Colorful Exteriors & Wanderlust

Lately I’ve been dreaming about two things, 1. My client’s homes (there are many days I wake up debating paint colors) and 2. TRAVEL. I have a major case of wanderlust at the moment. It’s been more than three years since I’ve lived abroad. My boyfriend (now husband) and I lived in New Zealand for all of 2011. It was a pretty epic adventure, and possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I do have hope for another travel adventure in my lifetime, but it was not easy to move across the world for a year, so here’s hoping we make it happen again someday.

If you are thinking about a major trip or adventure, I want to share with you the best piece of advice I got when deciding if I could quit my job, and make the trip a reality back in 2010. The advice came from my dad, whose always been my travel inspiration. As a young girl, I remember hearing him reminisce about his trek to Everest Basecamp as a highlight of his life. I was hemming and hawing about leaving my good job, which I actually really liked, and was scared taking the time off would stunt my “career” future. Dad said the following in so many words, “When you are 60 and look back at your life…are you going to remember if you worked [at your job] for three years versus four, or will you remember the year you set out for adventure in New Zealand?”

Dad’s advice really stuck with me and I decided to make the leap. I can honestly say it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I sincerely hope if you have a travel or vacation dream that you find a way to make it happen. Travel (or a working sabbatical, which is what I called leaving the country for one year) is not only inspiring, full of new challenges and opportunities – it is just plain eye-opening (and soul opening) to get out of your comfort zone for awhile. Until we can all travel again here are some colorful and far away exteriors, which are keeping me inspired and full of wanderlust here in gloomy Chicago at the moment!


New Zealand wanderlust - Luke and me during our engagement pictures shot in Wellington.

Wellington, New Zealand. Luke and I stealing a kiss in front of one of my favorite exteriors, the boat house.


via @mayamueble – Guatemala


via @lucylaucht – Cuba


@theonewithwanderlust – Venice


via @brightbazar – London


via@charish – multicolored Portofino

via @Flat15 - SugarHouse Studios, London

via @Flat15 – SugarHouse Studios, London


via @mysimplesol – Mexico, Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel

So much beauty, so little time! Send any New Zealand travel questions my way!


Women Who MAKE: Lady Faye Jewelry

April 2, 2015 Interviews 0 Comments

Super excited to share with you my first interview of this new series, Women Who Make! I’ll be profiling a creative woman whose work I admire monthly, and to kick it off we have the lovely, talented, and oh so natural Katie Mills.

Katie and I first met at Lillstreet Art Center (an awesome place to start making). We hit it off, and I’ve been admiring her style ever since. I think you’ll love it too! Also, don’t miss the giveaway contest and a chance to win earrings from Lady Faye Jewelry! Details on Instagram @clairerose1212, the contest runs through Sunday 4/5/15 – 12pm CST.

Name: Katie Mills

Age: 35

Current title/company name: Lady Faye Jewelry

Years in operation: 3.5 years

Lill Street Art Center

What is your first memory of making [art]?

My very first memory making art was working sitting on the kitchen floor making a paper mache globe. My first memory working with metal was during 2nd grade when I made a cuttlefish casting of a fish (editor’s note: see the adorable pic below).

2nd Grade Cuttlefish Casting

How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business?

I’ve learned from each and every job I’ve had. My first entrepreneurial stint was making fimo jewelry in grade school (ha!) and selling it at my grandmother’s clothing shop. She’d display my jewelry in the front case and every so often I’d get an envelope with a few dollars from sales! During college, I was a waitress and barista (customer service skills are key) and then it was onto design and craft internships. Also, regarding metalsmiting specifically I took my first class in college and was immediately captivated by the process of working in metal. I was inspired by my professor who ingrained the importance of craftsmanship and stressed the idea of “measuring twice, cutting once”.

When I first moved to Chicago, Jen Farrell Starshaped Press hired me as an intern. The experience was very inspirational and influential to my development in small business and the creative community here in Chicago. It also led me to my job teaching classes at Columbia College. With my variety of work experience, my desire to start my own creative business, and my experience with metalsmithing I felt confident enough to start something on my own.

LFJ_StudioSpace LFJ_Tools

Tell us about the process of launching your own business, Lady Faye Jewelry. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

You might say I went about it backwards. I started making my glass button rings and decided on a whim to apply to a large craft fair. To my surprise, I got in and had a few months to develop a small line to go with the rings. It’s been a pretty natural evolution, and I’ve been figuring it out along the way. With a few novice years under my belt I’m excited about what the next couple of years might hold.

