Speaking Engagement at WeWork

I’m honored to have the opportunity to share more about my career journey with Quarterlette and WeWork next Wednesday evening. YOU are invited (there is also free food and goodie bags!). I would love, love, love to see some friendly, smiling faces in the audience, and I have lots to share with you, as do the other three career driven ladies speaking.

You might remember this blog post, Navigating a Career Change with Compassion, which I wrote about starting my new career path at age 30. This is a great place to start if you can’t make it to the event, but are interested in taking some baby steps towards a new career path.

Here are two of my favorite career related quotes (for me personally), but I think they can apply to everyone. I’ll be using these in my talk on Wednesday.

  • “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – Pablo Picasso
  • “An interior is the natural projection of the soul.” – Coco Chanel

Below is some more information about the event. If you’d like to attend please RSVP to the Eventbrite invite.

Join the Co-Founders of Quarterlette.com on May 27th at WeWork River North for a special girls’ night networking event and speaker series. We’ll be highlighting four dynamic women with completely different career paths — an interior designer who launched her own design firm, a social impact entrepreneur, a fashion entrepreneur, and PhD student studying Industrial Engineering. All 4 women will be sharing their unique career stories and talking candidly about the ups and the downs they have encountered (or are still encountering!) as they build meaningful careers. Whether you’re looking to change jobs, hear some great professional advice, or simply be inspired to go down a new path, join us for what’s sure to be a great evening. In addition to hearing from our speakers, we’ll have some treats for you to enjoy, gift bags to take home, and time for networking with all of our amazing guests. #QLmixandmingle (yes, men are welcome to attend as well).


Claire Staszak, Interior Designer + Yoga Teacher, Centered By Design

  • Taking the time to re-center ourselves and find a personal sanctuary is more important than ever in today’s fragmented and fast-paced world. I believe that sanctuary is much closer to home (literally!) than you think. My approach to working with clients blends my intuitive nature as a yoga instructor with my passion for interior design. I see on a daily basis how the connection between the body, mind, and our physical environment can have powerful influences on personal well-being. Whether your ideal space is an avant-garde apartment, modern family home, or innovative office, I would love to help you create your perfect sanctuary.

Jackie Ng, PhD Candidate in the Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences department at Northwestern University.

  • Her research interests lie in using analytical and statistical tools in the areas of new product development and business model innovation. Prior to starting her PhD studies, Jackie worked at Morgan Stanley and Microsoft. She has an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a MBA from Columbia University. She also enjoys skiing, tennis and traveling in her spare time.

Nicole Yeary, President and Founder of Ms.Tech a social impact focused organization based in Chicago.

  • Nicole has spent over fifteen years leading Fortune 500 companies in Direct Sales, Marketing Services, and Learning Development and the last seven years working for, with, advising, and building, startup companies. In just under a year, Ms. Tech was recognized in “Crain’s Guide to Networking” as one of “Six Great Tech Groups, practically guaranteed to commune with the scene’s best and brightest!”

Alex Batdorf, CMO of ZipFit Denim

  • A Chicago based startup helping men find perfect fitting jeans fast using their proprietary technology. Prior to ZipFit, she worked in marketing for brands such as Valspar, Chicago-based fashion brand Lara Miller, Booth School of Business and Starcom Mediavest Group. She studied Sociology at the University of Chicago. 



I would LOVE to see you there!


Flea Market Fabulous

Summer flea market season officially opens this weekend!

Here in Chicago, it’s marked by the Randolph Street Market taking their festivities outside. I’m super excited that this year, I’ve been invited to the media breakfast and early buy (before the market opens) to mark my favorite vintage finds with a green ribbon. If you’re in Chicago and shopping the market keep your eyes peeled for the green ribbons. Lots of design lovers, bloggers, and media are invited to pick their favorites. Trust me, I can’t bring everything I love home, so I’ll mark the good stuff for you too!

If you don’t live in Chicago, or you’re out-of-town for the holiday here’s a 2014 USA Today article listing 10 of the best vintage flea markets in the states.

