Lori Dennis Celebrity Luxury Interior Designer | Blog

A blog about luxury and green living by top interior designer Lori Dennis


How Much Do Interior Designers Cost?

How Much do Interior Designers Cost? In the age of 30-minute house fixer upper shows on HGTV and new on-line interior design services, it’s understandable if you think remodeling your home would be fast, easy and surprisingly cheap.  While these outlets are really fun and make interior design more approachable, they can also create a bit of a misconception regarding what a project will actually cost, what you will get and how long it will take – all leading to unrealistic expectations that could set you up for disappointment. So let’s break it down... Get an interior design cost quote by email   Before You Call an Interior Designer Ask Yourself These 3 Things: What would you like to do? Are you looking for new furniture in your living room, or would you like to remodel your dated kitchen?  Do you want all new flooring and fresh paint, or would you like to gut the whole place and start over?  Be specific in your goals, and at the same time, be realistic. You may just need a little advise on what to do and where to go to buy things, or you might need someone to run the whole shebang for you. For Example: This home was remodeled with new materials and finishes, including this kitchen which has new flooring, cabinetry, counters, backsplash, lighting, paint, plumbing and appliances. To save money, we kept the original floor plan and left the plumbing and appliances in their existing locations. What is size of your project? Is it one room or the whole house?  What’s the square footage? For Example: This walk-in closet had no organization and zero style.  We designed custom cabinetry for optimal storage, and added beautiful elements like a mirrored armoire, crystal knobs, decorative lighting and floral wallpaper on the ceiling. What you would like to spend? Your budget could be $5,000 or $500,000.  Here’s where being realistic comes into play.  Your budget dictates what you’re able to do, and you decide what is most important.  Give yourself a little wiggle room for unexpected items (like water damage in a wall that’s discovered during demolition and construction, or that chandelier that you absolutely fell in love with). For Example: You could spend $150 for the chandelier on the left, or $40,000 for the 1850 Victorian English Crystal Chandelier on the right.   WHAT YOUR BUDGET SHOULD INCLUDE: Cost of Materials and Finishes: These are items that will be attached to the structure of your room or home.  It includes countertops, cabinetry, plumbing and appliances, wall tile, flooring, windows and doors, hardware, custom cabinetry, architectural details, etc. Cost of Furniture: These are decorative items that are not attached to the home.  Think of it this way: if you were to flip your house upside down, your furniture and accessories would fall out.  This includes, upholstered furniture, casegoods (tables, buffets, dressers, etc), lighting, rugs, art and accessories, etc. Fees for Interior Designer (Concept Look & Feel, Overall Design,  Floor Plans/Construction Documents, Purchasing, Project Management and Installation) See examples below for examples of how some designers charge. Fees for General Contractor (Labor and Project Management). Miscellaneous Fees (Permits, Taxes, Shipping, Storage, Installation/Delivery, etc.)   HOW MUCH DO INTERIOR DESIGNERS CHARGE?   1. FLAT RATE Based on your project size and needs, an interior designer would quote a flat fee for their services.  The contract would clearly list what would be included for this fee, along with how many revisions are available and the contract's expiration date (when the project will be completed).  If someone has a budget over $50,000, this is our preferred way of doing business because it's transparent and both sides win.  You know what you'll be paying in fees, and the designer knows what they will be earning - this creates a service based contract.  This way, you won't feel like they are in the dark or blind-sided as you continue to be billed for never ending design costs, and the designers know exactly what is expected of them and how much time they need to work on a project.  When we do flat rate contracts in our firm, we don't mark anything up or collect a commission from our vendors for items sold.  We extend our designer discounts to our clients.  Our clients appreciate this because they know that we specify an item that would be perfect for their project, not our pocketbooks.   2. COMMISSION Most Interior Designers charge 30-35% commission on items purchased at their reduced cost.  This commission is in addition to a low service fee and/or retainer, which seems attractive to clients at the beginning of contract agreements.  We're not a huge fan of doing things this way because it can put designers and clients on opposite sides of the table.  For instance, if two items are comparable and one is more expensive, a designer will make more money by presenting the more expensive item and the client would never know.  It has the potential for the client to question why selections are being made.  A designer can also suffer when a client purchases an item without their assistance in order to save money.   3. SHARING THE DIFFERENCE Similar to the commission based fee, but the the cost savings is split between the the Designer and Client.   4. MONTHLY RETAINER This arrangement is based on an agreed amount to be paid each month before work is done on a regular basis (let's say $5,000).   The contract must be very clear on what is expected of the designer (ie. services, communication, hours, etc.)     5. HOURLY RATE The most simple of all ways to pay an Interior Designer.  This rate structure works best for smaller projects with limited amount of time required for completion.  Rates can run anywhere from $75 per hour for a student to $1,500 per hour.  We like to use this structure when my clients only need a little bit of our time and expertise.  Our firm charges $500 per hour.     6. SQUARE FOOTAGE This fee structure takes into account the amount of square feet that will be covered on a project.  For example a 10,000 square foot property with 6,000 square feet of exterior space that is being billed at $6 per square foot, would have an interior design fee of $96,000.  This is generally the structure that interior designers use when they work on hospitality  and commercial projects. 7. PERCENTAGE  A percentage interior design fee takes into account the total budget that the client will spend, including things like: construction, materials and furnishings.  This fee structure is multiplied by a percentage to calculate the interior designer's fee.   8. BARTER If you have a service or item that an interior designer would find of value, they may be willing to trade with you.  For example, a spa owner who is interested in the interior design of their shop may give their products and services to the interior designer in exchange for interior design services.   Get an interior design cost quote by email     9.  COMBINATION Any combination of the previous fee structures can be used to come up with a combination fee structure.  Interior Designers and Clients can get very creative  and specific in the fee structure by combining rates.   CONSIDER THE STATUS OF THE DESIGNER:  Do they have decades of experience? Are they professionally trained, licensed, accredited? Have they been published? Do they have a body of work that reflects a client's particular needs -style and type of project? Are they in demand and able to charge a premium? For a better idea of What a Remodel Might Cost check out our post here. For more information on How to Hire an Interior Designer and the Process of an Interior Design Project check out our previous posts here, here and here.    

