Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Out with a Bang

New Press from 2012 Premiere issue of Real Kitchens:
I am thrilled and honored to be featured in this magazine which is fresh on newsstands today !
What a way to polish off the year with 4 featured projects and a mention on the Editor's note.  This magazine is full with creative solutions & fun design tips from Designers across the country.  There is something for everyone in this issue, including some great new products, like a New Crush from FireClayTile &New Ravenna's Ikat Collection .  So go out and get your copy of Real Kitchens Magazine and dive in . 

My work is Featured on  Page 3 Editor's note, on Page 6- 2012 Trends article begins with my Santa Monica Client's Kitchen, Page 98 Features my Client's SilverLake Kitchen which has a 4 page Spread! (woo hoo!), Page 124 features my Client's colorful Cheviot Hills Kitchen and lastly on Page 132 ( 2 page Feature) My Client's Santa Monica Guest house Bathroom.

Please check in to our website soon as we will be updating the Press page so you can view this 9 page feature online too.

Thank you Phyllis Goldstein and Barbara Ballinger for contacting me & featuring my work.  I loved the interviews & the layouts are amazing !  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kuba Textiles

Nothing makes a space more interesting than authentic, handmade accessories. Here's something that is trendy right now that has been around for a very long time, so it is sure to stand the test of time. This little design tip is something that we think would make the perfect flourish for pretty much any design style, from modern to traditional. We happen to be using it in our most recent project, a contemporary interpretation of the classic French chateau.

Kuba cloth is a handwoven textile that comes from the Congo basin in Central Africa. The Kuba people have been making these gorgeous cloths for hundreds of years, primarily for ceremonial events. The process actually has a great significance in Kuban culture and can involve whole families and clans.

The Kuba people weave their cloth from the fibers of the Raphia Vinifera Palm, which they collect and strip by hand. The various patterns – made through weaving dyed fibers into the base cloth – traditionally distinguish different ethnic groups from one another, but the Kuba people have also made this cloth for export for many years.


You can pick up Kuba textiles at several places, like Malabar Coast Living, even online at places like and at Horchow. The cloth works in all sorts of ways, whether you are looking for runners for your table, pillows or art to display, the intricate patterns and geometric designs of Kuba cloth really bring a room to life.

I personally used it in my Dining room as Art / Window treatment.  You can't tell there's a window there can you?  Instead all you see is a wonderful piece of art work.

If you're interested in seeing Kuba cloth, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has a collection of some of this amazing craftsmanship.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

12 Designer Kitchens ...Get the Look for Less

Check out these budget -savy tips on HGTV's blog post featuring a couple of the kitchens we designed amongst other gerat kitchen designs.  Some great tips on how to get the look for less.

Do you want the look of a designer kitchen without emptying your wallet?   click here to read.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jewelry for Cabinets

When dressing up for a night on the town, you always make sure to look your best, right? You'd never just pick up that oversized bag /purse you got to go with the brand new Armani dress you have on. There's a time and place for that oversized bag /purse; usually that time is when you have to rush out the door to a jobsite or pick up your kids from school, not when you want to dress to impress.

If you wouldn't skimp on accessories when you want to look your best, why would you when you're redesigning your kitchen or bathroom? Whether you're talking about fashion or design, we all know that accessories look cheap and out-of-place – even if they are small – can ruin a whole look.

That's why, when I'm getting ready to dress up a new kitchen or bathroom, one of my favorite places to find cabinet hardware is Anthropologie.


 You can never go wrong with Anthropologie's amazing selection of cabinet knobs. They have some for every style and taste. Just take a look at these accessories!

Like when choosing what to wear, you choose your accessories to complete your look. They are precious and add fun color to your room.

I think hardware can be like jewelry for your cabinets. Take a look at Anthropologie's great selections.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankful for our Good Shepherd Donors

Thank you to our Vendors and Tradesmen for your Generous donations of time and product.
TO see "before and afters" of this project , including some really great press, click our Newsletter hereand be sure to subscribe for future newsletters.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Erica Talks Small Spaces on HGTV

Just because you have a small space, doesn't mean it can't be comfortable, functional and gorgeous! Check out the video below and hear how Erica transformed this tiny room into a multi-functional space.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Charlie's New (Old) Bed

Just because something is shiny and new, that doesn't always mean it's better. Perhaps that fact is truest when it comes it to furniture.

