Three interior decorators with no formal training– Scary!

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Hey guys,

Can’t begin to tell you how hard I’m smirking… Because any of you who know me and know that I’m actually IN the sky winging home from The Design Blogger’s Conference in LA know that there’s a very good chance that Scary doesn’t mean Scary Bad.

 

 

It means SCARY GOOD!

 

 

You see, I did my talk and I’m still alive, but one aspect of my talk is getting your reader’s attention.

Nobody is going to open up a post with this title.

Two Fabulous interior decorators who gave keynote speeches at the Design Blogger’s Conference.

zzzzzzzzzz…

Oh, yes, of course, some of you will.

Some of you would open up a post entitled

The Fascinating Pastime Of Watching Paint Dry

lol

Since one of my key points was for design bloggers to rock their headlines, I figured I better not disappoint.

And while we’re on the subject, or rather, *I’m* on the subject, lol, thank you, thank you, to the many well-wishers and those of you who were actually there to cheer me on!

Back to the topic at hand… The definitely NOT scary interior decorators. Two have been featured on the blog before, and one is new to me.

But here’s what’s super interesting. Two out of the three had NO formal interior design training and all three catapulted their careers solely through their blogs and social media.

Through that came all of the other good stuff like book deals, etc.

Two are living in California and the third is in Salt Lake City. While there’s some overlap in all of their work, each has at their core, a relaxed, comfortable casual vibe.

 

Let’s begin with the young husband and wife team of Syd and Shea McGee of Studio McGee.

 

You may recall that I featured their work in this post about Simply White.

Shea was the speaker and what happened is that she had always had an interest in interior design. Her husband lost his job and from there, she began decorating.

She started her blog and an instagram account and now has well over 400,000 followers. They have a staff of 30. And all this has been accomplished in barely three years! Wow. Just wow!

interior decorators Syd and Shea McGee - Studio McGee

Adorbs, they are. Oh, did you know that in addition to starting this mega-business, Shea has had two kids?

Yes, I had two little kids when I began my biz in 1996, but I didn’t have 30 employees, speaking engagements, a blog, a shop and let’s not forget social media. But then again. The 30 employees are doing a lot of the work, I’m sure.

It’s no wonder that their style has taken off. It embodies a fresh, young-traditional style that’s tres easy on the eyes.

Recognize the Pyne Hollyhock from F. Schumacher?

I love the juxtaposition of an ornate framed oil painting against stark white walls.

Blue and white prevail in their designs, but they have gotten more adventurous with dark colors, with some jobs. I love this chic office with the Oriental rug and combination of black panel moulding with white built-in cabinetry.

mcgee & co shop - studio mcgee - interior decorators

Last summer, they launched their shop, McGee & Co.

 

The second designer is Amber Lewis

 

Amber Lewis of Amber Interior Design is the designer that’s new to me. She was a keynote speaker and a most interesting foul-mouthed (by her own admission) woman of enormous talent. She opened her talk admitting that she was nervous, but I’m not sure why. She gave a terrific talk!


Hers was another tale of adversity and she too, used her website/blog as well as instagram to propel her business which only began in 2010.

She describes her look ast BoHo Chic, but I see it as being not dissimilar to the interiors of Studio McGee.

Both design firms feature white walls with blue accents in their interiors.

Both mix in antiques and fine art to their more contemporary rooms.

I love how she takes a very traditional sofa and inserts in this contemporary but classic home and it looks fresh and very happy in that setting.

I think that her mix is just right.

If my memory serves me correctly, Amber was working for another designer and lost her job and possibly her husband lost his job or something and she needed to scramble. Something like that. My mind tends to wander at these things as it’s a lot to take in.

I do know that she has a design background, but am not sure if she was formally trained or not.

Image and article about Amber Lewis’ shoppe via the LA Times

 

Amber Lewis has both a physical shoppe (yes, with a double P and an E which I suspect is meant to be irreverent coming from a casual Cali girl) and an online version of the shoppe as well.

Love this kitchen which is reminiscent of some of the English kitchens I’ve been featuring. I think that the antique runner makes the room!

 

And finally, we have the fabulous husband and wife team of Steve and Brooke Giannetti.