Interior Design Trends 2012-2013

  Last Week at the Metropolitan Builder's Association Expo, I revealed the latest and greatest for 2012- 2103 interior design trends.   1.  Man Cave moves from the basement and dominates the entire home.We're seeing a James Bond sophistication with plenty of menswear inspired fabrics and accessories. The spaces are filled with over-scaled, comfortable furniture upholstered in English styled, cigar leathers.   Man Cave Trend 2. Personalization of a homeowner's own style is seen in natural curiosities (found objects like bones, animal skins, drift woods), monograms and chalkboard paint.  These elements allow a space to reflect the personality, history and daily experiences of its homeowner.     3. Personalization Indoor Outdoor continues to thrive.  Front yard,edible and roof top gardens are popping up all over urbanity.  The line between indoor and outdoor continues to blur with live wall planters and interior planters that occupy entire rooms.   Indoor Outdoor Trend   4.  Nostalgia via old time transportation(railway, air and ocean liner) reigns supreme in today's interior.   As times have been tough for the last few years, people recall "the good ole days", when American industry was at it's zenith.   Nostalgia Trend   5.  Jewelry expressed in precious metals (gold, silver), gemstones and jewel tones are being used on every space imaginable from fabric to furniture to accessories to wall cover to murals.  This trend is the glamorous Yin to the Man Cave's Yang.       Jewelry Trend

Top Interior Designers Decorate Beverly Hills Mansion

Please enjoy the opening night videos of Maison de Luxe  from our friends at Editor At Large featuring  huge design stars like Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Mary McDonald, Nathan Turner, Jaime Drake , Holly Hunt, Jeffrey Alan Marks , Phillip Gorrivan and me!                  

