What’s in a Name: Imbuing your space with personality

My sister just returned from a jaunt through the coast of California. An inauspicious time to visit with flash floods, mud slides, and wild fires, but Jo-Jo won’t let a little weather get in the way of a good time. While there, she had a raucous time chasing a band of chickens that got unceremoniously chucked from a slow moving vehicle into the park. No longer being of egg baring value to the owners they were deemed redundant.

That dress by Ivana Ma would look fabulous in Lily V.

Jo-Jo has a soft spot for strays coupled with a commitment problem. For the purpose of this discussion we won’t get into what happened with Pi Pi, and Squiggles – two neighborhood cats that did not belong to her but boarded on occasion. Never at a loss for names, the chickens, which were captured and taken home – only in San Francisco and China Town will city dwellers attempt to keep chickens – they were immediately named and made to feel welcome. Rougie, Bougie, and Rosa, Avian Flu free or not, are likely never being relocated by the local Animal Rescue league. Once named, it’s hard to say good-bye.

All this got me thinking about naming my own, not so new place. A first, all the others have been given a number. I am the Holly Golightly of the real estate world. Pour slobs, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, they didn’t deserve a name. We weren’t meant to be together and so naturally, I couldn’t give them something so permanent, but this one, number six….I feel as if she needs a name. We may not be destined to be together forever, but we are likely to spend more than two years in each others company, and it feel wrong to keep calling her Six. George Costanza might disagree but I’ve made up my mind, at least a far as a proper name is concerned.

I want it to be important and yet have the ability to be casual. I don’t have my own children but I’ve always liked the idea of naming them after flowers. Flowers represent all that is wonderful in design, color, texture, composition. There natural beauty is alluring and they are at once carefree and complex. I feel certain that this name will finally allow the design to blossom into something extraordinary. Lilia Verily, known to her closest friends as Lily V is going to combine sophistication with a frolicking sense of sunny possibility. Not a socialite but a gal with social sensibilities that will make all feel welcome. I can’t wait for her coming out.

First Impressions: Entries that make entering memorable

Pit a nail in it. There is no law. If someone said otherwise politely nod, as if in agreement and then do your own thing. This is a seat worth sitting in and that’s something to be said for a bathroom.

I can hear my mother shouting up the stairs, or as I walk out the door, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. As someone that is charged with helping teams prepare for interviews, first impressions are among the very first things discussed. You have 2 minutes tops, with shrinking attention spans due to our digital universe it’s likely we have even less than that. After all a gold fish can hold their attention, gazing through their liquid oasis their world view warped by the curve of their glass bowl, for nine seconds. We humans clock in at 8. I love a happy goldfish, a prize for landing the ping pong ball atop a narrow rimmed jar, but this stat has me puckering my lips simulating a fish in the hopes that I can gain that second back. I’ll work on my attention span, but I can’t rely on others to be as shocked by this data as I am.

Which is why I feel perplexed about what to do with my own entry. If a person is subject to initial impressions which get imprinted on them for life, one can only imagine what happens when they enter your home. My current condo doesn’t offer much in terms of opportunity to surprise and delight. When you open the door – which is white in keeping with other units in the building, you are greeted by a wall that contains two other doors. It’s no house of mirrors. One is a coat closet, the other houses the washer and dryer. I am happy for both, but you can see the limitations that I am forced to contend with as it relates to this entry

Narrow with no where to go, I may not even get eight seconds. A splash of paint it’ll have to be. Doors, ceiling, casings and base all in the same hue? With small apartments and open concepts you have to delineate terminations. The base continues in a singular expanse from entry/hall to living room before flowing into the kitchen and meeting back up where it all began – in the entry. I love the look of a base in the same hue, but in high gloss, or a slightly darker pigment, still shining like a polished sports car preparing for a parade, but turning a corner and changing ones colors might not feel right in this situation. Safer to leave the base white, which begs the question should the casings remain white too.

Kitchen cabinets are framed out with molding, and arranged with botanical prints bringing symmetry and order to an environment that demands it. Mis en place.

