June 29, 2012

Designer {Secrets}

When HGTV first came on the air, I was just finishing up college and could not believe there was a channel dedicated just to homes and gardens.  I couldn't get enough.  That excitement soon changed to dismay as more and more shows were convincing people they could decorate an entire room for less than $500, using one gallon of paint, clearance rack fabrics and furniture found on the side of the road!  I couldn't believe people were actually "drinking the kool-aid" and believing these rooms were actually possible.  I decided I needed a separation from HGTV.

Then came along Divine Design with Candice Olson and Sarah's House with Sarah Richardson where real interior designers were designing real rooms, with real budgets.  I was back on board.  My current favorite is Design Star - I love the white room challenges!

I'm definitely not opposed to decorating shows that claim to expose our designer {secrets} as I don't think there are really any secrets out there.  What designers bring to a project is a talent to create beautiful and functional spaces.  We also have access to resources that are not available to the general public.  We are passionate about what we do and many of us don't even consider what we do actual work.  At least some days.

Instead of {secrets}, I'm going to share with you some of my top designer tips:

1.  Get organized...When you are starting a design project, big or small, create a notebook where you can keep everything in one place.  This might include paint chips, measurements, photos of your space and inspiration pictures you've been pulling from magazines.  I found the greatest one at Books a Million a few years ago.
This is what I use for my house.  It doesn't look like you can buy it anymore, though.
I love the pocket inside to hold all my catalog clippings and it has graph paper.
This is the binder I use for my clients.  I also put in the plastic pockets to hold samples more securely.  I would lose my mind if I wasn't able to stay organized!
2.  Create a furniture plan...One of the biggest mistakes I see are people who purchase furniture that is too big or too small for the room.  Take some graph paper and quickly sketch out your room (each box equals 1 foot) and make sure you indicate where the doors and windows are located.  Don't ever buy anything unless you are sure it will fit in your room and use a tape measure!

This site has an interactive room planner that makes furniture plans super easy!

London Reid has a great blog entry on how to create a furniture plan.

3.  Texture, pattern and color...Don't be afraid to mix patterns and make sure you have lots of texture in your space.  This can be achieved with fabrics, rugs and accessories.  Also, mix up your metals.  Just because you have a silver lamp, that doesn't mean you can't have a gold frame on your art.

Meredith Heron Design does an amazing job combining pattern and texture.  These fabrics are for a nursery.
This great ensemble was created by Sherry Hart at Design Indulgence.
This bedroom not only combines texture on the bed, but also in the rug, the wood beams and even the chandelier.  The room is totally lacking color, but the texture makes up for it.  Love this bedroom!
4.  Put together a realistic budget...There is a lot of cheap furniture out there, but there is also a lot of overpriced furniture.  Do your research and shop around.  Create a shopping list and assign a dollar amount or price range for each item.  Many things are worth the investment (sofas and dining room tables), but many are not (pillows and lamps). 

5.  Stay away from the catalogs...This is probably the biggest trap I see my clients fall into.  Those Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs and Restoration Hardware catalogs fill our mailboxes and fill our mind that the rooms in there can give your house character.  Don't get me wrong, I buy from all these companies for clients, but usually just one or two pieces.  I would never want someone to walk into a room and say "This is great...I saw this room in Pottery Barn".  Design is about thinking outside of the box, creating interest in a space by mixing furniture pieces so your space feels collected, not like a photo from a catalog or furniture showroom.

June 24, 2012


I love my country!  It's great we have so many holidays that allows us to reflect on our freedom and what it exactly means.  I also love that my son is old enough to understand these holidays and appreciates them.  We are looking forward to some BBQ and fireworks this 4th of July - even if it is on a Wednesday this year.

To celebrate here are all things I love red, white and blue. 

I salute this bedroom!
The perfect shoes for fireworks.
Crisp and Clean Bedroom
Patriotic Palette
The perfect party dress!

Here's a dessert even I can make!
I am loving bunting these days!
The perfect invite from The Polka Dot Press...

June 18, 2012

New Counters You Can Count On

I have designed a lot of beautiful (and functional) kitchens and bathrooms in my career.  There are so many details that go into these projects that it can be overwhelming to someone who is tackling it for the first time.  Today I want to talk about one of the most important selections you'll have to make and that is counters.

If your kitchen or bathroom need an update and you're not ready to commit to a full remodel, consider replacing just your counters and maybe adding a new tile back splash.  Those two changes alone can make a huge impact and can only increase the value of your space.

Here are the top three materials out there today, along with some photos...