Greystone Mansion What Really Happened in Beverly Hills

Tonight is the big gala for the opening of Maison de LUXE.  Throughout our install and for almost a century, there have been a lot of rumors swelling about the murders and ghosts at the mansion.  I received an  email from my good friend Kris this morning. It could not have come at a better time!  Please enjoy guest blogger Kris Hurst's recap of what went down at the haunted mansion. Greystone Mansion "I haven't been able to stop thinking about that house and the murder.  I poured through hundreds of pages of police testimony, actual newspaper articles from the period and etc.  It's obvious to me what happened in that house and it's the exact opposite of what everyone was led to believe.  Theodore was gay and Lucy was his "beard" of sorts, as all three of them met at the little gas station that her dad owned and Theo worked at changing tires.  They were all close friends before the marriage and that's how the gas station guy came under employ at Greystone as the valet.  Ned Doheny was a total daddy's boy, hence the house and his life given to him on a silver platter. He did everything he could to appease dear old pops including marrying, having children and ultimately getting into big trouble for delivering a whopping check with Theo to bribe a top official for dads budding oil businesses.  They ALL got caught in the middle of scandal, so Ned Doheny concocted this plan to send Theo to an insane asylum just for the duration of the trial, to occur days later.  That was a popular thing to do at the time and it would have been one less witness.  Well, poor Theo was off cavorting with every gay in town including Ramon Navarro (who was also tragically murdered) and Theo was not down with this plan at all.  I can only imagine a big big fight ensued and Theo probably made threats of revealing the true nature of the relationship to Doheny Senior or who knows.  Whatever... it was it sent Daddy's boy who had been loaded up on liquor for days due to the impending trial into a tailspin.  My thought is Ned Doheny went nuts because he couldn't deal with the disappointment to his father of botched bribery, homosexuality and more than likely a general dislike of himself an. So it comes to a head. Greystone Mansion Bathroom It all went down in that downstairs bedroom. The one with the elaborate green tiled bathroom that Theo chose himself because he was paying all the contractors at the time.  Kaufman didn't design that bathroom, Theo did. Ned shot Theo who had a cigarette in his hand from a distance and he went down.  Then Ned shot himself at close range, hence the contact wound and bloody face.  Theo could not have done it because he had a long distance contact wound.  Lucy and the Doctor entered the room and Ned Doheny was still alive probably uttering forgive me.  They wiped the gun clean of prints of put it under Theo's body because of the shame it would cause a devout Catholic family to have someone commit suicide and the fact that they had already set Theo up to be crazy. Both bodies were entered practically next to each other in a non-Catholic cemetery and the case was hushed up with money.  There's the story. "    

Free Interior Design Advice, Paint Color

 Hello Everyone, This week's question comes from Joyce Anthony.  I encourage all of you to offer your feedback for Joyce in the comments section below. Interior Design By Lori Dennis   In the creative process, we all learn from each other.   She writes, "I love the black red and white in this photo and was curious if you could tell me what the wall color is? I am doing this theme for my dining room/kitchen and am having a hard time figuring out what to paint the wall to match yet not be boring white or crazy red! Thanks so much! Joyce Anthony" I am a big fan of white walls like the room I designed in the above photo.   I find them clean and not boring at all.  They work especially well when there is a lot of accent color and texture in the space. What are your thoughts? I'm sure Joyce would love to know. Thanks, Lori  

Gretchen Bonaduce and Crystalarium Host Toy Drive For Children of Fallen Soilders

Come one, come all.  Bring your unwrapped, new toy to enjoy food, drinks and music from Gretchen Bonaduce at Crystalarium, November 29, 2011.  8500 Melrose Avenue, Suite 105, 7-9PM. Plus there's a silent auction with your chance to win a free consultation ($500) or a signed copy of my book Green Interior Design. Hope to see you there!!

When A Stranger Comes Knocking, Open the Door, It Could Be CSA

 Lately I've been watching a work colleague show up with all sorts of unusual fruits and veggies for lunch,  discussing things like how to cook fennel what to do with turnips .  So I inquired, "Sara, why do you keep buying things you don't even know how to make?"  She told me," it's from CSA. "  For those of you who haven't heard, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Basically, it's a bunch of local farms keeping it old school by delivering in-season, non-toxic produce to your doorstep. Fresh From the Farm     Now, as much as I'm an advocate for having an edible garden, yields are sometimes lacking and the weekly produce run to Trader Joes or the farmer's market is still a reality.  It was fortituous when a stranger with a daisy in her hair showed up, knocking at my door last night.  She was from CSA.  Although there have been a few robberies in my upscale neighborhood lately and my very good, but very paranoid friend was over for dinner and was vehemently opposed to talking to the unannounced stranger, I opened the door, invited her in, signed up immediately and sent her on her way with a jar of my now famous, homemade fig jam. Organic Food I am all for the CSA warriors in their crusade against corporate greed and the systematic poisoning of our population via chemical laden, unseasonable, non-nutritious "fruits and vegetables" shipped from thousands of miles away and picked at the height of not ripeness. Anyone who knows me, knows I grew up without much.  When we did buy fresh produce, it was always what was in season, only because it was abundant and therefore, cheap.  But there's something to eating what is in season and nature has a funny way of giving us exactly what we need, when we need it.  The CSA works the same way.  You get a weekly or bi-weekly package with seasonal, local and fresh surprises.  Because they send what is abundant in their field, it's affordable.  I thrown down $60 plus a week for organic fruits and veggies at Trader Joes or farmer's markets. CSA is half that.     My first shippment comes next week.  I can't wait to see what I'll get. Bring on the turnips and kale (good thing they come with suggested receipes). I've got a sense of adventure and one hot husband who can cook in the kitchen too!   Organic Food      

