Designers are Human: The time I got dumped on Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

In honor of Valentine's Day I wanted to take a break from design advice, and share the story of when I was dumped on Valentines Day. While I wish for you to spend the holiday floating on oddly-shaped balloons and swimming in heart shaped candies; if that isn't the case, I hope that you at least get a laugh over my Valentine's Day from Love-Hell...Enjoy:

I met "Johnny" on New Years Eve while out with one of my dearest, and most cynical friends. She knew Johnny and took it upon herself to make sure that we connected that night. Despite her deep rooted belief that love was dead (and may never have been alive to begin with) a part of her really thought that he and I may just be the exception to that rule. This encouragement, paired with a great first impression, had me very interested. So the next day, when he asked me out to my favorite Sushi restaurant, I gladly accepted.

The six weeks that followed were a drunken barrage of “I like you!” - “this is fun!" - with calls, frequent texts, and dates night after night; I soon found myself 40 days in, needing to know:

Was he my boyfriend?

Four days before Valentine's Day, and a couple hours into date number twenty (??) Johnny made a comment which clearly expressed that he had zero plans to spend Valentine's day with me.

...In fact, it was unclear if he even knew the holiday was coming up.

I realize that Valentine's Day is a faux-holiday at best, but when you're six weeks into a new relationship, it's the holy grail of DTR. And if he "doesn't know" that Valentines day is coming up; then that means, that he doesn't give a shit about you (and that's an actual fact).

So there I was, six weeks into this, trying to calculate his lack of comprehension around said holiday and desperately seeking a way to convince myself that he still cared.

However, despite my efforts I couldn't fight the feeling that he, possibly, did not give a single shit about me.

So I did the only thing I could think to do; I brought up the talk:

“Ugh, argh, oh I hate doing this.” I said

“Huh?”said Johnny

“I just, uh, I just... I wasn't going to do this...”

“Lauren, what are you talking about?

“I need to know what's going on here.” I said

“Oh that's fair” He said “Well, I mean, I like you Lauren. What do you need? To be official on Facebook or something?”

“Facebook?.....No. I don't even have Facebook” I said.

(I really didn't have Facebook at the time)

“Well, what then? I mean, I like you as much as I could like anyone.”**


**I-like-you-as-much-as-I-could-like-anyone: Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of regard for the moral or legal standards in the local culture. There is a marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules. Individuals with this disorder are sometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths.


Suffice it to say, we spent the next hour with him going back to “What do you need? To be official on Facebook?” and me saying things like “I don't have Facebook, I just want you to be crazy about me.” We clearly were not speaking the same language, so I grabbed my things and left.

Driving home that night, bummed on what had transpired, I wondered if we could go anywhere from here; and as I pulled into my driveway a sweet text from Johnny came through. He said that he hoped this wouldn't be the last time we see each other, that he was happy with us, and then dribbled in a few other sweet words that I have since forgotten. At the time it meant something, and I was happy to rest easy that night; knowing Johnny, I was sure some flowers would come my way the next day.


Three days went by.

No text, no call, no email, no facebook, definitely no flowers, nothing.

Looking back now, I think “F*** him, that's over.” but, I liked him.

Yes it was apparent now that he lacked empathy and sympathy, but he had come so highly recommended by such a cynical friend, and (until that night) had regularly expressed more than mutual feelings toward me.

So the three days go by and it's Friday evening:

Text Message: Johnny: “Drinks tonight?”

I should have replied with "Go F*** yourself" or "You're a mouth breather." 
But damnit, I liked him, and wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. So I said yes, and 4 hours later around 9pm, I found myself all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Frustrated, I called to see what was up and he told me that he didn't feel like talking, that he just wanted to have fun with his friends, and wondered if we could do lunch the next day instead.

*Slaps forehead and screams while simultaneously vomiting*

I was at my wits end, but agreed. If nothing else, I wanted closure. So I washed off my makeup, slipped into my sweats, and went to bed.