For her sixth birthday, my daughter and I started redesigning her room (again.  She's a little designer in the making). One of the central elements of the new design is my childhood bed.

The bed has become something of a family heirloom over the years. My mom got the bed from my “Grandma Jean” – that's what we called my mom's boss back then. The bed had belonged to Grandma Jean's kids, long before my time.

The bed was made in 1951, by the Davis Cabinet Company in Nashville, Tennessee. The Davis Cabinet Company, which has been around since 1929, specializes in solid wood furniture that doesn't fall apart with age. Their founding principle is “anything can be accomplished if it is done correctly.”  And this lovely bed was most certainly done correctly, it has held up the test of time . Notice the date stamped on bed (typical of the Davis Cabinet Company ) , it also has original label on back of bed for authentication.  This kind of stuff is pretty neat! 

The bed has been in my family since I was four or five. After I outgrew it, it was passed down to my little sisters . Now, I'm going to pass it on to my little Charlotte.

But not before I give it a little bit of a face lift. It is 60 years old after all.  First, I had my re finisher strip the many layers of paint that had built up over the years until we got down to the original wood , then we lacquered the bed in a soft cream color.

This bed has held up very well over the years, despite all the wear and tear that comes with being a kid's bed. They just don't make them like they used to.

You can't expect that sort of longevity from other big box furniture companies, you know the ones I'm referring to.  Good news is, there are many manufacturer's out there that build on quality, like Hickory Chair who just celebrated 100 years, Henredon , Drexel Heritage , Thos Moser, and B&B Italia just to name a few.  You may pay a little more, but that is exactly my point here.
As a general rule, it is a good idea to think of furniture as an investment. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it and if you invest in good furniture, it will go a long way.

It's my hope that one day, Charlotte will be able to pass this bed on to her little one. And, because of the solid material and excellent craftsmanship, this bed will stay in my family for many generations to come.

Stay tuned for pictures of the finished room, complete with Charlotte's new (old) bed!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Frequently asked Questions

One of the most frequently asked questions via emails is
"what color did you use in this bathroom you designed?"

Well , After about the 100th time of answering this question individually (honestly it's more :) ) We've decided to tell the rest of you as well what is is. On HOUZZ.COM it's been added to over 1387 idea books and it's just a great color!   

Color on walls:
Benjamin Moore : Sherwood Green HC-118

Click below and see what the buzz is.....

Timesless bathroom.
It's one of the most asked about bathrooms we've designed .
We get an email about this bathroom at least once a week.  Our HGTV viewers Love it!
Can you guess how long ago we designed it?  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Taking Business to Another Level

I just finished reading this book called The Business of Design: Balancing Creativity and Profitability by Keith Granet. I absolutely loved it! And it couldn't have come at a better time in my life, as I am about to embark on some new ventures of my own. I will definitely be applying some of Keith's suggestions! Perhaps with the right preparation and some more success, I may be lucky enough one day to hire Keith to help me with my licensing and product developments.

In the 17 years I've been in the design industry, I've never read a book that so clearly and accessibly breaks down the fundamentals of running a successful design business. Keith draws on his wealth of experience from working with many successful designers and design firms. He also brings to the table the wisdom, tips and tricks he has learned over the years . His book is a summation of the sort of education you can't get in school; it's the stuff you can only learn on the job.

The Business of Design is a great book because it has something for everyone. Whether you are a student of design, just starting out or a seasoned designer like myself, you will learn something from this book about running a successful business and how to help your business make money.

Let's face it, designers are creative people. And like most creative types, we often think about our projects from an artistic perspective and forget that the business aspects are just as important as creating beautiful designs for your client.

Keith knows this and he also knows that as a result, a lot of designers end up short-changing themselves or getting overwhelmed with “annual operating budgets” and “managing profitability.” But he also knows that when designers who run our own businesses have effective management skills and efficient management systems, we can free up our brainpower to focus on the artistic side of the job that we love so much.