L’Occitane Ladies First

As far as body products go, if I wouldn't eat it, I wouldn't wear it.  Olive Oil is pretty much my go to product for body, face, eye make-up remover, hair and cuticle conditioner and anything in need of moisture.  Olive oil is cheap, non-toxic and it works.   But there is one brand for which I will make an exception and splurge, L'Occitane.   L' Occitane Products I always loved the smell, the feel, the metal tube and the fact that it came from France.  ( Doesn't everything French seem more luxurious?) It's also non-toxic made of mostly shea butter and almond, lavender and coconut extracts. But I just learned that since 2006 L'Occitane has been working hard at doing good in Burkina Faso,  providing literacy and micro-credit programs to foster economic development for the women of this African country. Sustainable Corporate Action       Sustainable Corporate Action A new limited edition collection with packaging inspired by traditional African graphics, celebrating regional tribes, is an homage to the women who grow the ultranourishing shea butter- the heart of the L'Occitane lines. Twenty dollars for a tube of hand cream that supports women (who just want to support themselves)  is a pretty inexpensive luxury in today's economy.  That combined with pair of Tom's shoes could give real meaning to "giving"  this coming holiday season.    

The Los Angeles Interior Designer – Celebrity and Cinema

What is it about the Los Angeles Interior Designer that is so captivating? When your daily drive includes views of the Hollywood sign, when the guy sweating next to you in yoga class is David Duchovny, when your client dresses Angelina Jolie, when you are surrounded by film crews, set designers, writers and producers at every turn... you realize you simply can not escape the glow of the silver screen.  It forces the Los Angeles designer to create and compete with multi-million dollar productions and events that mesmorize the entire world.   Everything is magnified in High Def, and the Los Angeles interior designer constantly responds by inventing new ways to impress.  And if you want to rise to the top of the pack in Los Angeles, you must add acting to your list of design services.   It's exciting to watch winners Martyn Lawrence-Bullard and Kelly Wearstler transform from mere interior designers to bonafide celebrities.  And I can't wait to do the same!

The Simple Pleasures are the Ultimate Luxury

I've just returned from an idyllic trip in the Cotswolds, the English Countryside.  A great part of my trip was working for Volvo, "recording luxury through my eyes".  (In the works, the ultimate, luxury SUV.) ELLENBOROUGH PARK HOTEL ELLENBOROUGH PARK DINING ROOM RANGE ROVING AROUND THE COUNTRY We stayed in fabulous Ellenborough Park in Cheltenham Spa and drove the sheep dotted, rolling green, hilly terrain in a Vouge Edition Land Rover, visiting charming villages, castles and palaces.  Breakfast served on freshly pressed linen, china by the Queen's designer and formal attention from Sandro, our Italian maitre d, began each day.  It could not have been more pleasant.  But I noticed I was most impressed by the simple things, like yogurt served in ceramic jars and water in glass bottles instead of plastic.  And the bald, old, tire swing in the front "yard" overlooking the manor and the Cheltenham Horse Track, brought immense joy to husband, daughter and me. TIRE SWING AT ELLENBOROUGH PARK LA FERMIERE YOGURT IN CERAMIC JARS Visiting stone clad, charming villages and cities with their fine cathedrals,  manors, historical treasures, castles, palaces and more palaces was, of course, delightful, even surreal. But it was the little things like the candy shop displays, glimpses of a dragon or two and the way the sun glowed against the buildings, warming us at the end of a chilly day that  felt like slices of heaven cake. BLENHEIM PALACE GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL CLIVEDEN FANCY SWEETS WHAT A DISPLAY WHIMISICAL DRAGONS THE SUN ON THE GLORIOUS CRESCENT IN BATH So the lesson is, at home or away, look out for the small things that make you smile.  They are the truest luxuries in your life.  Of course if you have the miles or can afford it, going first class doesn't suck either! VIRGIN UPPER CLASS- FULL RECLINE BABY!

