Just the Good Stuff, Uncategorized

On Culture and Immigration

British-Nigerian filmaker Adeyemi Michael says in his interview, “Mothers can do anything…they give birth, they build families, they build the world, …all our mothers are queens, and are leading the universe.” In his short film, Entitiled, he celebrates the “woman, the mother, the matriach, the immigrant,” He goes on to say that his family kept him rooted in his culture. “When you know where you belong, it doesn’t matter where you are. When you know where you’re from and you know where your roots are and you know what you stand for and you know what your culture is, you are enough.” What a beautiful sentiment.

For the full interview and a glimpse of the film visit:



travel & experience

The Critical Role of Imagination in Goal Setting

Sign posted at my local Massage Envy

I saw this sign the other day and it made me smile and think that I should share it with my community given that I had recently suggested that people set their imagination free.  So what is imagination and how can we harness it to improve our lives?

Merriam-Webster defines imagination as such:

Definition of imagination 

1the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality


2acreative ability

bability to confront and deal with a problem RESOURCEFULNESSuse your imagination and get us out of here

cthe thinking or active mind INTERESTstories that fired the imagination



Imagination is something never before perceived in reality.  Being imaginative implies an ability to deal with the unknown as well as an ability to deal with and embrace change.  Thinking of imagination in this way can be daunting.  However, imagination also can help us develop a healthy discontent with our circumstances as they are.  Imagination can prod us out of ruts, push us out of bad habits and into good ones.  Imagination can instill a desire for accomplishment —  for attainment of our biggest dreams.

In my last post I invited you to set your imagination free.  Setting goals requires invoking your powerful imagination and guiding it with disciplined methods to attain those goals that will give you fulfillment.

So, revisit the prompters in my last post and see where your imagination takes you.  Future posts will help you distill your list of “I want, I wish…” into concrete goals but engaging your imagination is the first step.

Residential Design, Residential Resources

Contemporary Interior Design – CB2 Shines

CB2 Has Elevated Contemporary Interior Design

CB2 has elevated contemporary interior design. CB2 is transforming the perception of home design for today’s modern consumer by offering high quality, sophisticated design at an approachable price.

Glamour and Luxury

CB2 offers richness, glamour, and luxury in their design offerings — always stylish, ever intriguing!  The room settings showcased in their October 2018 lookbook expertly balance the currently popular gold and silver tones with soft hues.  Their interior settings adeptly apply texture and pattern, balance warm and cool, and make an artful, breathtaking use of black.  Their wood tones, upholstered furniture and area rugs create a warmth and coziness to balance contemporary lines.

CB2 has embraced the emerald green that is so hot at present, but it never looks out of place in any of their settings.  For accent walls consider SW6289 Delightful (soft mauve), SW 6747 Argyle (deep green), or SW 6496 Oceanside (deep blue) when incorporating your select CB2 offerings.

Images provided by CB2

There is a delicate nature to CB2’s bling — survey their mirrors, crystal drops, light fixtures and glass trees.  Their accessories are refreshingly innovative and interesting.

Images provided by CB2

Edgy, Eclectic, Inspirational

The brand is definitely today’s destination for timeless yet edgy home collections, creating furniture and decor to inspire creativity and celebrate individuality with an eclectic mix of products and decorating ideas. Their furniture and accessories are many and varied, so much so that you will find it easy to make CB2 your own.  Your space will truly look and feel like a home – contemporary, eclectic, unique, and very livable.

Images provided by CB2

CB2 is Growing Rapidly

In addition to being a leader in online retail, the brand is rapidly expanding their physical footprint and currently has 18 locations across the U.S and Canada. CB2 is part of Crate and Barrel Holdings, which is owned by The Otto Group, a global retail and services group based in Hamburg, Germany.

For More CB2

For more information, visit, or follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.



travel & experience

Step 1 of Goal Setting: Capture Your Dreams

When you’re relaxed and in a receptive state, make a list of all your desires, everything you have or might ever want.    Don’t limit yourself by money, physical ability or any other thing that might inhibit you.

You can brainstorm on a pad of paper or on your computer.  Use whichever method you feel will enable you to brainstorm the best.  Don’t worry about categorization at this point, or anything else other than covering as many pages as you can with your wishes, hopes and dreams.

