Desert Mountain Home Delights

Lovers of color, Mike and Colleen felt delighted when Sesshu Design enhanced their Desert Mountain home’s connection to its North Scottsdale, Arizona, environment.

desert mountain golf course home

The views of the golf course are a focal point of this great room.

After 15 years of very part-time use of this golf community second home, the couple had decided to make some changes. To start, they decided to split their time evenly between Scottsdale and their primary residence in Tahoe when they retired. The Desert Mountain house had been built in the ‘90s. Mike and Colleen had purchased it furnished in fairly bland colors and … Colleen felt that the master closet was too small. It was time for some upgrades.

Creating a larger, more luxurious closet involved a renovation that added more space to other areas as well, but that was only the beginning of the interior changes. Throughout the property, Mike and Colleen wanted more of an indoor-outdoor connection. To accomplish this, the living room got large glass doors that could open completely into “pockets” so they are concealed. The couple and their guests can now step out onto the new patio, which overlooks the golf course.

Desert Mountain Contemporary ClosetThere would be changes to the exterior, too, with some of the same materials added there incorporated into the living room fireplace as well. The original exterior had been very light, almost white, so it stood out too much in the Arizona landscape. With the addition of regionally sourced stacked stone and a softening of the exterior colors, the home blends more into the site and environment. In the living room, around the stone of the fireplace, that favored Arizona metal, copper, gives a local feel and enhances the outdoor-indoor connection.

All of the finishes on the inside got updates as well, with new furnishings in the living room, dining room, master bedroom, his office and her office.

Mike and Colleen wanted color – red, purple, teal. This was accomplished in accents and the occasional bold splash. The major pieces remained more neutral because it can be overwhelming to see bold colors everywhere. Plus, this makes for easy updates as tastes change.

Then there was comfort. They have family and friends visiting often, so they wanted to be able to entertain easily as well as enjoy just hanging out together. Natural materials were the order of the day, keeping chemicals and toxic materials out. Some of the major furnishings were re-covered rather than replaced when they worked with all of these goals.

Collaborating with Mike and Colleen was fun because color is such a big thing for them and for Sesshu Design. Done right, color – even very strong colors – adds interest. Color makes a home feel warm and welcoming.

See the rest of the project here

A Rainbow of Emotion: Color Psychology for Interior Design

Color is an important piece of the interior design puzzle. I’m fascinated by color’s influence on the feel of a room. You’ve probably heard that red is invigorating, but most people don’t want a lot of red. Greens and blues soothe the nerves. Yellow is cheerful and inspires creativity, but, like red, can come across too strong. This is how color psychology for interior design comes into play.

Color choice comes down to personal preference and how colors affect people. I love red; it energizes me! I often ask clients their favorite colors and the colors that they hate. (If you can’t figure it, out go look in your closet.) With some clients, we’ve even done wonders with purple.

Shades of blue and lavender with bold splashes of color in the artwork make this office a fun space

At the start of all my projects, I ask each client, “What is your favorite color?” “What is your least favorite color?” Both are equally important. This comes down to: “What colors do you use?” We start with that. Then, frequently there will be something that they show me – a piece of art or a travel memento. One time, clients brought in handcrafted ceramic dinnerware they loved. There’s usually some little piece that inspires their color scheme.

The bold yellow and blue palette shown her carries throughout the house – interior and exterior

I delve deeply into color psychology for interior design. We each have psychological associations to color. These feelings typically stem from childhood environment and culture.

I’m not surprised by many of my clients’ aversion to red, but I am surprised that few people like green. Green permeates our natural world. I recommend that if you want the organic effects of green, you explore the variations.

A common mistake is to go too pure, too bright. Look at the paint swatches and go 2-3 shades darker or more grey. Going darker is always better than lighter because it tones down the room. Always paint samples on your walls. Lighting and color are two peas in a pod. A teal green can look blue during different times of day, depending on how the sun shines on it.

A soft, creamy yellow is a cheerful hue for a master bath

Color choice affects how we feel throughout the day. Color psychology for interior design proves that greens and blues promote concentration; they are good shades for an office. Calming, darker tones of blue and green make a bedroom feel like a cocoon. Generally, a darker color is more conducive to helping you sleep, and a brighter color for waking up.

Rich terracotta and deep blues are a complementary color scheme that works well for a guest bedroom

Clients care about color. Subconsciously, color psychology for interior design influences our everyday lives. We always have opinions on color, whether for car or shirt. We are affected by colors and gravitate toward the ones we like and away from the ones we dislike.

Which colors are prevalent in your life? How do they enrich your soul?

Tesla Solar Roof Tiles Now Available For Sale

solar roof tiles teslaAfter debuting to the public last October, Tesla’s customizable Solar Roof panels are now available for orders. The company claims that the glass panels, which are embedded with photovoltaic cells, are “affordable, durable, beautiful, and integrated with battery storage.”

Prospective customers can estimate their return on investment using the Solar Roof calculator, to compare the cost of installation with the energy saved. The panels will cost $21.85 per square foot for a 3,000-square-foot roof and are available in four glass finishes. [Cnet]

Different styles of solar tiles are available such as Tuscan glass tile, Slate glass tile, Textured glass tile, and Smooth glass tile.


Rolls-Royce Owner’s Club Publication – “Strive for Perfection”

Several months ago, we were approached by the official publisher to the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club (RROC), St James’s House, with an invitation to appear in a special publication. St James’s House had been appointed by the RROC to create a high-quality, lifestyle publication tailored to the interests of club members. Titled Strive for Perfection, this stunning, full color, hardcover book explores the living legacy of the world’s most famous marque, Rolls-Royce, and showcases a range of luxury brands for the home. The book features just eight design professionals from across North America – including Sesshu Design Associates.

Sesshu Design featured in RROC publication

The publication is called Strive for Perfection and reflects each featured partner’s commitment to that philosophy

Written by motoring and luxury brand experts, the book will be launched at the RROC’s 65th Annual Meet held at the French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana, from June 18 through June 24.

The Rolls-Royce Owners Club annual event

The scene at last year’s event, held at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.

The book will be distributed to all RROC members, and will be made available to Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealerships around the world. Sesshu Design was recommended to St. James’ House as a featured design professional because of our stellar design work on the finest luxury homes in Scottsdale and across the western US. We are proud to be one of the companies profiled in this book, which is a spectacular display of elegance and luxury. Our two-page spread incorporates Tanya’s interviews with St James’s House, as well as their writer’s vision of our company. Photos of our interiors will be featured prominently in the profile.

Sesshu Design is official partner in Rolls-Royce Owner's Club publication

We are also quite honored to be invited to participate in the ‘World of Luxury’ exhibition at this year’s RROC meet at the French Lick Resort in Indiana, which recently underwent a $500 million renovation.

Healthy Sustainable Design Tips Shared on Sonoran Living

Tanya Shively on Sonoran Living ABC15 Healthy Homes


Yesterday our founder and principal designer, Tanya Shively, was featured on Sonoran Living Live. She discussed the ways that your home can be made more healthy with the proper choices of materials, especially flooring and walls.

Growing up in Jackson Hole surrounded by nature, along with her awareness of how building and design products can affect our health, Tanya makes it a priority to source out design products that are made w/o chemicals.  This includes rugs.  Tanya recommends softening hard surfaces w/ area rugs that are handwoven and made w/ natural fibers such as silk and wool.  Not only are they beautiful, they are, “durable and easy to clean.”

For more information on how rugs affect you and your health, follow this link: How Rugs Affect You and Your Health

Tanya Shively on Healthy Homes Sonoran Living Live ABC15

Click here to watch Sesshu Design – Healthy Home Design on Sonoran Living ABC15

Live a Little: Pro Advice on How to Be More Daring in Your Design

I love this advice from designer, Emily Murray, founder of Pink House, on how to implement more color and daring into your designs.home office woman cave

“When it comes to choosing colors, just go with what makes you happy. A good rule of thumb is to start with a base color of the hue you like to wear most — often something fairly neutral. Then look at the rest of your wardrobe — which colors are you naturally drawn to? Chances are you’ll feel happy with those in your home, too.”

If you still feel unsure, find a designer who embraces color and enlist their help. Live colorfully!

Desert Mountain Home Gets a Facelift and Luxury Upgrades

Desert Mountain Living Room DuskThe renovation of this beautiful home was all started by the need for a bigger and better master closet for the wife. This home was originally built in the ‘90s, and the closets were not all that impressive or even large enough for the value of the home. She wanted a drop-dead gorgeous closet with space to showcase her handbag collection.

Desert Mountain Contemporary Closet

We were brought in by the builder to help with the finish selections and space planning, as well as fine tune some interior details beyond what the architect had drawn. This involved updating the ceilings, fireplaces and furnishings throughout the home. They also added some patio space and made the outdoor living more inviting.Desert Mountain custom fireplace

The couple had lived in the home for over a decade, as furnished by the previous owners. However, when they started spending more time here they knew they wanted to change the interiors to meet their needs and style. All new furnishings in the primary living areas included a custom dining room table, gorgeous in rosewood veneer. Comfortable new seating and statement piece side tables were added to the living room. The bedroom and offices got major updates to flooring with mesquite hardwood.

contemporary Dining Room Table

The clients are thrilled with the results that feel so much more like this is their home, rather than just a place they live. Especially the husband with the removal of the etched glass birds that represented the previous owner’s interests! New leaded glass designs were installed in the entry and the office doors. And the wife’s closet is a statement that all her friends drool over.

Simply Serene – Scottsdale Contemporary Remodel Soothes the Spirit

When the builder first introduced us to this client, we both had a chuckle over our names – she is Tanya (pronounced like Tonya). Our vendor meetings frequently had him calling us the two T’s. Email’s got a little confusing, too. But we both knew right away it was going to be a great working relationship – and it was.

She asked for a pretty space that reflected their lifestyle and taste in a calm, neutral palette. They wanted to incorporate their art and rugs accumulated on travels, and utilize existing furniture while updating the look to a more modern style.Scottsdale contemporary transitional entry Scottsdale contemporary transitional living room

The floor plan called for being more open and inviting, with a flow that allowed them to entertain family and friends. We worked closely with the builder, RJ Gurley, to create spaces that functioned well for them and incorporated beautiful finishes, materials and special details throughout.