 

husband and wife team of Steve and Brooke Giannetti

Steve and Brooke Giannetti via the Washington Post

They have been featured on the blog several times which you can see here, here and here. (and some other posts which you can find by typing in ‘Giannetti’ in the search box in the side bar)

Steve of course, is a licensed architect and owner of Giannetti Home, but what I did not know until yesterday is that Brooke is not trained as a decorator. She did a house for a friend. Started her wonderful blog, Velvet and Linen and then from there, the jobs began pouring in for both of them.

And well they should. They are both so incredibly talented. And I’m torn between which one of Steve Giannetti’s houses I want.

While Brooke’s interiors retain the casual laid back vibe of the other designers, her look is more detailed and layered– a little more grown-up. Although I can’t exactly explain what that means.

I love this house too!

Gorgeous, gorgeous room!

Not only is Steve an immensely talented architect, he’s also a fine artist and furniture designer.

The Giannettis too, have an online shop with higher end offerings.

These are chairs that Steve designed. I adore them all!

They also use a lot of Swedish influenced and/or authentic Gustavian pieces in their work, which I love.

 

One more view of one of Steve’s homes he designed for clients.

 

The Giannettis have written two fabulous books that I heartily recommend

 

Patina Style

Patina Farm

Patina Farm tells the story of the building of Brooke’s and Steve’s dream home in Ojai, CA.

 

All of these interior decorators followed their dreams and made it happen.

I find that inspiring, even though I know that it’s not easy. And sometimes it’s not even easy to know what our dreams are!

Brooke Giannetti says that it’s important to have a mentor when starting out as a designer. I couldn’t agree more with that and that goes for those who’ve had formal interior design education and those who have not.

Talent is not something that can be taught, but there’s still much to learn about the business. Still, it is possible to become a designer if that is where your heart is taking you.

xo,

 

  • Kathy K - April 27, 2017 - 9:54 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    I’m intrigued by the color of blue in the cabinetry on the Amber Interiors white marble kitchen. Do you know what it is?

    I’ve got to admit, I CANNOT stop reading your blog! (There must be a 12-step program for this! …

    KathyReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 27, 2017 - 3:15 PM

      Hi Kathy,

      LOL – sorry about that! And thanks for the chuckle!

      That blue is a beauty, isn’t it. I don’t know what it is. I could make an educated guess, but there are so, so many factors. Do you have my paint collection product? There are three wonderful warmer dark blues in there. The information about it is here.

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/rolodex-paint-collections/

      One thing to know is that the color as you see it is almost definitely very dark on the chip. Far darker than you’d think it would be. ReplyCancel

      • Kathy K - April 27, 2017 - 3:33 PM

        Laurel,

        I’ve been very tempted by your paint collection, despite the fact that I have nothing requiring paint — that should give you a sense of how deeply I’ve been drawn into the orbit of your blog! It started with the sofa, which I finally purchased and now have to reupholster. On a happy note, I just bought a color wheel! I’m hoping it will somehow reveal to me its deep, dark secrets. I await enlightenment …

        Meanwhile, I’ll post a comment on your sofa post as it’s pictured on your blog and someone inquired about the manufacturer (TCS).ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - April 27, 2017 - 5:10 PM

          Hi Kathy,

          Answering in reverse order. haha. I don’t know if the color wheel will help much, but the paint product is nearly 500 pages of 144 colors, palettes using the colors, palette families where all the colors in the families go with each other, 40 interior design boards with furniture, the paint colors and links to the sources!

          But… it’s not going anywhere. It’s helpful even if all you’re doing is coordinating the colors for the room and not painting.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Jane Macaluso - March 25, 2017 - 1:37 PM

    I realized reading the end of your article that you are my design mentor, even though we don’t know each other! How cool is that?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 25, 2017 - 2:10 PM

      That is so sweet Mary Jane. I’ve felt that way about some people too!ReplyCancel

  • Mia Hannom - March 13, 2017 - 2:24 PM

    O Laurel, you lured me with your heading, but then, as always you grabbed me (I want to say by the balls – but I’m not sure if I should, plus I don’t really have any) with your fabulous, funny, inspiring content.

    You have such a natural and honest way to call out good design and great talent. It makes me humble and super excited at the same time. Thanks for that. (I always feel a bit more ballsy after reading one of your posts :)) MiaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 6:07 PM

      Hi Mia,

      You can absolutely say grab by the balls on my blog! It’s ***not*** “family friendly.” lol #eyesrollingoutofmyhead. (although families are certainly welcome!!!)