It’s always good to be prepared when you go to any flea market. You may have bargaining in your genes (thanks mom), but being prepared means you’re more likely to score the right items at a fair price. Here’s my top 10 list for getting Flea Market Fabulous!

  1. BRING CASH. Yes, most people take cards theses days, but having cash is always better for bargaining and sometimes you won’t have to pay tax with a cash exchange. It can also be a good way to limit your spending.
  2. DRESS A LITTLE SHABBY. This was a good tip from a friend. Cute new outfit? Don’t wear it to a flea market. This is old, dirty stuff and if you’re buying you’ll probably be lugging it around yourself. Also, it’s not easy to haggle for a discount with that Fendi bag on your shoulder. See what I mean?
  3. MAKE A LIST. I always have specific items I’m shopping for and I write them down to remind myself what I’m actually looking for. It’s so easy to get distracted! Easy decorative items to carry and buy could be lamps, mirrors, clocks, barware, and possibly rugs.
  4. TAKE MEASUREMENTS. If you are looking for a dresser, cabinet, credenza or the like make sure you know the size of the space you are going to place the piece in. Measure the height, depth, and width and write it on your shopping list.
  5. BRING A TAPE MEASURE. Whelp, having the measurements written down won’t do you any good if you can’t measure the piece when you see the perfect thing!
  6. WEAR A BACKPACK. I like to have both hands free for measuring, moving items around, and eventually carrying items I’ve purchased on both arms. Put your measuring tape, a poncho, a water bottle, sunscreen and cash in your bag and you are good to go!
  7. ALWAYS OFFER LESS. Items are usually priced high because vendors know people want to bargain, also they need room to lower prices at the end of the day or weekend. Don’t offer something insulting, but $5 – $25 less than marked is always fine in my book.
  8. KNOW WHERE YOUR CAR IS PARKED. If you are really serious about shopping for big items you need a car. Know what will fit in your car and where your car is actually parked if it’s a huge lot. Most likely you’ll be making a few trips to the car, or you’ll have a nice vendor who will help you transport the large item to your car.
  9. BRING A BUDDY. Having a friend with you is a great idea (this friend needs to love flea markets too). Two sets of eyes helps, and this person can be your back up on crunch time decisions, bargaining fiascos, and they can help you carry stuff to the car!
  10. DIG, DIG, DIG! Look in the sale bin, move things around, try to see what everyone else is missing. That’s where you strike GOLD my friend.

Here are a few pictures from my recent flea market and thrifting adventures.


Don Kelly’s in Northern Michigan. Awesome spot!


Where wicker chairs go to die.


My packed car after Wolf’s Flea at the Allstate Arena near Chicago.


Headboard score that I’ll most likely use as a wall hanging.

Good luck and happy hunting!


Color Trends: I’m Loving SAPPHIRE

May 14, 2015 Trend Love 0 Comments

I LOVE color. I also love the color sapphire, so much so that it was my engagement ring stone of choice (I know how Princess Kate of me). It just so happens that in 2015, I’m noticing the color sapphire everywhere. You could call it a trendy color at the moment, but it’s also classic and sure to never really go out of style.

Trends come in and out of favor, most repeating themselves, over and over again in different iterations. As for color, there are big color forecasting organizations that conduct lots of research to issue new “hot” colors each year. The fashion industry, the automotive industry and even the home design industry all weigh in and (I would guess) cater their product lines toward the colors that their team of experts think will sell best to the masses.

I enjoy looking at what paint companies have deemed their “new” or “top” colors of the year. Also, keeping an eye on the fashion industry helps since they move so quickly from season to season, and collection to collection. Often interior design trends follow fashion trends.

