Gratitude and Stuff: Giving and Giving Back

November 9th, 2017|Heart Talk, Philanthropy, Piedmont Post, Shop|

In November our thoughts turn to setting the Thanksgiving table, gathering with family and friends, being cozy together, and focusing on gratitude.

And we also start thinking about the upcoming gift-giving holidays. And shopping.

Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason

Which brings me to a collection of thoughts that all tie together around a few of my favorite topics, going green, buying local, giving back, and stewardship of our communities and the earth.

Today, going green is like how yoga and meditation used to be; once upon a time, if you did yoga or meditated, you were a hippie; you were way out there. Now everyone’s doing yoga and meditation, becoming conscious, everywhere from corporate offices to elementary schools, is hip—not hippie.

It has become mainstream to have these conversations about fair trade and carbon footprint, and from an interior design perspective, what we choose to bring into our homes. At my firm, we have local vendors we work with who fabricate furniture to the highest eco-friendly standards, and many of the contractors we work with that have green certifications.

We are in the business of creating authentic, welcoming home interiors that support people in being their best selves and leading their best lives. Through our work as interior designers, we like to think we are your go-to source for anything in your life that you want to improve, your health, the quality of your life, your experience as a human, the air you breathe, the art you look at. Choosing consciously the objects and items that we surround ourselves with, items made by hand of natural materials and locally sourced, makes a difference in all of these areas (responsible stewardship of the earth).

As humans, we truly want to surround ourselves with what is, real, true, and authentic. What is made with care. Because we can sense it; even if we don’t register that awareness on a conscious level, the body knows.

Cups, 8oz, by Carole Neilson, who will be selling at the upcoming Renegade Craft Fair. Photo credit: Carole Neilson

We can extend this philosophy to holiday gifting. This year, I pledge to buy gifts that are local and handmade, and/or to support friends charities, i.e.: simultaneously giving and giving-back. And support the victims of the North Bay fires by buying wines from wineries located in the burn area; i.e.: contributing to the stewardship of our communities.

One of my favorite venues for shopping for gifts that are stunningly beautiful and handmade, is the upcoming Renegade Craft Fair, November 11 and 12, at Fort Mason in San Francisco. (For more information and to preview items online, visit www.renegadecraft.com).

In Oakland, the shops at Temescal Alleys have a similar artisan and craft vibe, on a hyper-local neighborhood scale (www.temescalalleys.com).

More local gifts I plan to give this year: original prints from 3 Fish Studios (www.3fishstudios.com), gift certificates to my favorite restaurant (www.thewolfoakland.com), handmade pottery from Sara Paloma (www.sarapaloma.com), a facial or lymphatic massage from Becky’s Skin and Body Care (www.beckys.care).

One last thought about how to give to ourselves this season:

Don’t we always promise ourselves that we’re going to get a jump on the holidays, and if you are like me always wait till the last minute, to get the shopping done? Might this be the year that we change this? I am committing to going to the craft fair next weekend, buying things for my people, and not just that, but also savoring the buying, take my time at the booths, including Carole Neilson’s (because if you know me, you know how much I love pottery), talking with the artists and enjoying the art.

I pledge to have my holiday season have more ease, less effort.

We are, after all in the season of gratitude. I am grateful for all that I have, and I believe that with all that is good in my life, I have a responsibility to give back.

Eric Rewitzer and Annie Galvin, printmakers and painters, husband and wife, and founders of 3 Fish Studios. Proceeds from their California Poppies print were donated to California fire relief. Photo Credit: Leslie Sophia Lindell

Lately I have become involved with fundraising for MISSSEY, Motivating Inspiring Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth; an organization that provides assistance to young people, mostly women, who are survivors of the sex trafficking industry. The Oakland is one of the highest volume sex trafficking cities in the world.

We cannot enjoy and savor our own easy lives if this is happening, indeed less than five miles from my home, where I will sit and eat turkey. LMB Interiors is actively supporting this charity. If you feel called to join us in learning more about this issue and getting involved, visit their website: www.misssey.org

 

The Art of Fine Dining at The Wolf: Choosing Art for Restaurant Interior Design


Whether a design project starts with choosing the art or whether the art is the finishing touch that pulls a design together, perfectly punctuating the visual and feeling tones, art is essential to interior design.

This is true whether the art is hanging in your living room, or on the wall of a restaurant, as is in the case of my firm’s recently-completed commercial project, The Wolf.

We have many art dealers, galleries, and visual artists, with whom we consult on art sourcing. For The Wolf, we turned to our own LMBI designer, and professional visual artist, Andi Yablonski, and David Coyle’s limited-edition fine-art printmaking studio, ArtBrokers, Inc.

