Lauren Liess Interiors
luxury interior designer

As a decorator & a textile designer, this is my place to muse... Reality and charm fascinate me; perfection isn't really my thing. Fresh floppy flowers from the garden over long-stemmed roses any day, I love it when things are slightly off and tell a story.



Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address:


Search


Topics


Archives


Blog Friends I Know in Real Life


Awesome Blogs


The Locals


I often think about creativity in terms of input and output.  For me, creating, whether it's in the form of decorating, drawing, writing, cooking, speaking, organizing, building, etc. makes me feel excited yet it also expends energy and brain power, while sitting back, listening, reading and absorbing things around me always inspires me, restores creative energy and makes me feel ready to go again.  



I might feel tired of the same old food we always cook at home and then get a new cookbook and am all over cooking again.  Not only am I into the new recipes, but I start to have fun with my own recipes inspired by the ones in the cookbook.  (My current obsession is Jerusalem btw ;) 

{this weekend we made mini turkey-zucchini burgers- yay for leftovers!}

There needs to be the right balance of input and output and it's different for everyone.  I'm not exactly sure what my necessary output/input proportion is yet, but I can feel myself always trying to get more "input" (time spent absorbing, listening/ reading and taking in) time in because because in my line of work, I'm pretty much always "outputting."  When I'm "off" (of work) I feel like I need to get refilled.  My design business itself operates on output, but in addition, I write the blog which is almost all output, design textiles, do lots of of photoshoots (which is some seriously crazy output!!) and am now working on the book, which is even more "output."  I think we naturally try to balance ourselves out so it makes sense to try to figure out what it is we need to feel balanced.  


(it takes so much energy to get a room "photoready" ... and that's before you add in a pup!;)

For instance, I've figured out that when I have too many full weekends in a row (even when filled with fun things) between workweeks, I begin to feel depleted.  Although most people might describe me as outgoing and sociable, I still need my "alone" time to get re-energized.  (When we took the Myers-Briggs Personality Test in a communication class in college, I was an "ENFP" but just barely an "e" (extrovert) over an "i" introvert...  I think the older I get, the closer to an "I" I probably get, as nowadays that I'm "outputting" so much more for work --oops than I did when I was a college student!! ;) ;)--  time alone with my family- hanging out, playing eating, reading etc-  refreshes me and helps me feel ready for work.  

And the same applies to taking in...  travelling, learning, seeing new things, reading about them, watching them, and looking at others' work & creations are all forms of input and I feel re-energized and excited to get to work afterwards.  It's that balance that's key.  (You know that "I'm back" feeling after a relaxing vacation??  It's awesome...  but I would go crazy if my whole life were a vacation...  Don't get me wrong, I could go for longer vacations, ;) ;) but if my whole life was one, I'd feel unchallenged, antsy and useless.)



{me & my boys}

I haven't quite personally assessed other areas the way I've assessed the social time/ alone time thing, but I'm going to start thinking about it more.  I want to make that there's enough coming in, so that what's going out is interesting & fresh instead of old & tired.   Have you thought at all about this?  Any idea what your ideal input-output ratio is??

I'm headed out today to shoot projects 4 & 5 for the book- wish me luck!!


If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.
For general questions, please write to me at mail@laurenliess.com.

Although I'd generally refer to myself as a "decorator," I think of myself first and foremost as an entrepreneur.  Design is the field I've chosen to work in (because I fell in love with it shortly after graduating from college) but there's no doubt in my mind that if I wasn't working on homes, I'd be involved in some sort of business of my own in another creative field.  Every couple of months I come up with random concepts for other companies I'd start up if I had a clone and/or lots and lots of money.   (One in particular that I can't shake and am dying to do one day!!) A fun Saturday morning or Friday night for me often consists of working through a random business concept with my husband, visualizing how it would be branded, how we'd get it going, logistics, who our audience would be, and how much capital we'd need (always the kicker ;) 


{textiles... one aspect of our business}

In our design business, I weirdly enjoy coming up with processes and ways of doing things and implementing them. I started the business years ago with no business processes in place.  I understood the creative/client part of the process but didn't have a concept of how to efficiently and smoothly take a process from start to finish behind the scenes.  Every time I would come up with a way of doing things, it became the standard.  When I hired my first employee (Meghan Short, also my first intern five years ago) I had to start writing down and refining our processes.  Having to explain my processes to someone else and write them down for her to learn, aided in making them better.  We changed things and every time we came to a snafu of any sort, we learned and we changed our processes to better account for issues like those.  (we still do that...  it seems in this business that no matter how many bases you think you'd cover you're always learning ways to avoid mistakes in the future.)

