Spring has officially sprung! At least at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory it has. I took a visit there yesterday and it was such a site for sore eyes. It’s great all times of year if you are visiting Chicago and it’s free or donation only entrance. A wonderful city resource and great place to draw, play with the kiddos, or just daydream! Today’s outfit to room is a perfect spring ensemble, and looks incredibly fitting with the tulips I snapped a picture of at the conservatory.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! You guys I cannot believe it, but this little blog WON BIG at the Design Bloggers Conference. We took home the award for Best Blog Writing2017 and it was a pretty wonderful moment. Here I’m recapping some highlights that I think you’ll be interested in too, and I’m sharing the blogs of the other three winners who took home Best Overall, Best Graphics/Photography and Best New Blog.
Celebrating at The Beverly Hills Hotel – hello banana leaf wallpaper!
Hard to get a good picture! But here’s the award sponsored by Traditional Home and Ferguson.
First, let me just say that I signed up for this conference not knowing (in the least) that I’d be nominated for a blog award, and I honestly went as a last ditch effort to try and understand if blogging is really “worth it” for your business. As honestly, it’s a second job you feel you’re never keeping up with! I was pleasantly surprised that the universe seems to be encouraging me to keep at it (and you all do too!). I think investing in yourself and your business with a trip to a conference like this (or in your industry) is TOTALLY worth it. I left feeling energized, inspired, motivated and supported. Plus, hello it was in California at The Beverly Hilton!
All of the speakers were wonderful, but I think my biggest take away was they are JUST REAL PEOPLE that work really hard, caught onto something, used their other life experience to benefit their work, got help and made their dreams happen. Everyone on Instagram seems like a celebrity, but let me tell you, it’s a scam. Everyone (and I mean everyone) has personal struggles, doubts, caters to what their audience wants to see, etc. This was really refreshing for me, because it made me feel like anything is possible! Meeting some of your idols in-person humanizes them in a way watching from afar cannot.
Everyone agrees that social media is hugely important to their design business (find the channels that work for you and focus on growing those) and that creating a network of support with other bloggers and design industry friends is essential to success. I also was excited to find out about multiple design podcasts, a new designer/architect team and stylist to follow.
Don’t miss the following people if you’re interested in design or the business of running a design firm:
Stacey Kunstel – Well-known interior magazine stylist and owner of Dunes and Duchess (home decor products)
Brooke and Steve Giannetti– Designer/Architect team with two books, an incredible blog Velvet and Linen, and a gorgeous farm compound called Patina Farm. Anthropologie just shot their latest catalog at Patina Farm!
LuAnn Nigara– A Well Designed Business Podcast (I’m going to be on an upcoming episode!) LuAnn interviews successful designers about their business skills, not their design talents.
If you’re interested in more tips on where to go if you’re visiting the LA area my blogger and designer pal Bria Hammel, of Bria Hammel Interior Design wrote a few posts about where to SHOP and PLAYon a visit to LA.
Maybe I’ll see you next year at the conference?!
XO – CLAIRE
PS. If you found this article helpful, would you pin this image below? This is a great way for others using Pinterest to find out about this post too!
For some, creating a mood board comes naturally. You save bits and pieces of your life; a card from a friend, an inspirational magazine image, an old photograph. These pieces get layered together and over time create a full board that tells a personal story or possibly a business story, much like the mood board pictured above. I find mood boards endlessly interesting, and have been able to see many different iterations in the studios of Women Who Make interviewees. This lovely layered board was from San Francisco florist Natalie Bowen Designs. Learning how to create a mood board for interior design is not overly complicated. There are really so many ways to create a feeling and impart your vision to others, clients, etc. Let’s look at some mood boards both analog and digital.
While a physical (real-life) mood board is always more interesting to me, it’s more practical to use a combination of digital and physical mood boards with interior design clients. I like to start with a digital mood board. It’s a great way to solidify the color palette and direction you’re going with the project. Think high-level here, broad concepts to convey how you think the space should feel. Pinterest is a nice place to gather inspiration images, but I suggest making the digital board elsewhere. I personally like to use Photoshop, but Power Point, Pic Monkey and Moldivare also great applications for making quick collages. Here’s an old post on how to create your own color palette in Photoshop.
Digital Mood Boards
Here are a few examples of digital boards I’ve created at the beginning of a project to help inform the color palette or overall feeling we are trying to achieve. These may not be the exact colors or items we choose in the end, but they help the client and I remain on the same page for the vision of the space.
