Monday Matters: Well, My Week is Wacky, How About Yours?!

Monday Matters: Well, My Week is Wacky, How About Yours?!

Am traveling this week

Packing (ok, I really do like to pack), unpacking & off to learn & work

NYC – CT – Old Friends, New Friends, Clients & Coaches

Very fun

Problem is I never finished cleaning up yesterday!


The lure of a late lunch with friends got me


What about you?

How is your Monday shaping up?

Did you finish?

Some of the super fun things happening this week include Kips Bay in NYC with Kathryn Ireland’s Fabric Line

This video is from 2011

Be sure to check it out – always a favorite. The video below is from 2012.

If you are in town or close by I hope you get a chance to visit. As a young designer working in NYC years ago, Kips Bay was my Everest. I went with bated breath & tried to carefully step into the path of the greats.

I love seeing the work designers do in NYC. It’s a small town at heart & I love it.

Monday Matters & so do you!

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

xo Ann

Saturday Stuff: How to Achieve Beauty in Decorating

Saturday Stuff: How To Achieve Beauty in Decorating

Simple at it’s core…

I have always loved this quote…

If you’ve been with us a few days, you know what we are unfolding here on the blog:

I am sharing some of my Couture Chateau Decorating Principles


My Couture Chateau SYSTEMS that work in conjunction with my Decorating Principles

Today we are on Beauty.

There are actually three (3) colors of paint, not two! Even subtle differences MATTER in YOUR custom life!!

The Historical Chandler Building. When choosing the paint colors, I kept circling back to WHO the building really was…what would make her feel beautiful. Thank God the Owner “got it” or she would have been pale green…just like every other on the block…

Reflected from a home that is safe: physically, emotionally, spiritually

Your proverbial shire…

Reflected from a home that is in order: by type, by scope, by process

Wow. Not my personal preference, but maybe it could be someday…an incredible open air home via Forbes. Image linked.

Beauty that is FOCUSED & HONED by the parameters established above

Beauty that has walked through SAFETY and ORDER to Find Itself…

And is completely FREE because of it

I love this image and what it represents for my Clients. I know, we are not curing cancer here…but getting a home to a place of freedom matters. I know it in my bones…it just does…

NOW, seriously free

No apologies for style or taste or preference or cost

Mar-A-Lago, Donald Trump’s Palm Beach place…image linked.

No apologies for choosing something slightly outrageous

If this is what you love and thrive in, then DO. Image linked. This is from 2009 and I still swoon. Wendy Owen & John Lamos.

Just you. Reflected in your Safe, Ordered, Beautiful space…

Remembering that these chairs will find JUST the right home...

Find your beauty and embrace it. It might just become a classic….every classic started in the brain of an innovator…

tomorrow? Stewardship of just that beauty…

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: My Go To Place Card Holders for the Thanksgiving Table

Frugal Friday: My Go To Place Card Holders for the Thanksgiving Table

I am rarely accused of setting a casual table

Love place cards, salt cellars…specialized china, framed menus…all of it

I do have one Fun Frugal place card holder though.

It’s actually a standby + fill in. Works with just about every setting.

Don’t laugh. And if you already use this type, :)!

Simple, clear glass base. The ones I have are stars and we use them all year, for all occasions. The metal can easily be shaped & twisted around a nice quality card. I like them because you aren’t married to the shape.

Pier One Photo Holders. The CLEAR ones.

3 in a box = $5

Remember: the wire bends! You aren’t married to the motif.

Current stock at my house? Well, let’s just say I first discovered them when they were on sale & I “took out” three stores

Self Print Business Cards make great Frugal Name Cards. Not too heavy = no “fall down”.

This is a simple, inexpensive way to add those detail touches without breaking the bank.

Besides, the clear glass doesn’t compete with a beautifully set table.

Customize the business card to your hearts content – especially fun to see which “Business Card Template” happens to work with your Table Setting! You’d be surprised!

Have a great day.

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: How to Nurture a Luxury Mindset with a Chai Latte Budget

Frugal Friday: How to Nurture a Luxury Mindset with a Chai Latte Budget

Define Luxury…

Yesterday, I had the honor of being quoted by one of my favorite blogs, Quintessence (linked here)

” as designer Ann McDonald of Couture Chateau in Orinda, CA said, “Luxury is more a state of mind than a state of pocketbook.” 

