Wednesday Style Points: Living Who You Are, Where You Are, Why You Are & Choosing The Right Sofa To Match

Wednesday Style Points: Living WHO You Are, WHERE You Are, WHY You Are & Choosing The Right Sofa To Match 😉

I loved the sofa that “Fraiser Crane” had in his home…it was his character to a t.

As we trek through this week of Mastermind, peeks & valleys combined, I am reminded of this core truth about why I Decorate & Design:

I Design & Decorate to equip my clients to live

1) WHO they really are

2) WHERE they really are

3) WHY they really are

Because in the marrow in my bones I believe they bring something unique to this world that must be free to thrive. By creating a Custom Space that is Safe + Ordered + Beautiful just for them, they can do just that. Thrive. Bless. LIVE.

And Martin’s chair…not exactly Coco Chanel, but worked for who he was, where he was & why he was….would I work to find an alternative? of course, but even Frasier in the end knew this was the right piece at the right time for the right person……discovery….a life long process of choices….in 7 years we can find a new one ;)…

So can you

It is so critical to understand that you exist for good things

That HOW you live can either enhance those good things or destroy those good things

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

Do you see one of my kitchen sinks in the background? It’s unusual & it speaks to who I am, where I am & why I am. We must be willing to risk in order to thrive. What is a risk you know you need to take? Is it a good risk? Will it bless you and those around you?

You have permission to embrace who you really are today so that you can be who you really want to be tomorrow….and leave all the encumbrances behind…

It’s the WAY we get at who you are, where you are, why you are that is Style Point fun…those 20+ years in the trenches of design that give me insight into how we get to a place to make that clear so we can choose the sofa…

It shouldn’t be misery to find out

It should be a safe process of discovery, with action along the way…move forward so you can get on with the living…

So you can get your style points ON!

What is it today that you wish you could just “be”

What gift or talent do you have today that you need to embrace so it isn’t lost or wasted?

So in 5 or 10 or 20 years you DON’T say “what if I had”, because you didn’t……

What choice would you make in your home + life if you had no fear?

How would that help you to live?

Image linked

Have you ever tried to thrive from a place that “wasn’t you”?

Have you ever felt that “aha moment” in a space that said “I’m HOME” to you?

My kitchen sink...

One of my other kitchen sinks…I always have that sigh of “I’m Home” when here…it fits me, who I am TODAY

Style points. Embrace them. They are yours alone.

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

xo Ann


Don’t forget to email me & let me know you are FEARLESS enough to participate in our test Webinar at the end of February. This will be our first roll out of our “Design Systems Simplified” Business & the end product will sell for well into the thousands of dollars. These are systems we use with Full Service Clients with great success. Limited number of spots available. This first Module will be on How To Custom Decorate With Retail Product And Make It Look Like The Pro’s. Our other test modules will include “How To Re-Decorate & Not Get Divorced” & “How To Decorate A Home Managed By A Family Trust & Used By Several Generations”….there WILL be modifications to the titles, but these are just some of the fun things we are rolling out the next few months. Email me now. The space may be gone if you don’t. I want you there if YOU want to be there! xo

Wednesday Style Points: Ooh! Webinar Recording Today

Style Points: Ooh! Webinar Recording Today, I think…

Oh, a headset!

I can honestly say I NEVER thought you’d find me in a gaming headset. But apparently that is what a professional uses to record webinars. My hair isn’t cooperating, there is no stylist on board today ;)…just my slightly cantecerous pugs…but I am having some silly fun

Oh, a power point! That records!

This is about what I look like. Add cute shoes though. Recording Module 1.

It’s amazing what happens when we hire professionals in areas we are over our head in. I should know this of course, it’s how my Clients share their excitement with us when we come in, crew & team, to Decorate.

Today I am on the other side.

It’s not until the afternoon, I don’t do much well in the morning…

But today, it’s all about style points for the techno nerd inside of me

I actually thought I should put some cool glasses on just for fun! Don’t wear them, but…some readers in red could look great with my heels! These from Rubell’s Antiques. Image linked.

(I had no idea she existed!)

A Techno Nerd can still wear fabulous shoes however…

Today is a Tod’s Beige Pump day…


So today, working on ensemble style points while recording. Navy pants with black satin side stripe…navy cashmere sweater & Tods. Simple + Hardworking Classic, yes?

The WORK part: All about those Decorating Systems, Decorating Principles & especially ‘How To’ with Retail Product.

Actual Systems designed to make life easier. Can I say that again? Make. Life. Easier.

Universal + Customizable

Style Points. What are your wardrobe & work & life ones today?!