Some areas of life are listed below to prompt you:

  • Family/Home/Marriage/Partner
  • Physical Health/Mental Health
  • Career/Finances
  • Ethics/Spiritual Growth/Personal Growth
  • Social/Cultural/Friends/Adventure/Travel

Don’t forget to include anything and everything that would give you pure joy, and anything that sounds fun.

I’m not including any images in this blog because I don’t want to influence you but feel free to peruse magazines or the internet to inspire you.  You might even create a physical or digital folder to capture these inspiration images — these will be useful to jog your aspirations for your best self as well as help you make your goals a reality in the future.

Here are some prompters:

  • What would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?
  • Where do you want to live?  Do you want a second home?
  • What  places you would like to visit?
  • What accomplishments will bring meaning to your life?
  • Who do you want to become?
  • Are there any habits you want to create or break?
  • Are there talents you would like to persue?
  • What do you want from life?
  • Are there any tangible wants or needs you have?
  • If you develop your talents and abilities more effectively, what could you accomplish?
  • What would you really like to do?
  • What income would be satisfactory?
  • How do you want to spend your working time?
  • How do you want to spend your leisure time?
  • What could you do to improve your most important relationships?
  • Is there a dream that you have?
  • What do you find interesting and inspiring?
  • If money were no object, how would you spend your time?
  • Are you putting anything off until you feel “ready”?
  • Describe your perfect day.
  • How do you ideally want to receive and give your love?
  • What types of positive changes would you like to see in your life?  In your relationships?
  • How would you like to grow as a person?

Ready, set…. dream on.  List everything you have ever wanted.  This is your personal wish list.  Add anything and everything, no matter how unrealistic it might seem at the moment.  Don’t limit yourself by judging your dreams or deeming yourself unworthy.  No dream is silly or unimportant.  Set your imagination free.

I want… I wish….I hope for….


Amenities for Airbnb & Boutique Hotels

Besosa Designs is offering Woodbury & Co.’s  perfectly packaged set of delightful amenities for your guests.

Woodbury & Co. is a modern twist on the old apothecary feel.  Using a medicinal style bottle, the collection will blend in with most any room setting while standing out amongst its competitors.  A unique batch number is placed on each bottle to make the set feel unique to that user.

The brown sugar and fig scented set comes with an Old Town Apothecary bag:

Woodbury Pouch copy

The set includes shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion in 1.7 fl. oz. bottles.

The set also includes shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion in 1.0 fl. oz. tubes.

Also included in the pouch are a 1.2 oz (28 g) bath bar, a 0.75 oz facial bar, and shower cap.  (Individual items are also available by the case.  Visit the SHOP tab for more details.)


Wrap your guests in comfort throughout their stay.



travel & experience

The Best Version of Yourself

Besosa Designs is a lifestyle blog that is part design resource, part inspiration resource for mazimizing your life adventure.  I invite you to  “Design Your Life.”  Areas of Life Design include goal setting,  personal fulfillment, travel and adventure, and life experiences. My Facebook page is my way of creating a community of people to support eachother on their Life Adventures.

Fun friends vacations beach conceptIstock: molchanovdmitry

In my blog series, I offer inspiration and advice to help you plan and enjoy those experiences that will result in your best personal adventure.  This means something different to each person.  Success means entirely different things to different people and even to ourselves depending on the stage of life we are currently in.

I invite you to become the best version of yourself.  You are special and unique —  there is no one who can ever take your place.  Please join me on this journey of adventure and discovery.




Residential Design

Lovely Autumn

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  I adore the glorious colors of fall foilage and the cooler temeratures bringing on increased energy.  Perhaps it is the association of the new school year that I associate fall with a fresh start.  Or it might be that kick of temperature change along with seeing nature let go of summer with such a graceful transition that autumn inspires taking on new adventures in our lives.

PEXELS FREE autumn-colorful-colourful-33109Image via Pexel 33109

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.”                 –Stanley Horowitz


There are so many ways to celebrate the season.  The cooler weather encourages us to clean out our homes, taken on challenging chores, visit orchards, perhaps even start something new that is good for us like a hobby or carving out some time for ourselves.  Give yourself plenty of time to plan for and enjoy Halloween.

