The Chateau Part of Living….

So I get asked…’Ann…why Couture CHATEAU?’ Last week we answered the “Couture” question…today the “Chateau” part….

LOVE this sketch

Chateau:  From my eyes, it refers to our “Life’s Estate”…from humble or basic beginnings (we all came into the world the same way after all:) to where ever the road leads.

That is the level – the mindset my clients and I work from…we are building or creating their Life Estate…even if it’s just one room…it should be part of THEIR story – THEIR life!

The classic definition of Chateau is a large French Country House or Castle. I always figured in the macro sense it provided “room to grow”…

Where we ALL

Couture Chateau

At some point (code writers out there??) we will put a section to the side with all the funny, irreverant & lovely (insert Joan River’s eye roll here!) comments I’ve heard about the name I chose….mostly from my painters and amazing furniture makers – OH how they make fun of me…I guess because they see me in my most “undecorated” state – in flats, no make up and usually with too much dust or paint on…

….the accents they use…the grand gestures…all in good fun!

SO back to the name and why it kept sticking for me…playful comments and all….

I wanted a name that communicated LONGEVITY, CARE and INTENT with respect to Design and Decorating. I wanted to communicate to clients that what we do is help them build lifestyles – not just decorate one room in one particular house.

In 1987, freshly out of UC Berkeley and living in NYC, I tried sooo hard to get a job in Design. Couldn’t get one. That Sociology Degree wasn’t cutting it – even on the intern route for all the fabulous Designers I loved and admired.

So, into PR and a windowless 5 x 5 cubicle I went.

It was ACTUALLY true at the time ;)!

My own version of Pinterest went up on the walls around me – from fancy shoes to fabulous paint finishes…I decorated that cubicle with all the amazing things I could find! and plotted my entry into an Interior Design job in between follow up calls to press.

THAT CUBICLE was my first “chateau”.

It was the first place I dared to venture into what my heart’s desire was with respect to building a life – life style….

Here’s the important part:  For you – where ever you are in your Chateau Building Empire…condo, rental, manse, winery, airplane, downsizing or upsizing, gathering or sowing…the parts we accumulate along the way CONTRIBUTE to our lifestyle chateau.

I wish so very much that I could teach the youngest among us to gather intentionally. And to only gather well.

My second “chateau” was a tiny 650 square foot apartment in NYC. I shared it with this guy named Patrick. (I just happen to share my current chateau with him as well, but more on that another time).

I painted the walls yellow and put up molding. Used piles of books as shelves and a shower curtain rod as a curtain rod because it was cheaper! Not exactly couture, but to me – it felt like a designed space:

I had INTENTIONALLY planned the small space with distinct areas: Dining, Reading, Socializing.

Oh how I wish I could find pictures of the ridiculousness of the design…but I fear NO ONE would hire me! It was AWFUL. BUT my budget was – no joke – $35.00. Maybe I will blame that ;). YES, Thirty Five Dollars.

I bought a quart of paint….

Mine was yellow

….and watered it down. I bought the molding at the hardware store and put it up with a sheet rock knife…the saw was too expensive ;)! I used white sheets wrapped around the shower curtain for drapery treatment and VOILA – tacky, cheap and ridiculous.

I loved it tho and we dined like kings in that silly little space.

How we felt in the Dining Area of that small apartment!


If your space makes you feel inspired. If your space is intentionally put together because YOU are WORTH taking care to make your HOME a space to delight in…then…CHATEAU it is.

Over the next few years as I worked for others in Design, Clothing & PR, I would often do small projects for friends and family. I tried many different names for my “Design Firm”…really just me and my drafting table!

With a table cloth it makes a GREAT buffet!

I tried Home Couture – someone trademarked it before I did.

Ditto: Haute Home.

I tried Ann McDonald, but it never really stuck. Can’t say why as it seems most Designers DO use their names, but for me I always had LIFESTYLE BRAND & a corresponding IDENTITY in my brain. So, Couture Chateau it was.

And it started in a cubicle.

