My Five Favorite Online Resources for Contemporary Art

It’s no secret that I love art. Original when possible, locally made, especially.  Sometimes, however, it can be fun to shop for art online and there are literally thousands of sites from which to choose.  When I am not buying or commissioning art locally, I am usually trolling one of these five modern art web sites.

1. New to the art scene, Twyla collaborates to create exclusive artworks that are only available at The result is a flawless piece of art that’s custom framed with a certificate of authenticity, and is signed and numbered by the artist.  I used this Adrian Navarro piece in a project recently and it’s even more spectacular in person.  There’s not one piece on this site I wouldn’t love in my own home.

2.     Gray Malin is a fine art photography site that features hundred of limited edition prints, each of which is printed and signed in-house.  When you visit this site, you’ll no doubt see many of the vintage feeling beach photos that are so popular right now, like this one taken on the Italian Riviera.

3.     Viyet isn’t exactly an art website, but it is a great resource for it. Calling itself the premiere online marketplace for buying and consigning designer furniture, I’ve found some really amazing original contemporary paintings on here for a fraction of the price of what you’d pay new.  I also love that they have a price adjustment policy; if an item you have purchased is reduced in price within five days of your order date, Viyet will adjust the sale price accordingly.

4.     Saatchi offers an unparalleled selection of paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography in a range of prices.  Based in Los Angeles, I like that their website makes viewing and buying art easy and unintimidating for my clients.

5.     @60” believes everyone deserves affordable art and emerging artists deserve a platform for their work. The company connects collectors with talented new painters, photographers, sculptors and mixed media artists who have been carefully selected by a “curatorial board.”  I especially like their “Under $500” option, which has some really cool artists, including Michael Neff who creates awesome monotypes.

Still overwhelmed?  Give me a call and let me help you pick the perfect piece for your home or workplace. 

My Top Five Commercial Interior Design Trends

While the ‘telecommute’ trend is growing, more than 80 percent of us still work in a traditional office environment.  The average employee spends 50 weeks or 2,000 hours a year in said space, generally seated in a cubicle.  Increasingly, employers are beginning to understand the importance of creating an environment in which employees can collaborate and create.

Historically, companies would hire designers to create space plans. Determining how many desks and bodies can be squeezed into one space was their primary focus.  Now that employers are being enlightened (likely by generational influences) they’re asking their interior design teams to think differently.

These are the five trends happening in commercial design:

1- Authenticity.

I’m seeing a big demand for authentic designs that are reflections of the company’s core values. For family-focused companies, authenticity-centered design may take root through a room for mothers to breast feed, for example.  For another with a health-driven mission, providing employees with standing desks and yoga balls might be how they are in alignment with their brand.

2- Color and Art

No longer are offices dark and dreary.  More and more, my commercial clients are requesting colorful furniture, exciting original art, and even featuring – and sometimes selling! -- the work of local artisans.

3- Homey

Lately, I am installing wallpaper, chandeliers, beanbags, plants and even draperies in places like conference rooms and breakout spaces.  The employer mindset being that if you have to be there eight hours or more a day, you might as well be as comfortable there as you are at home!

4- Generational Appeal

Today’s “cool” offices tout open floor plans, coffee bars, happy hours and foosball tables giving millennials plenty of time for on-the-clock play.  This movement is often referred to as “activity-based working” where employers offer a variety of work settings that will support brainstorming, collaborating and team building.

5-    Performance.

While form has become much more important, function certainly isn’t dead. “We are definitely seeing a change in what designers and clients are looking for,” says Shannon Ferrigno, design studio director for SmithCFI.  “It really comes down to creating a variety of inspiring spaces that offer choice of posture, technology interfaces that perform well and settings support the work that is being done throughout the day.  It is not enough just to be beautiful”.

I surprised myself and have fallen in love with designing commercial spaces, including restaurants, retail stores and offices.  If you’re thinking about transforming your businesses’ space, let me know!