The next day we were slated for lunch at noon, and this day... was Valentine's Day.

So I woke up, put my makeup BACK ON, got dressed, and waited.

11am: 0 text messages

“shit.” I thought.

So I texted “Where do you want to Grab lunch?”

11:15am: 0 text messages

11:30am: 0 text messages

11:45am: 0 text messages

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I thought

12:00pm: 1 text message: “Hey, I'm really tired from last night, I'm going to take a nap.”


So I called him.That very second.

Pacing in my kitchen, livid, feeling like a wadded up piece of trash, I paced. Knowing he was at his phone, and hearing his voicemail pick up my call, I managed the self-respect to hang up before leaving a voicemail riddled with profanities in a pitch you'd only hear from your mother after having crashed her car.

And that was it. End of story. He never returned my call, and I never called him again.

Years later I ran into Johnny on the street, he was eating (by himself) and I recognized him from the back of his head. How I did that, I'll never know. Call it instincts. But as I approached him, I sort of just... stopped, leaned my upper body to the side, and stared him in the eye. It seems a bit odd, my doing this, but considering the situation, a good stare down felt completely normal.

 His eyes sort of jumped when he saw me; unsure of whether he was in for a beating or not. But, he wasn't. I was kind, and then I walked away. The fantasy of pulverizing our exes is much stronger in our minds. In reality, who we truly are shines through... 

and Thank God I was wearing my good jeans as I walked away.
F*** you, Johnny.

How to: Make Design Decisions without Losing your Mind.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere between the Dancing Baby Video and Kylie Jenner's Birth Video we became completely overloaded by the internet.

If we want to see something, we just type it into google and in 0.00005248 seconds, we see like a million things related to it (like, literally a million).

The birth of Pinterest and Houzz has only sped up the process to make us feel all the more lost in a sea of beautiful things. We scroll through things we already have, but mostly we get caught in the beautiful things we don't have. These websites (bless them, because honey you know I love them too!) have basically made a monster out of the Jones's.
Suddenly, everyone with an ounce of taste and internet access, is our next door neighbor stopping by all, "can I have a cup of sugar? (PS your chairs are ugly)."

So how do we stay calm in a sea full of "BUY ME!" and "YOU NEED THIS." or "THIS IS THE LOOK NOW!" and "ALL THE COOL NEIGHBORS ARE DOING IT."

Here's the secret: Take a break.

If you find yourself spinning over an idea, or that one perfect product, catch yourself.
Are your shoulders hunched up? Are you starving? Do you have a mysterious headache? That's your sign to stop.

Take that break.

It could be for an hour, or it could be for a week. Your body will let you know when she's ready to go back to battle (BTW, it's your job to listen to her).

And when you take your break, be sure you do things unrelated to the design issue at hand. Go for a walk, cook a meal, read a funny book, whatever it is you enjoy that is not related to interior design.

Once you've taken your breather, consider getting back into design-land by actually visiting a shop in person. Look up a design boutique that you've never been to, and pay them a visit. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in images that we forget how different it can be to go look, feel, touch, and smell pieces in person (I can't believe I just wrote that. Ray Bradbury may just drop from the sky and beat me with a copy of Fahrenheit 451).

Now put down your electronics and get some fresh air. Forcing yourself to struggle for another hour isn't going to get you anywhere, I promise.

Designers You Should Know: Kelly Wearstler

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

There are a great number of designers that I admire and draw inspiration from. Sometimes it's an idea that I haven't thought of before, or simply a color used in a way I haven't yet experienced.
Other times, it's the way that one designer takes every f***ing idea, flips it upside down, slices it in half, and is all "this is good art." And then guess what?

It's really f***ing good art.

The first I heard of Kelly Wearstler, was from a design student I was mentoring, she said:

"Kelly Wearstler is like a celebrity or something... or maybe her husband is. And they're like married and beautiful and she just like designs everything and is sort of her own brand and has shops and stuff. She basically does whatever she wants. I don't even know if she's an interior designer... uh, no. Wait, yeah she is. Sometimes. Whatever, she's supercool."