I didn’t get into this game to play it safe, which leads me wanting to treat those doors as if they were side by side walls and adorn them with complimentary pieces of art. We humans crave symmetry so if I wanted to play it a tiny bit safe, in this smallest of spaces, with only a moment to make my mark on your psyche, I would find two pieces that offered balance. A door after all is a grand frame. I plan on capturing your attention with it, by giving life to my inanimate entry.

Note the richness of the space – base, casings, walls, all painted in the same hue give a coziness to the entry. Pin the picture to the baluster and you have offered the viewer something unexpected.

IN STORE: 2023 Design Trends

This Farrow & Ball Kitchen manages to be both moody and light. Look for earth tones and muddy shades this season with loads of terra cotta, peach and pink.

Life is a switchboard. A cacophony of conversation on the brink of happening. Hush the clucking and control the chatter, I tell myself even though I am drawn to it. Fold into the silence, swim in the abyss. Float on my back, buoyed by the dense salinity of the ocean where you are both separate and a part. A meditation that is as familiar to me as breathing. I long for the wisdom of water in these winter months when the year has yet to unfold and new beginnings are plump with possibility. Pluck we must, choose or have it selected for us, or worse yet, have it shrivel, sag, and curl in on itself, the life force and vitality disappearing from whence it came.

Too high-brow? I like to test out different writing styles. It’s a new year, and new year’s feel heavy with a responsibility to decide. Your word, your resolutions, goals, deadlines, commitments, convictions. Finally, you promise yourself, you are going to face your fears, throw caution to the wind – dive out of that plane into the sky and discover that you can fly, if only for a moment.

That’s a lot to tackle in the dark days of winter, which is why I haven’t selected the word, picked the direction, determined what the rest of my life will look like. Ralph Waldo wants me to “Write it on my heart that every day is the best day of the year.” It seems appropriate since no day of mine can be made bad by writing, and can certainly be made better by writing to you.

I feel sure that starting with something simple will get my momentum moving and so I have decided to tackle Design Trends and predictions. Some that I believe originated with me, but one can never be certain of that. Let’s just say I picked them up along the way, and I hope that you take from them a little inspiration for which to pepper you palace.

2023 and the MOODY HUE

I think of moody hues as being muddy. A little dinge thrown in to give the color personality, complexity, interest. You know, like a person with a past. I have been playing with my own moody hues for the last six months, which contributed to my momentary feeling of superiority, but I know I ripped the idea off of someone – probably Kelly Wearstler – I remain obsessed.


The scallop – not to be confused with the wave – is definitive. Half moon after half moon placed side by side rather than a tug of war rope pumped vigorously to produce a sonic ripple. Being a Cape Cod girl at heart I naturally adore a scallop. The challenge is that it can feel whimsical when what you are in search of is sophistication. Try tempering it with a traditional print or a dark brooding hue. Dare to give a scalloped shade an edge by painting it black. Baby – that’s both unexpected and bold.


Let’s just say you won’t find it on Wayfair. They don’t have what this new trend wants, which is a little more luxury, a little more ornamentation and old world wealth. I just bought a Neoclassical French dolphin based dining table – just saying – I got it before they announced that it was going to be a trend. Don’t like the old world and don’t want to spend a fortune? Hit the yard sales and flea market’s for a traditional piece, and then take it to one of your local furniture refurbishing shops and have them paint an old antique sideboard in a high-gloss hue of your choosing. Neoclassical with an edge. I use Porcelain Patch & Glaze out of Watertown. They are wonderful.


Mark D. Sikes knows stripes and dares to do the trend while remaining true to his own design aesthetic. Brilliant.

My favorite way this is done is through the use of fabric covered walls with headboards and curtains all in the same pattern. It’s daring, it’s expensive, and it’s cozy. It feels southern and sophisticated, and I am always left scratching my head about who was charged with the responsibility of figuring out how to make the headboard match up exactly with the wallcovering – mathematicians they must be.

There are many more predictions than the few I have chosen specifically for you. Some will peter out quickly and others will prove they can last beyond the calendar year, but I hope this gets you started thinking and exploring. Isn’t design deliciously fun?