Wednesday Style Points: A Cabin Christmas

Wednesday Style Points: A Cabin Christmas

I simply love formal…truly

And casual cabin kitsch

Log & Timber Homes, Telluride. Image linked

Wear a ball gown to the studio? In a heartbeat if I could

Flip side is I simply love the mountain air & what it does for my soul

Lake Tahoe California

And the mountain homes

And the mountain projects

There is something crisp and uncluttered about the smell of the air

Those who share my passion, know what I’m talking about

It’s as if the air is custom made…this sweet aromatic perfume, simple + elegant

This week we are putting some finishing touches on a project in the Lake Tahoe Area

Belly of the Beast - Notice the blue drying fans

Belly of the Beast – Notice the blue drying fans

Should be finished near February or March…give or take 10 feet of snow…

As we headed out of the Studio in the Bay Area to work, I was grateful to pass on some of the chaos

My Favorite Style Points for a Cabin Christmas?

1. ACE Hardware is a perfectly appropriate place to shop for a Cabin Christmas Present

Ace Hardware in Truckee is so much fun! From Christmas Ornaments to Power Tools…what could be better…

2. LOCAL Coffee Shops know your name and how you like your custom topping. Marge doesn’t judge you for ordering whip cream on your latte.

3. The air is cold & it feels good on the soul

4. Working 0veralls are perfectly acceptable attire

5. Norwegian Sweaters look appropriate with my work overalls OR slim velvet pants with boots

I mean really, this classic from Dale of Norway isn’t over the top…$427, works with overalls & velvet skinnies…:)!

Have a fabulous day today….

Style Points. You’ve got them, use them!

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

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: My Christmas China Addiction

Tuesday Tidbit: My Christmas China Addiction

So, yes, you know all about this don’t you…

Spode Christmas Tree

Am CERTAIN some of you out there share this tidy little habit

Susan Wignet Christmas China, a pattern I bought for our cabin when the boys were young and learning to read. Silly part? They still ask for it when the season rolls around…

We have the luxury of hiding it away 11 months of the year, but come day after Thanksgiving…all bets are off!

My more grown up Hermes addiction fits in nicely…

What are YOUR favorite patterns?

Ditto an old Versace…

Have you ever had a CUSTOM China made?!

Rosenthal China is another one of my addictions (they are the manufacturer of Versace Holiday Patterns) and I have several of their non holiday patterns…this is an absolute favorite…image linked to

And yes, we use them all

Fitz & Floyd

I even went to my sister’s house this past week and complimented her on a plate…to which she replied “you gave that to me”!

This was the plate I had given my sister! Fitz & Floyd Christmas Deer Pattern

Knew I liked it ;)!

Confession? I have more……..

Since you know we love to entertain, yes, they really do get used.

Your turn – share some of your favorites!

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

xo Ann

Monday Matters: Reflection Before The Rush

Monday Matters: Reflection Before The Rush

Yes, I still like to write my Christmas Cards

A Sample from a website that will do it for you…my style? NO, but if someone has created a product for it, there must be a heart calling for it somewhere…

It’s that reflection time before the rush

Of ‘Last Minute Readying’ before guests arrive for Christmas

What is your Reflection before the Rush?

WHERE to start? Hand written? Cranes Embossed? Printed? Casual...Formal...

I still buy boxes of different cards and attempt to match to an individual or family. This year, I narrowed it down to fewer than 5 types…but I enjoy the process of Christmas Cards in this internet age

Much like putting up the garland, Christmas Cards on the sofa curled up in the corner are my reflection time

Are they always out on time?


Are they always more than a hand written signature?

No, not always

(& Yes, I did give in to the address label)

But it is the time I reflect

Seasons come and go when different people come in and out of our lives, our HOMES

But something of them always remains

And that’s what I like to reflect upon when writing those silly cards

Grateful for a little holiday disorder

The decorations that aren’t up won’t go up

(I set a hard deadline for those things December 15th)

And TRY to enjoy my home, as it is.

So just for this week – Monday Matters

1. Enjoy your Custom Home just as it is, look for the beauty in it

2. Sit and reflect on those custom blessings & custom people that are in your life for a season even if it’s only for 15 minutes

3. Send them a hand written card – it will soothe your heart and bless them

4.”Live a custom life…..there is only one you!”™


8 Days & Counting….


ps: planning prevents chaos…….and editing is the friend of planning….it’s ok to say no to those last minute decor or boxes if it’s right for YOUR life. Designer Permission granted….check out a few related posts from last year around this time:

Sunday Stewardship: 2 Hour Couture Chats Discounted for Christmas, Use Any Time in 2013

Sunday Stewardship: 2 Hour Couture Chats Discounted for Christmas for use within the 2013 Calendar Year

Do you ever wish you could have a fresh set of eyes as you manage your decorating or remodel?

