Monday Matters: What’s Got You Ticking Today? Is Your Space Helping or Hurting?

Monday Matters: What’s Got You Ticking Today? Is Your Space Helping or Hurting?

I hope you had a relaxing weekend

I certainly enjoyed some down time after a long week of travel to the East Coast

Shot a cross bow for Mother’s Day

Yup. That was new.

And then I went into my semi-neglected (due to travel of course, not laziness:) Studio


Today, I am trying not to be overwhelmed

I thought this was funny! Too much travel lately & another trip to NYC in a few days for ICFF & BlogFest.

Today I am trying to center (thank you Jesus!)

Today I am facing my Space & dealing with those things that have been right in front of me that need to be cleared

What about you?

What has you ticking today?

Have you shot a cross bow recently?

I highly recommend it. Had no idea how fun it could be. All safety rules apply please!

As my girlfriends were at the Club with their beautifully dressed daughters I was being led by my son in Crossbow Safety. I can honestly say I NEVER thought that would be my Mother’s Day adventure. It was delightful & quite funny. Tip # 1? Don’t wear heels!

Is there something you need to tackle this Monday morn?

My space was hurting my productivity & mood

Time to tackle. Time for better ticking.

Monday Matters & so do you.

Let me know – or better yet – share with a friend – we cannot walk it alone. Let your friend know you are not perfect & have no intention of being any time soon.

Amen. Remember failure & being wrong do not equal death. We’re human.We need to get comfy with both!

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

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: Is It Really Happening? Fearless In Action, Join Us & Decorate Like A Pro.

Wednesday Style Points: Is It Really Happening? Fearless In Action, Join Us & Decorate Like A Pro!

I feel like I am giving birth – well, proverbially 🙂

Have you ever felt that way with a project you are working on, or a family or life thing?

That’s this. Easy in concept, a “hey, I have an idea” moment

Then…..idea turning into concrete action….omg…

I teach this material (Decorate Like A Pro) in several formats to small groups, safe, ordered…beautiful

Have for a long time. To any who would listen.

This is the kind of thing that Clients, Friends, Professionals say after a Seminar which pricks my heart:

Objectively speaking, it hits remarkably well on human behavior that sends us into a downward tail spin. Stuff I never even considered. It’s a pretty cool thing she’s got here.
Elizabeth R., RN, BSN, (Counseling Psychology), Working Mother, Kansas City, Kansas
Grateful for hearers who put words to insights so testimony is not a hollow exercise of calling in favors, there is a gauntlet thrown down. Do I step outside of the safe + ordered + beautiful walls of a Home Based Design Studio & share?

Those of you who have been with me a while know 2012 was the year. I felt a very strong call that it was time to “put it out there”. No more hiding the material behind catered lunch for 8 & Prada sweater sets with Escada skirts.

growth quote

Click here for the whole story. And to sign up before we fill up. I’d like to hold a spot for you!

So in the spirit of being fearless (hard for me – is it hard for you?) I put this “baby” in the hands skilled professionals who walked along side me and my team. We created Abundant Boundaries for this premium product, designed in all ways for client ease via the internet.

Membership page, all of it. Links. Modules. Forum. WORK. FRUIT.

Thus, Decorate Like A Pro System for the Internet was born

We beta tested the format (Weekly Recorded Webinars + up sell + down sell private coaching levels)

Put feedback into Matrix (comments, challenges, questions, tech, ease of use, ease of access)

Re-recorded, re-edited, re-recorded

Set up the Membership Page (my favorite part)

Got all the Modules in place to be released each week

Set up the Private Coaching Forum (another favorite part)

Set up Pay Pal (my least favorite part…add to cart where ?:)

and now we bring it to Market to sell for less than one week only

A dear friend asked why we’d only offer this version for less than a week:

Because this is for people who really want to be extraordinary & are ready to leap

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

Without Tobi Fairley, I would not be here. I would be in my skirt & sweater set far away from what I should be working at. Far away from my call. Discouraged at best….

Because this is for people who really care about learning things that go on under the surface that make Decorating Projects soar or fall & they happen to be ready to soar

Because this is for people who run the gamut from DIY to Seasoned Designers who perceive there must be some insight out there that can bring those aha moments we crave. Those aha’s that we “knew” but couldn’t quite articulate or put into action.

Because this is for people who are learners & are willing to give an hour to a Free Webinar to see if it’s a fit

Because I only want to engage those for whom it is a fit

Because we know, don’t we, if something is a fit.

I know when I engage teaching if it is not for me. I pass that along to a friend for whom it might be.