Andi had previously created paintings for another of our commercial projects, Oakland’s Lampwork Lofts, and since she worked on the design for The Wolf, she was intimately connected to the project.

The process of searching for just the right pieces led our clients to commission Andi to create them.

Andi explains: “As the designer, I knew the art that I wanted in the space. The luxury of being the artist as well as a designer is that I was able to create custom pieces that are the exact sizes, colors, and textures we wanted.”

In this case, that meant one piece in particular that was going to be very large scale. Andi’s favorite format. She says, “I love working on large canvases. I’m not that tall, so a piece that’s 60 inches tall, that’s my height. That large piece is 48 x 80. Working on it, it’s almost like I’m a part of the painting; it’s a physically-demanding full-body experience.”

“Sœurs d’âme” — commissioned work by Andi Yablonski

Andi’s abstract paintings adorn the main dining rooms. For the private dining room, we turned to David Coyle, founder of ArtBrokers Inc.

ArtBrokers Inc. is a unique fine-art printmaking studio. Representing a select portfolio of artists, the company makes very high-resolution images (500-600 MB) of original artworks, which are then giclee-printed in a way that is similar to artists’ etchings; the print is not a reproduction, but rather, respectful of the new medium it is being translated into, an art piece in its own right. Also like traditional printmaking, each artwork is produced in a limited-edition run.

David says, “I looked at the colors and finishes Laura was doing and we quickly settled on Jeff Faust for the elements of surrealism with a lighter feel in his work.

“Waiting for Scotland” by Jeff Faust. Limited edition gallery-quality giclee print sourced via David Coyle at artbrokersinc.com

“In ‘Waiting for Scotland’ there’s a cow sitting in an altered state, it gets you thinking; you can’t get your arms around it in terms of understanding it completely. That keeps you looking at it and keeps it fun.

“‘Placing the Moon’ is a bit of a daring image. It has a candid feel and a Romanesque style, like an old world painting, but in the context of the California coast. The color matches the color of our water at the Golden Gate. When Faust painted that piece, he was living in Sausalito.”

David was the perfect resource for us. I often say, when we near completion of a project, the right art pieces usually find us (in part because we have relationships with such wonderful vendors and colleagues in the art world). In the case of The Wolf, we certainly had a leg up with Andi on our team. And David’s suggestions of what images might spark delight was spot on.

“Placing the Moon” by Jeff Faust. Limited edition gallery-quality giclee print sourced via David Coyle at artbrokersinc.com

“Placing the Moon,” in particular, spoke to my heart.

Readers may recall my writing in this blog about my personal journey with this space; how my sister Rebekah Wood and I celebrated so many milestones in our lives at Bay Wolf, how exciting it has been for us to collaborate on her and her husband Rich Wood’s restaurant ventures: The Wolf, and before that, Wood Tavern and Southie.

When we were younger, my sister used to love to sing the song “Blue Moon,” and she sang it to her daughter Riley Celeste when she was a baby.

It’s arduous work to place a moon. Women’s work. To me, this painting is the story of my sister, building her dream as a restaurateur and a mother.


View ArtBrokers Inc.’s collection of images at artbrokersinc.com

Andi is available for commissions for your home or restaurant. Contact her at andi@lmbinteriors.com

View more photos of our interior designs at The Wolf at lmbinteriors.com/commercial

All photos by Gillian Walsworth

A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post

Click here to view our video of this project: The Wolf, Oakland

Read the HERstory of the two sisters involved in this project, restaurateur Rebekah Wood and interior designer Laura Martin Bovard.

Learn more about Charles Leonard, the artist who created the amazing decorative wall finishes featured in this project and view photos of his work in progress.

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Modern Bachelor Pad — In Living Color


Mid century modern interior design kitchen from award-winning interior designer.

While we adore all of our clients and the beautiful structures which we help fill and adorn, like a parent adores all of their children, this recent mid-century modern interior design project was a particular delight.

This client, a smart, energetic, creative, happy person, a man who, in-person, presents as refined and understated — he wanted color. Lots of color. When we introduced some color, he wanted even more color: Bright pops; lively art.

In fact, it started with the art.

High end interior modern design, hall with abstract painting, wooden bench.

Bench by Jiun Ho; Painting by Maria Burtis, via SLATE

This new homeowner was shopping at SLATE for art one day… many people choose art as the finishing touches to an interior design project, however this man had not yet hired a designer.

He mentioned his predicament to SLATE principal partner (and our dear partner in art sourcing) Danielle Fox, and she promptly referred him to us.

At the time that we began our work, the client and his architect, Jack Backus, had finished up a massive remodel, a thoughtful and thorough update of the elegant, iconic mid-century structure (originally designed by Ratcliff & Ratcliff) for modern 21st-century living.

