January 5, 2016

A New Year

Happy New Year!!!


{our living room bar and the “Mistletoe Martinis” Dave made over the holiday}

I’m not really into “New Years Resolutions” per se or attempting to adopt new habits, but every January, I do usually take a look back at the year and
the current state of things, and come up with a list of goals and things I want to accomplish at work that year and also in the years to come.  The
time off of work gives me a chance to take a step back from the day-to-day operations of my business and think about it objectively, looking at the
big picture.  I’ve taken time in a few Januaries past to write a blog post sharing a bit about what I’m hoping to do, and I find that putting
it into words and sharing it all somehow solidifies my goals for me.  (So lucky you! …you might want to skip this one.  For real. 😉

To keep my goals from being forgotten, I add my goals and special projects onto my daily “to do” list so that they’re in front of me every day and I check
them off when they’re completed.  I have some bigger-picture goals for the really long-term- which I don’t put on the list- but I generally prefer
to keep my goals concrete and achievable so that I can really go after them and check them off.

This new year, as I attempted to take a step back and look at 2015, I definitely came away with a few thoughts and impressions.

One, I think I can say without a doubt that it was one of the craziest years I’ve ever had.  I was pregnant with our fourth child for the earlier
part of it, and during that (sleepy) time, worked on editing my book, and finishing up major client projects, and photographing projects for the book.
In May, Gisele Ivory Liess came along, surprising us by being a girl

(!! Sometimes I still can’t believe we have a daughter) and, of course, taking the reigns on life for a while.  I designed our Maison de Luxe spaces
pretty much from bed during the first couple of weeks after she was born and then had a really amazing summer on “maternity leave” (or whatever that
is really these days) spending a lot of our time on Lake Gaston in North Carolina at the house I designed for my dad and telecommuting.  It honestly
almost made me want to have more kids because it was just so great and I’m not sure I could justify or arrange all the time away unless I’d
just birthed someone.

{We had some seriously perfectly chill moments this summer… “summering” as a verb should go on my long term goal list 😉 }

As we heard about the school-moving situation, we house-hunted online and thought about where we’d move to or if we should even move at all.  We put
an offer in on a house (that we didn’t get) and then decided to put our house on the market in August and hope that we would come across something
we liked to buy.  Our house sold right away, which was bittersweet, and at the same time, we came across a dream fixer-upper that made my heart go pitter-patter and a more “normal” type of house that needed work, and for once in our lives,
chose the easier, more straight-forward and convenient path and went with the “normal” place. We closed on September 1st and after one day of commuting
the kids from our old house to their new school, we decided to start crashing at the new place, which we’d turned into a construction zone:

I decided that, this time around, I’d share the renovation process of our new place on the blog instead of keeping it all a secret in hopes of getting
it published in a magazine, which has been interesting and felt different than it did when I was sharing our home renovation two houses ago.  Two
houses ago was almost seven years ago, and I’d just started my business and only had one child at the time.  I worked part-time on mostly
smaller decorating projects one (vs. new builds or major renovations) with only a few projects going on at a time, and I was my only employee, doing
most of my client work in the afternoons/nights when my husband came home from teaching.  At the time, my goal was to stay at home with our kids
and have a nice little part-time business.  On my blog, I shared almost everything I did to our house, because I was so excited about what we
were doing and could think of little else, loved documenting it and sharing it, and had no other outlet.  (“Hey! I reorganized my junk drawer!!
Wanna see?!” or “We installed a new light fixture… check it out!” and the best, “Like my new pillows?!”)  I have to be honest though, switching
up pillows isn’t something that would excite me enough to write a full blog post about these days … or as a reader, want to read about.  Enter
Instagram- for me about three years ago- and so much of what I used to share in a blog post is now shared within a couple of minutes in a photo.  Much
of it doesn’t need further explanation, like a new pretty pillow or bits of progress on our renovation.  I’ve switched to mostly following my
favorite bloggers and friends on Instagram instead of blogs and will do very rare and random catch-ups on their blogs if/when I have free time.  I
love the instant-sharing aspect of Instagram and how simple & quick it is.  But as a result, sharing my house on the blog isn’t something
I’m dying to do the way I once was.  I’m getting my instant-sharing happiness from Instagram and so I’m naturally sharing less frequently on my
blog.  Without making a conscious decision, I’ve been posting fewer, lengthier, in-depth blog posts chronicling not only our renovation but what’s
up with my life in between all of my Instagram posts.

{a peek at our kitchen, shared on Instagram}

Sharing our renovation has also been different this time around because to be honest, my mind hasn’t really been on it very much.  I’ve been trying
to keep up with the kids and work and the release of my book, and travel for the book and showhouses, and some new really exciting client projects,
that it’s just not the thing in the forefront of my mind right now.  It’s kind of like my house has taken a backseat to life, which is probably
normal for most people, but not for me.

{installing at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills with Gisele}

When the book came out and we started traveling with
the baby, I really started to feel the craziness.  I STILL miss the kids and can’t believe Christmas break is over.  We had so much fun in
L.A., Birmingham, Atlanta and all the rest, but I am so ready to hunker down here and get organized, which we did a lot of over break.

On the book front… writing a book has been one of the coolest experiences in my life.  It was tough at times, but I really loved the process of
writing the book itself, of working with my agent, Berta, and learning how publishing works.  Although the book is filled with photos, it’s very
text-heavy, and took a while to write.  I really liked spending full days writing.  The editing process was a little frightening – just worrying
we’d all miss something and the book might end up like my blog posts- but seriously satisfying because it was at that point where I felt like the daunting
task of writing was out of the way and it was time to finesse it and turn it into something I could be proud of, something which I NEVER do with blog
posts. (sorry, but thank you for still reading!!)  And then I had so much fun working with my publicist at Abrams, Claire, on magazine stories/
shoots and parties.