About a year and a half ago, in January when I made it my resolution to make our company run more smoothly,  I did an internet search for interior design business blogs.   I came across Julia Molloy's blog (a design luxury branding consultant)  and spent hours on it, reading through old posts, taking notes and setting goals for our business.   I went in that first Monday after reading it and we had a team meeting and we made plans for refining & improving everything we did- from our meetings to our paperwork to our attitudes.   I wrote a blog post about Julia's blog and she contacted me...  we ended up working together, and  Julia's advice has been invaluable.  I felt like I knew her form our video calls, but she recently came to visit our studio for a two-day intensive "Molloy Makeover" and we had so much fun!!  (loved her btw.)  Our main goal in Julia's trip was to help define team member roles further (which is incredibly efficient when it comes to being productive and making sure we're all doing our jobs) ... discussing our goals and plans for growth, and having Julia assess what everything we've been putting "out there" (including signage, websites, client meetings etc.) has been saying about our company and our brand.  She's incredibly quick and her advice is always straight-forward, logical and concrete.  We've already implemented some of her suggestions and we've all become more efficient.  



{In the studio with Julia for our 2-day intensive}

So... The BOLD Summit.  The BOLD Summit (formerly the BOD - Business of Design- Conference) stands for The Business of Luxury Design and Julia recently took it over and amped it up a bit.  It's a 2-day intensive conference for interior designers looking to make their businesses better through better use of time, better branding/PR, being published, learning about wealth management.  There will be some sure-to-be-amazing presenters there including designers  Maria Buatta and Vicente Wolf (who often shares great business advice on his blog) along with luxury branding experts, magazine editors, an award-winning writer-producer, and businesses & wealth experts and of course, Julia herself.  I'm incredibly honored to be included and will be speaking in a panel about how writing a blog has been instrumental to my business. (wish me luck!!) 



{Julia}

It's in Las Vegas on Thursday, August 28th and Friday August 29th at the Wynn Hotel.  If you're a serious designer looking to learn, to be re-energized & inspired and to meet new people  in the industry , I highly recommend checking it out here.  This is going to be way more than a feel-good "let's make friends" little conference... I have no doubt you'd leave with concrete goals and action steps to improve your business and achieve your goals.  

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.
For general questions, please write to me at mail@laurenliess.com.

This week, we’re installing a project we’ve been working on for over a year and I CANNOT wait!!!  (And neither can our clients, who have been waiting patiently to move in!!) 



I was completely in love with the house from the moment I first stepped inside it last year.  Built at the turn of the century, it had wonderful bones but was in need of some love.  It was incredibly charming but the floor plan needed a little updating and reworking to fit our clients’ lifestyle and their young family.   My clients worked with the team of architects at Cunningham Quill who created a beautiful plan that’s timeless yet filled with modern conveniences & really has a new level of functionality.  The house has a seamless indoor-outdoor connection, which is one of the most important characteristics to me in a home.  You can't help but imagine doors flung open and curtains blowing in this place.  



{the new stair hall- almost finished!!  I can't get over all of the beautiful sight lines in the house!!}


Our clients’ style is fresh and colorful.  They like to mix furnishings-  from Mid Century Modern to English antiques- and wanted to bring in modern touches to their historical home.  Most of our architectural/ hard goods selections - such as the stair rails, flooring, woodwork, tile etc.- were in keeping with the traditional nature of the home, so we're bringing the fun in with fabrics, furnishings and art.   This has been such a fun and creatively satisfying project because our clients will say things like, "go big or go home," and they've been so open to stepping outside of their comfort zones.   (They are also hysterical.)  They have a very defined style but are incredibly open-minded design-wise.  We're mixing in family pieces with new ones and are bringing in lots of bright colors- navy, blues, mossy greens, oranges and corals.



{the living room- being painted!!}

I hope you enjoyed this little under-construction peek!!  Fingers crossed that all goes well over the next few days!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.
For general questions, please write to me at mail@laurenliess.com.

Happy Friday!!! (wahoooo)  We've been receiving a few requests & questions lately about why our studio isn't open on the weekends and why I'm not in the studio with customers, so I thought I'd bring it up today and reiterate our policies and explain the reasoning behind them.  (These requests & questions are from really supportive people who would love to be able to come shop and visit with us on the weekends so I really appreciate it!! :)  I know that a lot of people inquiring about our weekend hours are pretty disappointed that we're not open on the weekends (many of them are working women & I get it)  or that they didn't meet me so I hope this helps in understanding why we do what we do.



