Boutique hotel design

Boutique Hotels: The New Hangout

Blurred Lines

More, now than ever, the line between our work life and private life is becoming blurred.  We take work home, our smart phones only get turned off (if at all) right before it’s ‘lights out’.  We want our office spaces to be more residential, and our homes to offer the function and simplicity that was once relegated only to our work spaces.

The Wow Factor

Given access to so much beautiful design via the internet, it’s no wonder we look to boutique hotels and restaurants to scratch that itch we have for the “wow” factor.  We might not tolerate so much bling, so much color, so much richness in our homes, but it’s nice to escape to a space where fantasy runs rampant while we take that weekend away, meet coworkers to review the next presentation, or catch up with friends over a meal.

Entrance lobby of a luxurious hotelGetty images 139959582

Private to Public Consumption

No doubt, our homes must become ever streamlined and functional as we rush in and out of our domiciles.  We land long enough to take care of the essentials such as laundry, dinner, and school permission forms.   Our interiors must support our pace, as well as our ever growing craving for technology and function.  Millennials, as well as those of us rethinking our proiorities and relationship with materialism, are searching more for experiences, rather than stuff.  We might not be quick  to invest in our own interiors.  So if we aren’t putting the divine details into our residences, it is no wonder that the boutique hotel and restaurant phenomenon has taken off.  The wonderful thing is that rather than sublime design being created for a wealthy few, it is now available  for public consumption.




Michael's Simply Cozy Collection, Residential Design

Simply Cozy Collection at Michael’s

You have likely noticed the oh-so-soft mauves appearing in apparel and design.  Check out Michael’s Simply Cozy Collection.  It’s a mixture of whisper whites, dreamy blushes, and greys that make you want to snuggle up with a book.

This collection would be perfect for a guest bedroom (you can strive for gender neutral by leaning toward the creams and greys or for a ladies’ getaway corner — feel free to lay on the florals — you have no one to answer to!


Here are a few Sherwin Williams colors tha twould make great accents to coordinate with these soft mauves.

sw 6288 rosebud   (are you blushing yet?)orchid SW 0071

Consider SW 0071 Orchid for an accent if you want to emphasize the masculine components of this collection.  Opt for a grey rather than an offwhite or cream  as the main wall color to further enhance the masculine feel.

Check out the creative accessories in this line:

IMG_4906 (1)


64045-ibis-white-sw-7000.4b8bc8dcdd210c534c0bffb77d7e7fedSherwin Williams Ibis White SW 7000 is a dreamy, creamy white that would make a great primary wall color.  It’s the perfect backdrop for these subtle, scruptious tones.


Sw misty 6232

Sherwin Williams’ Misty straddles both the soft and deep greys in this collection.



Here is a link to Michael’s snuggly collection — offering rest and comfort for both ladies and lads:

They’re offering 40% off at the moment!   Go see for yourself.

Residential Design

French Country or Country French?

French Country and Country French are terms that get tossed around with abandon these days.  Have you ever wondered what the difference is?


Rococo, a style that was popular from 1730-60,  has had a tremendous impact on interiors.  This period produced intricately carved wood panels, ormolu mounts, extravagant marquetry inlays, and the trumeau (wood framed mirror).  It was fanciful, lavish, based on nature, and all about curves.

Rococo in the Country: French Country/French Provincial

What has become French Provincial style is basically a simplified version of French Rococo.  In the countryside, simplification was a result of smaller budgets as well as fewer skilled craftsmen to produce furniture pieces and wood paneling.  It developed when the woodworkers attempted to imitate the style of decoration that originated in the provinces of France in the 18th century.  The imitations were less ornate than the styles that were the rage in Paris.  Furniture was more simply carved as were decorative moldings.   Printed cottons called toile de Jouy were very popular then as they are today.  Iron was used in 18th century decorative interiors and still finds a place in today’s French interiors, especially for light fixtures.

French Country or French provincial offers a French manor type of look.  Decorative moldings create the perfect backdrop.  You will often see antiques with a French flair, even gilded furniture, lush traperies, rich textiles.  In short, this look is elegant and even opulent, but never glitzy.   French country incorporates details but they are never overdone.  Colors are subdued.  Soft creams are abundant, and soft green, soft gold and soft persimmon pair beautifully with the creamy base.  Accessories are simple but there is a place for gilded touches, a few ruffles, or anything that offers a touch of romance. You can mix French country with transitional and even contemporary pieces.  In particular, the soft curves of Rococo  and light, delicate Neoclassic furniture pieces sit perfectly in this setting.