Time for a Big Girl Bed

Anyone close to a toddler is familiar with the big boy/girl bed right of passage.  In an effort to minimize the "shock of the move", a big deal is made out the bed, bedding, pillows, their design and decoration.  With the best of intentions,  brand new mattresses, bedding and pillows are purchased- chock full of toxins. What people might not realize is that one of the best things you can give your child (and yourself) is a truly clean place to sleep and rejuvenate at night.  The space should include organic materials- free of pesticides and toxic petrochemicals. Here's how I did it. Step 1. Find a kick-ass head board that someone decided to put out for the trash man. Step 2.  Paint in non-toxic color that coordinates with your scheme. Step 3. Design a fun bedding set with organic cotton fabric. Step 4. Sew away. Step 4.  Enjoy In this endeavor I was also happy to learn about Naturepedic.  They make one of the best twin mattresses I've encountered.  In addition to being made of high quality,  organic materials that will last until college, it's ultra comfortable and has 2 sides. One side is plush, organic cotton and the other still comfortable but it's pee-pee proof so the matress isn't destroyed during middle of the night accidents.  It's also hypoallergenically designed to protect against dust mites.   FYI- all these steps will work with adults beds too. Sweet Dreams!

An Eco-Friendly Shampoo That Actually Works

After searching for over five years and spending upwards of $30 a bottle on recipes that left my hair lifeless, I've finally found an eco-friendly shampoo that works. As if a 92% biodegradable formula containing no silicons, no dye, no parabens and a 50% post consumer recycled plastic bottle weren't enough, Garnier Fructis' Pure Clean is infused with antioxidant Acerola Berry. My hair looks and feels great- no Seinfeld low flow shower hair.  To top it off,  all 25 ounces sell for under $7.

Well, West Elm’s Figured it Out

In the mid-priced budget, there's less and less need for a professional designer when retailers like West Elm have nailed a look that reflects a well lived and traveled life. Have you seen their latest catalogue?  It looks like they robbed Nathan Turner's shop to be able to offer their latest items at such affordable prices.   Add that West Elm is at the forefront of pushing retail one step further to help sustainable products go mainstream as a growing number of their items are 100% green and there's little reason go elsewhere. For years I've been teaching designers and the public about eco-friendly and healthy resources.  Lately my push has been for awareness of the people who make the goods we buy.  West Elm's latest partnership is with Aid to Artisans.  I'm terribly impressed that a huge retailer has realized a way to profit and create economic opportunities for artisan groups around the world.   This season they are focusing on All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association. The  Indian women’s yarn co-op creates one of a kind, hand loomed and hand woven pillow and throws without the use of any electricity.  Pieces from Stray Dog Designs can also be found at West Elm.  Stray Dog Designs has been an enormous part of pre and post Haitian Earthquake artisan commerce among a lengthy, charitable, corporate agenda . With Certified 100% Organic Cotton textiles for bedding and bath, FSC certified furniture and accessories that are rapidly renewable, reclaimed or recycled, chic and totally within your budget, West Elm has NAILED IT. Add the new collaboration with A-List Design partners like Allegra Hicks, Benjamin Moore and David Stark and it's clear that West Elm has made the taste for champagne on a beer entirely possible. I'm not saying you'll be able to pass their furniture on to future generations, but clearly West Elm understands  a green, triple bottom line.  They've got great style and you can feel good (physically, socially, mentally) about what you buy from them.

Oysters and Gowanus Canal

When I think of oysters,  glamorous appetizers, champagne and  the resulting amorous night ahead flood my mind.  When I think of urban canals, especially Gowanus in Brooklyn, I can literally smell the stench of sewage filled waterways.  In my experience dilapidated waterways and oysters are no match.  Good thing Kate Orff thought otherwise. Gowanus Canal Brooklyn, New York America's leader in upcycling industrial wastelands (think High Line Park), fabulous New York City is the breeding ground for one more brilliant idea.  Known as "oyster-tecture", Kate Orff,  founder and partner of Scape/Landscape Architecture , paired oysters and the dirty canal like Felix and Oscar and consequently has one huge hit on her hands.  The problem: a polluted bay. The solution: Oyster thrive while simultaneously  filtering  the dirtiest of waterways.  In fact, one oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day.  Imagine what an entire farm could do.   When Orff approached the locals and Port Authority with her plan to transform the canal into an oyster nursery, creating a clean and dynamic new form of ecological life, their response was, "why didn't we think of this sooner?" It's the simple things (and solutions) in life that are sometimes the most worthwhile.  Savoring oysters from the Gulf Coast to France's Atlantic, it's nice to know they satiate my appetite for cleanliness too.

