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So, the purge of the kitchen is done. I’ve recovered from the trauma and have it on good authority that the poor Waste Management folks who hauled away the garbage are recovering nicely from their hernias.

I’m starting to get used to my stuff being relocated, though I think I’ll be battling the muscle memory for a while yet. The reorganization HAS made my cooking much more zenlike. I love having my stuff within easy reach. (The problem with the stand mixer and food processor remains, but everything else has much improved.)

So now, it’s time to give the kitchen a facelift. Get out the paint brushes!

Beth swears by the expertise of the folks at DuraPaint, and she’s absolutely right to. We went in with one idea, and came out with different paint. I will admit to being a bit trepidatious about the wall color, but I got over it. The end result was and is fabulous – and once again, something I would NOT have gotten to on my own. Ah, the power of professionals. They’re worth their weight in gold!

So here’s the before, where the walls are blue and the cabinets are an oatmeal off white (and this is actually a really old picture – the bookcase was relocated to the hallway several months ago, because the spines of my cookbooks were getting sun bleached, thus making me sad):

One of the things Beth suggested that I would NEVER have thought of was painting the bottom cabinets a darker color than the top cabinets. Since my motto is, “It’s only paint!” I figured, what the heck. If I didn’t like it, I could change it, right? (My motto has now changed somewhat. It’s now only paint if someone else is doing the work! At least until the memory of the hugeness of this part of our redesign fades!)

So, the project begins. This involves taping stuff. Lots of taping stuff. And then removing doors. My painting tarps went mysteriously (and very inconveniently!) missing, something I didn’t discover until I was ready to start. So I improvised with trash bags.

People, learn from my pain. Find the tarps. Or go buy more. There. I have spoken. Ignore me at your own risk.

So the painting of the cabinets was the biggest pain. In the past, we removed the hinges on the cabinet doors. This time, I taped them off. Taping them off actually took longer, but it was much less problematic than trying to get the hinges back in the perfect position – particularly since I was doing all of this on my own. I would say that this, for me, was the biggest “issue”. I am NOT a patient person by any stretch, and taping the hinges requires both patience and a steady hand. The application of my iPod with a whole slew of Kim Harrison books did help this immensely. As did constant reminders of the arguments I got into with my husband the last time we did the cabinets and removed the hinges. 🙂

The bottom cabinets got a coat of primer and then two coats of paint. I probably didn’t NEED the second coat of paint, but I was SO not going to decide that I did after rehanging those cabinet doors. The top cabinets got two coats of paint. The walls got one coat of paint – mainly, I think, because the Benjamin Moore paint is SO good. I had anticipated needing two coats and was utterly delighted when it was quickly obvious that a second coat was unnecessary. This was my first experience with Benjamin Moore paint, and I’m pretty well a convert now. It’s not cheap compared to the stuff we were buying before at Home Depot or Lowe’s, but the quality is evident and worth the additional money. Particularly if, as I expect, the quality extends into durability.

By the time the cabinets were painted, I had decided that Beth is, in fact, a designing genius, and was trying to figure out exactly what sort of baked goods to offer up to her in thanks. I think I decided on chocolate truffles. She’s THAT good. The two toned cabinets looked spectacular. The wall color took a bit more time to grow on me, but by the time I was done painting, it had settled in and I loved it. My kitchen was starting to look like the island of zen I wanted it to be.

I was too “in the painting zone” to remember to take pictures of the wall painting part of the project. (Okay, really, I just wanted it done. And to not have to look at paint again for a long, long, LONG time.) For the cabinets, I used a paintbrush – and another bit o’advice here – suck it up and pay for the good paint brush. It really is worth it. If you take good care of it, you’ll have it around for years to come, and the difference in paint application is very noticeable. For the walls, I used rollers. Since I knew part of the project would involve painting the ceiling (which now makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry), I didn’t worry overmuch about the occasional paint splotch up there.

The whole painting project took 3 days of pretty solid work – again, it was only me doing this. It’s not that my husband wouldn’t have helped. It’s that I’m not patient enough to wait for him to not have paying clients and thus the time to help me. Even if it means more work and aggravation for me. Waiting is more vexing, in my world.

So, I’ll cease my yammering and show you the finished paint project. (Or so I thought. We’d have to get out the paint again – and that is a blog for another day!)


So, before I decided to follow my dream and work in design, I was a marriage and family counselor. Yeah, quite the career change, but let me tell you, that past experience comes in quite handy when I’m starting a new project.

Now, I can’t speak for all designers out there, but it’s fairly safe to say that we all have a process that we go through in getting to know our clients and in getting the information we need from you in order to do our job. Based on my previous vocation, I tend to tailor my approach to the client after the initial contact.

