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The woman who helped usher the interior design industry into full flower in the United States was prolific in putting out ideas that will help freshen up today's interior design business. Look at our latest Designer Monthly, Interior Design: Look Forward by Looking Back to Dorothy Draper.

Did you ever have a problem designing small spaces?  Take a look at how top interior designers solved this common problem in our latest Designer Monthly, How to Design Small Spaces at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House.





Entries in tips (7)


Feng Shui Homework: 9 To-Do's for Your Home Office

Room & Board's Chilton table makes a great home office desk.

Who wouldn’t want to work from home? Ahhhh! Working from home can definitely have its advantages. You save time. You save money on commuting. You can manage your personal obligations in between breaks.

However, some people can’t seem to grasp the balance when working from home. They seem to get distracted very easily, not accomplishing much, or perhaps taking too many naps. Some tend to overeat, aimlessly surf the Web, and watch TV as opposed to the time clock. Before you decide to work from home, you must be really honest with yourself and ask a few important questions. 

  • Is a home office the best environment for my personality?
  • Will I be able to separate my work life and home life while in one space?
  • Do I think I will eat more? drink more? waste more time?

From a feng shui perspective, a working-from-home environment can be a real challenge. If you can’t find a balance between work and your private life, it may cause you more stress than anything else.

Here are the top 9 suggestions to help you create a harmonious work-from-home-environment. And, these tips are 9 in number for a good reason. The number 9 is the number with the highest energy. Hopefully, these suggestions will give you a great jump start!

  1. Pick a room or a space as separate as possible from your home life. For example, it is not advised to have your “office desk” in the same space as your living room or TV room. If you have a spare room, use it. If the only extra space you have to create a home office is in the basement, that’s not ideal, but it is doable. Just makes sure you have a lot of uprising energy represented, such as up-lighting, the color green, ventilation, and hopefully some natural light.
  2. Make sure you do not put your desk in a vulnerable position. It should be facing the door but not directly in front of it.
  3. Your chair should have support by having a solid wall behind it. A window behind the chair is not advised. If there are no other solutions, use heavy drapery to symbolically create that support.
  4. Your chair should be comfortable for you. It should give your body good support. Consider one with a high back, armrests, wheels, and the ability to turn from side to side (so good "motion seating"). You don’t want to ever feel that you are "stuck" or rigid.West Elm's Swivel Leather Desk Chair meets all of our feng shui requirements.
  5. Be mindful of what you see in front of you when sitting at your desk. Is it a window with a view of the outdoors? This may lead you to daydream and perhaps not focus on work. Is it a blank wall? This may cause you to feel blocked and perhaps curtail your ability to come up with new ideas. Instead, make sure that what is in front of you is inspirational and matches your goals and dreams.
  6. Yes, you can have family photos in your home office, but just don’t overdo it. It may subconsciously confuse you and distract you from what needs to be accomplished.
  7. Nowadays any office has computers and electronic devices. Make sure you have enough plants to help combat the negative electrical energy that is associated with these devises. Water lily and spider plants are highly recommended.
  8. Keep track of your work hours, even if you don’t have to.  If you are in a position where you have to track your hours in order to bill a client, then this is quite easy for you. However, many entrepreneurs accumulate “work hours” working on their own stuff. It’s always important to "clock ourselves in and clock ourselves out." This way we can see how much time we are actually spending on work and on how much time we're really goofing off.
  9. Remember to smile as often as possible while working ... even if you don’t want to. This may lead to the occasional unnecessary giggles or laughter. Since you are working from home, chances are that no one will see you, so you don’t have to explain this to anyone! It's always good to lighten your mood.

CB2 has a contemporary range of furniture for the home office.

Feng Shui Homework

Your homework for this month: work on getting your home work space separate from your personal home living space. It may not be easy, but at least start tackling it.

Until next month,


Franca is a Feng Shui Student Advisor and Instructor at Sheffield School; visit her website for more information. If you're interested in learning more about feng shui and interior design, then we encourage you to explore the Sheffield School, New York, NY. Sheffield began as an Interior Design school in 1985, and then expanded our course offerings to train people in other design-related fields, including Feng ShuiWedding and Event Planning, and Jewelry Design. With thousands of active students and more than 50,000 graduates, Sheffield has trained more design professionals than any school in the world.


Have a Creative Business or Hobby? George Lois Has Some Advice for You ...

An interior designer friend of mine shared a book with me that he said "changed my life," and I feel it's my duty to tell every Sheffield student - and everyone in a creative profession or with a creative hobby - to pick up a copy of Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!) by George Lois. Mr. Lois was the ad guy behind the rise of popular brands like MTV, Tommy Hilfiger, and VW, and his graphic design background (think the classic covers of Esquire magazine that are in MOMA's collection).

The book is wonderfully simple and jarring, with 120 great tips that are actually mini wake-up calls to become more creative and to work better and smarter with our talents. Here are a few nuggets.

  • Most people work at keeping their job, rather than doing a good job. If you're the former, you're leading a meaningless life. If you're the latter, keep up the good work. 
  • When you're presenting a Big Idea, be prepared to answer dumb questions. There's usually somebody in every meeting that just doesn't get it. Before the last word comes out of their lips, tear their doubts to shreds.
  • You can be Cautious or you can be Creative (but there's no such thing as a Cautious Creative). A creative thinker must be fearless. If you're more tentative than decisive, if you're more cautious than creative, you'll never be an innovative business leader, and certainly not a great visual communicator. A Cautious Creative is an oxymoron.

