Frugal Friday: Do You Ever Wish You Could Just Ask A Decorator A Question Without Being Charged?

Frugal Friday: Do You Ever Wish You Could Just Ask A Decorator A Question Without Being Charged?

So, I get this all the time…

Can I just ask a question Ann?

It won’t take much time – it’s not like I need to hire you or anything 😉

I just need some feedback


(Me =Radio Silence)

(Me = Deep Breath)

(Me = adding up the cost of years of education, continuing education, clients…& thinking about what that “free information” has actually cost me in terms of my life, my family….& wishing I could communicate that)

Now….ready at the gracious answer – WHY? Because I really DO desire to EQUIP in my heart and if the only engagement you and I ever have this side of heaven, then I DO wish to help you navigate some of the decorating dilemmas you may have.

Timothy Corrigan is seriously one of my all timers. His work has inspired me for decades. Linked to Timothy Corrigan.

THAT is WHY I felt called to put together this Webinar.

It’s why I do the Blog, Facebook, Twitter etc…

To EQUIP you, Freely….and if you want to wade deeper, then you can decide…

I know it’s one of those areas we all think we should just “get”…I mean everyone has a home or a space, right? But we can’t do it alone. Ever. We need each other. I will never cure cancer, but I can decorate. And design. And teach you, free or otherwise.

The nugget for today:

“I believe everyone is capable of designing their own life + home beautifully, sometimes we just need some encouragement”

I hope that this Webinar will be encouraging to you!

You can listen at your leisure, in the privacy of your own home

You will not be put on the spot. You can stop, take notes…engage in the way it works for you!

You know I believe you are custom. You know I believe one size does NOT fit all!

We tackle that head on HERE.

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

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: The Shopaholic Decorator is Not Really A Decorator, Decorating Involves Control

Wednesday Style Points: The Shopaholic Decorator is Not Really A Decorator, Decorating Involves Control

You’ve seen them…

Maybe you are “them”….

The perpetual home decorating shoppers

West Elm to Bergdorfs, Home Goods to Design Centers…they never stop shopping

BUT there is a better way

We tackle this one head on as well – albeit in a bit more humorous way

(I DO happen to have a blue & white Ginger Jar Addiction so…..THOSE don’t count)

not sure why, but they speak to me!

We get at what I teach as “The Power Stance”

The graphic is even a lady holding a gold megaphone!!

I love these clip arts! Gold + Megaphone? All we need now are great shoes! Perfection! Let’s make sure that this is YOU when it comes to designing your life + home.


This is another NUGGET from our Decorate Like A Pro System Webinar coming out at the end of March.

You DO need to enter your name & email to access the link HERE

women shopping - fashion logo version 2 (non-editable web-ready file)

WHY do you think I used a woman shopping as our Logo? First, I’ve been there. Remember those ginger jars. Second…once we learn HOW, we get to! It’s quite fun!

The actual TEACHING part, which is FREE on the Webinar is material I charge $800 for when you come into the Studio.

I am sharing it with you because I feel called..& finally equipped…(life’s a process, isn’t it!)

So may it be a blessing to you – think about those things & make sure to join us!

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

xo Ann

Saturday Stuff: Getting My Decor Right So I Can Live My Life

Saturday Stuff: Getting My Decor Right So I Can Live My Life

I pretty much think most of life’s issues can be solved thru Design + Decorating

Ok, well, most of them…

I mean a cool coffee table can make a girls day!

Ok, some of them…

Truly? maybe all of them 😉

Doesn’t funky wallpaper cover all our painting sins ;)?

I mean, it’s Saturday…family is all home…family room can get rather chaotic, everyone is cooking some fabulous breakfast, dishes everywhere, a teenager leaves the pan on the stove & a glass of milk on the table before rushing out to get a run in…

The phone rings, someone get it!

Or maybe it’s a sippy cup dripping with juice stuck to the high chair because last night everyone hit the wall

The phone rings, someone get it!

Or perhaps the cat thought your wine glass was a great toy & you wake up to find Max the Persian purring over a few drops of Merlot….

The phone rings, hey Max…where did you HIDE it?!

Whatever it is, it’s “STUFF”

Life stuff – and whatever surrounds us, those design & decorating things, either make life stuff easier or harder

Remember that Frasier example from a few days ago

So this Saturday, my house is a bit disordered however the systems we set in place catch it from going completely overboard (most of the time)

What is your Saturday Stuff?

Did the sofa catch the remote last night?

Did the cat knock over the wine glass?

Is the sippy cup stuck to the cool table from Pottery Barn?

Yes, my teen’s cleats are on the English Coffee Table so the dogs won’t chew them…just an older version of that sippy cup 😉

Design. Real life living. It’s the good stuff…

What’s yours?

What are your systems?

How do they handle your stuff?


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

xo Ann


Don’t forget to send your email to if you want to be a tester! We have fewer than 5 spots left! Are you FEARLESS enough? This Webinar is on “How To Custom Decorate With Retail Product & Make It Look Like The Pro’s”

How To Use Retail & Make It Look Like The Pro’s…let’s avoid the “nice Pottery Barn House” because you are so worth it!!

