Sunday Stewardship: Make Your Bed & Live…

Sunday Stewardship: Make Your Bed & Live

Yes, you heard it 😉

Make your bed

Simple but it matters. Stewardship. Seriously.

One of the things I am most passionate about are systems.

Those of you who have been with us a while know that about me

I like systems because I believe in my heart systems FREE us up to LIVE CUSTOM

Not psychotic self imposed perfectionist systems


The most basic one?

Get up + Make Your Bed

It’s actually a system if you think about it. 2 Steps.

Step 1) Get Up

Step 2) Make Your Bed

Even if you hate the comforter & want to redecorate, practice with what you have & do the best you can with what you have so that when you get the new stuff you will have the Habits & Systems in place for Stewardship

Get up + Make Your Bed

Even if you have 25 housekeepers…..

Get up + Make Your Bed

It sets the tone for the day…& this simple system….sets the tone for your larger life


Hopefully this was your smile for the morning!

And have you made your bed?!

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

xo Ann

Sunday Stewardship: Wrap Up Our Mini Version “The Beautiful Issue”

Sunday Stewardship: Wrap Up On Our Mini Version “The Beautiful Issue”

When a project is over and it’s time for us to leave, my deepest desire is for Clients to live more beautifully than the cameras record

It’s a funny thing to create a decorated space

We find a place for everything, set it just so…the stylists are brought in for the camera, the flowers are fresh the photographs are snapped

and then we leave

Does the client sit on the sofa?

Does the teen plop on their new comforter?

Vicuna Wool. Seriously Expensive Fabric…image linked.

Does the red wine & champagne flow?

I hope so

Decorated spaces, in my world, are meant to be lived in

Yesterday, I shared a quote I wrote for someone earlier this year:

“If I decorate or design a beautiful space and the Client is not FREE to enjoy it, it’s like going to the symphony and not being able to HEAR.”

Can you imagine going to the Symphony and saying “Oh, no thank you, it’s too beautiful for me to hear…I will put in my ear plugs and just look…”


The systems we create, the principles we decorate by are designed to make it easier when we leave. I literally designed these systems SO THAT when we leave the client really lives.

Systems & Principles, by nature, are designed to “catch” us when we falter

We build our homes as a place to live our life. I believe you are beautiful and should live that way. It isn’t a perfect process, we get messy, we forget to make the bed…stewardship is a gracious process.

I think it’s why I like designing these systems, because they live practical….they are made for actual people!

They remind me within my own heart to live beautiful

Stewarding “The Beautiful Issue”

It’s this weird place in the process of VALUING yourself enough to take care of your proverbial custom nest, “making your bed” while at the same time not worshiping the “stuff” because it cost so much. It’s letting the teen plop on the comforter when they need to talk and not yelling “noooooo”…..

THAT is the stewardship training that we are after

Decorating for LIVING life. It’s about way more than just making it magazine worthy.

It also circles back to one of my Decorating Principles: A great decorator equips

My job is not to just make it look pretty

My job is to help you live pretty

But in a way that I am “in – and then out” so you CAN




“The Beautiful Issue”

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

xo Ann

Sunday Stewardship: Beauty & Decorating Systems

Sunday Stewardship: Beauty & Decorating Systems
Reminding Myself of what to Steward….

Couture Chateau Decorating Principles


Couture Chateau SYSTEMS that work in conjunction with my Decorating Principles

to achieve the home, life, space, decor that works for you, as you are today

Birds have nests, foxes have holes…you know the rest…since we have graciously been given a place to lay our heads at night, we should dwell with delight in our homes….making them BEAUTIFUL places from which we thrive.
And bless those around us…be who we are supposed to BE

These are tried, tested, re-vamped, re-tried, re-tested REAL systems I use every day in this Design + Decorating Business

When they fail…the drawing board is where I go

Why? What needs to change?

What if this…or that…


I am having so much fun sharing them but sharing is of no value if it isn’t made practical. Sharing is nice, but the goal is not just “oh…that’s nice”…the HOPE is that you and yours create BEAUTY that LIVES in your home because these things are made PRACTICAL. Easy to implement. Easy to steward.

