Thursday Spotlight: Who Am I & How In Heaven’s Name Does That Relate To My Sofa?!

Thursday Spotlight: Who Am I & How In Heaven’s Name Does That Relate To My Sofa?!

Spotlight: Who Am I?

My favorite sofa style for me? High arm, high back, deep cushion…in navy or red velvet……opposite a white contemporary piece….

I love the mix of old & new, contemporary, traditional. For me? Who I am today? In my living room, this mix feels like a great dinner party…enough tradition to keep it real & some spark to make it interesting….

Spotlight: Who Are You?

The roll arm…always a classic. Image from Apartment Therapy. Linked.

And how in the name of anything does that relate to my sofa….

Yesterday, I shared a photo from the TV Series Frasier. We saw how the choice of Frasier’s Bespoke Sofa ala Coco Chanel contrasted to his Father’s choice of recliner.

Both of those pieces were perfect for who the characters were – at that specific time

Knowing who you are so you can be consistent in every area of your life, starting with your “nest” is important

I believe with all my soul that we need each other to encourage, equip & figure it out. We cannot do this alone…we simply can’t

It can equip you or hinder you

This is such a great visual to me….to the ant, THIS is shopping! They work together to find just the right piece to be who they are…so silly & yet so relevant…image linked.

Can you imagine how uncomfortable the character Martin would have been on the sofa & vice versa?


Yes, you know…one of my trademarked systems 😉

1) from a SAFETY standpoint, he had physical limitations. he needed his recliner to accommodate those issues

2) from an ORDER standpoint, he needed the recliner with a table close by for his drink, remote & as an easy spot for his dog Eddie

3) from a BEAUTY standpoint, that recliner had lived with him for years. It was a pleasant memory and comforting spot where he could delight in all that life had handed him. It was beautiful to HIM

Am I telling you to go buy a recliner?


Though this one might be ok. Image linked.

Am I letting you know that it’s ok to decorate for you, today? YES

In 7 years we will re-asses. My Decorating Principle # 1: Decorate with no more than 7 years in mind.

Who are you?

Does your sofa fit?

Does it do for YOU what Martin’s recliner does for him?

Does it do for YOU what Frasier’s sofa does for him?

I hope so

Spotlight. You.

“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

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!

Thursday Spotlight: Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 5, This One? Sometimes = Tough

Thursday Spotlight: Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 5. This one? Sometimes = Tough

Couture Chateau Decorating Principle # 5: Personal issues must be addressed for Decorating to Delight

On Sunday of this week, I started sharing my Couture Chateau Decorating Principles

Normally these are reserved for our Full Service Clients

However, in the spirit of being FEARLESS for 2013:

1) I am sharing nugget versions on the blog

2) I am putting together an affordable downloadable e-product as well

Universally Applicable + Uniquely Customizable

I created processes + binders, surveys & systems which are extensive

Nuggets = Digestible

Remember the Principles we’ve shared so far:

 #1. Decorate with no more than 7 years in mind

#2. Remove any item that is emotionally unsafe

#3. Fiercely protect the heart of your home

#4. For Decorating to inspire it has to be authentically you

I share my next Decorating Principle carefully

Personal issues are tough

We feel stupid when they are exposed

Boiled it down but still included 3 of my parameters (there are 12)

Parameter #1) personal issues DO NOT need to be resolved, but they MUST BE addressed


Parameter # 2) personal issues CAN get messy, but messy is ok

Example: Client is “Destination House C” owned by a Multi Generational Extended Family Trust

Many cooks in the kitchen

Parameter # 3) Messy ONLY equals dis-function if we pretend we aren’t

Enter Decorator & Decision Time

A property could be vast & exquisite….

Or it could be an Alpine retreat someone bought decades ago for adventure. It matters not. The issues we deal with are the same.

Trustee M: “The Decorator is moving the Miro into the 2nd Floor Lakeside Suite”

The Melancholic Singer by Joan Miro #1480. 

Trustee F: “Don’t you stay in the 2nd Floor Lakeside Suite?”

From Elle Decor, Charlotte Moss. A Master Suite.

Trustee M: “Not always”

Alexa Hampton

Trustee F: “Yes you do, you can’t have the Miro, I want it to stay in my room”

Trustee M: “We don’t have rooms. The house is owned by the Trust.”

Trustee F: “Then I want to stay in the 2nd Floor Lakeside Suite”

Trustee M: “I thought you stayed on the 1st Floor because the morning light bothered you on the 2nd Floor”

Does the painting get moved?

How is the issue resolved?

Does it matter?

Sound ridiculous?

Have you ever heard someone describe a family that disintegrated over something seemingly small?

Me too

Personal issues. Everyone has them….

I don’t want to decorate where a family can disintegrate over something small

Addressing the personal issues AHEAD of time can prevent that

What we find out in the Decorating Principle Process:

Grandmother bought the painting when it was inexpensive, as a child, with her father because she liked the patterns

Grandmother cannot travel any longer to “Destination House C”

Her ONLY wish for the Decorator is to move the painting into the Lakeside Suite on the 2nd Floor because the colors & patterns reflect beautifully when the sun streams in. It reminds her of when the painting was in her room as a child, when it was inexpensive & she just liked the patterns & shapes…


For the Decorator to have a beautiful photograph taken of that vignette to hang in her current home

Do you know this?

Or are you still mad about not having the Miro in “your suite”

Or are you still ticked at Trustee F for derailing an efficient business meeting? I mean ruuheally…can’t she get a life?

Decorating Principles Processes? = you BOTH know it and are at peace with it.

You know WHY the painting is being moved.

Personal Issues. Everyone has them….

Enter Delight

We moved the painting to Delight someone

If we are hung up on personal issues, we CAN’T delight for Grandmother

If we are hung up on personal issues we don’t WANT anyone else to delight

Trustee F will PERCIEVE Trustee M is trying to control things

(Trustee M is the Trust Director & runs a successful business)

Trustee M will PERCIEVE Trustee F is indecisive and jealous

(Trustee F is an Artist who is deeply fond of Miro)

Addressing personal issues makes room for grace which leads to ability to delight

The point is, personal issues can be anything

Dogs, Paintings, Colors…Patterns…Memories…even Moods & Goals…

Think about it – what are some of yours?

Since we are only working in 7 year increments, they aren’t forever….

We are all messy. Trust Funds or Trailers. All.

Messy does NOT have to equal dis-function. Messy can be cleaned up.

It’s why I developed these Principles. They help us navigate & clean up.

Thursday Spotlight

Spot clean the mess. So YOU & YOURS (mine + ours) can delight.

And yes, the Miro got moved

for 7 years…


“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

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