Where to Splurge and Where to Save on Home Decor

An Interior Design Budget Blueprint

Unless you were the winner of Saturday’s Powerball, you probably live on a budget and that budget likely dictates everything you do, from dining out to decorating. If you’re doing the latter, I have some tips for you as to where you should splurge and where you can save.


·       If it impacts your health, I suggest doling out the dollars.  This means buy the best possible mattresses, office chair and other oft used seating that you can afford. These are items you use every day and are critical to your physical self and well-being. 

These original paintings by  Chris Foster  are some of my favorites.  They weren't cheap, but I adore them. Conversely, I picked up this table lamp at a consignment shop for $25.  Photo by John Valls. 

These original paintings by Chris Foster are some of my favorites.  They weren't cheap, but I adore them. Conversely, I picked up this table lamp at a consignment shop for $25.  Photo by John Valls. 

·       Statement pieces are the things that, if your house were on fire, you’d grab on the way out the door. This includes original art, vintage furniture, or that vase you purchased on your honeymoon.

·       It is indisputable that a large area rug can make or break a space. For this reason, I always recommend spending top dollar (whatever that means to you) on an area rug. Wool rugs are my favorite; they are beautiful, durable and wear well. That said, if you have kids and pets, I recommend nylon rugs. They are strong and stain resistant making them easy to clean.


·       Like most designers, I LOVE pillows. The more the merrier.  I have so many pillows that I rotate them in and out according to my mood.  Consequently, I don’t like to spend a lot on them.  That said, I do like to buy good quality pillow inserts because I believe they look and lie differently than their less expensive versions.

·       Decent accent tables need not cost a decent chunk of change.  Homegoods, Target and other big box stores tend to have decent pieces that are perfectly fine for housing your books, a table lamp and a beverage.

·       Speaking of table lamps, lighting is an area where you can save some dough. This one is tougher for me because I love expensive lighting and in terms of physical heft, I do think you can tell the difference.  However, if you don’t pick up table lamps to determine weight like I do, then this is certainly an area where I suggest you save.

·       Accessories are the jewelry of a room, but very rarely will I spend a lot on these.  You can often find me hitting up consignment stores like Seams to Fit Home, Etsy, Tuesday Morning or even Goodwill for goodies like books, decorative boxes and candleabras. 

Looking for a better sense of what things actually cost?  Download my free budgeting guide here.


Is It Timeless or Trendy?


A friend recently said to me, “Kristen: I really like the rose gold look, but I worry that it’s trendy and will soon appear dated.  How do I know?”

It’s easy to spot trends -- you see them in magazines, in social media posts, in stores, and all over HGTV. What’s harder is determining which of those trends will stand the test of time, and which will be a flash in the pan.

Here are a couple of tips to help you decide whether something is timeless or trendy, and whether or not that particular trend is for you.

1.    Is it functional.  Nothing can be timeless if it does not serve you functionally over the course of time.  Examples: Marble countertops are gorgeous, but if you’re a gourmet cook, the acids in your ingredients will eat right through the material over time.  Love the boho look of Boujad rugs?  Me, too, but my two dogs tore mine up in a matter of a few weeks.  If it doesn’t last, it’s not timeless – literally!

The ill-fated Boujad rug by  Loom + Kiln

The ill-fated Boujad rug by Loom + Kiln

2.    Is it adaptable. If your trend meets your functional needs, the next question to ask yourself is if it can evolve with your style. White walls are a huge trend in the design world right now. Do white walls work in a multitude of aesthetic environments?  Yes! You may get sick of that avocado green sofa (trendy), but white walls allow for versatility.

3.    The last thing to consider is simplicity. Typically, the simpler the design, the more likely it is to remain timeless. Think about subway tiles.  Yes, they may be a little predictable, but they’ve stood the test of time because a) they’re functional b) they’re adaptable and yes, c) they’re simple!