Are you tired of asking friends & relatives which color of white is best for your kitchen?

Do you wish you could engage a Design Pro without the hassle of over the top budgets or over the top time?

Have you looked at those “Design in a Box” products on line but you’d prefer real interaction?

Do you wish YOU could take credit for designing your home but have some professional data points?

Does your daughter need a new room and she wants to decorate it, but she won’t listen to mom?

Do you ever think “I love my contractor but I’d like to know what else is out there for design finishes…”

Then our Couture Chats are for you

Our Couture Chats don't usually involve wine, but they could!

During the last two weeks in December, we discount this product for use anytime during the calendar year 2013*

Last year our friends enjoyed this offer

Here’s what Meg had to say about her 2 Hour Couture Chat

“I brought my plans & samples to Ann’s Home Studio. She listened, looked and made astute observations about finishes, suggested furniture placement and told me what things should cost. Her honesty and insight helped me decide what to use in my own home. Without her help I would never have achieved the look I love, but in the end, it was mine. I knew what I liked and wanted, she just helped me get there without wasting huge sums of money or time.”

Here’s what Betsy had to say about her Couture Chat with her Daughter

“I bought my daughter a Couture Chat as a Graduation present. She wanted to redesign her space but wouldn’t listen to me. We came to Ann’s Studio and reviewed everything. It was fun! We learned so much! My daughter got the space she wanted and I was able to help her execute it. It was neutral ground.”

Even at our Once Yearly Designer Clearance Sale, this product is not discounted.

What is a Couture Chat & What is included?

2 Hours in Couture Chateau’s Home Based Side Door Studio

Sit at “The Table” with Ann

Your Project, Your Questions, Professional Answers

Professional Working Suggestions, Quick Sketches or Lists as Needed

Who is a candidate for this service?

DIY Clients managing or thinking about a project

Full Service Future Clients who want HONEST answers before they undertake a large remodel or new build

Mothers & Daughters Re-Designing a Bedroom or First Apartment

Clients managing their own Projects

Clients thinking about a future Project

We engage Couture Chats with Clients who spend $525 to over $10 million

Why? Because they all recognize that verbal in person access to 25 years of experience will give them more than 25 hours of internet research

And no matter your budget, time = money

What just one of our Realtor Client’s in Lake Tahoe has to say:

“I give Ann’s Couture Chats as housewarming gifts. I know she actually cares about my clients. She keeps them from making poor choices when they are all excited about their new home. And as a favor to me, she schedules them in person at no extra cost when she is on an overnight project in the basin.”

QUESTION: I don’t live in the SF Bay Area or Lake Tahoe. How can I take advantage of this offer?

ANSWER: We offer Skype™ or FaceTime™, divided into 1 hour segments for more comprehensive counsel over distance. Simply indicate in the notes section when you purchase. If you are in the Lake Tahoe Basin area and are flexible on time, Ann will work you in on one of her many trips to Projects in the area at no additional charge.

Do not let distance keep you from getting the counsel you want

Couture Chateau Clients from 2012 alone have homes in Canada, Argentina, New York, Kansas, Florida, California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan and Nevada

QUESTION: Why are the Chats in the Studio and not at my Project?

ANSWER: We have found over the years that getting clients out of their space and into a neutral ground clears the air for design “aha moments”. The practical reality of preparing questions & thinking about a project to present and ask questions of a professional is a large part of the process. It’s the proverbial stretching before you exercise. It matters.


2 Hour Couture Chat, Regularly $700

25% Discount $525


Package of 3 Couture Chats, Regularly $2,100

40% Discount $1,260

How do I engage?

