Friday: Finding That Space That Calms Us

Friday: Finding That Space That Calms Us

Well, it’s official

I had my first yoga class

In the spirit of getting into shape for real this time, I have made a commitment

Still had a glass of wine after, but at least I started

Finding the time was hard enough

Then we had to find the space!

Yes, it was at my home

My inspiration came from yellow flowers in my blue kitchen sink (behind) & red cake was one of those mornings when the aha moment came!

Yellow flowers in my blue pottery tiled sink

Am completely slammed right now & have a ton of travel lined up, so it was in the evening at the house, or not at all

not quite as bad as this, but we do have kind of a lot going on right now 🙂

It wasn’t that easy to find a spot in the house to do yoga. The pug was happy to join in.

I kind of – well – have decorated most of the spaces!

Custom Paint for a Custom Tree for a Client. It fits who they are TODAY.

Custom Paint

What about you?

Do you have a space that calms you?

A clearing for exercise – not just reading?

What about a home gym.

I may sense a need to create a new room – am truly asking, have you created a space for home workouts?

What does it look like? How big is it?

Does it have a spa like vibe or just a brute workout vibe?

My mind is thinking…..

Friday. Find that space that works for you & embrace it.

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday Fun: Cut Plywood Lighting Fixtures

Frugal Friday Fun: Cut Plywood Lighting Fixtures

Working on a jewel box project & just needing some simple fixtures?

When we need custom but don’t have a massive budget, I go to plywood lights

We develop a pattern, usually paint or custom finish the wood & create a lyrical piece of hanging art

Here are a few examples I found on Esty

A simple plywood cut light. We are working on a custom version for a Tahoe Project. Ours will have a more sophisticated center light. I love the simplicity.

Here is another cut plywood light. I love using this model in second homes for clients. Easy to customize with color, pattern. Fun!

These are great for vacation homes, second properties or pool houses.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Frugal Friday. Amazing what you can do with plywood!

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

xo Ann


Don’t forget to register for Decorate Like A Pro System! Not many spots are left for the Coaching Upgrades!! The $495 price point is only good until Sunday, April 28th for our live group program. Once that closes, the price will be much higher as our Beta Test Groups indicated as an appropriate value price. If you think you might want this system, please don’t delay. I don’t want you, our faithful readers, to miss the introductory price point.

Friday Wrap Up: Life Lessons At Design Camp

Friday Wrap Up: Life Lessons At Design Camp

This week, just like last, was/is filled with travel

I had the honor of visiting Tobi Fairley & her esteemed Team in Little Rock, Arkansas for a fabulous few days of what is lovingly referred to as Camp

I like grown up camp. We stay in nice hotels instead of tents, have nice wine instead of cold hot chocolate and we can camp in heels!

My kind of camp. Yup.

The Capital Hotel in Little Rock. One of my all time favorites! We shot some videos here so be on the look out for those over the next few weeks...

The Capital Hotel in Little Rock. One of my all time favorites! I shot some videos here so be on the look out for those over the next few weeks…

Besides which, I get to see my peeps.

Want to make sure and share a few quick aha moments with you today. I will do a longer write up next week while High Point Market is in full swing, but want to make sure I share some of those things that really spoke to me:

1) Don’t take career advice from people in the stands

Do I know this? yes. Do I always follow this? no. I sometimes let those people shouting in the stands & not achieving who say they are “only giving me helpful advice” hurt me. Do any of you ever let that stuff in? Then let’s do this together!! No more of that :)!

2) Go after what you want if it’s true to who you are

Yes, I preach this constantly. It is nice to know others feel the same way. I believe this so very much. For those of you who have listened to the free webinar beta test we have out (click here to listen, we NEVER spam emails) you KNOW that about me, but I must say it is really encouraging to hear someone else say it.

3) Persist. And then persist some more. And then?…..persist…some….more…!

Great achievement takes time. I know that. But hearing it helps. Sometimes I feel as if I was more successful at 29 than I am now, and in some metrics that may be the case (ahhh youth) HOWEVER, it’s the total life envelope we are after. Whether we are designing our own homes as our own decorator or designer, working with clients, are artists…whatever our calling it’s a life thing, not a one time thing. I like being reminded of that. I think it’s hopeful.

Off to catch a plane before the dawn today – let me know if any of these reasonate with you!

The speakers were genuine, accessible and in this inimate small group setting, I was astounded at the access. With as many years under my belt & as many things as I have seen…this was graciousness at its best. It was simply a one time type event. Thank you Tobi and her Team (Brooke, Ashley) for bringing the A Game.

All that said? I am ready for home. Time for some capuccino from Berkeley, California & a little SF Fog before heading out again….

Friday Wrap Up: I’m ready for the weekend, how about you?!