  • Best parts: Having found an outlet to focus my creative energy. I also love the process of developing a jewelry line that represents me (and the ever evolving me). I love the idea that my line can evolve as my interests evolve.
  • Biggest challenge: Managing everything! Maintaining a balance between the creative time (designing, studio time, making, reserving time/space for inspiration, skill development) and everything else (promotion, marketing, events, emailing, business development side of things).

LadyFayeJewelry)Process1LadyFayeJewelry_Process 2

What is your favorite part of the creative process? What inspires you and why?

  • Inspirations: the everyday, travel, nature, simplicity, wanderlust, city living.
  • Favorite part of the creative process: Spending hours in my studio working, making, designing, and getting my hands dirty. Sans computers!

What is the best advice you have for other female entrepreneurs/artists?

The advice that I often give myself is to just get started! Whether I’m sitting down with an idea or no idea. I sometimes struggle with getting the ball rolling on a new project, and have found that experimenting with the materials usually jump-starts the process. Things usually fall into place from there.

Do you have a design philosophy, and if so, what is it?

I like the notion that jewelry can have a story, remind you of a time and place, playful, like something you picked up from a market in a foreign land. I also value a high level of craftsmanship and affordable prices.

Imagine Lady Faye is five years, how would you like to grow?

My goal for Lady Faye Jewelry is to continue to develop the product line, producing jewelry that maintains a small-batch collection. It is important to me to maintain a personal connection with everyone involved in the everyday process such as, vendors, coworkers and customers. I would love to establish a boutique storefront that functions both as studio and retail shop, while developing a strong online presence. I would love Lady Faye to become my full-time gig as well; I’m still juggling multiple jobs.

Do you have a most popular item?

The most popular items are my Czech glass button rings. The color and intricate hand painted detail of the glass button speak for themselves. I like making a simple bezel setting to showcase the glass. Also, pieces from the Volcan rock series are very popular as earrings and rings.






What do you enjoy most about the creative community here in Chicago?

Being part of a local creative community is priceless. I’m inspired and in awe of the Chicago creative community that spans across all mediums. Everyone works so hard! From the first day I arrived in Chicago, through the letterpress internship and Columbia College community, I’ve felt the love from the Chicago creative community. Nine years later, and since beginning Lady Faye Jewelry, the network continues to grow larger and stronger. I love running into my neighborhood creative friends and business owners in Ravenswood.

Centered By Design is my business name, but it’s also the idea that we can find a bit of sanctuary each day through design, that good design can center us and make us feel great. Does your design process center you in any way? If so, how?

I love the name of your business and idea behind it. Yes, I find so much inspiration, calm and focus from my surroundings. My home definitely centers me, as do my long studio days where I’m lost in the process of making sawing, hammering, filing and soldering.


Favorite spot to get inspired:

Generally speaking: the great outdoors: fresh air, sunshine and greenery a must. I also find camaraderie at Union Handmade, where I’m surrounded by a lovely and inspirational group of women working in a variety of mediums.

Favorite florist:

Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture:

  • Scouring Wisconsin flea markets for home treasures.

Favorite place for coffee:

  • Intellegenstia in the Monadnock building. Love the historic feeling of the building and shops (hat maker, florist, barber…).

Favorite place for a sweet treat:

  • Hoosier Mama Pie Company

You can view more of Katie’s work at her website, and shop in-person at great local stores like Lillstreet Art Center and Union Handmade. I hope you are inspired to MAKE something today!




photo of Katie credit: Nicole Radja / Time Out Chicago

all other photos courtesy of Lady Faye Jewelry

Shibori Dyeing Tutorial

Shibori fabric has hit the mainstream design market big time this spring. You will see designer dresses, pillows, bedding and scarves all for sale for upwards of hundreds of dollars. Many of these items are beautiful and artfully made, but you can definitely get the designer look without the price tag with this DIY tutorial!


What is Shibori?

It’s a Japanese term for various methods of dyeing cloth by binding, folding, twisting and compressing. The earliest known examples of shibori techniques date back to the 8th century, when indigo dye was commonly used.

How Do I Start?

Indigo Dye Kits are available and easily found online, but they require air, work better in sunlight and need additional time to work correctly. I used a shortcut that produces similar results to indigo dye, but is essentially the common tie-dye technique. Here’s what you’ll need to gather to get started.