A functional and open kitchen with gorgeous glass mosaics and durable quartzite countertops is the centerpiece of this renovation.Scottsdale contemporary transitional kitchen

The master bath was opened up with a better layout while adding stunning details in the flooring and wainscot backsplash. It is an inviting a soothing space to prepare for the day.Scottsdale contemporary transitional master bath

The powder room is the one space that is a little more dramatic with deeper tones and luscious textures.Scottsdale contemporary transitional powder room

Why is green design important?

As consumers learn about harmful chemicals and unethical labor practices common in conventional product development, many make the choice to purchase sustainable products and work with green interior design firms when redesigning their home. If you are considering choosing a green interior designer, first learn what makes sustainable design important.

Why is sustainable design important?

The average individual spends anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of their time indoors. Whether at home or at work, you are surrounded by furnishings, finishes and materials like flooring, wall coverings, and cabinetry. If these are not sustainable, they may off-gas toxic substances or emit chemical compounds that compromise your health.

Conventional design makes use of low-quality materials that often contain known toxins and pollute the environment during the manufacturing process. Not only can these environments make you feel bad, but they are bad for the earth. In the workplace, you might be breathing in a chemical rug cleaner or fumes from wall paint, developing a headache from the fluorescent lights above you, and sitting on a chair covered a with flame-retardant chemical coating.

Now, imagine that you go home. You relax on a recycled fabric sofa set on sustainable bamboo wood flooring. The paint on the walls is low-VOC and the LED lighting is soft and pleasing. You aren’t breathing in any toxins and you are surrounded by furnishings that are just as beautiful as they are meaningful and low-impact. Your rugs are all natural and easy maintenance. There are no finishes that contain formaldehyde or other toxic compounds.

Sustainable Design Sesshu Design Scottsdale
How a green interior designer can help you

Green interior design does not have to mean crunchy or hippie. A sophisticated interior designer with a solid grasp of sustainable products can help you redesign your space to remove design elements that are not sustainable and replace them with earth-friendly options that match your design aesthetic and fit your budget. Better yet, if you are building a new home, you can start with the best materials from the outset and know that you will never have harmful toxins in your home. The cost to use green products in the beginning is negligible over traditional options.

If you are considering working with a green interior designer, ask to see a portfolio of their residential design work. This can give you an idea of the designer’s aesthetic and talent, and help you select a skilled professional who can bring your home redecorating vision to life with products that minimize your environmental impact and contain no known health hazards. To feel happier and healthier in your home, adopt sustainable design ideas.

To learn more about green interior design, and see how it can transform your interior, speak with a qualified green designer at Sesshu Design Associates. You can contact the studio at 480-275-2968.


Sesshu Design Named as one of Top 27 Designers in Arizona

We are very honored to be included on this list of very talented and impressive designers. Thank you for the inclusion!

A talented interior designer is oftentimes one of the most underappreciated artists working today. So often we walk into beautiful, comfortable rooms or spaces and take for granted the fact that the vision-turned-reality of these great works are the result of the time and talent of people who can envision a space beyond four simple walls.

Arizona has, not surprisingly to those in the business, one of the country’s best rosters of innovative interior designers, and today we’re going to celebrate (in alphabetical order) some of the Grand Canyon State’s best.

Sesshu Design Arizona Top Interior Designers

The Top Designers in Arizona are a pretty impressive group

How to Avoid Interior Design Nightmares- Now FREE on Kindle

My book, “How to Avoid Interior Design Nightmares (and Enjoy Creating Your Dream Home) What you Should Know Before Hiring an Interior Designer,”  is available for FREE this week only- click here to get your Kindle copy now.

avoid interior design nightmares

The Kindle version of “How to Avoid Interior Design Nightmares,” by Tanya Shively, ASID, LEED AP, is free through 3/15/14

Deciding to hire a designer can be a scary thing. How do you know if it is even the right decision to make? And if you are ready to begin your search, what do you need to know to make the choice?

This book was created just for you. Inside you will learn:
*What You Should Know Before You Hire an Interior Designer
*What Is The Difference Between An Interior Designer And An Interior Decorator?
*Do You Need An Interior Designer Or An Architect?
*How to Find The Best Interior Designer For My Project
*How Interior Designers Work
*Do You Need a General Contractor As Well As An Interior Designer
*Where the Biggest Problems Arise in Interior Design Working Arrangements
*How to Get the Best Result From My Interior Designer
*Questions to Ask Your Designer First Over the Phone

This book is your step-by-step guide to finding the perfect designer; the design relationship you ultimately choose will be harmonious and will help you create a beautiful home through a process you enjoy.
FREE Offer is only available through March 15, 2014 so don’t wait.


Sesshu Design Nominated for Best Interior Designer


best interior designer AZ Foothills


We’ve been nominated for Best of Our Valley 2013 as Best Interior Designer from AZ Foothills Magazine.  This is quite an honor and we are super excited.


Best Interior Designer Az Foothills HOME-AND-DESIGN Sesshu Design

Arizona Foothills Magazine Best of Home and Design is looking for the Best Interior Designer

Each year asks readers what their favorites are, offering thousands of options chosen by nominations, editors and focus groups. The contest is answered with hundreds of thousands of votes that determine the Valley’s favorites. The best of each category this year will be featured in the March 2013 issue, a tell-all guide to the coolest people and places in the Valley of the Sun.

Please take minute to give us your VOTE for Best Interior Designer.  Thanks!

Arizona Foothills Magazine has been celebrating the latest and greatest in Valley luxury, everything from resorts to shopping to places to live, since 1997.  Their mission is to unveil what’s up and coming, and give credit to those who deserve recognition.  Sesshu Design Associates is thrilled to be counted among these talented and fabulous people!

Thank you to all of our clients, friends and fans for your support and love.  You can vote once per day, so keep coming back!

vote now Best Interior Designer Sesshu Design

Vote for Sesshu Design – Best Interior Designer, Arizona Foothills Magazine

Secret to Finding Your Best Designer? Part 3

So we have been exploring what you need to know when looking for the “best interior designer” to help you with your home remodeling or construction project.  First you need to know  when it is the right time to bring in a design professional, and second you really need to understand what an interior designer does and does not do.  Today we will discuss what  you will need to bring to the process- more than just money, it will also involve your time and effort to varying degrees.

Your responsibility in the design process

Feel excited about the process

Spend some time daydreaming.  Really think about the things that you would like to have.  Start with an idea file.  Tear out pictures from magazines or print them off the Internet, and put them in an accordion file or box.

interior design tips

How do you see yourself living? This defines your lifestyle and thus your design style.


Create a wish list and prioritize it

Whatever comes to mind, put it on your list, then turn that list over to your designer and see what you can get.  Sometimes things don’t cost as much as you think, and your designer can help you prioritize if you’ve been dreaming too big for your current budget.

Before you try to find a designer, spend some time thinking about what you want and need.  Consider some questions the designer will likely ask you:

  • Who will live in the space and what activities will likely take place there?
  • What image do you want the home to project?
  • When do you want to start work and when do you want it completed?
  • What is your budget?

Minimize changes once the project is underway – each part of the plan will affect the entire design and changes can require a number of adjustments which will add time and expense.

Be flexible and open to new ideas

Your design team will often have creative solutions that you hadn’t considered or realized were possible.  These experts are problem solvers who can turn a challenge into a delightful solution.  Flexibility is the key to a successful design project.  Give an idea that at first seems to be “not you” some time to percolate, and you may find yourself excited about new possibilities. After all, if you want only solutions you’ve already considered, you needn’t have hired a design team.

home theater interior design arizona

A fantasy home theater created by the designer with freedom given by the homeowner who trusted their vision

It is a good idea to decide before you begin which areas you are willing to compromise and where you are not.  Then communicate those preferences early in the process.

Working with a designer involves some give and take, sharing ideas between everyone involved in the project.  You will have many details to consider and many decisions to make.  The concept may grow and change during this process.

Don’t let fears of the unknown stop you

Building a new home or planning an extensive remodel can be a daunting, even scary, process – especially if this your first time.  Working with trusted advisers like your architect, builder and interior designer will guide you through every step, selection and decision that will need to be made. They will help you articulate and achieve the vision you hold in your head of what you want your home to be.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Many people are intimidated by interior designers because they fear criticism of their taste or find the process mysterious and don’t know how to articulate their wants.  This is generally an unfounded worry – designers are trained to interpret your desires and taste in a way that you feel comfortable with.

When you are interviewing designers and other building partners, ask questions.  Don’t be afraid to ask anything you feel is important to you, and be sure you understand the design process the designer uses.

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

This can’t be stressed enough – good communication will solve and/or prevent so many of the typical headaches that occur on large home renovation projects.  From the very beginning of the planning stages, express your wishes regarding the style you like, your unique needs, your schedule and the amount you are willing to invest.  The more direct and specific you are the easier it will be for the designer to meet your needs and expectations.

You can control the final expense of your project by clearly defining what you want and what you expect to achieve.

Be clear about your budget

Being up front with the amount you are comfortable investing in the overall project will help your designer to create the best possible plan for your unique situation.  The first step to doing this is to ask yourself, “How much do I have available to spend, what are my priorities and what will I be willing to give up if they don’t fit my budget?”  Before authorizing any work to begin, discuss the fees and other expenses you may incur.

Of course, there is more to finding the best professional interior designer for you than just what we’ve covered here.  If you would like to get more information, request our guide to  “The 7 Critical Things You MUST Know Before Hiring an Interior Designer”.  Or give us a call at 480-275-2968, to schedule your no-obligation consultation to explore what works for you.

Secret to Finding Your Best Designer? Part 2

Okay, now for part 2 in our series- tips on finding the perfect designer for your project.  Last time we talked about the right time to hire an interior designer.  Today we’ll look at what a designer does and does not do, critical to understanding how they can help you accomplish your vision for your dream home.