Because I know it’s not for everyone – even some of my closest friends

Because I know it is for some – even some of my closest friends

That’s why. A few days. A small group. An engaged group. A group that is ready to leap.

IF it’s a fit for you – who, where & why you are, I hope you join us

I know life is short. I know our spaces & places matter. I know they really do shape us, inside & out.

Stewardship Sunday: My Top 3 Principles For Decorating Your Home

I knew the original well. Spaces & places matter. They shape us, for better, for worse…they just do……

Live, this material goes for over $10,000. Yup, you read that right. We priced the System without coaching at $495.

Again, the “why” from my friend, why not a higher price Ann…

Because I have been in a place where price was a barrier to my entry. And that was when I need it most. When I couldn’t afford it.

At $495 it’s less than $62 per Module. Include the Free Webinar and it’s $55 per Module. That felt right in my heart for today, for this first group willing to leap.

For those who can afford more & want more, the coaching program where we walk along side daily for the 8 weeks is available. There is the more expensive version at $1,290 & the less at $890. I know I am violating every rule of “marketing” by sharing from the heart, but this is who I am. It’s what I believe.

I am also making the window short because we only have 15 coaching spots left

Guess it’s good when clients buy before it’s live.


Are you ready to leap?

Wednesday Style Points. Perfect? Not even close. Real? Yup.

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

xo Ann


Thank you for being there as this was grown. It would not have happened if my clients & readers had not urged,  commented, liked, sent private messages, tweeted, facebooked, followed & fueled the heart call. I look forward to many more. It’s as much your fruit as it is mine. Grateful.

Saturday Stuff: Oh, I’d Forgotten About That Side Of My Proverbial “House”!

Saturday Stuff: Oh! I’d Forgotten About That Side Of My Proverbial “House”!

We all have them

Those areas we forget about until…

We schedule a party

A visitor is due to arrive

We get the “Donations Accepted” postcard & start hunting for forgotten treasure to pass along

Or…as in my case…one of the pugs goes sniffing around a corner around a corner…and I follow!

Oh my!

I’d forgotten about that area 🙂

Today I’m sharing a few videos that we use to help get at some of those areas in our Life & Home

As part of Saturday Stuff…this gets at the STUFF that holds us back from the inside!!

I need to thank Karen Davis for reminding me of these videos

I love them. We watch & share with clients because one of the MOST important things about decorating a BEAUTIFUL SPACE is being REAL about who we are, where we are, why we are & being COMFORTABLE in that space

May these be a blessing to you.

Saturday Stuff. YOU are worth the time it will take to be blessed by these videos.

Take it for YOU!!!

It’s Saturday. The stuff life is made of.

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

xo Ann


PS: Don’t forget to share what we are doing here with friends who have the same heart. I’d be grateful to build a community of people who desire to LIVE as beautifully as our spaces  look…

PPS: Sign up NOW to be part of our BETA TEST for Decorate Like A Pro System (Linked). We are still in the starting gates. BE in from the ground floor!!! You are SO worth it!

Saturday Stuff: More On “The Beautiful Issue” In Decor

Saturday Stuff: More On “The Beautiful Issue” In Decor

Yesterday I shared one of the modules we work through when I am teaching my Decorating Systems Program. This is a collection of Systems I share with:

1. DIY

2. Clients

3. Design Enthusiasts

4. Professional Decorators & Designers

I tailor the program (customize, is that a surprise ;)?!, to the person or group I am teaching by age & stage, but some (not all) of the BASICS are the same

“The Beautiful Issue” is one of my basics

Developed this System because I noticed there were things I learned around “the kitchen table” or “the dining room table” or at “my parents cocktail parties” that were Foundational Truths to “custom living” & “living well” in a decorated home – that seemed to be missing in the hearts & minds of my  dear Clients

I kept encountering a gap between where I wanted to start with clients and where they NEEDED to start

Hence my solution brain 🙂 my Matrix Brain….my Systems Brain!

My Comfort Area

This issue became LIGHTENING when I put together the first “My Catalog Life” Seminar which teaches How To Decorate Like The Pro’s From Ready Made Retail Product and Avoid The “Nice Pottery Barn” House Comment….

Major Labels sometimes show up at Home Goods. KNOW what to look for & you can find some deals.

I am not anti-catalog. I am anti-home-uniform…

This is the Seminar we are working to bring to market for you in downloadable form

This is the Seminar I hired a Professional to take care of those “labels, formatting…”

Oh sure…they make it look so easy ;). I hired a pro to handle all the formatting because I know where my gifts are, and they are NOT in this area!! In the interest of getting this to YOU before I am 80, I relinquished control of the download format process….