I have never worked so hard out of my area of expertise to get my Systems & Principles “OUT”. I am no code writer. Nor am I a video editor. Or MP3 expert. I don’t even know how to get the label to print properly on the Office DVDs. The systems are here, we know they work…but I need my own expert to steward them into place…

(our “My Catalog Life” Small Group Seminar that worked so well in person is still being morphed for you. How To on Ready Made Retail is STILL in process. I could not give you a less than excellent product. I finally reached out to a true professional, skilled in execution and look forward to getting this off my desk and into your hands)

I know in my heart that these systems are made for you, for us…I don’t want to have wasted a talent or gift because I buried it in my Studio, with a few close clients & in my FEAR. A gift or insight given is only given to bless others…it must leave the harbour…it is not mine to own or hoard…

These are the systems I use to generate Small Group Seminars, VIP Days, Chats…Full Service Design

I am passionate about these because they SIMPLIFY my life & my BUSINESS

But it is scary for me to share them outside the safe + ordered walls of my Studio….

What if?

Then I remember what these systems do for me…daily…

They give me hope that when I can no longer think because the “noise” is too loud, I can rely on Foundational Truth & simple repeatable steps to bring me back to whole

I like simple steps that we can replicate. 1-2-3. A-B-C. 1 through 7. That sort of stuff….Universal & Customizable…

My hope is that they simplify & bless you

And that they are FUN.

How fun would it be to hang out in this room by Kelly Wearstler? Image linked.

That they equip you and me to REALLY live fearlessly as who we ARE


It’s work. But it’s good work.

And I am grateful.

May today be a day of Stewarding who you are, and creating some beauty around you.

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

xo Ann

Sunday Stewardship: “Pick Pieces That Transition Well” our Feature on ivillage

Sunday Stewardship: “Pick Pieces That Transition Well” our Feature on ivillage

Yesterday we shared our Headboard featured on ivillage.

Today in honor of Stewardship, we show a project where EVERY item was purchased with an eye towards other uses

This fun high contrast Dining Area for a 20 Something was designed using our VIP Day Service

This Feature is DIY High Style, Low Cost

For the project below our goal was 3 fold:

1) Fab

2) Practical

3) Less than $3,500 including Design Fee of $1,500

We came in well under budget!

Here’s How:

I chose a three color classic combo that packed punch

Black + White + Turquoise

Here is the post from ivillage:

Pick Pieces that Transition Well

Ann McDonald designed this dining room for a 20-something who loves to entertain. She wanted a strong visual punch and had a good-sized space to work with, but not a lot of money. Ann decided to design the space with items that could do double duty later if her client moved out of the apartment and into a house. They started with an outdoor rug from Cost Plus and ended up running with an outdoor theme thinking that all these pieces would work well on a porch some day. To create a room divider and block off the apartment’s laundry area, Ann’s client created a large curtain panel using outdoor fabric she found at a discount chain for $15 per yard, plus a curtain rod and rings from Ikea.

Dining Room

The first design choice we made was the rug. It’s an outdoor room size rug from Cost Plus that was in store only.

This classic Damask Outdoor Rug is from I love using bold pattern outdoor rugs, especially when the budget is tight. Why? Because you can pack a punch while using well priced nice quality basics (the CB2 Table, a Stripe Drapery…) that will transition life with you.

Since the Client is in her 20’s & enjoying apartment life I wanted to spec something that could easily transition, handle wear + tear & make a statement


Entertaining traffic? Not a problem! Spilled drink, pets or spots wash out with soap & water.

The second choice was the white classic table. No, it’s not an original Saarinen 🙂 but the style is classic and at $199 from CB2, absolutely unbeatable.

Odyssey Table by CB2. $199. This is a classic style that packs a punch. Saarinen’s replica version is available at Design Within Reach for $1,800 + depending on size. We simply didn’t have the budget to spec DWR’s version.

Truth? I have one just like this in the Design Studio. It gets used constantly!

I had originally specified Kartell’s Victoria Ghost Chair in Blue at $330 each, but found these Turquoise Chairs at Home Goods for $ 65 each. Savings too good to pass up. Designer + Client Happy!

Kartell’s Victoria Ghost Chair is a classic.

They are simple, classic and strong for an inexpensive chair. The color is what really takes them over the top.

For the drapery (room divider) I spec’d out reversible panels of outdoor black & white striped fabric with a leading edge band in beige dots.

