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Carve Your Niche: Create a Work Space for Jewelry Design

Creative space from blog Soul PrettyIf you're anything like me and Sheffield jewelry design instructor Haley Mindes, you look forward to a shopping trip to a bead or craft store more than the mall. If so, you may already have an area in your home carved out for creating. Below you'll find some key elements that come into play in setting up a work space that's not only functional but also inspiring, encouraging you to sit down and create more often. Haley's told me what she thought better organization was all about.

I'd like to say that organization is the major contributor to my imaginative process - but in actuality, the messier my space, the more creative I'm being. If my work area is cleaned up it means I have completed a project or company is coming over! 

We all have projects we've been “meaning” to get to. Having a workspace that inspires you may have you sitting down to start on those projects sooner than later. Your work area may be on your dining room table, at a corner desk, or in a dedicated room that you can close the door to (lucky you, with no constant cleanup!). Haley and I hope that Corner desk by Martha Stewart on Home Depotthese tips will help you to create or improve your work space, and have you excited to sit down and start making!


Make it easy for yourself. Keeping organized means that you don’t have to spend lots of time hunting down what you need. You'll waste less time searching for things if they're always put away in the same place when you're not using them. Recycled glass jars, a magnetic spice rack, and pinned or clipped buckets or fabric bags can be great for storage.

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Why You Should Ignore Decorating Trends in Interior Design

Most Europeans approach design trends in the "right way." They tend not to take style so ultra-seriously, and blindly and courageously strike out on their own mad ways, marching to the beat of many different drummers. The British artists known as Gilbert & George had their London house photographed, and I was immediately drawn to their humor-filled kitchen. In the midst of a utilitarian kitchen, which includes an everyday washing machine, they plunked down a collection of gorgeous Aesthetic Movement ornaments on top of a similar period sideboard. They saw each item in their design scheme as being its own unique thing without pigeonholing it into a specific trend, labeling it as part of a certain design movement, or belonging to a specific period.

Trendy furnishings and interiors tend to look like hotel rooms, and they date badly.

You may hate an eclectic approach to decorating, and many Americans would agree with you. But let's rethink our aversion. As Americans, we tend to want the hottest trends. We wind up spending a lot of money on the Latest and Greatest. The downside is that in order to catch the big trend wave, we wind up being washed ashore when it comes to the next trend movement. Hot interiors date quickly, like wearing last year's designer labels. If you're a slave to of-the-moment trends, I see a lot of design updates and adjustments in your future. Actually, Interior designers shouldn't complain, as it keeps them in business. But as a school with an interior design course, we believe that there's a better way. 

Europeans, and possibly a growing number of Americans, are more trend independent, combining an independent mix of utilitarian, old and new, trendy, and hopelessly silly in a way that creates a much more classic and timeless design whole. These eclectic mixes might follow a retro design trend, like using 1970s style elements, but this isn't like being a slave to brand-new trends. Retro trends have established points of reference, and they usually embrace a more classic approach the second go-around than when they were first introduced.

The lesson is to look at an item totally independently from its period, its trendiness, or its pedigree. Will it work in your design scheme? That's the hard question, and it's a hard way to evaluate design elements for most decorators, too. For instance, you may not quite be ready to embrace things that are avocado colored, and you may be leery to use Post Modern 1980s design elements. But work on these aversions and try to adopt a more eclectic, neutral, and all-inclusive European sensibility.

As decorators, we would rather have you present a great design scheme with a mix of elements that won't date badly in a few years than sell a c;oemt one hot, trendy package.

Remember when all American appliances had to be harvest gold? We rest our case.


Interested in learning more about the basics of interior design? Take a look at Sheffield School's Complete Course in Interior Design. At Sheffield, you will learn how to transform a space, create color schemes, and select furniture, lighting, and accessories. 


Vertical Lift: Green Walls around the World

(Worth Avenue - Palm Beach, FL, courtesy GSky)As any city dweller can tell you: space is at a premium.  Green space – where plants can live – is even harder to find.  Developers prefer to utilize most if not all of their land for residential or commercial use. Of course there are the mandated city parks – but they are few and they could be located too far from you to enjoy on a regular basis.  Why not integrate green space right into the fabric of our lives – literally into the walls where we live or work?

This is exactly what Patrick Blanc, French botanist, has been accomplishing all over Paris with his vertical green walls.  Below is an example of his work at the Parisian store, BHV Homme.  The choice of plants and its artistic arrangement become part of the exterior design of the retail store. 

(BHV Homme Paris)Another beautifully designed green wall is on the Saks Fifth Avenue store located in the shopping area of Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Florida – see first photo above. GSky planted an abstract design using grass, jasmine, palmetto, philodendron, and axillaris, to name a few.  Below is the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia, another GSky project, with a wall of various plants running across the first level of the building. During winter time, the plant wall system contains temperature sensors that shut down the water supply when the weather hits the freezing mark. 

