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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Concept to Completion

Renovate an existing restaurant with a limited budget and restricted time frame.

Monsoon Cuisine of India restaurant is inspired by a deep blue squall of a monsoon storm and the rich and vibrant spices of Indian food. Maintaining a modern and contemporary aesthetic, brilliant tonal variations of brick red, blue, and coastal gray are displayed on the walls. Concrete flooring is polished to a lustrous sheen like a calm lake. Stainless steel accents are balanced with rich wood tables and chairs.  Sparkling chandeliers provide just the right amount of animation for the small space.

See mention of me in this article from Sacramento Press

Resources: Zuo Modern, West Elm, Z Gallerie, Jenco Companies, Benjamin Moore Paint, Inland Paint Company, Astra Contract Furniture.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Does Good Design Mean Expensive Design?

Does good design mean expensive design? Not necessarily. Money buys neither taste nor good design. My restaurant project had a minuscule budget and my client didn't know what they wanted, couldn't make choices when they were presented with them, and when they did make a choice, they did not stick by those decisions. But we got through it. I believe the result is a very pleasant environment that is both comfortable and functional. While there are no unique design moments in the space, there are also no huge mistakes, and most importantly, the design supports the food, which should be the star.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


A big challenge in the design for my restaurant client was the existing stainless steel sheeting covering the bar. Since the budget was extremely tight, removing the stainless steel was not an option.  Tactile elements involve people with their surroundings and it is important because it can make a room feel psychologically warm and comfortable or cold and uninviting, such as the stainless steel.  To balance this strong element, the decorative surface like table tops, upholstery, and artwork where selected to balance the environment. An important element was the artwork. It was commissioned from an artist in India to coordinate with the color palette and relate the Monsoon and Indian identities. I think it is extremely beautiful.

Monsoon Restaurant Furniture Installation

The remodeling and renovation of my restaurant project is completed. Now the fun part begins -installation of furniture and art. All the furniture arrived on the eve that we finished polishing the floors and touched up the paint, and I scheduled the installation for the next afternoon. I get a frantic call from my client (never a good thing) telling me that they had placed the tables and chairs and "something is wrong, because nothing fits!"  Uh oh, I tell them I am on my way and we will figure it out. In about 45 minutes I had all the tables and chairs placed (according to the furniture plan) and my client wryly admitted, "Ah, that's why you are so good at what you do." This was a nice affirmation, indeed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Restaurant Lighting

Finding just the right light for any space is probably the most important element in a successful design, but lighting for a restaurant is akin to the lighting required for a theatrical production, because it affects diners in many ways.  Fortunately for my current restaurant project there is amble daylighting, which is perfect for lunch, but what about dinner?  We needed to create just the right mood mixing plenty of sparkle with a pleasant balance of direct and indirect lighting. I found the perfect light for the bar area. The sparkle of Zuo Modern’s Nebula Chandelier will enhance and encourage conversation. Additionally, with the just enough crystals to bounce light off of the walls and ceiling, it seems to create an almost magical effect, giving the small restaurant the nudge of animation it required.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Paint Brush and Roll

The paint colors are applied and look great at the Indian Restaurant Project. The color palette is blue, red and gray. We choose Benjamin Moore's Brick Red, Buckland Blue, and Nightfall. These vibrant colors set the background for the colorful artwork, modern lighting, and rustic wood table tops, unifying the Monsoon identity. Tomorrow is light installation.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tape, Texture, Plaster

Tape, texture, plaster......Elpidio and Francisco are hard at work as the construction continues on the restaurant and my design is gradually translated into reality.  We are constructing and preparing the new walls, making a great bar soffit, and niche . Next we will begin applying all the great finishes to the floors and walls.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinnerware

Every Thanksgiving I set my table with one of my favorite China dinnerware collections, Johnson Brothers "Friendly Village." It is an iconic collection of scenes of village and country life, having been in production since 1953. What is so unique about this dinnerware  is that each place setting has a different country scene and new pieces are always being introduced to this very popular pattern, and hundreds of different pieces have been made over the years.


Work is underway for the new Indian restaurant that I have been designing for the past few months. It feels so good to finally have all the conceptual details agreed upon and the real work of making the project a reality begin.  But of course, as in any remodel project before we can create it we have to deconstruct it! Some might say this is the fun part and I think my crew wasted little time getting to the business of ripping out the old.  The transformation continues……………….

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My sister found an old book, Ladies Home Journal Book of Decorating, last published in 1959. Shethought I would enjoy it and sent it to me. When I first thumbed through thepages a few months ago, I thought it amusing as I looked at the images of whatappeared to be outdated room design. Yet, today, as I carefully read the pages,I realized that classic design never becomes outdated. Indeed, if I compared imagesin the book with any of the current design magazines filling my shelves, Icould easily find similar rooms. 
The advice in the book still holds true as well, start withthe flooring, have fun with textiles, don’t be afraid of bold and exciting color,and the right lighting is essential. But, one bit of advice that I did not find relevant! “…the glass ash tray in your casual room will be quite differentfrom the one in your formal room.” Too funny!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I submitted my first set of drawings to a buildingdepartment and they were approved on the first round. This seems like a smallthing to those seasoned designers, but I was excited. I guess it is just one ofthose rights of passage that you cross. Just in case you don’t know what a buildingpermit is - a permit is required in most jurisdictions for new construction, or adding on to pre-existingstructures, and for major renovations.  

This made me wonder about the history of building permitsand did a little research. It is believed the first building code was in the Code of Hammurabi  (really old, like 1750 BC). And it was seriousstuff.

·        Ifa builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, andthe house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shallbe put to death.

·        Ifit kills the son of the owner, the son of that builder shall be put to death.