Top Interior Designers Selected for Greystone Mansion Showcase

Getting ready to settle into a relaxing Fourth of July weekend, I kicked back and opened the latest issue of LUXE.   Then I saw it, my name in the  first, official ad for the Greystone Mansion Showcase House.  What a way to start the holiday!   LUXE Maison de Luxe has chosen over 20 top leading designers from all over the world to participate in this fall’s show house for the historic Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills.  You can imagine how excited I am to be included.  This event is one of the largest and most majestic show houses in the country and is sure to be awe-inspiring. Lori Dennis HGTV and my show The Real Designing Women will be following the action, along with celebrity friends like Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Nathan Turner and Mary McDonald from Bravo’s “Million Dollar Decorator.” Any reputable showcase designer list would include the old gaurd and this one is no exception.  You'll see legends like Hutton Wilkinson, Jamie Drake, Barry Dixon and Suzanne Rheinstein. My Fabulous Friend Hutton Wilkinson Colorful Jaime Drake Lady Suzzane Rheinstein Lord of the Manor Barry Dixon Built in 1928, this Baronial-style estate is over 46,000 square feet with 18.5 manicured acres of land.  It's our city's most famous palace and certainly rivals those of Rhode Island Coasts. Show House Tour runs November 4-20, 2011 and Designer Lecture Series are November 4, 11 and 18.  For more information, Please visit www.beverlyhills.org/maisondeluxe.

The Beauty of Composting Toilets

I just got back from the wettest spot on Earth, Kauai’s Mount Waialeale.  Having been told that it’s the prettiest and greenest of Hawaiian Islands, I expected the flora and fauna to be out of this world.  It was. However, something utterly mundane impressed me so much more, a composting toilet at Limahuli Garden . Having written an entire chapter on plumbing fixtures for my book Green Interior Design, I know quite a bit about composting toilets.  But reading about them and seeing them in pristine showrooms was altogether different than actually using one.  Walking into the small, public bathroom at Limahuli, I immediately noticed the toilet and a friendly sign posted above it (instructions for use). I confess, visions , and worse, smells, of outhouses danced in my head.  Getting ready to lift the lid, I braced myself for “the stank”.  The stank never happened. On an 87 degree, humid, sunny day in a public bathroom that had no  air conditioning,  IT DIDN’T SMELL…  AT ALL. I live in Southern California, literally a desert , where we  import billions of gallons of expensive, fresh water from thousands of miles away.  Composting toilets do the job without a drop of water. I’m thinking if the wettest spot on Earth finds the composting method useful, shouldn’t we start installing these in every public space in our arid state?

An Artful Weekend in Beverly Hills

This spring's Beverly Hills Affaire in the Gardens was the busiest I've seen in five years.  The park,  full of fine art, live music and gourmet vending trucks seemed to lure out every resident in the village.  Kids were dancing,  parents were shopping and the artists all had smiles on their faces, saying, " the Affaire in the Gardens is back!" That means people were buying art and lots of it. My "best in show" ribbon went to the geometric cocktail table made of reclaimed wood pieces by Terry Hansen. I'm hoping to use this in our funky, meditation room at Maison Luxe Greystone Mansion Showcase Event. Came Sculpture playful metal pieces put a smile on every one's face, captivating young and old. A sucker for anything high glossed and nautical, I loved the combo by Neil Zeye. Malen Pierson delighted with his life sized animals made of recycled iron. The glazed pears by Ojima Ceramics were sublime. Other worth mentioning were: Gabe Leonard's spin on movie art, Iris Work's large landscape photographs, Steve Keating's photography and Veronica Schmitt  paintings. Later that night we headed over to Robert Reynold's studio for a birthday bash.  The beginnings of his latest body of work were on display - a Zen inspired boat.  Perhaps he's feeling a bit free these days due to the move he and studio director Gemma are making to LA's Old Building District.  They've scored an amazing studio on the roof with a birds eye view of the city from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean.   The bonus here for all you  art buyers is that the entire 5,000 square foot studio (in the LA  Arts District) is on SALE.  The studio at 821 Traction Ave. is open 9-8 throughout Memorial Day Weekend. This one's favorite and I'm trying to score it for a client, so hands off!