What an interior designer does

Designers help you work with your architect and builder

A designer can help you work with your architect and builder more easily and confidently.  They understand space from the standpoint of how people live in it.  A designer sees how a space will work, how traffic flows from one room to another, and the relationship of those rooms.  Ultimately, they also understand how the room will look once it is furnished and can help you to visualize it as well.  They can help you with large or small projects, including new construction, remodeling and all aspects of selecting furnishings, accessories, bedding, art, etc.

find interior designer to help you remodel or build a new home

Your designer will work with you and your architect and builder to remodel or build a new home

The real value of an interior designer

The typical designer will have many, many practical suggestions that come from years of knowledge and experience.  They can make educated and often insightful observations with their ability to see and envision what you can’t.  Your designer will help you create a more appealing, personalized environment that fits your lifestyle.  You will be able to function more comfortably and happily in your home when you have worked closely with your designer to address your unique situation, needs and wants.

A designer can save you money, time and stress

A designer can save you money with these skills, and the true value they bring to your project is the professional guidance that comes from their experience.  Sometimes the money they will save is not an actual dollar and cents number, but more of a “not making an expensive mistake I regret” type of number.  Not so easy to measure, but definitely worth it in the end.

An interior designer helps you maximize the investment of your home

Your home is a financial investment and your designer can help you to maximize the impact of the dollars you spend on its interior, whether it is new or you are remodeling.  If you plan on selling within a short period of time, have your designer develop a plan that will have a broad range of
appeal to future buyers.

consult with an interior designer

Consulting with an interior designer will save you time, money and hassles

Areas where finding your best designer can help you

  • Color schemes
  • Conservation and “green” design
  • Construction documents, drawings and specifications
  • Custom furniture, bedding and linens, window coverings, etc
  • Design for people with special needs, incorporating safety and accessibility
  • Floor plans and furniture layouts
  • Furniture refinishing, re-upholstery and refurbishing
  • Home office, closet and other storage design
  • Home staging for selling
  • Specialty room design, such as home spa or exercise rooms, home theaters and media rooms
  • Interior detailing of background elements such as walls, ceilings, fireplaces, etc
  • Kitchen and bath design and renovation
  • Lighting plans and design of fixtures
  • Long term project and lifestyle planning
  • Organizational and storage planning
  • Painting and wall coverings
  • Selection of appliances, plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, tile and flooring materials

What an interior designer doesn’t do

There are some things that your interior designer cannot do and you will need to consult with an architect, structural engineer, or a contractor for these.  Some examples are:

  • Making changes to structural elements
  • Building a house or addition
  • Tearing down a house or the interior of one
  • Building a staircase, elevator or fireplace
  • File plans with the city for bathroom, kitchen, lighting or plumbing renovation
  • Move walls, doors, windows or plumbing

    new construction house

    You will need an architect, engineer and builder for larger remodels or new construction projects

Your interior designer will be able to assist you with the process of any of these projects, but only as far as the interior finishes and space planning, coordinating with the architect and builder to create the final result.

Stay tuned for Part 3- what you need to know about your part in the process once you find your interior designer to maximize your success in creating the ideal home for your needs, tastes and lifestyle.  If you want to learn more, please request our FREE guide, “The 7 Critical Things You MUST Know Before Hiring an Interior Designer”.




Republic West


Secret To Finding Your Best Designer? Part 1

Lifestyle can be defined as: “a way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group”.  In short, it is how you choose to live your life every day – how you express yourself on a daily basis.  Your lifestyle includes where you shop, what you wear, what you eat, your vacations, your pets, your car, and it certainly includes where you choose to live. Your home is a personal reflection of you, whether you have consciously chosen it or

I believe that your life deserves to be lived comfortably.  That begins with your home – it should be a place that makes you happy, feels welcoming, and functions beautifully for the way you live.  Finding an interior designer who can help you do this will reduce the hassle, fuss and stress.

So why doesn’t everyone work with a designer? And how do you make that decision when there are such a variety of options out there, no two  of which are alike?

There are several critical things you should know and consider when you are searching for a professional interior designer.  Today we will help you understand those and make your decision from an informed position. The three most important of these are:

  • The right time to hire an interior designer
  • What an interior designer does & doesn’t do
  • Your responsibility in the process

This post and the following two will explore each of these in detail to provide you with the basics of what to ask, what you should know and how to choose a designer who will become your trusted advisor in an exciting but sometimes scary endeavor- creating your ideal home.

The right time to hire an interior designer

remodeling - drywall

Leave the hassles out of your next remodeling project by using a professional interior designer from the beginning to coordinate all the steps

Ideally, you want to bring a designer in at the beginning of the project, at the space planning and design concept stage – before the contractor, installers or painters begin, before the furniture is delivered, and before you make decisions you are unsure of which may result in change orders or additional expense.  An interior designer will work with you to create a comprehensive plan that will take you through the entire process with the fewest hassles, headaches and expenses.

Don’t try to hire one expert to do everything

Your architect, your builder and your designer each have a very specific set of skills and expertise in different areas of creating your dream home.  While these skills and knowledge do overlap in some ways, they are not completely covered by any one individually. Particularly if your project is a large scale remodel or a new home, it will not make financial sense in the long run to have one person doing two jobs.

It is critical to bring in a professional designer to evaluate your proposed floor plans before the final approval stage.

 Why not just do it yourself?

You may be thinking you will save money by doing it yourself- you have good taste, so why not?  But what is the true cost of your time that you spend by running all over town, looking for resources and researching options, or trying every supplier you find on the Internet?

People are often reluctant to hire a consultant of any type because they see the cost as intangible.  It is true that a designer’s experience and expertise are intangible on one level, but what you are actually paying for are the right results their expertise will produce.

Refreshing and updating your current home

If you are not building a new home or planning a major remodel, an interior designer can still provide you with expert advice on color schemes, furniture arrangement, window treatments and accessorizing to achieve the look you want.  It is a good idea to bring a designer at the planning stage of any major update to a space.  Your designer can help you see options you may not have considered, and suggest the best way to maximize your budget in any size project.

hiring a professional interior designer

There are many benefits to hiring a professional interior designer

When you are ready to sell

If you are selling your home, a designer can be pivotal in helping your home look its absolute best to sell for the highest price.  With professional guidance you will be able to improve its first impression appeal without spending a lot of money.  Again, it is better to bring in the designer early – don’t wait until your home is on the market to hire an expert.  The first three to four weeks your home is on the market, when there is the most activity, is your best chance to get the highest price.  A designer’s objectivity will help you make the changes that present your home in a way that will appeal to buyers.


Look for part II – what an interior designer does and does not do next time.  Meanwhile, we would love to hear what you think.  Have you had an experience good or bad in the past with finding a good designer?  We would love to hear about it in the comments!




Decorate with Local Art: Scottsdale is One of Best Arts Destinations

high end designer arizona

Classic contemporary den design by Tanya Shively


Interior designer and founder of Sesshu Design Associates, Tanya Shively says one of her favorite ways to personalize her own spaces is to use unique accessories that she has picked up in her travels. Decorating with souvenirs and treasures from trips and excursions not only makes for intriguing decor, but it also tells a story about you and where you’ve been.

But unique accessories can be found traveling both far and near. Right here in Scottsdale, there are plenty of opportunities to find local art that can turn into one-of-a-kind home accents. Did you know that among 25 midsize U.S. cities, Scottsdale was the No. 8 Best Arts Destination of 2010 by AmericanStyle magazine?

Presented by the Artisan Market of Arizona, ArtBridge Thursdays is just one of the ongoing art destination events where residents and visitors can enjoy art from the Arizona region’s most talented artists. May 24th will be the last one of the ArtBridge season until next October. So head down to the Marshall Way Pedestrian Bridge over the Arizona Canal around 5pm this Thursday to enjoy an evening of local art and shopping under the stars.


scottsdale interior design

interior design arizona

Photos via Artisan Markets AZ

The Environmental & Aesthetic Benefits of Designing with Kirei Board

The name says it all. According to sources, the word “Kirei” comes from the Japanese characters for “beautiful” or “clean.”  Developed by Kierei USA, this low-impact, nontoxic material has become a popular eco-friendly alternative for flooring, cabinetry, wall coverings, furniture and more.

Kirei Board is an innovative material that is composed from leftover stalks of Sorghum that are harvested for food production. The Sorghum stalks are then woven and heat-pressed with KR Bond, an adhesive that is free of any urea formaldehyde. Here are a few of the environmental benefits of Kirei Board, as they are described in an article published by Treehugger:

  • Made from Sorghum, a rapidly renewable resource
  • Consists of over 90% recycled content
  • Categorized as a low-emitting material
  • Provides an additional income opportunity for Sorghum farmers

But it’s not only for LEED Credits that interior designers and architects are employing Kirei Board into interior designs. The warm colors, distinctive pattern and natural textures make the material an aesthetically intriguing alternative to ordinary hardwood. Take a look at a few inspiring designs with Kirei Board that we found on the popular design archive, Houzz.

Kirei Board contemporary kitchen

Kirei Board - Bathroom Applications modern bathroom

Berkshire Country House, Upstate New York contemporary dining room



Photo Credits:
1) By Kirei USA via Houzz
2) By Kirei USA via Houzz
3) By Vanni Archive viw Houzz

Designer’s Tip: Decorative Sinks That Make a Statement

Skip the plain porcelain sink and explore the options of a sensational sink that is more like a work of art. Award-winning interior designer and founder of Sesshu Design Associates, Tanya Shively says decorative sinks are in! Two decorative sink lines that are making waves in the design world are Linkasink and Kohler. Here are some of our favorite sinks from these producers.

The English Cutwork Vessel from the Smithsonian Collection by Linkasink 

Oval Brocade from the Bronze Collection by Linkasink

Sea Shell Sink from the Jewel Collection by Linkasink

The Artist Designed Glass Act Collection of Sinks by Kohler

Botanical Study™ Design on Kathryn® Under-Mount Bathroom Sink by Kohler

Lilies Lore® Cast Bronze Under-Mount Bathroom Sink by Kohler

decorative sinks


What decorative sink lines have caught your eye? Tell us in a comment!

With our award-winning design techniques and experience with the industry’s leading products and materials, Sesshu Design Associates in Arizona can help western region homeowners achieve stunning luxurious interiors that perfectly reflect their lifestyle and personality. Contact us at 888-863-3070 to learn more.