Email Rachel, our Office Manager at

She will then contact you with follow up instructions and payment information

It’s what we do

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


Ann McDonald & The Couture Chateau Team

*Terms & Conditions: 15 Available, Individual or 3 Package for Purchase between 12/15/12 – 12/31/12. Non-Refundable, Non-Transferable, Must be scheduled at least 2 weeks in advance for use within Calendar Year 2013. May only be re-scheduled twice due to unforeseen circumstance. Skype or Facetime Sessions will be divided into 1 hour increments to maximize content & should be scheduled no more than 2 weeks apart for content retention

Saturday Stuff: Setting the Precedent for Honor in our Homes

Saturday Stuff: Setting the Precedent for Honor in our Homes

As we grieve the tragedies around us, hope remains

Hope and Honor begin in our Homes

Detail Christmas Tree

Around our tables, on our sofas, in our conversations…

How we steward those we love, how we steward how we live

In my youth I worried that as a Decorator or Designer I wasn’t curing cancer or changing the world…that somehow what we did didn’t matter

It couldn’t be further from the truth

As you and I design & build our custom lives, may we rest assured that we set the precedent for honor in our homes.

It matters.

The tone for joy and delight, hope in the face of all life hands us begins at home

For today, be intentional about YOUR life, your blessings

I am grateful for you

We want to equip you, walk along side you as you create an intentional life from a place of safety, order and beauty

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: An Easy Table Top from Andrea Brooks

Frugal Friday: An Easy Table Top from Andrea Brooks

This is such a wonderful time of year

Am grateful for dear friends who also happen to be fantastic designers

Today, take a look at an easy to duplicate Holiday Table Top

Why we like it?

You can customize it of course! No mint julep cups? Use your own coffee cups or tea cups that have meaning…

This is an excerpt from Andrea’s recent post in At Home in Arkansas:

How to create the mint julep cup arrangement

1. Cut a piece of green oasis to fit the full size of the cup.  It should fit snugly to help the arrangement stay close to the top of the vase/cup.

2. Add water to fully wet the oasis.

3. Add your cedar branches starting from the outer edges (I like to start at the corners and work in).  When trimming these pieces you will want to keep the outer ones a little longer to give them some drape.

4. Fill in the middle with shorter cedar pieces, pine and berries.  Remember, the more organic it looks the better!

Happy Friday

Be SURE to sign up for our Newsletter:
Online Form – Constant Contact List Signup

Special Couture Chateau Offers, First Look & Sneak Peek Projects are just some of the exclusives for subscribers.

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

xo Ann & the CC Team!

Thursday Spotlight: Easy Holiday Decor Tip from Leslie Hassler of Luxury for the Home

Thursday Spotlight: Easy Holiday Decor Tip from Leslie Hassler of Luxury for the Home

Simple, 3 minute very casual video tip from Leslie in Dallas. Why do we like it?

Because YOU can customize your table with items from your yard or friendly neighbors!

Have a great day – this is now added to our Holiday Helps Page…


Easy & Fast (Frugal) Table Setting.

Merry Christmas.

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

xo Ann & The CC Team

Wednesday Style Points: Why Do Last Year’s Ornaments Look Tired?

Wednesday Style Points: Why Do Last Year’s Ornaments Look Tired?

Each year, Clients ask the same questions…

Last year we used this ribbon for the office tree. This year we changed it up

Why did my ribbon look so great last year when I bought it and now I don’t like it

What about those ornaments…they look tired this season & last year were all the rage

Last season, we had a white tree in the office, this season a yellow themed tree to coordinate with the French Custom Carpet Squares

Why can’t I get my Christmas Tree to look as nice as it did last year?

I haven’t changed anything….

Well, therein lies the problem

Elastic Polyester Pants from the 1970’s….do you want your Tree to look like these in context? When we let the years pass & don’t modify even a bit….we are the frog in the boiling pot….dead before we know it!!

Some Cliff Notes on Custom Holiday Decorating Gleaned Over the Years:

1. A Tree (Living or Fake) & the Ornaments that live on it = Decoration

2. A Decoration (even if it cost you $1,750) is not an investment piece of furniture

3. A Decoration….is just that. It decorates something – temporarily – for a season or time

4. Decoration can last decades, but that is still just a season or time

5. Decoration = ultimately temporary

6. Decoration = Seasonal, Whimsical & Fun

7. Decorations, especially Christmas ones evoke emotion.

There in lies another problem. They evoke emotion.

That emotion draws us into a White Christmas, Bing Crosby vision of heirloom ornaments handed down from generation, hand made, custom fabricated, designer labeled…music & snow swirling...tree the same each year...It’s a Wonderful Life type of thing…

Truth? We can’t recreate or duplicate the past

That includes past Christmas Trees

Let me state that again because it is so important when it comes to this issue: we can not recreate or duplicate the past.

