Monday Matters: Design Bloggers Conference!

Monday Matters: Design Bloggers Conference!

It’s Monday Morning – thank God for a Starbucks in the Hotel

We are safely ensconsed at The Hilton Universal City, Los Angeles – a stones throw from where my LA office was for two years, so am happy in context. Southern California clients are so fun! A fabulous treat.

For the next few days I will be attached to my computer learning from some  old friends & new mentors. I am always grateful for what I call business fellowship ;)…a wonderful group of like minded people who challenge me to be more than I am…breaking my preconceptions, challenging my comfort…


My deepest hope is that this time will produce lasting fruit, the kind that brings blessing to you & yours & our fabulous team at Couture Chateau & soon to be official Ann McDonald, Inc.

growth quote

Life is full of risk…here’s to stepping out…what will YOU step out on? If I can do this, you can! Here’s to the journey togehter in this thing called life…

And yes, the pink luggage made it ;). It just happens to match my scarf today!


So, yes, a bit of whimsy. A girl has got to have her pink!

What does your week look like?

A bit of work?…what are you working on…the house..yourself…all those Monday questions…it’s a fresh start for the week…

Is there a bit of risk you are taking this week? What is it that might challenge you? Are you willing to try?

 And I HOPE there is a bit of whimsy!! What is your proverbial ‘pink luggage’ this Monday morning?

Monday Matters & so do YOU!

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

xo Ann

Saturday Stuff: Do You Struggle With Packing? I Have A System For That!

Saturday Stuff: Do You Struggle With Packing? I Have A System For That!

And no….it doesn’t take all the joy out! Or the fun! Or the color out!

It actually ADDS to the joy, color & fun!

I am getting ready to head to LA for a few days for the Design Bloggers Conference & am dealing with last minute packing

I actually love to pack

Don’t gag…but I actually love to coordinate my wardrobe with my suitcases & handbags for a specific trip. It brings a complete look to the travel experience. I learned this from an early age…my first travel bag was blue floral & of course all of my clothing & accessories coordinated for my overnight stay…including my pajamas!

Always comes back to the same system I use in my Design Business:

Envelope – Edit – Implement

The process I teach in Lifestyle Design & Decorating is the same I use for packing. It makes it EASY to get a handle on things & complete the task so you can get on with the fun of living!!

My closest friend HATES packing. In fact, this person will often have me pack for them! It  literally paralyzes them….

What about you?

Do you struggle?

Let me know!

Maybe I can share this system as well! My friend laughs when I bring out the checklist, but the truth? I am still packing for them…so something must be working!

Saturday Stuff. It’s what life is made of.

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: Ah, The Joys of Code…Kind of Like Decorating…

Frugal Friday: Ah, The Joys of Code…Kind of Like Decorating!

So if you’ve wondered where we have been this week – why we missed yesterday and are a tad late today, blame it on the “bug”

No, not my flu – though the voice is STILL gone much to the joy & delight of everyone in my house & office :)….

You will be happy to know we are immersed in code, as in computer code

We are preparing to launch our first PUBLIC Information Products under the banner of “Ann McDonald” and are attempting to get the proverbial House in Order so that things don’t go buggy…

Decorate Like A Pro Package Image

Let’s just say the speaker phone in the office has been used 24-7 on those live chat hotlines, my DEAR friends in Mastermind have been GRACIOUSLY testing, entering emails, sending me the exact email they get back…Ditto Ann & Christina…my 20 something hip “in” testers one from the heart of NYC & one from the heart of SF who are honest!! You guys deserve the world…

oh the joys of “error 404”!

Smile. Call Tech.


Smile. Call Tech again. Pretend not to hear the nice young gentleman on the other end roll his eyes…it’s Ann McDonald and her Team again…..

Smile. Pray. Drink more coffee.

Frugal Friday? Why here? Because in the interest of keeping YOUR costs down, I am trying to keep OUR costs down.

May today be a blessing to you.

Here’s the QUESTION of the Day:

What is /%postname%/

IF you answer that in the comments correctly…I will probably offer you a job…!

Deciphering & using code properly is kind of like Decorating. There is a ton of mess in the underbelly & on the public face it’s all pretty & user friendly!

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

xo Ann

Sunday Stewardship: Rest, Recuperate & Redecorate :)

Sunday Stewardship: Rest, Recuperate & Redecorate

There is nothing like a nasty case of the flu to force REST

I/We are still down for the count, popping up every so often when our meds kick in!

I must say, the best meds are the home made Hot Toddy’s…image linked. Thank you to Franki for suggesting some brandy! It has most definitely helped! Image linked to ehow’s…”How to cure a cold with Brandy”!

My Doctor assures me I will have a voice again, though my children are loving the silence 🙂

My Webinar recording…not so much loving the silence……..

Hard to talk with no voice….my teenage son has volunteered to “use” the gaming headset we bought to record our webinars but I have hidden it in my office! I don’t want more of my business supplies to end up in the vortex of “play room hell”!

