Monday Matters: Another Holiday, More Themed Design Stuff…oy…

Monday Matters: Another Holiday, More Themed Design Stuff…oy

Don’t get me wrong, I love Washington…George that is….

And I am grateful for a day hidden with family & close friends

& yes…a bit of work…

but the THEME thing can wear on me from a design standpoint

I love kitsch – as anyone who has visited our cabin can attest

the “boot room” is literally engulfed in kitsch

I also happen to have a couture design habit & may have reached my limit for this month’s themed design

What about you?

Do any of you decorate for Washington’s B Day?

Do any of you still have Valentine’s Day stuff out or has it switched to St Patrick’s Day?

Or are we already on to Easter & other Judeo-Christian Traditions?


I always make sure we have enough white linen, white canvas, white anything….on hand to slip cover anything & everything the client may want covered. It is just one of those “things” I grew up with. Summer slip covers – a lost tradition that is actually pretty practical from a design & decorating standpoint!

From a business end – it IS Monday Matters after all, we are focused on the Summer Slip Cover Switch Out for long term full service clients…

We often make the switch for clients on everything from main sofas to casual dining chairs. This image from Victoria Peterson’s Blog. Image linked. I just liked the vignette. Casual Nantucket to me…

From a personal business end – I am still stuck on those striped walls for the guest room in the cabin!

Wider stripes from Tobi Fairley!

Monday Matters

Too much on the brain 🙂

Time for a Washington B Day Cupcake!!

Maybe I will get some striped wall inspiration from a themed cupcake…humm…

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

xo Ann

Thursday Spotlight: Happy Valentines Day, My FAV Use of Red in Rooms & I am Grateful For YOU!

Thursday Spotlight: Happy Valentine’s Day, My FAV Use of Red in Rooms & I am Grateful For YOU!

I LOVE the scale, proportion & punch of oversized art, especially on a tremendously bold wall. Image linked.

This is an older image from Arch Digest. Image linked. I love the drama of the space & can imagine having a fabulous cup of tea…

Have you seen this one from Bob Vila’s blog? Serious fun.

Image linked. Drama again. Very fun. Could I actually live here? Probably not, but a visit would be divine.

I love how the contemporary white chairs play off the bold sofa. The slight curve on the leg of the coffee table plays off the straight line of the upholstered wall. Seriously well done. Image linked.

What is your favorite use of red?

Is it an accent? Are you bold enough to use it on a wall? On a sofa?

Or is it one of those “NIMH” colors ;)!….as in “not in MY house!”

Let me know!!

Truth? I don’t actually have any in my main house…..cabin? YES! Main house?….only a tiny bit, barely 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day – from my heart to yours.

I am grateful today….because I get another chance… May today be one where if no one else tells you…I will…YOU MATTER & I am GRATEFUL for YOU. As you are, where you are, who you are.

I am grateful to walk alongside and share this thing we call life.

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

xo Ann

Monday Matters: Thinking, Planning, Learning & Some Fresh Air On This Holiday Monday

Monday Matters: Thinking, Planning, Learning & Some Fresh Air On This Holiday Monday

Getting some much needed catch up work done

Thinking time

Planning time

We know from this month's House Beautiful that Hermes Orange and Tiffany Blue are all the rage, but how do we incorporate that when we can not or choose not to spend $$$$ on Custom Decorating? In this Seminar we FOCUS and EDIT from the get go. We start by establishing a Color Palate for YOU. A Custom Color Palate for a singular space that will be your jumping off point. We "eat the elephant" one bite at a time!!

I need time to sit and plan…

Learning time

I am always reading books about how to improve. I want so much to go back this next week and review my dog eared copy of this book. It’s simply a must read, even if you don’t have your own business.

And some fresh air

As January hit like a freight train around here, I am using the time to get some fresh air & clear my head so we can bring our best for the rest of the year. We are looking at the schedule and wanting so much to make Chats (our 2 hour Verbal Consults) and VIP Days (our 1 Day Package) available to as many as possible….