That's why chapter two – “Business and Financial Management” – was my favorite. This chapter really makes us designers think about things we should think about more frequently, instead of just once a year with our tax accountants.

Keith offers many suggestions and key tips for success, but perhaps my favorite reminder is that we have the power to say “No.” It's hard to remember that not only can you say no to projects, but that there are certain times when you should say no. It's a realization that comes with time for designers, but once you get to a point in your career where you understand that, it's a wonderful thing. At first, it is hard to say no to projects. You worry that if you say no to this project, you not get another one. But remember that every project you take means another project you will have to pass up, so you can wait for the right ones.

Keith suggests that you listen to your gut. He gives you six easy questions to ask yourself when considering a new client:
  1. Do I like the client? 
  2. Will this project advance my goals for the firm?
  3. Can I work with the client?
  4. Does the client appreciate my expertise?
  5. Does the client have the proper budget to build this project?
  6. Are all the members of the team people I can and want to work with?
  7. Have they offered me a glass of water?
I love the last question!  I know there's 7 questions, did I mention he's quite witty too.  Keith says it's really important to notice this: “The truth is that if a client doesn’t offer you a glass of water, or anything for that matter, that client probably doesn’t care about you. This may seem harsh, but it’s true. The client needs to treat you right for any project to be successful.”

I have definitely applied the power to say no myself and I can vouch for it. Most clients (the good ones) see the value and are willing to wait for a good designer.

What's more is that Keith's style is personable and engaging. The book is full of wisdom and anecdotes told by a real person who has learned – sometimes, the hard way – how to make art and business live side by side without sacrificing one for the other. Keith is as a brilliant business man and you should not miss the opportunity to pick up this enlightening book!

Keith's press in the New York Times and Elle Decor. You can order his book on

I hope you guys enjoy reading this book as much as I did!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dwell Magazine July 2011 Feature

One of our Projects was Featured in this Month's issue of Dwell -July/August 2011!  Run out and get your copy if you don't already have it!  It's a fabulous issue with lots of great kids spaces.  Our Feauture is on page 96.  All photos by David Young-Wolff

If you missed last Saturdays' panel at Dwell on Design on Kids Spaces with Erica Islas, here a couple tips she shared and more!  Enjoy!

When designing spaces for kids, it’s important to remember that Kids go thru phases really quickly, so design a space they can grow with.

Example: Think about furniture that has multi-functions – cribs that convert to beds, changing tables that convert to dressers or desks that can change heights, the Stokke Tripp Trapp is a chair that can grow with your child too.

Don’t paint murals of characters…instead get bedding of characters (if that’s your thing) or add wall decals that can easily be peeled off after they outgrow that phase.

“Themes“ do not stay current - instead use Iconic pieces to decorate for a timeless room .

Iconic Pieces Ex: Eames hooks, nelson clocks, Classic Eames chair, Jacobsen Egg chair, Clever Tomato even makes mini versions of these ! which are adorable…they even make a replica of the Bertioa called Lil’ Bert.
Italian lighting - Artemide, LucePlan, Flos, Foscarini, etc….they are Fun! Playful, timeless!

Furniture with clean lines mixed with some vintage adds soul to a room. Keep it simple, nothing too ornate, or ONE ornate piece is ok, keep rest clean lines for a timeless space.

MOST importantly .....
• Get child / kid involved ( they have very creative ideas and know how THEY want to use their space)
BUT !!! don’t ask open ended questions - give them 2 choices based on what has been discusses as needs and wants.

• Use Kid /pet Friendly textiles that can take the wear and tear longer.   For example :
Contract Fabrics like Maharam and Sunbrella – variety colors patterns and textures. Textiles from the 20th century – Eames Dots by Maharam – actually Maharam has a lot ! also Marimekko patterns. Fornasetti designs.
Denim is one of my favorites – used on upholstery, it’sFUN ! totally hip, modern and just timeless . Iconic patterns on fabrics is a great way to also keep things timeless.