Supplies Needed:

  • Natural fabrics such as 100% cotton or linen
  • Soda Ash Dye Fixer (fixer and dye is commonly found at art/craft stores)
  • Cold Water Dye for Natural Fibers (MX Dye) – Blue/Indigo/Navy
  • 2 large buckets
  • Scissors
  • Rubber bands – multiple thicknesses
  • Stones
  • Optional for more folding techniques – wood, cork, PVC/copper pipe


Okay I have all my supplies. Let’s begin.

Step 1: Fill your two buckets with cool water. Follow instructions on your soda ash and pour fixer into one bucket.

Step 2: Place your fabric into the bucket with the soda ash and let it set per package directions.

Step 3: While fabric is one bucket, mix your dye in the other bucket. It’s not going to look like a ton of dye, but don’t worry a little goes a long way.

Step 4: Remove your fabric pieces from the bucket and begin to wrap/fold/twist each piece with your desired technique and pattern.

Step 5: Dip each piece into the dye bath.

Step 6: Place all dyed fabrics into a garbage bag and let them set overnight.

Some Additional Tips

It is best to wash and dry all your fabric before beginning this process for the best results. After the overnight setting of dyed fabric, rinse each bundle under cool water until the water runs mostly clear. Then cut off all rubber bands/string and wash and dry again. Don’t worry the dye is set and will not run.



Here I’ve shown three different techniques to try. These are all resist techniques, this means where you fold, bind and rubber band your fabric you make it harder for the dye to pass through, and this creates a resist or white space where the dye cannot penetrate.


Kumo – This is a twist and bind-resist. I used river stones from a craft store, but found objects such as rocks, pebbles, and even ping-pong balls could work! It’s important to wrap your rubber bands tightly around object, so you get the white circles.

Tie-Dye-Style – You probably did this in kindergarten at some point. Pick a point you’d like to be the center of your design and pick up your fabric from that spot. Then rubber band it all the way down creating a sort of fabric snake.

Itajime – This is a shape-resist technique. Fold your cloth like an accordion back and forth, and then in half once or twice you want it to be a similar size to the piece of wood or cork you have. Sandwich the fabric between the two pieces of wood and use various rubber band pattern/widths to create an endless variation depending on your placement.

handmade shibori pillows

Here are a few of the finished fabrics, which I sewed into pillow cases. I made 10 yards of fabric in this one trial with the help of a friend. This is a nice project to do with someone if you can find a DIY buddy. I hope you are inspired to give it a go! Let me know if you have any questions!


Wallpaper Resources and Trends

Wallpaper is making a huge comeback, and I mean HUGE! You can’t look at any interiors focused site today without an article or post about wallpaper. Even familiar retailers like West Elm are creating their own, curated lines of paper.

And, so this means wallpaper has returned to the masses. I am super excited about what I’ve seen many companies producing and promoting lately. Get ready to forget about those terrible sailboats and stripes, or dated floral scenes from your very kind relative’s home (who we will not name here).

The average homeowner may be wary of wallpaper due to the cost and not-so-fun removal process, but there are many ways you can use a little bit of wallpaper and get a big impact (see examples below). There are even some great temporary peel-and-stick options popping up on the market, and more brands than ever are available direct to the consumer.

Here are some of my favorite wallpaper brands at the moment:

BRANDS YOU CAN ORDER FROM DIRECTLY – shop and order directly from the web. HERE is a good tutorial on how to calculate how much paper to order.

Chasing Paper – Removable, Peel and Stick Paper


Chasing Paper – The entry way is the perfect place for pattern/color with wallpaper.


Chasing Paper – Wallpaper your fridge! Would you ever do this? I think it works here.

Hygge & West – Awesome Artist Collaborations, Gorgeous Options


Rifle Paper Co. for Hygge & West. Using paper as a focal wall behind a headboard is much more cost effective than papering the whole room.

Use wallpaper on your stair risers for extra visual interest.

Hygge & West – Use wallpaper on your stair risers for extra visual interest.

Serena & Lily – Lifestyle Decor, Pretty, Preppy Prints

Serena and Lily - Linen Aqua Citron Paper

Serena and Lily – Linen Aqua Citron Paper

Calico Wallpaper – My Absolute FAVORITE!

Calico - Use wallpaper on the ceiling to reduce surface area, but still create a gorgeous 5th wall!

Calico – Use wallpaper on the ceiling to reduce surface area, but still create a gorgeous 5th wall!