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I love doing Chats & VIP Days but we can only do so many a month. I like being hands on and present at these, not handing them off to one of my Assistants. I am clearing some decks so we can do a few more. 🙂

May today be a blessed day for you and yours

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

xo Ann

Saturday Stuff: Facing The Holiday Clutter

Saturday Stuff: Facing The Holiday Clutter

ok, it’s time

I love the concept of these boxes but not once have my ornaments fit beautifully in them. It’s always a mess of mis-matched, mis-sized pieces :)!

How many of you are already cleaned up?

I am not – as you can probably tell by our banner photo

These 18 Gallon Sterilite Tubs are what I really use. I made (custom:) dividers for several different types of ornaments & layer them like a cake. Each is beautifully labeled (not:) with duct tape & a description. I chose them because they fit into the closets in the Cabin perfectly when stacked. I went through about 5 different prototypes before getting a system down that worked.

Have actually been avoiding it nicely – all snug with the tree & still trimmings up, back in the snow at Lake Tahoe

I see it though: the ribbon needs to come down, the garlands are seriously dropping glitter, the snowmen are looking tired and I know I must face reality

Cleaning up glitter off hand scraped hardwood is such a joy ;)!…play dough? I’ve tried it all. So I just put the music on and get to work….

So I have been boxing, clearing, cleaning & decluttering slowly


I have also been challenged these past few days to really think about what we can realistically achieve and what we can hope to begin in 2013 at Couture Chateau

It’s kind of the same process

What will I box?

What is “good” that Couture Chateau should put away for a season to focus on the GREAT?

From Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great

What will I clear?

The calendar? Are we over scheduled but under performing anywhere?

What will I clean?

Is there a mess we need to tackle besides my desk? Oh yes friends, I am a very messy desk person. I should probably take a class for that…

As a member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) I am great at organizing others, I just have this one area (my desk) which never seems to be cleaned. The conference table? Perfection. The rest of the space? Lovely. My desk? A grouping includes: hand weights, coffee cup & papers…:)

What will I declutter?

This? The HARDEST part for me because I know it’s the Studio Library. We will tackle this as a team. With music & good coffee, three shredders at the ready…

 So I hope you now know, we are in this together…

Saturday Stuff: Cleaning it all up!

I once was told: “Ann you need to be a high achiever, not a perfectionist. There is a huge difference.” That lesson took me years to understand. I can now say – the high achiever is comfortable with my duct tape labeled ornament tubs….my former perfectionist self would never have been….I have peace…

 What is your Saturday Stuff?

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

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: Happy New Year, Let’s Make It A Year We REALLY Live.

Tuesday Tidbit: Happy New Year, Let’s Make It A Year We REALLY Live.

Hopefully today is a day of Rest + Reflection

Goals + Perspective

Hopes + Dreams

At Couture Chateau, you know our Mantra:

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

I believe that with all my heart

From my heart to yours

I believe that with all my soul

I believe with all my soul that you are made for amazing things. That your custom life matters.

If no one else shares with you how VALUABLE you are – as you – let me say it now

YOU are valuable


I KNOW you were made intentionally & for something special

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

This photo taken in my Family Room. The wine from the Benziger Family…..

My HOPE for 2013:

1) May it be a year we REALLY live

This photo is with a group of fantastic women. Risks in life...they are most definitely WORTH it!

This photo is with a group of fantastic women. Risks in life…they are most definitely WORTH it! Can you find me in the back row? I’m to the left of the Exit Sign…

2) May it be a year we really DWELL

A Vignette from my Living Room...with food on recycled Christmas Cards as plates.....

A Vignette from my Living Room…yes, those are up cycled Christmas Cards with fabulous Hors d’oeuvres from Dianna Condon…the point is, we must drink the Champagne while we can, enjoy the tastes while we can…DWELL where we are while we can & BE a blessing to those around us…

3) May it be a year we LIVE with Passion + Intent

Custom Pillows: Lined and often Interlined with our Couture Chateau Fabric!

