DESIGN SCHOOL: Josh Young Design House

September 11, 2018 Interior Design, Interviews 0 Comments

Happy day design lovers! I’m thrilled to have Josh Young Design House on the blog today. Josh is a recent Chicago transplant, but developed his keen sense for blending the Old World with a more modern sensibility during six years of university in Milan, Italy. Of course, Josh’s work caught my eye on Instagram. We have a mutual friend in the talented photographer Aimée Mazzenga, which is how I first discovered Josh’s fabulously funky portraits and bold graphic artwork.

Several other editors have discovered Josh Young Design House recently too! Josh’s portrait collection was recently featured in O’ The Oprah Magazine and his home tour will be up on MyDomaine soon (congrats Josh!). I’m thrilled for him and this recent wave of press, he’s truly putting himself and his work out into the world, trying to continually improve and reinvent the work (as he mentions below). I hope you enjoy the interview with Josh and the gorgeous phots of his home, studio and artwork. Also, don’t miss our giveaway on Instagram. Josh Young Design House is giving away one 8×10 piece from his signature portrait collection, Emma


The most difficult aspect of my job:

Honestly? Always trying to reinvent myself and my work. Of course it’s always amazing and an honor as an artist be recognized for a signature look which my avant-garde portraits have provided me with, but it’s also crucial, in my opinion, to challenge yourself to reinvent. There isn’t a day that I don’t wake up, walk into my studio and think, “what’s next”?

My secret styling trick:

Edit, edit, edit. Whenever I feel like a space is perfectly styled and complete, I remove one thing. I’m not a minimalist by ANY means, but, I find it’s crucial to allow the beautiful objects in your home the room to breathe and have their own moment in a space.

If I could design anyone’s home it’d be:

I’ve sat and pondered the answer to this question for the last 15 minutes but the honest answer would be to actually design my own dream home. It would be a toss-up between a classic canal home in Amsterdam or a brownstone in New York’s West Village. I love the historic charm both have to offer and the juxtaposition they provide by remaining quaint and removed while nestled in a large city setting.

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Design Chicago 2018 – Save the Date

September 5, 2018 Interior Design 0 Comments


I’m honored to be speaking at the Midwest’s largest residential design conference, Design Chicago, which takes place this year over October 3rd and 4th. The conference is at the Merchandise Mart and there are 44 presentations and 57 new product release and lots of open houses!

I’ll be joining two other fabulous Chicago designers/bloggers to talk about social media with the Vice President of Digital for SANDOW, Pam McNally. This conference is to the trade only. Please join us at Artistic Tile on October 4th at 10:30am for the presentation with lunch to follow. 

Starting An Art Collection: What You Should Know

what you should know about collecting art

Hey, hey, hey! It’s my birthday today and there’s nothing that excites me more than sharing great design inspiration and knowledge with YOU, so it’s a win-win for both of us today! Make sure to read on to the end of this post for a special bday giveaway too. Today’s post is a Q+A all about starting an art collection and what you should know.

Friend and artist, Kristi Kohut, of Hapi Art was named one of the “7 Next-Big-Thing” artists by Elle Decor and she’s giving us the inside scoop on art collecting. Kristi and I have also listed several artists in our own personal collections for you to check out as well. I hope the interview helps you or your clients feel more decisive and ready to invest in creating an art collection. The opening image above is Kristi’s work in one of my client’s homes!

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DESIGN SCHOOL: Kevin O’Gara of Thou Swell



Kevin O’Gara of Thou Swell blog and Kevin Francis Design hails from Atlanta but is currently an undergraduate student at Cornell University. I love getting to know areas of the country better through following design bloggers in different states and Kevin makes the south look very, very good! This emerging designer named his blog Thou Swell after an old jazz standard by the same name. He focuses on showcasing an avant-garde mix of modern and traditional design.

He has also just launched his first product collection! A gorgeous series of rugs called LABYRINTH made of wool and bamboo at different pile heights. They are quite chic and I can see them working very well in a variety of interiors from traditional to eclectic to modern. Here’s more from this talented college student, who I think we will be hearing much more from!

