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…….

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CA Home+Design Awards Design Tastemaker of 2014 …

So I am hoping that your Thanksgiving holiday found you well fed and well-loved.  And if you did venture out yesterday for Black Friday that you scored some amazing deals and not too worse for the wear.  Did I also mention you look pretty today ……

The reason for all the sweet talking?  Well once again I am asking for your help to win something.  The editors over at CA Home + Design Magazine have this strange notion that I know a thing or two about style and design, so they nominated me for their 2014 Design Tastemaker Award! I also with 29 other amazing, talented and design-savvy individuals throughout California are up for this prestigious award.  Yes, I am competing against 29 other people for one award, so this is where I need your support.  From now through 5pm Monday (12/2) I would love, appreciate and desperately want you to vote for me (#28) on the list …..

CA Logo

CA Home Style Tastemaker

Voting literally takes 30 seconds — click on #28, input your email and you are done.

Here is the important part – you can vote once a day through 5pm PST on Monday, so that is 3 votes from each of you.  Each of you made it possible for me to win the trip to London and this could be a culmination to a simply amazing year.  The winner receives not only the accolade of 2014 Design Tastemaker but also a feature in the print issue of CA Home + Design!  A print feature about the business in a major publication is something I have dreamed about and I can’t fathom what this kind of PR would do for exposing a broader audience to my work.

And it’s all in my grasp but I can’t do it without each of you.  Let me stress that each and every vote is important.  For those of you who don’t remember from the Modenus contest, I won by less than 20 votes so don’t think that your vote won’t matter because it does!

On a final note, I again want to say thank you.  Thank you for your support, encouragement and motivation.  This blog has brought me so many opportunities that I never thought I would have or experience.  I take none of it for granted.  Even if I don’t win (but I really do!) I have hit the jackpot with friends, work, new colleagues and fantastic readers.

So unless you want to see a pic of me on my knees pleading (which I am not above doing), please go vote!  THANK YOU!

Check out my online Christmas shop at Joy & Revelry. Also find me on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram if you are in the mood for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.

Weekend Reading…..

If you have some free time this weekend and want a healthy dose of design, check out some of the articles I have written this month as well as one I was featured in……

I remember my first apartment.  It was in the basement of a very lovely home in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, DC and every time it rained, crickets would invade the space in droves.  It had one closet the size of a shoebox, no oven and every piece of furniture I had come from Ikea.  I loved it!   I channel those memories as I help a young client decorate his first apartment to accommodate sleeping, working and the occasional dinner party  – all in 500 square feet of for my monthly column with  SheKnows.com ….

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Switching gears from studio apartments to prefab homes, I recently wrote an article profiling BLU Home for California Home + Design blog.  BLU is one of the leaders pushing the definition of what a prefab home can look like.  And seriously, just drop the “pre” part because the house I profiled at their Sonoma location is just darn FAB…..

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And the lovely folks over at Interior Canvas blog interviewed myself along with fellow designers Jonathan Savage and Grant Gibson (love those boys) as part of their profile on the online retailer Zinc Decor.  I love the store’s modern slant and the ladies behind the brand are honestly two of the most amazing folks I know – design savvy with business acumen…..plus they are super cute to boot (some folks have all the luck!) ……

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(Wendy & Tiffany of Zinc Door — told you they were hot mommas….)

Okay I am off to do a final push for a client presentation on Monday!  Have a great weekend……

[picture credit: Photo by Adza/BLU Home/Zinc Door]

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: Tooting Your Horn ….

Will Rogers Horn Tooting Quote

Sometimes when you have your head down working, you forget things.  You forget to eat, get gas for the car or mention that you are being featured in the San Francisco Chronicle!!

Courtney Lake Chronicle

It wasn’t until I started receiving congratulatory emails, texts and calls that it dawned on me that was the day!  If you follow my Instagram feed, I leaked a sneak peek from the shoot at the Chronicle studio which found me dancing up a storm in front of the lens of the talented Craig Lee (thanks Craig for making me look like a rocker star!) and in general having a great time.

As I look back from when I received the email from the writer Anh-Minh to actually shooting the piece with Craig, it was a mental journey in allowing myself to be appreciated and acknowledged.  Like many in the design field, we are hyper critical of our work, I think partially to defend ourselves from whatever criticisms will arise.  Having produced this blog for several years now, the level of scrutiny you open yourself up to when sharing projects is high and at times it can be hurtful and stress-inducing.  So by shirking from the limelight, you save your psyche (and ego) some mental wear and tear.

Truth is, I was scared when the request came in.  What if my work wasn’t good enough?  What if me peers saw me as a poser?  What if….what if….what if.  And then I thought, what if I actually enjoy the fact that I have worked for over two years and a publication wants to profile me?  What if I took pride in knowing that this is an honor and something I should be proud of accomplishing?  What if I just shut the f**k up, put on some cool clothes and have a good time in front of a camera?

And I did.

Having someone else toot your horn, makes you realize that all of us rarely take the time to celebrate our accomplishments.  It’s these milestones that fuel us between this peaks because I know there will be valleys.  So this week, I encourage all of you to pull out your proverbial horn and let it rip!

[pictures: secretsoundsecondsun.tumblr.com & SF Chronicle]

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.