And I was all: "Oh how nice, I'll have to look her up sometime."

And inside my head I was all {robot voice}: "MUST LIVE THIS LIFE, MUST BECOME SUPERCOOL."

So I did a little fact checking on Wikipedia:
  1. She is sort of a celebrity, or celebrity designer anyway, and is really well known in the design community, stemming from her Bravo show "Top Design"
  2. Her husband is not a celebrity, but is one of those people who evidently goes to events with paparazzi and is not unattractive and so maybe people sometimes say "Did I see him in an ad for Humira?"
  3. They're like, totally married, and and she is even more not-unattractive than he is.
  4. She's definitely an interior designer. But she does do a lot of other things too.

I'll admit, when I first looked through Kelly's work it sort of felt like she was just, trying too hard to be different. Because her work really is, so different from what most designers are doing today. But the more I looked, the more I understood the beauty of it all. This woman takes any material, or any shape, calls it furniture, (or design of some sort) or whatever it is she decides it is, and IT'S ALL WORKING.

As a designer, one of the most difficult things is bringing a unique idea to life (and getting someone to trust you enough to let you do it). Like, if I came into your home and said  "Hey Karen, instead of painting your bathroom a soft blue, I think we should put black quartz on the walls and then hang a pendant that looks like a spider." You'd be like, "Oh look at the time!... P.S. you're fired."

And what's more, is you wouldn't be wrong. Because it's not only the idea, and the OK from the client, it's that reveal moment .... Because unless you've put 110% of your blood, sweat, tears, and pure-creative-genius into this; then you will wind up with a nightmare, spider bathroom.

What Kelly is doing, is the definition of a true artist. She expresses herself through design, because it is in her, and it has to come out. Clearly she does not give a s*** about your opinion, or mine and she certainly does not sit around going "is this too much blue?" No. She just does it, because she knows what's good in her mind and she trusts in her talent.

You simply cannot make uncommon, let alone successful, art, unless your whole heart is in it.
And while it may be argued that this mad talent is backed by some very full pocketbooks... I guarantee you that if she only had $10 to her name, she'd be spending it on impractical paint colors.

For more on Kelly, check out her website.

Or just google her, she's everywhere. 

White Countertops: To Love, or Not to Love?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

This week I found myself  (as most designers do) wandering through a warehouse full of slabs.

There were slabs, slabs everywhere! Black, brown, GOLD, grey, silver, RED!, and every blend conceivable of the above. Yet as I walked further I found myself in exclusive groupings of white stone; white quartz, white marble, white granite.... you name the stone, they had it in white, and they had a lot of it.

As I circled around again and again I got to thinking about design trends. Because here I was, staring at some of the most beautiful stone I had ever seen and thinking "Why don't I see this anywhere else?" - At that moment, a Pinterest page flashed before my mind, and I saw it: White... White, e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. And it's not just Pinterest, it's instagram, it's Houzz, it's "fresh" and it's "clean" and its "the look" right now.

Look familiar? 

There is of course nothing wrong with using white, and there is nothing wrong with white stones. And Honey, if you want a white house, I will give you a white house

But the issue with trends, to me, is that I often wonder if we have stopped thinking for ourselves, and started creating things simply because we've been told to like them. It's a bit, Josie and The Pussycats for me....  

Do you remember that Movie? Back when Tara Reid was still sober, or mostly sober... it's hard to say really. But essentially, The Pussycats discover that people like their music only because subliminal messages have been sent through the headphones of their fans!
(Of course in the end, because this movie is a happily ever after type, they remove the messaging and people still like their music. Tara Reid is like, really happy, The End.)

So, Question: are we obsessed with white finishes because we've been told to obsess? Or do we truly like them? 

If we take off our "headphones" what will we truly desire?