I am very excited to share some new work with you today! A project that began last July and finished just before the holidays was featured on MyDomainethis week. That photo above received my most Instagram likes EVER?!?! Super cool, because I absolutely love it too! This project was in collaboration with Homepolish (I design freelance for them) and these clients were the absolute best (and have killer style)! They brought me on to the project early into the construction process, which is a designer’s dream because you can really help shape the look and feel of the entire home. Here are a few BEFORE photos.
And here are the AFTERS of those same spaces. Photography by Dustin Halleck.
To see the entire project (there are lots more pictures!) check out my PORTFOLIO page.
Family Room After
Kitchen and Family Room After
Master Bedroom After
Many more beautiful shots HERE. Proud of this project and could not have asked for better clients, who have become friends. Honored I get to help people create and bring to fruition their own version of a personal sanctuary.
Very excited to announce a fundraising shopping event to benefit Loom Chicago. Don’t miss the incredible vendors joining together for one evening to raise funds to support the refugee women of Loom. Many of the fabulous vendors are a part of my Women Who Make series. We wanted to put together an event to support refugees here in our community, and are thrilled to support this incredible group (scroll to bottom for more information about Loom Chicago and how to get involved).
Loom Decor Chicago
Lillstreet Art Center is generously hosting the event in their recently refreshed event space, Lillstreet Loft. There is no entrance fee and kids are welcome! 25% of all sales for the evening will go to Loom Chicago.
Below are some product photos from our fabulous vendors! You can expect to find wallpaper, art, textiles, rugs, scarves, clothing, kids clothing and plush toys, paper goods, jewelry, home goods and more!
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!
Michelle Starbuck Designs
The Clementine Studio
Argaman & Defiance
Lifestyle by Ivory and Ash
Who is Loom?
Loom is a community of refugee women living in Chicago who weave together their creativity and cultural traditions to make and sell beautiful handmade products. These women have fled their country of origin because of a credible fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, political opinion, national origin, or social group. More information on refugee resettlement services here.
What happens at Loom?
Loom provides opportunity, at a weekly workshop, to collaborate, develop new skills, earn extra income and be part of a community of creative, enterprising women. Through the encouragement of the group and skills learned, many women secure part or full-time employment in and outside of the fashion industry.
What is produced at Loom?
Loom artisans collaborate with local designers to produce a beautiful selection of handmade products such as jewelry, bags, and home décor. Artisans use a variety of techniques including indigo dye, crocheting, knitting, sewing, embroidery and weaving inspired by their cultural traditions.
How can you partner with Loom?
Spread the word by hosting a Loom Sales Event. Gather your friends in the Chicagoland community to share the stories of our refugee artisans and sell Loom products.
Help the artisans learn new skills by teaching a workshop in the areas of textile arts, financial literacy and business management.
It’s time for a monthly does of fashion with guest contributor, Alyssa Doorhy, of CoChic Styling. Alyssa and I both love fashion and interiors, and thought it would be fun to see one of my interior designs translated into a seasonal outfit each month of the year. Did you catch January’s Outfit to Room? This February has been very mild here in Chicago, and I think Alyssa’s pick of this bedroom with floral wallpaper accent wall feels just right for that cool early spring weather.
This room has wallpaper by Relativity Textiles, and was designed for lifestyle blogger Maya McDonald of Charmingly Styled. The color palette began with a red lacquered dresser Maya already owned (from another favorite vendor of mine, MegMade) and blue felt like a natural pairing to cool down the red. The rustic wood ceiling added incredible texture, and white bedding, hints of gray and gold complete the look! Here’s Alssya’s take on fabulous coordinating outfit.
You guys!! I have a friend who is now a published cookbook author and I’m making her recipes in my kitchen. It’s SO COOL. Jessica Murnane can really only be described as cool. She’s a designer turned women’s health and food advocate, after her struggle with Endometriosisled her to completely change her diet and lifestyle. Then she started a health and lifestyle Podcast called One Part Plant, and that led to her AWESOME new cookbook ONE PART PLANT.Jessica and I met in 2014 (I think!) at a monthly dinner series she hosted in Chicago, and it has been so fun to watch her career take flight. Today I’m sharing an interview with the prop stylist who worked on the book!
Also, Jess has a book tour shaping up HERE. She’ll be in Chicago and lots of other cities too, so get in on that!
The lovely Jessica Murnane, eating those plants.
I was honored when Jess asked if I’d like an advance copy of the book. Women’s reproductive health, eating more plant-based foods, and gorgeously styled new recipes to try – YES please! I know the amount of work that goes into well-styled photographs, so I asked Jessica if I could interview her prop stylist for this post. Lucky for us the talented Joni Noe answers my burning questions below. If you are a stylist or an aspiring one, make sure to check out Joni’s portfolio. She has worked for some fabulous brands and magazines. You can find more Joni and Jess on Instagram.