Mid century home wealth interior design, San Francisco interior designer.

And when we say, “the client and his architect” — we mean it. In his professional life, our client owns a metal fabrication company; given his skills and knowledge of engineering, build, and production, he elected to act as contractor on the project.

His eye for metal and form made its way into some of our furniture selections, in particular the coffee table in the living room, fabricated and sold locally by Turtle and Hare.

Modern chic interior designed living room, Palo Alto interior designer.

Painting over living room sofa by Joanne Fox via SLATE

Color for miles: One of our favorite aspects of the project was the long hallway. By choosing to put nothing on the walls, and adorning the length of floor with an amazing, vibrant, patterned rug, we created a perfect venue. The rug (via STARK) stands out, drawing attention to the art on the floor.

Endless modern rug for mid century hallway, Beverly Hills interior designer.

Endless rug by Decorative Carpets by STARK

In fact, the rugs in each room were as thoughtfully selected for color and design as the art on the walls. In total, on this project, we designed and decorated the living room, family room, master bedroom, and back patio. (View our complete portfolio of this project, here.)

While my design firm is known for our work with traditional and transitional architecture, and we love those projects, I think it is clear from this project that Modern is also our cup of tea.

If you have a Modern house and are thinking about how to make it more vibrantly YOU, contact us for a consultation.


All photos by Eric Rorer

A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post.

Additional details in photos, above: Dining Room: Large statement rug by STARK; Living Room: Painting over sofa by Joanne Fox, via SLATE. Custom coffee table design specs by LMBI, fabrication by Turtle and Hare, with steel legs fabricated by our client’s metal manufacturing company. Rug by Scott Group Studio — Hokanson

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Boss Lady Home-Office Makeover with Love: After and Before


We love Boss Lady, Vanessa Bergmark, Owner/CEO of Red Oak Realty, and the feeling is mutual. Our long term relationship started first with a design refresh of the Red Oak space in Montclair, which led to re-doing Red Oak offices on Solano, and most recently, giving her this oh-so-hip, modern, and inspiring home office transformation.

As a successful businesswoman with a family, Vanessa wanted a base of operations in her Oakland Hills Tudor home that would help her create more work-life balance.

We took a drab, dark, library/office/junk room and made it bright, modern, and welcoming. We also struck a balance between feminine and masculine, personal and powerful, with clean lines and a light-neutral palette, punctuated by beloved personal items and gold accents, to welcome the boss lady—her husband when he wants to work in the space—and her clients.

Boss Lady Home Office AFTER:

Piedmont interior designer, chic interior design of Tudor-style home office.

Boss Lady Home Office BEFORE:

Before high end redesign of Tudor-style home office.

Yes, we removed and replaced a lot of the original dark wood details, keeping just the right amount to emphasize the grandeur and anchor the space to the original architecture.

One design question I get asked more frequently than any other is “Should we replace or paint-out our wood?”

My answer is always, “If it makes you feel heavy then — Hell yes! Paint it out.”

People do get attached to original wood in older homes, Tudors, Craftsmans, Ranch-style homes, et.al. And I understand. Because the original wood has history, soul; there’s story in the wood, feelings, and memories. If it is quality wood and you want to restore it, then by all means, go for it. And then balance it with materials and finishes that will bring lightness, if that is what you are needing to energize you, especially in a workspace.

In this situation, I was greatly relieved that Vanessa was desiring the light.

This room is also reflective of the trust that is required for a harmonious designer-client relationship, and how important it is to stay the course until the end.

For example, when wallpaper first went in, Vanessa had doubts. It looked different than she had expected.

I told her, “If you don’t love it, we won’t make you keep it. But, wait until you see it in context. Let us get the rest of the room installed.”

I like to call this moment The Pause. The stage in the design where it is starting to come together, but it is not complete.

AFTER:

Luxury interior design of Tudor-style home office, Carmel interior designer.

BEFORE:

Before chic redesign of Tudor-style home office, Palo Alto interior designer.

Vanessa agreed to proceed with our vision, and now, she will tell you, the wallpaper is one of her favorite elements of the room.

And if she hadn’t loved it, she’s known us long enough to know that we would have done whatever we needed to do to make it right.

In Vanessa’s own words:

We almost all have a “Go-To” person in some aspect of our life. Laura Martin Bovard has become mine. From the first project we worked on together, I was hooked.

She just got me.

She infused my corporate office in Oakland with warmth and authenticity, making it a place I looked forward to stepping into each day — and one that was photographed almost daily those first few months! She worked her magic all over again for me on our office location in Berkeley, transforming a worn-out interior, reinvigorating the daily experience of working there.

