Creating a “true” 21st Learning Environment

Happy New Year All!

Lately I’ve been ruminating about what it takes to create learning environments. It seems that for years we’ve equipped our schools and libraries with sterile, functional, and cost-effective room configurations that simply lacked imagination, were boring, and drab at best. All of the while we’ve demanded that our students and readers ‘use their imaginations’ and ‘stretch their minds’ in these inhospitable rooms. Over the weekend, I found a great classroom that I feel is stepping into the realm of imagination and represents what I think is a true learning environment. Your thoughts?

130730_vs_011This image is courtesy of contract magazine. It features VS America furniture and was designed by David Stubbs for Clark County School District. The first thing I like about this room is the colors. Gone are the industrial pink and green paints, brown desks, and aged metal legs of old, in are lime green and primary blue, and white desktops acting as canvases. Blue is associated with the sky and sea and symbolizes trust, wisdom, confidence, and intelligence among other things. It’s been proven to have beneficial effects on the body and mind. It’s calming and induces tranquility. Green on the other hand symbolizes growth and is strongly connected to emotional correspondence and safety. These bright colors are grounded with a warm white field color and grey blend carpet tiles with an engaging geometric pattern. Given this color palette, how can an imagination not soar in such an environment?  Next, the furniture and its curvilinear shapes and nested tables SCREAM “think outside of the box”! To me, this space is very uplifting. What do you think?


Scottsdale Modern Remodel: Sneak Peek

This amazing family has moved into their newly remodeled Scottsdale home, a project I worked on while at F4 Designs, and we’re almost ready to take our professional photos. In the meanwhile, I couldn’t resist sharing…the kitchen turned out amazingly (as did the rest of the house)!

Services provided: space planning, paint, floor and wall tile selections, wood flooring selection, custom kitchen and bath design, lighting design, fixture selection, construction document administration, client presentations and management.

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Color or Hue? Tone or Tint or Shade? What do they mean! Why does it matter?!?!?

Lately I’ve been noticing that a lot of folks have been getting their design jargon a bit mixed up. Hey, it’s easy to do because there is so much of it, I do daily! So I thought a bit of a refresher might be good for me!

What is color and hue?
Color and hue are basically interchangeable. They deal with the light properties visible in the color spectrum like red, blue, green, or yellow. So if you want to “warm up” a room, you add the “color”  or “hue” of red or yellow, and to “cool things down” you add blue or green. Below is an image of absolute (I’ll explain in a bit) red, green, and blue.




So what’s a tone?
When you hear people say, “oh, I think we need to add a red tone to this room.” What they’re saying is “we need to take “absolute red” (red with no black, no white or no gray added to it) and then add some grey. Thus reducing the brightness of the red. Here’s an example of red with 50% of black (at 50% black is gray, not black) added to it. It’s now a “tone”. It takes on a more muted look. Is still warm, but just not as glaringly bright as absolute red.



So what’s a tint?
A tint is an absolute color that you’ve added white to (think pink!). Again, you’ve reduced the color or hue’s intensity, but you’ve gone “lighter” vs. “darker” by adding white and therefore you’re creating a cooler “tint” of red. Take a look…same absolute red, all I’ve done is add white.




Okay, now that we’re clear as mud, let’s look at “Shades”. Shades are very similar to “tones” and most designers use these words interchangeably. And you know what, it’s probably just fine. Here’s a look at our absolute red, with almost pure black added to it. Same red as in the original image, all I did was add black.



So why am I giving “us” this lesson in color, hue, tone, tint, and shade? ‘Cause sometimes it drives me a bit batty trying to remember which is which, and then sometimes people mean color or hue when they say tone, shade when then say tint, tint when they mean tone, tone when they mean tint and on, and on, and on. So just remember three: tint (white) and tone (grey) and color/hue and you and I will do just fine in the world of design! 😉

Finish Boards: Help Your Clients Visualize The End Result


This gallery contains 13 photos.