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

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: Decorating For Your Life Today

Wednesday Style Points: Decorating For Your Life Today

We have been diving deep lately with all our Decorating Principles & Systems

Lots of chatter with Safety + Order + Beauty…our Top 10…all that stuff

Today I wanted to share some of the things that are inspiring my decorating TODAY

I am loving the inspiration from Classic Damask patterns. As we work on some custom designs for Clients, these are fantastic jumping off points. I love taking these and breaking them apart to form unexpected repeats…sweet…STYLE POINTS!

These are beautiful vignettes to me

I am loving the stark contrasts here….just am.

I hope they bless you

If you are a faithful blog person, you may have seen this already but I absolutely love the combinations here. The power pack punch of Red & White…throw in some black and = love. Style points. From Belle Maison 2009. Yes, I know it’s “old” in Design Speak, but I am still in love. Image Linked.

From Apartment Therapy. I love the high gloss floors. When we remodeled our home, I thought long and hard about using this vignette. I knew however with 2 boys and several dogs it wouldn’t work. So I admire these from afar…

One of the reasons I shared the photos above is that they each have a style.

Just like you. Even if you think you don’t…you do…

May today be a day you embrace it.

With style…embrace them with style!! When we get to that place where we realize no interior will ever be perfect…we are free to take risk with design.

What will your Design Risk be today?

How many Style Points will it total?

Tally those personal design risks that are good + authentic…the ones that bless those around you…it’s your fingerprint. Your style.

I’m playing too….will keep you posted!

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

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 8

Wednesday Style Points: Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 8

Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 8:

Great Decorating EQUIPS Living, it doesn’t ECLIPSE Living

Equip: /iˈkwip/

A verb: To supply with the necessary items for a particular purpose

I thought this was a fun quote. We are equipped to do things. YOU are equipped to help me do what I cannot or choose not & I am equipped to do the same for you!

I happen to think that’s my job as a Decorator

To supply YOU with the necessary items



My Seminars are in small groups so people can learn together! We will share 2013 dates soon.


It looks so easy doesn’t it…just try it! I always counsel nervous clients to try and then call me…seems to work ;)! This image from The Skirted Roundtable with Alexa Hampton



Not to worry – I’ll be here when the phone rings…& will gratefully, graciously walk along side…


We use Studio Webware to make sure Client’s jobs run smoothly

The Right Sofa

There is a look for everyone. We just need to find yours! Versace here…for which I have a weakness…a terrible terrible weakness…. Would this work in my real life today? No, but I can interpret elements and make them relevant


Follow up

For a Particular Purpose

For You to Live a Custom Life!



A verb: To obscure the light from or to

How sad would it be if you hired a Decorator and they left ‘you’ out of the space…when all you saw was “them” after they were finished…

I don’t want my Decorating to eclipse YOU

It should EQUIP (enhance…)

Style Points

YOU have them

I have them

Great Decorating is simply a transfer of gifts that equip

Love this principle

You know what I’m talking about if you think about it

In Fashion, it’s the person who wears head to toe Burberry because it’s Burberry

In Theater, it’s when you remember the set and not the play

Design IS a process…there is nothing static about it. The Decorator who wants to create a static place is staging for a photograph, not decorating for a life…..I want to decorate for life…

Tomorrow we are going to spotlight the PROCESS we use to PRACTICALLY APPLY our Decorating Principles…

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

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 4

Wednesday Style Points: Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 4

Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 4: Decorating Needs To Be Authentically You To Inspire

I love kitsch

I also love couture

No problem here with the combo, it’s who I am

I think of them as Humor + Grace

Kitsch = Humor

Truth. Bill Cosby.

Couture = Grace

I love this in conjunction with the creation of couture. Couture gives the absolute best in detail, effort, layering, intention. All of our best effort still falls short of perfection, but the process = grace!

What could be more fun than the combination of the two?!

For me? Nothing!!

A Dining Room with an antique Dining Table & a Home Goods Soup Tureen?


A Kitchen with 3 Antique French Painted Farm Tables & a customized Ikea Cabinet?


The point is, in order for your decorated space to INSPIRE you – it has to be AUTHENTICALLY YOU

You have to be ok “being”

And you have to be ok being SEEN

Says it all…

Can you change the world & then stop dead in your tracks when it comes to risk in decorating?

Where does the AUTHENTIC you live?

A sneak peek of my kitchen sink

My main kitchen sink – you’ve seen it before. Look closely at how many materials are combined in a small space. This is new construction. What would you have said if I came to you with: Brick, Wood, Limestone, Copper, Aged Wood, English Tile & an old trestle table?…I can design fearlessly…I can walk along side as we find your fearless YOU…even if you are contemporary & clean lined…

It’s this strange place

Do you recognize this photo? This is in a Client's Entry hall and is made from Historically Significant Columns we had customized into a table. It greets guests as they enter the front door. I love the "energy" custom fragments bring to a space. They are not flat. They bring the past with them - in a good way.