• Go Green ! (it’s important we start implementing the importance of sustainability with our children )There is so much product out there that it becomes a matter of choices now a days ,it no longer a problem of availability . Ex: organic natural fiber bedding, buy local, low or no VOC paints, FSC certified wood to build, wool carpets, reclaimed wood floors, etc...

• Creative / Fun Storage solutions ( every kids space needs Storage ! Lot’s of storage, so it’s important to make it Fun for them to tuck their things away, Ex: tables with hidden toy compartment, combination of closed and open shelving for books and toys, vintage lockers come in a variety of BRIGHT powder coated colors)
• Space Plan ! Once the room is designed , then you can have fun with decorating. Form follows function. I approach every project from an architectural perspective, do I need to remove walls ?, make new walls?, built in case goods? Determine the functions of the room and address those issues first. Take advantage of the vertical space as well with storage or even a train track around the top of the room.
Basically what you are doing here is: Designing a room a child can grow into –& you can Decorate with what they like. It’s okay if accessories are Trendy.

MORE Decorating IDEAS for Family and Kids Spaces :

• Mount kids stuff creatively, wheather it be guitars, CD covers, Skateboards, surfboards, sport Jerseys etc….. This personalizes the room and it is Completely UNIQUE !

• Frame art work they have made, there are several ways to hang & display things, there are even Frame kits that have everything you need to display 10 frames in a harmonious way!

• Wallpaper options are endless and Way cool ! Some cool  trendy ideas : Dinosaur fossil wallpaper,  Robots, World Maps, etc….

• Fun Ligne Roset TOGO floor cushions! Colorful, comfy, classic design, something parents can chill on too.

• Kids are activity driven / orientated - so making fun ways to get up and down from beds/ lofts , or install a swing, or crawl into a reading nook is great. Also because they are activity driven – find storage to tuck away all these activities.

• Create cozy place for reading and have a good amount of storage for reading books. KIDS and Parents LOVE books, can never have enough! Then come trophys etc….

Hope you enjoy these few tips !  Until Next time  -

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dwell On Design 2011

I am thrilled to announce that Next week Saturday June 25th, 2011 I will be speaking on a panel at Dwell on Design 2011 on the Innovative Design Stage.
It's all about form follows function and FUN kids spaces!

Click here for details!

Also on Today (front page too) , get a glimpse into the upcoming Kids' Spaces Panel in an interview I did with Dwell Editor,  Miyoko Ohtake.  

Look forward to seeing you all there!

Also don't forget to check out my clients' kids space in the upcoming July/August issue of Dwell on stands on June 28th, or come get your free copy at Dwell on Design 2011 at the L.A Convention Center.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Erica On

It's been a busy week of fun interviews and photo shoots.  Yesterday posted this interview with me on Timeless Kitchen and Baths , so I thought I'd share with you the Befores of two of the projects featured.  We all love to see Before here they are..... 

                   Before                                                                              After

Now go check out the interview by Erika Ward for, for some design tips and learn how you can get a timeless Kitchen and Bath too.
Click on this link below....

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sneak Peak .....Fireplace & Molding Details

Here's a sneak peek at a living room we are working on. I thought it would be worth sharing during the progress because of the architectural details we are adding.  We renovated the fireplace and added molding. 

Before 2010
progress 2011

Fireplace "Before" 2010

demo progress 2011

This Fireplace felt out of scale in the room , so we redesigned it to better fit the space .  First of all we changed the shape of it, and lowered the top.  One of the things that bugged me most about this existing fireplace was that the fireplace body was not sitting on the hearth, it extended over the hearth!   So we had the new hearth extend over about 2" on each side as well. 

Next , we added molding to the walls.  Very simple, nothing too ornate, the furnishing will be classic and contemporary for this timeless Living room. 
We first masked off two different patterns to see which was best , by using tape on the walls. Sometimes this works better than our renderings for clients who are not so visual.
Adding Molding to empty walls in a large, open room that doesn't have any architectural details not only adds visual interest, but it makes the room cozier and things start to look more proportioned .

By the way this is the fireplace material.

