Tuesday Tidbit: Exquisite Design Detail & How It Reflects Us

Tuesday Tidbit: Exquisite Design Detail & How It Reflects Us

It’s Tuesday! Most productive day of the week ;)….so far…

As you know I am in Arkansas with my Design Mastermind Group. We had a fabulous dinner last evening & have so many new wonderful women as part of the group

My tidbit for the day: Design Detail

My challenge: How It Reflects Us

I love grand design

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!

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!

I also love the detail

You may know this picture…it’s been around a while. Detail of life. Constructed with care to do things set before us….image linked.

I think one of the reasons I love the detail is because it reminds me that special starts small.

Rearcher Michael Davidson, from under the microscope. Image linked to article from 2012. Detail is beautiful. We just have to be willing to stop and look.

There is something exquisite in all of us that needs to be paid attention to in order for us to thrive & when we capture the detail, we capture that exquisite

Not everyone “sees” the detail

I believe as designers + decorators + people, we live victoriously when we are able to “see” the detail, the exquisite around us

Not everyone captures the exquisite at first passing

Detail. Precise. You are precise in every detail! Special in construction.

That’s ok

Exquisite is for those are available to perceive it. It’s a process that can take a lifetime.

It may not be time for someone to notice just yet….

Tuesday Tidbit: What is YOUR detail today?

What is the exquisite in your life you need to stop & notice?

Are you reflected in that? I hope so!

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

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: Biggest Fear In Decorating & What It Looks Like

 Tuesday Tidbit: Biggest Fear In Decorating & What It Looks Like

Today I wanted to share something I come across consistently

Especially as we are readying to re-record our last Seminar

No matter the budget, no matter the access, no matter HOW polished someone comes across (trust me on this), no matter how important or famous…we each bring small snippets of fear to our decorating decisions

Some have spent years developing highly effective ways of projecting they don’t carry fear

I call them my “Three S’s”:

1. Snob

I love how YSL puts this. Someone who is a snob is never elegant ;).

2. Snuff

When we snuff people, especially when it comes to our decorating or design decisions it just makes us look small!

3. Snide

I love how silly and yet how TRUE this is.


Tuesday Tidbit = No being a Snob, Snuffing someone or making a Snide comment about someone’s decor choices today 😉

It’s freeing! It let’s us love those in front of us for who they are!

Then, as time & access permits, we can graciously teach them or better yet learn…

One never knows which side one is REALLY on until we drop the pretense & show up with our genuine self…

May Tuesday, your most productive day so far this week, be FREE from the “Three S’s”!

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

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: My Lake Tahoe Habit

Tuesday Tidbit: My Lake Tahoe Habit

Each Tuesday I try to give a window into my habits or bite size design nuggets.

Tuesday should be an easy take a way day, remember, it’s the Most Productive Day of the week, so I want you to get out there and change the world with your custom gifts somehow!!

Today I am working in Lake Tahoe

Fabulous Coral Lamp from Pier One. If you look closely at the Beach House on ABC's  Revenge, you'll see it there too! At $125 a complete steal.

Do you remember one of my FAV Lamps? Coral Lamp from Pier One. If you look closely at the Beach House on ABC’s Revenge, you’ll see it there too! At $125 a complete steal. We are customizing this Lamp with a patterned shade & using it in a room with deep red shell mirrors for a project in the Basin.

Meeting some contractors, saying hello to some clients, checking on some jobs in progress and bidding out some new full service design possibilities. Meeting some Couture Chat & VIP Day people.

Very fun. I LOVE working in Lake Tahoe!!

One of the things we do a bunch of are second or rental homes for our Clients who live in the Bay Area

If you have one, give us a call! Our VIP Days are the go to resource and many Realtors in Lake Tahoe give these as Housewarming Gifts. Our favorite Contractors also recommend these. At $1,500, they are high value. Quick turn around inside of 2 weeks.

We will help them pick out furnishings that look great but don’t break the bank. We add a quick custom detail here and there to make SURE it feels like a Couture Chateau project.

Are you working on your own home?

Do YOU have a favorite lake? A favorite Mountain Hideaway?

Let me know! I know we have some friends in Northern Michigan…and Maine…and Texas…where are you?