I am passionate that our Homes shape us. We must first live in SAFETY, then ORDER…and finally BEAUTY. At any point in our lives we may have to deal with one or more of those three….some of the hardest work we do as Designers of Custom Lives is to create spaces that are SAFE emotionally and ORDERED for the Custom Lives being lived by our precious clients. The Beauty most ofen comes from those LIVING in the homes. It is merely reflected in the things we design + place….

4) May We find that thing we were made to be or do….and BE it – DO it

5) May our kindness & graciousness increase


7) May we together Move FORWARD, not back

We look forward to a year of BLESSINGS & ABUNDANCE even in the face of all that has passed before and is still to come

Happy New Year, 2013

With Love + Gratitude,

Ann McDonald

I will be with these amazing women next week - but as we get updates will share on our Facebook page! xo Ann McDonald

A picture taken after a long day of Project Photography & Work (thank you Peter!)….it’s who I really am…just like you. xo & Happy New Year!!

Monday Matters: Making the Most of Gifts Given, My Mastermind Journey with Tobi Fairley

Monday Matters: Making the Most of Gifts Given, My Mastermind Journey with Tobi Fairley

As many of you know our Monday Matters Posts are all about getting ready for the week

Every Monday = Reset. This Monday? Reset for 2013!

Today is the start of a new day, a new week & tomorrow a New Year.

We have HOPE

Hope to build our Custom Lives & Homes a little better than yesterday for ourselves and those we love

Take a minute or 13 😉 and watch this Video to learn a little bit more about my journey in the business end of Interior Design.

I have been at this a long time. I am a Designer, not a business whiz. I can see an entire Estate in 3-d down to the detail of the custom trim & lining in one specific room in my head before it’s built – when it is a pile of dirt.

I cannot create a spreadsheet. I cannot find the receipt.

Providential Grace has always provided people to create the spreadsheets + find my receipts, but…….

After 20+ years “behind the gate” with Couture Chateau (read here for my vision), I shared my soul’s vision with someone I could trust so that we could grow, so that we could make enough money to share our soul’s vision with the world outside those gates.

I am grateful for this group & the risks “I”, as Ann McDonald (read here for my history) & “We”, as Couture Chateau have taken as a part of it.

Tobi, understands the world I live + work in. She articulates in her interview that world.

You will find me at about 9:18

If you want to join us next year, tell Tobi you heard it from Ann McDonald, Founder of Couture Chateau. That “custom life” lady….

I would be grateful to know this little blog with a big heart made a difference…that someone out there was reading & ready to take the same risks…

I HOPE that 2013 is a year you really live. A custom life. That you engage your soul’s calling and dwell with passion and intent to bless yourself + those around you.

I value you

I value what you do and who you are

Monday Matters: a new day + a new week + new year = hope.

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

xo Ann

Stewardship Sunday: Last Minute Simple New Years Eve Party from Upcycled Christmas Cards

Stewardship Sunday: Last Minute Simple New Years Eve Party from Up-Cycled Christmas Cards

As I shared yesterday, even a non-crafter can get on board with up-cycling Christmas Cards. If you missed it, check out the post here. You can also see our complete feature on ivillage here. Like, share, pin – we’d like to MORE for them!

For today, some still simple, slightly more labor intensive ways to throw a last minute New Year’s Eve party using your pile of beautiful cards

Why do I love this so much? It is customized from your life + friends in your home = divine

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

Take them all out & start sorting by color & thickness. If you want to “save” take a picture of the pile & then start cutting, sorting, shredding

Thank you to Dianna Condon Cuisine for providing the incredible Hors d’oeuvres used on our Couture Chateau Photo Shoot!

3 New Year’s Eve Party Uses for Up Cycled Christmas Cards:

1) Hors d’oeuvres Plates

Pouring Champagne (which had to be tasted)! We had some fun with this.

Look CLOSELY at what is under Dianna Condon Cuisine’s Brownies…they are ALL Up-Cycled Christmas Cards! And the shredding is cards as well. Simple uses can create striking vignettes. You just have to think out of the box.