PEXELS FREE boys-carved-pumpkin-celebration-1371178Image via Pexel 1371178

A thousand flowers baked by the sun

Their scent dampened by dew now that night has begun

A distant church bell’s toll is eerie tonight

Young children notice all take takes flight

Close friends and neighbors we don’t recognize

Until small friendly voices dispel their disguise

A pumpkin, a candle, a sheet becomes ghost

Our path is so marked by our spooky host

With mild trepidation we approach the next door

Each house has become a free candy store

The night fills with quick footsteps, the shouts that we utter

A spring in our step, inside us a flutter

The beauty of autumn, the mystery of lore

A witch on the wing, a bat hangs from a door

Countless enchantments to be heard, felt and seen

On its once a year visit, once again — Halloween

Poem by Adrian Jennings

PEXELS FREE art-autumn-colorful-33577Image via Pexel 33577

Autumn is such a fun time for crafts or and adding fall decor.  You can let your personality shine, such as with this adorable porcupine set in a nest of warm color –shown above.

IMG_4995 by meImage & Design by Lauren Richardson

Head to your local craft store and grab a grapevine wreath, some colorful leaf stems, berry stems (anything to add interest and texture), your favorite ribbon (with wire) and a bow maker (it’s easy after a few practices), wreath hangers and make yourself a dazzling wreath.  I love to have one for the outside of the front door and one for the inside of the front door.

IMG_4997 by meImage & Design by Lauren Richardson

Crate and Barrel’s Suki Collection offers a modern and fresh take on autumn and Thanksgiving table decor.  The Suki Collection hosts runners, tablecloths, and napkins in a fresh, stylized floral in two colorways.

If you like the idea of adding acorns to your decor, be sure to pop them in an oven for a few minutes to remove any organic material or purchase faux acorns from any variety of retailers.,eid-ko

Enjoy the season.   Enjoy your blessings.

Kitchen Design, Residential Design

Planning and Designing Your Dream Kitchen

Stunning kitchen and dining room in new luxury home. Wood beams and elegant pendant lights accent this beautiful open-plan dining room and kitchenImage by hikersterson via Istock

An Investment

Planning a kitchen renovation can be daunting in terms of scope and budget.  The good news is that realtors estimate that 80% of the investment you make in your kitchen upgrade will be recouped when you sell your house.   Whether you are ready to take the plunge for your own benefit or for resale value, below are some guidelines to help save you time and money with designers, make the process smoother and get you the end results you desire.

Take Inventory

Before getting to far along,  go through all your kitchen appliances, dishes, tools and cookbooks and give away or toss anything you don’t need.  Does your waffle maker just sit there 364 days a year?  Do you really need four sets of measuring cups?  Do you have mismatched dishes and cups that just sit on the shelf?  Once you know exactly what you need to store, finding storage solutions will be more targeted.


The most expensive part of a kitchen upgrade is in appliance reorientation and custom cabinetry.  Depending on the extent of your renovation, it can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $75,000 (or higher).  Consumer Reports offers a monthly membership for $7.95 per month or you can purchase magazines that will get you up to speed on costs.

Form Follows Function

Mom with daughter on kitchen.Image by Vasyl Dolmatov via Istock

Do some research.  Visit kitchen showrooms and gather materials.  Learn what’s possible. Until you do some exploring, you won’t know that you can’t live without that certain something.  Even Home Depot and Lowes have great catalogs that help you understand some of the organizational tools available with cabinetry upgrades.

Create a list of “must haves” and “would like to haves.”  If you are a couple, try to have individual lists as well as a shared list to help designers hone in on those items that are paramount to your happiness.

Consider amenities such as a wine cooler, a gas fireplace to keep you cozy in the wintertime, and storage solutions that will save you from sitting on the floor and digging through cabinets for that certain appliance.  Corner cabinets with lazy susans are wonderful.  Maybe you’re an avid baker, and over the fridge vertical storage will make it easy access to large,  flat pans.  Perhaps having a pull out spice cabinet would make life sunnier.  It may be that a pegged dish drawer would make the daily chore of setting the table and putting the dishes away a breeze.  Consider your height, back issues, arthritis and any disabilities when putting together your wish list.