Calico via Homepolish - Use wallpaper as a backdrop in shelving.

Calico via Homepolish – Use wallpaper as a backdrop in shelving.

More Calico beauty - yes this is wallpaper!

More Calico beauty – yes this is wallpaper!

Lazy Bones – Australian Company with several floral prints inspired by the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Selection of vintage florals from Lazy Bones

Selection of vintage florals from Lazy Bones

Lazy Bones gorgeousness!

Lazy Bones gorgeousness!

DESIGNER BRANDS – Usually brands like these are sold “to-the-trade” meaning you need to have a business account with the company, or you need an interior decorator/designer to order for you. They typically have A LOT more options, more neutral paper options, and other textures choices like grasscloth or vinyl.

Osborne and Little – British Company with timeless designs and TONS of options

Osborne and Little Drama - wallpaper a whole room can be very dramatic if you like that look. This is just beautiful in my opinion.

Osborne and Little – wallpapering a whole room can be very dramatic if you like that look. This is just beautiful in my opinion.

Osborne and Little - Sophisticated and elegant designer papers often have lots of options and colorways.

Osborne and Little – Sophisticated and elegant designer papers often have lots of options and colorways.

ROMO – Love the Romo Black collection by Jessica Zoob

Romo Black - inspired by impressionist watercolors Jessica Zoob has the most ethereal papers and fabrcis.

Romo Black – inspired by impressionist watercolors Jessica Zoob has the most ethereal papers and fabrcis.

Are you in love with wallpaper yet? Let me know if you’ve used it in your home lately and what you think!


Navigating a Career Change with Compassion

Many of us leave college with a degree, but not with a direction. In my eight years since college graduation I have worked in philanthropy, event planning, marketing, arts administration, and finally interior design. I also became a yoga teacher part-time along the way. It took me until I was almost 30 to realize that my creativity and talents were well-suited for the field of interior design. On one hand, this was an exhilarating revelation, on the other it was terrifying!

I believe when you truly discover something you’re passionate about, it will be hard to let your feelings go unnoticed, but sometimes it takes a voice other than your own to validate your intuition. I had a few important professional encounters where people told me I had an eye for design. Then I realized that everyone I admired and looked up to was a woman with her own creative business. I began to seriously consider my thoughts and feelings around becoming an interior designer. Did I have what it takes to get more training and start my own business?

This is when the hard part begins. The agonizing and planning around how to actually make a career change happen. I started to ask myself a million questions. How do you start over at 30? Have you even really begun? Some of my friends sure seemed like they were on the career fast track, and I felt behind. I’d prioritized yoga and travel over staying put and working my way up at several jobs. Did those choices make me less worthy of success? Did I really need more education? How would I afford it?

Working out the nitty-gritty details of finances, education costs, quitting my job, and taking another less stressful job to pay the bills was not a fun process. Change can be stressful and sometimes the finish line feels far away, but it was also a very exciting time. I was taking the first step towards a path that I felt called to be on. When I reflected on how hard I was working, I realized what I needed most was to give myself a break and treat myself with some compassion. Why are we always cheerleaders for everyone but ourselves?

I would love to share some of the ways I use compassion to help make this journey (that I am still on) more enjoyable. Also, I’m totally your cheerleader! GO YOU! HERE YOU GO. TAKE A RISK (I highly believe it WILL pay off).

  1.  DO YOUR RESEARCH – Interview as many people as possible, or as you feel necessary in the line of work you are interested in. Discern the education level or certification(s) you need to be successful in the field. Life and transferrable skills count for a lot when you’re transitioning and older. I was told time and again to get the minimum education (and minimum cost degree) I would need for the job or business I hoped to have.
  2. REALITY CHECK – Realize that changing careers is much more than simply changing jobs. When you get a new job it might take you six months to really get acquainted or even excel. When you transition into a new career it could take five years to really build something financially stable. Remind yourself: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  3. BE PATIENT – This was and still is, the hardest part of the game for me. I often feel like Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, “Daddy, I WANT IT NOW!” It’s all about small successes in the beginning, especially if you are going back to school. You have to allow yourself time to learn and grow.
  4. ENJOY THE PROCESS – Everyone is at a different place on his or her path. The people you see on Instagram with millions of followers have most likely been blogging for years, or it is their full time job. At one point, they were starting for the first time or starting over. Don’t always focus on the finish line. Live in the moment, and try to even enjoy it from time to time.
  5. GET INSPIRED – Find people that inspire you and read their blogs, hire them to help you develop your ideas, listen to their podcasts when you are stressed and feeling alone. Here are a few that I like:,,,,
  6. TAKE BABY STEPS Make your own business card, start a blog, create a logo, make a website. Do little things, one step at a time, which fit your scenario and will continue to build towards success.
  7. CELEBRATE – Don’t be too hard on yourself! Celebrate the little and big gains. Make a point to do this whether it’s a just a moment’s pause of true acknowledgement, or a big celebratory night out.
  8. BREATHE – The yoga teacher in me has to vouch for meditation. It’s easy and free, plus it’s proven to reduce your stress levels. Try this quick loving kindness meditation. Remember you are on a path towards your goals, keep your head down, your feet quick, your heart open, and your mind calm and you will surely achieve your dreams!

