Introducing Monogram Decor …

I started this blog in 2010 as a way to chronicle my adventures in culinary school.  Well culinary school quickly fell by the wayside but blogging continued.  The focus changed from school to work and I quickly found myself documenting the process it took to decorate our new home in Oakland with some blood, sweat and DIY trickery.  That experience opened up doors, opportunities and created lasting friendships that I am forever grateful to have had and know.

But something else happened.  As I toiled away trying to decorate my home, others started asking me for my assistance in decorating their abodes.  Flattered by the attention, I said yes to helping friends and family (and the occasional stranger) turn their houses into homes, fluff their surroundings and help make their lives a more beautiful experience.  And I felt fulfilled.  I felt alive.  I felt I was good at something and let me tell you, after spending a decade second guessing my career aspirations and licking my wounds from the failed bout at culinary school, finding something that I found peace AND excitement in doing was a tremendous feat.

So I tool classes, knocked on doors and even flew to Canada (hi Meredith!) to get what I could to learn the business of design better.  And I came back and toiled.  And floundered.  And flailed.  But I survived.  I wasn’t rich and barely turning a profit, but I was enjoying the process and so it went.  I hung my shingle and Courtney Lake Interiors was born.  Along with the blog I carved out a small niche in this world of design and tried my best to make my mark.  But something wasn’t right and this time I knew what it was.

I had spent this time, money and effort trying to build a brand on the back of something that wasn’t meant to house this aspiration.  Some people can do several things really well.  I cannot and it was becoming more evident that I had to make a decision.  However, I had to answer a question and this question would confirm how I would proceed not only with 2014 but with my career…….”was I a blogger or a designer?”

It was simple.  Through sheer will and dumb luck, I had emerged as a lifestyle blogger and was pretty damn good at it.  But I was building a business as an interior designer/decorator.  And my business was on the back of this beast called blogging.  It was a messy and incest riddled relationship that was causing confusion for clients, for the press and for me.  What as Courtney Lake Interiors?  What was Courtney Out Loud?  And in the end, I realized I needed some separation.  I needed to evaluate what kind of designer I wanted to be outside of the format of the blog.

I had spent years developing a voice for Courtney Out Loud.  I knew that person.  They were me.  Courtney Lake Interiors, I didn’t know.  It was what I thought I should be as a designer, not what I aspired to be in my heart of hearts.  So I opted in December of 2013 to change that.  I stopped blogging and focused on how to make the decorating business work.  I made a decision……

I wanted to be a decorator that blogged, not a blogger who moonlights as a decorator.  So that meant some changes.  The first was that I got help.  I worked with a great team of experts at Skout It to hone what I wanted the business to become.  I dreamed big and what I ended up with is a business that encompasses all the facets of what makes me excited to do design.  I would like to introduce Monogram Decor…….

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Monogram Decor is my attempt at making an indelible imprint on the design landscape.  It encompasses my design firm (Courtney Lake Interiors), my staging and photo styling business (CLIC) and lifestyle writing/speaking engagements.  It’s a young and fresh approach to decorating that doesn’t worry about perfection.  It’s about allowing the best of the client to shine in whatever project we are working on.

Am I scared?  Absolutely. Aside from officially debuting my design portfolio it is the first time I have been honest in what I want from myself professionally.  I had spent years being afraid of being 100% me in all aspects of my life and work.  Yet, the series of events in the last few months have just affirmed that when I am fully “me” the universe rewards that honesty.  Business has increased.  Press is seeking me out.  And I am confident.

And what about the blog?  It will exist but just like the business, it has matured, evolved and will be taking a different direction.  From the start, the blog was meant to chronicle the life’s adventures and it will continue to do that as part of Monogram Decor.  However, that means the blog as it currently stands will cease to exist which does give me a pang of sadness.  This has been my baby for several years and I can’t imagine where I would be professionally without it.  But I encourage you all to come experience the Monogram Decor Blog and see what it has to offer.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

So lets recap: New year. New business.  New web site.  New blog. New experiences.  So let’s get started…….

Change Quote

New Year Brings Changes …

I try to start every year with giving my home a good and thorough cleaning.  Whether it’s more symbolic or not, starting the year with my house in order just feels right.  When I started the blog in 2010, it was meant to be a vehicle to chronicle my journey through culinary school.  However, it quickly morphed into an online journal to track my growth (and occasional set-backs) as I embarked on a new career path – interior design.  I found myself opening my own small but thriving design firm, getting my own monthly online column and partnering with some amazing brands and collaborators.

But my house wasn’t in order.  I was working through a variety of channels to keep the business in check.  My business needed a “home” and in September of this year, I partnered with a fantastic firm to help fully flush out all the different facets of what I do and what I want to accomplish in the coming year.  Well, it’s all coming to a head in the  next two weeks as I will be able to officially début my new online “home”.  However, with all new things comes transition and change.  For me, that means that the moniker and blog that many of you know me as “Courtney Out Loud” will be shifting & morphing.  Actually, I like to think of it as growing up to meet the new demands of a growing business.

