{Galley & Garden Restaurant, designed by architect Jeff Dungan… loooved it!}

WARNING: Super design-industry-ish post!

I’m home from a whirlwind trip to Birmingham for the Southern Living Design Summit and
a site visit to the Southern Living 2016 Idea House.  I had such an amazing time seeing old friends & making new ones.  David
and I took Gisele (who’s almost ten months old) and Louie (who’s three) to make things a little easier back at home  (Getting babysitting for
all four kids is a LOT to ask.) and to have a little bit of quality time with them.

 

{Gisele slept through most of the flights!!}

I loved finally meeting so many social media friends in person at the conference.  The Southern Living team is incredibly warm and seems to attract
like-minded people.

{Here with
Rachel Halvorson, who’s been an online friends for years… was just so much fun
finally hanging out!}

Dinner with some of the Southern Living editors and other designers & speakers was HYSTERICAL.  I got the chance to get to know some of my favorite
designers a bit-
Mary McDonald, Susan Ferrier, and architect Bobby McAlpine
which was amazing.

{After-dinner ridiculousness with designer Lindsey Coral Harper, designer Margaret Kirkland, Audrey Margarite of Bunny Williams Home, me, Mary McDonald, and Elizabeth Blitzer of Blitzer & Co. PR.}

I’m so bummed we didn’t get a group pic with everyone there!  And I don’t often meet people as nuts as me but Mary McDonald is definitely one of them.
She’s also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and couldn’t have been nicer.  Here’s an amazing photo snapped of us attempting to do
the Dumb and Dumber “Shhhhh, ”

The next morning was kicked off with a Q&A session with Mary and everyone loved it.  She started out as a successful as a milliner in her 20s
and ended up just sort of falling into interior design.  She commented on how creative people often want to do lots of different things and end
up doing what it is they like best.  I looove decorating but often find myself thinking about doing other things in totally unrelated fields or
thinking of new business ideas, wishing I had more time and had never really thought of it that way.  I guess in the end there’s only one of you
to go around and so you have to decide what it is you like best.   After hearing her talk about her work and past projects, I also felt inspired
by her to let go a little when designing and to (carefully) push a little more for what I want to get the very best design.  Her work is so glamorous
and bold!!  Overall, I really just enjoyed how witty & charming she was and can absolutely see why she starred on Million Dollar Decorators.
(And think she needs another show ASAP.)

{an iconic Mary McDonald room. looooove the pink on pink}

Then there was a panel led by Southern Living editor Zoe Gowan which brought up the question of will “To the Trade” survive?

{Zoe, Kristin Gish & Callie Jenschke of the (totally unique) Supply Showroom,
super-talented designer Meg Braff who has a showroom, and Audrey Margarite, VP of Design
& Product Development at Bunny Williams Home}

I think the answer was “yes” and it seems like the way this will happen is if the companies & brands whose main clientele is designer-based continue
to provide exclusive trade discounts to designers, who are their bread & butter.  That’s actually been one of the biggest challenges for me
in selling my fabrics.  As a designer, I want to be fair to other designers who are actually using and selling the fabric, but I also want to
be able to retail that fabric for as low as I possibly can, and so as we decide if we’ll be putting our fabrics in design showrooms, it’s something
I really struggle with because the pricing structure would have to completely change to accommodate another layer of sales.  (which is why I haven’t
done it yet)  I believe everyone selling a good deserves profit for the work they’re doing and service they’re providing, but it’s also really
challenging to do that and provide competitive pricing for retail customers.  In the end, I guess it makes the most sense for a small company
like mine to decide WHO it is we’re mostly selling to and then go down that path, but it’s a bigger challenge than it might seem.  (As an FYI,
the majority of our fabric is purchased by designers across the country through our website.)

 

{Meg Braff in a super fresh & airy bedroom she designed- love!!}

It was really interesting to see the different perspectives of the speakers.  Most of Meg’s product sales entail phone calls for pricing & answering
questions whereas the majority of Bunny Williams Home’s product sales are done online with very little communication required.  I’m in the process
of setting up our online store right now so I was glad to hear about how well it’s working for them.

 

 

{Susan Ferrier’s gorgeous home!!}

 

The next panel -with designers Mark Sikes, Susan Ferrier, Lindsey Coral Harper and me- was led by Coastal Living Editor Steel Marcoux and we discussed
shopping at design centers vs. online, traveling to shop and the best destinations.  All agreed L.A. is a-mazing for shopping in the U.S.  I
was definitely a bit envious of all of their wonderfully exciting shopping excursions because I started my business when I had a baby- and am now onto
my 4th baby- so I just don’t get out yet the way I’d like to, and do the majority of my shopping online with a few quick domestic shopping trips a
year.

