Monday Matters: My Top Three Myths About Purchasing Luxury Custom, Guest Posting on Custom Made!

Monday Matters: My Top Three Myths About Purchasing Luxury Custom Inteior Design. Guest Posting on

The link is HERE:

The first time I found their site…I squealed in our Side Door Studio “I FOUND MY PEOPLE” ;)!

Check us out. Pin, Comment, Share…because we’d like to do MORE of this custom collaboration.

The Blog Post is titled: My Top 3 Myths About Purchasing Custom

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.™”

xo Ann

Thought Trails & Sunday Sneak Peeks: Building that Custom Life One Design Choice at a Time

Thought Trials & Sunday Sneak Peeks: Building that Custom Life One Design Choice at a Time

Thought Trails….

A: Grateful. And thankful. And kind of tired.

B: You are my Luxury (value + care + intent).

C: We borrow & (value) insight, We share victories, We loan (care about) perspective, We give each other sound (intentional) counsel.

Sneak Peeks….

A: My teenage son stopped by our Studio Photo Set up the other day and said “Christmas?!”…..then ate one of the brownies slated for a close up shot.

Yum, he said.

Our caterer did such a great job making the “photo shoot” brownies that one was snatched by a teenage son…

Ummmmm, I said….

Let’s call the Sneak Peek Feature “Luxury Custom…where (value + care + intent) is the Formula, not Pocketbook”. November roll out.

Any guesses? 1st one to “guess correct” at the contents of this photo (reply in comments) will receive a Couture Chateau Label Lined Pillow! (Retail $375-$450).

B: Monday (tomorrow) 10/15: We are Guest Posting on Custom Made’s Blog…”My Top Three Myths About Purchasing Custom” by Ann McDonald

Tomorrow: My Top Myths About Purchasing Custom

C: Friday 10/19: Joss & Main Vintage & Market Finds Sale

Joss and Main: Vintage & Market Finds              Friday, October 19th

Have a great day. Rest it up. You matter. And are needed for the unique talent you bring to the world.

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Saturday Sunshine: My Designer Friends Inspire Me at High Point Furniture Market, Fall 2012

Saturday Sunshine: My Designer Friends Inspire at High Point Furniture Market, Fall 2012

Yup – Market. 10 Miles a Day Walking, No sleep & enough visual stimulation to last a lifetime.

And ahhh…that commercial flo light. Gag.

Love it. Hate it. Love it. Need it. Truth?….LOVE IT.

Here’s what makes it work.

Collaboration even in the lighthearted “Style Spotter” Competition

The Design Community is COLLABORATIVE.

Here are the Fall 2012 Spotters. This pic was copied from The Editor At Large, one of the Design Community’s GO TO Resources. Link here. Hummm…another one of those “Collaborative Types” eh?!


As a friend of mine said: “It’s not my Land”

Stacy Naquin’s Blog

She, Stacy Naquin, that is.

What CONTEXT would someone possibly utter the words: “It’s not my Land”

Set Scene:  Airport. Heart to heart discussion after a Master Mind Collaboration.

This Lovely Lady Tobi Fairley has developed a Master Mind Program for Designers which is collaborative and impressive. I would not be where I am without her.

Discussion Item: Competing with other Designers for Clients, Commissions, Jobs…Raw bones of it?…MONEY…

And Stacy said…it’s ok…because “If it’s not ‘my Land’…it’s not ‘my Land'”

She nailed it.

Aha Moment: The right Clients, Commissions, Jobs come at the right time to the Designers they are supposed to come to. It’s this weird process. A mixture of business (of course) but…it’s more than that…provenance?…not quite…destiny?…sometimes….

In my heart I had known it all along. There have been many times I have CALLED other Designers to “pass along” a Client who would not be a fit for us at Couture Chateau. I have also been on the receiving end of those calls when a Friend – a Collaborator in this Business called Design – said “please…this is NOT a fit for me…”

Design work is like a marriage – or a “significant other” type thing. Clients & Designers: We are in each others spaces – in each others “stuff”…

And is HAS to be right. At least if you want the best. For yourself AND for your Clients.