I came away from the process wanting to write more books.  Like, a lot more.  And not just design books…  I’ve had some ideas for
a children’s book and some other things for years now, and after going through the process and learning what it’s like, I’m dying to write more.

And so for 2016, I’m going to be thinking about if it would even be possible to fit these other books into my life.  I’m a bit stumped here.  Besides
not knowing if people would even want to publish these books, I have to think about the time and opportunity costs that each book would take.
The time spent writing, photographing or illustrating, editing and selling a book is no joke.  The whole process from proposal to publication
was about a year and a half but the time/hours actually spent was probably somewhere around four months of full days working, though of course it didn’t
work out that way.  (Much of it was nights/weekends etc. but if I had to “fit” it in, that’s what I’d guesstimate.  …  Approx 20 days
of shooting is almost a full work month, for example… then add in prep days for shooting and so on.)  So the real question is, for what would
basically be a passion project, something like a children’s book, could end up taking three to four months of time and there’s really no way to be
paid very much for that time…  Can I justify taking the time away from interior design to do that???  It’s something I truly want to do
but I have to be realistic.  Writing a design book makes sense, because even though the book itself isn’t something I did for income, it does
help my business because it gets what we do out there.  But writing books in other genres doesn’t quite make sense… unless I can figure out
how to make it all fit somehow.  Or how do the process more quickly.

And then there’s this completely separate business idea I have that I’d really like to get moving on and could relate to some of the other books, but,
again, just need to find the time to get it going.  I’m really lucky to have David as my other half because we kind of divide and conquer and
he’s moving forward on things when I don’t have the bandwidth or know-how.

But Book 2 is definitely on the radar… (decorating book 2, that is.) I hadn’t realized how quickly conversations about it would begin but should have,
seeing as it takes about two years from start to completion. I’m mulling over an idea now and hope to get a handle on it within the next couple of

One thing we are moving full-steam ahead on right now – finally- for 2016 and that I’m SO excited to announce is a furniture line and online boutique!!
We’re starting out with a simple line of American-made upholstery available in my favorite fabrics with Lauren Liess Textile pillow package options,
and will be offering some of my one-of-a-kind vintage finds along with some of my favorite newer pieces.  Upholstery will have down-wrapped cushions
and will be available in pre-washed slipcovers.  We’re now in the process of selecting fabrics and getting the frame styles narrowed down.  From
there, we’ll move onto photographing the prototypes and getting them online!!  At the same time, I’ll finally load in all of the new LL Textiles
that we have.  (I’ve learned that designing/making something is only half the battle; it’s basically nothing until you photograph it and get up
online & available to people- often the step that I delay in order to move on to other things.)


{Our basic track arm sofa}

Wallpaper is on the horizon and I’m planning on doing Gisele’s nursery in one of my patterns to try it out and will move forward from there.  I’m
seriously excited for this and think her little bedroom with dormers will be the perfect place to try it out.  I’ve just barely scratched the
surface here in terms of finding manufacturers so this could take until 2017 but we’ll see.

{Queen Anne’s Bouquet, one of my earliest fabrics, above}

And I could not be more excited about our 2016 design projects than I am… we’ve got projects in Chicago and Florida (my cousin’s home in Florida
is nearing completion- this Spring!!) and local full home projects that I would literally move right into if I could, and some amazing parcel and local
decorating clients who could not be nicer and more fun to work with.  (I’ll be sharing a parcel project on the blog soon… we’ve gotten lots
of emails asking about seeing samples parcel spaces so seeing the photos might help some of you make a decision one way or another.)  I’m really
excited to be traveling a bit more for work in other cities…  I love the DC area but it’s also nice to have a change of pace every now and then.

Looking back at 2015… I really see it as a building year.  One of those where we did some seriously heavy lifting in order to make things better
for the future- both on the business and personal fronts.  It was truly a year of buckling-down.  Our social lives took a serious backseat
to having a baby and working and a book, but I do feel like we’ll come out stronger for it.  Gisele is eight months old now (and a seriously happy,
smiley little things) and I’m feeling like we’re starting to turn the corner on having a life again.  (Though we are undergoing some serious sleep
deprivation right now… the baby’s been sick and so that really set us back on her sleeping through the night.  we have GOT to get a handle on
this.)  She’s still nursing (and eating solids- girl can put it away!) so travel and the work schedule is still a bit  difficult with her,
but I don’t mind it because if she weren’t, I feel like I would just end up being apart from her too much… this way keeps her closer to me for longer
and I’m loving it. 🙂  The boys are sweeties to me (a little rough to each other) and are loving their new school and the community where we are
now.  It was an insane time to make this move but it was the right one.

And oh my gosh- on a totally random note!!– We got a call from the family who purchased that dream house of mine!!! (pictured below)  I was SO happy
to hear that they plan on renovating (not tearing it down) and so the story really does have a happy ending. They are so excited and know how special
it is. We had a meeting about the possibility of working together but there’s a lot to be done at the house so we’ll have to see if it works out. (There’s
not always room for an interior designer 😉 I’ll let you know if anything comes of it! Would be amazing!!

And, finally, we are still working out the kinks on the new website.  I’m not sure why but emails aren’t going out and the blog isn’t updating on
feedly, or any blog readers or bloggers’ ‘sidebars.  It’s been frustrating, but we have people on it who are doing their best.  My fingers
are crossed they figure it out soon!!  Happy new year to you & yours!!!

{Check out the new issue of Flower Magazine, one of the prettiest magazines out there.  Our fabrics were featured along with gorgeous collections
of Clay McLaurin and Alexis Hartman!!  Photos by Helen Norman.}