Our studio is basically open when we're in it during our normal working weekday hours.  When we first opened the shop, we were open a few weekends before the holidays...  it was lots of fun being in the shop but it didn't feel right taking that time away from my family.  Showing back up to work on Monday after only one day out of the studio didn't feel right.  (Frankly, I wasn't refreshed and I started to dread it.)  

 A typical day for me goes like this- 

Dave & I arrive in the studio in the mornings and we have a quick meeting with our team before we all get to work.  After that, on any given day, I'm either A)Out on meetings with clients       B)presenting to clients the studio       C)Installing a project in a client's home    or   D)Working on clients' projects in my office at the studio/creative work  and now E)Writing the book & constant photoshoots!!

We arrange our calendar 3-4 months in advance and whenever a last-minute meeting or event is slipped into my calendar, it's automatically taken from my creative design time.  By the time I get to any given week, it's not uncommon for me to have less than 1-2 days/week to actually work on projects during work hours.  If I were not careful with my time (and said "yes" to everything) I would truly have ZERO time to actually design or write a thing.  

I attempt to work on textiles & my blog (and family projects!) during off-hours when my kids are still sleeping (like right now!!) or have gone to bed.  (And on client projects when my week has disappeared with meetings. ;)  I don't really "do lunch" and typically eat while I'm working.  We need to be extremely efficient in order to get everything done.  Every single minute of my work day needs to go into meeting a deadline of some sort.   I'm by no means complaining right now- I thrive with it like this and truly love it!!  If we weren't able to fit in all that we do, our business wouldn't be profitable and I wouldn't be able to afford staff or to even be in this field myself.  But I have learned my limits.  I say "no" more than I say "yes" now because I have to.  I have a responsibility to my clients, my staff, my family and myself to keep things doable and to not fry my (or anyone in my employ's!!) brain.



{I took this photo a few weeks ago but it looks completely different now!}


When customers visit the studio to browse, a member of our staff is there to take care of them.  She's genuinely excited to meet them and help them.  There have been times when visitors have mentioned how disappointed they are that I'm not the one there helping them or that I'm not in the studio or am "never there"  when they drop in or want to drop in.  I'm bringing this up because I want to be clear that while I'm so thrilled when people come and visit, it most likely won't be me there in the studio with them.  (Even if I'm in my office, working- because I have to make sure I meet my ever-present deadlines.)  We opened our studio to the public because we love being able to provide some of the special things we've found to not only our clients but also others who are interested in our look, but it's a single facet of our business.  I am needed on the design side of the business, so we have someone a-mazing in place to help studio visitors.  Every now and then, we have an event, a talk, an open house, etc. and I'm always at those to chat & hang, which are lots of fun. :)  (I don't have the next one planned right now, but will be sure to announce it on the blog.)


{Our "new" collection of old ironstone - found in an estate in Belgium}

Anyway, I hope this explains why our policies are the way they are.  I'm always happy to hear suggestions and really appreciate the support from those of you who've visited, run into me in public, or called in asking for weekend hours.  (I wish I could have a little weekend clone of myself to work the studio for customers!!;)  Thank you so much for your patience!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.
For general questions, please write to me at mail@laurenliess.com.

We just returned from a trip to the mountains in North Carolina.  As I've mentioned, I've been in the process of designing a vacation house outside of Asheville, NC for my cousin.  The project moved forward at a crazily accelerated pace- he bought the house in April and we installed at the end of June!!- because my cousin doesn't do anything slowly and because half of our family (my other cousins, their kids & my dad & aunt) had planned a June-July trip and we wanted to have everything ready in time for them.  The renovation crew worked on the house until midnight some nights and all of us spent more than a few nights & weekends rushing to get this thing done in time for the family to visit.  Our assistant, Daniel, drove down to the house twice- once with a 17 foot truck full of furniture and then with a 24 foot long truckful.  (Thank you Daniel!!! :)



{The drive to Asheville from DC is scenic and, for us, very loud and long with three boys in the back}

We video'd the trip down, the installation process and the big reveal of the house to my aunt & cousin, so if it comes out okay (i.e. it's not terrible ;)  I'll be sharing that sometime in the future.   Getting the house installed on such a tight deadline honestly took everything we all had.   I'm so glad it's over but don't regret a minute of it.  

