Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What is an Interior Designer

There is a misconception about what an Interior Designer is exactly, what we do day to day, and why you would want to hire one.  Let me just take a second to give you my take.

My 8-5er is at a large architecture firm where I sit at a desk in a cubicle behind a computer and draft floor plans, design details, and custom millwork for large hospitals, corporate office buildings and laboratories about 75% of the time.  I spend about 15% of my time pulling fabrics, furniture, paint, carpet and doing "the fun stuff" and the remainder is spent in meetings with clients, consultants, engineers, etc.  Glamorous eh?  NOT.  Don't get my wrong, I do love my job, but the reason I started this blog with Fallon was to have a more creative outlet to express my love for the decorating aspect of design and expand my clientele into residential projects where I can really have some fun and flexibility in my career.

Now, contrary to popular belief, designers and decorators can be two different professions.  Wikipedia defines Interior Design as a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment.  The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology, including research, analysis, and integration of knowledge into the creative process, whereby the needs and resources of the client are satisfied to produce an interior space that fulfills the project goals.In jurisdictions where the profession is regulated by the government, designers must meet broad qualifications and show competency in the entire scope of the profession, not only in a specialty. Designers may elect to obtain specialist accreditation offered by private organizations. In the United States, interior designers who also possess environmental expertise in design solutions for sustainable construction can receive accreditation in this area by taking the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) examination.  (ps. I am a LEED accredited professional)  Not to be confused with interior decoration, interior design, which evolved from interior decoration, involves a multitude of technical, analytical, creative skills, and understandings of architectural elements. There is a wide range of disciplines within the career of interior design. Domestically the profession of interior design encompasses those designers who may specialize in residential and or commercial interior design.  Interior designers often work under stress to meet deadlines, stay on budget, and meet clients' needs. In some cases, licensed professionals (that would be me)  review the work and sign it before submitting the design for approval by clients or construction permitting. The need for licensed review and signature varies by locality and relevant legislation, and scope of work. Their work tends to involve a great deal of traveling to visit different locations, studios, or client's homes and offices.

An Interior Design degree includes instruction in architecture, structural systems design, heating and cooling systems, occupational and safety standards, interior design, specific end-use applications, and professional responsibilities and standards." Interior Design stands at the intersection of architecture, design of the built environment, and conservation. A designer addresses the design issues intrinsic to the re-use and transformation of existing structures through both an innovative and progressive approach.  We work very closely with architects, contractors, engineers and different consultants.

The main difference between is designer and a decorator is that designers typically have a 4 year degree, additional accreditations, and require continuing education classes to keep their license active while decorators can get a certificate.  Depending on how and where you practice, design can certainly mean doing quite a bit of decorating (ie: pulling fabrics, designing window treatments, furniture placement, etc).

Now the important stuff: want to hire an Interior Designer?  Here are some things I think you should keep in mind.  We do this stuff day in and day out of a variety of different project types for a variety of different clients and end users.  We have experience in what looks good, what works, how you can get the most bang for your buck, and what will add value to your space.  Most designers work one of two ways: They charge for their service or they mark up merchandise.  I personally charge for my service only, which means I give a bulk rate to complete an entire job.  I believe it's more honest and easier for both parties to know exactly how much money is going towards design fees.  I still get all of the discounts that are 'To the Trade', but I pass them directly to my client.  I think that is one of the benefits of hiring a designer and sometimes, the discount on furnishings can help offset the costs of hiring a professional to help you.  Now some designers will mark up the merchandise they buy and make a little fee that way.  The problem I find with this is that sometimes it persuades the client where to and not to shop.  My end goal is to make my client happy, create a beautifully functional space, and hopefully spend their dollar wisely.  I want to be able to go to a garage sale and pick up a piece for $25 if that is what they want/need and I don't want to feel like I have to take them to a certain store to get my fee.  There are also designers that do a combo and will charge an hourly rate and make a bit of fee from merchandise mark up.  Other ways designers can make money include marking up window treatments or custom pieces or receiving kick-backs from certain contractors.  I do none of those.

Well, I know that was probably drawn out and pretty boring, but hopefully it helps you understand what I do and why we started O+P.  Design is what I love.  I'm good at it and have great passion towards it. 


Monday, June 28, 2010

C U S T O M P I E C E S : shutters and picnic table

I just received a special delivery and wanted to share how amazing (I think) it turned out.  A while back I contacted my good friend Adam Kovacs (727.692.1298) because I was facing a few dilemmas.  The first is that I wanted a nice patio set to match the style of my interior decor; something different, but something affordable.  After several weekends on end of looking at wrought iron seating sets that looked either too dated, too small, too big, or just too expensive, I contacted Adam.  We worked together to design a table that fits perfectly on my little patio and provides a ton of additional seating for when we entertain (if I ever get my house in order).

