interior design

Lighting with a Purpose

I love discussing the importance of lighting - one thing I feel people often underestimate. I always recommend going big and focusing on layers of lighting. Natural light is obviously the most efficient way to brighten a room but when your natural light is limited, there are many options for setting the right mood. Each space in your home has different needs. Understanding the space’s function is key to lighting design and determining the mood and vibe you want to create. This is where it get’s fun!

Adequate lighting isn’t a novel design concept but there is certainly a shift in the way spaces are being designed around it. Lighting is far more involved than putting in a few recessed lights and a couple of floor/table lamps. Over the last few years I have seen a decrease in free standing lights and with most re-models or new builds, custom built-in lighting features are a priority. Inadequate lighting may leave your space feeling dark, incomplete and aesthetically unpleasing. Each type of lighting including ambient, task, accent, and decorative all serve their own purpose.

The kitchen is a great place to combine aesthetics with functionality. The kitchen below features the perfect combo! Decorative pendants over the island offer task downlighting for dining while under cabinet lighting provides ample light for cooking and prepping. Lighting below the custom shelving highlights the decor and if one is looking for minimal light after dinner and entertaining, the uplighting above the cabinets can provide the room with a warm ‘kitchen closed’ feel.

The kitchen is a great place to combine aesthetics with functionality. The kitchen above features the perfect combo! Decorative pendants over the island offer downlighting for dining while under cabinet lighting provides ample light for cooking and prepping. Lighting below the custom shelving highlights the decor and if one is looking for minimal light after dinner and entertaining, the uplighting above the cabinets can provide the room with a warm ‘kitchen closed’ feel.

Since bedrooms are mainly used in the evenings, I choose decorative pendants that can easily be used as reading lights and that look warm and pretty at night. These gorgeous pendants make the room feel relaxing and cozy! 

What I love most about this style is its quiet drama. The uniquely shaped Edison bulbs follow the slope of the stairs and demand attention. You can’t help but love their elegant yet unassuming charm. So often, we feel like we have to fill a space with dramatic moments, but sometimes what’s most dramatic is unexpected subtlety.

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This bathroom is layered with lighting including natural light provided by the thoughtfully designed window above the mirrors! The under cabinet task lighting not only functions as a great night light but also highlights the stunning tile flooring. Sconces spaced around the mirrors are perfect for make-up application or shaving because they reduce glare and shadows. Who doesn’t love great lighting in a bathroom?

Decorative statement lighting is my favorite and going big is one great way to make a statement! I enjoy playing with the proportions of lights in conjunction with the other elements in the room. If you’re looking for more lighting inspiration, be sure to follow me on instagram and check out new projects posted weekly!

Making a Statement

I recently was featured in EASTside Austin Homes Issue where I discussed my thoughts on ‘making a statement’. People seek me out looking for a unique design, something creative above industry standards, something that creates a true wow factor. Often, their vision comes from an image found on social media or a recently viewed project of mine. Social media has significantly influenced interior design. There are endless images to inspire. The question becomes…’How can this be incorporated into my home? Will it be over the top or too much?’ Usually this ends up requiring the client to step outside of their comfort zone and shy away from their ‘normal’. I have noticed a clients biggest struggle is when to say yes to edgy and different... something a little crazy.

Color is an essential aspect of interior design but as I mentioned in the article, less can be more. Too many colors and patterns can seem overwhelming and cluttered to those struggling with an overall vision. This is usually the reason they seek my expertise. I suggest starting with a focal point and designing from there. During a consultation, and usually in 5 minutes or often less, I know exactly what color their room in question should be painted. Or what color/material the countertop and backsplash should be… or what color cabinetry and floor tile should be. Designing a story board comes next and this is the part of my job I love! I layout a mix of textures, finishes, patterns, and colors and then carefully work to incorporate them in the home staying true to the focal point. (see my featured story board below!) 

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If you’re looking to spruce up your home with some color or unique textiles, spring and summer are awesome times to visit showrooms and look for new products. Vibrant colors fill the showrooms and colors tend to be hot and sultry or pastel and soft. My advice – have fun and take some chances but make sure the space always feels like you.