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

xo Ann


PS: Do make sure and sign up for our Beta Test Webinar. The reviews have been fantastic. From “WOW!!!!!” to “changed my life” to “it felt fundamentally honest, open and real”…you are simply too valuable to not at least listen. This is the culmination of teaching I have done for over a decade. Even if you are not a decorator, designer…this can be a blessing to you. There is no pressure – we are in beta test. Just take some time & be fed. I know you “feed” those around you…this? is just for YOU!

Frugal Friday: A Video on Small Space Decorating With Fabulous Tips!

Frugal Friday: A Video on Small Space Decorating With Fabulous Tips!

We are swamped in the Studio & excited about what is coming up

With that in mind, take the Four Minutes & watch this SPACES video!

I am inspired. YES, it has made the rounds before – but even if you saw it the first time, it’s a great reminder that Style has nothing to do with label.

Love this!

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: Do You Ever Wish You Could Just Ask A Decorator A Question Without Being Charged?

Frugal Friday: Do You Ever Wish You Could Just Ask A Decorator A Question Without Being Charged?

So, I get this all the time…

Can I just ask a question Ann?

It won’t take much time – it’s not like I need to hire you or anything 😉

I just need some feedback


(Me =Radio Silence)

(Me = Deep Breath)

(Me = adding up the cost of years of education, continuing education, clients…& thinking about what that “free information” has actually cost me in terms of my life, my family….& wishing I could communicate that)

Now….ready at the gracious answer – WHY? Because I really DO desire to EQUIP in my heart and if the only engagement you and I ever have this side of heaven, then I DO wish to help you navigate some of the decorating dilemmas you may have.

Timothy Corrigan is seriously one of my all timers. His work has inspired me for decades. Linked to Timothy Corrigan.

THAT is WHY I felt called to put together this Webinar.

It’s why I do the Blog, Facebook, Twitter etc…

To EQUIP you, Freely….and if you want to wade deeper, then you can decide…

I know it’s one of those areas we all think we should just “get”…I mean everyone has a home or a space, right? But we can’t do it alone. Ever. We need each other. I will never cure cancer, but I can decorate. And design. And teach you, free or otherwise.

The nugget for today:

“I believe everyone is capable of designing their own life + home beautifully, sometimes we just need some encouragement”

I hope that this Webinar will be encouraging to you!

You can listen at your leisure, in the privacy of your own home

You will not be put on the spot. You can stop, take notes…engage in the way it works for you!

You know I believe you are custom. You know I believe one size does NOT fit all!

We tackle that head on HERE.

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: Ah, The Joys of Code…Kind of Like Decorating…

Frugal Friday: Ah, The Joys of Code…Kind of Like Decorating!

So if you’ve wondered where we have been this week – why we missed yesterday and are a tad late today, blame it on the “bug”

No, not my flu – though the voice is STILL gone much to the joy & delight of everyone in my house & office :)….

You will be happy to know we are immersed in code, as in computer code

We are preparing to launch our first PUBLIC Information Products under the banner of “Ann McDonald” and are attempting to get the proverbial House in Order so that things don’t go buggy…

Decorate Like A Pro Package Image

Let’s just say the speaker phone in the office has been used 24-7 on those live chat hotlines, my DEAR friends in Mastermind have been GRACIOUSLY testing, entering emails, sending me the exact email they get back…Ditto Ann & Christina…my 20 something hip “in” testers one from the heart of NYC & one from the heart of SF who are honest!! You guys deserve the world…

oh the joys of “error 404”!

Smile. Call Tech.


Smile. Call Tech again. Pretend not to hear the nice young gentleman on the other end roll his eyes…it’s Ann McDonald and her Team again…..

Smile. Pray. Drink more coffee.

Frugal Friday? Why here? Because in the interest of keeping YOUR costs down, I am trying to keep OUR costs down.

May today be a blessing to you.

Here’s the QUESTION of the Day:

What is /%postname%/

IF you answer that in the comments correctly…I will probably offer you a job…!

Deciphering & using code properly is kind of like Decorating. There is a ton of mess in the underbelly & on the public face it’s all pretty & user friendly!

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

xo Ann

Friday: Heather Scott Home (Heather Harkovich) Designs the Southern Living Show Case Home

Friday: Heather Harkovich Designs the Southern Living Show Case Home I have the privilege of knowing Heather from Tobi Fairley‘s Mastermind Program. Heather was gracious from the get go. I love Show Case Homes because they make so many Design … Continue reading

Frugal Friday: Do You Ever Wish Someone Would Explain How Decorators REALLY Decorate?

Frugal Friday: Do You Ever Wish Someone Would Explain How Decorators REALLY Decorate?

Do you ever wish you could go behind the scenes to hear how projects come together, what tips & systems decorators use that they are not sharing?