The most difficult aspect of my job: The balance between being a college student, having a social life, and running a blog and design business with plans to expand into product this year is my biggest challenge! Something more specific to being in the design blogosphere is really finding unique projects and inspiration beyond what circulates through social media and press.

My secret styling trick: I once heard that every room should have something red in it, and since I often work more with cooler colors, the addition of something red can have a surprisingly powerful effect! It brings a lot of vibrancy and personality to a vignette even if it’s as small as the spine of a book.

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Color Therapy: We’ve Got a Crush on Powder Blue

powder blue bedroom wall color

We have seen pastels popping up in fashion and interiors in a big way over the last five years. Different shades of our favorite colors always flow in and out of home decor trends, BUT one we feel that has particular staying power is Powder Blue. Some might consider this chalky hue a safe alternative to all the grey out there (we agree!) and really respond to powder blue when it’s the statement color in the room! Here’s more on decorating with powder blue.

Designer: Isabel Lopez Quesada, Source: AD

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Centered City Guide: Northern Michigan


If you are new to the blog, you may not realize I have several CENTERED CITY GUIDES – don’t miss these suggestions if you’re traveling anytime soon to one of these USA destinations!

My family has been traveling up to Northern Michigan since the 1980s. We were introduced to the Traverse City area by my cousin’s Grandma, who purchased a cottage in the town of Elk Rapids, MI back in the 1950s (she actually named the street the cabin sits on!). Over the past 10 years Northern Michigan has become quite the trendy area for vacationing families and couples. I’ve been lucky enough to spend many childhood, teenage and adult summers up at the lake, and my parents now own that original 1950s cabin (some updates have been made over the years, see pics below).

We love to get up to the cabin for summertime vacation whenever possible! This year, we had a full week up north and explored some new areas. Here are a few of the highlights and some of my favorite cities (all which I’ve visited multiple times!) that I recommend you visit for day trip, long weekend or find a cottage rental. Enjoy this quick northern Michigan travel guide!

Gorgeous Lake Michigan near Old Mission Peninsula.

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Chicago Design Alliance + St. Jude Fundraiser

chicago design alliance

Chicago Design Alliance + St. Jude Walk/Run 2018 Fundraiser

This is a personal post, but also a post topic that impacts so very many people. Cancer is prevalent in the lives and families of almost everyone I know (everyone you know too). During 2017, our immediate family was hit very hard by the shocking diagnosis of Leukemia in our littlest family member. My 2.5 year old nephew Oliver was very sick and needed to begin treatment for childhood Leukemia right away. It was hard on everyone, but of course, toughest on my brother and sister-in-law.

st jude walk run chicago 2018

My sister-in-law with my nephew Oliver.

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Window Treatments: Roman Shades & Drapery Panels

One of my very favorite ways to transform a room is window treatments. When I started the blog back in 2015, I wrote about different styles of window treatments and shared basic terminology such as roman shades, inside mount, outside mount, drapery panels and cornices. The original post content below, has become my most read blog post to date. Lots of people must be searching for window treatment advice on the internet! SO I wanted to update this post with some new window treatment ideas from our design portfolio.

Windows present unique challenges in almost every home and there are so many creative solutions. I suggest looking at pictures of interiors you like and noticing how the window are treated. Thinking about the space you have around your windows will also help inform the best decision. Here are some updated pictures from our Centered by Design Portfolio, along with brief explanations to help you see window treatments in a new light!

Also, don’t forget you can use drapery not just on windows, but as a canopy in bedroom, create a room divider or even hide an ugly wall or strange architectural feature. Two of my favorite designer/ bloggers have also shared more on window treatments. Follow the links if you want to take a deeper dive into everything windows and drapery!

CHECK OUT French & French Interiors (Sante Fe) and Megan Pflug (New York State).

Let’s first take a look at decorative drapery panels. Decorative panels frame a window and can create drama and add color, but they aren’t actually functional. In our Luxe Lakeview Dining Room, these plaid panels are decorative, while the sheer inside mount roman shade is functional. 

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DESIGN SCHOOL: Summer Thornton Design

There’s no better time than the first day of SUMMER to share my interview with Chicago designer Summer Thornton. I’m really thrilled to have Summer on the blog! She was the first designer I ever really “followed,” long before I even new what an Instagram account was. I am continually mesmerized by her creative use of color and pattern, high and low finds and fearless use of the fifth wall.