Then she turned to my home office, creating a space that has transformed work-life balance for me, bringing a renewed energy to my days. I’m blessed to say she’s once again back at it on our vacation home in Napa Valley, breathing to life a modern country farmhouse, that doesn’t exist—yet…

To have Laura at my side, crafting, beautifying, and weaving her magic is truly inspirational in both my business and personal spaces. She’s a creative genius—charming, honest, and truly inspiring. Her energy stays with her spaces long after she has left the room.

AFTER:

Modern, high end interior design of Tudor-style home office.

Every time we take on a client, we are hoping that we are creating a long-term joy-filled partnership—that how we work together on the first project will be so mutually satisfying that we will work together again on future projects: another room, your guest cottage, your second home, vacation home, offices, etc. (And we are grateful to report that, like with Vanessa, this is often the case for us.)

In addition to a spark of excitement and a sense of personal and aesthetic compatibility, this is one of the things we think about when we are interviewing a client for a project. We hope that you will, once you develop a relationship with your designer, trust us. As you see how we show up for you, as we deliver on time, as we are accurate and clear about budgets, as we get your aesthetic, as we have fun together and revel in the beauty that results, these experiences form a foundation for a long-term committed relationship to grow.

And at LMBI, we are all about joyful, energy-rich, committed, mutual growth.


After photos by Mo Saito

LMBI portfolio links:

Red Oak offices Montclair

Red Oak offices Solano

Vanessa Bergmark Home Office

Mad Glam Millennial Mid-Century Modern… Mmmmmm

September 2nd, 2017|Interior Design|

Built in 1951, designed by well-known architect Allan R. Johannes, and commissioned by prominent attorney Walter Pettit for his beloved wife, Cherie Sutton, the fabulous Mid-Century Modern house was heaven for their three daughters to grow up in, including esteemed Piedmont resident and realtor, Anian Pettit Tunney — who took great care in choosing to whom she would entrust her childhood home.

This project is dear to me because the history of the house had a lot of significance for the new homeowner, our client. A young mother expecting her second child, a Millennial with a career in a creativity-based business herself and a passion for Mid-Century aesthetics; she took it to heart that she was the steward of this elegant structure, and she wanted to do right by it.

Some clients come to us for our good taste, others come with their own. Our job in the latter case is to let go of ego and let our client express their dream with our guidance. They come to us because we know what works and what doesn’t work. This project was a true partnership: we took the vision of our client, a woman with a high aesthetic IQ, and developed and elevated it.

In early meetings, our client communicated to us what mattered to her the most: She wanted the redesign to reflect her playful-yet-glamorous aesthetic while staying absolutely true to the energy and intention of the original mid-century house.

When we were brought on board, the bold, green, palm-frond wallpaper (an iconic pattern called “The Martinique” which rose to prominence for its presence in the halls of the Beverly Hills Hotel) had already been installed in the dining room. With that as one of our starting places, we had to think like our client, to connect our chandelier and furnishing choices for the dining room with that wallpaper, and continue that connection in our designs for her kitchen and front entry with her aesthetic choices throughout the house.

Vive La Martinique! an iconic pattern inspires bold design choices throughout.

Harmonizing connected spaces is achieved via bold and gold accents.

To match her lifestyle as a wife, mom, and devoted cocktail-party-thrower, we wanted to give her a kitchen that would function as a family gathering spot and function well for larger and more elegant gatherings.

Partnering with McCutcheon Construction, we specified Nana doors leading out to the deck, increasing flow and helping to make this the consummate party house (so much so that with our client’s gracious blessing, we had our company holiday party there after the project completed).

View from remodeled kitchen to/through new Nana doors to back patio. Construction by McCutcheon.

McCutcheon Construction is responsible for all of the build/remodel aspects of the project, including the kitchen cabinets, counters, and island, and the new floor in the entry.

New wood flooring connects entry to the rest of the house. Black-and-White pattern wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler

Our client really wanted her home to be gorgeous. And welcoming. And comfortable. And glam. Because they’re an outgoing couple; young and hip. (Just because we become parents doesn’t mean we have to stop having fun!)

It’s such a joy when the home matches the personality of the client. This client, she’s a modern girl, through and through. This is perfect house for her to express herself, and be supported in it. And we loved supporting and executing that vision for her and her family.


Photos by Eric Rorer

Portions of this story originally appeared in the Piedmont Post

Another take on this project was recently published in the Fall 2017 issue of California Home + Design, print edition, written by CH+D Senior Editor Mary Jo Bolling. 