 Adam sent over drawings and after several revisions we decided on this design.  I originally wanted a version of a picnic table, but in the end, I think I have a piece that might be as nice as my dining room table!  The 4 separate benches will allow me versatility. 

Don't mind my water hose just wound up on the ground--we haven't gotten around to buying a mount just yet.  The master plan for this space includes screening it in and putting down a nice paver with indoor/outdoor rugs and of course, accessorizing the top of the table!

Here's a close-up of the table base; I absolutely love how it turned out!

Adam's signature brand on the top corner of one of the slats

So, my next challenge was trying to find a unique shutter that would add interest to the front of my new house.   Some Florida houses (including mine) tend to display the garage as the main architectural feature and I only have ONE window on my front elevation, so there's not alot to work with!  I thought a rustic deep stained shutter would make my lonely window pop.

Here they are!

And again.  I love the way they look against the gray and with the glint of brown in my roof shingles.  I cannot wait to redo that planter bed with big plush plants--those little shrubs are so sad.  Poor things.

I asked Adam to fill in the screw holes with these little wooden buttons and I love how the detail looks!  It adds just a little sum' sum'

Thanks Adam; I can't wait for our other projects to come together!


Saturday, June 26, 2010


I was touring a possible new client's house today and when she opened the powder room door, I immediately thought it needs W A L L P A P E R.  It was a classic small powder room that would be the perfect place for an unexpected punch of character. I have been thinking about what nook and cranny I can paper in my own house and stumbled across a few great patterns at Sherwin Williams--who even knew they sold paper???

I think people shy away from wallpaper because of all of the bad dated patterns and borders out there, but in a place like a powder room it's a great way to add interest and pattern where there's no opportunity for fabric.

This is Tori Spelling's dining room.  See how the paper takes it from OK, to va va voom!  Knowing the style of the rest of Tori's house, I would have done something with the ceilings (painted them black or gold) and done those drapes in a smaller pattern instead of a solid (maybe a small stripe)? 

Can you believe this is a powder room?  Hello!

Can't commit to how permanent paper is on a wall.  Try it on the back of a bookcase. 

How cute is this powder room?  If you had enough patience, you could recreate this look pretty cheap with paint!  L O V E the eclectic feel of this room.  I wish I had enough time and energy to put this much thought into my bathroom spaces!

How do you guys feel about wallpaper?  Still scared? 

Monday, June 21, 2010

T O T A L L Y O B S E S S E D : ethnic

I love the look of a collector's house; someone who has traveled the world and brought back finds to add to their decor...to tell a story of where they've been to make their home uniquely theirs.  I try to throw in a few 'ethnic' pieces into every room...not that I have the money or time to travel, but I like for my house to have that 'look'.

Some of my favorite ethnic things at the moment are:


This picture incorporates quite a few of my favorite things.  First, the Ikat fabric in a soft and subtle pattern that will never go out of style.  The custom tablecloth table is a must have in an entry.  It's a great way to add color since the typical wall decor includes a mirror.  You cannot go wrong with an alabaster lamp--it's classic and matches all styles of decor. The linen shade adds a certain 'restoration hardwareish' appeal. Trays are a great way to tie together smaller accessories and give them a base and since the vase with pink roses (which also look good anywhere) is kind of tiny; they've propped them up on some books!  L O V E

This Ikat fabric is from one of the best online sources for that splash of ethnic;  Uzbek Alive, but be careful as most of the fabrics are only 12" wide.  I can see this hemmed and thrown over a sofa back or at the end of the bed.


This sofa from Material Recovery on etsy is my dream.  On hardwood floors with a big gaudy gold mirror above it and soft black walls.  YUM

This pillow from Elegant Touch is a great suzani, but still neutral enough to work with any decor.  Sometimes ethnic prints are loud colors, but not this lovely!

Zebra is a surprisingly sophisticated and modern way to add a wordly look to the casa.

This is a room designed by
T H E  D E S I G N E R
of all designer's
I love how this eclectic mix of antiques can still look so fresh and colorful.  She is the S H * T

Another one from Kelly W. --just the simple texture of the black chair back and 'head' make this room seem cultered.  It could be anywhere in the world and still seem chic.

I am dying to own this fixture.  It was discontinued from Global Imports and I can't find it for under $340, but I'm not giving up!  It will hang over the Downs Dining Room!