      At my talk at the design blogger’s conference I said “you have to grab your readers… you have the grab your readers by the TUTU.”

      Right. They thought I was going to say something else. I had a slide that I made with a beautiful ballerina standing on point en attitude derriere (for you dancers out there) at the end of a branch.

      Hold on. I just added it at the end of the post.ReplyCancel

  • Carole Segal - March 11, 2017 - 10:02 AM

    Dear Laurel,

    I am an Interior Decorator from South Africa, and have been in the business – for 34 years. I am inspired constantly by the beauty that surrounds me and the people that I work with. I have only recently found your blog, and really enjoy the comments and information you share. To say nothing of the wonderful pictures you offer up. Very pleasing indeed.
    It is really inspiring to see what is happening in the big wide design world and the commonality is that unless the space is comfortable and practical – it just remains a pretty picture! People make the house a home, and that is what one must never forget. Best wishes from CaroleReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2017 - 12:35 PM

      Hi Carole,

      I’ve been to South Africa, Cape Town, for the most part and it is the most beautiful place on earth!

      As for people making a house a home, I used to think that too but in my naivete discovered that it’s not necessarily so; in one flash of a computer screen, the once beautiful nurturing home can turn into a bonafide hell-hole. If that happens, I’ve discovered that it’s best to leave. Better to be a little lonely, than incinerated.ReplyCancel

  • Libby - March 10, 2017 - 12:28 AM

    Congratulations on your participation in the conference and your ever increasing profile and well deserved success in the blogosphere. I think of you as a success in your pre-blogging design career, too. You have a wonderful work and life history to mine,talent, taste, great work ethic and you obviously love to keep learning, seeing and connecting.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 10, 2017 - 2:22 PM

      Hi Libby,

      Thanks so much for your kind words and support! Means a lot to me! xoxoxReplyCancel

  • Crystal - March 9, 2017 - 5:56 PM

    McGee has mastered the art of using social media. For awhile it was just pictures of the same rooms from different angles, but it made it seem like they were doing hundreds of projects when they have only done a few. Marketing genius right there!
    These homes look very much like what we were doing in the 80’s – white walls, creams, navy blue, and a punch of dark wood. All that layered white trim work and even black lanterns are a return to that same vibe. Like fashion, design is circular.

    Love this blog Laurel!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 6:55 PM

      Hi Crystal,

      You are so right about the marketing thing.

      All three designers are a testament to the importance of beautiful images!

      But, I’m wondering where you live because around these parts, the eighties was not like this. I wish that it was!

      Around here, it was chintz, chintz, chintz and lots of trim and other excess.

      However, in the eighties, I was a starving artist living in Manhattan and the design aesthetic was whatever was left on the street. lolReplyCancel

  • Amy - March 9, 2017 - 2:03 PM

    Thank you for this lovely inspiration. I have been in my 1965 ranch for 17 years and am in need of updating. I am living in north Florida (Jacksonville). How do I find a designer in my area that has this aesthetic? So many of my neighbors have box store or “country club” living spaces, just what I want to avoid. Having followed you, I know you are a great source of all things design. Any tips would be appreciated.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Scruggs - March 9, 2017 - 1:34 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    what a great post! I so enjoy all of your posts tho!
    this one is so inspiring, and is proof that if you align your giftedness with hard work- the sky is the limit:)
    I hope you will be at DBC again next year- I really want to attend, and hope to bring our mutual friend Kristie (thedecorologist) with me. I could kick myself for not attending when it was closer to us in Atlanta.
    thank you for your always educational, witty, and inspiring posts!
    ElizabethReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 6:45 PM

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you so much! It would be great to meet both you at Kristie! And yes, these three speakers were particularly inspiring. The McGees and Amber Lewis were inspiring in that they were in a difficult financial situation.