So the Client may re-use the drapery fabric at some point for an outdoor awning, I specified flat panel. This also made it possible for savings on custom labor costs – she is a terrific seamstress and sewed the panels herself.

By making them reversible, she gets the same pretty view from the Laundry Area that she does in the Dining Room.

Suntex Sun Duck Fabric in Black & White Stripe, about $18/yard on line. Client was able to secure for about $15/yard locally. I did specify a custom leading edge band out of a beige outdoor dot which coordinates with the wall color (out of frame).

Drapery Hardware & Clips are from Ikea

Ikea Syrlig Curtain Rings hold the flat panels in place. We spec’d a simple tie back so Client wasn’t drawing drapes constantly to get in and out of Laundry area.

Client handled installation themselves

Matte Black Dishes from Target

Dishes from Target. The matte finish looks incredibly high end and for a custom signature, we paint the underside of mugs in matching Turquoise! Hand wash the mugs please…& if you do DIY this custom trick, use proper paint from craft store.

Custom Napkins by Couture Chateau out of hand dyed black Belgian Linen

Custom Hand Made Napkin Rings by Couture Chateau

I found this DIY from Wood Turning Online. Absolutely stunning, I love using hand fabricated napkin rings. Image linked. You can also source custom napkin rings from my FAV site: Tell them Ann McDonald sent you ;)!

Sunday Stewardship: Are you planning a DIY Project this weekend?

What about one where down the road you can TRANSITION an item into another space?

Let us know!

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


Not EVERYTHING we do is large scale 🙂

This DIY Project was achieved from a simple VIP Day, $1,500.

Here is the link to our website where you can read a detailed description

As you know from my Frugal Friday posts, VALUE is important to me

We DO design single rooms and remote projects. Don’t hesitate to contact us. Who knows, your project may end up featured on the Blog!


Stewardship Sunday: My Top 3 Principles For Decorating Your Home

Sunday Stewardship: My Top Three Principles for Decorating Your Home

We will tackle Couture Chateau Principles all year

For today, a simple stewardship exercise

Think about your home

Take a few minutes & walk your space – do any of these Principles need attention?

If you can, make small progress in 1 area today

I do this periodically in my own life

Here are my top 3:

1. DECORATE with no more than 7 years in mind

We get bogged down trying to decorate for a lifetime. Even ancient Israel let the land lay fallow in the 7th year. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!

I learn so much from gardening & farming. We don’t plant forever – fruit trees have life cycles. So too  decorating. Give yourself permission to decorate for the next 7 years of your life. It actually helps us get off the horn & get it done!

2. Remove ANY item that is emotionally unsafe

An Example: Client “X” struggled to remove a 6 figure inherited painting that reminded them of an abusive home. I decorated without it for them & emotional freedom followed

This painting has delightful memories for me. It was originally owned by my Grandparents, then parents. I remember when it went off to Sotheby’s in the 1980’s.  I keep a copy in my own home = delight. My parents bought & sold many things freely. Many people struggle MIGHTILY to let go of highly valuable things that hold bad memories for them. Emotional safety & freedom is critical to great decorating. It simply is. “Summer Pleasures” Edward Henry Potthast (American Artist, 1857-1927)

This can be anything in your home from a book to an antique to a painting to a record or movie

Get rid of it (donate, auction, sell, trash) and live

3. Fiercely protect the HEART of your home

Whatever your custom living situation is, there is something about your space that makes it tick

Make sure that tick – I call it the “heart” of your home – is good

This takes some thought. WHO controls that tick or heart in your living situation. Is it you?

My husband and I joke about this constantly. I am not by nature a “picker” but I do keep this proverb close at hand.  I am well aware that as a Designer by trade  I probably wield more influence over the tick or heart of my home than others. If my heart is good…then it is pleasant for those around me 🙂

If it is you who controls the heart (tick) of the home, make sure you decorate in conjunction with how you tick – what your heart is telling you

An example: Client “Y” lives without TV

In our vetting process, Client “Y” kept referring to how miserable they were when the TV was on

So we decorated without one. Simple. Done.


