Inspired Movie Sets: You've Got Mail

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

To be a great designer, I believe that you must always be slightly bored.* Which is why, when you ask a designer, like really ask, "where do go for inspiration?" they won't say "Houzz." (and if they do, maybe consider re-hiring). Yes we go to Houzz and Pinterest, but it's more of a tool that we use rather than our source of true inspiration. In fact, the question "where do you go for inspiration?" is one that designers often talk about amongst themselves, as if they're sharing a secret recipe. Like, we're all over here baking apple pies, but how do they come out equally delicious, yet slightly varied? Is it in the flour?  the sugar? the timing?

So today I'm sharing one of my inspiration sources: Movie Sets.

Instead of diving into all the nuances about what lights my fire on a good movie set, I've decided to turn "Inspired Movie Sets" into a new series, where I will explore sets one by one, and talk through the details as they come. Today we will start that series with one of my favorite sets (and one of my all time favorite movies) You've Got Mail.

Ah, here we are outside Kathleen Kelly's (Meg Ryan) Brownstone. It's fall, and no one is concerned with the fact that she could never afford this IRL. She runs a bookstore that grosses 300K/year (according to Joe Fox aka Tom Hanks, who later announces this at a party) and somehow, she lives in what is surely a $7-million Bachelorette pad, in the heart of NYC. Yes people, we are officially on a movie set. But HEL-LO, look at that entryway. Bay Windows, original millwork, a perfectly colored front door. Ay-yai-yai!

Type-type-type-type-type, I love you, Tom Hanks, Marry me and my cute lamps and perfectly placed vase. I also have fantastic built-ins to my left, probably orginal too, type-type-type-type 

Oh look, it's me again! Kathleen Kelly. I'm still typing, but this time you can see my sweet little antique desk more clearly, along with my perfectly curated wall art. Somehow each element on my desk is perfectly balanced and arranged. It's almost as magical as how I've come to afford this place (or did she inherit it? I think they may mention that at some point in the movie... but still, COME ON PEOPLE).

I just... can't, even. The millwork, the matching sconces with tiny-little-shades, a perfectly selected mirror, and two (surely antique) plates on just the tinsiest sliver of wall. Shoot, even the toilet is cute.

P.S. The Pajamas. Are they horrible or do I love them because they are also antique?

Cut to:  *antique pajamas flouncing around living room* Actress peers out of perfectly hung sheers, to confirm that boyfriend has fully exited the brownstone. She is surrounded by well curated prints; stripes, florals, and dots, as she tip-toes back to antique desk with perfect lamp, perfect vase, and the aforementioned PERFECT BUILT INS. 

This was filmed in 1998, and 20 years later, I'm pretty sure she could rent out the shelves themselves for like $700 a month. I've seen worse here.

The kitchen is tiny, but like a good New Yorker, she doesn't do much in there anyway. Plus, it has french doors with glass windows, WHICH IS ALL IVE EVER WANTED FROM LIFE.

Oh wait, she's doing something in there. I see veggies and a pot, maybe she's making soup. This must be from one of the scenes where she was sick and couldn't leave the house. Remember? it was like.... 

This! There she is. Full on flu. 

And Tom Hanks Joe Fox brings her flowers and she's all "huh?" because he just put her out of business and was like a TOTAL JERK and stole all the caviar at a party WHILE putting her out of business and subsequently stealing her main source of income.

..But I digress.. look at the floral sofa! So 90's. Which is a great place to pause this article and be serious for a moment; because this sofa, inspires me. Not that I want to put traditional, floral sofas, all over Portland, but that I'm drawing ideas from it. I love how full it feels with all the pillows and blending of prints and textures. Nowadays, if I hop on the aforementioned design websites, I'm going to find mostly minimal, sleek sofas with sharp lines. 


It's a handsome sofa, and I see it a lot. Which is why it doesn't spin my wheels like the 1998 floral throw back, coated in cushy, varied pillows and throws. 

Make Sense?

Oh heck, back to the movie:

Great, we didn't miss much; Kathleen Kelly appears to still be typing. This time she's probably talking about that country-chic-meets-french-renaissance bed frame and headboard. THIS IS NOT SOLD IN STORES PEOPLE, not in 2018 anyway. But again, the wheels of inspiration are turning:
Soft stripes, white-gold frame, with a kiss to Paris? Um yeah, I'm on board. Where can I custom order one and DO YOU WANT ONE? Unlike the sofa, I'm not simply inspired by the bed frame, I'm ready to buy. Everything comes back around, right?