PS. I’ve posted some pictures of my home office. If you’ve got the space I recommend creating a space that feels like an office for yourself. It will help keep you focused, organized and feeling professional. Even if it’s just adding a desk to your bedroom, you can make it work!

Photos by: Jennifer Kathryn Photography, from TheEverygirl Home Tour.









Tips & Resources: Great Interior Design Books

I am definitely a book lover. These days with my Kindle, Iphone and Amazon it’s rare that I actually get to a book store, but I still love to buy actual books – especially interior design related books (and vintage art books too)! These books just are not the same in online versions. The photography, the reference tips, the ability to flip back to a page quickly and show a client a detail are so valuable.

Several of my favorite designers and bloggers have been putting out books lately, and I couldn’t be happier with several of the choices. I also have a few older books, which I think are super helpful to the novice designer that I’d like to share with you. Lastly, I am anticipating the release of several upcoming design books that should be released in 2015 that are on my wish list and should be on yours too! Here are my picks for some great interior design books to get your collection started. 


SEWING MADE SIMPLE: The Definitive Guide to Hand and Machine Sewing

sewing made simple book

This book by Tessa Evelegh is AMAZING if you’ve recently started learning how to use a sewing machine, or need a refresher. It has more than 500 color pictures, multiple patterns, sewing-machine anatomy, lots of (seriously) achievable projects, and best of all (for a designer) a huge glossary and section on fabrics. This book was better than my design school text book when it comes to fabric details, examples and terms. Can’t remember the difference between a dobby, damask or doupion? Sewing Made Simple will make you sound like a fabric expert!

DECORATE: 1,000 Professional Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home

decorate book holly becker

One of the first “celebrity design bloggers” is Holly Becker of DECOR8BLOG. This book is largely her baby (also written by Joanna Copestick), and it is filled with very practical decorating advice! This is actually the most step-by-step instructional design book I’ve ever seen. It has floor plan examples, lots of guidelines and tips, quotes and advice from well-known designers from around the globe, and lots of photos of spaces that actually look lived in. Totally a good buy if you are trying to redecorate on your own!

ELEMENTS OF STYLE: Designing a Home and a Life


Erin Gates is also a well-know blogger with a book! She is actually new to me, but I find her sense of humor and bluntness quite refreshing. I always laugh reading Elements of Style. I have not purchased her book yet, but it is on my list to buy this year and I’ve heard great things i.e., it’s practical and personal, which are two things I love. Here’s a quote from Amazon, “Erin combines honest design advice and gorgeous professional photographs and illustrations with personal essays about the lessons she has learned while designing her own home and her own life—the first being: none of our homes or lives is perfect.”


CHICAGO SPACES: Inspiring Interiors

chicago spaces book

I love to support local and Agate Publishing here in Chicago put out this lovely book with Chicago Home + Garden. Its forward is by hometown design hero, Nate Berkus, with an introduction by Jan Parr (Chicago Home + Garden Editor). It showcases fabulous home here in Chicago and in surrounding suburbs. I think it does an excellent job of showcasing different types of designs and styles. You may think “Chicago” and simply think Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe, but style has evolved in the Midwest and this is a great peek into real people’s expertly designed spaces.

SUZANNE KASLER: Inspired Interiors

Suzanne Kasler book inspired interiors

Atlanta based Suzanne Kasler has been named one of the top 100 designers by House Beautiful. Her Southern flair and classically inspired rooms are a nice respite from the more modern styles I usually gravitate towards. There is such an elegance to the natural palettes she uses, and I personally appreciate her less is more approach. The photos in this book are stunning, and Kasler’s advice is honest and down-to-earth.