As far as RECUPERATE goes, the best part is what I call visual feasting

Have you SEEN this month’s House Beautiful?

I have been LOVING reading every part of this month’s issue!! The features, articles….all of it…speaking to me right now…image linked

OMG, delight to the heart & eyes

And the REDECORATE part?

Well…nothing like spending a week in bed to make you want to redecorate your room, is there….!….

How fun would this be? Image linked.

Honey, what do you think of green? It’s the color of the year you know….

Image linked.

This would never work in my house, but I do LOVE the sleek style. Maybe if I ever have a desert home….

Sunday Stewardship. I like the redecorate part the best.

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

xo Ann

Thursday Spotlight: A Friend & Fellow Designer Denise McGaha Speaking @ Southern Living Showhouse!

Thursday Spotlight: Friend & Fellow Designer, Denise McGaha Speaking at Southern Living Showhouse in Austin, Texas

Topic: Creating Your Interiors On A Showhome Deadline

Denise is beautiful, smart & oh so fab at design!

Denise McGaha is the real deal. She just gets it. I count her as a dear friend who will speak the truth & listen with an open heart.

A powerhouse Designer from whom I glean much, Denise specializes in creating on a deadline

This weekend she is scheduled to speak at the Southern Living Showhouse in Austin, Texas

This is one of my favorite designs by Denise. She has a keen eye for scale, color & balance. This image was featured in Design Guide. Image linked.

If you are anywhere near, you should make your way over. If I could just wrangle that private plane I’d be on it…

Denise is also in my Mastermind group with Tobi Fairley

Still recouping in my pale pink, trying to save my voice & heal from this nasty flu, may this be a blessing to you today!

This is a great pale pink. I use it line drawers, linen cabinets, undersides of desks, closets…

Spotlight: Denise & Southern Living!

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

xo Ann


Tomorrow? My friend and fellow Designer Heather Harkovich…lead Designer for Southern Living Showcase in Austin, Texas & owner of Heather Scott Home

Monday Matters: Planning For A Week of Master Mind

Monday Matters: Planning For A Week Of Master Mind

As many of you know, I get together every quarter with a fabulous group of Designers in Little Rock, Arkansas

I am part of Tobi Fairley’s Master Mind program and it has changed HOW I run the business of my Design Business

I believe this PASSIONATELY about our spaces…also true with PEOPLE…

The simplicity of Tobi’s program spoke to me: It’s about the business of Interior Design. I grew up with an archaic drilling that inherited wealth was ok, but to earn it? omg…how gauche…PROBLEM: If I don’t earn from a well run business, then my business closes. No jobs for those I delight to work with & the gifts & talents I have been given to steward in this area simply die. Hard lesson for me. Money was simply never discussed in “polite company”….

Ummm….times have changed….

LOVE this. Pick wisely. You matter enough to do so.

That has been a hard lesson to get into my soul. I think it’s why I laugh SO HARD when watching Downton Abbey. “What’s next…the London stage?”… will never know how much I relate…

I see this so much with my Clients & is WHY I am so passionate about these upcoming Webinars. I want so much to INVOLVE for Understanding so your life is EASIER. Design Systems Simplified!

In my heart I knew it was right to join this group of fabulous women. But it was a risk…I mean, there were (are) those I know who eye roll as a daily habit…oh well…

Says it all.

So this Monday matters.

I look forward to a week of:





Designer Stuff!

It will also be a great hiatus from our Webinar production that has been on the front burner these past two weeks.

DO let us know if you’d like to be one of our limited live Webinar Testers. Send an email to This is a product which will contain an Introduction Module + 6 Additional modules and will have a price tag well into the thousands…if you’d like to be on our short list of test participants, you will receive some of the material for free! We are scheduled to start testing the last week in February. Limited number of spots available so be fearless and email me!

Monday Matters & so do YOU!

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

xo Ann

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

Thursday Spotlight: Practical Applications, How To Make Couture Chateau Decorating Principles Work In Real Life!

Thursday Spotlight: Practical Applications, How To Make Couture Chateau Decorating Principles Work In Real Life

So you have a Decorating Principle in front of you

Seems logical

Let’s start with # 1:

Decorate with no more than 7 years in mind

I mean, Decorate for 7 years…good idea

Now what?!

Safety + Order + Beauty™

(Yes, another one of my Trademarked Processes)

I mean, how do I make this practical?

Three things, in this order:

1. Safety

2. Order

3. Beauty

It’s the SPOTLIGHT we put on every PRINCIPLE when working with Full Service Clients in that order

 #1 = Safety

Addressing safety, especially emotional & spiritual safety in decorating provides hedges. Pleasant boundaries that make a house a HOME. They can be many things to many people. The point is, if we address them, we can manage them & decorate a space to deal with them…

Therefore, we address every component of SAFETY in their life with respect to the PRINCIPLE at hand

Example: For the next 7 years….what do I need to do to be safe

Physically + Emotionally + Spiritually

What does YOUR safety look like in each of those areas?