Function Checklist

  • Will the family eat in the kitchen or dining room?
  • How often do you entertain?
  • How do  kids and dogs impact your layout and amenities selection?
  • Will there typically one cook or more?
  • Where do you prefer to do prep, cooking and clean up? (Your designer will plan your kitchen triangle of refrigerator, sink, and stove and overall layout with these preferences in mind.)
  • Do you need extra counter space?  A bar counter?
  • Do you need a double oven?
  • Will one sink suffice?
  • Do  you have a good-sized pantry?  Do you need extra storage for pots, pans, spices, or wine?
  • Are you interested in switching from electric to gas?  Extending a gas line can be expensive and electric cook tops have improved over time.
  • Do you need additional task lighting?
  • Do you need a home/office area?
  • Do you need a family calendar/scheduling area?
  • Would you like more natural light in your space? (skylilghts, additional windows, enlarged windows, sliding doors, etc)

Base Finishes

Create a file, notebook (digital or paper) or Pinterest page of kitchen designs that you find appealing.  Your designer won’t copy these, but they will provide insight to your taste.  Strive for  7 to 10 images that represent your style.  Try to understand why the images appeal to you.  Isolate the components.  Is it the light?  Copper bowls?  Stone tile?  Dark wood floors contrasting with crisp white cabinetry?  As a couple, strive for images that reflect a combined style. This may be difficult and could require the assistance of your designer, but the clearer you are on what you want, the less time you will spend with a designer.

Base finishes include flooring, cabinet finish, countertops, backsplash and paint.  Appliances should be coordinated as well.  They don’t have to all match but they should coordinate (i.e, black stove and dishwasher with stainless refrigerator).

Finish Upgrade versus Remodel

If you are merely changing finishes, you can do this own your own or hire an interior designer.  If you are remodeling, be sure to hire a certified NKBA planner.  Your kitchen planner might be able to offer you a highly coordinated finish scheme, but different types of designers have different specialties. so be sure to see some of their work.  You might want an interior designer to work with your certified kitchen planner, particularly if you are coordinating open floor plans and want coherence between the kitchen and adjacent rooms. Consider, in particular, any flooring material that will be adjacent to the kitchen flooring material.

Kitchen Flooring Choices

Are you keeping your existing flooring?  Try to get a sample of it so that this can be viewed in the quartz showroom with your other finishes.  You might be able to pull a chip from the corner of a pantry or closet.  If you are making a change, you will likely either choose tile or hardwood.  Tile is easy to clean but can be hard on your back.  If you don’t spend a lot of time cooking, this could be a good choice for you.  If you do select tile, ensure you specify narrow grout lines and a medium to dark grout.  If you have a light-colored grout, you will spend an enormous amount of time cleaning the grout, even if you seal it.  I prefer Carlisle wood flooring for its beauty, but if you are pressed for budget there are many other options.

Don’t purchase budget bamboo — a low price typically indicates bamboo that has not been allowed to harden and it will dent once installed. The article below details more choices and outlines  pro’s and con’s.


Don’t select granite for your countertops.  While it’s fine to use a granite offcut for a small vanity, granite can break upon installation for large pieces.  Quartz, on the other hand, has binders that offer just enough give that their will not be a break upon instlalation.  If you are looking for something subtle in a grey, white, or cream, Corian Quartz® (formerly Zodiaq®) offers regular specials on several colors.

However, if you would like more interest, visual “movement”, and something a bit more lively, Cambria® is your vendor of choice.  You can see Cambria® designs on your own countertops and islands, and more with the  Augmented Reality (AR) app.  How it works it you use your device to scan your counter, then select the design you want, and you will see how it looks in your space.

Visit a quartz showroom to see quartz options in full slab size.  Never, ever order your kitchen countertop(s) based on a small sample size.  Quartz often has wide variation, visual movement, and multiple colors that will not be evident in a small sample.  Consider two coordinating quartz colors if you have two or three countertops.  Once measurements are taken for fabrication, have your designer check with the fabricator to see if there are any offcuts that can be made into a desktop, vanity, or occasional table.  You will pay for the entire slab, so get your money’s worth.


If you want something custom, visit some local cabinet makers.  They should have samples of their work and be able to show you the quality of construction as well as paint and stain choices.  If you like more traditional designs, consider Enkebol architectural wood carving designs to enhance your cabinetry with carving, overlays, fluting, and molding.  Hoods offer another ornametal option.