Elle Decor’s Picks for the Best Outdoor Rooms

The interior design world is out and about. As spring inspires the remodeling of outdoor living spaces, we’re looking for the season’s hottest trends to create cool outdoor rooms. Here are some of the spaces that Elle Decor has recently named the best outdoor rooms.


The wrap-around banquette with monotone cushions and pillows on this minimalist style roof deck creates a look and feel that is sleek and tranquil just like the view of the Mediterranean. 

At their own home, interior designers Jeffry Weisman and Andrew Fisher use a billowing awning over outdoor furniture by Michael Taylor Designs to create this stunning California terrace.

New York Eric Hughes chose to decorate his patio with a concrete fireplace, Modern Asian style furnishings and a vibrant ceramic stools by Mecox Gardens to create this cozy, contemporary scene. 


Decorator Jennie Abbott designed this design this classic column pergola space for fashion Monique Lhuillier in Los Angeles with a cocktail table and a sectional with tailored trim by Dedon. 




Photo Credits:
1) By Mads Mogensen via Elle Decor
2) By Grey Crawford via Elle Decor
3) By Roger Davies via Elle Decor
4) By Roger Davies via Elle Decor

The Sleek New Concrete Para Clocks by LeeLABS

While looking for the latest home decor ideas to enhance interior designs, we came across the inspiring new Para Clocks by LeeLABS. Recently featured in Contemporist, these new custom clock designs are sleek, innovative and completely one of a kind. The Para Clocks are made out of concrete, and LeeLABS creates the completely unique radial patterns by using a parametric modeling algorithm.

Besides the stunning geometries, the most fascinating aspect of these Para Clocks is that anyone can be directly involved in the design process of their very own Para Clock. By manipulating the parametric settings right on the Para Clocks website, clients can design their own custom radial pattern for a clock that is specifically designed for them. Learn more about this new LeeLABS design project by watching the KickStarter project video online.

Here at Sesshu Design, we believe that interiors should be designed to reflect your personality and lifestyle, which is why we are particularly drawn to custom furnishings like these new chic Para Clocks. To see more decor and accessories that inspire us, be sure to “Like” Sesshu Design on Facebook!


Why Spring is the Perfect Time of Year to Remodel Kitchens

The smell of spring is in the air. For foodies, this does not refer to the new flowers blooming, but rather the tantalizing aroma of sizzling steaks on an outdoor grill. It’s prime outdoor grilling time!

For homeowners, this is also a prime time of year to finally dive into that kitchen remodel you’ve been mulling over. While your kitchen is under construction and out of commission, it’s a great excuse to grill outdoors even more while you await the completion of your stunning new kitchen.

But the weekend of April 17-22, 2012, Scottsdale homeowners remodeling their kitchens won’t have to worry about cooking at all because they will be preparing their pallets for the 34th Annual Scottsdale Culinary Festival! With appetizing events that include a Burger Battle, Chocolate and Wine Experience, Epicurean Expo, Great Arizona Picnic and a Country Brunch, it’s sure to be a fun food-filled weekend.

Whether you envision a French country kitchen, a refined rustic kitchen or an elegant traditional kitchen, Sesshu Design Associates can help you turn your dream kitchen into a reality. Start your kitchen remodeling project this spring, and you’ll be able to enjoy your brand new beautiful kitchen come fall. Contact Sesshu Design in Scottsdale, Arizona at 888.863.3070.


Kitchen designs by Sesshu Design Associates, Ltd.

How to Achieve a Stylish Outdoor Living Spaces for Relaxing & Entertaining

The warm weather is here to stay, making it a prime time for homeowners to evaluate their outdoor living spaces. Whether for everyday relaxing or special occasion entertaining, homeowners can find great value in an outdoor room. Not only do these outdoor living spaces add value to homes but they enhance overall quality of life, with a space where homeowners can escape their regular routines to enjoy the tranquil beauty of nature.

As temperatures in Scottsdale, Arizona reach 80 degrees this week, we are additionally reminded of the advantages of having an outdoor space that is specifically designed for ultimate comfort while still aesthetically complementing the home and surrounding landscape. Designed by Tanya Shivley of Sesshu Design Associates, this beautiful outdoor room is complete with cushioned furniture and a shade pergola to create a delightful sitting area where homeowners and guests can enjoy beautiful views.


Found from the well-known design archive Houzz, here are some additional outdoor room ideas for inspiration. Tell us in a comment what you think makes for a wonderful outdoor room.

Covered Patio asian patio

105 Golden Bear mediterranean patio

Cabana contemporary patio

Shafer Residence mediterranean patio
To see more of Tanya’s designs, visit the Sesshu Design Associates online portfolio. To discuss a possible interior design project – be it outdoors or indoors – contact Sesshu Design based in Scottsdale, Arizona at 888.863.3070.



Photo Credits:
1) By Sesshu Design Associates, Ltd.
2) By Kaufman Homes, Inc. via Houzz
3) By Vanguard Studio Inc. via Houzz
4) By Brian Watford ID via Houzz
5) By HartmanBaldwin Design/Build via Houzz

How to Breathe Life Into Interiors with Indoor Plants

The positive effect that a living, green plant can have on our state of mind is undeniable, so it only seems natural (no pun intended) that plants be used in design to enhance the ambiance and calming capabilities of interiors. And the beauty of designing with plants is that there are infinite possibilities to add lush color, texture and vertical interest to interiors based on the particular plant you choose.

With a keen eye and sense of design, a houseplant can be transformed into an intriguing architectural element or a show stopping centerpiece. To exemplify the potential impact and statement plants can make in home interiors, here are a few designs with indoor plants that we found particularly inspiring.

As a LEED certified interior designer who specializes in luxury, eco-friendly designs, Tanya Shively of Sesshu Design Associates can help western homeowners achieve designs that are not only sophisticated and environmentally responsible but actually feel good to live and entertain in. Contact Tanya at 888.863.3070 to discuss a remodeling project that you have in mind.


Design by Sesshu Design Associates


Photo Credits:
1) By David Patterson Colorado Homes & Lifestyles
2) By Julian Wass via Better House Beautiful
3) By Eric Roth via Elle Decor
4) By Sesshu Design Associates Ltd.

Designer’s Tip: Elegant & Sustainable Furniture

The true art of sustainable furniture making is imbued in the ability of designers and artisans to transform natural materials into compelling pieces that simultaneously showcase the best of modern architecture and design as well as nature’s unparalleled beauty.

Noteworthy furniture designers Hudson Furniture Inc. and O’Hara Studio are among those setting the bar inconceivably high for sustainable furniture design. These designers create custom pieces made entirely of sustainable materials and methods while appealing to even the most discerning of tastes. The elegance and inherently moving qualities of these state of the art furniture designs make statements that are simply unsurpassed.


Hudson Furniture Inc. dining table with walnut acacia top and bronze squares base designed by Barlas Baylar Claro 

“Lipstick” Hudson Furniture Inc. end table of solid wood, gloss nickel, polished bronze, plexi, black and gray lacquer.

Waikato (Maori for “flowing water”) Seat by O’Hara Studio


O’Hara Studio’s Anemone Table inspired by sea anemone.

The Many Facades of Western Interior Design

With the start of the 57th Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show & Shopping Expo and the Parada Del Sol Pro Rodeo & Historic Parade coming up in March, we’re inspired to strap on our boots and bandanas and think about western style interior design. But western design is not only limited to cowhide, leather and tan color schemes. While cowboy motifs with fabrics that evoke life on the ranch or Native American patterns are common themes, western design can mean different things to different people.

Western design can have a rustic, cabin feel with hand-hewn and hand-crafted furnishings, logs, natural stone and casual textures and fabrics. It can incorporate elements of nature as in the Colorado home that Tanya Shively of Sesshu Design Associates completed with an autumn inspired color palette and an Aspen leaf motif, which was incorporated in the iron work and the bronze deco tile kitchen backsplash.

It can even be more formal with carved details, tooled leather and iron scrollwork inspired by the Victorian Era. But what is especially popular right now in western design is a more clean, modern aesthetic that employs wood, iron, steel leather and natural colors. This more modern western style is simple, casual and comfortable while still sophisticated.

What’s your western? Tell us in a comment your ideas or preferences when it comes to western design.

Photo Credits:
1) By Sesshu Design Associates, Ltd.
2) By Sesshu Design Associates, Ltd.
3) By James Ray Spahn via Colorado Homes & Lifestyles
4) By Audrey Hall via Mountain Living
5) By Ward + Blake Architects
6) By Carney Logan Burke Architects

Difference Between an Interior Designer & a Decorator

An interior designer is very different from a decorator, although they are often misunderstood to be interchangeable. A decorator is someone who only works with the finishes. This is the person you hire to assist with the selection of paint colors, wall coverings, window treatments, furniture and other furnishings. Typically, decorators are not formally trained or licensed making their services limited to aesthetics.

An interior designer works with finishes as well as structural elements. This is the person you hire to assist with not only the selection of furnishings, but also the selection of flooring, cabinetry and other architectural details. A designer is educated, trained, licensed with the state and often affiliated with a national organization such as ASID or IIDA through prerequisites and a rigorous qualification exam. With the knowledge of buildings codes and other health, welfare and safety issues, a designer can establish the form, function and aesthetics of interiors. An interior designer is qualified to plan, schedule, execute and manage the complete building of interiors.

For those Arizona homeowners who are looking for a professional interior designer who is experienced and passionate, contact Sesshu Design Associates in Scottsdale at 888.863.3070.



Photos via Sesshu Design Associates, Ltd.

When is it the Right Time to Hire an Interior Designer?

For homeowners who have never worked with an interior designer before, it may be unclear as to what projects are best left to the professionals as well as exactly when the right time to hire a professional interior designer is. If you are a homeowner who is confident in your good taste and considering doing the work yourself, it’s worth a second think. Color schemes, window treatments and furniture arrangement are just the start of the decisions you’ll have to make.  Hiring an expert will not only streamline the process and prevent any mistakes, aggravations, delays or impulse decisions, but it will also help you to get the right results.