Now, I’m not trying to rain on your trend parade (or my friend who asked the question).  I love incorporating trends into the spaces I design. However, I try to do so 1) sparingly and 2) inexpensively. Love the rose gold finishes that seem to be everywhere (as seen above)?  Rather than installing a new kitchen faucet and fixtures, incorporate the trend in accessories – a teapot, a fruit bowl etc. Décor is also a great place to apply the latest design ideas! Digging the Justina Blakeney jewel toned sofa look? Me, too, but before committing the bucks, try a few throw pillows in the same vibrant hue and see if it satisfies.

My last bit of advice is this: ask yourself the hard question: Would I still love it if it wasn’t trendy? 

What trends are you dying to try?


Top 10 Home Decor Stores in Portland, Oregon

Furniture and Other Finds in the City of Roses

The city of Portland is hot, hot, hot (lately, that’s also been a literal thing).  It seems everybody and his or her mother are visiting, moving here, planning to move here or want to move here.  Most people flock to the city of Roses because of its ample outdoor activities, scenic beauty or bustling foodie scene. Less thought of is its killer design community.  If you’re visiting Portland and interested in home décor, there are many great independent boutiques all of which are well worth a visit.  These are my top ten:

The gloriously eclectic Cargo.

The gloriously eclectic Cargo.

1. Cargo

Cargo bill itself as “a journey of spirit, time, and place.”  When you walk into their gigantic historic warehouse, you’ll see why.  All corners of Cargo are filled with everything from Japanese tansus to Indian quilts to teapots and everything in between. If you leave this place empty-handed – or uninspired – there’s something wrong with you.

81 SE Yamhill St. Portland, OR,

2. Canoe

Founded in 2005, Canoe features simple, functional and beautiful home goods made with natural materials. Think glass-and-wood; textiles and ceramics all of which make great gifts for friends or self.

1233 SW 10th Avenue, Portland, OR,

3. Hive

Hive’s motto is "Good design can and should be presented in an inspired, knowledgeable and friendly manner." Through the company’s website and in its northwest Portland store, Hive sells the iconic modern brands Alessi, B&B Italia, Herman Miller, Knoll, and Vitra in a museum like atmosphere.

820 NW Glisan Street, Portland, OR,

4. Schoolhouse Electric

Schoolhouse Electric was founded by Brian Faherty in 2003 following his discovery of a long-lost collection of cast-iron glass shade molds in an abandoned warehouse and carefully restoring them back into production.  Today, he’s now operating out of a gigantic facility in the industrial district selling all manner of furniture, lighting, bedding and hardware.

2181 NW Nicolai Street, Portland, OR,

5. City Home

Locally owned City Home has two showrooms that specialize in midcentury modern to reclaimed and steampunk. They also carry designer home decor and furniture lines, including Magnolia Home Furniture Collection, Joybird and Justina Blakeney Home.

Central Eastside Industrial        
217 SE Taylor Street

Pearl District
825 NW Davis Street

6. Asia America

For fans of Asian goods, Asia America is worth a stop. They boast a nicely curated collection of art, antiques and furniture from over 40 years of travel to every corner of Asia.  Between their SE warehouse and their waterfront showroom, they have more than 5000 pieces to ogle. 

Riverplace Waterfront  0315 SW Montgomery Street, Suite 330

Central Eastside Industrial 79 Southeast Taylor Street Suite 200

Asia America in SE Portland carries rustic furniture and antiques.

Asia America in SE Portland carries rustic furniture and antiques.

7. The Good Mod

This 20,000 square foot industrial loft is a midcentury modern design lover’s dream.  They specialize in restoration and custom design and upholstery work.  You can get a taste of the kinds of amazing pieces they bring in by visiting their website, but their store is not to be missed.

1313 Burnside St, 4th Fl., Portland, OR,

8. Solabee

This is exactly a home décor store, but Solabee is an oasis for plant and flower fiends. A women-owned full-service floral studio and plant shop provides fresh and unique botanical treasures.  And their super knowledgeable staff at their conservatory-like shop will assist you in selecting the perfect plant for your space.

801 N. Killingsworth, Portland, OR,

Solabee Flowers in heaven on earth for plant lovers. Photo by Urban Nest Realty.