We look at the same fabric and “SEE” different product – different rooms – different things.

We see OUR custom.

If you don’t believe…just look at Pinterest. We take pictures of the same pieces – but capture different nuances…

Here are Traci Zeller & Stacy Naquin at last Market. I count both as collaborative friends.

Hang out with us over the next few days. See what’s new. Follow our Pinterest Board for Market where we will collaboratively collect, re-pin, share & delight in design.

See what’s back IN that was OUT that is still IN our homes because we never changed it when it went OUT…(!)…ahem…BRASS…and laugh at the thought that all those (us) CREATIVES are linked together in one place…changing the world one “Devil Wears Prada Cerulean Blue Belt at a Time”…

Cerulean (also caerulean) = a color. How could I ever forget the scene that stole my heart…

Live a custom life. There is only one you.™

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: How to Nurture a Luxury Mindset with a Chai Latte Budget

Frugal Friday: How to Nurture a Luxury Mindset with a Chai Latte Budget

Define Luxury…

Yesterday, I had the honor of being quoted by one of my favorite blogs, Quintessence (linked here)

” as designer Ann McDonald of Couture Chateau in Orinda, CA said, “Luxury is more a state of mind than a state of pocketbook.” 

Twirled like a 15 year old girl. I told my Master Mind Friends I had been quoted by Royalty. They agreed.

Context: Months ago I responded with full heart to an Elle Decor Survey on “Luxury Now – What Really Counts”

It is one of those Life Forces for me: Luxury, that is.

A sneak peek of my kitchen sink…I hope someday to share my home with you in publication

I grew up in a home where Luxury was taught as a  custom PROCESS. We ate intentionally. We were taught the value of family & to live with care.

Process WAS substance because how things were executed indicated if we cared or valued what we were doing. The highest order was to custom build that PROCESS according to the gifts & talents we brought to the table. I think it’s why we’re all so different.

If you were going to do something, do it beautifully and do it well.

It was never based on dollar amount – we didn’t have that much.

And we all know that money does not buy taste, or intent…or care…

My opinion? I think it was because there wasn’t a lot that I learned to NURTURE the mindset that  (Value + Care + Intent) = Luxury

Life takes turns…sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down…

The beauty: The answer is simple – well, in theory 😉 at least…

It may be hard to bring our head in line with our heart’s Luxury goal – I do severely desire an Hermes bag

Simple and classic…it would look fabulous sprawled on my mismatched slate kitchen counter…

but my Custom Luxurious Life Mindset does not depend upon it.

It depends on my nurture of  (value + care + intent)

There  really is no club to join, no fee to pay, no license exam to pass. We just start. Today.

We bring our custom selves – all those quirky talents & random gifts our DNA handed us – to the table and start.

For me – it always begins with space. Space affects me profoundly. Not sure why, it just does. And so I start there. And when they ask…I start there with my clients & with my friends.

Funny how when we intentionally bring in (value + care + intent) to space….”luxurious” as a descriptive phrase is never far behind.

What is your Luxury? What is your mindset?

As a new friend said to me the other evening…”I collect stories”…I think I see her Luxury Mindset now…she (values) them + she (cares) about them + she is (intentional) in the stewardship of them by collecting…do you see?…..

Live a custom life. There is only one you.™

xo Ann

Thursday Spotlight: High Point Furniture Market, Fall 2012

Thursday Spotlight: High Point Furniture Market, Fall 2012

A map of the buildings…each one with product…

For the uninitiated…it’s “that time of year again” when almost all of the Home Furnishings Industry arrives in North Carolina

Twice a year it’s our journey to proverbial mecca

The focus this year is Fashion & Decor…very cool

Sure, there’s Decorex (amazing) in the UK and all the fabulous markets in Europe where trends are set and art unveiled

but High Point is the “Lab Practical” for those of us doing business in the US

Bentley Churchill is one of the manufacturers I will visit. We love their product and they customize for us. They manufacture our custom private label pieces for our most special clients. Customer Service, Old School Quality & as you can see…right on trend.