CLIENTS LOVE PICTURES! Not everyone is visual thinker… WHAT?! Yep, some of us are numbers people. Some of us aren’t. Some of us are more visual and need to see imagery to understand how something will look. So, often times … Continue reading

New Baby? 5 Design Ideas to Ensure You and Your Baby Get Enough Sleep

Today’s nurseries are no longer sterile utilitarian rooms. Smart design incorporates the parent’s design aesthetic with safety and functionality.

A lot happens in this special room…sleeping…feeding…playing…clothing changes…storage…reading…pacing…feeding…playing…clothing changes…storage…reading…pacing…you get the idea…

So how do you create an appealing room design that will help your baby sleep soundly night after night?

Layout Matters…

Where you place furniture and objects in the nursery matters a great deal. Below is a floor plan we put together that shows the ideal placement. Baby experts and designers agree, that you never want to place a crib in front of a window. It’s important that you have ample, yet accessible clearances between elements so you can access things quickly and without obstruction. As baby grows, this will ensure things are placed with safety in mind.


Don’t Forget the Seating…

While traditional rockers may fit with your Arts and Crafts design aesthetic, you might find that sitting on one of these, even with an after market cushion, very, very uncomfortable. We suggest you purchase a proper upholstered chair that glides and swivels so you can maximize the chair’s adjustments as needed by you and baby, not the other way around. Make sure you do the “sit test” and when you do, sit like you would while feeding or burping baby. Make sure the arms are not too high or too low, and that there are no obstructions behind your head that might interfere with baby’s head.


Who sleeps in here anyhow…

If room allows, add a single bed to the room so on fussy nights, or if baby picks up a cold, you can sleep feet away from baby and respond quicker. Later, you can remove the bed and then when baby is ready for a “big-girl bed”, you can return it.

You Light Up My Life…

Ensure you have plenty of light for things like changing (and changing and changing and changing of baby outfits), night time diaper changes, reading, sleeping, and organizing. Take a look inside the room now and ask yourself, “are there 3 layers of light present?” If not, you may want to ask your friendly interior designer to help you create a general lighting layer to help you achieve every day tasks, a task lighting layer, for more detailed activities like changing (and changing and changing), and then a decorative or focal layer (which can also be used a nighttime lighting) to highlight something special (besides baby) in the room. Also, check the daytime light levels? Do you need new functional window treatments to control brightness during the day to help baby sleep? Again, all things your interior designer can help you with.


It’s Hot in Here…

Heating, cooling and ventilation are just as important to baby’s room as other rooms in the house. Often, parents forget about this or assume baby’s room needs to be on the warmer side. Not so says our expert. And especially if you swaddle. So before baby comes home, make sure your HVAC is serviced. Ensure that the ducts leading to baby’s room are functioning and clean. We don’t recommend placing baby’s crib under a vent opening. If this is unavoidable, there are some after market vent covers and diverters that can direct the hot and cool air away from baby. If the nursery faces East or West, we suggest you invest in functional window treatments that both block and filter the extremes of light and heat.


Having a baby is the most amazing experience in your life. Getting enough sleep after baby comes is crucial for YOU and baby. Following these five simple steps will help you and baby get the restful sleep you need.

Need Help? For help designing the perfect nursery, you can give me a call. I can work with you locally or long-distance.


Colors from Nature: A Rose by Any Other Name…

When the sun comes out in Portland, OR — maybe 1 or 2 days a year ;(((  –the roses pop out and show their amazing colors. Here’s a pic from my former neighbor’s glorious backyard rose garden and some furniture and finishes the mimic the colors perfectly!


Crafy AND Ingenious: A Quick Fix for Brass Hardware


Brass Hardware

Yesterday, I suggested that to save money, the client should remove his door hardware and spray paint it with brushed nickel spray paint. Given that a privacy handle set can cost as much as $50 (on the low end), I think this is a great alternative. Especially when you he has 25 plus doors in his house.

Here is a link to a “how to”  blog and with some great before and after images!

Brushed Nickel Hardware

Spray Painted Doorknobs Pt 2.