Sometimes we just need permission to decorate within our Principles

Me? I love TV. Sorry, just do. From Downton Abbey all the way to The Middle + Breaking Bad


The point is, our Couture Chateau Decorating Principles are universal

How we apply them is custom


We are developing new materials for this Principles process we work through with our Full Service Clients for the blog

For now, may these three Couture Chateau Principles be freedom + blessing to you and yours

“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

Sunday Stewardship: Thought For The Day!

Sunday Stewardship: Thought For The Day

“Down time makes us able to ponder, plan, be purposeful & pleasant”

Why don’t I remember that?

I keep forgetting little things that matter on the home front this Holiday Season

I’d like to stop

I mean, it IS December 23rd!

So I am in FORCED Down Time for at least 20 minutes

No skiing today. No baking. No shopping (well, maybe;), NO DECORATING (please? NO)…no…anything….for at least 2o minutes Ann!

I LOVE to ski. Fast, clean air, bad weather, good weather…something about the freedom of it fills me…

Reasoning with myself:

Do I need any more proof that down time, especially during the Holiday Season is CRITICAL than my own missed steps?

Down Time  = makes us able to ponder, plan, be purposeful & pleasant!

Pondering my REAL family, not my imagined one...

Pondering my REAL family, not my imagined one…Grandmother’s book & bench…

1. Ponder

What is important over the next 72 Hours? Our Homes are where it all begins….those who live with us in our custom creations know what we are really made of. What is important to you & to those you love? Down time (even 20 minutes alone) will help you figure it out, remind you of what you already know & how you can customize the experience you long for.

2. Plan

72 Hours isn’t a lot. No buying another tree or making cookies that have to set overnight…..DO take the time to plan what you pondered as important. Show someone. Be accountable & ask for help! Teenage boys can learn to wrap. They play video games with mad skills…we KNOW the dexterity exists.

3. Be Purposeful

Traditions are wonderful, if, as a grown up – YOU decide they are what YOU want to live with & embrace. Toss the ones you don’t really believe in your heart are contributing to the Family you are today. Embrace the traditions you love – but customize them for today. Better 2 Family Traditions with heart & soul than 4 done poorly with a grumbling leader.

… you can be 4. Pleasant

Ummmm…..I confess there was a year when Mrs Claus was rather cranky on one Lake Tahoe Cabin Christmas Eve. Santa had REALLY enjoyed the River Ranch Meal after a full day of skiing & candle light services in the snow….& those Hudson Bay Blankets called……so Mrs Claus & some faithfully equally “warmed” assistants were out building a custom ice rink in the back yard ala 2 am……

This is not ours, but I had a vision of something like this…ours was more “obtuse”…let’s just leave it at that ;)!

My Steps:

Ponder = I took the 30 minutes to be alone and think about what would bless my REAL custom family rather than just my VISION of my custom family

Plan = I dropped some things that weren’t part of what I realized in the “ponder” section. I am not skiing today so I can be purposeful. It’s actually freeing.

Purposeful? I dumped my need to have all the wrapping paper match the custom ribbon on the tree. (yes, I am indeed a Designer). THIS was (IS) hard for me, but I simply did not have the time this year……

So I am more pleasant. Why? I am not being pulled into thinking I need to create an experience for everyone around me….I realize I am not the entertainment chief…I am the “walk along side you” in this life we are living wife, mother, designer….chief

May YOU find the things that matter to you as you build your custom life & are pondering, planning those Holiday Traditions over the next 72 Hours.

And if you see me in Tahoe buying wrapping paper with reindeer, STOP ME :)! and I will do the same for you…

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

xo Ann

ps. the ice rink was really cool…..;)

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

Stewardship Sunday: Day of Mental Rest, What’s Your “Garland”?

Stewardship Sunday: Day of Mental Rest, What’s Your “Garland”?

Designing and Living a Custom Life is a process

The spaces & places we inhabit contribute a great deal to who we are, who we want to be and how we develop

My Grandmother's First Book...inscribed in her cursive "First Book, Christmas 1916" it sits in my Living Room during this time of year near a Child Friendly Petit Bench so little ones feel welcome

Inscribed in Grandmother’s cursive “First Book, Christmas 1916” this Annual rests near an Antique Petit Bench. It reminds me life is process & doesn’t have to be perfect. Confession? I like it perfect…especially during the Holiday Season but daily let it go…

December = everything & every design on display

It can be hard to “be the real you” when there are a billion “decorating demands” surrounding family traditions, community expectations & our own self imposed Martha Moments

There is no mental time to figure out what we really want for our Custom Life!

