Category Archives: Interior Design

Our Pets and Our Homes

It’s not a secret to most that I’m a huge animal lover, especially dogs. Pets have always been in my life, and currently my heart belongs to two female beagle mixes. Like other pet owners, not only am I continually reading up on what’s new in pet care and what I should be doing to best care for them, but I’m also looking for various ways to keep my house from feeling like it’s completely run by the dogs in my life. To assist in keeping these new findings organized, and to share with our clients, friends and family, I’ve created a new Pinterest board, For the Love of Dog. Here, I’ll share new products, great accessories (for our pets and the home), and much more, including other pet related ideas to assist in keeping a home functional for ourselves and our pets. Here are few that I’ve come across recently:


Two-piece ceramic dachshund bookend set in glossy white:

Two-piece ceramic dachshund bookend set in glossy white

Luxury Dog Beds:

Luxury Dog Beds

Dog Pod:

Dog Pod



I apologize in advance if most pins revolve around dogs, but I will try to be fair in my posts. Please feel free sharing some of your favorite findings or if you have suggestions on something I should keep in mind as I research. Enjoy!


High Point is 10 Days Away!

Preparing for Market can be quite the task, but it’s something that Carolin and I look forward to twice a year.

The Hotel room has been booked and confirmed, so now the fun can begin!  High Point Market sends out several books as a Market Preview. These include the showrooms that are participating in Market, provides a glance into the various new products and vendors, and even various networking and educational events. We scour the pages looking for anything that catches our eyes. Sometimes we spot items for a specific project or client, but sometimes it’s something that we have to see and keep in mind for future projects. There are many lines that we love to visit to see their showrooms and new additions at each market, but we’ve also found many new resources at Market that we may never have seen otherwise.

It’s true the internet has become a huge help in business and life, but there are things that just have to be seen in person, and for us that’s much of the items you put in your home and office. Fabrics, colors, textures, quality are all very important, but impossible to see on a screen. You may get a good idea, but there’s nothing like seeing the real thing. High Point Market and other trade shows give us this opportunity. It gives us confidence in pursuing something for a client, even if it’s a new vendor.


Resources and Relationships – Again

Last night was one more reminder of how important our resources and relationships are in our professional lives and in our personal lives.  As a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), I was invited to attend the State of the Society Event hosted by the Duralee Showroom at the Washington Design Center.

Surrounded by friends – designers, industry representatives, showroom staff – in a beautiful showroom – we listened to our CEO Randy Fiser speak about where the society is and where we are heading. It is obvious to all that Randy is exactly the leader we need in this changing world.

ASID is always there to help us in our design careers, whether we are emerging professionals or experienced designers. Right now our society is heading up studies on improving the lives of those with autism and dementia. Continuing education courses are available on sustainability, safety and well being for clients, and everything else that relates to improving the design services we offer.

Everything the Society does for us and with us helps us to do more for our clients.

Thank you, Randy!


PS: My husband was my invited guest. He was IMPRESSED.


Spring: In the Air and On our Minds!

Hard to believe that it’s just about time for the High Point Spring Furniture Market! This year is just flying by! In a little over three weeks, I will be heading down to High Point, lists of specific showrooms and building maps in hand. It’s been a year and a half since I was last at the High Point Market, and I’m anxious to get down there to see what’s new.

I will be scouting products for several of our projects, but it’s always excited and fun to see the newest creations and designs from each manufacturer. I’m very hopeful that the lighting manufacturers have gone to their drawing boards and will have fabulous out-of-the-box designs implementing the use of LEDs. For furniture, I’ll be looking for which companies have something that just blows me away and I can’t wait to share with a client or that will inspire a brand new project. It’s also fun to see if there is a common thread between showrooms. Sometimes it’s a unique or fascinating material. It can even be color – and it isn’t always the color of the year!

This year, I’m thrilled to share some of my findings from High Point with our readers and followers! Is there anything on your list that I might find for you?


ROI – Return on Investment

Starting a business is the dream of many talented individuals. They know they have a skill that can be shared and appreciated. Perhaps that skill is preparing unusual and delicious food and the ambition is to open a restaurant! Maybe they have worked in a restaurant, been a chef and love it. They know how the kitchen works – but do they have all the other skills they need?

We dine out often, and love finding a new place. Sometimes it is disappointing. Recently we entered a new restaurant and could hear people in the bar, but there was only one couple in the dining room. We were greeted and taken to a table along the banquette – my favorite place to sit – usually. Not this time. I’m short, my husband is tall. He let me have his chair and he was going to sit on the banquette. No way. We both sat in chairs on one side of the table. That was just one problem.

The space felt like a painted basement and had patched areas. The glossy painted floor will be slippery when wet from something spilled. The paper atop the table cloths slid part way off the table when the hostess laid down the menus and when we sat down. The Southern American food mentioned in the ad was actually closer to Cajun.

Imagine the money that was invested in opening this restaurant, the equipment, the permits, the rent, the staff, and on and on. The chef’s skill is in the food. The chef also needed the skills of others to make the dream come true.

Imagine if some of those dollars were spent with a business consultant, a graphic designer to co-ordinate the message sent to the media, and even a brief consultation with a professional Interior Designer. Then the guests would know the menu, get excellent service, have a safe, comfortable place to dine, and the chef’s story would be visible all around them while they enjoyed the wonderful food.