MID-CENTURY MODERN: Interiors – Furniture – Design Details

mid-century modern design book

One of the older books in my collection, Mid-Century Modern is most like a text book of educational knowledge on all topics, historical and current, concerning mid-century design. These styles, many made popular in the 1950s, fell out of favor for almost 40 years. The 21st century has brought modernism back to the forefront of design, and you can’t look at a popular retail furniture store today without seeing a large mid-century influence. Love it or hate it, it’s great to be well-versed in different aesthetics.

THE COLOR SCHEME BIBLE: Inspirational Palettes for Designing Home Interiors

color scheme bible book

If you only buy one of these books, this should be it! Color palettes, mixing paints, mixing colors and finding the right inspiration for you or a client can sometimes be challenging. This book by color consultant, Anna Starmer (yes that is a job!) is chock full of color schemes. There is also a nice section on color theory, and more than 200 palettes (including a main color, accent colors, tonal varieties, highlight colors, and inspirations). Yes, you need all those color types to make a room look great! This book will certainly get you started and help you become well-versed in coloring with confidence.


This next section could also be described as bloggers gone wild. JK. The following ladies are quite popular at the moment in the blogosphere, each with their own unique design partnerships and projects. The common thread is that they are all a bit bohemian in their decorating, which is certainly a large part of my personal/decorating style, so naturally I love them! I can’t wait to for each of their books to be released. I’ll leave you fit an Amazon snippet and a link to their blog – enjoy!

HABITAT: The Field Guide to Decorating

lauren liess

“When I originally came up with the idea to write a decorating book in the form of a field guide, the table of contents and subsequent proposal just sort of flowed out. The book has ended up being a massive brain dump in which I’ve tried to share everything I can about the decorating process, and the logic behind it all.  It’s easy to reference, including charts with information being broken down on specific products and materials where I felt like it was helpful, mixed in with small bits from my life and home. I hope that when people read it they feel excited to work on their homes and feel like it’s something they can tackle, be it on their own or with help from a decorator.” – Lauren Liess (cover image not yet released)     

THE NEW BOHEMIANS: Cool and Collected Homes


“In The New Bohemians, LA-based designer Justina Blakeney defines the New Bohemians as creative individuals who are boutique owners and bloggers, entrepreneurs and ex-pats, artists and urban farmers. They embrace free-spirited, no-rules lifestyles and apply that attitude to all areas of their existence, including their homes, and explores 20 homes located primarily on the East and West coasts.” – amazon

STYLED: Secrets for Arranging Rooms from Tabletops to Bookshelves


Emily Henderson has one of my favorite blogs and her style is just plain fun. There is no actual description for her book at the moment, which is to be released in October 2015 but I can guarantee that it will be a winner. For now, follow along with her at:



Centered City Guide: Austin, TX

Alright y’all, I’m kicking of the Centered City Guide posts with my recent trip to Austin, TX. I went out to Austin for the fabulous three-day and also lingered in the warm weather a few extra days to explore the city. I stayed with some gracious family friends who are Austin locals (and fed me too well). In no particular order, below are my recommendations for shopping, eating, and activities.

As for accommodations, I recommend Airbnb in the South Austin or South Congress areas or the properties like Hotel Saint Cecilia and San Jose. The Driskill Hotel is also right downtown and quite famous.


Uncommon Objects – Vintage emporium of just about everything you can imagine. Kind of like your grandparent’s attic on steroids, but also styled really well. Lots of fun, I’d say you need at least 30mins – 1hr here.

Prototype Vintage Design – Well curated boutique with a nice selection of men’s and women’s wear, shoes, bags and the like.

Feathers Boutique – Vintage mostly, but with some new pieces mixed in and a modern jewelry selection.

Uptown Modern – If you’re driving (or have big bucks to ship furniture) and love mid-century modern this is the place to go!

End of an Ear – Totally rad record store. Super organized layout and friendly staff. The best I found in Austin (went to three total) vintage and new vinyls.

See all Austin vintage here:


Wanderlust Austin Yoga Studio – Lovely studio with tons of class options and a delicious smoothie/ acai bowl bar. You can even pre-order so your smoothie or bowl is waiting for you after class!

Run the Lady Bird Lake Trail – FREE fun. Pull on your running shoes for up to 10 miles of mostly paved dirt trails. I did three miles and it was great. Lots of people and dog watching.

LEAF – Salad bar extravaganza. It’s like a Chipotle for SALADS! This is the one and only location. Seriously, a salad lovers dream. Great for vegetarians, but also lots of meat/protein options. Casual atmosphere.

