Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More to say on Blogging and my design career journey

After I posted last, sharing my thoughts on instagram and how posting photos there had further slowed me down over here, I got to thinking more about this blog and its place in my career journey.

This blog was almost, but not quite, an accident.

For a couple of years, when my girls were babies, I wrote a mom blog.  Not like a capital letter Mom Blog, more a place for me to record the early days of motherhood and to share my beautiful kids with friends and family who were, at the time, afar.  When we moved to Minnesota in 2010, I insisted that we buy a long term house--not another "Starter home."  The market was depressed, and we had done well selling high in Brooklyn.  The house we bought was a total blank slate, and I set to work with a modest budget, making it a home.  My mom blog slowly became cluttered with design posts, and at the same time, I discovered the world of design blogs.  Five years ago, on January 14, 2011, I posted this to my old blog about the decision to start this new one.

The gist of the post was that I have always loved to decorate and I have always loved to write, and that a design blog would allow me to combine these loves.  It was also about the fact that I have not always been great about making choices to forge my own path.  I have had many careers, but most of them by happenstance.  In hindsight, this blog also gave me a testing ground to explore what a career might look like focused on design, or writing, or both.

At the time I started this blog, I was teaching fundraising in the arts online for the University of Denver, and looking for an arts administration job here in the Twin Cities.  Next I edited a book, Meet Miss Subways.  (It was my third book project, all in the arts).  Somewhere in between those gigs, an old colleague emailed me asking for help decorating her new home.  She was a blog reader and liked my style.

In the early days of this blog, I thought it was going to "blow up," even though I knew (and know!) nothing about SEO.  Etc.  (I don't even know what I should put on that list.)  I thought perhaps I would become a design writer.  I labored for hours over guest posts for fellow bloggers.  I wrote a series of pieces for Trulia, the real estate website, though I'm not sure they were ever published.  While the blog grew very slowly, the design work picked up a bit faster, and I found that I wanted to climb the learning curve.  I was constantly educating myself about products and process.  Yet I think I was still, for years, trying to decide where I would land.

About a year ago, I was in an interview process for a job that would have taken me back to arts administration.  (I had not been looking for a job--I was recruited).  At the same time, I got a call from Mpls St Paul Home and Design magazine, asking to publish my home.  It was a wonderful affirmation that I was on a good path.  (The story comes out in the June issue and I CAN NOT WAIT to share it with you!)  After years of testing various waters, I made a very clear decision that my primary desire was to be a designer.  That I did not want to produce content, I wanted to create homes.

A month later, an old friend called and gave me the biggest opportunity of my career: to design her new (gut renovated) 4500 sf home in San Francisco, working with an architect.  She knew about the other job prospect, and she put it this way: If you decide you want to go big on the design thing, let me know.

It was with such resolve and anticipation that I told her a few days later, via gchat:

I'm going big.

Frankly, it's the best career decision I've ever made.

In the past year, I have relied on the blog less for learning and processing.  I have sought refuge here less.  My focus has been on the design work in the field, and continued practice and research to build my knowledge, my team, my instincts.  When I read this post by celebrity blogger Emily Henderson this week, I felt so glad of my choice.  Remember I said that blogging is a lot of work?  Managing a "big" blog is A LOT of work.  I know now for sure: that's not the work for me.

Okay, so now I am a full fledged designer.  What of the blog?  I know a lot of bloggers have gone on a similar path.  I think Erin's post sums up some of the challenges of going from newby blogger to fledgling designer to somewhat established--the way you talk about your work can't be quite the same.

All the same, I miss it.  I miss you.  And I know there is a way for this space to be a low-pressure creative outlet, a marketing tool, and, clearly, a place to spill my guts once in a while.

So that's a lot of words to share this evolution with you.

My hope, as other side projects settle (like new website: coming soon!)  Is to get back here regularly if not frequently.  (weekly?)

Thank you for still coming here, and letting me know you still want to follow along on this journey.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Blogging and Instagram

Before I was on instagram, a number of bloggers I followed started posting less to their blogs.  They blamed instagram.  At the time, I thought that seemed silly: as a "words" person, I thought I would never want to give up the story element of blogging.