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Designer VIP Tours Are a Thing (Part 2): Cambria Countertops and Culture Tour for the Midwestern Win


Welcome to Part 2 of my series of “Wooed and Wowed by Vendors” blog posts. (Click here to read Part 1)

On this tour-de-force of product education, state of the design industry talks, and pure pleasure moments, Cambria’s three-day designer extravaganza included a showroom visit, a factory tour, a baseball game, and meals and meetings in restaurants and community gathering places that use Cambria products.

Family-owned Cambria produces an American-made engineered stone that is made of natural quartz with small amounts of pigment and resin, which is ground and heated in a proprietary process that makes it very resilient. It is non-porous, it doesn’t stain, and it is NSF* 51 certified for food and splash zones in commercial kitchens and thus is popular with restaurants and commercial food surface areas. Cambria quartz is used in countertops and fireplace and shower/tub surrounds, among other applications.

Cambria countertops mix and match with natural wood tabletops, throughout the elegantly-designed Lynhall space.

One of the many highlights of this educational tour, for me, was visiting The Lynhall, a community gathering concept with a test kitchen, a video-equipped kitchen island for filming cooking shows and with everything available to chefs and food truck owners who want to use it, 24/7. The Lynhall is part restaurant and chef industry incubator, part venue for classes, part welcoming space for eating and connecting, or picking up beautifully prepared food to take home to your family.

Maker-centric, The Lynhall focuses on local artisans and producers for everything from the dishes and silverware to the coffee beans. The design of the main room was on point, a mix of antique and modern farmhouse that feels both elegant and earthy.

If you know me, you are not surprised that I loved everything about it.

Before this visit, I had never been to Minneapolis, MN. And I have to say that now, I’m a convert. The combination of new and old, the soulfulness.

I was blown away at the love that I experienced from the people I met while I was there. My visit gave me hope; the fact that there is such a level of cultural and aesthetic sophistication in the middle of America was eye-opening for this California dreamer.

None of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for the generous invitation by our local Cambria representative, who extends himself above and beyond to keep us connected. Thank. you, Roberto Tiscareno!

At the showroom: An inspiring talk about the origins of the company, the founding family, their mission and values, given by Sarah Lien – Cambria’s Sr Manager of Residential Marketing

On our first night, we were taken to a baseball game. Box seats behind home plate!

Eat Drink Gather Grow – The motto of The Lynhall is my motto too! In a parallel universe, this is my restaurant. A true “Third Place,” where we go in addition to home and work; our Third Place is for connection to community and nourishing ourselves.

The Lynhall’s generous-hearted Founder Lyn Spaeth and visionary Business Developer Eric Gislason

Beautiful breakfast bites at The Lynhall

Breakfast at The Lynhall, where natural wood tabletops are interspersed with Cambria quartz countertops for texture and warmth

Phillip Kean of Phil Kean Design Group and his business partner and lovely husband, Brad Grosberg

Delicious and beautiful. Our name “tags” were with us throughout the trip, and the color of our mini-slab became the inspiration for the “Iron Designer” style contest (see photo of my entry in that contest, further below).

Me and my as-soon-as-we-met-we’d-known-each-other-for-lifetimes soul sister, Giselle Sugerman

Celebrity Instagram instigators Kate Rumson @the_real_houses_of_ig and Ryan Saghian @ryansaghian

It felt like family! So much joie de vivre in this group!

The genius behind the designs, Summer Kath, SVP of business development for Cambria

My entry in the “Iron Designer” contest, based on the sample slab of Cambria quartz I was given, and selecting from a “pantry” of design items as laid out for us by our event organizers.

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Commercial Interior Design: Thoughtful Interior Design Choices Increase Productivity and Joy

June 29th, 2017|Interior Design|

Soothing tones and a pop of color welcome clients in the front entry of Red Oak Realty, Montclair office

I believe that creating beautiful spaces supports us in creating the beautiful life that we want to live. I believe interior design is a process of shaping your external world to match and inspire the you that you are, and the you who is always in the process of becoming.

With design, we create spaces that nurture us and the people we invite in, our families, our friends, and if we are talking about public spaces, that includes our staff, our clients, our customers, our communities. Our tribe.

So, I hope you’ll agree with me, design is no small thing.

Recently I was listening to an interview with one of my favorite current thinkers, Simon Sinek, on The Good Life Project.

In it, he touched on some key elements about the workplace and success. Everyone wants to know, what makes a company successful? And, related to that, how can I get the most value out of my employees?

Sinek says, “The role of leadership is to ensure that the people inside your company feel so safe that they are willing to sacrifice everything for each other and even the company, knowing full well, that the leader cares about them desperately.”

