DESIGN SCHOOL: Lauren Nelson

Welcome to another edition of DESIGN SCHOOL. If you are new to the blog DS is a question and answer interview series with design firms and artists I find particularly inspiring. I ask them to share sound bites of advice, the kind of tips you don’t always get in design school. The type of tips that only come from years of experience!

This month, I am featuring Lauren Nelson, a Bay Area interior designer, is known for her clean, curated interiors that reflect California ease. She is guided by the philosophy that when our surroundings are sources of comfort and inspiration, we lead happier lives. I came across Lauren’s work, more than a year ago, on Instagram and was drawn to her down-to-earth sensibility. Her account wasn’t filled with over the top, highly decorated spaces. She showcased gorgeous, but livable textured rooms with warmth and a chic aesthetic. I was hooked, plus she has two adorable girls and lives in beautiful CA (the nature photos always get me!).

It has been fun watching her design firm grow. Lauren was recently part of the Sunset Magazine Idea House 2018 team and the finished home looks STUNNING. Here’s the Q+A with Lauren Nelson Design (all photos provided by Lauren Nelson Design).

Kitchen from Sunset Idea House 2018

My secret styling trick:

  • Off-setting art in a room. Don’t place it perfectly centered above a couch or console.  Place art off-liter and allow for beautiful ceramics or negative space to give it purpose and interest.

My childhood bedroom would have this:

  • Snoopy paraphernalia. I grew up in the age of The Peanuts – the BEST!

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How to Baby Proof Your Home with Style

how to baby proof your home with style

How To Baby Proof Your Home with Style

Hello friends, it’s been awhile since I’ve written a personal post or house update. And that’s because having a baby is FULL ON. Willa is 9 months old and as busy as can be! We think she’s going to walk soon and baby safety proofing the house has been top of mind. She is already opening cabinets, sticking fingers in outlets and falling over daily.

This is a stage of life many young families go through and it can feel extra chaotic at home with all the additional baby items and safety gear. I thrive when my environment is clean and organized, plus you can help your kids develop good habitats with some forethought on how to keep the house in tip-top shape, even in this CRAZY phase of life.

I’ve listed and linked to several of my favorite resources on baby proofing your home below, but first a few pictures of our living to demonstrate one nice update we’ve made with the help of PERIGOLD. Prior to baby Willa, we had a beautiful marble and brass coffee table. That thing is rock solid and weighs 200 lbs! We were both freaking out about the idea of Willa falling head first into that table. I was personally not in love with the idea of an ottoman, which can often look masculine and stodgy. 

Then I came across this option, The Sydney by Duralee for PERIGOLD and I thought, “okay this might work!” What really sold me was that we could customize the fabric (I chose a wipeable faux leather) and it has soft close hinges and storage. The ottoman is well made and looks great in person! Willa is honestly in love with it. As an added bonus, it happens to be the perfect height for her to reach in and get her own toys.


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CS Magazine | Modern Luxury Feature October 2018

We are thrilled to announce our latest press feature in CS Magazine | Modern Luxury, Om Home, is an article chronicling the renovation experience of a truly wonderful client we had the pleasure of working with here in Chicago.

“Interior designer and yoga instructor Claire Staszak helps a stressed out client turn her busy, overdecorated house into a peaceful home.” You can read the full article by Tate Gunnerson – HERE or pick up CS Magazine at local design shops, Starbucks and the Merchandise Mart! For a closer look at the design details, view our PORTFOLIO of photos from this project.

If you are interested in creating your own version of personal sanctuary at home, you can begin the design process by filling out our CONTACT FORM. We would love to hear from you!


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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