Monday, April 25, 2011

HGTV 's Design Happens - Monthly Design Tour: Erica Islas’ 1920s Spanish Bungalow

I am thrilled and flattered that has chosen my client's home for their Once a month Monthly Home Tour on Design Happens.  And so it is with great pleasure that I share this Home Tour with all of you . Enjoy !   
Thank you Karli , I loved your post !

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Studio Baccarat Launch Party

click here to check out what Erica Islas and other designers have to say about Chandeliers in an interview with Kelly Edwards for Editor at Large at the Studio-Baccarat Launch party during West Week 2011.

Friday, April 8, 2011

GS Charity Design Project Interview

Paying it forwward.  Today's feature is Erica's Interview about the new Charity project she is working on. Check it out :

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sunbrella Fabric

Design Tip :  Using Sunbrella Fabric

For families looking to upholster their furniture to stand up to the rigors of children or pets,  Sunbrella is the perfect fabric! 

Upholstery can take a beating sometimes, especially in places in your house that get a lot of use. That's why we like to use Sunbrella fabric. Easy to clean and durable, Sunbrella is also gorgeous, which means we never have to weigh practicality against looks!

Here at EMI Interior Design, we almost always use Sunbrella fabric in Breakfast Nooks on bench cushions and pillows.

This way, there is no more crying over spilled milk! or anything else for that matter.


Because it's water resistant, Sunbrella is a great choice for decorating your bathroom with a chic and durable shower curtain. 

Our Clients love it and think its Brilliant !
We love it and think it's Chic!

Try these simple design tips on your next project, and let us know what you think !

Take a look at Sunbrella's website here to see their variety of styles!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Design Tip!

Pssst! Hey you!

Yeah, you. Design aficionado.

I want to share a little secret with you.
I usually don’t share this with anyone, but here it is:

Mosaic tile installations can be a great way to liven up any surface especially in a bathroom or a kitchen. When it comes to dealing with visible grout lines in mosaic installations, there are typically two options.

ONE: If you don't want to accentuate those grout lines you Pick a color that will blend into the color scheme of the tile.

TWO: Sometimes, you actually want to accentuate the grout lines. Isn't that part of the point of a mosaic installation anyway? In that case, you choose white or gray grout or a grout color that shows off the grout lines best with your mosaic tile.

Now, listen closely, since I'm going to let you in on this secret.

I have a THIRD option! This is an option which I use ALL the time. It's a cool little trick. Even designer colleague's of mine love it when they learn how I did certain mosaic tile installations.

Are you ready? the little secret is...

...use Clear Epoxy Grout!
Here's why it works: The clear grout blends in and reflects the color from tile in the mosaic. It also has an incredible shimmer to it which you can't get with a typical, flat grout.
check out these close ups on these mosaic installations where we used clear epoxy grout. 

Take a look at how the copper glass mosaic tile in ceiling of this steam shower blends. The clear grout, which is used throughout, made the job simple and clean. If we had tried to use a brown grout in ceiling, it would've created a mess on the blue tile, even if we had taped it off. Even if we had avoided that problem, the brown would’ve been a different shade. On top of that, the rest of the mosaic pattern itself has copper, titanium, gold, white and blue and if we used a blue or a gray (or even a white) grout, the lines would be really pronounced and perhaps a tad too busy. In this case, I didn’t want to see that. So clear grout was the way to go.

The blue mosaic tile is from SICIS, and SICIS loved my little grout trick too.
The fish mosaic is a custom mosaic design by Waterworks based on a Japanese painting my client loves.
I love that I stumbled upon this secret years ago while experimenting with and doing research on grouts and mosaics. It’s made sooo many of my projects a lot nicer! This is probably the most valuable trade secret I’ve shared thus far, so use it well!

One thing you might want to consider as well is that you should always use a professional tile installer to install glass mosaic. Because it’s a specialty, it MUST be installed with WHITE thinset (preferably Mapie). If not, the mosaic will show trowel lines behind glass mosaic tiles, just to name one of the many problems that could come up in the ensuing fiasco.

I hope you can use this little trick next time you're looking to make your mosaic tile installation look spectacular.