Because enquiring minds want to know (and really? I just wanted to use that phrase…), here’s what you can expect when we’re getting a project kicked off.

You have reached a tipping point. A point of pain you simply must have addressed, or a point where you are able to move forward with a project you’ve long had in mind. You know you want *something* done, and you recognize that hiring a professional is the way to go. You may contact several designers. Or you may just pick one. Either way, you’ve let your fingers do the walking and you’ve either found my website or learned about me from a friend or colleague, or our paths have somehow crossed. We chat on the phone. During the initial phone screening, I’ll ask questions about timeframe and loose budget parameters. There’s got to be trust and rapport – I’m not going to spend every last cent; that’s not my goal. The budget is framework – I’ll know my limits this way. If you’re on a leaner budget, I’m not going to seek out the highest end fabrics, etc. I’m going to get a feel for how much of this process you want or need to do on your own. And I’m going to assign you some homework in preparation for our first face to face meeting. That homework is going to involve research – you’re going to go through magazines and websites and whatever media you have at your fingertips to identify both what you like, and what you don’t, if something like that really sticks out.

The reason I have you do this is that, like setting a budget, identifying what you love and what you loathe gives me a framework. None of the designing I’m going to do for you happens in a vacuum – I need to have boundaries identified both in dollars and in tastes.

Now, once you’ve done your homework and perhaps learned something about yourself along the way, we have our first face to face. This meeting is crucial – and since you’re providing me with much needed information, I’ll be filling in some blanks for myself, such as listening for what is going to make this feel like a home for that person/couple/family. Its oftentimes difficult to get that feeling into a verbal description – how do you translate warm & cozy into decor? So, it’s my job to interpret for you what it is that you mean. Many times it’s a matter of “I can’t tell you what I like, but I can tell you what I don’t like”, which is a great start.

Once I have this information, the meeting is all about giving you much needed information about the process you’ll be facing. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as too much information about what to expect – knowledge in this case is both power and sanity. Remodeling, for instance, has portions of job that are really stressful. Drywall, wires, all over the place – total chaos – it can be really stressful. While I do use a very tidy crew, and we leave as little mess as possible, it is still disruptive. You know yourself well enough to know how you’ll handle this – will you be able to deal by escaping to another part of your home? Will you look at the disruption as exciting evidence of change being afoot? Will you be better off staying elsewhere? Will you need to make arrangements for pets? One thing I can’t stress enough about any process is that there will most likely be something that doesn’t go how you expected it to go. And here’s where the knowledge imparting portion of the face to face meeting is so important. Above all, even though there will be mis-steps, you need to know that I will be there the whole way and hold your hand. If it’s wrong, we’ll make it right.

Ultimately, after the interview and meeting, it’s a collaborative process. 2nd appointment is for logistics. I come over and measure and photograph, and have another sit-down to make sure we’re on the same page – iron out likes and dislikes. Then I go to the drawing board. If it’s a smallish job, it could take a week, if it’s a huge job, it could take six weeks. I go to my sources for inspiration – look at fabrics, fixtures, colors, for inspiration. At first, it’s a chaotic soup. There are moments of the designers equivalent of writers block, but getting through that is what makes the planning process. The dust settles, I pick a direction, come up with a space plan (dimensions of room with furniture, rugs, lighting, etc. Laid out where I think they’ll be best suited.) This is important because when people do this on their own, they buy furniture that they think will fit and it ends up being the wrong scale for the space it’s in. This is an expensive mistake that you don’t make when you’ve hired a designer. I take into consideration the traffic through the room, etc. Then I start having fun and pick the fabrics and the color palate and the furniture style. Once I have all that together, it’s time for meeting #3, where I present the plan I’ve arrived at.

After this, I get feedback – love this, love this, want different here, etc. I go make the minor tweaks. My goal is to have interviewed so well during the phone consult and initial meetings that I leave the presentation with only minor changes.

Redesigns, like the kitchen project in progress described in an earlier blog post, are a bit different. For instance, we have to work with existing materials – flooring, counters, etc. So color palate must coordinate with those things. In this instance, the counters were a terra cotta color with a backsplash with bronze accents, and the rest of the house is leaning toward a decidedly contemporary look, so I decided to follow suit with the kitchen. The initial interview highlighted what wasn’t working. The organization and flow wasn’t working that great – space was an issue, so I needed to come up with a way to create more space in the existing space. The client letting go of the coat closet, which isn’t a total necessity in southern California, would be better used as a secondary pantry for a kitchen that is used heavily for both cooking and baking.