Once you have decided to forge ahead with building a new home or planning a major remodel be it to update or to help sell your home, it’s important to look for a designer before making any decisions. It’s better to bring in the designer for the very first stages of space planning and design concept. This way your designer can work and coordinate with the architect and builder to take you from the drawing board to the finished product with few headaches, hassles and extra expenses!

Contact Sesshu Design Associates for more advice and guidance on hiring an interior designer in the Scottsdale, Arizona or surrounding areas by calling 888.863.3070.



Photo via stock.xchng

Sesshu Project: A Sophisticated & Stylish Home Office

The home office is gaining much more attention in the interior design world as it is becoming a popular feature in the home. Below is a stunning office designed by our own Tanya Shively of Sesshu Design Associates as a part of a recent Paradise Valley home interior design project.

The warm pallet created by the rich woods in this office contrasted by the calming, cool-toned carpet establishes a welcoming environment perfect for encouraging passion and focus while minimizing stress. Made by a local craftsman, the mesquite desk with its turquoise inlaid knots makes a strong, unique statement that adds organic character to the traditional space.

High style meets high functionality with the combination of open shelves and hidden storage. The office offers plenty of places to keep technology hidden and files neat while boasting ample space to display worldly collectibles and family photos and treasures. The result is a space that exceeds basic function and form to express a sophisticated individual style. Tell us in a comment what you think?

If you are looking for an interior designer in the Southwest or Midwest regions to create a custom, high-end home office design, contact Sesshu Design Associates at 888.863.3070. Sesshu will work with you to achieve the look and feel of your vision while also helping you to make green design decisions where it will not only make the most sense but enhance the overall results.

Kitchen Facelift: Innovative Ideas for an Easy Update

While most homeowners love the idea of a modern and efficient kitchen space, some homeowners don’t love the idea of the price tag. Kitchen solutions, however, come in all shapes and sizes. A fantastic article from Kitchen + Bath Business reminds designers and homeowners of the alternatives to full kitchen remodels . . .”kitchen facelifts.” From the K+BB article, here are some innovative ways to inexpensively update your kitchen.

For a more efficient cooking space . . .

  • Maximize countertop space by removing any objects usually left out
  • Add inserts to drawers and cabinetry to increase storage
  • Spring for one or two multi-functioning appliances like a hot/cold water dispenser


For a more modern look . . .

  • Strip wallpaper and paint the walls
  • Upgrade to a new kitchen sink and faucet
  • Paint cabinetry
  • Replace cabinetry hardware
  • Install an eye-catching backsplash

These small, budget-friendly upgrades can really make a large impact on the look and function of your kitchen space. If saving money is really a priority, also consider switching to energy-efficient appliances. They will give your kitchen a clean, new facade while increasing eco-friendliness and decreasing your monthly bills.

If you are looking for a designer who will work with you to come up with an affordable facelift for a stunning new kitchen space, contact Sesshu Design in Scottsdale, Arizona at 888.863.3070.


Source: K+BB
Photos via K+BB

Just in Time Holiday Spruce-ups

The year is nearly over, and it’s hard to believe we only have three weeks until Hanukkah and then Christmas. Time moves quickly, doesn’t it?

If you’ve put it off, don’t despair- there is still time to plan for your year-end family gatherings. If you’re thinking about updating your dining room, powder room or kitchen to prepare for the laughter, warmth and holiday cheer, there are quick but fabulous ways to beautify your home in time to impress your guests.

Here is my Top 5 List of High Impact Spruce-Ups for Holiday Entertaining in Style:

1. Update your powder room with a new mirror, lighting, a new paint color, or wallpaper for a quick and easy makeover. I love this wallcovering from Maya Romanoff.

Maya Romanoff Aijiro Sunburst wallcovering

Ajiro Sunburst real wood wallcovering

Paint is a faster option, and this sophisticated, lush violet color by Sherwin Williams is fantastic:

Sherwin Williams Ash Violet

Ash Violet SW 6549 by Sherwin Williams


2. Install under and over cabinet lighting on dimmers for dramatic ambiance for parties.


undercabinet lighting

A soft glow and task lighting provided by undercabinet lights


3. Rearrange your furniture, rugs and accessories for a quick update and add decorative pillows that express your personality.

samuel and sons trim on pillow

Beautiful trim from Samuel & Sons enhances this decorative pillow


4. Change your wall colors with updated shades for fall. Here are a few great colors from Benjamin Moore that could transform your rooms without a major investment of time or money.

Benjamin Moore color palette

This fresh color palette is entirely from Benjamin Moore's Aura line


5. Replace your dining room chandelier with a new style and purchase a fabulous rug to create a more relaxed space to share a holiday meal with your family and friends.

azadi contemporary rug

A dramatic contemporary rug available at Azadi Fine Rugs

Another easy update is to reupholster your dining room chairs.

And of course you will always be voted the most fabulous host by adding special touches to your guest bedroom and bathroom. Update your bedside lamps with a new style and three-way bulbs for reading, add an iPod docking station, a carafe and glass, a vase for fresh flowers, a guest book for special memories of the visit, and crisp new bed linens. Select special bath salts, aromatherapy scents and fluffy new towels.

mercer ralph lauren

The Mercer Collection Bedding is from Ralph Lauren

Please let us know how we can help you plan for the holidays and beyond. Since this is our busiest season, don’t wait to schedule a consultation. We want to save time for you.

Sesshu Project: Creating an Inviting Home Design in Paradise Valley

The new owners of an existing home in Paradise Valley, Arizona came to us here at Sesshu Design to remodel their home’s interior. Their goals were to establish a comfortable home for their family as well as an inviting space for entertaining friends and business associates. The clients wanted to utilize as much of the existing surfaces as possible.

We started by repainting the interiors using a low-VOC paint in a warm, rich palette of autumn colors. We installed all new wool carpet for beauty, durability and a feeling of luxury. Wool is also an environmentally sustainable, which was an added benefit. We decided to keep the original flooring and lighting carefully combining it with new furnishings to create a cohesive look.

The new furnishings that we chose reflect a traditional yet updated style that complements the home’s architecture and the client’s appreciation for contemporary art. We also added new window coverings to soften certain spaces as well as provide privacy and sunlight control for energy efficiency purposes.

The finished product was stunning. The home is now both livable and perfect for entertaining while expressing the personal style of the clients. Take a look, and tell us in a comment what you think!


The Dining Room

The Family Room

The Living Room

The Master Bedroom

The Office

All photos via Sesshu Design Associates, Ltd in Scottsdale, Arizona

Welcome to the Sesshu Design Blog!

Welcome to our new blog.

Consider our blog your one-stop source for information about Sesshu Design. Here, you can:

– connect with our staff
– read about our projects – past and present
– keep up with industry trends
– get the latest updates about events in and around our community
– share your thoughts, and much more!

We’d love for you to jump right in and contribute! Got an opinion? Click on “leave a comment” and share your thoughts. We can’t wait to hear from you!

If you are active on Facebook or Twitter, be sure to “like” us or “follow” us.

We’ve got a few things in the works, so we hope to see you here often!


Decorative Kitchen Range Hoods Are Also Highly Functional

The range hood is more than just functional these days- it can be a focal point and a decorative accent in your kitchen.  No matter whether your style is old world, traditional, rustic or modern there is an option that fits.  Any can be energy efficient as well as highly effective- look for Energy Star rated models.
Ventilation is important for maintaining a healthy indoor air quality, but it needn’t cramp your style or limit your creativity.  Check out some of the latest models shown here for inspiration.

A custom copper hood is bold and appropriate in this rustic mountain home.

The function of venting smoke, steam and odors away from the kitchen is relatively easy to accomplish with a fan and access to the exterior.  What you see can be as creative, decorative or simple as you desire- it is merely the façade that surrounds the working parts.  The latest models are highly effective and much quieter than in the past.

bling hood

Bling hood by Elica

In a traditional or old world kitchen, the surround may be made to match the cabinetry.  It may be constructed of copper, brass, or steel with hand crafted details like strapping or hammered sheets.  It may be plaster with accents of wood or tile.

copper hood

A traditional range hood in copper

old world hood

An old world style custom hood

sb kitchen

Traditional style kitchen with plaster and wood range hood

traditional kitchen range hood

Completely hidden range hood in a tradtional kitchen

Modern kitchens really get creative with range hoods that are anything but ordinary or boring.  Add a little bling with a chandelier hood.  Fancy shapes, sleek profiles and combinations of steel and glass abound.

star cooker hood

Star range hood by Elica

whirlpool range hood

Glamour range hood by Whirlpool

victoria range hood

Add a little bling with the Victoria by Elica

There are of course many options that are simply about function that completely hide when not in use- whether a down draft that retracts into the cabinetry or slides out from the wall.

downdraft hood by viking

Sleek downdraft model by Viking

gaggenau slide out hood

The slide out Visor range hood by Gaggenau

The only limit to what your vent range hood can be is your imagination.  Just be sure that the model you choose is sized appropriately for your cooktop and cooking habits.  A reputable interior designer or appliance showroom can help you find the perfect option to match your needs.


Mom Always Said Eat Your Veggies

steam cooked meal
Healthy steam cooking creates delicious entire meals. Image courtesy of Miele

Steam Ovens Are the Latest Healthy, Eco-Friendly Way to Cook Veggies and So Much More


People have used steam for cooking for centuries- it is a method dating all the way back to ancient China, where food was steamed in reed or bamboo baskets. Even though the Chinese are still using the bamboo basket method, in the modern kitchen a steam oven is much more versatile and functional for everyday life.

Steam cooking offers many benefits including faster cooking times, but most people are looking for the health benefits including optimum retention of vitamins, nutrients, flavor, color and texture. With steam cooking, your food can never be overcooked because food absorbs only the moisture it requires. Food cooked in a steam oven is typically a lot healthier because you don’t need to add any oils or fats in the cooking process.

Maintenance and cleaning for a steam oven in a modern kitchen is also a lot easier. You simply wipe moisture out, since food will not burn or bake on. Many ovens even have a dedicated ‘steam clean’ function to make cleaning a snap. The ovens are super simple to use.  Most steam ovens offer a range of in-built cooking guides such as recommended cooking temperatures and automatic defrost settings.