Kitchen showrooms will offer you many styles of cabinetry, palettes and details to suit your style.  Consider some well-appointed glass cabinet fronts.  Antique glass offers sparkle without a stark view into the contents behind them.

beautiful kitchen with lights on in new luxury home with island, pendant lights, and glass fronted cabinets, and view of dining roomImage by hikesterson via Istock


While backsplashes are not required, and you can simply create a backsplash with your chosen quartz, a coordinating tile can add interest to your kitchen design. Don’t limit yourself to Home Depot!  There are so many beautiful tile designs available through your designer.  Have them take you to a showroom so that you can gather some ideas or ask them to bring you some selections.


While you can purchase refrigerator doors with wood fronts, most of us will select white, black or stainless.  The best selection will be based on your other finishes but keep in mind that stainless will show smudges, so if you have little ones under your roof, be prepared to be wiping appliances down often should you choose stainless.

Plumbing and Cabinet Hardware

Sinks and faucets might be on your renovation list.  These should be coordinated with your cabinet hardware.  Sherle Wagner and Carpe Diem are worth investigating for outstanding hardware selections.

Lighting and Electrical

In addition to offering a planned and coordinated design, another advantage of hiring an interior designer for your kitchen upgrade is to coordinate lighting that will showcase your new space.  Recessed lights in the ceiling, undercabinet lights, lights to showcase displays behind glass, and new fixtures over your kitchen table or island will be important components of a complete and pleasing design.


While this is an easy finish to change, paint color is still one of the items that should be chosen in concert with your other base finishes.

Final Selection of Base Finishes

Before signing on to any of your base finishes, have your designer meet you at the quartz showroom with the following samples: cabinet door, flooring sample,  backsplash and paint.  Ease of cleaning is of utmost importance in considering  all of your finish selections.

Adding In Your Personality

Crocery and roses bouquetImage by Svetl via Istock
Various bottles setImage by Svetl via Istock

Most of your base finishes will be neutral.  If you are selling your home, ensure you select classic, neutral finishes.  If this is your forever home, you can suit your own taste.  Have you dreamed of having a Mexican kitchen since you were 15?  Go for it.

Create another file of images that captures your personality.  Do you love Italian ceramics? Mixed colors of dishes?  Ceramics can brighten up your space.  Think of a kitchen with soft creams, whites, or greys and a bright blue vase with yellow flowers.  Or lavender orchids on a black countertop.  Kitchen mixers come in fun  colors like aqua, red, and copper. You can bring fabric, pattern and color into your space through upholstered seating areas, window treatments, chair covers, table cloths, runners, napkins, placemats, and artwork.  These items will add texture,  color and personality.  The more information you provide to your designer at the outset, the more successful he or she will be at giving you your dream kitchen.  Good design has so much to do with planning all the components together.

Action Items

To recap: visit some kitchen showrooms to think outside the box and see what’s possible, create your wish list of functional and style preferences, create a folder of images for overall kitchen design, base finish ideas, and personality ideas.  Hire your NKBA kitchen planner and interior designer.  The links below will connect you to organizations that can assist you in finding your designers.

Care and Maintenance

Once your new kitchen is installed, be sur eyou have warranties on hand and understand the care and maintenance of your new finishes so that you can enjoy them for some time to come.  In particular, understand proper care of your quartz countertops and islands.  Quartz is non-porous and hard to stain but you should avoid abrasive cleansers and cleansers that contain bleach.   Although quartz is very scratch resistant, you should always use a cutting board and never put a hot pot or pan direclty on the surface as this can cause discoloration.


travel & experience

Maui Jim Sunglasses

Ditch the Glare

My life improved significantly when I took my eye doctor’s advice and purchased a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses.  The glare of the Atlanta sun can be bothersome at the least, and debilitating at best.  Too often the sun would give me a headache, even with an off the shelf pair of sunglasses.

Color, Clarity, Detail

Maui Jim sunglasses have six technologies to pop color, enhance clarity, and reduce glare.  They come with a bit of a price tag, but you only get one set of peepers, and this is one way to take care of them and enhance the beauty around you.

dog surfing on a waveImage by damedeeso via Istock

Recommended by Eye Doctors

There is a reason you will find eyeglass retailers offering these outstanding sunglasses.  They are the best at protecting your eyes.  Check out Maui Jim’s web page and learn about these top rate sunglasses.  You can find a retailer near you or order from  to find your perfect pair. They offer free returns.