Alright, so that’s my diatribe on color trends at the moment. Here’s a look at a pretty moodboard for all you other sapphire lovers out there. I think decorating with sapphire, especially in large quantities, feels bold, moody and regal. I’m usually only one of the three (read: moody), so I think that’s why I love sapphire so much. I want to be more bold and regal. Who doesn’t? See all the links below!

color trend sapphire mood board



My Favorite Art Resources

There comes a moment in most 20 or 30 somethings lives when you realize that you need art, you need art real bad. You need actual frames on the walls, and heck you might even be up for that “gallery wall” everyone is talking about. When I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) six years ago, he actually tried to convince me that his precious, The Price Is Right T-Shirt, complete with name tag was sufficient wall art for our apartment. I strongly disagreed and proceeded to bury the t-shirt in a moving box he would never find.

Fast-forward to today, and I know a lot more about where to buy prints and affordable art. We love to collect original artwork when we can, but right now those are still splurge moments. Artwork (prints or originals) can really complete the look of a space, and even become a central inspiration or focal point for a room. I find that many of my clients have trouble trusting their instincts when it comes to choosing artwork, and they are always interested in my suggestions and resources.

Luckily there are many awesome art marketplaces popping up online, which make it easy to order framed works and support artists. One such marketplace is MINTED. Minted started out with stationary and still does great printable invitations and such, but what I love most is their art marketplace. They use a crowd-sourcing model to decide which artwork will sell, and they offer multiple framing options for each print. They have good search functions if you want to narrow your medium to illustration, photography, etc. Here are some of my current favorites on the site.

minted artwork centered by design

1. Life on Mars – Matthew Sampson  2. Point of View – R Studio  3. Mineral 03 – Lily Hanna  4. Do It Anyway 2 – Kristi Kohut  5. California Dreams – Alexandra Nazari  6. Distant Island Pier – Julia Contacessi

Another site that I think curates their selections well is One Kings Lane. I especially like the Gray Malin prints they carry, and I also enjoy their partnerships with lesser known artists. I was thrilled to see they were carrying work by Emily Proud, a California-based watercolor artist, I had discovered through Instagram. I was so happy to be able to purchase one of her prints in a large scale and at an affordable price!


1. Gray Malin – La Fontelina Beach Club  2. Emily Proud – The River

Natural Curiosities is a great resource for designers, and they do sell to the public as well (although it can be on the pricey side). They are based in LA and their founder, Christopher Wilcox, has been collecting art work for more than 20 years. I am obsessed with the Paule Marrot (1902 – 1987) art prints they carry. Marrot was French-born and was known for her innovative use of color and textiles.

pm2 pm1 pm4 pm3

Butterfly Blue, Fete, Clouds, Pink Birds. All works pictured by Paule Marrot sold through Natural Curiosities.

Etsy and Ebay are my other go-to places to find artwork. I’ll often use these sites when I’m trying to find something vintage. Etsy also has pretty good search functions when you are trying to find something very specific like “mermaid artwork” for a little girl’s room.


Mermaid print by Sascalia on Etsy

A few last sites to check out include the following. If you are based in Chicago, it’s worth a trip to Ravenswood to visit Neighborly. It’s a great little gift, home accessories, and poster shop that curates and frames a nice selection of local art prints. I especially love the Flatmade print pictured below, which Neighborly did carry (and hopefully still does!).

chicago has a great lake print flatmade

TONS of places to get some killer art. Go put something on your walls!


The Best Spots for Outdoor Summer Yoga in Chicago

What’s better than a well-rounded yoga class? In my opinion, it’s yoga in NATURE!

There’s nothing better than breathing in fresh air and feeling the breeze on your toes, while you practice yoga outside. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to teach yoga at some pretty neat places in Chicago. And, since our outdoor yoga season is limited, I wanted to share some of my favorite spots with you ASAP, so you can get your outdoor yoga ON this summer!

Below is a list of all my favorite Chicago yoga spots for summer, and my upcoming yoga schedule. I’d love to see you at yoga!