Luxury and elegant french living room.Always romantic, ever elegant, but never glitzy — as seen in this room above.

black living room

You can have it all — a reminder of the past and contemporary furniture styling.  Modern furniture in subdued neutrals against a backdrop of soft green decorative wall moldings.  The creamy parquet floor offers visual movement.  Windows are unadorned by fussy blinds and framed by elegant draperies.

Country French

Country French is easy to remember because the emphasis is on the first word — country.  It is more of a feel rather than a specific stye and incorporates a mix of pieces from various periods of French history.  This is more of a farmhouse look, a rustic safe haven.   However, this style is enormously popular for good reason — it’s incredily homey and welcoming.  Oversized furniture invites people to sit and relax.  Rich, warm colors such as sunflower yellow and soft reds soothe while violets, soft greens and blues balance the palette.  Accessories are more rustic — hanging pot racks, earthenware, and hand crafted pottery give a personal touch.  Open shelving invites objects of personal affection to be displayed. Copper fits in nicely.

Kitchen with various breads on the counterThe rustic charm of this kitchen is apparent.  It is inviting and unassuming.

Rustic HomeA generous use of white is one way to ramp up the charm and comfort level of a Country French interior and keeps the interior from feeling too confining.

Definitions aside, if you are interested in having an interior designer create either a French country or country French look for your home, use a wide variety of images to convey your sytle preference as these two styles are often used interchangeably in practice.

Further reading:

Unistakably French, Betty Lou Phillips

French by Design, Betty Lou Phillips

The French Inspired Home, Carolyn Westbrook (this book contains images for those who love to use white in their interiors, as well as a chapter on French Modern)

Residential Design

Benjamin Moore Color Stories Paint Colors

When I am looking for color that offers a special richness, I grab my Benjamin Moore Color Stories fan deck first.

This special paint formulation blends about five to seven pigments in each color.  Each color in the series has no black or grey.

ben moore tandoori

Paper Lantern CSP-1150 is a true, clear red.  It contrasts beautifully with black, white or cream as an accent wall for a dramatic bit of pop.

ben moore tandoori

Tandoori CSP-1005 evokes an Eastern flair, and works beatifully along with teals and greys.


CSP-745 mystic lake ben moore

Mystic Lake CSP-745 is a hue that has enough teal to make it interesting yet is grounded with a softness that evokes calm and tranquility.

ben moore green hydrangea

Green Hydrangea  CSP-850 is a fresh, clean green.  If you want a range of monochromatics, combine Green Hydrangea with  Lime Sherbert CSP-845 and Lillana CSP -855 .  These greens pair well with white, off-white, or cream.


My favorite Color Stories soft neutrals are below.

cappucino froth ben moore

Cappucino Froth CSP-1055 (a warm cream)

crumb cake ben ooore csp 1010

Crumb Cake CSP-1010 (offers lovely golden undertones)

crisp linen ben moore

Crisp Linen CSP-305 (as the name indicates)

CSP-215 cake batter ben moore

Cake Batter CSP-215 (a hint of grey —  soft, lovely)


ben moore pressed violet

Pressed Violet CSP-520 (falls somewhere between violet and grey)


For popping art in gold or silver frames, consider a burnt umber for a backdrop such as:

ben moore kentukcy birch

Kentucky Birch CSP-265 or

CSP-270 dark chocolate ben moore

Dark Chocolate CSP-270

For trim, doors, or a dramatic accent wall consider :

CSP-30 espresso bean ben moore

Espresso Bean CSP-30 (hovers between black and deep brown and never disappoints).

These are just some of the exquisite colors in the wheel of 240 colors.  Order your Benjamin Moore Color Stories fan deck from Amazon or other retailers.  You will be delighted.




Management and Policy

The Power of Employee Ownership & Participation

Every industry is poised to capture the power of employee ownership and participation.  However, the hospitality industry, given the proximity of employees to customers, has a particularly powerful opportunity to harness employee ownership and participation.

Asian Businesswoman Leading Meeting At Boardroom Table

In short, ownership gives employees an interest in their company and its success beyond a paycheck;  participative management channels that interest into action.