We get to check in with old friends, see new trends, sit on comfy chairs, marvel at uncomfy cool ones ;), cheers & chat

Check out this years theme: Fashion & Decor

Another piece from Bentley. Love the tufting & the acrylic legs…we customize pieces like this for our clients, a tweak here, a height change there…some quilting as a band…the important thing is that no one else will have a piece exactly like theirs.

What I love about this year’s theme…as you may have guessed…is the information highway between what goes on in the Fashion Industry & Interior Design Industry

Nancy Berg in blue velvet ball gown by Leslie Morris, photo by Horst P. Horst, 1953

My custom obsession with design is simply mirrored by that same penchant in fashion

It’s what we’ve been talking about all week…how they trend together…work together…influence together…

We go to meet with our custom manufacturers & be inspired

Follow us on Twitter @couturechateau, Pinterest Couture Chateau & Facebook Fan Page  Couture Chateau

Even though we are not an official Style Spotter for Market, we ARE GATHERING for our local papers :)…so we will be pinning and chatting, tweeting & talking.

Here’s to small towns…!

And Small Town Papers!

I am ALWAYS grateful to be able to go.

We will be at least partially out of touch with travel…but will check in as best we can!

Live a custom life. There is only one you.

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: Can I Wear a Ball Gown to the Studio Because I am an Interior Designer?

Wednesday Style Points: Can I Wear a Ball Gown to the Studio Because I am an Interior Designer?!

Anne Barge Collection 2011

Why Not?! (ok, I DO know why not…but stillllll:)

designed by Danish firm Holgaard Arkitekter, picture linked

Here’s the rub: the details on some of these couture gowns & even custom RTW are SO inspiring!

Randolph Duke 2008. I mean hello Navy & Copper!

I mean…how practical…set the scene: Couture Chateau Team Custom Designing a 30 something’s home in Florida in our Bay Area Studio…wearing Elie Saab…BOOM (!) inspiration strikes by donning Gown & voila, Design Done :)!

Elie Saab Haute Couture Spring 2012

All right…maybe custom gowns don’t give us super powers, but I KNOW capes do ;)….

Style Points: I see a RTW or Couture Collection  and swoon over how that can translate into Custom Interior Design

In 2010, Lee Jofa auctioned custom skirts designed by Oscar de la Renta made out of the designer’s line of home fabrics.

I love the inspiration highway between the two. It literally is the way to “wear it”…by “living with it”

The Couture Collection becomes LIVABLE. We get to enjoy and embrace that custom in the everyday

With our coffee. With all that life throws at us. With the ups. With the downs.

Life really is better in “pretty” or “fabulous”. It just is.

 And the cool thing about Custom? What is “pretty” to me is different than what is “pretty” to you!

THAT is the point! It’s CUSTOM 🙂

As people, we are couture. We are layered with different experiences and headed towards different places. If we weren’t…nothing would get done! I’d be sitting with an idea of a gown with no computer…no coffee…no shoes…and certainly no house!

What’s the Custom inside of you…?

So here’s to Style Points. Ball Gowns and Tuxedos, Vans & Hoodies, Custom Intentional Design in all it’s glory.

So someday I will confess to a Vans Addiction…but you didn’t hear it from me today…;)

Pinterest link HERE. Check it out!

Live a custom life. There is only one you.

And let me know what you are wearing today! At least we aren’t in our bathrobes with fuzzy slippers….well…ok…the Peninsula Hotel ones from B Hills r pretty fab & could be considered nice enough for office wear 😉

The Robes from The Peninsula Hotel in B Hills – soooo soft!

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: My Custom Lining Habit on all things Design

Tuesday Tidbit: My Custom Lining Habit on All Things Design

Ok…so you know I love couture details

I liked this…kind of fun!

I have kind of an obsession with fabulous and personalized linings.