*This is something Issac Mizrahi said years ago, regarding fashion design, and it's stuck with me ever since. 

On a Budget: Should I Just go to Ikea?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ah, Ikea, the home of paper tables with funny names, 99 cent toilet brushes, and one giant hot dog poster that will never make you hungry. Yes, it is a place I know well, and a place that I very much enjoy! In fact, in my early twenties, I may have gone as far as to say that I loved Ikea. But as I've grown a bit in both age and taste, I've learned that there are so many other places you can go to for a deal.

Between shops like Marshalls, HomeGoods, the sale section of Target, your regular ol' thrift store(s), and online shops like Wayfair & AllModern, you can find some pretty unique stuff for around the same price (and often less). It does require some digging, but it's worth the added effort too keep your home from becoming an Ikea Cut-Out.

Something Ikea does really well is that they offer inspiring catalogs, full of fun ideas on how to piece everything together. And while it may be tempting to just buy everything as-shown (because that's easy GOSH DARNIT) You can instead, take that styled imagery and make your space come to life with products from different vendors. By doing this, you are bound to wind up with a space that is more uniquely yours, as well as ending up with products that (hopefully) won't fall apart so quickly..

Below are a couple examples to help get you started:

Reading Nook

The Ikea Accent Chair retails for $399
$20 difference

The Ikea Glass Cabinet retails for $249
$26 savings

 The Ikea Floor Lamp retails for $49.99
$2.50 savings

Living Room
The Ikea Sectional retails for $699
$34 savings

Side Note: It's important to invest in a good sofa and most anything in this price range will not be up to par, ergonomically. With that said, sometimes the budget is tight and if that's the case for you, just know that you have options outside of Ikea.

The Pair of Ikea Cabinets retail for $329/ea, totaling $658
This Cabinet from Wayfair retails for $274.99/ea, totaling $549.98 for the pair
$108 savings

The Ikea Coffee Table retails for $169
$34 savings

I hope this post has inspired you to spice up your thrift shopping 
and get just a teensy bit more, outside the Ikea box.


What Interior Designers Really Do

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I wanted to do something a little different on the blog this week.... So, QUESTION:

When someone asks you what you do for a living, how many people really understand? 
 Maybe they get it because they're in the same field as you, but beyond that... Does your family understand? Your best friend? The person across from you at said networking event?

When I started working as an Interior Designer (a position which I otherwise thought was very specific) it became apparent to me just how many people DID NOT GET IT. Most know that I do stuff with homes, but like... is it hard work? Do I just color all day? Do I run around with a cup of hot starbucks, and yell at contractors??

Instead of boring you with the day-to-day-play-by-play, I've instead  re-created one of those "What people think I do" Memes (click here for an example)


 They know that what I'm doing is a little out of the box, and definitely creative, but beyond that... things get a bit blurry. Dear Friends, while I love to color, I'm sorry to say that kicking my legs up on a table covered in crayons isn't my job.

They aren't exactly sure what it is I'm doing, but they know it's positively AMAZING and that I'm the MOST AMAZING SPECIAL LITTLE GIRL WOMAN EVER! And they love me very much.
(shucks, guys).

Yep, they're the cutest! Nope, that's not what I do. They do some of things that I do, but my design business is much more a-la carte and client collaborative. Oh, and I don't currently do renovations (aka. I don't knock down walls or bust up kitchens). For more on what I actually do, check out the  menu of services, here.


The look on my client's faces when I solve a design problem, is priceless and deeply rewarding. It is the heart and soul of why I do what I do. There is nothing better than a client staring at me as if I just pulled a little white rabbit out of a little black hat...

"AD TOP 100, Featuring Lauren Taylor"
(because I dream big, and you should too)


Yes, I meet with clients and contractors. Yes, I shop for fixtures/furniture/products. But mostly my job is here, inside this laptop. I often work in my pajamas, and have spilled salsa on my keyboard more times than I can count. I'm just like you! Except you probably put on real pants to go to work..

Want to know more? Reach out!
Click Here to fill out the Contact form and 
set up a complimentary Phone Consult.


Your Bedroom is meant for Two Things: Here's how to Feng some Shui into it

Thursday, April 12, 2018

News Alert: Your Bedroom is for two things and two things only.



Nuh nuh-

Don't interrupt me.


1. Sleeping


That's it.



Nuh- Yes, I know you're on your laptop/tablet/phone in bed right now reading this... uh huh.. yeah... no... that's not one of the two things... yes.... no.. nope. 