Twirled like a 15 year old girl. I told my Master Mind Friends I had been quoted by Royalty. They agreed.

Context: Months ago I responded with full heart to an Elle Decor Survey on “Luxury Now – What Really Counts”

It is one of those Life Forces for me: Luxury, that is.

A sneak peek of my kitchen sink…I hope someday to share my home with you in publication

I grew up in a home where Luxury was taught as a  custom PROCESS. We ate intentionally. We were taught the value of family & to live with care.

Process WAS substance because how things were executed indicated if we cared or valued what we were doing. The highest order was to custom build that PROCESS according to the gifts & talents we brought to the table. I think it’s why we’re all so different.

If you were going to do something, do it beautifully and do it well.

It was never based on dollar amount – we didn’t have that much.

And we all know that money does not buy taste, or intent…or care…

My opinion? I think it was because there wasn’t a lot that I learned to NURTURE the mindset that  (Value + Care + Intent) = Luxury

Life takes turns…sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down…

The beauty: The answer is simple – well, in theory 😉 at least…

It may be hard to bring our head in line with our heart’s Luxury goal – I do severely desire an Hermes bag

Simple and classic…it would look fabulous sprawled on my mismatched slate kitchen counter…

but my Custom Luxurious Life Mindset does not depend upon it.

It depends on my nurture of  (value + care + intent)

There  really is no club to join, no fee to pay, no license exam to pass. We just start. Today.

We bring our custom selves – all those quirky talents & random gifts our DNA handed us – to the table and start.

For me – it always begins with space. Space affects me profoundly. Not sure why, it just does. And so I start there. And when they ask…I start there with my clients & with my friends.

Funny how when we intentionally bring in (value + care + intent) to space….”luxurious” as a descriptive phrase is never far behind.

What is your Luxury? What is your mindset?

As a new friend said to me the other evening…”I collect stories”…I think I see her Luxury Mindset now…she (values) them + she (cares) about them + she is (intentional) in the stewardship of them by collecting…do you see?…..

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

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: Finishing Out a Retail Product with a Favorite Design Trick we’ve used for years…

Frugal Friday: Finishing out a retail product with a favorite design trick we’ve used for years…

Frugal Friday has become one my favorite features of this blog – it gives me a chance to share some of our time honored secrets, new sources and ways to customize a job in a frugal way. I like that! Very fun.

Here’s another one of my design tricks. Simple really, just one of those things that I’ve been doing for years…never really think about it until clients and friends are blown away by the outcome. Mostly because there are a gazillion DIY places out there that do a bad job of using a simple solution and muck it up with too much “craftiness” or too little skill.

Here is the same “type” of table we had…meaning a rectangular glass top with uber contemporary lines on the base. What I like is that you can use ANY pedestal base for this idea.

Take a glass table top, underline it with an incredible fabric. I don’t mean put fabric on top of something and place the glass OVER, I mean UNDERLINE the glass with a fabric (adhere that puppy) to the glass.

First time I ever did this, we had a client who was *DONE* spending $$$$$. Problem was, we HAD to finish off the space with a table and it HAD to be fabulous.

Solution: buy the Versace Fabric (2 Yards @ $750/yard) – ok you can substitute a less expensive fabric – it is frugal Friday after all :)!! BUT the point is, for this client, it WAS frugal!! Our other option was to use about 12 yards of the Versace…you do the math!! 12 versus 2 at $750 a yard?! Big time frugal ;).

This isn’t the fabric we used – don’t have access to the table we made any longer (did I say how many years ago that was ;)!, but wanted to show you the TYPE of fabric we were dealing with. It had to have impact and it was a very contemporary space.

Have it adhered to the underside of the glass with fabric paste or glue and top it on the pedestal bases. We DID make a simple backing system in case we had some fraying and did need to play with it a bit but since that time we have used several fabrics and several table tops and bases.

I love this simple Calder side table cube from Arteriors Home and would love to put a fabulous fabric on the underside of the glass here. Make this a fun centerpiece for a teenage hang out. Easy and fun!