Do I even want a Holiday Rug at my front door?

Holiday Rug at Front Door? Not really my gig...but I have friends who love them. Each year I think...oh, I need one...but really? I don't. Doesn't go with my house, my design or my real life...

Holiday Rug at Front Door? For some reason each year I think…oh, I should have one made. If I don’t take time to mentally rest, I can’t make a clear headed design decision!

Am I sure I need my custom snowflakes hanging from every beam in my house?

The snowflake plastic prototypes on the fence's garland......if I use them on the entire fence I will need over that practical? No...not this season...

The snowflake prototypes on the fence’s garland……if I use them on the entire fence I will need over 100…practical? Without mental rest, I can’t decide…

We attempt to get our homes in order and keep them in order in case a friend (or even UPS) stops by. God forbid we don’t have the wreath up & the bows all tied…

Mental Rest. Need it. Crave it.

My Example: garland

Hanging the rest of it. Yup. Clogs, muddy from the rain, but cute beanie & scarf trudging…

Plaid Banana Republic Scarf - why does it matter what we wear when we decorate?? It just does!!

Plaid Banana Republic Scarf – why does it matter what we wear when we decorate?? It just does!!

Something about the process works for me.

Enough effort = accomplishment

Not so much that I start flipping out over some other Custom Design Element that should be added

Today, what’s your “garland”?

Make sure it’s something that will move you one step closer to living out the next 30 days in peace.

Sunday Stewardship = You

Your creative self will be thrilled to have some actual thinking time

A clear brain = YOU decide if you want a Holiday Rug

Because it’s YOUR home & YOUR life


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

xo Ann

Stewardship Sunday: Oh, Which Holiday Stuff to Use & Which to Toss

Stewardship Sunday: Oh, Which Holiday Stuff to Use & Which to Lose

It’s that time

Thanksgiving fades & Christmas Decor slowly makes its way from the Sheds

I like this sweet flurry of activity

Unpacking Christmas at our Side Door Studio Door

A grumble from two teenage sons as they gather lights & extension cords

My heart chooses to believe they secretly like it. Smiles & laughter eventually make their way back with the boxes & the boys.

Yes, I still ask them to do it

No, I do not hire it out

(Though I can see the day coming)

Stewardship. It’s a necessary part of building a custom life. We need to equip the next gen in stewardship. Not always easy.

My Journey:

Years ago after a decade of accumulation & passing parents I had amassed the equivalent of a Village of Decor

At the time, my assistant and I thought – oh, it can’t be THAT bad

Ha! When we spread out every single item, it was awful. I felt like I needed to fast & repent.

We purged & purged, donated & trashed


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

Each season since I have instituted a similar routine

Not everything comes up for review each year now but I am struck by how MUCH we carry in our Custom Baggage. It weighs us down.

It is ok to LET GO of an ugly family ornament & KEEP the vintage wrapping paper I like

It is ok to LET GO of a tattered heirloom & KEEP one I buy today

Here it is: Designer Permission to Purge those Decorations that don’t ADD to who YOU are TODAY

YOU are building your Custom Life. Your custom memories. Take charge and only Decorate with what you love.

It’s ok to wander between austere years & traditional abundance

I went over the top this year with a tree in our entry hall because I was craving the traditional

Last year it was twigs & minimal

I love the austere. It doesn’t work for me this year, but for one Client, it does. These custom painted tree parts belong to one of our Custom Christmas Trees featured on ivillage. The client is young, hip and delighted in the time it took to create. Many hands for many weeks. Yet simple.

& that’s ok

It took me years to realize this simple truth:

Stewardship is a PROCESS not a THING

Stewardship is bringing the Decor from the shed NOT the Decor

Stewardship is hanging the lights NOT the lights

This simple realization equipped me to let go. It was a lightbulb moment for a Designer who ekes out a living in this stuff.

I used to think it WAS the ornament. It’s not. Because if the ornament breaks….

Stewardship Sunday: Make it yours. Be fearless. Let go. Be present. Today.

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

xo Ann