We CAN honor the past (also known as tradition) but we cannot freeze frame

If I had a dollar for every client who said: “Oh, I’ll take a picture of the vignette so I can duplicate it exactly next season” I’d be on my private 747!

Pardon me, but (edited bad word was here:).

Time for GRACE! Really? Will you be the exact same next year at this time?

Why would you want your Tree or Centerpiece to be the EXACT same?

YOU are custom. YOU are special. Why wouldn’t you want your space to reflect who YOU and YOURS are today?!

Use the same elements? Of course. Use the same Faux Tree? Yes, fine.

But please, change it up a bit…..

Trust me, your family will have changed…let’s HONOR the past while LIVING in the present

I liken it to this:

Imagine you wore a beautiful couture dress to “Friend A’s” Christmas Party in 2011.

Now, will you be wearing the EXACT same dress to the EXACT same party this year? Same shoes? Same hair? Same makeup? Same stockings?

Nope. Everyone would think you’d gone bonkers.

Your Holiday Home is the same way.

So, rules of thumb for refreshing your Holiday Decor? Check out our Holiday Helps Page with New Tips Today

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

xo Ann

p.s. we will miss you Noble. You were a great dog.

Tuesday Tidbit: My Kitsch Christmas Ornament Habit

Tuesday Tidbit: My Kitsch Christmas Ornament Habit

Yes, it’s true. I have – well, let’s just say more than one Christmas Tree

Flocked Fake Christmas Tree

My favorite?

Hard to say. Why? Because there is a place for all those misfit ornaments on at least one of those trees…

Today? My heart swoons for our Cabin Tree

Kitsch in all it’s glory

My excuse? Even Neiman Marcus sells Kitsch in Context!

Michael Aram Ornament from Neiman Marcus. About $60. Truth? I simply LOVE white ornaments against a classic fresh green tree.

…add a dash of Cabela’s

Hummm….rather fun. No I don’t own these nor do I plan on purchasing, but yes, rather fun…

and customize each ornament with a small label or lining in Buffalo Check Plaid indicating it belongs at Mac Mountain Lodge (our cabin)

Just a small piece monogrammed on the back or bottom of ornaments can provide a visual treat. When you see them from below or glimpse them from around the tree this simple custom detail makes a huge difference!

I simply love collecting large groupings of custom or kitsch ornaments

In context? They can lighten the Holiday Load…remind us that a bit of Charlie Brown lives in all of us

Do you collect ornaments? Is there a collection of hand made, glittered globes somewhere in the attic? What would you line or back your ornaments with to indicate they lived in your custom home? Plaid? Toile?

We’d love to know!

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

xo Ann

Monday Matters: December 10th & Counting…is your Decor Done?

Monday Matters: December 10th and Counting…is your Decor Done?

Just to put you at ease

We just decorated our Christmas Tree at the Cabin

White Resin Antler Ornaments

Yes, A Designer waited until December 8th & 9th to pull out the ornaments…

This year I collected over 30 wood ornaments for the cabin tree. Combined with antlers, ribbon & some simple plaid globes…a very Custom Cabin Christmas Tree

I like to take the time IN December to put the music on and make Holiday Merry in our Cabin in the woods

One of the things clients and friends ask often

“How many days should I spend Decorating?”

Have you ever wanted someone to just pull out the buzzer and say “game over” on the Decorating?

I have

So years ago, I came up with some very simple rules of thumb

# Days on Holiday Decorating = Per Thousand Square Feet

3 Days = 3,000 Square Feet

Any more and it might be time to watch Danny DeVito in some Christmas Movies for some perspective…

From Deck the Halls

So this weekend, we spent 2 days decking our cabin out for the Holiday

When we have Christmas Parties, ok…I confess…I will spend a solid 4 days & corral some help

But that is still within our guidelines (almost;)

Give yourself permission to put the ribbon down & enjoy the fruit of your labor!

This reasonable timeline has helped me enjoy the process for years

You and I are creating our custom holiday homes

So as this “Power Week” (what I refer to the second full week in December) rolls in

Rachel Ray’s Egg Nog. Image Linked.

(Parties, Luncheons, Drinks with friends, Office Parties, Cards to mail, Presents to buy….)

Remember that rule of thumb

Monday Matters: Ready for a productive week?


Every Claus needs cute boots!

Be sure to check our Holiday Help Page. You will find this and other tips from Designer Friends all week!

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

xo Ann