Having worked for the National Center for Employee Ownerhsip (NCEO) for several years, I had the opportunity to reserach and interview companies making headway with employee ownership and particpative management.

Participative (or participatory) management, otherwise known as employee involvement orparticipative decision making, encourages the involvement of stakeholders at all levels of an organization in the analysis of problems, development of strategies, and implementation of solutions.

Below is an excerpt from an interview with the founder of NCEO, Corey Rosen and ESOP Marketplace.

One of the first big things we found out was that corporate size, industry, demographics of employees – it doesn’t matter if they’re young, old, highly educated, poorly educated, high income, low income – it doesn’t matter what kind of job they do, none of these things independently affect the success of an ESOP.

Q: So what does (affect the success of an ESOP)?

Three things. First, you have to make enough contributions to an ESOP, so that it’s meaningful to people. Second, you need to communicate it well enough so that people actually understand what they’re getting. And the third, most important and hardest, you need to create a high involvement, open-book culture.

These are companies that share a lot of financial information and other corporate performance information with employees. They tend to devolve a lot of authority to employees in terms of things like employee teams, self-managing groups, and ad hoc committees. Ther approach is that, management is going to make many fewer decisions and employees more about how work is done.

It doesn’t make what business you’re in, if you can get people engaged at that level, where they understand the business, understand how the business makes money, and have opportunities to translate that understanding into ideas on how to improve the business – you’re going to make a lot more money.

After leaving the NCEO I was hired by a mid-size manfuacturing firm to impact the ownership culture of the company.  I didn’t have management experience but I did have sufficient examples of how successful employee ownerhsip companies involve employees and a genuine respect for each indivdual and the value they bring to the company.  I was positioned in a customer service/team leader position so that I had daily contact with the manfucatuirng employees and customers on a daily basis.  The first thing I did each morning was go out onto the shop floor and talk to the machine operators to find out what happened during night shift (their counterparts would pass on the night’s highlights) and see if any material had been marked as potentially nonconforming.  I would visit night shift before leaving for the day as well.

Just providing daily commincations opportunities created an open dialogue about what was working, what wasn’t and employees were given a chance to have their ideas heard about what could make things work better.  Who better to comment on and influence daily operations than the people at the front lines everyday?

Another benefit of this daily dialoge was an opportunity to give employees feedback on how their work was received.  The most common question posed to me by operators was always, “Was the customer happy with my work?”

There were other opportunites to connect these employees, who worked hard every day but were in the background, with customers.  One method I used was biographies about our employee owners that were mailed to customers.  In addition,  management invited customers to the plant to hear  presentations by employee owners on various aspects of the company.

Extra work?  Indeed.  A team leader’s presence is by no means the only connection that matters.  Top management must be seen and heard as well.  The culture goes to the top.  However, it also doesn’t take a rocket scientist to makes these things happen.  Participative management can offer many benefits such as ensuring that quality issues come to the fore and get addressed, boosting motivation, improving communication, and creating avenues so that each employee owner is able to help grow a bigger pie.

This is great news for hospitality.  Employees can make a big impact given their close contact with customers.  In addition, an ownership stake can help retain employees, who often leave in their thirties in search of better wages and more stable employment.  This means not having to retrain a new, young workforce over and over.

Portrait Of Confident Restaurant Staff

If you are too small to consider an ESOP, profit sharing is just as powerful.

The link below shows a table on the main differences between ESOPS, profit sharing plans and stock bonus plans.

For more information on employee ownerhsip and participation visit The National Center for Employee Ownership.

NCEO  offers affordable publications, workshops and conferences on employee ownership and participation as well as referrals to advisors and lenders.  The NCEO can assist you every step of the way.





DesignerAdvantage – An Easy-to-Use Bookkeeping and Purchasing Service for the Busy Interior Designer

If you’re like most designers, you love designing and helping clients. However, the bookkeeping and order tracking part of the job is not your forte, you find it frustrating, and the paperwork trail is taking time away from what you do best.