2) Name Cards or Place Cards

Name Cards: Cut, Laminated & Sharpied! From our feature on ivillage. Notice the name card holders? These are the same ones we mentioned in our 11-16-12 Frugal Friday Post – they are picture holders!

3) Coasters

Coasters from our ivillage post. How simple can these be?! Purchase the “slip in” kind at Aaron Brothers or other Craft store, cut & insert!

Recycled Cards as Coasters for a Casual Christmas "In My Kitchen" Party

Recycled Cards as Coasters. No laminating, just cutting! From our Couture Chateau feature on “Casual Kitchen Entertaining”

Easy to Create with these supplies:

Scissors (Pinking Shears + Creative Shapes)

Laminating Machine (We use Kinko’s at $2.00 per sheet)

Sharpies or Dry Erase Markers

5 Easy Custom Tips for Taking it Over the top:

1. Color Coordinate

Make individual Gift Bags. Use color coordinated duct tape & “press them” to make an opening. Add some of the card shredding. Use duct tape as a handle as well! For more ideas check out our entire feature on ivillage.

2. Make Gift Bags with Cards + Color Duct Tape + Card Shredding

People LOVE to see their cards go to good use! Here cards are under glass on one of our table settings. Use a riser (the snowflake) to make inserting & removing or adjusting easier.

3. Use cards from people attending the party

4. Match food types to colors (brownies on red, white + black)

Make name or place cards by  cutting + pasting elements from several cards. Just cut and apply to make customized personal statements. From our feature on ivillage.

5. Make over the top place cards + menus by cutting + pasting cards

Please like, pin & share these images!


Tomorrow, we share a video from Ann’s Master Mind Group with Tobi Fairley

It’s the consultant group that retro fitted our 20+ year Design Business with an Amazing Client Roster into the new economy. Ann shares some of her reasons for participating & you will see why we still have faith as it feels like the world crumbles around us…

Looking forward to an amazing New Year

At least it’s never dull!

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: What To Do With A Pile of Beautiful Christmas Cards, Especially As A Non-Crafter?

Frugal Friday: What to do with a Pile of Beautiful Christmas Cards, Especially As A Non-Crafter?

Each Friday that I blog, I try to share one of our insider tips on making things beautiful or fun with less than a ton of cash

My Mid-Western + Scotch Canadian roots have imparted a strain of Frugality that despite my best efforts to pretend doesn’t exist (Birkin Bag, hello!) rears it’s head each week in these posts. They are some of my favorite.

Trade off, as always = time + effort

Earlier this year we were approached by ivillage and asked “what do you do with all those Christmas Cards”

Well, we do a lot! We will be highlighting some of these over the next couple of days

Today? An easy feel good way to recycle + re-purpose + easy to customize


1. Pick out the most colorful cards, metallic lined envelopes & heavy card stock

2. Shred to your hearts content

My TOP USES for Shredded Cards in No Particular Order

A. Background on trays when entertaining

Top Down View of the Centerpiece on Carpet. Simple & striking. Really fun.

Top Down View of a Frugal Centerpiece we created on Carpet Squares. Simple & striking. Really fun.

B. Under glass table tops when entertaining

Simply sprinkle on your table & re-place your glass top. Color coordinate for strongest settings. Black & White for New Years, Red & White for Valentines Day…one of the funnest ways to customize this is to encircle the place where each guest is sitting. We basically create a faux place mat under glass with the shredding!

C. Bagged & gifted to my friends who have to ship a ton of merchandise

One of the biggest expenses we encounter as a small business is packing materials. Many of us share our shredding!

D. Bagged for use in our office all year

See above!

E. Gift Bag filler all year

The first time I went to buy decorative packing and dropped over $10 on twirly ribbon, I decided there HAD to be a better way. So for this one, we often shred the plastic that comes with presents or heavy duty metallic cards – they are sturdy and different looking. A cross cut shredder rather than a straight cut shredder is best for this as it appears more decorative

F. Stuffed in servers for buffets, holding knives/forks/napkins – you name it!

Our lives are a mix of high & low...but anything can be made beautiful. Even if it starts out shredded...