The second panel I spoke on, called “HyperSocial” and led by Krissy Tiglias of Southern Lliving,  was with Grant Dudley of Southernliving.com, Jason
Black of Artisan Signature Homes, Gen Sohr of Pencil & Paper Co., and (again!:) Mark Sikes.  I’m in awe of these
people and their amazing blogs & IG feeds, their talent & dedication, and their insight into how to do it all.  (I felt like such a slacker
with my fairly sporadic posting schedule!!)  All of us named Instagram as our favorite social media platform.

 

{Krissy at the podium, Mark, Grant, me, Jason, and Gen.  Pic from Hatcliffconstruction IG!}

One of the things we were asked to do to prepare for the panel- which I thought was really eye-opening-  was go through our IG accounts to see which
of our photos were most “liked.”  Gen noticed her kitchen posts seem to do the best, a photo of Mark’s (stunning! below) garden garnered the most
likes of all of his posts, Jason said stair photos seem to do best for him as a builder, Grant said white houses & Dolly Parton quotes reign for
Southern Living, and I found that iphone pics of interiors in the moment/ real life (like a dining room set for Thanksgiving day or a random shot of
my foyer) and baby or family photos are usually my most “liked” photos.   (lol though it doesn’t stop me from posting food and flower photos!!
😉 😉

{gah!!! – Mark’s garden in West Hollywood-  PERFECTION!!! He’s coming out with a book and it’s going to be RIDICULOUSLY GOOD.  Can’t wait!!!}

 

Here are a few of the points that I thought might be helpful to anyone just starting out in blogging or on Instagram:

-Use hashtags when it makes sense. Do hashtags for things you’d like to make people feel included in or for things you’re trying to get word out about.
A couple of my most used hashtags by other IG users are #laurenliesstextiles #habitatbook #habitatfieldguide and I literally get SO excited when
I see that people have posted with those hashtags.

-A schedule/ regularity.  People like something they can anticipate and look forward to.  (Sorry- wish I could be better at this one!!)

– All agreed we try to answer IG questions but that it’s impossible to get to all of them and that we hope people understand.

-Connecting with others and making relationships and friendships through social media helps both your & their brand/account/business/following grow.
-All of us have received business/work through social media.  I’ve found that it’s not necessarily someone seeing my work one time that will cause
them to call me, but maybe they came across our work in a magazine, then see something on pinterest, and then find my Instagram account or blog or
book and finally decide to reach out about working together, so I feel like the more I’m out there, the better chance I have of attracting interested
potential clients.

Anyway, there were lots of laughs (Grant is hysterical btw) and I had a lot of fun.

The next day, we drove to Mt.Laurel, a Southern Living designed community, for a site visit of the Southern Living
2016 Idea House designed by uber-talented architect Bill Ingram.  (I am running out of adverbs
for how talented these people are, I’ll be honest!)  2016 is Southern Living’s 50th anniversary so this year for their Idea House they decided
to ask five designers to be a part of it, along with Bill Ingram.  Ashley Gilbreath is doing the foyer & a bedroom, Margaret Kirkland is doing the dining room
& porch, Mark Sikes is doing the living room, Bill is doing the kitchen and the family room,
Amy Berry is doing the pajama suite, and I’m doing the master suite.  I love our
little team so much and this is my second trip down to Birmingham to be with everyone.

{Bottom left going clockwise in the awkward 80s family photo- completely my fault for the chambray top and motherly arm on Jimmy’s shoulder- Builder Brian
Phillips, designer Margaret Kirkland, Sarah of Margaret Kirkland Interiors, Britt of Amy Berry Design, Amy Berry, Misty Chandler of Southern Living,
Architect Bill Ingram with Becky Boyle of Mark D. Sikes, me, and Jimmy Laughlin of Bill Ingram Architects.  Not pictured are designers Ashley
Gilbreath and Mark Sikes who had to head home but were missed!}

I’ll write more soon to talk a bit more about what I’m doing in the house with the master suite but the house is a-mazing.  I wish we had neighborhoods
like Mt.Laurel in the Northern VA area- oh my gosh!!!  There’s so much stone, wood, thoughtful design, imagination and a “less is more” vibe about
it.  I’m really honored to be working in a home Bill designed.  The master bathroom is CRAZY good!!!!

We headed for the airport after the site visit but not before our sweet friend Jami Supsic of Country Living went totally out of her way to swing by our
hotel to say hi for a few minutes.

{hugs & double chins!!}

 

 

There was bad weather that night so we hung out at the airport until late that night (with a delayed flight & eventual cancellation & a three year
old stomach issues lol) before getting another hotel for the night and heading out the next day.  We’re so happy to be home with the boys and
it kind of surprised me, but when we were cooking dinner last night I looked around and started feeling like it was home and I loved it.  This
house is like a slow burn that’s getting turned up so gradually I don’t even notice it.  I CANNOT WAIT for Spring time to start working on the
yard/ gardens!!!