·        Ifit kills a slave of the owner, then he shall pay, slave for slave, to the ownerof the house.

·        Ifit ruins goods, he shall make compensation for all that has been ruined, andinasmuch as he did not construct properly this house which he built and itfell, he shall re-erect the house from his own means.

·        Ifa builder builds a house for someone, even though he has not yet completed it;if then the walls seem toppling, the builder must make the walls solid from hisown means.

Luckily, although the current rules are quite stringent,I won’t be put to death…………

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


My Collection

I have to admit I have a thing for busts, no not that kind, a sculpture depicting a person's head. I have a small collection of them on my bookshelf. I generally can't pass one in a thrift shop or flea market without buying it. I think it started with my Mom, she does the same thing. So I was really excited when I saw this new Jonathan Adler table lamp. The Dora Maar bust and blue lampshade are desirous.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Place de la Republique

On my bicycle tour around Paris, I am pretty sure we peddled around the Place de la Republique. I was really trying not to get run over or hit a pedestrian.  Heather Stimmler-Hall points out in her "Secrets of Paris" Newsletter that the large and noisy Place de la Republique hasnever been a place to linger. It’s a nightmare for pedestrians, a confusingintersection for drivers, and usually full of protest marchers at the foot ofthe Statue de la République or drunks passed out on the patches of grass at thecenter. But you may want to take one last peek (and a “before” photo) before amajor facelift project gets underway this winter to modernize this square whichhasn’t changed since 1883. Strategically located at the cross roads of the 3rd,10th, and 11th arrondissements, in January 2012 the square and its surroundingstreets will be ripped up and replaced with a pedestrian esplanade of over 2hectares (about 5 acres), a tree-lined square set up for public events likeconcerts, and rerouting of the street traffic around one side (instead of allaround). This should make the square more welcoming for cyclists, publictransportation users, and pedestrians. It will supposedly be done by Spring2013. I think the proposed "facelift" will be spectacular and on my next visit to Paris, I will definitely make a point to check it out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Front Door

During my recent trip to England, we stopped in the villageof Lacock on our way to Stonehenge.  Lacockis a village in Wiltshire, England and is owned almost in its entirety by the National Trust. It attracts many visitors by virtue of its unspoiledappearance and is the setting for many movies such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Harry Potter. Most of the homes were built in the 18th century orearlier.

The village is absolutely adorable and is one of the highlights of my trip. Because it is owned by the National Trust, the structures ofthe Village remain in their heritage condition. But what fascinated me aboutthem were the front doors.
The cottages are almost identical, but each frontdoor is unique and special. I wondered what story it could tell about theoccupants, past and present. Not only are the elements of each door different, giving each cottage its own personality,but the faded jewel colors are fantastic.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I love designing baby rooms. But I hate the typical pink/butterflies or blue/trains. There are so many other motifs and color options, - but what to do with the baby furniture? First of all it is expensive and secondly after a few years the practical usage of it diminishes greatly. So when I visited the Stokke booth at Dwell on Design Convention last week I was so excited by their line of furniture because each piece is designed in way to literally last a child’s whole life. That is definitely a great example of sustainable design. For instance their Tripp Trapp high chair is adjustable to fit a child at each stage of their life. It is also very stylish and slender. The same conversion is available for the Sleepi (crib) and Care (changing table).

Some of my other favorite baby furniture manufacturers are:

Room & Board

Land of Nod

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Conventions, Conferences and Seminars - Oh My!!!

Sasaki adding my heartbeat to his mural.
 Mention conference, convention or seminar and most people’s eyes glaze over, however, Photoshop CS5 Power User Tour Seminar, PCBC Convention, and Dwell on Design Conference were all fun times for this interior designer!
 The Photoshop CS5 Seminar, presented by Dave Cross, was an interesting and informative seminar where I learned many comprehensive tips and tricks. The Content Aware fill feature is going to save me so much time over manually cloning and painting. Did you know if you drag a file from the Desktop onto the tab area the file will open? Another timesaver! I don’t know if I’ll ever use Puppet Warp; although, it is fun to say.

PCBC is one of the largest homebuilding tradeshows in the U.S. and the ideal setting to collect facts about today's market from homebuilding industry professionals. PCBC displayed a lot of new products for accessible bathrooms and showers for the aging in place population and I got plenty of new ideas and literature on these products. The best part of the show, however, was keynote speaker Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. He presented innovative ideas about marketing and I can’t wait to read his book.
Mosconi Center, San Francisco

Dwell on Design is a home and design expo centered on modern designs ranging from food, prefab, and crafts to products and architecture. Besides seeing and touching many fantastic modern designs, I had my heartbeat painted by Japanese artist Sasaki. Yes! Sasaki painted attendee’s heartbeats by attaching an electronic monitor to their finger and relaying the heartbeat over a speaker which he interprets and then paints onto a canvas using red paint. Sasaki was collecting donations for tsunami victims in Japan.

The Seed System designed by David Trubridge
 One of my favorite lighting displays was this Mini-Coral Kitset by David Trubridge. Lightweight and minimalist, but a big impact, this light is stunning.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Condo Project

The condo renovation is almost completed. The bathrooms were completely gutted and put back together. All the doors, base and trim have been replaced. The holes were patched in the walls and a fresh coat of paint in Pratt & Lambert’s Dove Feather applied. The kitchen cabinets, doors, and trim are painted in Pratt and Lambert Gig’s Grey which is a shade darker than the walls and looks fabulous.  I was originally going to replace the kitchen cabinets, but decided to refurbish the existing cabinets. Primer and several coats of semi-gloss paint did the trick and when we added the new hardware on the doors the transformation is complete. Wood floors went in today and the finishing touches, like new light fixtures and window coverings will complete the project at the end of the week.