Top 3 Reno Project Challenges - How A Designer Can Help


You might think that it would be budget or money.


Think again.

According to studies conducted by Houzz, most struggle with nonbudget issues.

Here are the top 3 most common challenges that homeowners face when working on a renovation:

1. Finding Products, Materials and Accessories

This is the biggest challenge of them all. It might be due to budget or geographic constraints, but, many simply don't know where to start.

Some will scour the Internet on their own. A large number have either already tried to source on their products — and failed — or, some found some pieces they like - but have no clue how to incorporate them into a cohesive space.

How can a designer help? Create mood or concept boards, floor plans and renderings showing you how the items you love will fit. Maybe they merge with existing pieces.

Designers may add a few new items you've never thought of, making the concept look fantastic. Which makes it easy to say yes and sign on the dotted line.

It can be as simple as comparing different products side by side and deciding which you prefer.

2. Defining Your Design style

Styles evolve and change. Both personally and within the industry.

For those who prefer sticking to trends, there can be a fear of commitment lest something should change or lose favor after the purchase. Some do not like being placed into a box that says, "This is my style." Help yourself along by scrolling through Houzz or Pinterest to gather ideas of what you like. This will save you time and headaches.

You may struggle to say what your style is. A "Discovery Questionaire" can help you discover what bothers you about your space and more importantly what it that you 'want' in your ideal space.

Renderings of the proposed space make it easier to visualize and make decisions. There is a cost, but the investment is worth the money you will save from making a poor selection.

3. Making Design Decisions With A Spouse

Finding common ground might just be the trickiest of the three — some of us can be strong in our opinions and unwilling to compromise.

Given the investment that you are making in your home, you want to love the results and feel comfortable, so it does merit consideration. Designers can act as aneutral third-party and, hopefully, a trusted advisor, so are prepared to step in to handle potentially explosive situations.

By the decision-making stage, a designer should have a good grasp of what you like and how you need things to function. While one partner might love and need that exotic hardwood floor, a designer can explain that your beloved 100-pound dog's nails would quickly mar the finish and suggest a better alternative. Product knowledge can make all the difference when making decisions.

A designer can ease your mind about each of these areas. You'll be that much closer to a successful project with a happy ending.

And, realizing your dream home.

Dress Your Work Space For Success - Creating That First Impression

Setting yourself apart from the competition means developing the personal touch to your business. So how can you use your space to sell yourself effectively?

Everyone has an office. Some use the kitchen table, some devote a spare bedroom to the task, and still others who work for an employer have their workstations or offices planned professionally. Just as you go out to a meeting wearing your best, your office should also make the best impression with clients. And just as importantly, make an impression with you!

Is the image that greets your clients a favourable reflection of you? Most of us want to appear successful, implying that thousands of other people have trusted us with their business. Remember, you are in the business of selling trust, confidence, security and peace of mind.

How objective are you about your work space? Ask yourself “How do others see my space?” Try taking photos of your business location, from your clients’ point of view, through the entrances and other spaces that they may see. A picture says a thousand words and this will allow you to see your space the way others do.

First, you need to establish what your objectives are. Second, determine the impact you want to make. Third, establish your goals.
Ask yourself: Do I need to develop relationships quickly? Do I need to develop credibility? Do I need to establish an image?

Now that you’ve been brutally honest with yourself, it’s time to take action.

Here are 10 tips that can enhance your workspace to increased profitability:

1. Location, location, location - of your desk that is.

Furniture layouts can create barriers, some can be more embracing and inclusive, and others create power positions to control the scene. How do you want your client to feel? What do you want to accomplish?

2. Objects in your office speak volumes about who you are.

They can tell the client who you are quickly. You can project your personality and philosophy through photographs, books and knick knacks. What do you want them to know about you?

3. Showcase your accomplishments; clients are impressed by that.

Get noticed and be memorable to clients. Tell them that you are an active player in your profession, community and your life. Tell them that this is the energy and commitment that you’ll bring to their business.

4. Lease your ideal office furniture .

Plan your office right the first time. Get what you need and want for that dynamic first impression. Then, lease it for a low monthly payment that is tax deductible.

