappoint!
The idea for the dessert was for everyone to decorate their own sugar cookies and my chemistry teacher friend lent me her science themed cookie cutters! Who knew such things existed? We all had fun letting out our inner decorating mad scientists.
The glowsticks were by far the most popular feature. I found them on Amazon as well (I went with a bulk order of 100). I had some left over, so I thought that I would offer some bracelets to my table guests who were thrilled to receive them and proceeded to make necklaces and headbands too! Again, inner child gone wild! I’m definitely getting them again for my next party!
Mostly, people asked if I was a science teacher…nope, just a weirdo.