Below is what happened when I took off my headphones and, my opinion? I still love white finishes, but it's time to shake things up.

 Quartzite, Brazil

Granite, Brazil

Marble, Spain

Granite, Brazil


Choosing The Right Hardware for your Cabinets

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Replacing and updating cabinet hardware is a great way to upgrade any kitchen or bathroom. Cabinet hardware is one of those things that often goes unnoticed (as if it's some sort of shiny camouflage hiding in the Jungle that is your home) that is, until you change it.
Suddenly your guests will be all: "something is different, what is different... did you cut your hair? Wait... is this a brand new Kitchen? Where am I?!" 

Don't believe me?
Just try it.
And get back to me (because I love a good "I told you so")

If you're ready for a change, here are some tips on how to shop for that next set of hardware:
  1. Know your center to center dimension(s) on the pulls you currently have. Simply put: this is the measurement in-between the two screws that attach the pull to the door.

    Pulls come in all shapes and sizes, so be sure you're shopping for the  right one! Getting the wrong C to C dimension is like buying a beautiful pair shoes... in the wrong size.

  2. Always take home samples and test them out on your cabinets.
    You want to be certain that they not only look great in your space, but also function properly:
    • Are the pulls/knobs large enough for your fingers?
    • Does the style snag on your clothes when you walk by? 
    • Is the product large enough? Small enough? 
    • Visually, what is the look and feel in your space?

  3. When you're ready to buy, always buy more than you need. Styles are constantly coming and going, so it's good to keep a few on hand in case something happens over the years.

  4. Speaking of purchasing: The average medium sized kitchen has about 40 pulls and larger kitchens generally have 70 or more. Keep this in mind when you are budgeting for the project:
    • ie. Medium sized kitchen, $10 drawer pulls, 40 x 10 = $400
  5. When you are selecting the finish, take note of anything that collects fingerprints. For example, some chrome options are total Fingerprint-Bandits, while other chrome finishes don't react in the same way. It will vary by brand and how the product is made - but don't overthink it. Just press all over with your fingers and see what happens. It's up to you how much maintenance you want to deal with.
Any Questions? Reach Out here.

Ceiling Medallions: Fancy AF

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What does the term fancy mean to you?
A nice pair of heels?
Drinking tea with a cup and saucer?
Shopping at Whole Foods?
Those really thin wine glasses that go ‘ting!’ when you tap them with a knife? (AKA. those-really-thin-wine-glasses-that-shatter-when-you-touch-a-knife-to-them)
Winking when you leave a big tip?
Smoking on one of those long cigarette things from old movies?
Serving a dinner where all the plates match and nothing is chipped?

Well to me, it’s Ceiling Medallions. Yes people, if you have a ceiling medallion in your home, I’m gonna be all pinkies up! strutting around and smoking indoors in a fur coat (you’ve been warned).

I've been in love with traditional millwork for as long as I can remember and, Having a Great, and Great-Great Grandfather who helped Pioneer the Victorian Style movement during the early 1900s (much of their work still stands in San Francisco and surrounding areas), I often wonder if it’s literally in my blood.

I also wonder if perhaps I fell for it because I never had it as a kid. Growing up in a small coastal town, we had to drive to the “Big City” (“Big City” being super fancy, in and of itself) to see anything with good millwork. To me it was rare, and special, something to be admired; like a great piece of art.

Whatever it may be, I think millwork is FANCY AF, and ceiling medallions are the cherry on top.

While I generally recommend hiring out for this kind of work, it certainly isn't impossible to DIY. 
Just take yourself (and your super handy friend, unless that's you *applause*) to Home Depot and pick up one of their shockingly affordable, super fancy, medallions.

If you are local to Portland, be sure to check out the stock at McCoy Millwork. Their staff is super knowledgeable and they may just be able to give you some advice regarding installation.

If you aren't up for a DIY project *raises hand* reach out to me here and we can get this project rolling, together.