Designer Crush Q&A with California Home + Design …..

Typically when I mention California Home + Design, it’s because I am writing a piece for them.  However, this time it’s a bit different since the editors saw fit to profile me as part of their Designer Crush Q&A Series …….

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I am completely humbled, honored and horrified to be profiled.  Three years ago, I never thought I would be in the position I am in and it still blows my mind to see my path.  I know I am lucky but also that I put in sleepless nights, more than a few crying fits and have kept my local Bev Mo in the black.  This profile touches me because it’s the first time a publication has shined the spotlight on me as a designer.  In the same vein it’s scary because it the first time a publication has shined the spotlight on my work.  But it’s such sweet validation and I will admit, I hesitated to share this on the blog because I wasn’t sure if it was too much “me” on the blog as of late.  Then I remember that the blog has my name, so I felt okay then.  But seriously, I worried it was too much but then I realized I had to share because you all have been with me when I am in my lows and I want you with me in my highs……

All I have to say is THANK YOU to the California Home + Design editors thinking highly enough of me and my work to include me as part of this series.  If you are so interested, check out the fill profile on me here……

Today I am off to cram as much work into 12 hours as a boy can before I have to turn my attention on packing because I leave for London next week!  Eek!  Have a great weekend and should you need a laugh, check out my Instagram feed for how my hair has morphed over the last three days…..

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

Pen to Paper: Menlo Park Project….

A college friend contacted me last year to inquire if I would be interested in helping him update his Menlo Park condo.  Knowing my friend’s taste and his easy-going persona, I immediately jumped aboard.  Then things promptly came to a halt — my friend’s work schedule was already hectic but then he became fully immersed in a new business venture that ate up all his free time.  We were finally able to nail down our schedules and get back on track.

Last week, we presented to him the full concept for his space — a mix of mid-century (my wheelhouse), contemporary and a touch of  70’s chic — because if I learned anything having nourished myself on a steady diet of the Brady Brunch, every house owner needs a bit of swinging awesomeness to make it their own.

Here are the sketches of the two spaces and a quick synopsis of the proposed changes and furnishings…..

Living room Sketch

The fireplace gets re-imagined with white stacked stone, gas insert and extended hearth for extra seating.  The stone wraps around to the adjacent wall creating a focal point in the living room.  The existing built-in is updated with paint and a cool wallpaper treatment on the back.  A new couch is being made from linen and the most yummy leather seat that speaks to the sling chair in the corner of the space.  Ottomans finish off the sitting arrangement that we are recovering in a fabric from Kelly Wearstler.  Geometric wood side tables and an amazing floor lamp from Diesel (they do more than denim!) finish off that space.

Dining Sketch

The dining room we are installing a beautiful metallic gold grasscloth on the walls that will play so well with the copper chairs I have my eye on for around the live edge dining table.  And before you point out the obvious, the French vintage cabinet is going bye-bye!  Sometimes a client is set on using a piece, even when you it is dead wrong for the space.  So you run with it.  Showing the piece in context to the rest of the design was the exact nudge the client needed to move forward with my other set of ideas for a free-standing piece that I am positive will knock his socks off and just may set me up to be the best designer in the world…..or so I like to tell myself when I am accepting the imaginary Emmy for Best Interior Design in a dream sequence.  But seriously, the new shelving unit fits in perfectly with the vision for the space and provides a ton of storage and a nice counterpoint to the stone wall.

So there you have the Menlo Park project in a nutshell.  The team is finalizing POs and delivery schedules but if all goes well, we should be entering construction in the next month and finishing everything before Christmas — well that is if my own Christmas wish comes true :)

If you need design assistance in the Bay Area, feel free to shoot me an email at courtneylakeinteriors(at)gmail.com to inquire about my services!

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.

PopSugar Home Profile: San Francisco High Rise….

This week PopSugar Home (formerly Casa Sugar) profiled one of my San Francisco projects.  Over the last two years, I have worked pretty extensively in the One Hawthorne building in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco.  The modern high-rise is completely new construction and has fantastic amenities the least being walking distance all that downtown SF has to offer.

The concept for the space was “Quiet Riot” — the clients loved a variety of different styles and had a few dissimilar pieces they wanted to incorporate into the final design.  I really took cues from how the clients planned to live in the space — they aren’t huge party throwers and lead rather hectic professional lives.  The condo was their place of recoup, reenergize and reconnect.  However, they have great personalities full of humor and wit so I wanted the final design to also reflect that.  Finally, they had two adorable cats that have free reign over the space, so everything we put into the condo had to be cat-tested and approved.  Which on a side note, is NO easy task thanks so their “adorable predisposition” of sharpening their claws on very expensive furniture.  But with a little trial-and-error and some smart material choices, we were able to create a space that feels modern, luxe but approachable…….

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For the full story and additional pictures of the space, visit PopSugar Home.  If you are looking for interior design assistance in the Bay Area, please feel free to
contact me
to get more information on the services I provide!

I am off for vacation in Hawaii to celebrate a friend’s wedding as well as a few days to of doing nothing.  I say this not to rub it in but I inform that I may be a bit spotty with my blogging next week….you know being how hard it is to balance a packed schedule of drinking, eating pineapple and sunbathing……ALOHA!

[photo credit: photo by Adza]

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.