Guess what?  I have been on instagram a little over a year now, and it has definitely hastened the further slow down of posts over here.  When I started this blog, I had so much to say.  It was my primary creative outlet, a learning tool as I built my design skills, and a marketing tool as I built my client network.   Without a portfolio, it allowed potential clients to get a taste of my style, and perhaps just as importantly, a sense of my personality and process.  Now, my primary creative outlet is my actual design work, and I think my work speaks for itself.  Now, my wonderful clients refer me to friends and family in just the right measure to keep me pretty darn busy.  If you've read this blog for a while, you know my photography skills are not the best, and instagram, with its filters, makes it easy for my work to shine.

Blogging is also a lot of work!  And as the comments and page views dried up, it felt like a lot of work sent into a void.  Fewer people are reading blogs, and the opportunities to network across blogs to reach new readers also seem to have shriveled.  On instagram, hashtags allow  me to reach out to new folks who might like what I am sharing.  (Though frankly I am far from savvy about this and my numbers there are still very, very small.)

But then, the other day, @designfreak commented on one of my instagram posts that she missed me blogging.  Since then, Instagram has changed how posts come through the feed, and fewer people are seeing what I share.  It got me thinking about coming back over here.

So, for the handful of you reading this, will you help me out?  Let me know which kind of posts you liked most or find that you miss.  I'll make it easy with some multiple choice.

I, reader of Love Your Space, would love to see more:

1) Design process posts (floor plans, design boards, etc)
2) Before and after posts (of course, I have been doing those!)
3) Design commentary
4) Fantasy moodboards (i.e. design boards that aren't for clients)
5) DIY projects or ideas
6) Product round ups
7) other!  (please specify)

And of course, for snippets of my work, my life, and the little things that catch my eye, do follow me on instagram.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Before and After: Contemporary in Jersey City

Well hello there!

What a busy month it has been.  Last week was my girls' Spring Break, and we headed to our old home, New York City.  The impetus for the trip was photographing a project I finished a while back in Jersey City, but then we almost didn't shoot it!  I'm so glad we made the time in the end, even if it was a very quick venture and I didn't do as much styling or get as many details as I usually would.

Ready for the tour?

The space is a tall and narrow brownstone which got a modern update but kept many original details intact.  My clients planned the major architectural changes on their own and brought me in to help decorate the entry, living/dining room, powder bath, master and guest bedrooms.

I shared some of the design boards and floor plans along the way:

Guest Room
Living room/ Dining Room
Master bedroom

Now for the before and after!
(A major caveat: these clients have great taste.  They had JUST moved in so everything is VERY unfinished in the before photos.  Lucky for me--the "Afters" look that much better!)

Living space before:

From the front entry, you looked at this stairway; the door to the left looked into the living room.  That whole wall got opened up.)

And after:
(We flip flopped the layout--living room went to the front windows and dining room in the middle, next to the kitchen.)

(I can't believe I didn't take my coat off the hooks in the front hall for the photo!  And missed an angle that shows the chartreuse wall color in there.)

Before again, looking towards the front of the house:

And after:

 Living room before:
(you can see the fireplace at the left edge of the photo for reference.)

Now the dining room:

This is such a good example of choosing carefully in a space with few pieces--the special items like this leather-front sideboard and the fabulous chandelier can really shine.


This is the first space we tackled, on the top floor of the house.  We used the existing bed but put it on the window wall.  I had them take the accent wall color on to all the walls.  From there it was all about textiles and texture!




This one was the most challenging.  Obviously these clients love color, but they wanted a calm, soothing retreat for the bedroom.  The trick?  It couldn't be boring.  So we chose pale neutrals and brought in interest through the details--wallpaper that makes a quiet statement, studded lacquered bedside tables, a fabulous mirror, etc!  




Let's see a close up of that fireplace:



I also love that wool geometric runner that runs up both flights of steps.  Great pattern, but subtle, as it is tone on tone.


There's no before, as this space is brand new-- carved out under the stairs.  It's teeny tiny and SO cute!

We used the same cement tile here as in the entry.  We should probably look at that again, no?

One funny thing about this project--though complete for a while now, this is the first time I saw it with all the changes and selections we made!

I love all my projects, and have enjoyed sharing some more traditional spaces lately.  But this one is closer to my own style, making it that much more exciting.  Sometimes I do this weird thing where I think about which magazine a space would best fit it, if it were to be in a magazine.

I think this one is SO domino.  Don't you agree?


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