Variety, the Spice of Life

Vegetables are an important and healthy food group, but not the only kind of food that can be cooked in the steam oven.  When people think of steam cooking, most think of bland veggies and fish. The reality is that your steam oven can cook anything from pasta, rice, potatoes, meats and fish to puddings, cakes and breads or even soup with amazing speed and delicious results.

miele steamer

Free standing steam oven from Miele cooks multiple dishes at once.

Francis Lynch at Gaggenau says: “We are finding that steam cooking is becoming an increasingly popular method of cooking due its ease of use, great results, health advantages and flexibility. Steam ovens can be used to cook everything from roasts to bread to desserts.”

French celebrity chef, Alain Ducasse, loves the results. “Steam cooking enhances fresh produce’s own natural flavor. This applies to vegetables in particular, but also to other side dishes and fish,” he says.

Your steam oven enables you to create a complete, delicious meal using the power of injection steam. Seafood like salmon, shrimp and steamers stay juicy and tasty.  Chicken and rice.  Complete stews, soups and even meatballs. And of course, fabulous desserts like pastry, bread pudding or cinnamon pears and apples.

Miele has a variety of recipes available at  Visit regularly to experiment with some of Miele’s tastiest recipes and share your favorites as well.

steam cooking

Veggies, potatoes and fish turn out great in a steam oven.

The one thing a steam oven can’t do is brown or crisp as it cooks with moisture rather than with heat. However, there are a few steam oven models available that actually combine steam cooking and conventional cooking methods in one oven. This means you can steam cook a chicken in 20 minutes and then change the mode to conventional fan-forced cooking to brown the skin, so it looks as good as it tastes. These are called combination ovens, as opposed to steam only.

Versatile and Easy-to-Use

On most steam ovens, you control the system by selecting the type of food and inputting additional information such as the weight, quantity and desired finish when prompted… the oven does the rest. The result is perfect, delicious dishes without guesswork or hassle.

With the numerous automatic programs on the Miele models, you do not have to worry about the oven function, time or temperature settings.  Reminders will appear in the display when it is time to do something like turn the food or add sauces during the cooking process.

miele steam oven

Larger capacity allows all at once meal preparation. Image courtesy of Miele

Built-in Advantages



While traditional steamers and pressure cookers generate steam slowly and raise the temperature gradually, most built in steam ovens have an external steam generator. This design has several distinct advantages:

  • Larger interior capacity so you can cook more than one dish at the same time.
  • The temperature is more accurate and can be kept at a constant level.
  • The steam surrounds the food from all sides, immediately and intensely which ensures that food is heated rapidly and is sealed instantly to retain all the vitamins, color and flavor.
  • Cooking times are reduced so you and your family can eat sooner – and use less electricity for cooking.

Bigger, Bolder, All-in-One Option

Want to have all the functions, but don’t have room for multiple appliances in your kitchen?  This summer, Thermador is introducing a new ultimate option in steam cooking for the modern kitchen,  the Thermador Pro Grand® Steam Range.

The new 48-inch Thermador Pro Grand Steam is the world’s first kitchen appliance to offer seven distinct cooking options — steaming, convection baking, burner cooking, simmering, grilling, griddle cooking and warming — with a combination Steam & Convection Oven, a large-capacity convection oven, a six-burner gas cooktop featuring the exclusive Star® Burners, and a fully integrated warming drawer to complete the all-in-one package.

thermador pro gallery range

Cook anything with the Thermador Pro Gallery Range all-in-one. Image courtesy of Thermador

“Our latest flagship 48-inch range is the ‘Ultimate Culinary Center,’ representing the pinnacle of Thermador’s kitchen innovation, performance and craftsmanship for the home cook,” said Zach Elkin, director of the Thermador brand. “Judging from the recent success of the built-in Steam & Convection Oven, we believe the market is ready for another game-changing concept with the new Pro Grand Steam Range. Our new professional range empowers home cooks to achieve their best and experience the absolute finest in cooking, whether it’s healthy steam cooking, baking in the large-capacity convection oven, precise simmering on the Star Burners, or just keeping the family meal warm.”

The range will be available in August 2011.

Among the Hottest Trends in Modern Kitchens

Steam cooking may not be anything new, but it is one of the biggest trends in modern kitchens where a healthy lifestyle is a priority.  However, the speed, convenience and ease of use are making steam ovens popular even among those who aren’t using it for the healthy benefits.

bosch steam oven

Sleek and modern, this steam oven is built-in for ultimate convenience. Image courtesy of Bosch

With options available from most major appliance lines you can easily add one to fit your décor and match the other appliances in your kitchen.  Not sure how to make it all work?  Contact us for a consultation or complete kitchen design.

Dad’s Wish List- Man Caves

Father’s Day is just around the corner and if you’re looking for the perfect way to appreciate the special man in your household, create a space just for him.

Luckily the are are great options to create the perfect retreat using manly options that fit the interior design of your home.

Creating an Island of Comfort within Shared Spaces

hush chair

Create a sanctuary of quiet with the Hush Chair

The chair is the most important element of a great space for most men. It has to be comfortable and durable, but it doesn’t need to be a stuffed recliner with fuzzy fabric. I know you care about aesthetics, so let’s look at more stylish options that fit within your family room or even a dedicated space just for him:

barcelona chair

Classic modern- the Barcelona chair

Leather is a great option, but if you have pets with claws, be aware that you may see scratches on the surface. Some people consider the inevitable marks part of the patina. Other durable fabric options include ultra suede or commercial fabrics because this chair will be used frequently.

Fabric protection is a great option to protect from stains, so you can still use lighter colored fabrics if it fits the interior design of the room.

Nail head trim is a great decorative element that adds the “clubby” masculine feel to the piece and it blends nicely with more sophisticated pieces without the extra detail.

national upholstery chair

Nailheads and leather on a western style chair are masculine and rugged. Image courtesy of National Upholstery

If he likes to read or just watch sports in the evening or on his days off, be sure to include appropriate lighting. Add a table or cabinet with storage for the remote and other miscellaneous gadgets he wants close to him that you don’t want to display.

end table with drawer

Drawers and shelves add storage and keep remotes neatly hidden.

Fashionable Summer Entertaining

This is the perfect time of year to create an outdoor space for entertaining, and it can include a built-in grill or even an outdoor kitchen for all types of entertaining. He’ll enjoy impressing his buddies with his grilling skills and you can relax while he takes charge.

If you’re really serious about creating an exterior family room for casual entertaining that looks as if it is an extension of your interior, here are a few great pictures with elements you can include such as an outdoor rug, draperies and a fireplace.

Outdoor furniture options are endless with fabrics that look as if they could fit in your family room. Here are a few of my favorites:

janus fiber outdoor furniturejanus fiber outdoor chairgiati outdoor fabricsgiati metal outdoor furniture

Summertime Projects

Another great gift is a workshop that is organized and stylish. Who said the garage is just a utility area to store your cars and lawn tools?

Whether it is a space for tinkering, serious woodworking or storage, a functional space can be attractive, too.

Not Sure What He’d Like?

We design functional and stylish spaces whether it’s inside or outside. Click here (or call us) to order your “Designed for Men” gift certificate for a personal consultation. He’ll like it much better than a tie and cologne, don’t you think?

How to Clean Your Air Naturally and Beautifully

Why worry about indoor air quality?

Eighty percent of us live in cities, and we spend about 90% of our time indoors. Most of us think that staying indoors is healthier than breathing smog or high allergen level outdoor air.  Not so fast- a number of studies have shown that indoor air usually contains higher levels of contaminants than outdoor air – often several times higher levels of pollution! Over 350 VOCs have been identified in indoor air, and are now recognized as the cause of ‘sick-building syndrome’.

Symptoms related to indoor air pollution include headaches, sore eyes or throat, loss of concentration, nausea & breathing problems. Of course, not all indoor environments are hazardous, but, the latest research shows out that potted-plants can improve indoor air quality substantially whenever it is needed – a very clever trick!

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune installing expensive air filters or ventilation systems.  Adding just a few potted plants to your home’s interior will not only add to the beauty, it will also help to clean the air you breathe – naturally and effortlessly.

What plants work best?

These seven commonly used house plant varieties, from five species have been studied and shown to be very effective at improving air quality:

Spathiphyllum ‘Petite’ (Peace Lily)
Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’ (Peace Lily)
Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’
Dracaena marginata Epipremnum aureum (Devil’s Ivy)
Howea forsteriana (Kentia Palm)
Schefflera amate (Qld Umbrella Tree)


Dracaena Marginata

However, it seems likely that any and all indoor plants will help to remove toxins from the air.  They use their biological metabolic process to take in the air and light from the environment, and change it into energy and release clean oxygen as a by-product.  The micro-organisms in the soil also act as rapid response agents, going to work immediately to remove VOC’s from the environment.  The microcosm created by potted plants is an effective, self-regulating indoor-air-cleansing system.

Peace Lily

The interesting thing is that using indoor plants works equally well in air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned spaces, and both day and night.  You don’t need to create a jungle in your home, either.  Just one 6” plant will effectively improve the air quality of an average sized room.  They are self-regulating ‘bio-filters’ and kick into operation whenever VOC’s rise above negligible levels.

More than just air quality, plants improve mood

People who participated in the study reported feeling better, and noticing a difference in the freshness of the room when returning on Monday morning after a weekend out.  They also felt plants improved the ambience of the room, and lifted their mood.

Portable, flexible and fit any space

indoor plant design

Interior arrangements create interest and drama in your home. Images courtesy of Plant Solutions

Planted arrangements can be designed to beautifully fit any space.  A variety of sizes, colors, and species create a feeling of natural beauty that brings the outdoors in.  Potted plants are portable and flexible – they can be moved as desired or needed to provide inexpensive air filtering throughout your home.  Arrangements that are designed to be low-maintenance as well as beautiful will improve the appeal and overall sense of well-being in every room.

Working with a creative and qualified interior plant designer assures that appropriate selections are made to minimize the work and maximize the enjoyment of your greenery.