Doing the mountain house project was so incredibly satisfying.  Never have I had a home fully realized at this quick of a pace and been given this amount of control over everything.  My cousin had NO IDEA what was going in his house & it was so much fun!!!  I picked things out with him in mind- paying careful attention to how masculine & comfortable things were-  but I also did exactly what I wanted as if it were my own place.  It was sort of like giving someone a really cool surprise gift... that they're paying for. ;) ;)  



{The house is surrounded by old stone walls}


When I woke up in the morning for the first time at the house, after getting there the evening before & working on everything until the middle of the night, I opened my eyes and saw a painting I'd placed across from the bed on an empty cabinet...  I felt this immense satisfaction that I'm not sure I've ever had that strongly before.  (Maybe it was the fact that we'd slept in a KING-sized bed and I was super-comfortable?? ;)  But there was this calm freedom in seeing the cabinet empty of everything but a simple painting.  There was no junk.  The nightstands held only a book and a glass of water.  You know that hotel-visit-I-am-going-to-live-with-less-resolve you sometimes get when you realize how freeing not having a lot of stuff is when you're on vacation?  It was like that, but in a room I'd designed just as I'd wanted.  Dave & I got out of bed and went outside on the balcony and were seriously standing in mist.  We were so high up and the view was just crazy.  I knew then that I never wanted to leave.  Soon after, the kids woke up, more movers arrives and the usual madness ensued, but that quiet time was just so invigorating and peaceful all at once.   It just felt like there was more room for my thoughts in my head.  I woke up knowing we had half a house to move in but had no doubt we could handle it.  Not to be a total cheeseball, but it was invigorating.  The mountains sort of make you feel big & small all at once... Connected to everything yet isolated at the same time.   It was awesome. 

 

 {The view from the balcony}


When we'd finished with the installation, I did not want to leave that house.  It and everything in it is so laid back and comfortable.  I felt house envy.  ;) ;) My aunt & I spent hours in the kitchen organizing & labeling and finding a place for everything.  We all had so much fun just being with our family- hiking, 4-wheeling through the woods, hanging out and eating...  Wow, we ate a LOT.  (It involved sausage from Chicago, prime rib smothered in garlic and home fried chicken & my Aunt Linda's soups!!!)  



{Aunt Linda's Soup prep... I think she used every pot/bowl in the house}


I could not get over all of the oak leaf hydrangea, wild rhododendron and hydrangea growing everywhere!!!  



{Oak leaf hydrangea in the family room}


Going on walks and picking wildflowers & blackberrries was amazing.




I didn't have enough vases for all of the flowers we picked!!!


{More hydrangea in the kitchen}


Being done is bittersweet...  we spent half of our car ride home talking about doing another one.  We've always played around with the idea of flipping a house "our way," meaning renovating as we would if we were to live there and then finishing it off and decorating it too.  Not simply staging, but really making some personal choices and infusing the home with personality...  Kind of like a decorating show house that's for sale.  I looked at real estate listings on the phone, which has been  dangerous for us in the past.  (Don't worry, I'm not making any moves yet ;) ;) 

In the car ride home, I was honestly scared I wouldn't love my house any more.  I was inspired to make changes at home I'd never considered or that I'd never had the time to do.  (Like organize my kitchen drawers!!!)  When we got home last night, I had an intense desire to simplify it even more and in the midst of unpacking, I took my living room curtains down, craving bigger views of the outdoors.  (They'll probably stay that way until Fall/ Winter.)  I started putting things away like a banshee and feel even more of an urge to purge than usual.  This sounds neurotic, but I can't wait to go home and organize tonight!! hahaha

Anyway, we're having the house photographed in September for my book.  I'll be sure to share some sneakity peeks before it comes out & hopefully the video of the process if it works out.  

On a total sidenote- I'm learning firsthand how challenging it is to write a book and a blog at the same time.  It's similar to having projects published in magazines in that I'm dying to share every little detail with you, but can't quite do that because I want what's being published in the book to be fresh, new, and exciting.  I completely understand people wanting to see mostly never-before-seen projects when they purchase a book or a magazine (it's what I myself want when I make a purchase!!) but I also understand wanting to see a constant stream of before-and-afters on a blog, so it's sort of a catch 22.  (And I'm only able to produce a certain amount of projects at a time.)  I can tell you that I've never been as excited about a project as I am about the book because it's so encompassing, but I'm also like the kid who wants to come home and show the family what she did at school that day and it's killing me!!! :)    (A Field Guide to Decorating will have a roughly 75/25 % split in new-never-before-featured-on-the-blog projects vs. projects I've shared before.)

I'd love to get your thoughts on blog-sharing & books featuring already-seen material vs. less sharing on a blog and books featuring mostly new material.  Which do you prefer?  

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.
For general questions, please write to me at mail@laurenliess.com.


Pages

Shop

© 2008 - 2013 Lauren Liess
All Rights Reserved
Web Design by Emily M Thompson