Solabee Flowers in heaven on earth for plant lovers. Photo by Urban Nest Realty.

9.  Legacy Modern

Legacy Modern is your one stop shop for mid century modern, industrial, Americana and Mission Arts and Crafts home furnishings. Owner Mike Albino hails from a fourth generation of furniture traders.  If he doesn’t carry it, he’ll find it for you. They’ve also carry the works of many local artists and fabricators, as well the furniture line, Gus Modern. 

1530 SE 7th Ave, Portland, OR.,

10.  Seams to Fit Home

Seams to Fit Home is an upscale consignment furniture designer showroom offering a modern mix of furnishings and home decor for urban living, located in Northwest Portland. This is the place to hit for beautiful, very lightly used custom pieces. 

2237 NW Raleigh St., Portland, OR.,

Not Portland, but absolutely worth the drive.

11. Rose City Modern

Rose City Modern specializes in quality mid century modern furniture and housewares.  Following these guys on Instagram is like getting a lesson in midcentury design and their store is the same way.  If you’re a midcentury fan, make the trek to nearby Beaverton and pop in to this unassuming little shop.

12675 SW 1st St, Beaverton, OR.,

What did I miss?  Let me know in your comments below! 




Color is not just color, White is complicated and other things I've learned

I've just returned from a seminar learning about color from the expert herself, Maria Killam of Colour Me Happy.  Even though I've been doing this for several years now, I'd never given much thought to color, other than how to use it in ways that brought a space together and/or alive, depending.   

In three short days, Maria changed all of that.

I learned a lot from Maria and the other participants, but the three key things I took away from her workshop were as follows:

1- There are 9 neutral undertones in the world and once you have a gradation of them (from light to dark), you no longer need to sift through hundreds to find the right one. They are: 

  1. Blue Grey
  2. Green Beige
  3. Yellow Beige
  4. Pink Beige
  5. Orange Beige
  6. Gold Beige
  7. Taupe
  8. Green Grey
  9. Purple Grey

2- You can't choose color from a paint chip the size of your thumb (I think we can all relate to this one!).  Maria has developed large boards that rather than being printed, are painted.  It's enormously helpful to be able to hold these up to a wall in your space or to a sofa to determine its undertone. She sells them here, if you're interested in buying your own.  Alternatively, if you're just looking for paint colors, my friend Vanessa from Color Moxie NW has them and can help you choose the perfect wall color in no time. 

3- You can't choose color without using a "control" -- a white piece of paper behind the color board is the only way to accurately determine the undertone.  I was amazed at how many times I guessed a color's undertone incorrectly until I held up a white board or piece of paper as a point of comparison.  

If you're a designer or just a "design enthusiast", Maria's classes are well worth the investment. You not only leave as a certified color expert, but a whole new appreciation for the colors of the world around you. 



Paralysis (Over)Analysis


Last week, my husband and I moved from a nearly 3000 square foot home in north Portland, to a 2000 square foot place in southwest Portland.  Since it’s just he and I and our two dogs, we decided it was time to move to a smaller space.  We have no children, but I’ve always thought moving must be a little like childbirth – you only do it again because you forgotten how painful it was.  This move was no exception.

This is my first move since becoming an interior designer.  To say that it’s been a humbling experience is an understatement.  I’d decorated my homes before, of course, but there’s something different about it this time. My expectations are higher and my fears are greater. 

When I walk into a client’s home, I know pretty quickly what it is that the room “needs” – a warmer paint color, a larger area rug, more art.  When I walk into my own home, I am instantly paralyzed and it’s absolutely vexing. 

An example: No joke, I’ve taken home, tested, bought and returned more than a dozen area rugs for our living room.  Questions I would ask my clients swirl unanswered in my head – “How do you want the room to feel?  How much traffic will this area get?  What colors do you prefer?”

In the end, I will figure it out.  I always do, but I just wanted to share with you that when I say, “I feel your pain,” I’m not just paying you lip service!



Our new, smaller home. pre-purchase. 

Our new, smaller home. pre-purchase.