He goes on to explain that, on a biological level, if an employer takes care of her or his employees like family, if the staff feels safe, oxytocin is released. This leads to more generous behavior; they happily give more of themselves. There is no work-life imbalance in that scenario.

Which got me thinking about the importance of tribe and connection, and the relationship that design has to how people feel in the workplace.

Could good design contribute to a company’s success? What if how your workplace is designed encouraged connection, generosity, loyalty, and a sense of safety for your employees, customers, and clients?

Sinek’s ideas coincide with my belief that creating beauty in public spaces such as restaurants and offices can both increase your bottom-line and support the wellbeing of your tribe.

How do you do that?

Here are a few ideas: 7 Strategies for Office Design to Increase Productivity and Happiness

  • Quality materials: If your office is furnished with high-quality items, real wood, glass, metals. When you surround your staff with pieces that have weight, stability, style, and are made with love and care, that energy infuses your space, inspires your team, and makes them feel well held.

Communal table, Red Oak Realty, Solano office

  • Ergonomics: It goes without saying, almost, that ergonomic furniture is key: comfortable padded seating, adjustability in both chairs and desks (we now know, sitting is the new smoking).

Secluded but not separate: Meeting booths at Red Oak Realty, Solano

  • Areas for Ideas, Areas for Rest: Work pods, lounging pods, areas where your staff can riff, take notes, connect, collaborate, dream (figuratively or literally: Health Check: Are Naps Good for Us?)

Seating for many to gather and lounge: Lampwork Lofts, Oakland

  • Color: Colors have long been examined for their relationship to productivity in the workplace. Those studies that can be found online tend to only examine the primaries (red, blue, green, yellow). Like this one: How the Color of Your Office Impacts Productivity. However, some researchers have looked at the impact of saturation levels also. Wallpaper adds options in this area. Think again of not only how color inspires brain function, but also the effects created by shapes, lines, texture, and weight.

Private conference room with a view, with calming blue-tone walls to support mental clarity. Red Oak Realty, Montclair

  • Light: Having adequate light impacts mood and productivity. Having beautiful light fixtures inspires greatness (scientific study on this, pending…)

A welcoming entry accented with rustic materials and fixtures to echo nature inside and out. At Red Oak Realty, Solano

 

  • Access to Nature: We are animals; we need to connect to our natural environment to feel whole. Windows, outdoor or indoor plants and water features, art that depicts nature.

A former bank vault becomes a restful nature retreat via thoughtful selection of artwork and natural wood materials. At Red Oak Realty, Montclair

  • Art: Art is, by definition, inspiring. And we don’t mean that kitty hanging from a tree branch, though… played in just the right way… Real art, good art, can go miles to making a space, a workplace, feel amazing, energizing, whole, even holy — if that is the vibe you seek.

Multiple art pieces and bright colors punctuate the common hallways at Lampwork Lofts, San Francisco

There is an expression that comes from Buddhist philosophy: “How we do one thing is how we do everything.”

If we want to deliver quality products and experiences to our clients and customers with care, then creating a quality and caring environment for our staff is an unquestionable need.

And good design is key.

If we treat our staff like the humans that they are, they will default to their true nature. Humans by nature are kind, loving, generous, engaging and seeking connection. It’s time we all got back to our true nature. Then we can become the people we came here to be, and give our gifts to each other. There’s no reason why this can’t be the case at work, as well as at home.

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Spring Is the New New-Year’s (and It’s Not Over Yet!)


Spring is here in the Bay Area, with its cold gray days that send us back into our sweaters, and bright sunshiny days that make it feel like summer is already upon us, even though, technically-speaking, that season starts in late June, after the solstice.

Did you know that in certain cultures and traditions, Spring, not New Year’s Day, is the time of year for making resolutions?

Behind closed doors: It’s so beautiful, you’ll want to keep them open! Organization by Blisshaus. Photo credit: Wiebke Liu

If you think about it, this makes so much sense. In winter, we are really, on a biological level, drawn to hibernation. We snuggle up by the fire, layer ourselves in warm blankets, or possibly even a few extra, delicious holiday-food pounds. Our metabolism slows. The days are at their shortest.

In the winter, seeds lay dormant. Plants deepen their roots.

So, it’s hard to get up and go to the gym when your circadian rhythms are telling you to stay in bed and nurture yourself.

As the season turns to spring, the days lengthen, our spirits are bolstered by the sunlight. The seeds begin to sprout. Trees show off new growth, branches, leaves, flowers. We are ready to reach our tender selves towards the sky.

Plus, we get three months to create the change that we desire, rather than just one day.

Can you feel the lift of energy? What would you like to shift in your life?

Beautifully minimalist. Organization by Blisshaus. Photo credit: Vivian Johnson

Well, this is in part where the idea of Spring Cleaning comes from.