      I know what that feels like and it truly is a powerful motivator! I don’t need to be mega-wealthy, but being in a bad way is very difficult.ReplyCancel

  • Mariynn - March 9, 2017 - 1:16 PM

    Well, Laurel, this post has been an interesting read. I agree with your take on the Gianetti’s so classy, casual and elegant. I enjoy Amber’s designs as well because they are eclectic and have a lovely mix of texture and tone. The Mcgee work while fresh is a tad sterile for me. And I don’t get a sense of layering over time with their work. Don’t get me wrong, I think that they have a market, maybe for young families that want a crisp look that is current. Just not visually exciting to my eye.I hope by giving my opinion you don’t think I am a negative troll. Just an opinion, not a thrashing.ReplyCancel

    • Marilynn Williams - March 9, 2017 - 5:13 PM

      I think that the McGees are doing a service for many people. And employing 30 designers is awesome. Having one style and running with it is very difficult for me because I like EVERYTHING!!! lol. Nobody will be photographing my house though its design worthy. harReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 1:25 PM

      Hi Mariynn,

      No, that was not a troll comment at all because of the way you put it.

      Respectful differences of opinion are always welcome. Some people don’t understand that means including an understanding that others might like something they don’t.

      I understand your point and also don’t entirely disagree with it. One thing of course, is that the images are styled for the photos. But it is a very specific kind of look and it won’t be everyone’s preference. That is also part of the point. I was told early on that the most successful designers find ONE look and run with it.

      I didn’t do that because I was thinking locally and needed to do whatever was the prevailing thing in my area. The McGees are taking on projects all over the country now.

      They have 30 employees and clearly they have found their niche and are running with it!

      ReplyCancel

  • nancy - March 9, 2017 - 12:51 PM

    My uncle has a degree in city planning. Every time a new mayor was elected, he lost his job. So, he worked in furniture stores and accidentally developed an interior design business and then started flipping houses before anyone knew what that was. He says that was easier, houses don’t have stupid ideas and argue with you. Even now, he’s in his 80s and his homes look like magazine covers. But… I didn’t inherit any of those genes.

    And usually “modern” art leaves me feeling kinda dead inside, those Steve G “ocean” paintings are so very very beautiful.

    Thank you for your blog, I LOVE IT!!!!ReplyCancel

    • Lorri - March 29, 2017 - 7:06 PM

      Nancy, I love the story about your uncle! Thank you for sharing it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 1:17 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      Oh, how I love stories like that! And how he “accidentally” found his passion by not trying to swim against the tide.ReplyCancel

  • nicola chipps - March 9, 2017 - 12:01 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I was also in attendance at DBC, so sorry to miss meeting you, it was such a whirlwind! Hope you were as equally inspired by all. Love to see this post a few of the success stories. It echoes what Adam Japko mentioned, BE GRATEFUL, and also Timothy Corrigan’s great tagline: “Which one of you here will be the next mega brand? ” The real message here is that designers who share their visionary, positive and generous perspectives are those who live the dream, own the success & rise together! Nicola in San Francisco #DBCLA2017 xox

    insta:britishbestsfReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 1:14 PM

      Hi Nicola,

      Yes, whirlwind it was! But so many wonderful people there. I came to my first conference three years ago and it was just then that things were starting to grow. It’s a process. But the problem is that a lot of people either give up too early or don’t have a plan of action that will help them build up their business. Thanks for stopping by!ReplyCancel

  • Crystal Ortiz - March 9, 2017 - 11:45 AM

    THANK YOU LAUREL!! I clicked (always do) praying you weren’t about to trash us “decorators”. I have mega respect for Designers and chose not to go that route, because I love the decorating part most. The McGee’s story strikes a note for me – in 2013 my husband came home with no job and I was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. I decided to pursue my passion and started building a business, used Alycia Wicker as my guru to get going, and have slowly but steadily been gaining more clients in my small Virginia town. I’ve booked my first trip to High Point this spring. I know there will always be those that look down their noses at we “decorators” but I’m so happy you aren’t one of them, nor are many of your followers based on the comments. (I did take a correspondence course & have odd letters after my name, but the course sucked and I’ve learned more on my own). Love your blog, your voice, and your work – THANKS AGAIN!! <3ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 1:11 PM

      Hi Crystal,

      I would never trash anyone with true talent and design education is no more equated with ability than money = taste.

      I find the look these designers are creating feels accessible for a lot of people.