 Claire’s Summer Yoga Class Schedule:

  • Saturdays, 9 – 10am, Hatha/Vinyasa, Lincoln Park Zoo Nature Boardwalk, $20 drop-in, begins May 30th
  • Sunday, May 31st 10 – 11am, Logan Square Farmer’s Market, FREE class
  • Tuesdays, 8:30 – 9:30am, Vinyasa Flow, Tula Yoga Studio
  • Butterfly Haven Yoga – Pre-registration only www.naturemuseum.org




Take in views of the city skyline as you connect with nature at the zoo. Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo provides a unique, peaceful environment for practicing yoga amidst shady trees, chirping birds and the warm summer breeze.


  • Wednesdays 6:30 – 7:30pm
  • Saturdays 9 – 10am
  • Sundays 9 – 10am and 10:30 – 11:30am




Try a rejuvenating class in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. Warm temperatures, lots of greenery, a waterfall and butterflies make for a tropical yoga experience. Students will leave class feeling energized, balanced and ready to take their practice off the mat and out into the world. Space is limited and registration required.

  •  CLASS TIME: Saturdays 8:30 – 9:45am




Challenge your balance and water skills with SUP yoga and Kayak Chicago. Bring your own paddleboard or rent one and try a yoga class on Lake Michigan! Class times vary, private lessons, and private group classes are available.




Sun and Moon Beach Yoga offers a serene and beautiful environment for your yoga practice. You can connect with Mother Nature as the sun rises or sets while the waves crash against the shore. The instructors are here to guide the students through physical postures (asanas), and breathing techniques (pranayama). Classes will start Friday, May 22nd and run through Monday, September 7th.




Start your weekends with Saturday morning Workouts on the Great Lawn and enjoy classes in tai chi, yoga, pilates and zumba. Classes begin June 6, and run through Sept. 7, 2015.




Join Tula Yoga Studio instructors and BYOM (bring your own mat) for a lively yoga session along Logan Boulevard. After a few sun salutations, enjoy the delicious food and market stall vendors. Class every Sunday at 10am during market season.

I can personally vouch for all these yoga locations! You’ll have a blast wherever you end up. Grab your mat and head out to your backyard too, there’s nothing like savasana with some sun and a breeze. Happy almost summer Chicago!



Women Who MAKE: Argaman&Defiance

April 30, 2015 Interviews 0 Comments

It’s the second installment of Women Who MAKE, yay! If you’re new to the blog, welcome! This is a monthly post profiling creative women who inspire me with their hands-on talents. This month, it’s my pleasure to introduce you Lydia Crespo of Argaman&Defiance (see below for more about the company namesake).

Lydia has a natural gift for taking everyday items (what have you ever done with onion skins?) and making them into extraordinary things of beauty. I fell in love with her silk scarves and bought one in gray (who knew it was the most popular color). I have been admiring her work since! Read on to learn more about how Lydia got her small business started and what she’s dreaming about five years down the road.

Name: Lydia Crespo

Age: 29

Current title/company name: Owner – Argaman&Defiance

Years in operation: 5


Argaman&Defiance explained: My first name, Lydia means ‘the maker of purple dye’. That purple dye was described as Argaman, which translates from Hebrew as crimson. Growing up, my grandparent’s home was in Defiance, Missouri located near a popular Missouri nature preserve, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. This is the place where I spent a good portion of my childhood learning, discovering, nature, which had a great impact on my artwork and designs.

What is your first memory of making [art]?

My grandma is a master of craft. She was always encouraging us to draw, paint, and try book making. My earliest art making memory was of course shared with her. She lived near a nature reserve, so there was lots of wild life running around. She mixed up some plaster and we made molds of the footprints left behind by the deer, foxes, and bunnies.