Before you default to the image of grabbing a bottle of spray cleaner and a rag, let’s enlarge, deepen, totally revise our definition of cleaning.

In fact, let’s go a little “woo.” I’m not going to recommend Feng Shui and candles. Unless you want me to. I’ve been accused of being a hippie in the past for having an interest in how energy moves in a space, and how that affects us. And, I’d like to state for the record that if you wish, you may call me the organic love-child of Coco Chanel and Marianne Williamson, with a dash of Dixie Chicks.

But, back to the “woo.”

The energy of winter is heavy, weighty. If we use the momentum of spring to move things around in our home, our furniture, art, objects, if we let go of what is no longer serving us or our spaces, we get UNBOUND.

Unbound energy is kinetic! Vibrant! It fuels us. That’s what we want, right? More resources to be and do and become our best selves.

When you think about it, there’s a parallel from self-care resolutions to your home’s health and wellbeing.

If you haven’t worked out, and aren’t being mindful about what you are putting into your body, well… imagine that your house feels the same way. From the big things, like deferring maintenance on the paint, windows, foundation, pipes, wiring, to the little old things that linger in back of a closet where they are not being used; these habits lead to stagnation.

If you were to treat your home like a temple (as our body as temple is the exalted state), ask yourself, what is my house calling for?

The Pinks of Spring: Does your home or your soul call for adoration and adornment? We love this vibrant bouquet from Wisteria Rockridge (as captured at The Wolf). Photo credit: Laura Martin Bovard

And in your living spaces, are there places that could lose some weight? I believe that less is more. Having higher quality items, and in most cases, fewer of them, gives us literally more room in our homes and in our heads.

Are you ready to do some home organizing and decluttering? Can you get rid of five things a week?

If you would like help, I highly recommend hiring an organizer. We have two that our firm collaborates with for our clients: Jen DiPrisco (ommmhome.com) mindfully and beautifully handles individual rooms and whole homes; and the amazing artful-storage genius, Wiebke Liu (blisshaus.com) will turn your kitchen cabinets, shelves, and pantries into galleries of creative and efficient containerization. NOTE: Both of these women were in high demand for decorator showcase (decoratorshowcase.org) this year, which continues through May 29, so you’d do well to call them now to get on their schedules.

What rituals of self-care and home care are you called to, this Spring? Share your thoughts with me at laura@lmbinteriors.com, or/and share photos of your #springresolution #resolutionrevolution #myhomeisatemple results on Instagram and tag @LMBInteriors.


A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post.

Designer VIP Tours Are a Thing (Part 1): The Ann Sacks Tile Experience


One of my favorite games to play is “If you really knew me, you would know…” with each person in a group revealing a piece of themselves. It’s a game we can play over and over, with new answers emerging each time.

If you really knew me, you would know that I am obsessed with things made by hand, or that show the hand of the maker.

Ann Sacks Tile: Details cut by hand. Photo by Rick McCormack via Instagram

And, I used to be a potter.

I started in college, throwing my own bowls. I used to bring sets of my handmade bowls to dinner parties as hostess gifts. In fact, when my sister Rebekah Martin got married to Rich Wood, I made the small, glazed pots, planted with succulents, that we gave as favors to each of the guests.

(I continue to love succulents, and beautiful pots for them, as you can see in these detail shots from our Tahoe Vacation Home project, below.)

So, you can imagine how deeply I enjoyed my recent factory tour with Ann Sacks tile, in Portland, Oregon.

Seeing how the tile was made, being around all that clay which is harvested and processed locally, spoke to my heart. The factory tour was part of a three-day event, with a group of designers flown in from all over the country and Canada.

Day 1: We were whisked to the Ann Sacks to-the-trade showroom, where we feasted our eyes on the gorgeous tiles and nibbled on small bites and sipped wine, as the president of the company, Ted Chappell, spoke about the brand and his vision.

The care and attention to detail that the company applies to the creation of its tile lines, from the higher-end hand-pressed and glazed (at $150 per square foot), to the thoughtfully-produced and curated more-affordable options, was similarly applied to the care and feeding of our group. Should you find yourself in Portland, I highly recommend everywhere we visited and ate, including the Green-certified hotel, the Nines, where we stayed, and the hotel restaurant, Departures, where we dined on our first night.

(The Nines was also hosting another important group; you may have heard of the Warriors? And yes, I did bump into Steve Kerr in the elevator. #FanGirl #KerrKrush #HellaHeartOakland.)

Day 2: We spent the day being educated — and entertained — at the architecturally-inspiring Sokol Blosser winery. Meals catered by Hunt and Gather. Dinner featured a course of octopus terrine, elegantly plated on a hexagonal, black marble tile.