Do you ever wish someone would explain how the whole “trade vs retail” thing works and why the light fixture your decorator specified is the same one you found on line?

Do you ever wish someone would give you simple, practical, non-phd level counsel & tools you could actually USE?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then we have something fun coming for you.


Over the course of the next few weeks we are:


2) VIDEO RECORDING a series of three FREE Video Trainings

3) VIDEO RECORDING our first ever Video Blog

4) Consolidating our first ever publicly available Information Product as part of my Design Systems Simplified Program. The FIRST Information Product we will have for sale will be the one below:

women shopping - fashion logo version 2 (non-editable web-ready file)

THIS particular Information Product is the compilation of a ton of work, some fabulous testers & an extension of our In House, In Person Seminar we held in October of 2012

It is designed for EASY use, EDITED for content – not a ton of fluff & will be in Webinar Form, the same way we teach & work with Full Service Clients.

Like I said, FINALLY!

Stay tuned: March & April are the roll out dates


Make sure we have your email so you can receive the FREE products, with actual information – not fluff.

If you haven’t seen my short 1 minute video yet about this series of products, “Design Systems Simplified” then check it out here:

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

xo Ann

Send your email to to be placed on our never sold, never traded, uber private mailing list to receive the most up to date release information on all these products & to receive our Video Newsletter Blog, starting in March, 2013.

Frugal Friday: Number 1 Roadblock to Understanding What A Frugal Decor Really Is

Frugal Friday: Number 1 Roadblock To Understanding What Frugal Decor Really is

You know I love value

You know I love finding a bargain

You KNOW I love beautiful things…yesterday I shared a Couture Gown for heaven’s sake…not exactly Frugal Friday material there…

James Galanos. A legendary Designer. The construction of his clothing was nothing short of incredible. From the outside they looked effortless. From the inside, the quality of stitch, seam, construction…impeccable.


In the genuine pursuit of living an intentional (sometimes literally frugal) decorated life, I want to share the single biggest roadblock I come up against when Clients try to get a handle on spending serious money for things their heart delights in.

From Forbes. One of the most expensive hotel suites. If you had paid to stay here, would you use the space or just look at it & not “muss” anything…

I call it “The Beautiful Issue”

It’s actually part of my Decorating Systems Program…and YES, “The Beautiful Issue” is in fact the title of the module…

What about this hotel room? Another in the “most expensive” column via Forbes…

It goes something like this:

One of the things we come up against is the “Beautiful Issue”

“Oh, that’s a beautiful room…I could never throw a casual party in it”

Ok, you might get a pass from me on this one but only because it’s considered an artifact. It sold for over 4M. Foundational Truth? YOU are still worth more than this could ever be. If it was in  your home I would counsel you to live with it, not worship it. Silk Isfahan Rug. Image linked via Christies.

“Oh, that’s a beautiful room…I could never drink red wine in it”

I was blown away the first time I went to a home and “no red wine” was served because of the decor. I nearly broke out into laughter, until I realized they were serious! Religious reasons? No problem! But “the decor”?! If you can drink red wine in Windsor Castle, you may drink wine in my home…….YOU are worth more than my sofa or flooring material. You just are.

“Oh, that’s a beautiful sofa, I could never take a nap on it”

“Oh, that’s beautiful fabric, I could never let my grandchildren sit on it”

Oh, that’s a beautiful (insert any item here), I could never (insert any item here) on it, in it, around it….

You get the picture

What is my Frugal Friday contribution to “The Beautiful Issue”?


I was trained, much as I suspect many of you were, to LIVE with beautiful things and to use them

It is FRUGAL to use things

It is WASTEFUL to worship things

Big difference

So if there is one take a way for this weekend, it’s this…

Use the beautiful you thought you couldn’t

Use the beautiful you forgot you had (I am guilty of this…)

If you perceive it is too valuable to use, then you have assigned a THING more value than a PERSON, not ok

And this coming from a gal who has fabrics in her arsenal that cost more per yard than her first car…

THIS is designed to make you smile…can you guess what the first car I drove was? A very old hand me down many miles on it Ford Pinto. I would just like to go on record as Thanking the Lord I am still alive ;). If you are too young to know about the Pinto, it was the cosmic joke of the 80’s via the 70’s. And I thought I was the bomb cause I had access to wheels….

I also have fabrics in my arsenal that are $7/yard.

Frugal depends on usage. Real life living. If I am not using the $7/yard fabric, no matter the cost it is still not frugal

What is your Frugal Luxe item you live with and love each day?

Is it a fabulous sherry glass?

A magnificent chair you sit in?

A Royal Crown Derby Place Setting you enjoy daily?

Frugal = Cost/Usage

Cost DIVIDED by usage…therefore, the more expensive the item…you get the picture….