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

I graduated from SAIC in 2010. I focused my education around the fiber department where I learned how to natural dye. I took advantage of SAIC’s wonderful COOP (intern) program. The COOP program allows students to work side-by-side with professional art administrators, artists, and makers in their studio. It was vital to the success of Argaman&Defiance. I was able to experience first hand the incredible amount of work that goes into owning your own business. Everything from time management, to staying creative, to managing finances was covered. There is no way I would be where I am today with out those amazing learning opportunities and the incredible woman who led me and still continue to do so!

naturally dyed silk scarves argaman&defiance

Tell us about the process of launching your own business, Argaman&Defiance. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

I launched Argaman&Defiance after receiving the James Nelson Raymond BFA Fellowship from SAIC in 2010. The fellowship gave me the means to purchase dye, fabric, a website, and other materials needed to get my studio up and running. The first few years were slow going. I was building a following and brand, which takes times. I used that time to explore what in my collection was working, and who my audience is.

The best part about owning your own business is being in control! I love that I get to choose what stays, what goes, and what direction to take my brand!

The most challenging part is juggling all the roles! I create the collections, I do all my own photography (another best part, I love photo work), I do all the selling, invoicing, and keep the books. My to-do list rarely ends, but I would not have it any other way!


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

My favorite part of the creative process is just that – the process! I love problem solving. I am inspired most by other makers! I love seeing their process, working collaboratively, and seeing what they are up to at maker events.

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

Remember to take care of yourself. Take a coffee break, or an hour off.


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

Try it and see.

Imagine Argaman&Defiance five years, how would you like to grow?

We are moving into a big and better studio this year. In five years, I would like to have three full-time employees and a thriving intern program. As far as product goes, my venture into clothing has been pretty successful so far! I would like to continue to expand that. I have been playing around with the idea of creating a wholesale bridal line. Which will be my focus come 2016.


Do you have a most popular item?

Anything gray. And I have to agree with my buyers, it’s my favorite too!


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

I love that everyone is so pleasant and willing to help in any way. We might live in a big city, but that Midwest charm is at the heart of the creative community here.

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?

Absolutely! After a full day in the studio I feel confident, strong, and at peace because I love what I do.


Lydia’s Chicago Favorites:

Your favorite spot to get inspired:

If I need to get out of my studio a really long walk around the city, a coffee house or library does the trick.

Your favorite place to shop for clothes:

Dovetail – 1452 W Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60642

Your favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture:

Modern Cooperative – 1215 W 18th St. Chicago, IL 60608

Your favorite place for coffee:

The Winchester’s bottomless cup – 1001 N Winchester Ave. Chicago, IL 60622

Your favorite place for dessert:

Bite – OMG the Fudge Salted Carmel Brownie – 1039 N Western Ave. Chicago, IL 60622


You can find more of Lydia’s work, grab the perfect summer crop top, and pre-order the fabulous kimono pictured above at http://www.argamandefiance.com

Also, don’t miss the Instagram giveaway with Lydia and the monthly giveaways to come! Join me at clairerose1212 on instagram and WIN!


Hope you are inspired to MAKE!


Photoshop Tutorial: Create Your Own Color Palette

I’ve been slowing building my Photoshop skills. Digital design skills are very important for interior design work today and there are lots of ways to learn, but I’ve found the best way is to keep practicing! I took a local course at the School of the Art Institute Chicago last year, and I’ve done a few quick online classes like THIS one on Skillshare. I like to try and master one or two tools at time and repeat the same steps over and over, which I find is the best way to imprint that tool’s function in my brain.

This brings us to the inspirational color palettes! I am in LOVE with color. Color makes me happy, people respond to color, it evokes our emotions and can set the stage for your design whether it be an interior, event or outfit. Color palettes are uber fun to create, and I wanted the ability to create my own very specific palettes from photographs that inspire me. I find nature especially inspiring when it comes to color, and Photoshop’s tools give you the ability to really hone in a specific hue, tone, tint or shade. The Eyedropper tool makes it really easy to pinpoint colors and their endless variations in Photoshop.

shade tone tint hue color wheel

Here’s a quick review on what those terms mean. Hues are pure color, tints add white, tones add grey, and shades add black – all to the pure color.

Okay, so here we go with the tutorial. It might seem a little daunting, especially if you are very new to Photoshop but don’t worry! If I can figure it out, I promise you can too!