Legends of La Cienega: Mood Boards

This morning I will be speaking at Legends of La Cienega on the topic of creating mood boards.  Here’s a simple 5 step approach that’s an efficient and impressive way to convey your designs to your clients:   There are many benefits of creating a digital Mood Board.  It’s incredibly fast to search online and simply copy/paste images onto a page, or create a visually compelling and exciting presentation using other graphics programs.  Now you won’t have to shlep a big board with you from place to place – just email it.  This conveys your ideas to your clients, and with their reply you’ll have an idea of the direction they’d like to go.  It speeds up the design process so the project can start moving right along. Let’s say you want to evoke the feeling of a Bali style resort and need a little inspiration.  There are many places you can search for your style: HGTV, online Magazines (Elle Décor, Traditional Home, Veranda, Architectural Digest, Luxe – or Google “Interior Decorating Magazines” and a list will pop up).  Blogs are also a fantastic way to find inspiration and see what trends people are writing about.  Some of my favorite blogs include So Haute, All The Best, Apartment Therapy, Tobi Fairly, Remodelista, Design Sponge, Inhabitat, Decorati, 1st Dibs, or Desire to Inspire. There are simple and effective ways to do an image search on Google using keywords, quotes and (+) signs.  For example (Bali+Style+Design) picks up all 3 words listed on websites or images.  Quotes make sure that the entire phrase – in that order – will pop up (“Balinese Design”).  Don’t forget to save each image that inspires you. If you know the piece you’d like to use in your design (sofa, drapery, rug, tassel, etc.), or just have a general idea, search for the item on a vendor or Industry Partner’s website, online catalogue, or again on Google Images.  Most of your favorite showrooms or stores will have plenty of items for you to skim through.  Once you've found what you’re looking for, again save your image under an informative name (vendor + item+description, ie: Scalamandre Wallcovering Stripes). A program like Photoshop or InDesign would be ideal for creating your mood board, but don’t worry if these aren’t available to you.  Simply insert your images into a Word Document, organize and title each image for an easy presentation and voila!

Poisonous Preschool

During spring break my daughter's preschool refinished their wood floors.   As excited as she was to see her teachers and friends on Monday after the break, our visit resulted in a big fat round trip right back to my house.  In two decades of refinishing floors, I don't believe I've ever smelled a more noxious interior.  There was no way I was leaving those tiny lungs to fend for themselves. I immediately turned to the smartest guru I know for healthy green interiors, Mary Cordaro.  In addition to being a certified Bau Biologist, she deeply cares about the effects of built environment toxins on infants and children. Mary, of course, had plenty of answers for me and generously shared her time and research. Mary Cordaro The brain of Larry Gust , another green building expert, was also picked.  Between Mary and Larry I had enough info to go back to the preschool and discuss options.  Unfortunately there weren't many because the product used was within the legal limits (unbelievably) for VOC levels in a preschool.  The owners felt badly that they didn't know more before they finished the floors and said they would research more for future renovations. Moral of the story: GO OUTSIDE OFTEN and get fresh air for as much time as you can EVERYDAY.   The design and maintenance of places where we work, pray, shop and study are mostly out of our control and these interiors are loaded with carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals).  Most Americans are forced to work in very unhealthy environments for 40 plus hours each week, year in, year out.   And many live in homes that contain materials that are toxic.  It's just not good for our bodies or souls.  Human beings are meant to be outdoors. Christopher Kennedy   During the week of research it took to determine how long my daughter would need to stay away from school while the VOCs dissipated, I was invited to Niche's party for Kettal thrown by LUXE Magazine.  Ironically Christopher Kennedy, the designer on LUXE's current cover, was speaking about his concept of bringing the Inside ...Outside due to the toxicity of most interiors.  Unlike architects like Phillip Johnson (Glass House) and Frank Lloyd Wright (Falling Water), who strived to bring nature into our interiors, brilliant designer Christopher Kennedy proposed we do the exact opposite and pay special attention to our exterior rooms.      Kettal's chic outdoor furniture   He echoed my sentiments about human beings not really being meant to live in boxes with manufactured air and toxic paint.  He talked about the interior air being much worse than outside air and the positive effects that sunshine and fresh air has on us.  He even reminded the designers in the crowd to include outdoor spaces in their interior budgets so clients wouldn't be tapped out at the end of their projects and miss designing quite possibly the most important spaces- the outdoor spaces.   (Falling Water and Phillip Johnson's Glass House, beautiful, yes,  but not necessarily designed for outdoor living.) Thankfully my daughter's preschool has a great playground that the children use for many hours during each day.  And... those floors  have almost finished off-gassing.