I say that because I never wanted a persons space, budget or starting point to make them feel as if great inspired design wasn’t for them.

There is couture in all of us. I KNOW there is…you were made for good and wonderful things, layered intentionally with care. YOU are couture.

Can I admit I wish I could wear this tonight for dinner?! What FUN!!

No matter the space – there is a chateau in all of us. For me, remember it started in a windowless 5 x 5 cubicle.

We can start anywhere...

WHERE did your CHATEAU start?

Let us know!!

xoxoxo Ann

Friday Fun Day: Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt….

Friday Fun Day!  It rained all day today (Thursday) in SF so I was happy to come across my friend Crickett Rumley’s Blog post about GCB and a few other fun and relevant things going on in LA….

Since it was grey outside and the cover of her book is CHEERFUL!….It was a great way to infuse some color into the office by posting this for today.

My new intern worked at getting those business cards organized from the conference, we scheduled for an install tomorrow and made sure all those details were accounted for and then, I had the pleasure of checking in on Crickett.

Have you heard of Crickett Rumley?

LOVE this girl

Her Website/Blog:

She is a pretty amazing woman of the South, transplanted to Los Angeles via New York. I count her as a friend.

She also happens to be a great author.

Her book “Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt” is sheer delight. There are some great laugh out loud moments. The book resonates with time honored truths but is not preachy. All in all a great read.

Check her out. So fun! Enjoy your weekend!

Happy Friday!!

xoxo Ann

What is a Couture Chateau life?

Detail of Tassel Fringe

And how on earth do I LIVE it?!

FIRST the Couture part.

Couture: TO layer by hand, sew (live, build, dream, hope, fail, try again….) in an excellent manner.

For me it really means trying or giving my best effort at any given moment. Sometimes it just means I don’t spill the coffee…;) Other times it means I don’t shrink back in fear when I KNOW the right thing to do is move forward. The easy thing is to hide behind the gate…or the office door…

The really cool part of Couture is that it isn’t BORING.

There is NO catalog living in a COUTURE life. And remember….where’s L’Oreal when you need ’em….“you’re worth it!”

Add some Versace to the mix. ?Where is the GALLIANO in your home decor? I know there is at least a tiny bit in YOU ;)

Can you seriously tell me you don't LOVE this??!! THIS is Couture...

Mix it WITH the Gap. ADD it to the Abercrombie.

Same for your HOME. Same for the place that serves as the inspiration you work so hard to come home to at night. FURNISH that space with some ATTITUDE.

When I started working in the Design Business about 100 years ago (ok, well not exactly 100 years….) I learned to cultivate spaces for my own business and others that were DEsigned.

I started in design…with some well – out there – people. I came to work in my sweater sets (first afraid)

My starting out look...which I still love but for DIFFERENT reasons...

, slowly added boots (started walking)OK, so I LOVE these boots...I could NEVER have afforded them when I started out...….and finally kicked it up a notch.

My designs went from safe catalog looks to more personal spaces appropriate for clients but that PUSHED just a bit. It got to the point if there wasn’t at least one person telling me I was crazy to try….that I KNEW I was going tooooooo safe.

Is your life, your home….DEsigned or is it, well, cataloged.??

Don’t get me wrong – I am a stickler for finery

I obsess on how buttons pull and are made with our products!

and making sure things work — I am talking about Couture here…BUT…LOOK, really LOOK at Versace! or BALMAIN….if these are strange worlds to you, at least look at them.

The eyes are the lamp of the bod – have a look. The stuff surrounding the visual may not be for you, but the creative component of STYLE is fearless and unapologetic for being alive. Don’t be so beige that you aren’t alive!

LOVED what Bunny says….that you need to really KNOW what has gone before to get it right now…no short cut to great style. SOOOOO if your style is indeed BEIGE. Well, BE BEIGE. But do it because you are cool with it NOT because you are afraid of the other stuff.

Tagging's how Bunny Williams learned

And yes, I still love – love beige sweater sets ;).  It just doesn’t come from a place of fear!