(Rittenhouse Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, courtesy GSky)Besides providing a beautiful focal point, green walls have many practical benefits for both the owner and the inhabitants of the building.  Green walls save energy and keeps air conditioning costs down.  Reduced air conditioning usage will in turn reduce the emission of greenhouse gas – a plus for the environment. 

The plants also improve air quality by producing clean oxygen.  They also attract urban wildlife such as birds and butterflies and restore natural habitats that were destroyed by the construction of the buildings.  The green walls reduce city noise by providing sound insulation too. Finally, greenery can extend the life of the building and prevent cracks by protecting its façade from acid rain.

(Athenaeum Hotel, London)Green walls can also be edible. You can plant salad leaves, herbs, vegetables and fruitGreen Living Technologies founder George Irwin worked with Urban Farming - an organization whose mission is to eliminate hunger - to create living green walls in Los Angeles that would feed the homeless. Volunteers were chosen to help install and maintain the living walls.  They have produced a diverse crop from tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach to strawberries and baby watermelons. 

Peter Blanc said it best:  “The plant wall has a real future for the well-being of people living in cities. The horizontal is finished — it’s for us. But the vertical is still free.”



Interested in learning more about green design?  Take a look at Sheffield School's Complete Course in Interior Design.  At Sheffield, you will learn how to transform a space, create color schemes, and select furniture, lighting, and accessories. 



Why People Should Hire an Interior Designer

Irwin Weiner ASID - The first design project I ever did - now over 20 years ago - was helping decorate the home of friends of my parents in South Africa. Financial difficulties forced them to scale down. Using their good-quality furniture and art, I created an interior that was a lot better than what they had expected. It was so successful, in fact, that they were able to feel that their move was not as much a "social decline" as they'd anticipated.

I did for them what I still maintain a good interior design project should do for any client: create a stage set to live in that is so beautiful, that it enhances your life. It's a little grandiose, I know, but it's a worthy goal nonetheless.

My first design project was a great opportunity for me, too. Even though I wasn't being paid, I realized that it was a good chance to gain my first referral. When I asked the wife what she thought of the interior I'd completed, she said that she particularly loved that it didn't look like it had been "decorated," and she was happy to know that her friends would feel the same way.

When I pressed her on that remark, she confided that hiring a designer made her feel inadequate, both in terms of her taste level, as well as it being somewhat of an unnecessary luxury. One could say that it was like the extravagance of hiring a trainer at the gym when all one needs is self-discipline and a bit of research. And most people think that they've got good taste, so why hire an outsider to design your home?

I'm often confronted with similar thoughts from people who express a disdain for the interior design industry. There are many people who don't have good taste, they can afford to hire a designer, but they elaborately  justify not using a professional. One of my favorite Why I Won't Hire An Interior Designer rationales is "Interiors are like Art, and I don't need to know much about it; I only need to know what I like." 

Now that I'm older and more exerienced in my profession (of which I am very proud), when I meet people who profess the reluctance to hire a professional, or demean interior designers as a whole, I now have a few stock responses.

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Cleaning Tips to Keep Outdoor Furniture Looking New

With the summer season in full swing, people around the country are taking to the outdoors. From backyard BBQs to rooftop bars, it's important to keep outdoor furniture looking fresh. As a leading manufacturer of outdoor luxury furnishings, Royal Botania knows a thing or two about proper care and cleaning techniques. Its catalog of products offers a diverse range of materials including teak stainless steel, Batyline and CoaXXS®. As the pool parties begin, the experts weigh in.


Teak is strong, lightweight, and resistant to outdoor elements. It has naturally high oil content, which creates a built-in resistance to the elements so that it does not decay and will not splinter. As such, teak does not need to be sealed or treated to protect the wood. When left outdoors, it will gracefully turn to silver patina to harmonize with its surroundings. Royal Botania uses mature, high quality, kiln-dried teak that has been harvested from sustainable sources. Available in collections such as Solid, O-Zon & Kokoon, it should provide a lifetime of use with minimal maintenance.

To keep teak looking chicRoyal Botania recommends a freshening every 6-12 months. When teak furniture first arrives any “teak dust” on the furniture should be wiped off using a damp cloth, otherwise it can leave marks on clothes and cushions. For standard cleanings, scrub with a soft brush and natural soap. Rinsing with fresh water regularly is also encouraged. Many stains can be removed by using a diluted bleach mixture with water, in a 4:1 mix.  Scrub with a soft brush and rinse with fresh water. Do not fear a change in color of the stained area. Thanks to teak’s natural oil content the wood’s color will even out within a month after cleaning.  For frequent stains, use products like Semco Clear Coat.

Stainless Steel 

Stainless steel, featured in O-Zon, Ninix & Flexy, is durable and stylish and will hold up to frequent cleanings. Royal Botania offers a 304-grade as well as a 304-EP electropolished or marine-grade stainless steel. The latter offers the same quality and performance as 316-EP stainless steel, yet comes at a more affordable price point. This treatment increases resistance to corrosion and helps prevent salt water and chlorine damage.

To maintain its luster, Royal Botania recommends

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