Step 1:

Open Photoshop and click File > New. You’ll see this box pop-up. Name your document and create a width and height. Since I’m usually posting for Instagram I’ll go with a square size, something like 1000 pixels x 1000 pixels. This is a good size for the web. You can leave all the other boxes as is and click okay.

step1Step 2:

You should now see your white box on the screen. It’s time to use the rulers on the top and left of the screen to create divisions to help you keep your image and colors in line. You click and drag on the ruler, and you’ll see a blue line appear. Drag the blue lines from either the top or side to create the desired divisions. If you drop one and don’t like where it is placed, hover over the line and you’ll be able to move it. You can also drag it completely off the white box and it won’t be seen in the final image. Actually, the rulers won’t be seen at all anyways, but just so you know, anything that is not on the white box or your “art board” won’t be seen when you save the image.

step2 Step 3:

You need to bring your inspirational image into Photoshop now. First, save the image to your desktop. Next, drag that image until you are hovering over your Photoshop icon. You will know it’s okay to drop the image when you see the words Adobe Photoshop CC highlight over the icon (I’m doing this on a Mac, btw). When you drop your image the screen will look like the photo below. You’ll have two tabs on the screen. The first is your new file (mine still says Untitled), and then you’ll have the name of whatever image you brought into Photoshop.

step3Step 4:

Okay, here comes the trickiest part. You now have to pull your inspiration image into your file. This takes some trust so just go with it! There are two main steps. 1. You are going to click and drag the tab of your inspiration image and pull it onto the tab of your new file. It’s one motion, just click the tab on the right and drag it towards the tab on the left. When you let go, your screen should look like this. Your image will be on top of the white box and have the label on top. You should see it over on the right labeled Background. 2. To merge the image into the white box you need to do one more drag and drop. Click and drag the whole layer labeled Background into the Photoshop/ art board area. If you look closely, you’ll see a white line come up around the black Photoshop background when you drag it in. Let go and it should like the image has merged with the white box. Go to next step immediately.

step4 Step 5: 

When you drop your image into the white box, you won’t have much control over it until you hit Command – T, this is the transform command and you will see little boxes around the image (just as pictured below). You will also notice that the image is now operating as it’s own layer (look to the right). This is important because we are creating several layers and organizing them within our grid to create the final color palette image. Hold down the shift key and grab a corner of the box to scale the picture bigger or smaller. Fit in inside your grid to your liking.

step5 Step 6:

I’ve placed my inspiration image in the lefthand 2/3 thirds of my grid and divided remaining 1/3 third into 4 parts. You will not see these blue rectangles! In this step, we are creating the rectangles. You should see your blue ruler marks, and if you are creating an image like mine you’ll have grid lines that you need to fill in so we can finally get to the COLOR part! Towards the bottom of your tool bar on the lefthand side you will find the Rectangle tool (hover over tools to read their names). When you click on the rectangle tool you’ll notice your mouse changes to a cross bar, click and drag within your guideline to create a rectangle in each of your empty spaces. Each time you draw a rectangle Photoshop will make it a new layer, and it will name them 1,2,3,4 and so on (see image below).

step6Step 7:

Now comes the fun part!! You are going to change the color of your rectangles to create the perfect color palette. First, click on the layer you want to alter and then double click inside the little box showing your rectangle. When you double click the color picker box will pop-up (like the image below). You can change the rectangle’s color from here, or you can use the Eyedropper tool to pick out an exact color in the image (this is why I do this whole thing in the first place!) being able to pinpoint a color is really fabulous. With the color picker window open, click the eyedropper tool and click anywhere in your image. You’ll see the current color in the bottom of the window and whatever color you’re clicking on in the top window (notice the blue/green split on the image below). You can click around as much as you want, once you have found the color you want to use hit Okay in the color picker box, and that rectangle is good to go! Repeat this step for all your rectangles.

step7Step 8: 

You are almost done! The image is ready to save. Go to File > Save for Web. The following box will pop-up. You can leave everything as it is, but you have the option to adjust the image size (px = pixel) if needed. Simply press Save and save your customized color palette so you can share it with the world!

step8Here are some of my color palette creations:






Hope you give this a try! Feel free to message me with any questions or issues that arise.