The Top Five Interior Design Trends of 2011-2012

For the past six months, I've been traveling  the country giving presentations at trade shows and design centers on luxury green living and signing my book Green Interior Design .  I've seen five trends stand out more than any others and here they are. 1. GREEN DESIGN GONE HEALTHY The emphasis on green continues to gain momentum.  While most people are well aware of the built environment's impact on our planet,  less is known about how it relates to human health.  It's hard to believe that the indoors are more polluted than the outdoors. But they are and we spend 90% of our time inside.  In fact, the EPA currently lists indoor air pollution among the top five environmental health concerns. Expect to see more prominence put on home design features that can help improve indoor air quality. For instance, windows, when positioned positioned and operating properly, allow for naturally occurring cross currents of air that result in proper ventilation of indoor spaces.  I highly suggest opening your windows and vacuuming at least once a day. For those of you who do not employ a full time cleaning crew, check out I Robot's Roomba. 2. THE GENTLEMAN'S LOUNGE Leathers, tweeds, flannels and other menswear inspired fabrics are popping up all over furniture.  Icons of high style like Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani  and Andrew Morgan have turned their attention to interiors.  Everything from master bedrooms, media room and living rooms, both indoors and out will be dominated by fabrics traditionally seen on Saville Row. The look evokes a sense of luxury embodied by a life well traveled, a meal savored, a professional respected and a bed never empty.  It's a style that wears well on both male and female, allowing the occupant to invite elegance and permanence into their interior spaces. In residential and hospitality expect to see tweeds in camel and cigar browns; hound's tooth checks in black, green, red and blue; richly hued plum and tangerine silk paisleys and sultry shades of grey pinstriped, flannel wools. And peacock- that male struttin' bird will be seen everywhere for some time to come. 3. AMERICANA SUPPORTING MADE IN AMERICA Thirty years of sending our manufacturing overseas has culminated in jobs lost forever and a nation left wondering where it all went wrong.  Consequently the "Made In America" label has a brand new cache.  People are finding strength in returning to American values and traditions, whether its comfort food , an old pair of Levi's or the design of their homes.  At  Sotheby's and Christie's for example, American antique furniture and objects of art recently sold for record high prices.  Manufactures who produce locally like Milgard Windows have been high on the must have  lists of my clients.  American handmade accessory items are also in demand like  Cheryl Sheehan's gorgeous table toppers.    Consumers want quality products that support the stability of our communities, states and nation.  Expect to see red, white and blue in every room in the home. 4. SMALLER SPACES, QUALITY MATERIALS DOING MORE WITH LESS Gone are the days of cheaply produced mega mansions. Today design is about smaller, well planned spaces made with quality materials that will last a lifetime.  Dollars are being focused on fewer, but higher end products and materials.  These new products have a common thread in the sensuality of their composition, an almost handcrafted feel. Expect to see a re-connection with nature, more wood and metal in design.  Because interior spaces are being made smaller, there will be an explosion in the design of well adorned outdoor rooms that visually create a large living space. 5.  TECHNOLOGY WITH GREATER PURPOSE- FOCUS ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY, DURABILITY AND UNIVERSAL DESIGN Technology and beauty haven't always gone hand in hand, but in today's Apple infused world of style and function, it is now more expected than ever-even in home design.  Cutting edge technology is enabling design oriented manufacturers such as Creation Baumann to produce stylish products that are also durable and easy to use.  The company recently updated its technology in its century old mills to transform polyester into dreamy silk like fabrics that don't compromise indoor air quality, produce little waste in manufacturing and are machine washable.  New technology such as the Smart Touch lock  is fusing style and performance.  The exclusive design from Milgard makes windows much easier to use as we age and was the first window manufacturer to receive the Arthritis Foundation's Ease of Use Commendation. Expect to see more attention put on products and home improvements that offer more style, performance and comfort.  The retirement of the Baby Boomers, in particular, has made Universal Design one of the most important areas in design. That's the top five as I see them.  And trust me, I've seen it all this year!

Lori Dennis is a top Interior Designer, speaker, best selling author, star of HGTV’s The Real Designing Women and co-founder of Design Campus.



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