I hope you appreciate this ethnic and cultural style as much as I do and let me know what great finds you stumble across on your travels...whether they are by train, plane, or internet ;)


Favorite Etsy Sellers

Basically every day at the 8-5er during lunch I sit in my blue cube and browse etsy for inexpensive home decor, inspiration, and because I pretty much love the concept to buy handmade and get away from mass retailers.  I thought I would pass along a couple of my favorite shops!

F2 Images sells super cute photograph images like the one below for $25!  How cute would this be framed in a bathroom?

And look at this lovely for only $10.  I love her description which reads "This image of a shallot gave me the feel of two parts making one complete unit. It reminded me of my husband and I"  How sweet!

Nena Von has my most recent obsession which is this pillow that I need for my sofa.  I actually want 4 of them and at $35/each just for the cover, I haven't broken down yet but I love them and definitely have to have them!

I'm pretty sure I will need to get two of these too for the master bedroom!

I'd love to hear about your favorite etsy stores! 
B U Y  H A N D M A D E
Support the artists!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day to all of the daddy's, daddy to be's, grandpa's and father figures!

As a tribute to the wonder men in our life--we love you!!!

Fallon with her dad and sweet Paw Paw

Fallon with her dad

Fallon and her Paw Paw

Phoebe with her Daddy

Jacqueline with her dad

Jacqueline and her dad dancing to "Unforgettable" as their 'Father/Daughter Dance"

Drew with their "baby" Ozzie

Happy Father's Day men--relax and have a good day!

- o+p

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Becuase it's almost Friday

T O T A L L Y O B S E S S E D : zinc

I just figured out I love zinc about 6 months ago and since I figured it out, I've been totally obsessed with trying to find an affordable piece.  No luck so far, but I'm gonna keep my eye out. 
I have seen tables like this at some of my junk stores--my dream dining room or patio table.

Gotta love anything with an "X" base

Look at this cutie zinc dresser from Restoration Hardware

How cute would it be to have zinc countertops in your kitchen?!?  Not sure if the material itself is what's expensive or the labor it takes to work with or both...


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


As I finish up painting my dining room table and buffet (pic coming Friday), I've started to wonder what accessories can be shifted around to add the finishing touches my new space.  As a side note: I'm trying to work with what I have until I find that I absolutely need something new and I have vowed not to buy that new item until I figure out exactly what it is that I want, I find it, and I love it.  Mama's on a budget! 

In trying to get together some general rules for decorating the Downs Abode, I decided that I definitely need a few on accessorizing.  Adding those finishing touches/pieces to a space is where you make or break the design.  They can act as the jewelry to your room enhancing your other furnishings or they can make your perfectly good base look like a hot mess. 

Here's what I came up with...

O D D N U M B E R S : work.  Unless you're going for symmetry (which I do love), go odd, especially on table decor.  It is visually more pleasing to have one or three than four and so on. 

S T A R T T A L L: This rule is, again, more for table top decor.  Most decoraters will start with tall pieces like lamps, candle sticks, vases, etc and either group them on one side or flank a matching pair on either side of the piece, then add one or two medium scale pieces and a few smaller lovelies as a finishing touch. Don't have anything tall enough?  Add a few books underneath.  Books are a great way to add a splash of color and height to your accessories.  Don't be afraid to stack!

G R O U P : collections, pictures, smaller objects all look better as a grouping.  If you have a collection of something (tea pots, plates, thimbles, seashells) try grouping every item in your collection together in one place.  It makes a bigger statement as a focal point than if you were to scatter your collection throughout your house.

M I X M E T A L S :  I think the thought is still out there that you shouldn't mix metals.  Not the case.  You're house is not a showroom where everything is from the same store that offers the same finish, right?  Not if you follow  the rules it's not!  It's OK to mix stainless, bronze, pewter, etc.  It gives your space interest and depth. 

N A T U R E : is a great subject for accessories and can be very inexpensive.  Fresh flowers from your garden or even limbs, moss, fruit and vegetables, stone-- these can all make great accessories and the best thing about not spending too much money on them is that you can

S W I T C H I T U P : Just because you have certain things on your dresser one day, doesn't mean you can't move them to an entry table in a month.  I would actually encourage that you do so.  Add more colorful items during summer, take some away in winter, play!  I'm sticking to my guns in telling you to invest in pieces you love, but mix it up with some cheap or even free stuff.

E X P E R I M E N T : Did you find a piece at a flea market for $1?  Then it won't hurt you to spray paint it yellow...just try it?  Take something you wouldn't typically put on the wall and hang it (baskets, plates, fabrics)  You will be amazed what you can come up with when you think outside of the box!

A D D P H O T O S : stuck on what to put on your table?  dresser? wall?  Add Photographs--whether they are of people you know, places you've been or something you picked up on etsy, a photo with an interesting composition and fab frame can be a great start. 