This is still the top pick for counters in both kitchens and bathrooms.  There are tons of choices out there and the final one can really define the overall look of your space.  I tend to go with a more neutral granite for my clients, like Santa Cecilia or New Venetian Gold.  My biggest piece of advice regarding this type of counter is go see your slabs in person before they are installed.  Every piece of granite is unique and will NEVER look like the sample in the showroom.  If you can't get to the warehouse, insist on seeing photos of your slab before it's installed.
Granite Counters by White Oak Construction
Like granite, marble is a top pick for counters and is gaining in popularity.  I mainly use it in bathrooms, where staining is less likely to occur.  It has a beautiful look and evokes a sense of classic elegance.  
Carrera Marble Counters by Jennifer Taylor Design
Cappucinno Marble Counters by Jennifer Taylor Design

Engineered Stone
This category encompasses many brands, including my two favorites, Cambria and Zodiaq.  This product is 93% quartz compared to granite which is only 40% to 60%.  Quartz is one of the hardest and most common minerals on earth.  It is super easy to maintain and has a nonporous surface.  Over the years, the manufacturers have made great strides in developing colors that look more like real granite.  I really love this product and use it as much as natural stone.

Cambria Counters by Jennifer Taylor Design
From Cambria Photo Gallery

June 14, 2012

Gift Giving...number one

I've been trying to come up with an idea for a weekly post, but something that doesn't have to do with interior design.  One of my favorite things about the blogs I read are the cool gift ideas I see.  For others, but mainly for myself.  Each week I'll do a post suggesting a gift that I think is great - for ladies, men and kiddos.  I may also throw in a party idea or two.

If you have any great gift ideas, please leave a comment below.  Would love to hear from you!

My gift this week is an iPhone case and wallet combo.  I don't know how many times I don't want to carry my purse, but need my phone and wallet.  These are some great ones I've found...

Leather Wallet with iPhone 4s Case for $42.00
White Leather Case for $43.00
Chevron Wallet (tons of other patterns) for only $22.00

These I really like.  Each only $39.99

June 11, 2012

I Love a Party!

I've been asked to help plan a baby shower for a friend of mine and couldn't wait to jump at the chance.  I love planning parties.  In my twenties it was bridal showers, then it became baby showers and now it's birthday parties for my son.  If I was to ever choose another career, I'm pretty sure it would be an event planner.  I just hate working the weekends!

In my prime party planning days, the internet was brand new and there definitely wasn't anything like Pinterest to give me ideas.  I would pull pictures out of magazines or just use what God gave me between my ears.  Now, it's so much easier to put together the perfect party.

Here are a few photos of previous birthday parties I had for Wes (my son)...

4th Birthday - Reptile Party (yes, I made that cake)
5th Birthday - Dinosaur Dig Party
Volcano Cake - My 2nd and Final Cake

6th Birthday - Movie Night Party
Candy and Popcorn While Watching Star Wars
My favorite parts of party planning are the invitations and decor.  Here are some great ideas I've seen lately that I love and maybe will incorporate in my next party planning adventure.  Stay tuned for those details in another post.

A Vintage Circus Theme
Welcome to a Beautiful Party
I'm in love with bunting...on cakes and hanging at a party!
Wonderful Floral Arrangement with Ribbon and Tickets
What a great favor idea!
Fabric Garland - I'd want to hang this everywhere!
Milk Moustache
Doughnuts and Candy
All photos without a direct link were found on Etsy.  My favorite place for all things original!

June 6, 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship with Pinterest

Pinterest has become my latest obsession aka time waster.  I tell myself that I'm using it for inspiration and finding new products for my clients, but mainly I just like seeing what other people deem "pin worthy".  This is the part that always surprises me.  Do people really think they are going to make that and if they do, it's going to look like the picture?  This goes for recipes and crafts!

Doing a little research for this post, I found that there are sites out there dedicated to these ridiculous pins.  Pinterest, You Are Drunk is one of my favorites, along with some of their wonderful posts. 
I wonder if their homeowner's insurance covers this?
Only 47 painstaking steps to make these cookies that a child will break and devour in 2 seconds.
There is even a board dedicated to the worst pins on Pinterest.  So, I decided to spend (waste) some time and find what I think are some of the worst ideas on Pinterest.  

There are tons of great wreath ideas out there.  This one just isn't right somehow.
I bet these stairs are leading to a disco ball in the basement.
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this idea for a chair...
You would think you would at least clean the dishes from the sink before showcasing your beautiful, penny covered counter top!

I do want to end this post on a positive note.  I love Pinterest and it has become a valuable tool for me.  I also think it helps inspire people to cook more, decorate more and craft more, which can only be a good thing!

Jennifer Taylor Design All rights reserved © 2012

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