Tips for Eye Health and Preventing Macular Degeneration

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a nutritious diet that includes green leafy vegetables, yellow and orange fruit, fish and whole grains. (Tip: load 1/2 your plate with veggies and fruit, 1/4 with protein, and 1/4 with carbs.)
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Maintain normal blood pressure.
  • Exercise regularly.

See for Yourself – Maui Jim’s are Different

Treat Yourself

Treat yourself to a pair for your next vacation or just your next walk around the block.



Boutique hotel design, hospitality design, Management and Policy

Successful Project Management for Your New Build or Renovation

Hotel signImage by BrianAJackson via Istock

Common Problem — Lack of Regular Communication

I attended BDNY 2017 last year.  One the plane ride home, I read the Editor’s Note from Hotel Boutique Design.  Editor Christina Trauthwein had just returned from High Point Market’s Hospitality at Market.  Interestingly enough, the main theme of the two conferences was the same:  getting all the relevant players on the same page and  ensuring communication throughout the process.

So what does that look like and how can you, as a hotel owner or operator, influence this critically important and ongoing task?

Understand Your Architect’s Project Management Skills and Resources

When  first interviewing architects for your project, ensure that the firm has stellar project management skills and adequate staff.  Ask about their project management process — how they manage and measure their projects.  Find out if the firm has a full-time construction manager.  In most architecture firms, there is usually one senior staff member out getting business and another senior person overseeing projects and staff back home.  If you hire a small firm, there needs to be sufficient manpower in place.  Find out what role the office manager plays — often that person is key in getting construction documents moving to the right people in a timely manner.  Ask to speak with former or current clients about the project management ability of any firm you are considering.

architectural drawing paper rolls of a dwelling for constructionImage by Kwanchai_Khammuean via Istock

The Building Process: a Fast-Moving, Continually Shifting, and Difficult Process

Architects are the unsung heroes of our time.  It takes great skill to juggle multiple projects through the various phases and ensure all the right people are being pulled in at the right times.  Moreover, the actions that you witness as an owner/operator are just a fraction of the activities and conversations an architect, interior designer, and other design-build professionals must coordinate to ensure completion of a successful project.

Regular team members include the architect, contractor, project manager, owner/operator,  interior designer, civil engineer, and mechanical/plumbing/electrical engineers.  Every time a single change is made to any of your construction documents, all these people must update their documents to reflect the change.  Revision, revision, revision is a way of life and your final building is a result of all those little details being correctly coordinated.  In addition, the architect must facilitate conversations with county  and permitting officials.  Construction is a fast-moving process that requires unyielding oversight to ensure the end result — your hospitality project — is built the way you want and in a timely manner.

Keep It Simple

I worked for four years with an architect whose project management process was straightforward and did not involve complext software, but it did include consistent communication with the appropriate team members at the correct times.  Different design-build professionals were included at different times depending on the job phase.   As the interior designer, I was involved in conference calls during design concept, and consistently toward the end of the project, as finishes were being installed, right through the walk-through after the close of  the project.

Owners would be expected to be on the weekly call and if not available, to have a representative or substitute join in on the call.  Having a substitute was the exception, rather than the rule.   Below is a checklist I put together that aided me in filling in for the architect when he was not available.   I would take notes and send any unanswered questions to the architect.  Outstanding questions were handled with quick calls or emails with the appropriate people.   Notes from the call, including responses to questions, would be emailed to the entire team by close of the business day.

Weekly Conference Call Prompters — A Checklist

Businessman Video Conferencing With His Colleagues On ComputerImage by AndreyPopov via Istock


  • update from GC – on site this week – project progress
  • pay application status
  • utilities: electrical, cable, telephone,  gas
  • civil, building, fire sprinkler, slab, framing, footer, grading
  • exterior: awnings, other
  • delays, anticipated delays; schedule tracking ok?
  • areas to be addressed from last week’s GC report
  • items in need of resolution
  • outstanding permits (site, sign, exterior)
  • request for information/change order proposals
  • submittals outstanding


  • Art, TV locations, need for blocking, power


  • Interiors


  • ___________


  • Audio/video, TV, voice data, security
  • Equipment


  • Next site visit: ____
  • Off line calls with : ____

This is not a long or hard to understand list of items.  It is weekly attention to these key areas that makes it a useful outline.