5. Stop being a pack rat, personally or corporately.

A messy space is considered untrustworthy. It is common to hoard things like paper and files (yes, even in this digital age). However, it costs you credibility. Don’t you want your clients to know that you are in control of your own situation, and worthy of their business?

6. Think vertically and horizontally.

A room has height, width and depth. Maximize all available space and have it serve a function. Your office should greet you, store objects and motivate you.

7. Use your office as a motivational tool.

What are your business and personal goals? Plan the elements of your space so that they remind you of your commitment to your goals and inevitable success.

8. Stimulate all your senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.

The more senses you stimulate the more invigorating, productive and memorable the space. Flowers, the aroma of coffee, a Persian carpet on the floor. Each sense that you enhance makes you memorable.

9. Colour.

The impact of colour and its psychology is quite well known. Some colours like blue are calming, yellow evokes a bright and cheerful feeling, red is vital and dramatic, green is fresh and environmentally conscious. What colour is your parachute?

10. Respect client confidentiality.

Keep papers and your computer screen private; don’t reveal too much information. Also, keep other client files locked, and away from view.

Michelangelo as an Interior Designer. Laurentian Library, Reading Room, Florence, Italy – A Review


I’ve just finished a 36 lecture DVD series on The Genius of Michelangelo (2007) by Professor William E. Wallace.  The knowledge was invigorating and had me see Michelangelo in a whole new light.

Michelangelo was a man who, no matter what task presented him, he made each object a product of genius.

A quick historical review ...

At the same time that Michelangelo was working on the Medici Chapel in 1524, Michelangelo was asked by Pope Clement VII to design a library at San Lorenzo, Florence.

Clement's wanted to provide a proper location to preserve the great Medici collection of books and manuscripts.  The library he constructed was situated on the third floor, on top of another part of a cloister that was already in place.


I know who Michelangelo was – but ....

Being of Italian descent, I’ve lived in Italy and have studied many of Michelangelo’s works.  Michelangelo WAS the best of the best that Italy had to offer.

I’ve thought of him as an artist, sculptor and architect but never as an applied Interior Designer.  What has been so obvious and so much in front of me, somehow escaped me.

Within the Laurentian Library interior, he designed the interior and ‘all’ of it’s interior fittings.



Interior of Laurentian Library ...

 I love libraries. To me they represent the world’s bountiful knowledge.  They are sanctuaries of order and quiet, where the physicality of the written word in the form of books, prevails through time and culture.

Today, most of the world’s knowledge is found on the internet, and libraries have now become more community hubs were people meet, accesses the internet and attend speaking events.

The Laurentian Library Reading Room’s layout is simple with two blocks of seats separated by a center aisle with the backs of each serving as desks for the benches behind them. The desks are lit by the evenly spaced windows along the wall. The windows are framed by pilasters, forming a system of bays which articulate the layout of the ceiling and floor.

 The centre isle with a isle way that would lead to a grander room of more antiquated knowledge, unfortunately, was never built.

It’s current flooring consists of an elaborate wood inlay motif.  Beneath it lies the original terra cotta floor panels.

Michelangelo considered a building’s furniture to be an integral  part of its design. The regularly spaced reading desks reiterate the room’s simple geometry.

Desk - Reading - Storage Units

It is the carved walnut desks that attract my attention.  The units are at once a comfortable seat, reading stand and a storage facility for the books underneath.  Each of the books under the desk are identified on tablets at the front exposed side of the desk.  The desk units provide an efficient and private study environment for scholars to study their manuscripts in a magnificent environment.

 The desks are spaced two to a bay, and the measured rhythm of repeating bays creates a harmonious space conducive to quiet reading and study.

The books were chained to the reading seats to prevent stealing which was considered a necessary practice against theft. The reading seats each displayed a list of the books that could be found at each location. The desks were specifically designed by Michelangelo to fit the room and add to its Mannerist style.

The wall articulation depends on, and is coordinated with the furnishings:  the pilasters rise from a stringcourse that runs along at the level of the reading desks.  In this way, the furniture is a necessary part and support for the wall decoration. They are well coordinated with the desks themselves.

In the reading, room, building, furniture, and books – that is, architecture, decoration, and function are all seamlessly integrated.

What’s Happening Now With The Manuscripts?