You know how everyone has that one holiday they are wild about? Well, for whatever reason I’ve always had a soft spot for Valentine’s day. Maybe it was my grandma’s vintage valentine display each year, or that I’m a sucker for love, or that I’m fond of the color palette. Whatever the reason, I love having an excuse to create a pretty tablescape and have some girl friends over.
My new dining room doesn’t hurt this holiday scenario, because the pops of blush are really working in the month of February. The full dining room reveal is still on hold until a few final touches are in place (ahem, marble fabric drapes!!) but these table shots turned out too pretty not to share! Here are some easy ideas for hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner party and creating an elegant (but actually really easy) table setting. Thanks to stylist Elise Metzger for helping with the styling and setting ideas!
This to-do list and shopping list should have you covered. With most of these items on hand you can set this party up in an hour flat (my secret is ordering out for the main course) I never said I was a chef!
Gather dish ware and sliver ware you already have on hand. Ideally white dishes or something that works with the pink or red palette.
A cloth table runner and napkins add an elegant touch. If you don’t have any on hand you can get inexpensive muslin from a craft/fabric store and quickly cut/rip your own. Measure out a generous 18 to 20 inches with a ruler, start your cut with scissors, and rip. It’s a super quick project and will give your napkins an unfussy edge.
Small bowls work well for floating single roses, add some tea lights too.
Check the grocery list below. You can grab lots of store bought items to make the appetizer, dessert and beverages for the night.
Order out for dinner and you are DONE!!!
Setting the table simply feels elegant with the addition of a cloth runner, napkins, wine glasses and simple decor like cut roses and tea lights.
With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching I cannot think of a better month than February to arrive at an artist’s studio, and be greeted by an awesome pink door. Minneapolis based artist and illustrator, Ashley Mary, is one big-hearted and lovely lady! We hit it off immediately, and Ashley really dove into all my questions with such truthful and articulate answers. These monthly features are here to remind us all (myself included!) that we are not alone in our struggles as creatives or small business owners.
I’m grateful to Ashely Mary Art for opening her studio up to (pretty much) a stranger — look at all the beauty our photographer and fellow creative, Erin Francois, was able to capture! Enjoy the interview, and if you’re looking to visit Minneapolis yourself, don’t miss this city guide with some of Erin and Ashley’s favorite hometown spots.
Current title/company name: Artist, illustrator, designer, stylist
Years in operation: as a full-time freelancer three years, artist for nine
What are your first memories of making [art]/being creative?
A few pop into my mind. I had one of those spinning paper toys that you could drop the paint on and it would swirl and splash into a little design. Aging myself! I remember playing with that and loving the surprise of art when the paper stopped spinning. I was a big Lego kid too. I really loved crafts of all sorts: needle point, friendship bracelets, sewing things for my dolls, coloring, playing with boxes. I had a very large imagination so usually what I was making was a part of a larger story I was acting within like “house” “school” or putting on performances from my garage for neighbors who I served my mom’s LaCroix to. I was definitely a theatrical booger (and still am, keep me away form a karaoke bar).
How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own and become small business owner?
I only took a small handful of art courses in college, but it was going back to school at MCAD that changed the course of my creative life. I learned a whole new set of tools to bring my analog world into the digital. Learning tools like Photoshop and Illustrator have been game-changers for me. I used to do a lot of public speaking in my last job, it was very relational too, I got to listen to people’s stories a lot. And I think both of those skills make me better at marketing myself and working with clients to get them what they need. I’m not super shy and that’s helped me introduce my work to new people.
Last weekend, I had the good fortune to be invited on weekend trip to Minneapolis, MN with some inspiring creatives and a few brands who care deeply about craftsmanship. Liberte´ yogurt hosted a weekend stay at the new Hewing Hotel in the North Loop district, and Faribault Mills gave our group a private tour of their incredible factory, which is about an hour outside the city. Midwest Living published a nice itinerary for an overnight getaway in the Faribault area, just as an FYI. And if you want to see pretty pictures of the hotel, fellow designer and blogger Sarah Gibbs, just posted some great shots on her blog.
I highly recommend taking the tour and visiting the factory store at Faribault (tours are on Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays – call to make a reservation in advance). The wool mill employs approximately 105 people, all working to make incredible blankets, and other wool products all made here in the USA. Its history began in 1865, the year Lincoln died and the Civil War ended. Faribault has a long history of making blankets for all areas of the US Military (more than 100,000 blankets during WWI), and had to close its doors during the 2008 recession. They have come back strong since re-opening in 2011, with many consumers now caring more about quality and USA made products. As you can tell, I’m a total fan of such a handmade and local product!