A day in the life

Launching A New Website In 6 Steps

This is what the site looked like yesterday.  

This is what the site looked like yesterday.  

Launching a new website is soooooo much easier said than done.   But we've done it, you're on it and I hope you're loving the purple vibe.  What follows is a summary of what it takes to get a new site up and running.

 

Launching a new website, step #1 - choose your platform.

There are so many choices!  To make the right decision for your needs, you have to do a lot of research.  This turns out to be the easiest part in the entire process. We chose SquareSpace because it's easy for me to update. "Easy" is a relative term.

 

Anderson, John and Anthony.  Rockin' my favorite hair color.

 

Launching a new website, step #2 - hire the best web designer you can find.

I don't care what anyone tells you - doing it yourself is for the birds. Web design is a profession, so hire a professional.  John Hoge has been the force behind DeCocco Design websites for a whole lot of years now.  He's an artist first and a web guru second and what a difference that makes! He looks like a cross between Anderson Cooper and Anthony Bourdain, don't you think?  Maybe it's just the fabulous hair color (I am biased).  John is patient, generous and  hilarious.  Thanks John.  I wouldn't have a business without you.

 

    Laura Mentler, photographer

    Marilyn Peryer, photographer

 

Launching a new website, step #3 - use professional photographers for the eye candy.

I take plenty of decent pictures with my iPhone.  They're great for the blog, but not the whole website. 

Let me introduce you to my photographers (you can use them, too!):

Most of the interior photos - Marilyn Peryer of Style House Photography

One lovely project in Charlotte - Wes Stearns of Artist Eye Photography 

All  photos of yours truly - Laura Mentler of Laura Ann Photography

Each of these photographers has a special talent that is very evident in their work. Thank you Marilyn, Wes and Laura, for capturing the sparkle that lives in my head.

 

 

Felicia Gressette, Editor

 

Launching a new website, step #4 - hire an editor.

Every website gets a few seconds to hold your attention, so the text is really important.  I like to write (well, talk) and keeping it short and sweet is not in my wheelhouse.  Felicia Gressette is an accomplished editor and publisher who graciously came on board to ensure that every page gives you solid information but doesn't bore you to death with my blather about design versus decorating or the value of hand milled soap (oh yes, I've seen that on a website).  She would never have written that previous sentence--it's way too long.

Thanks Felicia, for making all the other pages on this website short and sweet.

 

Wrestling with templates, coding, internet issues, etc. is like being in the midst of this lava flow - it's sharp, brittle, unforgiving, nasty stuff.

Wrestling with templates, coding, internet issues, etc. is like being in the midst of this lava flow - it's sharp, brittle, unforgiving, nasty stuff.

 

Launching a new website, step #5 - wrestle with the site template, the almighty internet, the search engines, etc.

I can't even describe this part.  It takes the longest and much of it is beyond anyone's control.  It's all the yucky, wonky, luck of the draw, fullness of the moon, mercury in retrograde sort of stuff.  Two words; endless and frustrating.  You (and your web designer) just have to deal with it.

 

 

Launching a new website, step #6 - life happens.

Oh yeah, this one needs to be inserted in between every step.   Truth be told, website work is very creative, complex and interesting.  Websites take a LOT of time and so does everything else.  Jobs, families, houses, travels, illness, exhaustion.... you know, life. 

 

 
I am a happy camper.  On to the next room!

I am a happy camper.  On to the next room!

 

And then one day, the website launches!

For us, today is that day.  It's looking beautiful.  It's not perfect.  I still find typos, photos still suddenly move out of place, Google continues to make changes and we're thrown into a temporary tizzy.  But in the end, it's all good.

And we've got a new logo!

 

Our old logo.  Rich, strong and classy.

Our old logo.  Rich, strong and classy.

 
Our new logo.  Clean, calm and modern.

Our new logo.  Clean, calm and modern.

 

 

Ok, the ribbon has been cut, the champagne bottle is empty and we all need to get back to work.  Hooray!

 

Ciao,

Anne

Client Question: "will you make me buy a $10,000 couch?"