They would come back – again and again. They would tell others. The chef’s dream could come true. There would be a Return on Investment – not just financially!


Learn, Unlearn, Relearn

Last week, I attended an educational seminar hosted by CADD Microsystems. Most of the event discussed the future of CAD (computer aided design), the updates of current programs, and where the design industry standard is heading. During the keynote speech, the speaker shared a famous quote by American writer Alvin Toffler that has stuck with me for the past week. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Mr. Toffler makes a very true point. How much have I had to learn, unlearn, and relearn so far in my life? How much have others around me had to learn, unlearn, and relearn?

As Carolin and I were travelling to an appointment last week, I brought this quote up to her. We talked about how true it was just in the last few months for both of us. Not just in our work life, but also in our personal lives. Sometimes we had not realized that we were doing it until we both reflected on recent events. Technology is constantly changing around us and most of us have had to learn, unlearn, and relearn each time we upgrade a device or purchase a new computer, mobile phone, appliance, or vehicle, just to name a few. I truly believe that much of this happens subconsciously, but I think as the world continues to drive advancement in all aspects of our daily life, we will be forced to unlearn and relearn things regularly to fully reap the benefits offered to us.

What have you had to learn, unlearn, and relearn in your life? Recently or over time?


Resources, Relationships, Results

Remember when the 3 R’s were reading, riting and rithmetic? In today’s world we learn in business – as well as in friendships – that the three mentioned up top are just as important. Problems can occur when they are least expected and without the established relationships, they may not be easily solved.

Over many years our firm has searched out and found excellent resources for furnishings for our clients’ projects. We support them and they support us resulting in positive relationships. We are careful about our procedures, checking schedules, and planning carefully. Then sometimes the weather can turn everything upside down! Most of the time, a few days delay in a ship date is fine. Other times, that delay can be quite a problem. A phone call, to the wonderful rep, at the reputable resource and, “they should make the truck” became “The items are flagged as “hot!”. They made the truck, and the planned delivery. Results!

Last week, in a two day period, three reps came by to update our library with the newest fabric and wallpaper samples. They save us time and make sure that we have the best products at our finger tips. That is a benefit to us and it produces excellent results for us and our clients.

These resources, relationships, results lead to the 4th R – mutual Respect!!!


Design Exchange is on Pinterest!

So many of us use Pinterest in our daily lives, but not many of us truly know who is behind this phenomenal site. My eyes were opened last week during an education course on Pinterest and the Architecture/Design Community offered by our local Gunlocke/HBF showroom in DC.

Pinterest was created by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp. Evan was studying architecture at the time, but began working with Ben and Paul on a site that would allow a pin board format for users to show collections of things. Originally it was thought to be a great resource for the design community, which it is, but it’s so much more. I don’t think the founders or most of the public ever thought that it would grow to what it is today. So how do you use Pinterest? Work, family, cooking tips?


P.S. Please follow Design Exchange, Inc on Pinterest here!

Our Just Rewards

Interior Designers work harder than most people realize, and much of that work involves time on the computer making sure that every detail for every order is just right. The parts that we enjoy include working with our clients and researching the perfect furnishings and accessories to enhance their environments.

This week, as part of our job description, we needed to make the trip to the Baltimore Convention center for the annual American Craft Council Show. Okay, I confess we wanted to go even more than we needed to go. This is one of our Rewards. Artisans from all over the country come every year to share their finest work. And every year, we are awed by the beauty and originality of their work.

We focus on the artists who feature items for residential and commercial interiors. We collected information from many of the participants.

The first that captured our attention was Kinzig Design from Pennsylvania. Karen’s hand blown glass lamps are dazzling. The shades are artistically shaped and custom made for each style. The colors and textures are beautiful. We are confident that we found the perfect lamps for a client’s master bedroom!


Sabra Richards has created stunning furnishings, art and sculptures of steel and kiln formed glass. The shapes and balance of her pieces is amazing. She has an incredible sense of color and texture. I fell in love with two of her console tables.


Can you imagine art hanging on a wall that is made of clay? Rick Epstein can. Take a look at his work on Clayworks. He creates gorgeous landscapes by grouping a series of tiles of clay to enhance an entire wall. The texture and dimension of his birch trees is amazing. When hung near a window, sunlight actually creates shadow in the wooded path. True genius!



What a beautiful day!


Back to Design School — But not as a Student

Starting this evening, I will be attending several sessions as a mentor to a senior class at Marymount University. It’s something that I was fortunate to experience in my senior class when I attended Marymount and I am enthusiastically anxious to pay it forward. I still remember those sessions, even after four years. I especially remember the mentors that came to our classes to help us with our final projects.

I’ve been back to Marymount several times since graduating. One was to participate in a grueling three day workshop to prepare for the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam. It had been two years since graduation but not much had changed. It was nice to walk to down memory lane, but I was also thinking about what had been available to recent graduates at other schools to enhance their education. Then in December, I was asked to speak to a new interior design class. Walking through the hall this time, it was apparent that much had changed. Offices and walls had moved. One of the drafting rooms had been updated with a computer lab, making it much easier to accomplish CAD work without competing for use of the other labs at the university. They even talked of getting a 3D printer, another plotter, and adding additional classes for CAD drafting.

I’m anxious to see how the current interior design seniors at Marymount have transitioned from where I was four years ago to today. And I look forward to continuing to support my alma mater and the students moving forward into the interior design profession.