21st Century Cooking With Induction Cooktops

Still waiting for water to boil?  That is so last century.  Induction cooktops are the latest innovation in fast, efficient cooking. These cooktops have the ability to boil water faster than gas or radiant cooktops, with the advantage of quick and easy cleanup.
Miele induction cooktop

An induction cooktop by Miele. Photo courtesy of Miele

Induction cooking uses a completely different technology than other standard cooking methods. They work by using an electromagnetic field to heat the cookware. The pan used for cooking must have iron content, to allow the transfer of the energy which is what makes induction work. This method of cooking only heats the area that comes into contact with cookware. The induction cooktop surface not in contact with cookware remains cool to the touch. A big advantage that cooks love is that it allows for very fast, even heating with precise control at all temperature ranges.

Induction cooking is precision controlled.

Because induction technology heats only the pan and its contents, it creates energy efficiency by reducing wasted heat when compared to radiant and gas cooktops. Since there is not a traditional gas or electric heating element, the overall induction cooktop stays cooler than conventional cooktops.  Induction cooking is a two part process.

GE 36 inch induction cooktop

Induction cooktops are available in standard sizes, like this 36 inch model from GE. Photo courtesy of GE

Part 1

Coil produces electromagnetic energy

The first part of induction cooking is a coil of copper, located inside the cooktop. When an electrical current is passed through this coil, it creates an electromagnetic field of energy.  Electromagnetic energy is around us every day in the form of AM and FM radio, cell phones, wireless laptops, microwave ovens, infrared, and visible light.

Part 2

Pan uses the energy to produce heat

The second part of induction cooking is the pan. The coil below the ceramic surface does not heat and will not glow red because the electromagnetic energy passes through the cooktop into the pan. This energy causes iron molecules to vibrate extremely rapidly – around 20,000 – 50,000 times per second. It is the friction between those molecules which creates heat. All of the heat is produced within the bottom of the pan, cooking the food inside.

For an induction cooktop to work, the bottom of the pan must have some iron content. The easiest way to tell if a pan has an iron-based core is to place a magnet on the bottom of the pan; if the magnet sticks to the bottom, the pan will work on an induction cooktop.

What keeps the cooktop and surrounding surfaces from getting hot?

Induction cooktop technology only heats the area that comes in contact with the magnetic or iron-content cookware, leaving the un-used portion of the element unheated.  Ice cubes placed immediately beside a pan of boiling water will not melt; towels or paper that are laid on the cooktop will not burn- even if they are directly below the pan in use.

Induction cooking

With induction cooking the ice cubes on the cooktop are not melting. Photo courtesy of GE

Induction is a safer method of cooking.  Because anything that does not contain iron will not become hot, kitchen fires are greatly reduced.  Spillovers are also easier to clean up because they don not burn onto the surface of the cooktop.

Induction cooktops are available from nearly all major manufacturers and in standard sizes.  It is simple and easy to replace a standard electric cooktop with and induction model.  For more information, contact us or your local kitchen appliance showroom.

Everything But the (Stainless Steel) Kitchen Sink

stainless sinks need cleaning

Tired of stainless steel sinks in the kitchen?  Maybe you are sick of hard water spots every time you use the faucet.  Or maybe you just want something that everyone else doesn’t have.  Whatever your reason, I have good news.  There are many alternatives to what has become the standard choice for most kitchens.

An oldie but still a goodie- the cast iron kitchen sink.  This has been around for decades, but the variety of colors now available makes it a nice choice for updating a traditional kitchen.  Numerous sizes and shapes with both single-, double- and triple-bowl options mean almost endless variety.


kohler cast iron sink
The Wheatland cast iron sink from Kohler is a new classic.  Photo courtesy of Kohler


If you like the soft glow of copper and don’t mind a little TLC application, then a copper farmhouse sink might be for you.  In hammered or smooth finishes, with or without extra decorative details, copper is a beautiful and unique option.  Mix it with oil-rubbed bronze finishes on faucets and cabinet hardware.


Copper farmhouse sink
This double bowl sopper farmhouse sink is a stylish option to stainless steel. Photo courtesy of

For a super easy cleaning option, and a smaller environmental footprint at the same time, look for integrated concrete counters and sinks.  There are no limits beyond your own imagination here – size, shape, and color can be customized to suit your tastes.  For a greener option, look for recycled content in the concrete.


concrete kitchen sink
This integrated concrete sink is from Sonoma Cast Stone. Photo courtesy of Sonoma Cast Stone

A very durable option introduced a few years ago is the granite composite kitchen sink.  Usually only offered in a few basic colors, this is the choice for people who want function over form.

If you want more style and aren’t worried as much about durability, then the hand-painted Artist series from Kohler might appeal to you.  Multiple styles, colors, sizes and shapes are available to suit a variety of design styles.  Especially well-suited to a Spanish Mediterranean or Victorian style kitchen, these sinks are a conversation piece.


painted kitchen sink
The Alcott artist series is unique and eye-catching. Photo courtesy of Kohler

If your kitchen is an Old World style and you want to keep it authentic, a hand-carved stone farmhouse sink makes an impact.  Available in travertine, marble or onyx they can be brand new replicas, or look for antiques imported from Europe.  You will want to use a rubber sink liner to avoid chipped and broken dishes, but these unique kitchen sinks are so worth it.

carved stone sink

The apron of this travertine sink can be plain or carved. Photo courtesy of Treasures de Old Mexico

Recently many manufacturers have introduced some very interesting shapes that are great for entertaining.  Fill these sinks with ice for an ideal built-in drink cooler – easy clean-up and eye-catching style in one!

modern kitchen siks

A fun option for entertaining - fill this sink with ice and drinks!

Brighten Your Day with Eco-Fabulous Dinnerware

eco friendly dinnnerware

Viva Sol Dinnerware -eco-friendly in bright colors. Photo coutesy of Viva Terra

Made from recycled glass, VivaTerra’s Festival Sol Dinnerware will brighten your Cinco de Mayo (or any other day) in shades of lime, turquoise, orange and red.  Glossy interiors make cleaning easy, and ribbed undersides keep them from slipping out of your fingers.  All pieces are dishwasher safe.

eco-friendly Viva Sol Dinnerware

Viva Sol Dinnerware bowls. Photo coutesy of Viva Terra

Viva Sol eco-friendly glass dinnerware

Viva Sol Mini-bowls, set of 4. Photo coutesy of Viva Terra



Fix a Leaky Faucet

leaky faucetLeaking water faucets waste gallons of water each day, costing you money and depleting one of our most precious commodities.  Not to mention the irritation of the constant drip, drip, drip and the stains they often create in your sink.  The good news is that a leaky faucet is usually easy to fix.  Most leaky faucets are caused by loose nuts and worn out washers.

If water is leaking at the base of the handle, it is most likely just a loose connection.  Use an adjustable wrench and tighten the nut located below the handle.

Most leaks are caused by bad washers.  Symptoms of a worn-out washer is a slow leak coming from the faucet, water dripping out of the handles, and water that collects around the back of the handle area.  These can easily be replaced by a handy-man or plumber for a very minimal charge.  If you want to attempt to replace the washer yourself, here are some basic steps.

  1. Turn off the water. Before you start, turn the water off to your faucet. Look underneath your sink for the pipes that run up to your faucet- you will see handles that you can turn to shut off the water to your sink.  Turn the handles clockwise to turn off the water. Remember the saying “Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”. Turning the handle right turns your water off. Fig. 1
  2. Plug up the sink drain once the water has been turned off. Use either the sink’s in-built mechanism for plugging the drain, or plug it yourself with a rag to avoid having a screw or a washer accidentally go down the drain.
  3. Take the faucet handles off. Take out the screw that is holding them on.  Some faucet handles might hide their screws behind plastic or metal caps. You might have to pry the cap off with a flathead screwdriver to get at the screws holding the handles on, or unscrew a cap. Once you’ve removed the screws, pry the handles off with a flathead screwdriver. Some handles might come off easily without the need for prying.

    Fig. 2

  4. Once you have the faucet handle off, remove the old washer that was behind the handle. If there is no washer behind the handle, you will need to add one. Fig. 3
  5. Simply place the new washer where the old washer was. Basically the hole in the washer should be just slightly bigger than the post that the handle turns.

    Fig. 4


  6. Put the faucet handle back on the post and put the screw back in. Tighten the handle until it is “hand tight”. That means tighten the screw until it feels tight without you having to use extra strength to tighten it. don’t over-tighten or you won’t be able to turn the handle to turn water on.
  7. Turn your water back on by turning the water supply handles under the sink counter-clockwise (remember, “Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”).
  8. Check it. If everything went well you shouldn’t have a leaky faucet any longer. If your faucet continues to leak, try tightening the screws on the faucet handles just a bit more. If the faucet still leaks, then it really is time to call a plumber.

Fuze is Sustainable Design

I was just notified of the newest line from Brevara Design, and am very excited about what I see.  Their new FUZE line is billed as masculine, feminine, rustic  or vibrant- whatever suits your mood and style.  It is all possible, and I think it looks pretty amazing, too.


The FUZE line is constructed from sustainably harvested wood, wood veneer & steel. The initial layer of laser-cut steel is either off cast post-industrial waste created by a factory producing parts for tractors and NASCAR, or recycled sheet material, used completely in our new +/- series for a product as close to zero waste as possible.

In the Fuse + line, not unlike a traditional inlay, the laser-cut scrap metal sheets are “fuzed” with a layer of wood (walnut, maple, white oak or ash), similar to a unique jigsaw puzzle. The metal can be left rustic or blackened, or colored for a totally different feel.  The Fuse – collection uses the remnant parts of steel as inlay into wood, creating a negative of the initial piece. The +/- series will be launched at High Point Market this sprint.

These clean, modern and sustainable pieces are a great artistic addition to your home – a conversation piece that you can feel good about.

5 Tips for Green Remodeling from Top Eco Architect

Highlights from an interview with Sarah Susanka, the author of "The Not So Big House," about being green when you remodel. The 5 tips she offers are a great starting place.

Architect & remodeling guru Sarah Susanka believes that comfort can significantly influence the sustainability of your personal abode. Susanka promotes quality over quantity when remodeling a home – her mantra is “build better, not bigger”.