I also had this professionally done by a window shade manufacturer who was used to adhering fabric to those roll down shades that drive everybody nuts (!) BUT I knew we only had one shot to get it right…and he did…he had years of making those shades just right for some of the pickiest people on the West Side of Los Angelels :)!! thank GOD.

This fabric we used for one of the tables is from 2009 I think (Marimekko) but they make great patterns for this kind of thing! High impact, lower price point, easy to find at Crate & Barrel and online. Easy to change also…

In putting together this post, I searched online to see if I could find some DIY Blog that had ever done this – I found this blog…”Trapped in North Jersey” and howled. Why? Because the person we made the original table for was in California but they were from … well … let’s just leave it at that… is the link to her site which has some VERY simple DIY instructions for the process. No sense reinventing the wheel as she has done a nice job telling us the HOW’s:

Have a GREAT weekend…and let me know if you use this tip anywhere in your home!

This is my inspiration piece from this season. We have been doing this for (ahem….) many years, but I simply LOVE how Ruben has taken it one step further and added a layer of pattern beneath the glass. Simple, classic, on trend, iconic. I can imagine this will be copied a billion times, but for good reason. In it’s simplest form, this is good design. Practical, movable, interesting, flexible and convenient. Swoon. I do hope some benefactor out there has wrapped up a few of these in original format for some furniture museum. Pucci is pretty good at that…so I’m not worried!

Inspiration piece from this season – I LOVE this table by Ruben Toledo from Pucci. Have since the first moment I saw it. I am dying to use the original in a space (clients?!).

Live a custom life. There is only one you!

xo Ann

Frugal Friday Decorating: How to Customize a Builders Standard Closet the Couture Chateau Way

Frugal Friday Decorating: How to Customize a Builders Standard Closet the Couture Chateau Way

Earlier this week I shared how I love tassels…and that we use them on our custom hangers in custom silver leafed closets

Our silver leafed closets are a Couture Chateau Signature. Something only the homeowner knows about. Private & Delightful.

Silver is gorgeous in closets as it provides a gentle reflection for the clothes. It illuminates without overpowering.

Today I am going to share a secret with you.

When we work on smaller projects or are doing a guest room or vacation home that doesn’t have a huge budget but our Clients sill want that signature “Couture Chateau Closet”….this is how we get it…frugally :)! Since we are working on some Tahoe Cabin Projects right now, I thought it’d be a great time to share…

First…your basic closet. No walk in, no nothing…just a basic closet…

This is a closet pic from I thought it was a great real time picture of a normal closet.

Second, strip that puppy bare….patch & repair the walls…make SURE you are working from a SMOOTH finish texture. Then, bring in Martha. Martha Stewart’s Silver Metallic Paint that is :). Available at Home Depot.

If you are really serious about mimicking the Silver Leaf thing, you will have to do some faux finishing, but more often than not, we just paint the entire thing in Martha’s Silver. Don’t forget the ceiling & side walls as it’s the reflection of the silver that makes the closet feel so magical.

For our Couture Chateau Custom Closets we add down lighting that highlights the center of the hangers. For a DIY Approach you can add strip lighting, but be careful to make sure it’s no – heat and you have proper ventilation and on/off switches. Wiring is always tricky and you should consult a licensed electrician in your area if you want to go this route.

We also add cedar, but we frame out the unseen INSIDE walls that hold the doors so you don’t see the Cedar, you just get the benefits.

Home Depot Again…these cedar planks can be mounted on the inside wall where the closet doors hang if you want to hide them. Typically they go on the floor but often the aesthetic isn’t right…so we customize!…a couture chateau in the making…

Use the Container Store’s Basic System in SILVER.

From the basic Elfa System you can literally take it from Frugal to Frighteningly Expensive very quickly…

Here are some of the things we talk to Frugal Clients about adding:

Custom Upholstered Fascia Pieces to Match the Silver. We have used white leather, silver leather, hot pink!…and more…

Custom Poles: You need to make sure it fits the hardware, but we have custom painted, custom upholstered & custom wallpapered those puppies…

Hangers: For Budget Friendly Custom, Tuesday Morning & Home Goods have those slim line Hangers that we make slip covers for out of matching fabric. The Container Store does have some plain covers that you can customize by adding trim or a monogram. We have never used them so I can’t vouch for those…but they seem like a viable option.