      It’s so fabulous that you found Alycia and that she has been helpful for you. She’s the real deal and does know what she’s talking about! I was just telling my mentor/coach that one can tell you everything you need to do, but you still have to do the work. And it IS a lot of work. You have to love it and you have to WANT it. If not, then it won’t work.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - March 9, 2017 - 11:14 AM

    I love the blue denim vibe, wish we saw more of it. We have a home décor shop in a nearby town that specializes in salvage and salvage-looking stuff. It’s very popular. The Jo-Jo Gaines look is also very “in.” So different from the formal way our grandparents may have decorated.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 1:00 PM

      Hi Susie,

      I love it too! And it’s so funny because I always thought that I didn’t like blue. I just hadn’t seen it done right. And these folks make me want to redecorate my entire home!ReplyCancel

  • Sherry - March 9, 2017 - 10:58 AM

    While some excellent designers have no formal training in the field (by that I mean a design degree – Michael S. Smith comes to mind), it’s quite clear these “designers” aren’t formally trained. Their work is mediocre derivative pinterest fodder. BG i know is a “big(er) name” but I don’t think she would be if not for piggy backing on her husband’s very successful business. Sorry, this is harsh, but true.ReplyCancel

    • Lorri - March 29, 2017 - 7:22 PM

      Sherry, I once worked assisting interior designers at a design studio for a couple of years. I can tell you from experience that a design degree is NOT a guarantee that they can deliver inspired design. There are loads of people with design degrees that design trite and mediocre interiors. Design comes from the soul. If you don’t have the talent, no degree is capable of giving it to you.

      One of our most talented young designers had her degree, but couldn’t pass the NCIDQ exam to save her life. Some designers were great and others churned out the “mediocre” designs you complain of, despite their degrees.

      You can say that you don’t like someone’s work, but pinning your dislike on whether they are formally trained or not is simplistic and stupid.ReplyCancel

      • Lorri - March 29, 2017 - 7:28 PM

        Also, I can’t imagine anyone calling Brooke Giannetti’s designs “mediocre derivative Pinterest fodder”. That’s . . . hilarious.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 12:58 PM

      Ew… Another troll?

      I don’t usually publish inflammatory comments but I’ve had it!

      Apparently, some people find inspiration and others struggle seeing other people making a success out of their lives.

      Fine, I get the latter, but to come on someone’s blog and insult her, the other readers AND the amazing designers that I’ve chosen to promote is someone who deserves to get shat on from a dizzying height.

      FYI, It’s the other way around bitterbitch. Brooke’s husband piggy-backed on his talented wife’s success!!!

      Not that he needed to. The point was to show the power of the beautiful blog that Brooke created.

      Sherry, you are no longer welcome to comment on my blog, unless you can keep your comments positive. ReplyCancel

  • Dean Malambri - March 9, 2017 - 10:47 AM

    I have a masters in classical piano performance and got totally burned out in the process. Couldn’t be happier now as principal of my interior design firm, 20 years later. The work ethic and attention to artistic considerations both carry over!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 12:38 PM

      Hi Dean. How cool is that! My older son went to NEC for jazz trombone, but plays piano and drums too.

      Nothing goes to waste. And especially with all of the arts. They are all connected. At the NYSID, I needed 4 more credits for an associates degree and I had 12 dance credits from the U. of WI. The dean looked at me like I had 6 heads and said that I had to be joking.

      No, b*tch. I’m not and she couldn’t have been more wrong. My ballet background taught me so much about scale, proportion, balance, color, harmony… far more than the many BS summer-camp art projects that were foisted upon us at so-called design schoo; not every class, but too many and they are very expensive too!ReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - March 9, 2017 - 10:15 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    Great blog and some fresh work. I have adored the Giannetti’s since the moment I saw them published years ago. Their Patina Farm is magnificent and that is something coming from an “old house” person. I watched as each detail emerged better than the last. Thrilled that your trip was a smashing success! Surprised, of course not! XOXOReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 12:33 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      I remember reading Brooke’s blog when the home was only an idea. And then, they made it happen and every detail was scrutinized. One of my favorite parts was that the limestone came in too dark and they figured out a way to give it an acid wash and made it just the right color.ReplyCancel

  • Alison Giese - March 9, 2017 - 9:10 AM

    Your blog is a recent find for me – just when I thought blogs were dead! Anyway, I love your writing style, and your keen eye for all things fantastic design. I agree with Brooke Giannetti that we all need mentors – I wish I had one!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 12:30 PM

      Hi Alison,

      Certain types of blogs *are* dead because folks are tired of blogs that don’t have much substance. It’s not novel anymore.