TIP 1 – Re-evaluate the Space You’re Working With

Remodeling is often associated with building an addition onto a home. However, Susanka is a strong advocate of re-evaluating the space that your home already contains and working within that original floor plan whenever possible. As she says, it’s important to ask yourself how you can make your existing house more tailored to the way you live.

Remodeling can be a difficult and often stressful project, so if you doubt anything along the way, look into hiring a professional to assist in the process. As Susanka says, “When we are having surgery, we normally don’t do it ourselves. Remodeling your home is one of the most expensive investments of a lifetime so we want it done well.”

TIP 2 – Get an Energy Audit

energy audit home scan
When you start engaging in a remodeling project, one of the first things to check off the list is an energy audit. This helps you identify some of the most cost effective ways to make your home more sustainable, and those shifts can easily be incorporated into the changes throughout the rest of the renovation process.

TIP 3 – Invest in Quality Over Quantity

When you get home and enter a space that exudes quality and character, you automatically feel more at home. On the other hand, if you go overboard with quantity because it’s the knee-jerk response to generate change, you end up with a lot of uninspiring stuff. What Susanka reiterates throughout her books is the importance of utilizing the space you have to its highest potential. Use your budget to induce quality elements that address your particular needs and aesthetics.

Ask yourself what will add more of your own personality into your space. What colors, shapes, or artwork do you enjoy looking at? Which rooms do you spend the majority of your time in? These thought-generating questions will help you determine the best ways to approach the concept of quality over quantity.

TIP 4 – Use Lighting to Amplify Perspective

The way you introduce light into a space can have an enormous effect on an environment, hugely improving its quality and character. Susanka can’t say enough about how reflective surfaces can influence rooms throughout your abode. Reflective surfaces help bounce light around, augmenting the presence of natural light within a space.

TIP 5 – Enhance Your Space With Color

The way the light falls on different colors can completely transform a room. Determine the most important wall in each room — the place to which you want to draw peoples’ attention — and paint it to your heart’s desire.

This is the point in remodeling that can allow for personal freedom of expression in your home. Susanka points out that there’s no need to be shy in this process; be creative and experiment with a variety of colors to sense how they each make you feel in the space. Paint large pieces of paper in all the colors you could imagine and even all the colors that you’d never expect to use. You might just find that the brightest or most unexpected shade fits perfectly on your favorite wall.

Images from Sarah Susanka and Mark Vassallo’s book, Not So Big Remodeling, published by Taunton Press in 2009; by photographer Randy O’Rourke.

Green Remodeler – Sarah Susanka

Sarah Susanka, FAIA, is the leader of a movement that is redefining the American home and lifestyle. Through her “build better, not bigger” approach to residential design she has demonstrated that the sense of “home” we seek has to do with quality, not quantity. A thought leader and acclaimed architect, Susanka is the best-selling author of nine books that collectively weave together home and life design, revealing that a “Not So Big” attitude serves not only architectural aims, but life goals as well. Her books have sold well over one million copies. Susanka’s most recent book, More Not So Big Solutions for Your Home, was released in February, 2010. Join her online community at

Via Inhabitat

Top Kitchen Trends in 2011


Kitchen remodels are the most popular home improvement for homeowners, whether it is a simple facelift of fresh finishes and new appliances or a total makeover with major changes to layout.  Here are some of the hottest trends for the most used room in your home to make it more functional, beautiful and efficient.

  • Dishwasher drawers- easier to load, and you can do half loads, too!
  • Workstations for specialized purposes, i.e. coffee center, wine tasting, planning, baking, etc.
  • Flexible pull-out faucets along with instant hot and cold taps


  • New finishes other than polished on granite countertops like “leather”, honed, and “fired” which bring out different characteristics of the stone
  • Integrating computers, sound systems and televisions into the room
  • Lots of lighting for task, under-cabinet and general – all with dimmers

Kitchen-Led-Lighting-fixtureskitchen color schemes

  • Storage in functional drawers with dividers for organized, easy access- especially in work areas
  • Cabinet panel fronts on appliances to blend seamlessly with the rest of the design scheme
  • White cabinets with brightly colored walls or accents
  • Under-counter freezers, beverage centers, wine storage and more
  • Built in strainers, colanders, and cutting boards in sinks

miele ss_dbl ovens Unique-Acrylic-Kitchen-Sink-Element

  • Stainless steel appliances are still very popular.
  • Dual appliances like two dishwashers, dual ovens, etc. make entertaining or feeding a large family easier
  • Green and/or recycled materials, energy-star rated appliances- hooray!

concrete-countertopglass counter

If it’s time to update your kitchen, you will be happy to know that it is still considered a good investment.  Typical kitchen remodels generally will return between 80 and 100 percent on the investment when you sell.  According to Consumer Reports, this is an excellent time to redo your kitchen and it’s still the most popular remodel.  To ensure you get the results you want, hire a qualified contractor and designer to work through the details and guide you through the process.

Beautiful Rugs Tread Lightly on the Environment


Have you been searching for a beautiful and interesting rug that not only suits your style but is also made from natural materials and under Fairtrade conditions?  Your search may be over.  The Australian company Armadillo&Co has launched a line of stunning eco-friendly rugs made from jute, cotton, hemp and wool.  The Flower Collection is handcrafted in three circular styles in a floral theme made from soft Bangladeshi hemp.


The Marigold is the most intricate of the designs in the collection and features delicate woven flowers around an inner circle.  The Dandelion is an organic continuous pattern of circles inside circles.  The most understated piece is the Zinnia, a simple circle which will feel at home in any room and on any floor.

armadilloco-ed02All of Armadillo&Co’s eco-friendly rugs and homewares are made by artisan weavers in the villages of Utar Pradesh, India, where they pay local artisans above-average wages and provides financial support to local schools.  They also bear the KALEEN label, guaranteeing no child labor has been used in the manufacture of the rugs.

Designing with Light- Part 1

As we embrace the shorter days of fall and winter, light becomes even more important in our spaces.  Taking advantage of natural daylight is essential, but with fewer hours available, we must utilize indoor lighting to a greater extent.1%20Fall-Sunset

Lighting can make a big difference in your home- creating a mood, making tasks easier, and providing safety and security.  Good lighting can help to add a sense of drama and beauty to a room, or even simply a feeling of comfort.  It can set the mood- stimulating excitement for entertaining, or soothing and calming for relaxing.

Lighting fixtures can also be used as decorative elements in a space – adding sparkle and style, they are the ideal accessory to complete your home.  There are nearly unlimited options available in shapes, sizes, colors and styles to complement any décor.

Lighting makes a difference in so many ways, and it is an inexpensive way to update a room dramatically and quickly.  Whether you are remodeling or redecorating, lighting gives you flexibility in adapting the mood and ambience of your home to your needs.

Determining Your Needs and Planning

When you are planning your lighting to complement your lifestyle, it is best to develop a home lighting plan that meets your individual needs.  To achieve a comprehensive and successful solution, keep these tips in mind.

  • Identify the activities that occur in each space – reading, hobbies, homework, laundry, food preparation, etc.)
  • Identify the mood you want to create
  • Identify the focal point or decorative elements you want to highlight
  • Remember that dark colors absorb light, and will need additional light accordingly
  • If you are remodeling, note locations of existing electrical sources
  • Identify areas where more than one activity takes place and will likely require more than one type of lighting

Basic Types of Lighting

there are three basic types of lighting used in your home that work together to create the overall lighting plan:

  • Ambient
  • Task
  • Accent

Ambient lighting provides an area with overall illumination and light.  It also sometimes called general lighting, and gives a comfortable level of light without glare that allows you to see and move about safely.

Ceiling or wall fixtures, chandeliers, recessed or track lights and outdoor lanterns all create ambient lighting.  A good lighting plan will include a central source of general light in each room.


Task lighting is focused on a specific area and helps you to perform certain tasks such as reading, doing homework, cooking, playing games, or grooming.  It can be provided by track lighting, recessed cans, under-cabinet lighting, and table lamps.  Task lighting should be bright enough to prevent eyestrain, but not so bright as to create glare.


Accent lighting is used to add drama and visual interest to a room.  In an interior space, it is used to focus on paintings, sculptures, houseplants or other areas of interest.  It is often used to highlight texture of stone or brick.  It is usually provided by track fixtures or recessed art lights.


Coming in Part 2, we will discuss the different types of fixtures and how they can be used to create specific moods in a home or space.  In Part 3, we will examine how lighting can become more energy efficient and the latest types of energy saving fixtures available. Stay tuned!

Handcrafted Furniture from Reclaimed Teak Creates Sweet Dreams

hand carved chest from Jason Scott Collection

A hand carved chest from Jason Scott Collection

The Jason Scott Collection line of reclaimed teak wood furnishings has options that are rustic or refined, in traditional or contemporary styles.  All are beautifully hand-carved by craftsmen who have honed their skill for many years.

All the teak is reclaimed from architectural structures from Java, and then created by Javanise craftsmen who have been woodworkers for generations.

Headquartered in Phoenix since 1995, the Jason Scott Collection has become well known for the beauty the carvers find in each piece of wood and the history they preserve in each piece of furniture they create.

For more photos and examples of their work, visit their website: or contact us to commission your very own piece.

Zen Powder Room is also Eco-friendly

We recently completed this powder room in one of our projects- a remodel in Scottsdale of an early 90’s semi-custom home. The owner wanted aspects of a Zen aesthetic, with the quiet, soothing sounds of water running to be incorporated into the home somewhere. The powder room was a logical choice for both. We worked with Concrete Interior Design here in Scottsdale to create this unique vanity and water-feature combination.
The entire vanity is designed and constructed of colored concrete, which is made from recycled and eco-friendly materials. Incorporated into the upper shelf is a hidden motion-sensitive eye that operates the “faucet” – a row of individual water streams trickling down into a pebble filled basin. The effect is a unique blend of fountain and function. The design of the faucet feature conserves water with its low-pressure streams and automatic shut-off. Behind the flowing water, a mosaic blend of glass and man-made tiles provides a bit of color and sparkle.
The pebble-like texture of the glass sconces harmonizes with the Zen theme, and repeats the texture of the actual stones in the sink basin. Soft, glowing faux finished walls are the perfect backdrop for pops of bright red accents and tie into the rest of the home.