This Seminar resonated deeply, there were many “aha moments” but not for the reasons I had anticipated

People (we) are AFRAID to go outside of “The Pottery Barn House” (Designer Label)

People (we) are AFRAID to NOT get the comment “Nice Pottery Barn House” (Designer House)


Need I say more? Image linked.

I like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware…I am not “anti-catalog” but I am “anti-home-uniform”

A home uniform = death

I am not “anti-track home”

I am “anti-home-uniform”

When I went back to Berkeley to take a Graduate Course in Design, this was required reading. My professor was brilliant. He reminded me WHY I was doing what I was doing…….and that it wasn’t fluff. It mattered.

There is a DIFFERENCE. That difference is a “heart-set”. A custom “heart-set”. Begins in the heart and mind…travels through the soul, the bones…your life…

It’s the realization that you are custom. Therefore your life should be custom. Because it matters that you are custom. And beautiful is an outcrop of custom.

Home is where your story begins. You are NOT the same as everyone else. You have value. You are unique. You were made different for a reason.

Image linked.

I grew up with the aesthetic teaching that to be the same as someone else was to not be you. Was to not be what you were supposed to be.

House Beautiful. These things are beautiful. But once the cameras leave & the staging is removed, how does the owner live? My hearts deepest desire is for my Clients to live MORE beautifully even than the camera captures…..

Why in the Saturday Stuff Post? Because we all have this personal baggage “stuff”.

Sometimes this “stuff” keeps us from decorating the way we want…we go to The Catalog which looks safe + approved….but somewhere deep down, there is a silent scream because deep down you and I weren’t made to be safe + approved by The Catalog.

I am going to say that again: we silently scream because we know deep down we were not made to be safe + approved by The Catalog. The Grocery Store. The Cool This or The Cool That…it’s a visceral scream we spend years dampening & I see it most expressed in “The Beautiful Issue”…& my heart breaks…

You & I were made to be Safe + Approved just because we exist

We have a saying in our home: “Just Because”

It’s not what you think. It’s a gracious “Just Because”. It means “Just Because You Are”

It means you are SAFE + APPROVED Just Because You Are

I want you to decorate beautiful because you ARE

I want you to live beautiful because you ARE

Foundational Ann McDonald’s Decorating Systems Truth: This is NOT about buying beautiful stuff. This is about uncovering the beautiful in you, where you are, in the house you are in, with the furniture you have, with the budget you have FIRST so that you learn to live beautiful at any time, at any price, at any stage, in any location.

Trust me, just because you can buy a $1,200/yard fabric, doesn’t mean you live beautiful with it

Remember, I developed this System for real people, SMART people, SUCCESSFUL people, NICE people, GOOD people…people just like you are and just like I am, to move INTO the daily process of living beautiful. Just Because We Are.

It changes lives. It frees. It lightens the load.

I love the quote above. My take: “If I design + decorate the most beautiful space for someone but they are not FREE to enjoy it, it’s like going to the symphony and not being able to HEAR….” Ann McDonald, 2013

Living beautiful is also a stewardship issue…are you sensing tomorrow’s post?

I hope so

I am crazy passionate about teaching Why & How to Decorate for a Custom Life

It’s not fluff. It matters.

Birds build custom nests. They don’t copy exactly. And if someone moves in after they move out, they tweak just for them…

If you are interested in this, please let me know!

Private?; Public? Comment below. I would be grateful.

I want so much for these Systems to make a difference, to strike a chord, to bless, change, edify, equip…..

Remember, even people who “have it all” struggle against what I call the “Catalog Culture” or “You Can’t Culture” when it comes to their homes & living in their homes

Neither of which I like

I happen to believe “You Can” and you should live “OUT side of a Catalog”

“The Beautiful Issue” ran deep, runs deep

It can cripple us without even knowing it

I want you to live a custom life 😉

but you know that already….because I value you….

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: Decorating Principles # 6 & # 7

Frugal Friday: Decorating Principle # 6  & # 7

Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 6: You must choose something inexpensive but well designed and display it

This is a fun one – and I share it on Frugal Friday because more often than not, I will set a price limit that is WAY below the Client’s comfort zone

I have been known to set the Budget at $1,000 (everything is relative) but more often than not, the limit is $100, including tax

The purpose? 3 Fold:

1. To DEVELOP a Client’s eye

2. To teach a Client “no apologizing” for the price of ANY item

(if it’s right, it’s right, no matter the price)

3. To have some FUN


Client Q has exquisite taste

Endows. Founds. Donates. Leads.