Do you recognize this photo? This is in a Client’s Entry hall and is made from Historically Significant Columns we had customized into a table. The point is, let’s find out what INSPIRES you…

A lifetime spent crafting a shell for the outside world does not break down easily.

We walk through a manicured gated garden into a beautiful front door….and we are still afraid to be us??

We must be ok being SEEN

In my youth I didn’t understand why it was so difficult. I would decorate a home and people would flip out.

You can’t do that!

I can’t live like this!

Agghh! I love purple, but NO!

—-radio silence from me—-I have many faults—-RISK in design is not one of them—-

ANN:  “Ummm….Client J, this is who you ARE. You love this.”

CLIENT: “I know”

ANN: “Then why won’t you LIVE this?”

CLIENT: “I can’t – I just can’t….give me the Hermes – or Prada – or Whatever….”

ANN: “No”



CLIENT: “YES! Please yes…please!”

ANN: “No. Why did you hire ME? You KNEW…”

CLIENT: “I don’t know, because…..”

ANN: “Then let me help you SEE – Let me show you YOU are OK BEING SEEN

It’s YOUR home. LIVE in it. As YOU.

If you can’t be SEEN in your own home, well…….we have other things to address….”


Over 20 years & I can surely tell you, these conversations are why I developed this PROCESS. This Decorating Principle Process. 30 Principles, 7 Areas.

I am kitsch + couture (today). What are you?

MANY – I’d say 90% of the Potential Clients we vet are afraid & say “oh, no thank you”

“I don’t want to get that involved – that takes too much time”

(What is My Decorating Principle # 1? Decorate with no more than 7 years in mind….)

“I just want a new tv room for the kids, it doesn’t matter, I want it to look like the magazine picture”

(What is My Decorating Principle # 3? Fiercely protect the heart of your home)

“That’s too much work, you just don’t understand what I have to deal with”

(What is My Decorating Principle # 2? Remove any item that is emotionally unsafe)

What I KNOW?

They are afraid to be seen.

For now? That’s ok. Grace is part of who I am. I have been there. Afraid to be seen….

The systems of getting at the CORE of who we are, who my clients are – getting them comfortable with being SEEN before we undertake the projects, before we line the underside of a desk in bright purple…are integral to my mission, my vision for Couture Chateau.

It’s WORK to build a custom life. I happen to think it’s worth it.

And need I state the obvious? What is it that you suppose is the INSPIRING part of those completed jobs?

It’s always the proverbial “purple”

Style Points. YOU have them. I love bringing them out, bringing them to life.

What is your purple?

My mentors bring it out in me. Let me bring it out in you.

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

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: Designing Life As A Process

Wednesday Style Points: Designing Life As A Process

As the New Year begins, I want to share one of my favorite things

Designing Processes

Just like we innovated a custom striped tree. designing processes is innovation. The process of seeing something in a new way

Just like innovating a custom design, designing processes can get sticky. The process of seeing something in a new way requires fearlessness & an acquired taste for the occasional mess!

Yup, sounds rather silly…but I love it

I cannot make a spreadsheet, remember?

I cannot find the receipt, remember?

But I CAN design…and so I design PROCESSES or SYSTEMS that work for life + business

A Matrix

SYSTEMS that are easy to replicate

PROCESSES that are easy to duplicate

…CUSTOMIZABLE to the Client or Situation or my own life!

I actually LOVE creating these


Because sometimes there is just too much input “out there”

Do you ever feel like you can’t possibly get all the research done to make a decision you are proud of?

Do you then just throw in the towel and jump before you should?

I am not one to leap off a cliff…my Louboutins might get stuck ;)! but I do love the imagery…

Or before you think you should?

Not sure?


As a Designer I have created these custom systems my whole career to help me prevent:

Chess is essentially a Matrix

Researching to the point of indecision

Leaping before I know I should

Flipping out on the fall after I’ve made an unchangeable design leap


These little systems help me:

Decide + Do with No Regret

I mean….there must be others who struggle with this…there is an “App” for it :)!

They give me boundaries that are pleasant

Not too much – not too little

I can stretch them – make them more complicated if need be or keep them super simple if needed

I even teach them in our Couture Chateau Seminars

So am kind of a dork for these systems

I then turn them into matrix

I had no idea what “The Matrix” was (still not sure I understand it) but it must be inbred somehow because when my son returned from college for the Holiday, this was his screensaver….a matrix!

In pretty drawings of course 😉

All color coordinated boxes with proper shading & highlighting…

A little more my speed!

But matrix just the same

Why I like them?

Style Points 🙂

You have them, remember?! It’s how you embrace the process of living

Over the course of the next year I will be sharing some of my favorite systems with you and how we use them

How we stretch them or shrink them

What has worked for us

And hopefully will work for you

For now? Style Points!

I’d love to know some of yours!!

Share. I know you have them. Because you are YOU!

