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Bainbridge Island Decorating Project

When I was five years old, I was ousted from my first girls’ club. My offense? Being too “bossy”. The reason? I had tried to “help” a little girl redecorate her Barbie’s house. Seeing all of the furniture tightly squeezed together without any flow, any rhythm, any common sense was simply too much for my blossoming designer brain to handle. I couldn’t deal. I had to “fix” it.

Over the years, I went from rearranging doll house furniture, to buying my own carpet and wallpaper for my childhood bedroom sanctuary, to decorating my first apartment with thrift store finds, to decorating in regional decor in Panama and Mexico, to settling into Mid Century Modern collectibles too rare and precious to part with, mixed with other modern pieces. Mies Van Der Rohe, Knoll, and vintage rosewood remind me daily that my life is a creation of my choosing. Nearly everything I buy is, at minimum, functional art. I’m not happy with anything less.

Along the way I’ve decorated for friends and never asked to be paid. At first, they couldn’t afford to pay me. Then my ex-boyfriend, the future heir of Pfizer, challenged me to mix his deceased mother’s precious pieces and any other furniture he had that I could find usable, which wasn’t much, with $10,000-worth of furniture for his small apartment. After I completed the project and knocked his socks off, he admitted he would have given me more. The shocking part was, I didn’t need it. After all those years of bargain-hunting and refurbishing old pieces of furniture left alongside the road, I’d become pretty good at it. I look back now and laugh. He told me $10k was his limit and I bought it, hook, line and sinker.

The hardest part of the decorating and design work I’ve taken on isn’t the limited budgets, it’s the limits within each person’s mind. The more control the homeowner hangs on to, the more needs they have to fulfill that are actually fear, clinging to old parts of their life they no longer need, the harder it is to put a cohesive design together.

The genius is in doing as they ask, while simultaneously pulling out a part of the personality they never knew existed. To design someone’s home and make sure they adore it for the long term, you must listen… not to what they say, but to what they mean.

If you can find your way to bringing their innermost personality out, through the choices you make, the design becomes alchemy. The way a home looks – and, more importantly, feels – affects the owner’s sense of self. If you make the home more hip, more sophisticated, more timeless, more of what they want to be or envision themselves as, that is a job well done.

The above photo gallery features the most recent home I decorated: 5,000 square feet of arguably one of the most exquisite beachfront properties in the Northwest. The budget for this project was very tight, as the owner readily admits. The house’s size, open concept, and high ceilings required large-scale furnishings. The previous furnishings and fixtures selected did not reflect her modern sensibilities, yet she knew, if anyone could mix the two, to stay within budget, it would be me. The owner liked only two colors: gray and white, but the furniture was not allowed to be the latter… and she likes wide open spacing with not a lot of embellishment, but had a lot of cabinet and shelving to fill.  And above all, she wanted a comfortable, livable, yet glamorous feel to her beach home. I ended up staying within her list of limitations, and she feels like a queen every morning she wakes up in her newly-decorated  home.

These days, I don’t have time to decorate friends’ homes out of the kindness of my heart, but I do miss it and I can’t squeeze another piece of furniture in my place, so, for the right price, I will decorate your home or business. In fact, I find redecorating is a large part of the consulting I do for spas and healthcare businesses. After all, a significant part of branding and generating repeat customers depends on how your business makes people feel when they enter it, and how much they miss it when they leave. And your home, well, of course you deserve to feel like royalty when you walk through those doors after a hard days work. Whether home, or business, just think of me as the boss of decor. Your castle is my business.

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