Came up with the idea to put a cart on wheels that pulls out with the workhorses and allows you to plug that stuff in. Then you roll it away. So I try to find the ingenious solution. We decided that a built in banquette with storage in the seats and a bookcase on the other side would provide additional space and much needed storage.

The pot rack, while necessary, was interrupting the flow of the kitchen and making it feel smaller, so relocating it to over the sink will make the kitchen seem larger and less cluttered. Then, dropping in lighting over the island will provide both ambiance and task lighting for baking prep. These ideas were embraced by the homeowner, who was delighted and indicated that she’d never have come up with them on her own. The redesign is a project where I’m working with someone who is very much a hands on, do it yourself type person. However, if she and her husband don’t know how to do something, I’ve got a wide array of painters, carpenters, electricians, you name it – who can step in and make that portion of the project happen.

So now you have an idea of what to expect. It’s a collaboration between you and me. A journey we’ll be taking together – and as with all adventures, good communication and rapport make for smoother sailing toward that goal. It’s my job to chart the course by asking the right questions; it’s your job to make sure that you give the answers all the consideration they deserve – after all, this is your space we’re making better!

In a new feature here at the Bynon Design blog, we’re going to be bringing you various design projects from both the perspective of the designee as well as from the designer. I figure it’s only fair to let you see what design clients experience, and how the interaction shapes my approach to the project.

The first blog post is from the client’s perspective:

In this economy, getting stuff done sometimes requires a creative approach. People all over the place are starting to recognize the marketing value of having a blog/facebook/twitter/etc. presence. What most of them don’t like is the fact that achieving this presence and building a following takes serious work.  Now, me? I like to blog. I’m active enough on Facebook, and there are days when I live by my Twitter feed. And I love, love LOVE Google Wave. I am bitter that Google pulled the plug on this wonderful idea.  But I digress.
One of my husband’s clients is an interior designer. In the past, rather than exchanging invoices, they exchanged services. One identity package in exchange for an office re-org and redo. That sort of thing. So when Beth decided that she wanted to jump firmly into this century and try out that web 2.0 marketing (in the name of setting her services apart from other local designers) she contacted my husband to see if he knew of anyone who could help her. Particularly with the writing bit.

Which is how my kitchen improvement idea got hatched.

Will blog for design services. Yeah, that’s me. 🙂

Nobody told me that at a minimum, the initial portion of design work means all work for the designee. I might have gone with a project slightly smaller. Like, say, my coat closet. (Which is part of the kitchen redesign, by the way.)

It’s hard work being a design client!

The first part was easy and fun – walking through the kitchen and explaining what worked for me and what didn’t. And what I’d really love to have.

My biggest want? A bigger kitchen. Granted, it’s not a tiny apartment-sized galley kitchen, but space is a big issue. And see, this is where kismet comes into play – Beth is phenomenal at making small spaces do double and triple duty. In fact, this is what she specializes in. I’m so excited!

My second biggest (and more realistic) want? A better place to keep my workhorses: my stand mixer and food processor. Yeah, I could keep them on the counter, but countertop clutter makes me twitchy. Beyond this, counter space is valuable real-estate when it comes to food prep – having to move stuff around so that I can cook will make me cranky. And really? Let’s extrapolate this one out: Me cranky, and playing with knives? Probably not the best idea. Frankly, there’s a Darwin Award story in there begging to be told.

So my stand mixer and food processor live on the bottom shelf of my pantry, which is the ONLY place in the kitchen with adequate shelf height clearance. And about as far away from my prep space as you can get and still be in the same room. My back LOVES getting that stand mixer out several times a week. Anyway, that part was fun. The first part. Talking potential colors and cabinet treatments and so on. Fun! Exciting, even. I couldn’t wait to get started.
Then Beth gave me my homework.


First, I had to take before pictures of the kitchen. And it had to be my kitchen in its natural state, not my kitchen TOTALLY clean, which is about the only way I’ll usually let it be recorded for posterity. So in the middle of making challah for my neighbor, I took these. (I’m going to be seeking therapy soon for the trauma of not only having taken these photos, but then posting them on the freaking internet. If my mom sees this, I just know I’m going to be grounded!)

Aren’t those cords pretty? I love my under-counter lighting, but need to do better with making the cords go away. That area in general is a catchall for junk - which irks my need for clutter free. This will change (the catchall thing; my twitchy side won’t be denied!) with the redo.

The pantry is so not working for me. As with my laundry, the messes in there multiply like bunnies. As do the empty boxes, which seem to spring up in pairs overnight. Beyond that, it’s not the most conveniently located spot to keep my baking stuff.