Maybe we could share YOUR Couture Chateau on the blog!

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

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: Decorating Principles = A Living Habit

Tuesday Tidbit: Decorating Principles = A Living Habit

One of the things I like about Tuesday Tidbits

Bite Size Nuggets

Research has shown that Tuesday is the most productive day of the week

From SME Mentor. Image linked to a fun article on Tuesday productivity!

I want to keep these short & sweet so you can get back to kids, work, walking, yoga…whatever it is you do best on Tuesdays

This is SO not me…….but I know it’s for you Tobi, Denise and Brittany…;)

My Decorating Principles are Living Habits in Disquise

They are not about mixing the right shade of blue with white

What color is “in” or “right” for your skin tone

I am all about making sure we stay current, but there is so much more to Decorating than being “on trend”. One of my biggest aha moments years ago: “If I’m not innovative enough to be outside of trendy & still relevant, then I’m just an order taker, not a designer”…that is a founding cornerstone of Couture Chateau

There are other people, Designers, Decorators who are great at teaching those things

I am passionate about my Decorating Principles because my Full Service Clients often communicate that THESE stay with them into the next phase of life

Even as our blue + white addiction turns to a pink + green addiction

From The Daily Crushes Blog. Image linked.

Or our skin tone changes color with age

The Decorating Principles Process we journey together is what sticks

For a life of living well

For today…be true to who you are TODAY (& for enough time after today so as not to arouse suspicion about your sanity ;)….

As them


Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

The couch needs to work, for certain. It needs to be beautiful. Absolutely

I have a weakness for Red Chesterfields…I just do…

But don’t belabor it

Do you want a Knole sofa? Then buy one or let’s have a custom version made today for you…image linked. If you have no idea what I am referring to, click and get a quick history lesson 😉

Couture Chateau Decorating Principles…a living habit

Universal + Customizable


Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 8: Great Decorating EQUIPS Living, it doesn’t ECLIPSE Living

(more on this one tomorrow…it’s a fun one…on Style Points Wednesday!)

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

(Tuesday Tidbit = under 400 words….yeah!)

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: My Calendar Habit (& Trying To Be Fearless About Writing My Heart’s Goals)

Tuesday Tidbit: My Calendar Habit

(& trying to be FEARLESS about writing my heart’s goals)

For all the Serious Planners out there you know what I am talking about

I have calendars everywhere – in every style. From Pug Puppies Mini’s to Hermes Orange Leather for my purse. I think because I am not a natural planner I have developed this habit to force myself. For an ordered life, planning & calendars are critical.

You live this tidbit every single day

It’s a Calendar Habit

I’m talking about my year long, how many calendar’s do I have..?..”Calendar Habit”

Some are private calendars, many are public – meaning everyone in the house & office has access…

Do you share this habit?

Schedule the window washers, floor polishers, gutter cleaning…plan for the next maintenance item we need to tackle that exists within a budget this year…overlay the office, kids, friends…goals…

I still mostly work from an old desk planner

I found this on Boomer Tech Talks site. Yes, I have alarms & virtual calendars, but something about the written one calls me most. This is about as close to my real desk as I have found…

Everyone writes on the big one on my desk

It is not beautiful

But it DOES help us get a visual on the year

I thought this was pretty funny. I laughed, because when writing this post I thought “I’d love a cup of coffee…why doesn’t it just appear…”!

Are you a planner?

Do you change your mind last minute?

What are some of the things that make it onto your Home Calendar?

Small everyday items?

Only the biggies like vacations & events?

For me? The Habit of planning works in direct opposition to my nature which is why I nurture this habit :)!

This year, this habit will come under my FEARLESS journey


I am attempting to write things on the calendar that I am afraid to write

This REALLY struck me. Am I being safe with my habits? My tidbits? My life? My goals? My calendar?

Goals for our home that I’d like to accomplish but may not be possible

Goals for Couture Chateau that I’d like to accomplish that may not be possible

Habits. Tidbits. A custom life is just the combined total of these…

Calendars. A habit that windows into my real self.

Ouch ;)!

“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!!