We are working on zipping up the name, so LET ME KNOW! What do you think of:

“Help, I’m a West Elm Addict: Decorate With Retail & Make It Pass The BFF Test”

“My Catalog Life: How To Get My Family Room Right Using Retail”

“My Family Room Wins: How To Start & Actually Finish A Decorated Room Using Only Retail”

Remember, as one of my testers, you will be on the inside track. Your feedback MATTERS! These are systems I have used for years with my full service clients and am SO excited to get them out to you!!

I want you to say YES if there is even the smallest part of you that is thinking about it! We will start testing in late February. Tomorrow we should have a short video for you to watch.

FEARLESS. It’s what 2013 is all about.

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

A Garden Brunch for Two Styled with Retail Finds!

Have a look at our Garden Brunch for Two Styled with Retail Finds!


at our Garden Brunch Vignette

In the Office Loading for Photo Shoot

We created with Retail Product!

Stylist Pics for our Photo Shoot!

What do Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH)

AFTER Detail

Tuesday Morning

Floor Pillows from Tuesday Morning

Home Goods, K-Mart have in common?

Barrel, Chair & Pillow Detail: OSH, K-Mart, Tuesday Morning

We can find High Style at Reasonable Cost


Tips: Mix & Match:




Aged Wood as seen on Chair


Check out our VIDEO HERE:  Behind The Scenes at Photo Shoot!

Happy Saturday Shopping!

xo Ann

My Couture Life from a Catalog!

Is your mailbox filled with catalogs?

Email bombarded by retail store blasts?

Ever wonder what to do with all that information?


Ann developed a Seminar called “Help I’m A Home Good’s Addict” which has been modified for a small group setting into “My Catalog Life”…How to Create Unique Home Spaces from Ready Made Retail which walks you thru 5 Practical Steps to Designing your Home with Retail Product and not getting that “Nice Pottery Barn House” comment from a friend.

We will give you some sneak peek previews over the coming weeks! If you can join us, sign up now! Space is highly limited.

Design & Reality TV

I hope everyone has been well. We have been busy behind the scenes with Couture Chateau working on everything from private design projects to our Design Seminars. Make sure and sign up now! Space is highly limited on this one – only 8 people!That said, my friend – and actually quite funny – Designer Heather Blue Harkovich

Heather & Scott

was on TLC’s Finale last night of Four Houses. I have linked Heather’s Blog here:

Having worked in and around the entertainment industry for years, this was laugh out loud funny to me.

I delighted to see each and every one of the “couture chateau’s” designed and made with intent and care. The spaces created certainly fed each of the personalities who lived with in.

Stay tuned…!

xoxo Ann McDonald

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

What did I tell you?


LISTEN to Martyn……and remember you heard it from me a year ago when we were buying 80’s antique brass before anyone else in our group ;)!

LOVE…LOVE…LOVE Market….stay tuned for those “On Trend” Seminars in May.

Small Group, In Office. $495 for 2 Hours. Book Now – last year we sold out.

Wed May 2nd 12 – 2. The LATEST On Trend from Market. Great for Local Designers who don’t attend Market & the Casual Enthusiast who simply LOVES Design.

xoxo Ann!



Trend Workshops & High Point Videos

As mentioned yesterday, our Trend Workshop/Seminars are coming up in February. LA & SF Bay Area.

Below are two videos from this Fall’s High Point Market dealing with some TRENDS.  Check them both out. Designer Tobi Fairly is featured in the second video. Great fun. Great design. And you KNOW I love yellow. Yes, our entire office floor is yellow over scaled flowers!

What I like is that these videos give a behind the scenes feel. They do a great job capturing Market & showcasing Industry Leading Designers in a real trade show setting. It is encouraging to all of us!

Hickory Chair Celebrates its 100th-Year Anniversary (High Point, NC, October 2011). Jason Oliver Nixon interviews Quy Nguyen, Mariette Himes Gomez, Susan Hable Smith, Suzanne Kasler, Thor Taber and Tobi Fairley. — with Tobi Fairleyand 4 others.

Upcoming Workshops, February 2012

When we started our TREND, Teach & ENCOURAGE workshops…they weren’t really workshops at all. They evolved out of our shopping days with Project Clients. As the same questions kept popping up, we worked to solidify the answers into a time of learning and hands on doing with respect to Interior Design, consulting with experts in Antiques or Holiday Staging for added fun. These one on one seminars were & are a real treat.

However, not everyone is a Project Client so last year, we tested the waters for Trend Workshops with friends and local decorators working on their own projects. This group setting was so fun! No extra experts were brought in which helped make the day accessible for those who weren’t sure what they were getting into! Our hope is to keep the cost around $450 for the day, including food and wine of course :)!

These TREND Seminars will focus on what is new at Market, either the Gift and Home show in Las Vegas or the fabulous and compelling twice yearly Markets at High Point. For the homeowner who wants a refresh, these are great ways to find one or two items that are the design equivalent of a great spa day. We will also address specific Design issues and have q & a with Ann.

Check out the following links to the wholesale markets.  Fabulous. Fun. Creative. Couture.  Be sure to let us know you might be interested in attending!  You can email Ann at or the office in general at