      But thank you so much for the kind words! Much appreciated!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - March 9, 2017 - 9:09 AM

    I was familiar with all 3 of these designers. And I love their work.
    When I read the title of this post I thought for sure you were going to mention my boyfriend, (I wish…LOL) Nate Berkus. He’s quite the talent also.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 12:28 PM

      Hi Mary,

      Yes, he is but he wasn’t a speaker this time at the design blogger’s conference. There’s no obligation for me to write about these designers, but I love all three of them. And one of the most impressive things is that all of them are young and also very successful businesses.ReplyCancel

  • Roxanne - March 9, 2017 - 8:33 AM

    Trust me, if your title was Watching Paint Dry, I would read it! Why do painters dress in white anyway? I really appreciate the way you put Negative Nellies in their place…whatever happened to our mamas’ rule “if you can’t say anything nice”? By the way, the day after my inadvertent email to you about a realtor saying my sister should put $65k into cosmetic updates, she got a contract! You are a lucky charm!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 10:06 AM

      Hi Roxanne,

      Indeed. Mama wasn’t kidding. Insults aren’t cool. And what irks me the most is that they write as if there isn’t an actual person on the other side reading those hurtful comments.

      Those designers will most likely see the post through social media if nothing else and then there are the thousands of those designers’ clients. It’s a small world and about a square mile, in the world of design.

      AWESOME about your sister’s contract! Love it!ReplyCancel

  • T. McCrae - March 9, 2017 - 5:45 AM

    Thank you so much for posting this inspiring story. I wish I could have attended BDC this year but maybe next time. As a decorator with no formal training this is encouraging. I’ve been taking some classes online to get the basics. Do you have any tips for finding and working with a mentor?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 10:00 AM

      Hi T.

      Well, in Brooke’s case, she’s married to one of hers lol. But, I think that she has friends in the business too.

      Short of that, one would probably have to either be employed by or pay someone to teach them the ropes.

      The other possibility is to have someone on call, as a sounding board. The third is to hire someone as an associate. But in that case, it would have to be someone who has the power to draw in enough business.

      This has happened to a lot of bloggers who’ve started a blog and THAT propelled them to begin a career as a designer. I know of a couple who found out very quickly that it’s not nearly as easy as it looks.

      The last thing I want to say is that in any case, having a successful blog is immensely helpful in getting that business. ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - March 9, 2017 - 1:41 AM

    Hello Laurel, Although talent cannot be taught, it can be recognized, developed and fostered. I do have one cavil with the Giannetti living room. Although I love architectural salvage, and I think those columns are great, they appear unsupported, and a small child could knock them over. Even if they really are secure, they don’t appear so, which would make me nervous. Safety (especially child safety) should always be paramount over appearance.
    –JimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 9:55 AM

      Hi Jim,

      I’m with you on that one. Safety first. Always! But who knows if those columns are there all the time. Most likely not. These are pro and styled photos and what you see is usually not at all how it is in real life. ReplyCancel

  • Travis - March 9, 2017 - 1:27 AM

    I have really enjoyed reading all your posts and valuable information. What was inspiring about this post is that you encourage people to follow their passions and that a degree isn’t always necessary and definitely not required, especially if you are willing to make a few mistakes along the way (and who doesn’t take a misstep here and there!). I think you also encourage people to take the plunge and work on coming up with their own style and that while professional help can really help save time, maybe prevent some mistakes, that it can be worth trying as long as you have the passion and personality you are talking about. Thanks for being down-to-earth and finding inspiration in places that not everyone thinks of looking.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 9:50 AM

      Thanks so much Travis! I opened my business 21 years ago and that was after working for others for 4 years and 3 years of interior design education.