A Quick & Dirty Gallery Wall Tutorial

All right DIY lovers, this gallery wall tutorial is called “quick and dirty” for good reason. This isn’t your perfectly positioned, heirloom framed; spend all day nailing holes in your wall type of gallery wall. This sort of gallery wall has a modern elegance that says, “I’m creative, on a budget, and I like to get things done.”

I was inspired to give this project a shot when one of my favorite online design sites, Rue Magazine, suggested using magazine tears as artwork. Brilliant! The entire project cost less than $100 and once the frames were purchased it only took about two hours to complete the finished look. There are of course endless variations on the gallery wall theme, but here’s how you can give this look a go.


  • Picture ledge (mine was Ikea’s RIBBA) & drill
  • Picture frames (mine were a selection of black frames with mats)
  • Magazines from around the house. Good places to pick up free magazines (with nice editorial photos) are clothing and home stores. Also, calendars work well too!
  • Masking tape/scissors

Step 1 –

Purchase your picture rails and frames. Install the picture rails according to the directions. If you want to one-stop shop you know where to go. I highly advocate thrifting of course, but for this particular look I wanted all black frames, photo mats, and to work quickly.


Step 2 –

Go to town tearing up your magazines. If you’ve got a bird calendar, try going with the theme. Another option is to create categories of what inspires you such as travel, food, pattern, fashion, textiles…whatever it maybe. As you rip, put the tears into the different piles. Begin to pull out the images that you are drawn to, being mindful that there is some color cohesion, balance and/or juxtaposition. For example, all bird pictures represents cohesion of imagery, balance could be found by using a particular color to unite the imagery, juxtaposition might work by mixing interesting food photography with high fashion model shots.


Step 3 –

Use your mats to help you frame photos. Take the mats out of the frame and place them over different tears to get a feel for if you like the composition. Once you have the photo placed to your liking, tape the back so it does not shift while you move it into the frame.



Step 4 –

Play around arranging your frames on the picture ledge and stand back to admire your handiwork! There’s no magic formula for arranging the frames. I find they are much easier to arrange once the imagery is inside. If something is not working or bugging you, have a few back up photos that you can switch out to see if you can improve the composition.



Finally something to do with all those old magazines! Good luck and have some fun with this one!


Bedroom Design: Splurge or Steal?

April 13, 2015 Interior Design 0 Comments

I am always a fan when fashion magazines do the splurge vs. steal page layout for an outfit. It’s not always easy to spot the designer label versus the bargain brand! I’m working with a new client this week, and while pulling her bedroom design together, I realized I could easily put together similar looks at drastically different price points.

The client already has a dark wooden bedroom set and light colored bedding. I’ve added a rug, bedside lamps, chaise lounge, bench for the end of the bed, and accent pillows.

One of these rooms retails for $6,200 and the other for $1,600. Can you spot the splurge vs. steal?

ROOM #1 – Muted grey, lavender and beige

modern grey bedroom design

ROOM #2 – Creams, grey, beige and a hint of blue


Okay, did you guess?!

The pricey room is #2. What makes the price difference so drastic? It really comes down to the rug. The rug options in #1 both retail for about $500. They are mostly synthetic fibers and not handmade. Neither of them will probably last as long as rug #2, but they are good options if you are on a budget. Rug #2 is hand knotted wool and should last a lifetime with proper care. It retails for almost $4,000. All the other items in #2 are a few hundred dollars more than #1, with the exception of the pillow (which is just slightly more expensive).

Do you like one room better than the other? I think they are both fabulous options. It’s great if you can save up for quality items, but you can still get good products at reasonable prices and put together a stellar steal of a bedroom!

All of these pieces were sourced from surya.com and wayfair.com




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!