The good news: DesignerAdvantage is aware of how inherently complex and difficult the purchasing and order tracking system can be for the design industry and has tackled that problem. DesignerAdvantage has created a simple, intuitive program for designers to use along with a support system to oversee accounting and purchasing from the moment you enter the spec all the way to the receiving warehouse. Their professionals assist you with resolving snags like rush orders, damages and backorders. Every designer who is a client of DesignerAdvantage is assigned their own account manager. Best of all, DesignerAdvantage fees are respectively passed along to clients as billable time or out-of-pocket reimbursable expenses. You get the benefits of a full time bookkeeper and purchasing agent without having to hire full time employees.

Marc Molinsky, CEO and founder of DesignerAdvantage, previously worked as a CPA at Ernst & Young LLP. After four years with Ernst & Young, Marc answered the calling to start his own business. A mentor of his introduced him to the owner of a lighting manufacturer who served the design trade. This meeting led to Marc’s realization that designers desperately needed real solutions and DesignerAdvantage was born in 2000. Marc and his staff of professionals have spent the last 17 years perfecting the technology, interface, accuracy, efficiency and value of this truly unique software that specifically supports interior designers in managing and growing their businesses.

The key features of DesignerAdvantage include the ability to enter specifications, create estimates and purchase orders, and record time by clicking on colorful tabs at the top of the main page. In addition to providing the extremely valuable features of accurate and up-to-date financials and purchasing oversight, DesignerAdvantage enables designers to run professional looking status reports for their clients with the click of a button. Imagine how happy your clients will be to receive periodic reports emailed to them on order status and expected ship dates. They will LOVE you! And you needn’t wonder how you are doing on budget — the program has a budget tracker for time and materials. Your project will show you percentage of budget utilized and highlight the project in red if you are over budget.

Dia-Gue-40201 – DL Image 1

StatusReportPdf – DL – 2

Dia-Gue-40287 – DL Image 2

(Links above provided by Marc Molinsky.)

The key to this revolutionary software is that it is customized for the design trade but it is linked to QuickBooks, the best accounting software for small business. Have you struggled to learn QuickBooks? Do you worry that you don’t have the time to learn it? You can put those concerns to rest. DesignerAdvantage has customized their software to be so easy to use, so simple and intuitive, that it only takes DesignerAdvantage professionals about 20 minutes to train designers on the software.

The two things a designer needs to do to ensure that DesignerAdvantage can do their job helping designers run a great business is to specify your product accurately into the software and enter any billable time. You can access your information any time online.

DesignerAdvantage will even offer a free business analysis so that you can understand very quickly the key things you can be doing differently to positively impact your design business. DesignerAdvantage manages over 100 design business all across the U.S. The information in their data base enables them to compare your P&L statement to other comparable design firm data. This analysis will help you understand, for example, if you are charging too little or paying too much for certain expenses. Furthermore, DesignerAdvantage offers its design clients access to a buying program that gives you purchasing rewards for all types of finishes.

Contact Marc Molinsky to learn how DesignerAdvantage can work for you, save you hours of frustration, improve your bottom line, and free up valuable time to do what you do best.

Marc Molinsky, DesignerAdvantage, 617.953.3134,



Great News for Hospitality: Alta Fabric Finishing

Custom Recipe

Whether you need repellency, fire code compliance, cleaning ability, abrasion resistance, a liquid barrier or antimicrobial properties, Alta delivers the exact performance technology to make fabrics perform in their end use or application.

This molecularly bonded chemistry cannot be washed out, dry cleaned out, or rubbed off. The only way it becomes ineffective is if the fiber becomes destroyed.

Easy Specifying

Crypton and Nanotex offer certain protections. The distinct advantage of Alta is that you, as the specifier, indicate where the fabric is going to be installed (Hotel, Night Club, Health Care, Senior Living, Workplace, Food and Beverage Seating) and Applied Textiles will determine the appropriate recipe. They have even created a simple chain set that they refer to as their “designer checklist” that indicates the general requirements for each environment and which tests are run, making it very easy to specify the treatment. They even have a profile for hotel mattresses. Even drapery can be treated so that once it is soiled with mop water or oil from hands, it can be spot cleaned.

Your fabric rep might require a set up fee or simply a fee per yard. It will depend on the representative. Fabricut representative Cindy Royals is working hard to educate her clients about the environmental and design benefits of Alta fabric performance technology. She does not charge a set up fee to add Alta. Cindy points out that commercial clients have many more fabric options to specify to clients because of Alta. This is a real plus for designers in Assisted Living or Extended Care — they can create a Resi-mmercial vibe in these facilities because more residential constructions are succeeding in contract environments because of Alta. Residential clients can use Alta to protect lighter colored fabrics or fabrics that will withstand a great deal of hardship or abuse, such as in homes with young children or pets.