Thus the repurposing of the closet above - no real idea of what we’ll do there yet, but it’s coming! (Closet is next to the refrigerator. Cookbooks WILL be moving!)

Then the really NOT FUN stuff started. Purging. But, as Beth explained to me, it’s probably the most important part of the process – even more important in many ways than starting out with an initial design idea. For me, it was the revelation that my smallish kitchen was suddenly flippin’ HUGE! The purge process took two days. And given the number of large trash cans I filled (2 – which brings me to the conclusion that timing this to start after the garbage men came on trash day goes high on the List of Things To Rethink), it was obviously about ten years past time to do this. Or more.

Case in point. I threw away a boatload of baby bottles and formula.
Um, yeah…. I have one child. Who turns 13 in 3 weeks.

Cleaning out the cabinet above my refrigerator was like going shopping in a new store specializing in bad taste. I didn’t know I had most of that stuff. Clearly, the cabinet above the refrigerator is where White Elephant gifts went to die.

The coat closet, which is going to be repurposed – Horrifying Mess (With Spiders!). Another notch on my “needs therapy” belt. Spiders! What the heck do they think they’re going to catch in there, anyway? Oh, and the closet was obviously a refugee camp for the army of dust bunnies which were previously plotting a home takeover from underneath my sofa. I thought I’d eradicated those suckers. Obviously, I was pathetically deluded. They had simply relocated to continue their evil plotting.
Even in the face of militant dust bunnies and arachnid invasions, I persevered. Because improving this kitchen is huge for me.
So here are pictures of the purge in action. Part one (please note the trepidatious feline):

Part two:

So now, that’s (mostly) done. I have my freecycle pile on my dining room table. And I have my “Needs Another Home That’s Not in the Kitchen” pile, um, on my kitchen table.

Look, baby steps, okay?

NOW the fun part of my homework is beginning – I get to do research for stuff I like. And I am NOT ALLOWED to limit myself. If I like it, it goes into the “Show Beth” file.

Because she’s the expert – the one with the vision. I might see something that I adore but if I was being typically me, I’d not consider it because it costs $5,000. Beth, being the brilliant woman that she is, has the experience, training, and (most importantly) vision to look at the idea and come up with ways to do it for less and in such a way that it’ll fit with what we want to do. Such are the benefits of working with a professional! I’ve seen her work with my husband’s office, so I already know she’s good. And she’s been coming up with ideas that I NEVER would have thought of. At this point, there’s going to be an entire blog entry about how creative she was with my pot rack and my island, even though it’ll make me feel very not-creative. Though when it comes to interior design, I might know what I like – but most of the time I need a guide to get there.

Back to my research….While I’m doing this, I’m also to be detailing what I want as far as functionality in the kitchen. Essentially, my dream list – the reality check will be done later. Double ovens are SO on that dream list! From this research and forays into fantasy-land, Beth will be able to glean what she needs to divine up a plan of attack. (I personally think her voices tell her what to do, since that’s about the only way I’d be able to get there, but she insists that the process is more meditative and peaceful.)
Anyway, the adventure begins. As it progresses, the revolution will be blogged. And Facebooked. And Tweeted. 🙂

I was recently hired to design the offices of a small capital Management firm in Orange County, California. The owner divides his time between the office here and one in New York. This west coast location has been in operation since the early eighties and has not been updated since. Needless to say it was in need of a complete redo. As I go through this process I thought it might be fun and interesting to share the steps I take and my rationale for doing so. Below, I have included some “Before” pictures to give you a feel for the project.
Hope You enjoy!

I’m so excited by the way my deck turned out. My hectic summer schedule only allowed me to work on it a square at a time, but the results were worth the wait! In addition to the checkerboard paint detail, I stitched up an awning, some chair cushions, and covered an antique French settee in outdoor fabric. I’m not too worried about putting an antique on my deck with the new awning in place. It just looks soooo romantic out there, I’ll take my chances! I love that in good weather (which is practically year round in San Diego), I can push open the French doors and add a lot more square footage to my house. To continue with the indoors out theme, I like to display artwork and flea market finds… additional layers that give it a look as if its always been there kind of feel. All said, i am very pleased with the results. I have a deck that is very pleasant to spend time on, I’ve added on living space, and I’ve done it all without breaking the bank!

Welcome to my new blog! Stay tuned for all my latest posts on everything related to interior design and Do-It-Yourself projects. I’m really excited about having this new outlet to show and share how passionate I am about creativity, and all things beautiful!

Master Bath Remodel

Please check out my interior design portfolio on my website:

Thanks for stopping by, and there’s much more to come!