Presently, the ancient manuscripts are stored in a vault downstairs and the space serves a tourist attraction for those who appreciate architecture and design.

Reader passes can only be issued to scholars who can prove they are conducting scientific research requiring access to manuscripts or rare books.  The Manuscripts are now digitized and available for viewing on-line.

Seeing Michelangelo With Renewed Appreciation

When next in Florence I will surely visit this Library once more.  I will sit, read and learn from the master – rediscovering another layer of this genius.  (I can’t wait.)


Acknowledgments and Useful Websites:

Photos are sourced and the property of the following websites:,+Italy

Disclaimer: The views expressed on Spaces Custom Interiors Blog are solely those of the blog post author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the persons or organizations with which the author has described or is associated. 

Black & Gold Office - James Bond 007 Style!


Sexy Meeting Rooms

Sexy and investments are not two words normally found in the same sentence.  These rooms look more like James Bond 007's bachelor pad than investment firm.

i29 Architects created a meeting & lounge areas for All Capital Investment Group,  that are prestigious and opulent without being pretentious or stuffy.

The meeting rooms are black and gold, whilst the lounge areas are simpler in various tones of greys, black and white.

Clever Design

The captivating features of the meeting rooms are the shapely elliptical gold features that are inset into the black wall unit and furniture accents.

The egg-shape motif is also inset into the black office furniture and pattern of the carpet.  The space is punctuated with large half moon pendant black light fixtures with a gold interior.  

The room's success with the black and gold wall unit is dependant upon the counterposition of the white walls, ceiling and full width window wall.  Also, aided by the light grey carpet oval cut into the dark grey strié carpet. Texture is further enhanced with the linear vertical striping go the painted black rift cut oak.

Upon first viewing, the meeting rooms looks sultry and powerful.  But, upon further review I feel that the use of black can become morose and depressing.  Especially during the long grey winter with lack of natural sunshine. A lot would depend on lighting.

These rooms are appropriate for short meetings versus a long-term work environment. 

Scientifically Speaking

William Lidwell, PhD, who is an acquaintance of mine and has a video lecture series called How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals, gave his thoughts on this office: 

"There is no intrinsic problem with predominantly black interiors, assuming proper lighting, etc. However, when black is matched with high-contrast colors like red or yellow, you start to run into threat combinations that are hardwired in the brain—i.e., the kinds of color combinations you typically find in poisonous snakes, insects, and plants that we have evolved to identify as potential threats. The result can be an environment that produces stress and fatigue at a subconscious level, and correspondingly impairs performance. And I think your comment about short meetings versus a long-term work environment is dead on—darker environments generally result in lower productivity and emotional wellbeing vs lighter environments. So, to the extent that productivity and happiness are factors, you would not want to spend a lot of time in that office."

It's always gratifying to have my professional opinion validated.

Black - Tips & Tricks

Although black can dramatic in its appeal, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing black:

  • Black can be depressing to live and work in.  An all black room is difficult to live and work in. It must be counter balanced with a bright colour or white.  Mix-up your walls.
  • Black sucks all the light in a room.  Install dimmer switches so that you can control lighting levels to suit your needs.
  • Black ceilings - NO!  Painting a ceiling black will make it look lower and can be very claustrophobic.  Even if it's a very high ceiling.  (See William Lidwell's comments above.)
  • Black shows dirt. Dust and dirt will show up on black as a white haze. And scuff marks dull streaks. Dust and clean regularly.
  • Black paint quality and coats.  To achieve hide and coverage, tint primer black.  Or… your black walls may require 3 to 4 coats of paint to get proper saturation, make sure you buy a good quality paint such as Benjamin Moore's Aura, which allows you to paint fewer coats. And, remember, painting can be labour intensive. 
  • Black high gloss - beware of glare.  Shiny black gloss produces glare and have high reflectivity.  You may notice it acts like a mirror and start reflecting the light fixtures above.
  • Black matte is the best. The glossier the paint, the more imperfections show. This is true for paint of all colors, but imperfections are especially noticeable on a black surface.

Black - exiting - yes!

But -  manage the location and the quantity.  

Black is fickle.  What's dramatic and wonderful on a whim, might be depressing in truth.