Click below to see the full chain set:

Designer Checklist 2


Applied Textiles easy to use specifying chain set – “Alta Designer checklist”

Additional applications include guest room, food & beverage, drapery & sheets, top of bed, headboard, outdoor seating, nightclub seating, mattress, pillows & accessories, spa, residential, workplace seating, privacy curtains, healthcare seating and wall panels.

Easy on the Environment

Alta is 95% water. It is environmentally safe for people and safe for fabrics.

Great Hand

Alta can be applied to velvets, silks, mohair and alpacas without crushing the fabric. Previous technologies would crush and stiffen your fabrics after treatment; Alta provides all the protection but maintains the great hand you want to deliver to your clients.

Learn More

The above summary is taken from an educational session given by Tim Butt, Applied Textiles’ Director of Education.

To contact Applied Textiles for an informational presentation to your company:
Call: 866.891.6266
Or visit their website:

To contact Cindy Royals and explore Fabricut options: 770.792.7156



travel & experience

AirBnB Experiences


I recently saw an interview with the CEO of AirBnB. He said that hosts have been contacting the company wanting to offer more than just a place to stay. They want to offer experiences. Interested in nature? One host offers an excursion through a wolf preserve.  Love fashion? How about spending a day with an editor from MarieClaire.  Maybe you’re a foodie. A San Francisco man gives you a day of local cuisine centered around the Mission.

If I look back on my life, the things that stand out are the atypical experiences. The day my parents brought home our family dog from the pound. The day of my ballet recital, when the lovely Miss Barbara came out in a royal blue tutu and silver pointe shoes. A perfect sunny fall day, when our entire family (six of us, plus the dog) took a hike together. My dad looking out over the lakeside view of our New Hampshire rental cabin, sharing sardines with our dog, looking relaxed and happy, enjoying a much-needed rest from work.

When you make your list of must-see travel destinations, don’t forget to include experiences you want to have. Perhaps many of them are right in your home town. Some of these excursions cost less than $20 per person.

My husband’s company does a lot of relationship building. Not too surprising given that the founder repeatedly stated that “the essence of life is relationships.” Lately, staffers have been attending cooking classes together. Mark always returns home jazzed and having had a wonderful time. Partly because he’s a big time foodie and a wonderful chef. But I also think it’s because he’s connecting with his associates in a way he doesn’t normally get to do on a regularly work day. Perhaps one reason these experiences are so popular is because people are gaining that connection that we don’t get checking in and out of a hotel. The uncomfortable few minutes with strangers in the elevator en route to our hotel room is turned into a meaningful experience and new relationships.

Check out some of the experiences offered on AirBnB.

Enjoy the journey.


Boutique hotel design

Boutique Hospitalty Design

I grew up in a modest ranch house on an acre of land in New England. My parents were both curious people, and the house was filled with books on art, history, and science. There was a particularly beautiful, ornate bookcase filled with National Geographic magazines. I loved pouring over these magazines, looking at the mesmerizing photographs that transported the reader to all areas of the globe. I also loved learning about different cultures and traditions.

A job in my early 20s offered a modest salary but a high yearly bonus – giving me an opportunity to save and then travel extensively.  I traveled for six months, worked abroad for another six, and then traveled some more. Home sickness and a dwindling bank account led me home. I missed not only my family but also my fellow Americans and their unique brand of optimism and energy.

Life became settled  — marriage, kids and an array of jobs that eventually led to a second career in interior design. I had the privilege of working with incredibly talented people to bring exceptional commercial design to life.

Designers are required to keep abreast of products, services, and developments in the design industry.  I’ve chosen to focus on the boutique hotel industry.  I want to support this area of enterprise both for the quality of design these establishments strive to achieve and for their intent to create exceptional experiences for clients.  This also applies to the emerging airbnb model of offering hospitality along with memorable guest experiences.

My goal is to merge my travel and design experience to bring design assistance,  resources, practical advice, and inspiration to those seeking to offer exceptional design and hospitality as well as to inspire the travelers of the world.

Enjoy the journey.