A Couple Notes on Feng Shui:

If you aren't familiar with Feng Shui, and even just the thought of that phrase elicits sounds of ringing bells and wizards flying around, I get it. But that just means that you haven't yet been exposed to the beauty of Feng Shui (as bell-ringy-y as that sounds). So instead of giving you the full run down, I want to simply focus on one of the main ideologies of Feng Shui; and that is that every room, should have a purpose, and every thing, should have a place.

When we look at our bedroom, a place where we should be sleeping and DOING THE OTHER THING, I must ask, why are we bringing our work in there? Our laptops are not sexy, nor do they help us sleep so that's a problem.

Our minds are extremely responsive to patterns, so it's important  we pay attention to the connections we are creating on a day-to-day basis. For Example: Do you ever feel suddenly hungry, the moment you enter a kitchen? That's because you know that's where the food is and that's where you (generally) eat. So when you go into the bedroom, you want your mind to have a similar response by either kicking into rest mode, or kicking into no-pants-party mode. You do not want to be cross contaminating that space with your work, or any of the following:
  • food/eating
  • watching tv
  • making crafts/projects
  • exercising
  • Kids.....
I'm not going to say much on the last note, since I don't have children and can only imagine the immense responsibility. But I will stick my neck out enough to say this: if there is anything you can do to mitigate the amount of parenting/kids/craziness in your bedroom, you and your partner will feel results in a very positive way.

How to Feng that Shui into your Bedroom:
  •  Take down photos of friends and family. I know this sounds kind of harsh but... you don't want them at the pants-free party for two. Maybe you think "but Lauren, it's just a photo!" and to you I say "Do you want to look at those faces when you're -"
  • Paint and decorate the room in soft colors. Pretty much any color is available with light pigmentation, from white to grey and the whole rainbow in between, you can find something gentle that will fit your decor.

  • Soft Lighting. Lamps with dimmers are ideal, they offer a bright enough light to read by (which is totally still allowed by the way, because Reading = Sleepy) and soft enough light to set the mood once in a while (or like, all the time, whatever you're into). If you don't have a dimmer, just get something with a soft shade and be picky with the bulbs you select. For extra credit, throw a few candles in the mix.

  • Select Art Carefully. Pick pieces that provoke happiness and a sense of calm.Don't make it too complicated when you go hunting for art; just look at the piece and ask yourself "how does this make me feel?" If happiness and calm crop up, ta-da! That's right for your bedroom.

  • The Bed should be accessible from both sides, with a bedside table on either end. Simple enough, your bed should be easy to get into; and each side needs a spot for books, water, candles, etc. 


Designers you should know: India Mahdavi

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hey, hey you! Have you ever heard of a thing called Instagram?

Oh you have? Well then I'm guessing that this place looks familiar:

Recognize it?



Ahhhhh there it is. Oh wow! That place is familiar!

So where are we? This is Sketch, a restaurant in London that probably has good food, but more importantly, has been coined the most instagrammed restaurant IN THE WHOLE FREAKING WORLD. And why wouldn't it be? Can you imagine visiting this Life-Size gum drop and NOT taking a photo?

Didn't think so.

India Mahdavi is the designer-brains behind this haven and after reading up on her work at Sketch, I went down a rabbit-hole of internet research that left me saying her name, on repeat, for like three-days-straight.

To save you the three days of burning red eyes and a laptop overheating your private parts,
I've gathered some highlights below:
  1. It took her a month to find just the right shade of pink for Sketch, in London. Since then, this color has been coined "Millenial Pink" (so like, hey kiddos, meet your maker).
  2. Born in Iran but grew up in multiple countries. She now lives and works in Paris.
  3. Speaks French, English, German, and Farsi (when asked which language she dreams in, her reply: "I dream in Color")
  4. Deeply inspired by color, with a seriously imaginative mind. That, plus a hefty degree in architecture, graphic design, and furniture design; this woman is not only creatively gifted, she's perhaps one of the hardest working designers (or dare I say, artists) of our time.

Her work makes my head spin. This woman pulls things out of her head, like she's making cotton candy at a festival. While I, literally could not design a chair if you asked me to. I'm the kind of designer who knows what to do with beautiful things, but if you put me in an empty room with a pad of paper and pencil, all I'm going to come up with is this:

India has described the fantasy-land that she lived in, in her mind as a child; a place she calls Palapimsosak. This place is filled with candy, color, toys, and all the joys a child could dream of (and then some, I'm sure). Originally invented as a way to cope with the constant change she experienced growing up, Palapimsosak is now reflected in all her work.