Tips on the Bidding Process

Perhaps you have a contractor that you feel comfortable with and would like to do the work for you.  Consider taking the advice of your architect, who has worked many jobs with many contractors and will have a good idea of how they will perform overall.  We would generally send the bid to 5 or 6 contractors.  Not all contractors invited will submit a bid.   You will, hopefully, have 3 to review.  Ensure that your architect issues a standard bid form, to compare apples to apples as best possible.  There will be a low, middle, and high bid.  Be sure to look at the details and how each contractor priced each item.  I’ve seen bids where the final numbers were almost identical but the individual components were off by tens of thousands of dollars.  Do not rush the bidding process.  Allow at least two, if not three weeks for contractors to contact their subs and get solid pricing.  If you issue a bid during a holiday, add in another week as nothing happens during holiday weeks.

A Note on Contractors

General contractors have a difficult job.  It’s such a juggling act to get business, keep business, and manage business.  Low priced contractors have lower overhead, and can therefore offer better pricing but availability can be an issue — particularly when your job has already been secured and they are striving to get new business.  You can feel left out in the cold.  Alternatively,  higher priced contractors have more staff and deeper pockets and you can be fairly certain that your job will be attended to until completion, but you pay a premium for that.  Before you select a contractor, ensure you understand who you and your architect will be working with during the duration of your job.  Often, the person who bids the job is at a higher level in the company and you will be assigned a project manager from the company.  You want to be sure you understand this person’s abilities.

professional engineer worker at the house building construction siteImage by Kwangmoozaa via Istock

Protecting Specified Finishes

Not all contractors will accommodate this request, but if you can get your contractor to purchase each and every finish and warehouse these items until the building is ready for their installation, the interior design will retain its integrity.  If this does not happen, and items are not available, substitutions to original finishes will compromise your design. The more threads that are pulled (the more finishes that are substituted) the more your design will suffer.   The finished look for your guests deserve that you make this a priority with your contractor.  Even if they do not have warehousing of their own, there are so many options for short-term warehousing, that there is no reason to omit this important step.

I recommend that you do not  impose an immovable final deadline on your architectural and construction team.  While  a soft launch can be used to work out logistical flaws, this should be a flexible event.  Of course deadlines are important, and a certain amount of pressure needs to be administered, but things happen in the building business all the time.  If you create a deadline that cannot be moved, all of the finishes, which come in very late in the game, can end up getting replaced by items that are on hand but are sub par.  For a boutique hotel, this is unacceptable.

Fire Marshal

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA)  ensures that individuals with disabilities are able to dine or work at a restaurant as well as an able-bodied individual. The Department of Justice enforces the rules that apply to a restaurant’s building and facilities.

The fire marshal can keep you from opening if the requirements of ADA are not met.  One of your architect’s important tasks is staying up to date on any changes to ADA.  However,  it is still wise to add to your own checklist that all requirements for ADA are address very early on in the process.  For example, you obviously need to include accessible seating into your hotel restaurant but if your restaurant design does not include bar type seating as part of the general dining area, then the bar itself must provide accessible seating.  This includes a companion seat.  If your architect is well versed in restaurant design, this should not be an issue.  Trust but verify!

You Don’t Have To Be An Expert

While you don’t have to be an expert in architecture, the construction industry, or even project management,  you have power as the owner/operator.  You can be the momentum that keeps these conference calls going should that becomes necessary.  Just 10 or 15 minutes a week is usually enough to keep everyone on target and in the know.  You cannot, nor are you expected to manage all of coordination and communication  that must take place among your design- build team, but these regular conference calls can be a key element to keep it all moving forward.

You Got This!

Your role as owner/operator is varied and demanding.  However, you are in your position because you are smart, willing to learn, flexible, and you have a strong stomach!  Recognizing the complexities of the building process will better help you to manage this part of your business.  If you can appreciate the skills and knowledge of the professionals that are making your project a reality while expecting competence from them in return, you will strike a good balance.  Don’t forget that your ability to manage projects and keep a positive attitude can benefit your design-build experience as well as your relationships with other team members.

Don’t ever be hesitant to ask questions if you don’t understand something in your construction drawings or have questions or concerns as the process unfolds.

Owners tend to be euphoric at the beginning of a new build project and angry at everyone by the end.  A good process and realistic expectations will help you to navigate the stress that inevitably takes place at the end of a construction project.  In addition, once you have been through one new build or renovation, and are becoming familiar with the components of the building process, you will have more insight and ability to weather the phases of any future projects.