If you're pursuing a creative hobby or a creative profession, you need the inspiration of books like this one to help give you a jolt and replenish your "juciness." Lois, whom many refer to as the original Mad Man (as in the TV show Mad Men), rankles at the comparison because he believes in a much better work and personal ethic than shown in the TV show. I highly recommend this book. You'll come away inspired and ready to create great work!


If you're interested in learning more about creative pathways for hobbyists and professionals, we encourage you to explore the Sheffield School, New York, NY. Sheffield began as an Interior Design school in 1985, and then expanded our course offerings to train people in other design-related fields, including Feng ShuiWedding and Event Planning, and Jewelry Design. With thousands of active students and more than 50,000 graduates, Sheffield has trained more design professionals than any school in the world.

  • Request a free Sheffield School catalog describing our distance education courses.
  • Subscribe to the Sheffield Designer newsletter
  • Tuesday

    Photography & Videography: Tips from the Trenches

    So much effort goes into planning your wedding. And you know what? When the day comes, it definitely will be the blur everyone tells you it will be. Hours pass like minutes, and before you know it, you’re off for the honeymoon. Therefore, it’s so important to have every detail of your day expertly captured, so you can enjoy those fleeting moments again and again.

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of amateur photographers and videographers out there posing as pros. To help make your hiring decision easier, our friend Dave Bigler at Bigler Productions has some tips for you: Brilliance or Blah; 3 Key Things to Look For in Your Wedding Photographer or Videographer.

    Here’s one of our favorite points from Dave: “One of the key elements to shooting a wedding is being able to anticipate every moment. There are no retakes or do-overs in a wedding. An experienced shooter will be in the right place at the right time to nail the right shot.”

    Well said, Dave! No matter how beautiful a first kiss, the photograph of it will probably not look that great if the photographer is crouched at the bride’s knee. (Yes, we’ve seen this happen!) An experienced pro will know just where to position him or herself when it’s time for the I do’s.

    (Credits: Like the photo above? So do we! It’s from “Rustic Romance,” a feature in Volume 2 of Adirondack Weddings, photographed by Greer Cicarelli Photography.)


    Thanks to Adirondack Weddings Magazine for their beautiful photographs, posts, and wedding and event inspiration. Adirondack Weddings is the official bridal magazine of upstate New York’s Adirondack region, covering Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Lake George, Old Forge, Saratoga Springs, and beyond. The magazine features stunning photography, insightful articles, and the region's top wedding professionals. Visit the Adirondack Weddings Magazine website.


    Sheffield School began as an Interior Design school in 1985, and then expanded our course offerings to train people in other design-related fields, including Feng Shui, Wedding and Event Planning, and Jewelry Design. With thousands of active students and more than 50,000 graduates, Sheffield has trained more design professionals than any school in the world.

  • Request a free Sheffield School catalog describing our distance education courses.
  • Subscribe to the Sheffield Designer newsletter.
  • Monday

    Feng Shui Tips - The Power of Color in Decorating

    Franca Giuliani - Within feng shui as within design, color is very important and powerful. Before trying to pick out the "right color” for home decorating, let's try to understand color.

    Color is energy. (And, remember,everything is energy.) Colors are specific wavelengths of energy that can be used to balance ourchi, our life force. Here's what colors can do for you and yours:

    • Colors have an impact on our emotions and our vibration. They possess the power to arouse or to tranquilize, to bring joy or create depression. 
    • Colors engage our eyes and influence how we interpret our emotional experiences. By understanding the emotional context of colors, we can manipulate the experience of space to benefit our energetic body.

    Color Has Three Dimensions

    HUE: This is the first recognizable characteristic of a color. It's the quality by which we distinguish one color from another, as red, yellow, etc.

    VALUE: The quality by which we distinguish a light color from a dark color (or how clean the color is). Value is raised by adding white and is lowered by adding black. Colors change in value with light - the brighter the sun, the more light you have coming into a room, the brighter the room colors will be.

    INTENSITY: The quality by which we distinguish a strong color from a weak one. Color is lowered in intensity by adding gray or by adding its complementary color. 

    Color Has Harmony

    This is an agreeable combination of colors, and there are two kinds of harmony.

    CONTRASTED HARMONIES use colors on the opposite side of the color wheel. Most common are complementary colors - exactly opposite.

    RELATED HARMONY uses colors close to each other on the color wheel or only one color. Analogous colors are

    Click to read more ...


    Feng Shui Tips: Are Your Rooms Missing Anything?

    Franca GiulianiLiving in a home or working in an office that has the shape of a square or rectangular is ideal in feng shui. It offers balance and incorporates a complete bagua. The bagua is an energetic map that divides up any space - from a room to an entire house - into eight sectors plus the center, each with its own powerful attributes.

    Now it's not easy to find perfect squares and rectangles in our homes, apartments, or offices. With incredible design concepts and necessities like bumping out in a room to add a closet, different shapes are created. So what do you do if you have a missing sector?

    Well, first you should symbolically “square the space off. This is quite easy to do if you have access to the outdoors. You can use bushes, fences, flowers, anything to create that outline needed to “complete the space.

    You should also figure out what sector you're missing and then compensate that space by adding the element of the missing sector. And you can be creative about it! You can add furniture, pictures, fabrics ... you can even paint the whole room the element color! Just follow these guidelines below. If you're missing the following sector, add that direction’s element near that missing sector.

    Click to read more ...