Or, just hang a tassel on your favorite hanger & you’re done! 😉

So there…one of my most TIGHTLY kept design secrets.

A Couture Chateau Frugal Friday Closet for my Friends!

xoxo Ann

Wednesday Interior Design Style Points: Yom Kippur a Day Set Apart

Wednesday Interior Design Style Points: Yom Kippur a Day Set Apart

Though I am not Jewish, today is a Holy Day for many of my friends. It is set apart.

As a Designer and Decorator, I have been humbled and learned much from my Jewish friends and colleagues who take great care and understand the value and import of each component that goes into intentional purposeful design.

One of my biggest learning experiences was when I designed a Kosher Kitchen decades ago. I can now see it as the genesis of my love of custom detail.


I had to measure and design individual spaces or compartments that were lined with cloth for every single item.

Every cabinet was measured for what item would be placed in it and made to size. Every cabinet was then custom lined with an appropriate cloth.

It made me realize that even the smallest items had value and import and deserved to be stewarded and have a place.

Each PIECE had a PURPOSE and was VALUED. Nothing superfluous went into that space. Everything mattered, was measured, had a specific place and was accounted for.

Embrace your custom value and purpose today :). You matter and are accounted for!

What Interior Design Choices can you make that will enhance your life? Make you more of who you are supposed to be?

I love this lamp – it is made of what some people think of as throw away or ridiculous material…but in the hands of the right designer becomes something fabulous and beautiful! Great symbolism for never overlooking the details. From Demilked. Swoon.

Live a custom life. There is only one you!

xo Ann

Frugal Friday: What Are the Best Inexpensive Home Design Resources?

Frugal Friday: What Are the Best Inexpensive Home Design Resources?

Here are SOME of my Top Go-To’s for our DIY Clients….not all of the places…just some!

1. Calico Corners Sale: Once or twice a year Calico Corners has a sale on their services. For true DIY Clients, this is a fabulous resource. They will find out what things really cost and often come RUNNING back to us ;)!! after they get their quotes. However, for the homeowner desiring retail execution of their design vision and managing it all themselves, this is a practical way to go.

2. Ikea: Check out my “Confession of an Ikea Hacker” Blog Post. I need a 12-Step Program :)!

Check out our blog post on Ikea Hacker. I will not apologize for loving this store. It sparks my creativity every time I go :)! Then I need a massage & a pair of Prada shoes…but…;)!…

3. Macy’s Furniture Outlet: I have found remarkable rugs & sofas here.

Macy’s Furniture Outlet, Union City, CA

4. Home Goods: Know what you are looking for! Major labels appear here sometimes……!

Major Labels sometimes show up at Home Goods. KNOW what to look for & you can find some deals.

5. West Elm: Great prices for great style. Yes, it’s retail, but I like their accessories. Well made & polished.

West Elm’s Cottage Pillow Cover. Sublime. $29! Cheaper than our office trip to Starbucks!

Happy Frugal Friday!

Build your Couture Chateau!

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: Bespoke Design Makes A Difference in Your Home

Wednesday Style Points: Bespoke Design Makes A Difference in Your Home

A Client took this photo as inspiration for a Custom Artwork Piece we were having made…

Bespoke: Custom, Made to Order

This was another photo that a Client took, which we modified into something very custom which held special significance for them…it blesses them each day!

We love how custom, hands on things in your home bring life and soul into a space

This photo, taken by our Client on one of their many travels became the inspiration for another custom piece of art. This client’s passion and gift is photography which we take and turn into design elements for their home….encouraging them to fan into flames their gift to bless others

At Couture Chateau we care deeply about building spaces that equip our clients to be the best they can be

We love custom because hand made items bring a story with them into a space

Those things are blessings to both the TRADESMEN & WOMEN who create them & the CLIENTS who love them

Have a great Wednesday – embrace the Style Points that belong just to you!

xo Ann