It’s a leap of faith or sometimes I think pure stupidity but I am grateful for this opportunity to be purely ignorant of what the future has in store.  Having spent the last 3 months nursing this baby, I know where I want it to go but don’t know what the journey will be and I am okay with that.  I spent almost 4 years building a home, inviting in the world to take a peek at this thing I call a life and a career.  And the response has been tremendous and I am forever grateful.  It’s because of you (and a lot of sleepless nights) that I stand on finish line ready to cross over.

I say all of this to let you know the site will be going dark for a few days as the development crew work their backend magic.  I don’t envy their task — 500+ blog posts, 1000s of comments and 1 very tense interior decorator watching over their shoulders.  But for the moment …….

Pardon My Mess

So its a new home for a new year and I can’t wait to invite you in!   But in the interim, I still will be posting & pinning away on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram.

See you soon!

[photo credit: courtney lake]

Men’s Style: New Year’s Eve…

In my younger days, I was never a huge party animal.  I preferred a dinner party to a keg party.  And that hasn’t changed much as I have gotten older but……..

Every once in a while, I feel like dressing up and cutting loose.    Drink one too many.  Dance a little too wild.  Sing at the top of the lungs.  In these situations, a suit and tie won’t cut it.  You need something a bit more bold and daring especially if you are going to welcome the new year in it!  Sometimes a boy just needs to let his hair down and do a heavy dose of ……

Rocking Out Lead

I like to think of this look of what would happen if a young Ebenezer Scrooge opted to go wild for just one night and let out his inner rock star.  This outfit is where Charles Dickens and Iggy Pop collide — definitely a story for the books……

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[outfit: pants: burberry // moto vest: macys inc // shirt: karl largerfeld // hat: zara// bow tie: h&m// boots: dsquared]

To see the entire Men’s Style Holiday Edition, visit here, here, here & here.

[photo credit:  aubrie pick//styling: courtney lake]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Libation Celebration: Ambrosia…

For the final installment of Libation Celebration, we turn our focus to New Years Eve.  Once again, I turned to our resident mixologist Ronaldo of the Ivy Room for guidance.  I asked Ronaldo for a drink that was a bit lux.  I don’t know why but New Year parties just feel like they should be fancy – suits, long dresses, plated appetizers….you know the stuff of “adults”.  However, me being me, I wanted lux but not stuffy – like wearing Armani but with sneakers…mind you they are fancy sneakers but sneakers nonetheless.  With that in mind, Ronaldo thought it would be fun to play homage to the American dessert that we all knew as children, ambrosia.  In my household it was an odd concoction of whipped cream, jello and frozen fruit cocktail.  Lets just say that it was made every year and every year it always found itself at the bottom of the trash can come the end of the night.

If ambrosia was what the mythical gods of yore ate, then this would have probably been the perfect elixir to wash down their heavenly snack…..

Ambrosia Drink

Believe me when I say  that no one will be declining this Ambrosia at your party!  Forget the jello — this Ambrosia is a heady mix of bourbon, strawberries and vanilla liquor.  The addition of the whipped cream and the unexpected crunch of the sesame seeds elevate this drink to the perfect mixture of fancy and fun…..exactly what you want for a New Years Party!

Ambrosia Drink Recipe

To see the entire Libation Celebration series, visit here, here & here.

[photo credit: photo by adza//food styling: courtney lake//recipe: ronaldo colli ]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Men’s Style: Christmas Morning …

Remember yesterday when I said I was slipping into my comfy PJs and hibernating at home to find my Christmas spirit?  Well I was only partially joking.  You see, I am a tank top and shorts kinda guy when it comes to PJs.  On top of that I have the worst case of bed head on the planet.  So you can imagine what I look like on Christmas morning.  Needless to say I don’t want to be sitting with my parents unwrapping presents as my junk flops around and my hair looks like a topiary.

Something has to give, so I am upping my game for Christmas morning this year.  Ditching the terry robe and gym shorts for something that is still uber comfortable but a touch more stylish and won’t leave me scrambling to get my hair under control.  So this Christmas morn, I plan to ….

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[sweater: all saints //sweat shirt: rxmance // cashmere sweat pants: ralph lauren//                 beanie: ted baker// boots: ugg]

This is my official Christmas uniform.  Bring on the presents!  Bring on the unexpected visitors!  But most importantly, bring on the fun & relaxing times with friends and family!

[photo credit:  aubrie pick//styling: courtney lake]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Motivational Monday: Holiday Cheer …

Edna Ferber Quote

I was talking with a few friends and they all agree that for some reason Christmas this year just does not “feel” typical.  It’s like putting on your favorite cashmere sweater only to find out that it’s too small, itchy & uncomfortable.  Something seems to be off and I am determined to figure out what it is.  This week, I have given myself a mandate – find your joy.  Find your bliss.  Find your inner Santa.

Whether it’s with families and friends or at the bottom of a mug of spiked egg nog, the mission is simple – get out of my head and get into the season.  I need the “holiday magic” – it’s better than any anti-depressant.  I am in desperate need of some “Christmas Prozac”.  So I am putting on my PJs, cranking up the holiday tunes and immersing myself in babies, baking and boozing. I figure one of the three should make this Scrooge McGrinch smile…..

[photo credit:  aubrie pick]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.