Many of our Past & Present Clients, 16 at last count, are members of this Association. Is a Family Foundation something you have thought about? Image linked.

Is Gracious. Quiet. Unassuming.

Is not wasteful in the least

I love the imagery of wheat. Even when the wheat dies, the seeds fall and produce much more. No waste. I like being mindful of that Decorating Custom Luxury Interiors.


Client Q does not venture into the ‘Everyday Marketplace’ to purchase decorative items for their home

Of course you know where this is…is there anything like a Bespoke Suit? Men, I think not!

Why on earth would I ask this of them?

See # 1 through # 3 above

As a Decorator, I want my Client to:

a) really SEE something as well designed not just as designer approved


This is a small peek at my kitchen. What I want you to notice is the textural combination. Teaching non designers to recognize good design = important. It’s about understanding what’s behind a bespoke suit. You delight to wear it so much more because you understand…it doesn’t mean you will make your own, but you really SEE the value, the thoughts, the process

b) render something appropriate for their home decor

c) look for value in the everyday marketplace

The Paris Salon of Giambattista Valli. I simply love this. Liking the exquisite is easy. To LIVE WELL with the exquisite, we must learn to see the individual stitches. That is when we appreciate couture at it’s core. Teaching Clients how to spot great design in the Everyday Marketplace is part of this learning process.

d) be confident enough to buy it themselves

e) be confident enough to display it properly themselves

We don’t live with Clients after the project is completed

Items will be added over time, moved, get broken, need to be replaced…

Which leads me to Couture Chateau Design Principle # 7: A Great Decorator equips

See a) through e) above

Best way I can describe this:

Have you ever read a quote, examined antiques, seen a movie – anything and thought “oh, I get it”

Then something happens

You suddenly realize you JUST really “got it”

That you thought you knew before, but you hadn’t

Head Knowledge versus Heart Knowledge

Now you understand it in your Heart

The concept or knowledge has been revealed to you, uncovered to you in a new and lasting way.

You really DO “get it” now

THAT is precisely what we are after with these 2 Principles

Because with Head + Heart knowledge, revealed truths, even if they revolve around a $100 or $1,000 decorative item, a Client is equipped

And it is so much fun

What do I love most?

When Clients call 6 months after project completion to share their purchase for Guest Room # 4!

“Ann, you would be so proud of me! I bought a lovely, appropriate, well designed vase for my guests’ fresh bedside flowers that was under $1,000…”

It’s all relative 😉


I smile. Am grateful for the process.

It blesses me.

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

xo Ann


As we are developing our Decorating Principles E-Product, your comments are most welcome. Let us know what you like, if there is some concept that is not clear and most of all if these are helpful!

Monday Matters: Back To Work For 2013 Fearless (well, one day at a time at least ;)!

Monday Matters: Back To Work For 2013

My Word of the Year: FEARLESS

(well, one day at a time at least ;)!

I can tell you my list of regrets is a mile long. I have never regretted TRYING however.

Back to work, back to the Studio

I am excited about 2013

Really trying to focus on the great

As such, I was challenged by Tobi Fairley to come up with a Word of the Year

I thought, ok, I will try it

The list of words was long in my head:


I like the term fruitful. This quote resonated with me because it drives home the principle that even our errors can manifest into blessings. It’s as if no part of life is wasted.








even Urgent came across my brain as I sense an urgency to make sure we get the Couture Chateau Vision out there – beyond these four walls & our few faithful readers, clients + friends

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

One of my kitchen sinks is mosaic tile made from crushed china. I love the imagery because it reminds me daily of why I founded Couture Chateau. It is a passion to share + encourage + equip custom lives. I have tried to not do this and my soul dies a bit if I stop…it is who I am. We must journey who we really are.

but there was only one word that met my head + heart together


I love this. It allows for the process of growth. I have been afraid…I will try to be fearless this year…I will try to LEAD fearless this year

Monday Matters: Back to Work Fearless

I will tackle this with you all year here & there. We will figure it out together, what it really means.

What is your word of the year?

Monday Matters. It set’s the tone for the week. Maybe even the year!

I’d love to know. We walk this custom journey together…

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

xo Ann

Saturday Stuff: Holiday Help & Tip Sheets for Design

Saturday Stuff: Holiday Help & Tip Sheets for Design

Been a busy week & thoughts of sugarplums are dancing in my head

Do You Ever:

Hesitate to open a box of stored decorations because…you aren’t sure what to do with them or why you keep them…?