I have used this trick for many a party. Try putting shredding in coffee cups at each place setting & place the silverware in each coffee cup for another simple setting. There are literally so many uses for these old cards, it’s fun to think of party themes around them. Great for children to help with. The “spills” are easy to clean!

G. Glass Christmas Ornament Stuffing

You’ve seen those blown glass ornaments? Well, often we give them as gifts. What I like to do is choose a single color and fill with shredding in that color. They reflect the Christmas Tree lights nicely through the gaps in the paper.


If you have just found us, make sure and subscribe to the blog!

We are working on some fun things. As the world spins around us, it is more important than ever to build our intentional custom lives with joy and purpose.

Happy Frugal Friday from Ann (snowed in at Lake Tahoe with spotty internet & cell) & the Team at Couture Chateau (not officially back until Jan 7th)!

It’s rather fun to work this way as we plan & prepare for the New Year

THANK YOU for walking along side us! The journey is more fun together.

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

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: The Day After

Wednesday Style Points: The Day After

The presents are opened

The paper is shredded

The snow has fallen &…

I am tired!

Traditions are beautiful when we embrace them with our Heads and Hearts

But the day after sometimes our heart is disappointed & our joy is less than full


The Home was beautiful, the Tree perfect, the Meals divine…the music is still playing…

We bought into the process completely. We followed all the rules. We have access.

But something has gone wrong

The Birkin Bag is fabulous, yes, but why isn’t my life suddenly transformed?

A Pink Birkin Bag….simply gorgeous

Our homes are much the same way…we create these fabulous spaces & places

We custom design the fabrics, the furniture, the trim and they seem to come alive

These "fragments" are from the Plaza Hotel in NYC. I re-purposed them as mirrors heading downstairs to our family rumpus room. Divine. Makes me feel as if I am in NYC about to have tea!

The mirrors lining our stairwell are from the Plaza, removed when it converted to condos. I love them but they are not alive. No. It’s the PROCESS of the mirrors & their shared memory with those in our family that makes them so special.


The coffee still spills, the pie crust isn’t perfect even though it came out of a French Range…

Another photo from my own home where in the kitchen we have not one but two for baking and one for cooking. Again, beautiful? Yes. Alive? No.

From the kitchen where two ranges live. This one for cooking, the other for baking. Again, not alive…

Something has gone wrong


We buy the best hand bag or take the time for the most exquisite custom design, not because it will transform us

but because the process vets us – it reminds us of why we are alive & for whom we exist

It’s different for all of us – those data points on life

For me? They exist in my home + my work

The custom designing process or working towards the best available is about making what is in YOU come alive

Those style points that equip you to breathe deep in the chaos of the day after

You get a glimpse of a gift given or received that lifts you out of the ordinary

And reminds you that it’s ok

You are so much more than ordinary

Worth so much more than a Birkin Bag

Perfect? Never. Messy? Sometimes.

Worth it? Always.

Style Points. They are yours alone. Custom crafted into your soul, fingerprints really – of you.

I love the mess of the day after. I even love the mess of the “somethings gone wrong” void that comes with it.

It reminds me that living is process and the way we embrace the process is our style

May today be a day where your style points – your unique custom stamp – is a blessing to those around you – starting in your home

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

xo Ann

Merry Christmas from Ann McDonald & the Couture Chateau Team

Merry Christmas from Ann McDonald

& the Couture Chateau Team

We are not an island

We cannot do it alone

We are lifted by the hands and hearts of those who walk along side us with truth + love

Merry Christmas

I love the austere. It didn't work for me this year, but for a client, it does. These custom painted tree parts were a Custom Creation we worked on for weeks for them. Delightful.

May your SWAG be CUSTOM & your Holiday Merry + Bright

We celebrate today and want to wish you and yours an abundant and blessed Holiday

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

xo Ann