First, the answer - no I will not.  In fact, I will never insist that you buy anything and I've never recommended that anyone buy a $10,000 couch.

 

what-will-it-cost.jpg

 

A new client asked me that very question last week, with more than a little fear in her eyes.  It turned out that several years ago she worked with an interior designer and was still stinging from the purchase of a $10k couch. It's a beautiful couch, but it's NOT coming to the new house. Every time she looks at it she still feels the sticker shock.  Also, it's not very comfortable--the back is very low.  It's being sold!

This isn't the $10k sofa she bought, but it looks similar. Sleek, but not very comfy.

This isn't the $10k sofa she bought, but it looks similar. Sleek, but not very comfy.

I told my client what I tell everyone: I will shop for you like I'm spending my own money.  Just like you, I want style, function, comfort, quality, ease of maintenance and longevity--at a reasonable, competitive price.  I'm a frugal New Englander at heart and, while not penny wise and pound foolish (are you too young to get that line?--look up Ben Franklin--it means don't buy cheap stuff in an espresso finish that gets delivered in a flat box and then be surprised when you have to replace it way too soon), I pay attention to the price tag.

 

This one, for example, has clean lines, a nice back to relax against, made with high quality leather and costs WAY below $10k. I can make it look very modern or very traditional.

This one, for example, has clean lines, a nice back to relax against, made with high quality leather and costs WAY below $10k. I can make it look very modern or very traditional.

You've got things to do, places to go and you're not slaving away at your job just to furnish the house.  I get that.

Now please understand that I place a HIGH VALUE on how your home looks, feels and functions.  To me, nothing is more beneficial to your life (and family, health, job, hopes and dreams) than a home where you can be comfortable, productive and happy.  I'm always going to pair quality with style and that can't be found at The Dollar Store.  But I'm not a store snob.

  

Some of the best accessories are often inherited or even found.

Some of the best accessories are often inherited or even found.

While I don't shop heavily at Ikea nor favor trendy disposable (meaning poorly made) items, I know that great products can be found everywhere. Last month a client insisted that I meet her at Kirkland's to look at a foyer chest she had seen there.  I haven't been to a Kirkland's in many years (in case you don't know, it's a home decor store), but off I went.  It was an AWESOME find-- perfect for her space, reasonable quality (it's going to sit quietly in a corner) and at a great price.  Score!  

 

The chest is from Kirklands and the lamp is a Target find! These gave us more room in the budget for items like custom window treatments (shown) and hand knotted rugs.

The chest is from Kirklands and the lamp is a Target find! These gave us more room in the budget for items like custom window treatments (shown) and hand knotted rugs.

 

I look for products that provide value for my clients.  Here's my criteria for the places I shop in:

  1. competitive pricing

  2. good quality

  3. varied selection of styles

  4. real customer service

Experience has taught me that this list equals the best price.   If you've been on the planet for awhile, you know it's true.  That, and the fact that there is NO SUCH THING AS FREE SHIPPING, is the same as money in the bank.

Pretty, squishy pillows - sometimes they're custom, sometimes they’re from a discount store!

Pretty, squishy pillows - sometimes they're custom, sometimes they’re from a discount store!

 

Over the years, the nicest people have asked me to design rooms and even entire homes for them.  They appreciate the personal, comfortable spaces I create, while respecting their budget every step of the way.  Mixing special pieces with very affordable "finds" strikes just the right balance--and results in a better room.

Small changes--like changing the room colors, tackling DIY projects or choosing a new area rug: 

 

 

Or larger changes - involving creative use of materials, reimagining the floor plan or exciting remodeling projects:

 

can add up to create a room that goes from drab to fab.  From yucky to yummy. From embarrassment to "let's have a party"  (partly because you've got enough money left over to have one)!

Call me today.  I look forward to meeting you!

Ciao

Anne

Working From A Home Office

The home office is a fab thing.