The talks included a presentation on the trends to watch in 2017, including metal joints, mixing metals, graphic tile floors (like what LMB Interiors recently installed on the patio at The Wolf), and strong horizontal or vertical lines on tile walls.

I particularly love this movement towards replacing traditional grout with metal tile edging, used with reasonable restraint. For example, choosing to use it in a bathroom or in the kitchen, rather than throughout the whole house. It’s a great opportunity to add just the right amount of bling! We also attended a roundtable discussion, where the company asked us for feedback on their products, and how they could serve us and our clients better.

And, it goes without saying, we tasted the Sokol Blosser wines.

Day 3: We toured the factory. Seeing the clay being stamped, designs laser cut, glazes applied, visiting the robust and imposing giant kilns, including one named “Duane” for a beloved 30-year employee, gave us yet another perspective into the process.

Our parting gift? We hand-pressed and glazed our own coasters. #FullCircle.


All photos by Laura Martin Bovard unless otherwise noted.

A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post

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Designing for Millennials: Striving to Slow Down and Connect


In February, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel about the subject of Designing for Millennials, hosted by Artistic Tile. Part of a daylong event celebrating the design industry at the San Francisco Design Center, the panel included myself and my colleagues, Lizette Marie Bruckstein and Regan Baker. Moderated by Traditional Home magazine’s Senior Designer and Lifestyle Editor, Jenny Bradley Pfeffer. (Photo by Nikki Richter)

Because inquiring minds want to know: How do Millennials shop? What are their spending habits? And what elements or aspects of design intrigue them?

The trending definition of Millennials is anyone born in or after 1984. (For a succinct and entertaining, if also somewhat daunting discussion of the M-generation, see Simon Sinek’s popular talk, “The Millennial Question” on YouTube.)

As Sinek describes, this is a generation that has grown up with the concept that things happen quickly. Everything from conversations to shopping and shipping online. They are quite used to instant gratification. Their challenge is to slow down. Their achilles heels are patience, and depth of connection.

Regan Baker and Laura Martin Bovard connecting about millennials and design. (Photo credit: Nikki Richter)

Regarding their buying habits, what they are drawn to, this is a generation that wants things to be unique; they don’t care about brand names. This is the age of maker culture, by-hand, locally-sourced. And they care about the environment.

They make great clients for us for all these reasons; they have the same value system I do.

However, based on their experience of growing up with the Internet and instant-gratification technologies, they may need a fair amount of education about working with designers. They are accustomed to want-it-quick-and-now. Because they have access to everything — or at least they think they do — they may not realize that the design process, to be done well, takes time. And they may not know that higher-quality bespoke pieces are only available through the trade.

It takes time to infuse soul into an environment, a beautiful, welcoming space is created over time, with multiple layers that communicate well with each other.

Eco-Chic and Unique: A Sofa a Millennial — or anyone — might adore: Exemplifying the desires Millennials express, to be unique, to make a difference in the world, and also according to Sinek, to be comfortable, this custom-designed sofa in a condominium we designed in San Francisco’s Dogpatch District is made from eco-friendly materials including a cozy gray flannel cover that invites snuggling and napping. Photo credit: Ramona d’Viola.

Evidence of their buying habits: They want their homes to look different; they don’t want to see same thing in their house as in their friends’ houses, which is why retail design giants like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware are currently struggling.

So, from an industry perspective, we are challenged to educate them about the practices of artisanal production, and the value of patience.

The good news about this generation is that they are eco-conscious; they are curious to learn the best way to “go green” with their purchases and choices. And they deeply care about the impact they have, in their careers and in their personal lives.

As Sinek points out, Facebook and Instagram have taught us all how to put on filters and present our best selves, but a deeply felt, soulful life is messy; and even online dating has taken away the risk humans used to take to be awkward with each other, to walk up to someone and say, “Hello.”

There is a desire, no matter what year you were born, to feel connected; to be authentic.

Ultimately, designing your home and designing your life is about creating and living from your heart. Because of the era of technology (and a few other things Sinek blames, including overly-praise-filled parenting, the concept of “participation medals,” and a corporate culture that prioritizes productivity over humanity) Millennials may need additional help navigating the necessarily meandering path to satisfaction in job, life and home.

Family room we designed for a Millennial-generation couple and their growing family, featuring eco-conscious and beautiful materials and colors, layered textures. From our portfolio, Hillsborough Haven. Photo by Eric Rorer.

As designers, we help with the home part. And that creates the haven from which all other tasks are possible, and to which we can retire to restore ourselves after a long, messy day of taking risks to become our best selves.