Setting up residence overseas? Happen to be a diplomat? Physical safety is a component of our Design. Spiritual as well – there may be things we need to be cognizant of if someone is in and around volatile religious situations

Diplomatic Residence in London est 2017. Image linked.

Young kids? Infants? Safety can be about latches, locks & electrical outlets AND buttons on tufted sofas…..

Safety is simply not something we should overlook!

Troubled child moving home? Safety can mean no bar in the guest house & a video camera at the end of the property. It can also mean simple clean and calming interior spaces that are designed to heal…the right colors, textures…

I love this space by Mary McDonald. But I probably wouldn’t translate this boldness into a space for someone who is struggling…and those are conversations best had at the outset of a Decorating job. Trust me. You’d be surprised at how much we can fool ourselves into thinking…”oh, that would be fine…my son is coming back from rehab, but I don’t think it matters what the front room looks like…” Ummm, yes, it does!

Safety can mean many things – and you’d be surprised how many detials get overlooked when you don’t address these things

Remember, I created these Decorating Principles to equip me to best serve my Clients

With years of working alongside many different types of Clients in many different situations, I noticed that the Diplomat & Stay At Home Suburban Mother had more in common when it came to the PROCESS of finding the right Decor than first glance

Universal + Customizable

The process we use is the same for both = Universal

The outcome or answers are different = Custom

I love sharing these – my hope is that they will bless you!

Tomorrow? Step 2 in this process (Frugal) Order…

Hang on – this is going to be a fun walk thru with our Decorating Principles!!

And once we get through the top 10, I will let you know how we will make the other 20 available to you



Shine it & LIVE!

“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

Monday Matters: Getting Through The Week With Patience Not Panic

Monday Matters: Getting Through The Week With Patience Not Panic

Designing a space or Decorating a room requires Patience

I like this image. Great Design requires patience as well.

So does getting through a busy week of work

I have these column fragments clustered together in the living room. At different times of the year they serve as candle holders, book ends, stocking hangers or tray holders on a buffet table! Talk about custom life...;)

These columns remind me daily of how patience pays off. Gorgeous Patina comes from years of use…

Sometimes we get so excited about a new project

or product

that we rush

or skip entirely required steps

not building a solid foundation

You know the analogy – building your house on the sand instead of the rock…

Building on a rock means so much more than this…it means we do the work we need to do even when we don’t want to do it. I have the privilege of reading The Four Hour Work Week right now. There are delightful nuggets in the book to be sure, HOWEVER, real life is more than just being “happy”. There is beauty that comes from walking through the process & being edified

As we look at the week ahead, what do YOU need to patiently address?

In your Home? In your Work? With your Family?

Will you panic?

This makes me laugh out loud! My nature? This. Why do you think I reset each week on Monday & insist that the entire Studio does with me? Because my nature must be molded into something far more productive & beautiful

Or calmly address the situation

Two proverbs I keep close at hand: “Calmness can lay great errors to rest” and “Do not leave your post in times of trouble”

An example from our Studio

We have been cleaning & organizing, reducing & reusing

Now? Monday Morning a pile of papers that MUST be shredded awaits

I could panic

The piles are huge

There is DESIGN WORK do be done besides shredding

I LOVE Design Work. Designing Lives, Houses, Product….all of it…but I am made better by deadlines, borders, parameters…they hone my skills & bring me back into the practical application of daily living. I am blessed by them. It is why I embrace the pain of this so called drudge work.

Or I could patiently set out the three shredders, make that great coffee, put on some music & hand everyone in the office a stack of stuff to get through

Is it glamourous?


Is it necessary?


So some of Luxury Design Work = drudge


What do I do to lift myself & those around me while we tackle this task?

Am GRATEFUL we have the Clients to generate things to shred

I am grateful.

Am GRATEFUL we have the Work that generates things to shred

Gratitude can be learned. Just like anything. Trust me. If I can learn to keep a tidy desk….ANYTHING can be learned ;)!!

What is your Monday Matters?

What is your drudge for the week?

Can you lift it out of the ordinary?

How so?

With an attitude of gratitude? A dash of music? Some great fresh coffee?

Sometimes life isn’t all that glamorous, but it still DESERVES to be lived


Life should be lived well

I like this. I had to learn this. My nature is to be invisible so I don’t do, ask or move forward. I used to think that was the right way to be. To essentially disappear….so as not to bother anyone with me…. I now know you can DO with KINDNESS, ASK with GRACIOUSNESS & MOVE FORWARD with JOY. Is this something anyone else has to learn? It is daily for me. It is one of the reasons I write the blog…….hopefully a kind, gracious & joyful blog…

So we are off to do the things we SHOULD because it’s the right thing to do

Louboutins? What do those shoes have to do with Monday Matters?!

Hello Monday cheerfulness!

Great for shredding. I mean, a girl can sit down & shred in style, can’t she?!

Monday Matters & so do YOU!

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

xo Ann