Hot pink, green silk, wild pattern, unexpected uses…

I found this pleated pink silk on Pinterest. Photo linked. Love it!

Am sure it all started in the – get ready – 1980’s (!) – before I was born…not…

when designing in NYC & then Los Angeles

At the time it was very chic to custom design all the lamp shades with pale pink hand dyed silk so that the glow from the light bulbs would be flattering to women in a room

This is a picture from a silk lamp shade site that I found. The pic is linked back to the creators’ site. What I noticed was the level of detail. All hand done. Even if it’s not your style, the talent required to execute this craft is supreme.

How wonderful! I wanted to live like the people we were designing for :)!

I couldn’t afford it…so I thought, well – heck, maybe I could “Custom DIY” it…

Pink Paint ! What could go wrong ;)?…..hummm…..

Saved up…bought a can of pink paint

Customized every single lampshade inside of our microscopic apartment with what I thought was the “perfect” pale pink

Mind you – I painted in broad daylight

Let me just say…daylight isn’t always the best light to use…designer (duh Ann)…especially when the product you are “creating” will NEVER be used in daylight :)!!

I was so excited to see the results…

Evening lands…

evening…the real test…I was SO excited…ugghh…thank God for humor!

And our crappy small apartment looked like the inside of a bottle of Pepto Bismol.

Design Epic Fail # 112!

I laughed – and cried – mostly because I couldn’t afford another can of paint…and learned then and there that two things REALLY matter when dealing with LINING things and the COLOR of lining things:

1. Composition of Material: Paint on cheap cardboard is NOT the same as hand died pale silk 🙂

2. Saturation of Color = Reflective Quality


Needless to say, I still love custom lining and have spent years delighting in clients who don’t mind an epic fail every now and then while we get that amazing green underlining “just right” to reflect off a polished floor when you are walking up a staircase and happen to “glimpse” the underside of a chair!

I do believe custom linings are a fingerprint from the designer. A touch of whimsy. And they show intent. You cannot rush when you are lining things.

Louboutin Lining is known the world over…it is just fun!

Live a custom life. There is only one you.™

Check out our Pinterest Board on Linings here & let me know if you have any fabulous lining stories we can share!

xo Ann

Monday Matters: Finding your Muse in Custom Interior Decorating & Design

Monday Matters: Finding your muse in Custom Interior Decorating & Design

I confess, I love couture details.

Elie Saab, 2008 Couture. I swear if I could wear this to work I would !!!

I have struggled to figure out where it came from…this manic love of the covered button, interlined pillow or silk monogrammed underlining on a chair that no one but the owner sees

Chanel Haute Couture. I can see that necklace translated into a table base or custom handles…and I would, again, wear that jacket to grocery shop ;)!

…& why it compels me…

Giamattista Valli. This is from his second Haute Couture Collection. I mean, DIVINE!!!

It finally hit me  – not so subtly – this week.

duh Ann…it’s only been…well, let’s just say I’m not in my 30’s any more…

Call me dense :)!…but sometimes it takes me a L O N G time to see things!!

I grew up with a mother who sewed. I am sure she missed her calling in some capacity…as she made everything over the years from bathing suits (!) to wedding dresses & even a beautiful knit out fit for my boys when they were infants.

It is in the details…I remember standing for hours on end to have her cut a pattern from my body…out of paper bags because they “held their shape nicely, dear”…! Why was I not more grateful ! :(…oh to get that time back…since we can’t … on to making custom for YOU!! :)! She would love that…absolutely love that…

Her creations were always perfectly cut. Always from a pattern in her brain or tweaked. Always custom.

Guess I found my muse. I miss her.

A Greek muse

She knew how to find the exceptional in fabric & fabricate something that was magical to wear…..even when that fabric was cheap or I was overweight.

The way she cut the fabric, the care, the thread she used…the way the buttons NEVER fell off, the hems were always completely invisible…it made me feel like I mattered in a world of so many people…that someone took the time to make something special that would enhance who I was….

She made me feel special and important when a custom “anything” was made for me.

And I want you to feel that same way.