Design to enhance your personal power and your happiness.


Acknowledgments and Useful Websites:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on Spaces Custom Interiors Blog are solely those of the blog post author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the persons or organizations with which the author has described or is associated. 

When To Mount a TV Over a Fireplace

Gas Burning Fireplace Exterior Wall Of Condo -  Designed and Built by Spaces Custom Interiors

People love the idea of mounting a TV over a fireplace. Sometimes it's the only option in a room whose walls are consumed by windows and doorways, or sometimes it's a simple matter of preference: it just looks cool. Either way, putting an electronic device over what amounts to an oven is certainly not ideal. It's not necessarily the end of the world either, as long as you keep the following caveats in mind.

Electronics generate heat

Not exactly a revelation, but a TV's innards create plenty of heat on their own, so exposing them to additional heat for long periods of time is not a great idea. Translation: if you love roaring fires and like to keep your fireplace busy through the fall and winter months, think twice about hanging that expensive piece of electronics over the hearth. Exposure to heat can raise the TV's operating temperature beyond normal limits, which can damage sensitive electronics and, ultimately, shorten the set's life. You also run the risk of voiding the manufacturer's warranty. Some TV manufacturers even specifically recommend against above-fireplace mounting.

Of course, if you rarely use the fireplace or it's a properly installed gas-burning unit, you probably won't have much to worry about. And if you're unsure, it never hurts to consult a professional.

Fireplace At Sunset  - Designed and Built by Spaces Custom Interiors

Fireplaces generate soot

Wood-burning fireplaces create soot, so make sure it is operating properly and your chimney isn't gunked up with creosote before mounting a TV above the mantle. A build-up of tar-like creosote can restrict the flow of smoke and soot up the chimney, causing it to leak into the room and deposit residue on (and in) a nearby TV. Worse, such build-ups are a fire hazard.

Avoiding the front row syndrome

Watching a TV above a fireplace can be like sitting in the first row of a concert hall or movie theater. The action is right there, but you have to crane your neck to watch the show. Trust us - this is not the way you want to watch TV, and it can lead to long-term neck pain. Ideally, the center of the screen should be roughly in line with your eyes when you're sitting down. Fortunately, there's a simple workaround: make sure the bracket used to secure the TV to the wall has tilting capability so the screen can be angled for comfortable viewing. A variety of TV mounts are available from several companies, including models that pull out from the wall, swivel left and right and even drop down in the case of one model designed specifically for above-fireplace mounting.

There's another benefit to being able to adjust the screen: You can compensate for viewing-angle limitations if your TV is an LCD model (most are these days). If your seated viewing position is too far "off axis" - that is, away from the center of the screen - images can appear washed out.

Bottom line

Mounting a TV on the wall can be a tricky proposition that is usually best left in the hands of a professional - especially when a fireplace is part of the equation.

For a complete view of this condominium project and the fireplace location check out Nest In The Sky - Condo - Lifestyle Change on my website.

To learn more about custom installation, consult a CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Instllation Association) professional.

(With references from CEDIA blog.See for more details.)

Disclaimer: The views expressed on Spaces Custom Interiors Blog are solely those of the blog post author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the persons or organizations with which the author has described or is associated.

Rainbows: Part III - The Culture Of The Rainbow

Part II Introduced us to the many scientific discoviries as a result of studying the rainbow.

3. Culture – How do we express culture through rainbows? And why is it important?

While science has explained why and how we see the rainbow, our souls have sought to understand and explain it’s mystery and find a place in our lives.

Rainbows are seen in every culture through every era in many forms: mythology, art, literature, film, music, flags, fashion, logos, current events .... and even gaming. The list goes on and on.


Here are just are a few cultural examples grounded in mythology and displayed in many forms of art and literature:

  • Greece: The rainbow is a path made by the messenger IRIS between heaven and the sea, so that the goddess cold replenish the rain-clouds with water from the sea.
  • Chinese: The rainbow was a slit in the sky sealed by goddess NuWa. In the Chinese myth, the goddess NuWa once mended the broken sky with seven coloured stones... which we’ve come to know as the seven colours of the rainbow.
  • India: Hindus believe, the rainbow is the bow of Rama, the incarnation of Vishnu. And represents the seven charkas of the body. from the first charka (red) to the seventh charka (violet).
  • Christian & Jewish religions: The rainbow is a covenant with God. Where God promised Noah that life on Earth would never again be destroyed by a flood, visually depicted in a painting by Joseph Anton Koch "Noah's Thank Offering".
  • Ireland: The the leprechaun's secret hiding place for his pot-o-gold lies at the end of the rainbow.
  • Today’s modern world: Rainbows are used as a guide to eating healthy fruits and vegetables.