What is that inexpensive thing, your proverbial “$7/Yard Fabric” that goes unused?

Not frugal

You are the most expensive thing in your home (in a good way;). You have the most value. Your beautiful things are there to work for you, not the other way around.

“The Beautiful Issue”

What’s yours?

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

xo Ann


Frugal Friday: Decorating Principle Systems, Dealing With Order

Frugal Friday: Decorating Principle Systems, Dealing With Order

What does Order have to do with Decorating Principles?

Let me walk you through the next step we use in our Full Service Client systems

Remember: Decorating Principle # 1:

Decorate with no more than seven years in mind

Yesterday we tackled 1) safety

If you are not safe….we cannot decorate the issues away

We address your Physical + Emotional + Spiritual Safety™

Now that we’ve identified measures to protect that safety, we move on to


Tomorrow, we will tackle 3) Beauty

Why ORDER though?

Because if we skip to beauty and just make the space look great for the camera (this is the way it’s been done over & over for years) but don’t address simple things like:

How many shoes do you REALLY have and where will they go?

Whatever you think of Christina, the girl knew how to have a shoe closet! This image from her last house. Image linked.

How many purses do you REALLY have and where will they go?

Prada…another weakness of mine…

Are you messy?

If so, can we come up with simple order systems to help you keep a tighter reign on your tendencies going forward?

Are you a hopeless messy? Then how do we decorate with order to keep a girl from messing up a beautiful new space?!

I love The Container Store…my annual Client budget for this vendor alone warrants a hand written card from some higher up….that said, decorating is more than just picking out systems…it’s using systems that actually WORK for a CUSTOM YOU!….

There ARE ways, but we need to find them just for you….that whole “Live a custom life” thing I teach over & over 🙂

Are you a Professional Athlete & every time you come home you need space to drop shoes….as in 7 pairs of shoes in size 15 that won’t mess your garage or back entry off the garage? Do they need to be in a place your wife doesn’t trip over them?!

Cleats for the 49ers from 2012. Try to create a system to store shoes that does NOT look like a locker room…order…it matters!


For the next 7 years what does ORDER look like in YOUR HOME?

Kids? Order looks a lot different than it does for Singles

This image from Traci Zeller Designs. I love how she makes practical use of space and interprets the locker room concept without making it too literal…It’s lovely! Image Linked.

Guest hosting an exchange student? Order looks a lot different than decorating for a new baby

The point is, simple things like this make HUGE differences in Practical Decorating for you

I may want to use a nightstand with no drawer in my Master Suite because I like how it looks, but since I read 15 books at a time and stack them bedside, that is not an option

I have always wanted to use a table like this as a nightstand. How fabulous. Problem for me? Stuff. No room for my stuff…Image linked. Snow Table by AA Studio.

At least it’s not an option if I want to walk into a beautiful space at the end of the day that doesn’t have piles of books I trip over because they fall OFF my pretty but no storage nightstand…

This is a far more practical option. I can hide books! Image linked.

I know many people think I may be nuts with all my Decorating Systems, all these questions, all these processes…but here’s the rub…

Have you ever finished decorating a space & it looked beautiful but it didn’t LIVE beautiful for YOU?

Many people think they love this look…until they live with it. I personally don’t mind shabby slip covers, they remind me of a fabulous English home. Some clients don’t LIVE the daily tuck it in, straighten it out…Image from House Beautiful

Have you ever finished decorating a room & everyone said “wow” but inside you thought “yeech”…& then you had to live with it because you were $10,000 – even $200,000 into it?

Inside of Versailles. Do you ever think someone along the process here thought…uh oh…not sure this is working ;)?! Maybe we should scale back on the gold just a bit?…I mean I LOVE Gold, even did a post on how I love gold, but this = too much

Have you ever decorated a space & thought “if I did it over, I’d do this differently…”

There is nothing frugal about that

No systems = poor planning + waste + poor purchases = yeech & sad face

Ever done that?

I have created these Systems for short term, long term, near term & far term

I literally have binders of systems in the Studio

Many of my seminars teach other decorators how to use my systems

I created them to make my life EASIER

I love this quote. We can layer pieces of life to make it “thicker” but at it’s core…there is beautiful simplicity underneath. I create systems to get to that CORE…it delights me & hopefully blesses you

So my employees + Team could (can) walk alongside Clients with success

So we could (can) wade in shallow waters & dive in deep if needed

It’s my inner nerd, hiding behind a fabulous pair of designer boots!

Robert Clergerie Hut Patent Ankle Boot. Image linked.

Point is if we honestly address these things, what are our REAL needs for ORDER over the next 7 years, then we can make practical (frugal) decisions & purchases

Think about these things…let me know what comes to mind!

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

xo Ann