“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

Wednesday Style Points: A Cabin Christmas

Wednesday Style Points: A Cabin Christmas

I simply love formal…truly

And casual cabin kitsch

Log & Timber Homes, Telluride. Image linked

Wear a ball gown to the studio? In a heartbeat if I could

Flip side is I simply love the mountain air & what it does for my soul

Lake Tahoe California

And the mountain homes

And the mountain projects

There is something crisp and uncluttered about the smell of the air

Those who share my passion, know what I’m talking about

It’s as if the air is custom made…this sweet aromatic perfume, simple + elegant

This week we are putting some finishing touches on a project in the Lake Tahoe Area

Belly of the Beast - Notice the blue drying fans

Belly of the Beast – Notice the blue drying fans

Should be finished near February or March…give or take 10 feet of snow…

As we headed out of the Studio in the Bay Area to work, I was grateful to pass on some of the chaos

My Favorite Style Points for a Cabin Christmas?

1. ACE Hardware is a perfectly appropriate place to shop for a Cabin Christmas Present

Ace Hardware in Truckee is so much fun! From Christmas Ornaments to Power Tools…what could be better…

2. LOCAL Coffee Shops know your name and how you like your custom topping. Marge doesn’t judge you for ordering whip cream on your latte.

3. The air is cold & it feels good on the soul

4. Working 0veralls are perfectly acceptable attire

5. Norwegian Sweaters look appropriate with my work overalls OR slim velvet pants with boots

I mean really, this classic from Dale of Norway isn’t over the top…$427, works with overalls & velvet skinnies…:)!

Have a fabulous day today….

Style Points. You’ve got them, use them!

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

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: Why Do Last Year’s Ornaments Look Tired?

Wednesday Style Points: Why Do Last Year’s Ornaments Look Tired?

Each year, Clients ask the same questions…

Last year we used this ribbon for the office tree. This year we changed it up

Why did my ribbon look so great last year when I bought it and now I don’t like it

What about those ornaments…they look tired this season & last year were all the rage

Last season, we had a white tree in the office, this season a yellow themed tree to coordinate with the French Custom Carpet Squares

Why can’t I get my Christmas Tree to look as nice as it did last year?

I haven’t changed anything….

Well, therein lies the problem

Elastic Polyester Pants from the 1970’s….do you want your Tree to look like these in context? When we let the years pass & don’t modify even a bit….we are the frog in the boiling pot….dead before we know it!!

Some Cliff Notes on Custom Holiday Decorating Gleaned Over the Years:

1. A Tree (Living or Fake) & the Ornaments that live on it = Decoration

2. A Decoration (even if it cost you $1,750) is not an investment piece of furniture

3. A Decoration….is just that. It decorates something – temporarily – for a season or time

4. Decoration can last decades, but that is still just a season or time

5. Decoration = ultimately temporary

6. Decoration = Seasonal, Whimsical & Fun

7. Decorations, especially Christmas ones evoke emotion.

There in lies another problem. They evoke emotion.

That emotion draws us into a White Christmas, Bing Crosby vision of heirloom ornaments handed down from generation, hand made, custom fabricated, designer labeled…music & snow swirling...tree the same each year...It’s a Wonderful Life type of thing…

Truth? We can’t recreate or duplicate the past

That includes past Christmas Trees

Let me state that again because it is so important when it comes to this issue: we can not recreate or duplicate the past.

We CAN honor the past (also known as tradition) but we cannot freeze frame

If I had a dollar for every client who said: “Oh, I’ll take a picture of the vignette so I can duplicate it exactly next season” I’d be on my private 747!

Pardon me, but (edited bad word was here:).

Time for GRACE! Really? Will you be the exact same next year at this time?

Why would you want your Tree or Centerpiece to be the EXACT same?

YOU are custom. YOU are special. Why wouldn’t you want your space to reflect who YOU and YOURS are today?!

Use the same elements? Of course. Use the same Faux Tree? Yes, fine.

But please, change it up a bit…..

Trust me, your family will have changed…let’s HONOR the past while LIVING in the present

I liken it to this:

Imagine you wore a beautiful couture dress to “Friend A’s” Christmas Party in 2011.

Now, will you be wearing the EXACT same dress to the EXACT same party this year? Same shoes? Same hair? Same makeup? Same stockings?

Nope. Everyone would think you’d gone bonkers.

Your Holiday Home is the same way.

So, rules of thumb for refreshing your Holiday Decor? Check out our Holiday Helps Page with New Tips Today

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

xo Ann

p.s. we will miss you Noble. You were a great dog.

Wednesday Style Points: Lamorinda Weekly Guest Article

Wednesday Style Points: Lamorinda Weekly Guest Article

Quoting my favorite people is always fun.

Check out this article in our local paper…

From Inexpensive to Extravagant Holiday Decor

Detail of Holiday Tree with Custom Ornaments

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

xo Ann