As a branding exercise the Rainbow Flag made famous in the 70’s by the USA’s gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender community, strategically designed to reflect the diversity of the community. Proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity. A new era of hope and social change.

Film & Music

In American entertainment music, song writers have used the concept of the rainbow in many of their films:

  • “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” from the Wizard Of Oz – seen as a symbol of hope, where dreams come true. Dorothy’s Aunt Em tells her to find a place where she won’t get into any trouble. And, Dorothy wonders if there is such a place.

  • Sesame Street – Kermit the Frog sings his famous “Rainbow Connection”, a connection between people and their dreams.

Architecture & Interior Design

Even interior architecture has seen the rainbow’s influence. The Rainbow Room is one of New York City’s most famous dining and party rooms located in the Rockefeller Plaza. The name chosen was to be “distinctive” and “not sound like an ordinary Eighth Avenue food joint.” It was inspired by the installation of new technology – an RCA color organ “that automatically converts music into changing colors in harmony with the moods expressed by the music.” This interior architectural space is now historically designated.

Phantom As An Obsession

So you can see how nature’s gift of the rainbow, has shaped our minds, hearts and soul from the beginning of time.

And, why this phantom is a small obsession with me. I could never exhaust its inspiration. I look for every opportunity I can to employ all seven colours of the rainbow in some form or fashion in one of my interior projects. Sometimes boldly but often times more subtly – whispering its magic.

As the song says:

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
(Over The Rainbow, The Wizard of Oz movie song sung by Judy Garland 1939d)

7 Chakras Of The Body

7 Chakras Of The Body

"Noah's Thank Offering" (c.1803) by Joseph Anton Koch

"Noah's Thank Offering" (c.1803) by Joseph Anton Koch

Irish Leprechaun's Pot-O-Gold at the end of the Rainbow.

Irish Leprechaun's Pot-O-Gold at the end of the Rainbow.

Sesame Street "The Rainbow Connection" 

Sesame Street "The Rainbow Connection" 

Rainbow Room, Rockefeller Plaza in New York City USA.

Rainbow Room, Rockefeller Plaza in New York City USA.

Thank-you to all the photographers who have made this 3rd and final posting more lively with great illustrations and photos. For photo credits please click on the photo.  This will take you directly to the website from where the photo originated.

Disclaimer:   The views expressed on Spaces Custom Interiors Blog are solely those of the blog post author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the persons or organizations with which the author has described or is associated. 

Thanks to Wikipedia for supplying some of  the research and many of the images.


SENSUAL SPACES – The Essentials


Sensuality is defined as being pleasing or fulfilling to the 5 senses.

The 5 senses are - Sight - Sound - Smell - Taste - Touch

Satisfying the senses is food for the soul.

Designers and most people in every culture generally agree that we have positive feelings of a space or object that we ‘feel’ is sensuous. It influences our perception and it affects our experience.

There is a definite relationship between design and sensuality.

The “basic” sensual design visual vocabulary include:

  • Organic – The curves of the human body and living beings
  • S - Curves and Shapes – The grand piano, snakes, water, flowers
  • Soft and Warm – Feeling to the touch, tactile
  • Smooth – No jagged or sharp edges
  • Dance and Movement – Ballet, dancing in general.

Expressing sensuality through spaces can change lives.

The more senses we employ, the more memorable , the more effective the space, the more we feel …. Alive! Sensuous Spaces can be expressed in words and images.

My Dream Is To Build A Sensual World …. One Interior At A time.

And, upon sharing my thoughts, my desire is for you to be:

  • More aware of your surroundings,
  • More aware of how these spaces make you feel,
  • More present with heightened senses.

Go Forth … and… Build Your Own Sensual World. Dolores