      Well… the learning is ongoing and mistakes are made all the time. And they’re not all mine, but many have been quite costly. That’s the biggest problem. Everything (except loss of life) is fixable. It’s just a matter of price.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - March 9, 2017 - 12:10 AM

    Hi Laurel, I just found your blog recently but am already a reader who would click on your post no matter the title! I gravitate to more neo trad styles of design coming from both the East & West coasts and am often frustrated by the design (or lack of) I see in Denver, where I live. I was so excited to discover Studio McGee’s blog a while back not only because I like their look but thought they were out of Salt Lake, which made me feel a kinship with them. It gave me hope for better design in western states that weren’t on the coast. Have they relocated to California from Utah or am I just crazy (which is entirely possible!)?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 12:16 AM

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Oops! My bad. You are right. They are from SLC. I better change that. I think what threw me off is that they were co-hosting the Serena and Lily party we had the other night. ReplyCancel

  • Julie Kay Design - March 8, 2017 - 11:43 PM

    Laurel, I throughly enjoyed your blog post. Great job, girl! So refreshing and reassuring to know all talented designers aren’t formally trained such as I!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 11:49 PM

      Hi Julie,

      I’ve written about design school. For residential work, I found it to be largely a waste of time; not all of it, but too much of it. I don’t know if it’s changed. This was back in the late 1980s.

      What I do believe though, is that it’s a very good idea to work for someone or at least have design help.

      The McGees have thirty employees. I imagine that many of them are trained designers. Shea has a degree in marketing. Smart lady!ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - March 8, 2017 - 11:42 PM

    Laurel your talk was the best at the Design Bloggers Converence LA. So witty and full of great info! But I agree with you that the designers you mentioned here have an incredible story of hard work, talent, and a career to be inspired by! Kudos to all of you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 11:46 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      How kind you are! I worked really hard on the talk. I figured I only had one chance and if I blew it, that would be that.

      Did I meet you? If I didn’t, then hopefully some other time!ReplyCancel

  • Alycia Wicker - March 8, 2017 - 11:08 PM

    OH NO! Untrained design peeps running amok! Someone should alert all those associations known by their various acronyms about these people.

    Kidding aside, I love seeing people follow their dreams and actually take action to make those dream come true.

    KUDOS!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 11:36 PM

      Hey Aleesh! And nasty trolls running amok. (Laurel’s just a tad tired and not in the mood)

      I just realized that I was maybe not too far from you? However, I was holed up in the hotel about 95% of the time. :[

      Hope all’s going well for you guru!ReplyCancel

      • Alycia Wicker - March 9, 2017 - 7:30 PM

        Damn trolls!

        Yep, you weren’t too far miles-wise but with traffic, it would’ve been a 2-hour trip out there for me.

        Happy to hear ya had a wonderful time in sunny California. Glad we had some beautiful weather for you!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 7:36 PM

          Hi Alycia,

          Did you see below, that Crystal Ortiz had some nice words for you! And well-deserved too!

          Anyone needing interior design coaching/mentoring, Alycia is one who knows what she’s talking about!

          Alas, I was hardly outside except in the evening. Dang! And we’re getting snow tomorrow, I believe. Well, it’ll be over with soon and this year wasn’t bad at all for snow. A reprieve!ReplyCancel

  • LJ - March 8, 2017 - 10:54 PM

    Laurel, I am so glad you have discovered Amber! She is definitely Cali Bo-ho — which I love but has gotten pretty saturated lately — and it is nice to see some West-coast influence on your blog (which I also love). I really appreciate your insider’s mind, but I often feel out of sync with your examples, as they are kinda formal (East-coasty?) for me, a Cali person myself. Anyway, I really love what the young Cali women are doing in design these days, and I hope you will continue to investigate and promote them. I think it is so brilliant what they have been able to accomplish with social media (and a lot of talent and hard work, of course!)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 11:33 PM

      Hi LJ,

      Truly, I love so many different styles of design, but in these three designers, there is still a classic bent that I love. It’s not just a mishmash of fabrics which I sometimes see, but a combo pack of tradition with modernity. I do have some other posts with this look. Or, at least images interwoven.

      To be honest, I don’t even know what an east coast look is anymore.

      But yes, social media has helped a lot of us, myself included. For me, it is pinterest. But ultimately, it’s the blog itself. As I told everyone. Your blog is yours. It’s the only thing that is… Everything else belongs to someone else and we are only invited guests!ReplyCancel

  • John Trosko - March 8, 2017 - 10:53 PM

    Laurel– I have to admit, I clicked over thinking you were going to dish and rant about these so-called untrained interior designers. And it was refreshing that you went through their work. And while you’re right, there is much to learn about the business, it’s great that you left an open room for new inspiration.