Milk and Honey Spa – Guadalupe location. Modern and eco-friendly full-service spa. I loved my Lux mani/pedi. Book ahead!

Whole Foods (just blocks from the original first ever WF) – It’s a giant grocery store, but if you’re like me a trip to Whole Foods feels like a vacation from real life some days.


Elizabeth St. Cafe – $$ (French Vietnamese) This was by far my favorite meal during the trip. It’s ADORABLE! The interior decor is spot on and from the drinks (sake/punch/wine/beer) to the full menu, coffees and pastry this place was truly enjoyable. Outside patio is also a plus! South 1st Street.

La Condesa – $$$ (Modern Mexican) Delicious food and chic decor in the heart of downtown Austin. This is a great spot, especially if you’re traveling with a group. Our party booked the entire upstairs floor for a private dinner event. Lots of delicious meats, the Mexican elote (corn) was to die for, as were the desserts!

Mother’s Cafe – $ (Vegetarian/Vegan) A perfect spot if you’re in the mood to fill up on good for you ingredients! Since 1980, Mother’s has been a staple in vegetarian cooking in Austin. I loved the artichoke enchiladas! They also have an extensive smoothie bar. Huge menu with lots of options for vegetarians and non-veggies.

Bouldin Creek Cafe – $ (American/Breakfast) Awesome spot for breakfast, brunch or coffee. There’s an outdoor patio for nice days and free wifi access if you need to get some work done. Tons of coffee options too!



I didn’t have a chance to see any live music while I was in town, but that is certainly part of what Austin is known for! This link has some great sample lists of places to visit based on your interests, including lots of live music venues.

If you have any specific questions let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them. Late February and March are spring temperatures in Austin so it’s a great time to visit!


Design Ideas for a Stylish Entryway

The entryway to our homes can often get overlooked. Like a sturdy handshake or friendly smile upon meeting someone, your entry or foyer gives off the first impression of your space! What’s your entry space saying at the moment? Does it jive with your style and how you would like to present your home/apartment? If not, read on because I’ve pulled together some easy and (in some cases) affordable design ideas for a stylish entrance.

First, we’ve got a Centered By Design entry project. We have worked with two clients on entry styling lately. This first project is finished and you can see the before and after photos below. The second project is still in the works and involves an awesome stencil. Can’t wait to show you that one too!

This project involved a fairly typical Chicago entrance. It has that loooong entry wall supporting the staircase and a whole lot of empty space. Our client had searched high and low for a table long enough to fill the wall, but could not find anything in the right size. And so, she commissioned a table from Centered By Design’s woodworker (a.k.a my husband Luke). The table top was built from a single salvaged floor board that we sourced from the Rebuilding Exchange. It was also custom stained to match closely with the floor and banister detail.

entryway styling ideas

BEFORE: Sad entryway…getting better with addition of the custom table.

entryway styling ideas

AFTER: Affordable updates make for a welcoming and artful entry!

I styled the table using two pieces of artwork the client already owned and added a third (the gold print) to accent the black and white art. I also used the two matching baskets, the vase on the right and the marble accessory from her collection of items around the house. By adding a third basket (striped basket from IKEA), using a few flea market finds (suitcases and dress form), tossing in another gold vase and small accent star the entry looks much more cohesive. Also, if you look closely you will notice we were able to hide the thermostat behind the tallest frame.

More detailed shots of the refreshed entry and custom table.

Alright, onto some other ideas for your entry! These photo pairs all offer some great examples.

RUNNERS: Try using a bright or graphic runner/rug to make an impact upon entry. This works especially well if you’ve got a very narrow space and furniture is not really an option. I like the company FLOR for graphic rugs especially. You can order samples online, or if you happen to live near a brick and mortar location you can practice creating your own runner design in the shop.

WALL TREATMENTS & SCONCES: Faux finishing (teal wall) or cheery wallpaper both work as bright accents here. Both designs are working to create symmetry with the use of a console table, a mirror and sconce lighting fixtures. If you have the space and some sort of division in your walls that creates a break where it would be appropriate for an accent wall this is bold and unforgettable option. (This look is harder to achieve in an open concept space like the above client).

STORAGE UNITS: A practical solution especially if you have kids and some depth in the entry hall. I like units that attach to the wall and mostly keep items hidden. You can still add artwork, a mirror and/or other personal touches.