Mine is big, with great windows and loaded with what I need to do my job.  But guess where my favorite desk is?

working from a home office

At the kitchen counter!  It's my version of a standing desk. When I get tired of standing, I move to the kitchen table.  Files aren't nearby, but  I can easily climb the back stairs to the "real" office (which I do many times during the day)-and that gives the added bonus of a little exercise.

Plus, I'm near the snacks.  It works for me!

Ciao,

Anne

8 Trends Seen In High Point!

Just got back from the International Furniture Market in High Point, NC and am going to zip through the top 6 trends I saw consistently at Market.  Here I am, above, rockin' my Lands End pink checked shirt and comfy Skechers GoWalk slip ons.  No fashionista--but I'm smiling and can walk all day!

Trend #1 - Matte Gold Finishes

They were everywhere and on everything.   Very warm and appealing.  I saw a lot of chrome, too.  Cool and sleek.  Oil rubbed bronze is still out there as well.

Trend #2 - Stone

Geodes and agate looks were EVERYWHERE.  Agate is a volcanic rock and a geode is a round rock with a hollow center.  Here's a quick illustration to jog your memory:

Marble, granite and other gorgeous stones made an appearance in just about every showroom.  It's family friendly stuff.

Trend #3 - Shagreen

Shagreen looks like sharkskin and has a sort of rough finish.  It was on table tops, trays, boxes and upholstery.

Trend #4 - Unfinished Wood

While I'm sure all the unfinished wood products that I saw wasn't really completely unfinished, they were made so as not to be smooth and even.  I didn't like them--they felt sort of unsanitary to me (I always wonder "how am I going to clean this?").  But I saw it A LOT.

Trend #5 - Lucite/acrylic

Mid Century Modern/Mad Men continues to have a huge influence on offerings, and my beloved Lucite is showing up everywhere.  The above photo shows both   I noticed Lucite handles on traditional pieces too and it's a very successful pairing.  I am a lover of all things clear, so Lucite is my girl!

Trend #6 - Artichokes

It's a pretty shape.  I like it!  Acrylic bases on table lamps is becoming the norm.

Trend #7 - Track Arms

Big rolled arms were in short supply and I saw a ton of track arms, like this photo above.  Not an exciting example, I know.  Can you tell I'm fading here?  Seeing the trends in High Point is a great resource for us, but it's exhausting and I'm tuckered out.  But I love track arms because they make a sofa or chair more comfortable AND take up less space.

Trend #8 - Round Lights

This trend has been around for a while, but it keeps on growing.  These chandeliers were spectacular.  I think they're by Ralph Lauren.  I'll confirm and correct if not.

Those were the 8 trends I noticed in High Point this Spring.  Another time I'll show you some of my favorite finds!

Ciao,

Anne

 

What Does Your Magic Wand Do?

I'm convinced that everyone has a magic wand.  You might call them your special talents, but the phrase "magic wand" has more sparkle.  My wand transforms tired, embarrassing spaces into beautiful, functional rooms that work for myclients and make them smile, instead of cringe.

The Portfolio page on this website was becoming tired and a little embarrassing.  It wasn't really working for me, but I'm busy and it wasn't high on my list (sound familiar?).

Formal Dining Room, Raleigh interior design
Formal Dining Room, Raleigh interior design

Last week I flagged down my divine Webmaster and requested a change.  His magic wand creates uniquely gorgeous websites.  He waved that wand and gave me a fresh new Gallery page.  Take a look, it is FABULOUS!

I can add or change out photos as they come in, as the mood strikes and at my fancy. This new toy absolutely delights me.  While there are a million things I cannot do on a website, having this page at MY command is completely awesome.   For example, if I want to show you some colorful decor items:

 

 

BAM!  Do you see that?  3 neat little photos, nicely lined up.  You can click on each one to view more closely.

 

Or maybe I want to show you examples of vintage decor:

 

 

Sha-zam!  I did it again!  You may be thinking, "she must not get out much."  Mas non, mon ami, I am just thrilled that this space now works for me.  It's the same feeling my clients get when their rooms suddenly function for them.  So today I thank my Webmaster, the Academy and all the people who let me into their homes to wave my magic wand.

Ciao,

Anne