Looking a Summer’s portfolio back in 2013/14 was one of things that really spurred me to go back to school and pursue my dream of becoming a designer too. Highly recognized by many media outlets as a rising star, Summer is a Traditional Home “New Trad”, was named Chicago’s Best Transitional Designer by Modern Luxury. She firmly believes that each client’s home should be a reflection of their personal style – their soul, passions, and quirks should be found on the walls and in the furniture throughout the home – so no two projects should ever look alike.


All photography courtesy of Summer Thornton Design

DESIGN SCHOOL Q + A with Chicago Designer Summer Thornton:

The most difficult aspect of my job: Juggling

My secret styling trick: Flowers Everywhere

If I could design anyone’s home it’d be: The Queen’s Estates

When I’m uninspired, I turn to: Pinterest or I take a trip somewhere exotic.

In my college dorm room, you’d find: A purple iMac (whoa that feels dated).

The one design that makes me cringe now: I stand behind my choices even if I wouldn’t repeat them.

You can spot this in all of my projects: A fresh take, a bold stance, contrast, and oftentimes color and pattern galore.

My favorite person to follow on Instagram: @andrealevoff aka ‘the dope ass mom’ – a personal friend and client who helps me know I’m not a terrible parent.

CBD Summer_Thornton_Lincoln_Park_Remodel_Master_Bath_TubMy all-time favorite clients are: Fearless, trusting, comfortable with who they are.

If my style were defined as a piece of furniture, it’d be: Honestly I don’t know – I like to mix styles & eras so I’m not sure I could be just 1…my furniture piece would also probably change depending on the location of the project. For example it might be a riotously patterned day bed for a lake house, but a city project could be a gorgeous vintage chandelier.

The brand you’ll find in all of my projects: I use too many – literally we sourced from over 2,000 vendors last year so no two projects ever have the same thing. Sometimes I get on a wave where I’m using a few vendors for a while but then switch to someone else – I always want to mix it up and choose things I haven’t used before.

My least favorite part of the design process: Reselecting after an antique or original piece is damaged in shipping.

The source you’d be surprised to know I use: I’ll shop anywhere…from dusty flea markets to high end stores I visit them all & I don’t discriminate – if they have something cool I’ll buy it.

I always encourage clients to get rid of: Everything beige, especially beige sectionals!

The future of interior design will most certainly include: Ways to integrate & hide technology.

The best advice I’ve ever received about maintaining a work/life balance: Learn to say no to things you don’t love doing.

CBD Summer_Thornton_Lincoln_Park_Modern_Kitchen
I always tell clients that if you invest in one thing, it should be: The bones of the house – great moldings, architectural details, etc – they are the foundation upon which a great design is built

The project I’m most proud of is: We have several in the works right now that should be quite spectacular. I’m always more interested in the next one than the last one.

The pattern that I’ll never tire of is: Anything Pierre Frey

My favorite up-and-coming designer: We’ve got several stand-out people on our staff who have amazing potential.

How has being from the Midwest inspired your design style? I think people from the midwest have a certain approachability in their work – I don’t choose things based on their brand name, but instead just look for beautiful things that will create a spectacular overall room…whether they’re a bargain or an investment piece doesn’t matter to me, they all work together to yield the final look.

Thanks so much to the Summer Thornton team for making this interview possible! You can follow Summer Thornton HERE. Stay tuned for another Design School next month and check out more interviews in our inspiring ARCHIVES.


Color Therapy: Decorating with Yellow!


Decorating with Yellow:

Chances are you have a specific opinion on yellow, you like it or you don’t. There are so many different shades and they all can evoke different feelings in a space. You’ve got the golden yellow of the 1970’s, the buttery yellow big in the 1990’s, the fashion color chartreuse, punchy lemon, the list could go on. In this Color Therapy post, we’ve pulled together some of the best uses of true yellow in interiors and pinpoint what makes it so successful. Decorating with yellow can be (seriously) FUN and chic!


Home of designer Jorge Vazquez designed by Amaro Sanchez de Moya.

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