To know your value!

2012 Elie Saab Haute Couture. Now…can you imagine a fabulous – and I DO MEAN FABULOUS chair in your bedroom from this?! Everyday luxury in your life and home. Couture Chateau…!

Let me say that again – I want you to know you are valuable. You are worth making something custom for. That will enhance your life, who you are at your core.

I can’t sew to save my dog’s soul…much less mine…but I can walk along side you & we can work together to incorporate custom into your home and life.

Who is your muse?

Couture Chateau is built on the foundation that design and living is all about you. Who you are, what you are meant to do and be. And that custom design matters because it equips you to “be a better you” and by extension, your community and the world at large are blessed because of that.

So here’s to Monday. It matters. And so do you!!

Live a custom life. There is only one you.

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: Finishing Out a Retail Product with a Favorite Design Trick we’ve used for years…

Frugal Friday: Finishing out a retail product with a favorite design trick we’ve used for years…

Frugal Friday has become one my favorite features of this blog – it gives me a chance to share some of our time honored secrets, new sources and ways to customize a job in a frugal way. I like that! Very fun.

Here’s another one of my design tricks. Simple really, just one of those things that I’ve been doing for years…never really think about it until clients and friends are blown away by the outcome. Mostly because there are a gazillion DIY places out there that do a bad job of using a simple solution and muck it up with too much “craftiness” or too little skill.

Here is the same “type” of table we had…meaning a rectangular glass top with uber contemporary lines on the base. What I like is that you can use ANY pedestal base for this idea.

Take a glass table top, underline it with an incredible fabric. I don’t mean put fabric on top of something and place the glass OVER, I mean UNDERLINE the glass with a fabric (adhere that puppy) to the glass.

First time I ever did this, we had a client who was *DONE* spending $$$$$. Problem was, we HAD to finish off the space with a table and it HAD to be fabulous.

Solution: buy the Versace Fabric (2 Yards @ $750/yard) – ok you can substitute a less expensive fabric – it is frugal Friday after all :)!! BUT the point is, for this client, it WAS frugal!! Our other option was to use about 12 yards of the Versace…you do the math!! 12 versus 2 at $750 a yard?! Big time frugal ;).

This isn’t the fabric we used – don’t have access to the table we made any longer (did I say how many years ago that was ;)!, but wanted to show you the TYPE of fabric we were dealing with. It had to have impact and it was a very contemporary space.

Have it adhered to the underside of the glass with fabric paste or glue and top it on the pedestal bases. We DID make a simple backing system in case we had some fraying and did need to play with it a bit but since that time we have used several fabrics and several table tops and bases.

I love this simple Calder side table cube from Arteriors Home and would love to put a fabulous fabric on the underside of the glass here. Make this a fun centerpiece for a teenage hang out. Easy and fun!

I also had this professionally done by a window shade manufacturer who was used to adhering fabric to those roll down shades that drive everybody nuts (!) BUT I knew we only had one shot to get it right…and he did…he had years of making those shades just right for some of the pickiest people on the West Side of Los Angelels :)!! thank GOD.

This fabric we used for one of the tables is from 2009 I think (Marimekko) but they make great patterns for this kind of thing! High impact, lower price point, easy to find at Crate & Barrel and online. Easy to change also…

In putting together this post, I searched online to see if I could find some DIY Blog that had ever done this – I found this blog…”Trapped in North Jersey” and howled. Why? Because the person we made the original table for was in California but they were from … well … let’s just leave it at that… is the link to her site which has some VERY simple DIY instructions for the process. No sense reinventing the wheel as she has done a nice job telling us the HOW’s:

Have a GREAT weekend…and let me know if you use this tip anywhere in your home!

This is my inspiration piece from this season. We have been doing this for (ahem….) many years, but I simply LOVE how Ruben has taken it one step further and added a layer of pattern beneath the glass. Simple, classic, on trend, iconic. I can imagine this will be copied a billion times, but for good reason. In it’s simplest form, this is good design. Practical, movable, interesting, flexible and convenient. Swoon. I do hope some benefactor out there has wrapped up a few of these in original format for some furniture museum. Pucci is pretty good at that…so I’m not worried!