While India does offer Residential Design, the bulk of her recognition has come from commercial projects; and its no wonder, because she's NAILING IT.

One of my design philosophies is that residential homes are somewhere that should be peaceful, calm, and welcoming; a place to rest your mind. While in commercial design, I believe the opposite. Hotels and Restaurants in particular, should be an adventure, an escape, and an experience; a place to put your mind in motion. A place that makes you feel something new, and exciting; something you've never felt before, and that makes you want to taste it again and again. To me, every single Mahdavi design does just that.

Finally, no two Mahdavi designs are alike, and when hired, she is very clear with clients that the project will be unlike anything they've seen before. They will get the "Mahdavi" look, but it will be unique to their location, their building, their project... In my opinion, this is what elevates Mahadavi from being just a designer or architect, to being a true artist. 

For more on India Mahdavi, check out her website:

And for even more on her, try giving a visit one of her restaurants or hotels - and purchase two tickets, because I'm tagging along.

Pucci, New York City

Don't Be Afraid: Pantone color of the year (18-3838 Ultra Violet)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

So many people are afraid of color.


Of color!

Like... listen. If it doesn't have 8 legs and surprise you in the shower, there's nothing to be afraid of, I promise.

So let's get over our fears and dive right in. Case in Point: Pantone's 18-3838 Ultra Violet. This color is fun, with a capital F-U-N. This color wants to put you in your platform heels, pre-funk with a bottle of champagne, and dance downtown until your heels break off. In the morning, you and Ultra Violet will giggle over croissants and mimosas as you ponder over how you wound up sleeping with a wig on, and further ponder where said wig came from in the first place..

Um. FUN.

Now I realize, this isn't everyone's cup of tea and maybe you're like "I love champagne, Lauren, but I don't want to wake up in a strange wig."

and to you I say, "Ok, Baby Steps."

1. Wallpaper: This is a great option if you've been thinking about adding a POP in your home. A smaller space, like the above powder room, is a perfect choice. Other great options could be a closet, hallway, or girls room.

2. Painted Door: We are all familiar with white, grey, or black doors, and have even grown accustomed to red as a pretty regular player; so why not another color? Why not Ultra Violet?

3. Flowers: YOU CAN DO THIS. Even if you're so scared of color that you're like "I don't like Champagne or heels or dancing and I'm allergic to croissants!" You can still, do.. this. 


4......You thought about it: You like champagne, your diet mainly consists of croissants, and if you don't wear your new pair of platform heels, you may just die. So dive in! Paint the walls, paint the trim, and throw in a purple sofa while you're at it. 

Design is supposed to be fun, and paint can be changed. So live a little.  

DIY: Sprucing up Displays for Spring (or any time of year, really)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Most of us have at least one spot in our home where we display mementos: photos in frames, candles, plants, and any other combination of items that are not only decorative, but meaningful. While these spots are special, and can hold some of our sweetest memories, they tend to catch a lot of dust and frankly... get a bit dull.

When we look at the same thing every day, we tend to stop seeing it.

So while you're getting into your Spring Cleaning this season, consider switching things up a bit. You never know what "new" memories you may dig up. It not only freshens things up, but can subtly change how you feel in your home.

Below is a step by step guide for updating your displays:

Step 1: Pick the Location

The Antique Dresser in my living room was a perfect start.

Step 2: Take Everything down

 Dear Things, I'm sorry I put you on the floor.

Step 3: Clean

 You know it's dirty. Just clean it.

Step 4: Comb through your photos and frames
Decide which photos are ready to retire and which ones are non-negotiable.
Step 5: Design Trick

Got a big ol' frame worth updating?

Select a fun piece of paper (or wrapping paper)
...cut to fit...
Ta-Da! You got yourself a new backdrop.
Step 6: Scent
 Do your scented candles match the season? 
(or, better question, do you have anything scented, up there?)
Our sense of smell is strongly linked to Memory, so it's worth "remembering" when you're combing through mementos.
(see what I did there)
Wanna be lazy?: Just change out your Scentsy, like I do. 
With the flip of a switch, I'm in a field of Lavender.

Step 7: Put it all back and Play around, and around, and....around

 Just pile that s*** up there

And do this...

 Or this...

 Maybe this?

Uh.... this???

Flip it and flop it around until you get the warm and fuzzies inside. 
You'll know when you're done, 
and if you don't....
 just wait for someone to come over and say
"something's different... what's different? ... Do I smell Lavender?" 
THEN, you know you're done.