Tuesday Tidbit: My Christmas China Addiction

Tuesday Tidbit: My Christmas China Addiction

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

Spode Christmas Tree

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

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

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

My more grown up Hermes addiction fits in nicely…

What are YOUR favorite patterns?

Ditto an old Versace…

Have you ever had a CUSTOM China made?!

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

And yes, we use them all

Fitz & Floyd

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

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

Knew I liked it ;)!

Confession? I have more……..

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

Your turn – share some of your favorites!

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

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: My Kitsch Christmas Ornament Habit

Tuesday Tidbit: My Kitsch Christmas Ornament Habit

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

Flocked Fake Christmas Tree

My favorite?

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

Today? My heart swoons for our Cabin Tree

Kitsch in all it’s glory

My excuse? Even Neiman Marcus sells Kitsch in Context!

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

…add a dash of Cabela’s

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

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

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

I simply love collecting large groupings of custom or kitsch ornaments

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

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

We’d love to know!

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

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: My Blue & White Ginger Jar Addiction

Tuesday Tidbit: My Blue & White Ginger Jar Addiction

Tuesday Tidbits = peek inside the (sometimes) manic collector inside of this Designer Brain

Started as early as age 4? Candles, small bottles…all sorts of things…

This Tuesday? Blue & White Ginger Jars

Love these…

All types & sizes, but mostly Blue & White

I just purchased a similar one with my “birthday money”…it is so pretty!

This season, I even decided to try a new custom color combination and decorate our Entry Hall Christmas Tree around the Blue & White Jars that were already there…

Look closely. You will see several blue & white jars…these live in the entry most of the year. Couture Chateau Custom Tree featured on ivillage.

One of the reasons I like them is they mix & match beautifully.

These are from Williams Sonoma and range from $150 up. If this is the lower end…

THIS is the higher end, from Taigan. If you want to go expensive, the sky is the limit.

So for today – just a peek inside ;).

And have I ever had them custom made?! OF COURSE!!

This is a picture from Custom Made’s Website….for custom pottery. These are not ours – they belong to the mind of The Pottery Company. We have had custom pots made in Santa Barbara, California & Mexico by our own proprietary suppliers :).

Stay tuned as we showcase our Christmas Tree above in detail tomorrow and share some of the details you can mimic at home.

For now, off to pay some bills & clean the office! There is glitter everywhere from Holiday Decorations!!

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

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: My China Habit

Tuesday Tidbit: My China Habit

I hesitate to call this a habit…

yup, have this one…Royal Crown Derby Blue Mikado. My mother’s pattern.

More like a collecting thing…HA! my husband would say…

And this Hutschenreuther pattern which was grandmothers

more like an addiction…

Franciscan Medallion Blue China

Possibly a hoarder?….no…(!)…well…sort of…

And in case you need a moose while at our cabin…

Except I USE them all….and even CUSTOMIZE them when needed with transfers or monograms

I mean don’t you always need 150 white buffet plates just in case :0?! Lordy….I may need to go to confessional after this…

What about when you need BLUE rimmed buffet plates for 150 ??

Really I do…

These match the office carpet…so…we just HAD to have the complete set in case 25 people needed to sit and match the carpet…LOL…OMG I have a prooooblem ;)!

Problem = I LOVE china. All forms, all styles, yup.

Blue Danube China

Anyone out there share my “habit”???

Adelide is fun too!

(two of my sisters and I can impulse set 200 places for sit down 5 course meals)

Calyx Ware :)…yup…this too…

Scary. Blame it on the Hotel Background.

Furio China from Thailand…these look fabulous on vintage tables! The matte black is gorj with food.

And more

Johnson Brothers Old Britain Castles also…:) works from Christmas to Valentines Day!

The scary part? This isn’t close to all of them. Doesn’t include the Holiday Patterns, the other Cabin Patterns and several I use when it’s just 6 – 8 ladies for lunch….shhh…..but don’t worry, they aren’t hidden in boxes, I do take care to keep them orderly in the China Cabinet (s)….so that makes it ok, right ;)?….

My mid-western routes. I blame the Hotel thing for my need to be able to serve 200 drop ins 5 courses on china and silver!! 🙂

The upside: If you stop by for a meal, at least the table will be nicely set, JUST for you

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

xo Ann