Inspiration piece from this season – I LOVE this table by Ruben Toledo from Pucci. Have since the first moment I saw it. I am dying to use the original in a space (clients?!).

Live a custom life. There is only one you!

xo Ann

Thursday Spotlight: How to Customize Your Design Spaces with Retail Product

Thursday Spotlight: How to customize your design spaces with retail product – some take away nuggets when shopping catalogs but going for a high end look

Yesterday we had a fabulous Design Seminar entitled: My Catalog Life. This was one of those things (the Seminar) that morphed out of many conversations, lots of laughter and a talk about being a closet Home Goods Addict among a group of seriously fashionable women. Many of whom would ‘NAAAVA’ admit they actually go…well, outside of the studio that is ;)!

We will ATTEMPT to edit the video and get it COMPLETED by END of November. We will definitely need to consolidate some of the materials into a downloadable format and may have to re-film some of the segments where laughter drowned out logic…!…

Check out our Twitter Feed from yesterday. @couturechateau is the handle and #couturechateautip was our hash tag.

At the wrap up yesterday, someone suggested an e-book or work book in addition to the take-a-way binders that were part of the Seminar. I like that idea! Time to get to work Ann :)!!…and team….!…

Some of the bite size nuggets:

1) WHEN you design from catalogs, setting the color palate FIRST creates a natural envelope which makes editing furniture options EASIER. The big catalog and online retailers have already done the hard “color work” for you. Take advantage of it and don’t reinvent the wheel. Save your customization of color for the accents – but make the broad color choices for walls, ceilings & floors FIRST. Get them painted and be done. This is in contrast to how we typically approach a highly custom project where a paint color may need to coordinate with an antique rug coming from Turkey or a custom fabric from India.

Many of the big retailers have paint collections or partnerships with large paint companies like Benjamin Moore…don’t reinvent the wheel IF you are customizing your spaces from catalogs

I am ok with that. Designer Permission = Granted!

2) EDIT your retailer/catalog choices for the major pieces of furniture to no more than 4 for a single space. Be brutal. Match overall scale of furniture arms, seat heights & accent tables to within 10%-15%. You can play with accent pieces, but get the Foundation Seating pieces right and the layering will come more easily.

If you are customizing from catalogs – only use the most trusted and reliable retailers for your big pieces. Stick to 4 catalogs max when combining those foundation pieces. Any more and your room will look cluttered with too many disparate details

I am ok with that too! Designer Permission = Granted! (hint…we follow this percentage rule on custom jobs as well;)

3) MIXING is an art. We shared tools for practicing with Retail product – @Olioboard – @Pinterest – and encouraged TIME DEADLINES for “playing design” and EXECUTION START DATES for “actual project design”….meaning you don’t get to design the room on a piece of paper, pin it to the room’s door and wait for 5 years! Get off the stump, get started, plan, finish and get on with the custom living :)!!

Mixing is an art. Take cues from great retail displays. Note scale and texture mixes – subtle matches that “speak to each other” but don’t scream

I am WAY ok with that. Designer Permission = Granted!

Those are some of the bite size pieces from a fabulous day. I will keep you posted as this is a subject near and dear to me – I DO believe passionately that there is custom inside of just about anything…from the Tree Stump Table on our Pinterest Board (Follow this board from our Seminar – we keep adding!)

Arteriors Home. I love this table…but can you imagine it in a deep lacquer green?! I can…so fabulous…

– can you imagine that in a deep lacquer green?!- to the Red Acrylic Chairs from Target

Available at Target – how fun to put a decal cutout – custom of course and use these in a study room for teenagers!

I “see” a fabulous white decal on the back side as it sits in a desk area where teenagers work at computers…

Happy Thursday. Spotlight is now on YOU! Let us know what you think of this!! We had a great response but we were only 8!!…

Live a custom life. There is only one you.

xo Ann