    Thanks for the great topic!
    John Trosko aka OrganizingLAReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 11:27 PM

      Hi John,

      I needed to make several points with this post. I figured some conference folks would be reading and I wanted to demonstrate some of my points. And who doesn’t love to be surprised?

      It is funny, but for some people everything they do is training for something else. ReplyCancel

  • Lori Payton - March 8, 2017 - 10:50 PM

    Just looked at your Blog showcasing new designers. Please!!! Where is the talent??? A landscape picture of example and then picking out the colours in the art work in a vase and some flowers and accompanying books. How hard is that??? All of the designs on your blog this time are so easy to do. I would be very upset if I hired a designer and she couldn’t do much more and better than that, or I can.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 11:18 PM

      Quite frankly, Lori, I don’t give a flying fork what you think. You may pick your troll-ass up and walk yourself straight out my door and never come back. Thank you.ReplyCancel

      • cathy - March 9, 2017 - 1:31 AM

        LOL! Perfect response, seriously, still smiling. I read your blog all the time Laurel and love it – but this was the one thing that made me add a comment 🙂ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 9:53 AM

          Hi Cathy,

          Usually, I delete those but am experimenting with letting them through. Of course, not everyone will love this style of decor but to say that it’s easy is patently absurd. It only *looks* easy!ReplyCancel

          • Elizabeth Scruggs - March 9, 2017 - 10:32 PM

            LOVE it Laurel!! Go get ’em!!
            Listen, everything LOOKS easy.
            Until you actually DO it.
            I would caution anyone that before
            they comment on, or belittle anyone else’s work, to
            give it a whirl themselves. Everyone thinks our work
            is about shopping all day- oh how I wish it were that
            simple!

          • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 11:55 PM

            Hi Elizabeth,

            They do the same thing to gorgeous ballerinas on youtube. No wait. It’s worse. Much worse sometimes. And the more talented the dancer, the more vile the comments! I guess it makes them feel better about themselves when they tear others down.

            I feel sorry for them in a way because happy people don’t tear other people down without provocation.

            It’s not an excuse, however.

  • Geo55 - March 8, 2017 - 10:41 PM

    Those are some inspiring success stories! I suspect that yes, one can learn techniques and elements of design, but talent can’t be taught. And some designers, no matter how much they learn, just are not that good. And others, have that certain something that true artists have- a talent for creating beauty with or without extensive training.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 11:24 PM

      Hi Geo,

      Bingo! That is absolutely right. These are artists with an eye for proportion, balance, color and all of the rest.

      ReplyCancel

  • Joanna - March 8, 2017 - 10:40 PM

    Beautiful rooms! I particularly like Brooke’s living room in the neutral palette. Soothing but far from boring.ReplyCancel

  • Angela Toledo - March 8, 2017 - 10:30 PM

    Dear Laurel, Your headline did have me click, but I would have anyways because your blog is always a treat!! I wonder if the Giannetti’s have a hotel somewheres or rent out their homes for visitors…or maybe they need a house sitter !? permanently 😉 And congrats on your talk at the DBC, I’m sure it was a Huge success and that you have many many more fans now who will love you. CheersReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 11:21 PM

      If only… One thing I didn’t say though is that Brooke started out her talk stating that even though people think everything is perfect, it’s not. I actually started crying… ReplyCancel

      • nicola chipps - March 9, 2017 - 12:02 PM

        YES, YES, yes!ReplyCancel

      • Angela Toledo - March 9, 2017 - 9:25 AM

        Wow! That was really great of her to say! So humble. Sounds like she’s got her priorities straight and is keeping it real. Respect!!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 9, 2017 - 12:31 PM

          Hi Angela,

          Exceedingly humble and gracious. And they really do have a real farm!ReplyCancel

  • Shelley - March 8, 2017 - 9:47 PM

    Is that the same light fixture in the white living room by Brooke Giannetti and in the dining room by Shea McGee? If not, they are awfully similar and I love the look! I’ll take one!
    All three designers have beautiful styles..thanks for sharing their work with us!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 9:51 PM

      Hi Shelley,

      Yes, it is!!! And it’s available at Circa Lighting.

      And glad you got on the site. The second I posted, something is up with my server. It’s a little bit better now, but it was taking like 2 minutes for a page to load and then I started getting a “404 not found” and white screen. That is not good.ReplyCancel