1. Rotunda Calacatta Gold | 2. Custom Yellow Glazed Porcelain Tile | 3. Edge Glass Chevron Mosaic | 4. Gothan Field Tile | 5. Hexagon Cement Tile | 6. Geometrica | 7. Arrowhead Glass Mosaic | 8. 2” Black Gloss Hexagon | 9. Elmwood Cabinetry | 10. Elmwood Cabinetry | 11. Axor Faucet | 12. Penny Round Mosaic | 13. 4X4 Field Tile | 14. Decora Cabinetry | 15. Elmwood Cabinetry | 16. Axor Faucet

The Client-Designer Relationship

Over the past several years I have had the privilege of working with some amazing clients and have built relationships which have become central to the design process. True partnerships have been created with a healthy respect for what the other brings to the project, ultimately leading to successful designs.

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I wanted to feature this home because not only did I absolutely love the turn out of the project but these clients, Tom and Debi, have become two of my most dear repeat clients. I have done three of their homes in which we seamlessly collaborated on everything from start to finish. Debi has a natural eye for design and is a killer decorator while her husband Tom is a successful developer!

For this home we focused on creating a stylish yet slightly modern nautical space with geometric patterns and fresh coastal-inspired colors - hallmarks of New England style. We were able to incorporate pieces locally and from around the world to complete the look. The wood mantel was reclaimed drift wood from Texas. Treasured heirlooms like unique prints, antique mirrors, wooden accent cabinets and the dining room table from France were influenced by New England design and Debi’s love for brass. Architectural elements such as shiplap paneled walls, exposed beams, dark plank floors and large windows added to the timeless appeal. I chose white cabinetry with clean contemporary lines and brass hardware to keep things clean, light and airy throughout.

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A few things that stood out in this home include a built-in cut and cleaned wood pile stacked next to the fireplace. This wood was from their ranch in Spicewood, TX where I first met them and remodeled that home. Another favorite is the functional breakfast nook lined with white cabinetry, perfect for the family. Recycled shiplap accent walls were a nod to their love of the beach and outdoors as they are both from Boston.

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Without the frill and excess, there's a homeyness, comfort and slight rustic feel to this home. Together with traditional elements of the Northeast and a contemporary touch, it feels like something you'd see in a Montauk beach house. Overall this project breathes fresh air and reminds me of how lucky I am to have wonderful clients. I can’t wait to collaborate on another project together!

Black is the New Neutral

This kitchen is one of my most recent East Austin projects and demands to be noticed. Its dramatic black cabinetry, proper lighting, unique accents and lighter surfaces were the secrets to its success. Most home owners tend to worry that black cabinetry will make a space feel smaller, which nobody wants, but I’ll explain how I made it all work…

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But first I have to mention how this client actually loved color and patterns, blue being her favorite color! If you can’t tell from my work, I personally love color too so this neutral and minimalist design was quite the balance needed in the home. We decided to save the fun patterns and bold colors for the four bathrooms (see photos below!) and designed the kitchen to be the grounding center with one major piece as a focal point…the stunning royal blue La Cornue oven.

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Choosing the right flooring and counters to keep the space neutral and airy was a must! Not only was the countertop material important on this project but the design of the material. I quickly fell in love with the vision of a marble like quartz counter wrapping both ends of the island, tucking black cabinetry underneath. The same quartz was also used as a backsplash. This sleek effect lightened the center of the space and created a comfortable seating area. The engineered white oak wide plank flooring was light enough to stay subtle but unique enough to complete the room by creating balance.

Lighting played a huge roll in allowing the space to feel open and who doesn’t love a well lit kitchen? Natural light flooded this space and with the use of a few stunning light fixtures there was little to no concern of feeling dark. The two acrylic and gold pendants over the island quickly became a conversation piece and some of my favorites.

With the La Cornue range as the focal point in the kitchen, I was mindful in keeping decorative elements at a minimum. Brass hardware and elegant plumbing fixtures were beautiful accents to the black cabinetry. Large vases filled with a touch of spring brought comfort to the space as finishing touches. Happy Spring!

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Pictured below are a few of the bathroom tile designs I did, bringing color and personality to the space.