Wander & waste $$$$ on Holiday Stuff that looks ridiculous when you get home?

Think you remember tossing an ornament in when it should have been carefully placed and get the sinking feeling that it and others are now busted?

Wish you could throw a last minute party but are afraid?

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

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

Wish you could just hole up with some Classic Christmas Movies?

Want to Bake like Martha, Design like Nate but always feel like you fall short?

Wish you could just communicate in decor your vision of the Holiday Season?

What is your vision? Do you  like traditional areas for your kids? for you? Our "Back Hall Stopping Table"

What is your vision? Do you like traditional areas for your kids? for you? Our “Back Hall Stopping Table”

Wish your children dressed like the Bergdorf Goodman Catalog?

Feel like you are already behind because……?

Feel like your Christmas Card is the most stressful thing in your social life each year?

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

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

Can’t decide??!!

Then “Holiday Help & Tip Sheets” is for you

It is a simple Page on the Blog to

a) encourage

b) help

c) identify practical steps

d) make you smile

This is a Short Term Page with a Short Term Goal:

To help each other live our custom lives over the next 31 days

I’ve asked some of my Designer Friends to contribute

It won’t be all bell-y & whistle-y

It will be Genuine & From our Hearts

Have a fantastic weekend. My goal is to have links up on December 4th (yes, you can pray)

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: Up-Cycle, Multi-Purpose Materials for Holiday Centerpiece

Frugal Friday: Up-Cycle, Multi-Purpose Materials for Holiday Centerpiece

We know December gets ridiculously busy

Today? One of the funnest & easiest centerpieces we’ve created to date

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

We put this together for a Feature on Recycled Christmas Cards but TODAY are focusing on the Main Elements that tie this together, those items you have around the house all year that can do double or triple design duty.

1. A Mirror. Lay flat on your table & use as a center tray.

Detail of items on mirror with shredded & upcycled cards. Even an over sized picture frame will do. Lay it flat in the center of the table.

2. Candle with glass hurricane

This is from Ikea. I like it because there is room between the glass and the rim of the holder to attach cards or other Decorative Holiday type things. We cover up the black & white for our purposes and when the Season is over, it transforms back to normal. We customize this silly little $10 product more than I can tell you!!

4. A basket or beanie or soft hat anywhere?

Yes, you heard me correctly. Turn an old beanie upside down, fill it with shredded paper (Colorful Christmas Cards) & plop your silverware in! It is now a Custom Caddy ;).

Yes, I will use most anything for a fab fun buffet set up. Shredded cards make a great “holder” and any beanie or soft bag turned upside down becomes a custom caddy.

Here we used another product from Ikea. These are soft storage & come in assorted sizes.

3. Any old carpet pieces or carpet squares?

I simply LOVE carpet squares

Whenever showrooms are done for the season, I ask for samples. We use them as table runners constantly. Cheap, colorful, often textural – they make great contemporary table settings.

This Hampen Rug from Ikea is about $20 & comes in a ton of colors. We have also used the small round red ones for Christmas Parties.

YOU now have a custom centerpiece my friend!


Shred strong colorful cards. Throw in metallics.

Trim carpet squares to fit the center of your table. Mine is super wide. Attach with pro quality carpet square adhesive squares

This mirror is a discount closeout from Marshalls. I bought four and line them end to end for big parties. We also use matching shell picture frames as mini servers.

I love Frugal Friday. It’s my confessional time ;).

We will consolidate our Blog’s Holiday Tip Page with more pictures on December 4th so be SURE to let us know if you have questions or comments!

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

xo Ann

& Holiday Cheers,

The CC Team

Saturday Studio Time: Custom Holiday Feature

Saturday Studio Time: Custom Holiday Feature

Working today. Grumble? Not exactly….

We are out in front of the Studio doing some retro Holiday Crafty Type Painting

Here’s a sneak peek….stay tuned and have a GREAT weekend

Daniel, our Assistant Project Facilitator and Inventory Chief…working today out in front of our Studio Door.

As soon as we are free to share this feature, we will.


Customizing with Color

Using Recycled Material

Up-Cycling Holiday Basics

Are you working on a Holiday Craft this weekend?

Love this Ikea Blanket. Cozy up on the sofa. Malin Band Throw. $19.99

Let us know! We’re in!!

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

xo Ann

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

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

Thought Trails….

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

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

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

Sneak Peeks….

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

Yum, he said.

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

Ummmmm, I said….

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

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

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

Tomorrow: My Top Myths About Purchasing Custom

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

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

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

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

xo Ann