M I R R O R : You can get mirrors inexpensively at places like Homegoods, Lowes, or even your local junk store.  Mirrors add sparkle and make your room look bigger, but be careful what is on the other side.  You don't want to reflect your broke down window unit so it is in two places, get my drift?  Try and put mirrors across from great views to the outdoors, pretty art, or an angle of your room that you love.

D I Y : I find that with creativity, motivation, a plan, and the right tools, you can pretty much make everything you need to accessorize a great space.  If you see something you love, before you buy it, think about how you would make it--you might surprise yourself and save a little money.  There are tons of websites out there that provide great tutorials for DIY project--GOOGLE!

L A Y E R : To really create depth in your room, layer.  Layer art, accessories, furniture.  Just because you have a table against a wall, doesn't mean you can't put chairs in front or benches underneath.  Hang a picture on the wall, lean a few more up on a table below and then add more accessories in front of the leaning pictures.  Layering adds a certain look, so you will be able to tell if you like it right away.  If it's not for you, it's OK, but it's a tool you can use if you need to.

Here is an example of using books to add color and layering accessories to create depth. 

The great thing about 'leaning' is that those items can easily be switched around without leaving holes in your pretty walls. Notice the different heights and how your eye can move up or down from the furniture and still have something pretty to look at. 

I absolutely love this image.   Notice that these benches don't "fit" under the table, but they still work. 

My project this weekend is to make a huge coffee table and then rip this idea with the trays and books.  I'm obsessed with trays--a great way to contain smaller accessories, make them appear as one and add weight.

Stainless, gold, bronze--Oh my!  It works, right?  The different styles of furniture and awesome textures and are perfect.

Here is a collection of vintage toys?  Not really my style, but I just wanted to show you that, if done right, any sort of collection displayed together can be cute.  I'm thinking those display boxes would make a quick DIY project as well.

Still have a delimma that I haven't addressed?  Send me your questions!


Monday, June 14, 2010


At least once a week I try to let Phoebe do some type of arts and crafts project.  She loves to dig through all of my art supplies to see what kind of treasures she can find.  She carefully selects each item all by herself, the only help I give her is with the glue gun.  This week she picked out the following...

One really big straw hat,

some fruit, flags and a table cloth fit for a picnic.

 Add a few golf balls,

put it all together and what do you get...

A Fourth of July picnic hat and one happy little chick! 
We love kiddie art around our house and it has supplied a few wonderful pieces of decor. 

 More one of a kind pieces from Phoebe Mae to come!  


Every Monday at the 225 is filled with what seems to be total chaos.  It doesn't seem that two days in the weekend should throw off the schedule we work so hard to maintain Monday thru Friday.  But somehow each week seems to start off a little shaky.  So what better to blog about on a Monday than organization and things that would seemingly make our lives a little easier!
I have been dying to redo (by redo I of course mean do for the first time!) our entry way.  Our fancy little home does not quite have the space for a nifty 'mud room', so I have really been wanting to to have a small version of one in our foyer.
A few things I would love to include are a space for shoes, sweaters, and bags.  Of course a space to hang dog leashes and maybe a mirror. Here are my inspiration pics for my new space to come.

I  first thought I would go with this type of piece from Crate and Barrel.  I like the clean look and the bench with storage underneath.

I am also drawn to this whole locker and cubby unit from Pottery Barn as well.  We can always use more storage and I like how much extra storage this would provide for school stuff, nap time blankets and could possibly house a portion of my purse collection.

Then again I also like the idea of having a simple bench (by MASH Studios) like this one with some type of hooks above it.

I will keep you posted as this project gets underway!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I just got back from a beautiful morning at the beach and am totally exhausted!  Passing by hundreds of gorgeous beach homes got me thinking about adding a few coastal elements to the Downs Decor.  I've definitely seen beach decor such as the wooden signs that read "beach this way" or fish net wound around a jimmy buffet style plaque, but that's not quite what I'm talking about.  A few of my favorite coastal accents are coral, sea fans, driftwood, woven materials, and of course, shells :)

I am O B S E S S E D
with this mirror framed in startfish.  Another project added to my list.  This is so textural it would go with almost any decor!  Wonder how much I could score a thousand starfish for....

Coral is HOT right now and I think this puppy from Jamali Garden would add just the right pop of color to my living room. 

A little coral goes a long way with these red sconces and white piece on the coffee table. 

I found these framed sea fans at Tuvalu Home but how easy would these be to DIY?  You can pick up sea fans pretty cheap online and they come in a variety of colors including red, blue, gray, white, and black.  The beadbord in this pic also adds to that coastal feel.  Beadboard is a super easy cheap project that can add alot of bang for the buck to your architecture.