The Tile That Inspired Me

I found this image on the internet in 2014 and fell in love.

I found this image on the internet in 2014 and fell in love.

When I was searching the internet in 2015 for inspiration, I didn't realize this very image above would make such an impact on my design career. 

I didn't know what this tile was called, but I was on a mission to find it. I was designing my very first shipping container studio for myself, so I wanted every single design element to reflect me. I couldn't stop going back to this image without getting excited. It was the color, the pattern, the shape that was just so perfect. Just a few months earlier I had been to this wonderful tile shop in North Austin called "Clay Imports". I decided to take a visit to the store and I kid you not, as I was walking up the steps to the front door, there it was, the single tile waiting for me. 

There it was. Waiting for me.

There it was. Waiting for me.

Needless to say, I placed my order right then and there for 100 square feet of "Dandelion" cement tile. So, step one, finding the tile and its name was complete. Now, step two, incorporating it into my shipping container. Here I go. 

I wanted my studio to feel light and bright, natural yet energetic. I wanted a lot of natural wood elements with pops of color and bold patterns. I thought it would be overwhelming to cover the entire floor with the Dandelion pattern, so I came up with a mixed design of natural wood tile 3"x 36" planks in a herringbone pattern (sketch below). It sounds crazy, but little did I know I would have clients years later reference this floor pattern. Nor did I think it would be featured on HGTV, used as an advertisement for "Clay Imports" in Austin Monthly Magazine and be published in Austin Home Magazine. 

I recently went into the new Google office in Austin and walked into a bathroom that was floor to ceiling covered in the Dandelion pattern. I'm not going to lie, I felt a little honored haha I would like to think I started this fabulous trend in Austin, even though I know I 100 percent did not. 

I am very happy to see my personal studio celebrated in so many ways. I am grateful for the image that caught my eye and inspired me. I hope my design continues to inspire others. 

Capturing light and bright. Photo by Julie Holder

Capturing light and bright. Photo by Julie Holder

Austin Monthly Magazine 2017. That's me! Photo by Julie Holder

Austin Monthly Magazine 2017. That's me! Photo by Julie Holder

Another One To Be Thankful For

Unit A Kitchen - Natural Hickory mixed with Painted off white cabinets

Unit A Kitchen - Natural Hickory mixed with Painted off white cabinets

I have many feelings today, completing my latest personal project located in East Austin. I am excited, I am exhausted, I am anxious, I am thankful. I am excited to show the world another artistic twist on a spec home. I am exhausted after 12 straight hours of staging with my mom (what would I do without her!). I am anxious to see what people think about the quirky details of the home. I am thankful to be able to express myself 100% through design. 

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I never like to duplicate a design. I see duplexes as a huge opportunity to give two homeowners their own special space. 

Unit B Kitchen - Black, Hickory, Painted Oak Cabinets by Troo Designs 

Unit B Kitchen - Black, Hickory, Painted Oak Cabinets by Troo Designs 

We used shipping containers as the entrances to the homes (this is a duplex). We collaborated with Starbucks' senior designer Victor Melendez to create the coolest murals EVER! We stepped it up a notch on our back-splash selections and we pushed the envelope on the cabinetry colors and mixes. All cabinetry provided by my company Troo Designs KBI. 

Shipping Container Entrance - Photo by Scott Gordon

Shipping Container Entrance - Photo by Scott Gordon

So thankful for the future owners of the special project 

So thankful for the future owners of the special project 

Unit B shipping container entrance 

Unit B shipping container entrance 

Ever since I laid eyes on Victors work at Starbucks, I knew I had to work with him on a project one day. These murals are his perspective of Austin. I enjoy the Mexican inspiration. 

Unit A - Austin Mural 

Unit A - Austin Mural 

Unit B - Electric Guitar Mural 

Unit B - Electric Guitar Mural 

I cannot thank everyone enough on all the help and support I constantly get. Everyone encourages me to push the envelope, which results in original homes just like our Reyes project. These homes are on the market now and now we anticipate a great offer and a smooth closing. I am so thankful.

How can you resist all of the colors? I believe color gives you positive energy. I always want my homeowners to feel energized and inspired by the design surrounding them.