UNIQUE MATERIALS/TECHNIQUES: A detailed stencil and wood paneling add a unique texture to the space. Options like these create a strong focal point and communicate the home owners style right away. Not for the faint of heart, detailed project these can be DIY, but I’d recommend a professional in most cases.

Hope this gave you some entryway ideas to ponder! Would love to hear some of the adjectives you think describe you and your “dream” entry.


Photo sources for paired examples: the chronicles of home, ty pennington, hautekhuuture, better homes and gardens, ikea, apartment therapy, hgtv, lonny.






Centered By Design is featured on The Everygirl

For those of you who may not be familiar with The Everygirl, here’s a little introduction. The site is run by two lovely women (Chicago transplants) who have a passion for informing, educating and inspiring young women. I think the site is kind of like the older sister I never had. There are excellent career profiles, current event updates, lifestyle/decor articles, home tours and more!

I especially love the career profiles and home tours of course, so I took a shot at submitting some photos from our apartment and explained that I recently started my own business and blog. Lo and behold they were INTERESTED!

In cased you missed it, you can read my full interview and see all house tour photos at:

Here are some of my favorite shots, captured by the wonderful and professional Jennifer Kathryn Photography.


A Beginner’s Guide: Loving Kindness Meditation

January 31, 2015 Yoga + Lifestyle 2 Comments

What first comes to mind when someone says, meditation? I used to picture monks in orange robs who lived far away in a tranquil monastery. Maybe you picture a yoga studio, or dark room full of candles. Meditation seems like something you’ve heard might be good for you, but seriously who has time for that and who wants to sit still for that long? Right? Wrong!

As someone with a non-stop mind and frequent bouts of anxiety, finding a meditative state is literally something my mind and body reject on a daily basis! Calm is NOT my natural state. I am actually convinced this is why I became a yoga teacher, because I knew I needed to chill the f*** out.

Meditation has countless health benefits and I think we need it more than ever in this fast-paced world. It is the number one thing you can do (easily I might add) to reduce your stress level.

In my experience, traditional meditation techniques such a simply focusing on the breath or “quieting” the mind are really hard, especially for beginners. The following walks you through the steps of a loving kindness or metta meditation. Metta means kindness towards yourself and others.

This is a quick, but powerful meditation! I encourage you to find a comfortable place sit, either on the floor or seated in a chair. Use pillows to make yourself comfortable, sit up nice a tall and make sure you can breathe easy. I like to light a candle to focus my gaze and dim the lights. You can think about and internally say the dialogue, or try saying some of the refrains out loud.

Here you go, off to meditation land!

  1. In the first stage of the meditation, you feel metta for yourself. You start by becoming aware of yourself, and focusing on feelings of peace, calm, and tranquility. Let these thoughts grow into feelings of strength and confidence, and then develop into love within your heart. You can use an image, like golden light flooding your body, or a phrase such as ‘may I be well and happy’, which you can repeat to yourself. These are ways of stimulating the feeling of metta for yourself.
  2. In the second stage think of a good friend. Bring them to mind as vividly as you can, and think of their good qualities. Feel your connection with them, and your liking for them, and encourage these feelings to grow by repeating ‘may they be well; may they be happy’ quietly to yourself. You can also use an image, such as shining light from your heart into theirs.
  3. Then think of someone you do not particularly like or dislike. Your feelings are ‘neutral’. This may be someone you do not know very well. You reflect on their humanity, and include them in your feelings of metta. Repeat ‘may they be well; may they be happy’ quietly to yourself. You can also use an image, such as shining light from your heart into theirs.
  4. Then think of someone you actually dislike — an enemy. Trying not to get caught up in any feelings of hatred, think of them positively and send your metta to them as well.
  5. In the final stage, think of all four people together — yourself, the friend, the neutral person, and the enemy. Then extend your feelings further — to everyone around you, to everyone in your neighborhood; in your town, your country, and so on throughout the world. Have a sense of waves of loving-kindness spreading from your heart to everyone, to all beings everywhere. Repeat ‘may all beings be well; may all beings be happy’ quietly to yourself.

Gradually relax out of meditation. Take 10 deep breaths and bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice how you feel. It may have been challenging process, just notice what came to the surface. Try to acknowledge and accept your feelings. It may have felt really good. Either way radiate some love towards yourself – you tried something new!

Let me know if you tried the meditation and how you liked it / what did not work.


Meditation script adapted from The Emotional Intelligence Institute 

loving kindness meditation