Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Keepsake for the New Year !

Next time you pop open a champagne bottle, perhaps for New Years or you uncork that special bottle of vintage Cabernet Sauvignon to celebrate don't throw away the bottle! You can turn the labels on those bottles into a personal decorative piece that commemorates the bottles (and memories)  you've shared.
After you've enjoyed the bottle(s), soak the bottle in a tub of water until the label comes off (almost) on its own. Arrange the labels on a wooden board to your liking and the frame it.

It's amazing how sometimes the simplest things can help create a lifetime of memories!  It's a simple keepsake.  Have a safe and Happy New Year everyone.  "See" you all in 2011 . Cheers ! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Future Of Taste: A Great Holiday Read From Standard Magazine And Our Predictions For The New Year

In the design industry, there is a little known secret. All the trends for the year are actually set at the end of the previous year at a secret meeting. A cabal of industry insiders gather in the Autumn to discuss the future season, what will be hot and (perhaps more importantly) what will be not.

These are the Tastemakers.

The Holiday Nostalgia issue of Standard Magazine took us into the world of the Tastemakers' Dinner, where the future is made.

Ok, so maybe it's not that dramatic, but the Tastemakers' Dinner certainly was an exciting place to be for anyone creatively inclined! Plus, there was delicious food and great wine.

The Tastemakers' Dinner, hosted by Kelly LaPlante of Standard Magazine, was a collection of sixteen talented and creative individuals involved in various industries. The media world was represented, as were the design and artistic worlds. It truly was a meeting of the minds, full of friendly and interesting people! And the wine! Did we mention the wine?

Our own Erica Islas was at this dinner. Each of the guests were asked to fill out a card about their predictions for the trends in the upcoming year, but who can really focus long enough in such an amazing atmosphere to write down a complete answer to such a question!

Erica Islas wasn't able to completely fill out her answer card because:

a) she got a little carried away with the open bar... how could she resist?

b) she was too engrossed in conversation with David Metzler of Free Range Media about the future of reality television. (Snooki's getting her own spin-off?!)

c) she may or may not have dropped her pen in the punch bowl and couldn't find it later when she had to answer the question.

d) all of the above

Now that she's managed to find her pen again, she's decided to jot down a more thorough answer to the question.

So, how's 2011 going to look?

We will see use of uplifting color as we exit this recession – people are starting to spend again!

Spending doesn't mean wasting, though and people are ready to renew, reuse and recycle – they'll invest in the right pieces for their home.

Everyone will crave custom, bespoke design – Form Follows Function!

Mixing metals will become more popular. EMI has been doing it for years, but you’ll see more gold and silver together – Don’t be afraid! If it’s done on the runway, you can
 do it in your home.

We'll also see juxtaposing details and more avant-garde design – EMI is doing it with their kitchens and baths: traditional vanities and cabinetry get modern edge detail countertops. Modern cabinetry will get a classic, traditional edge detail countertop. We'll see a rustic look combined with BLING and glamorous, blinged-out rooms with a pop of rustic.

People will be pushing the envelope with original BOLD art.

Design is moving in a whimsical and playful direction, so we will be seeing a lot of artisan accessories with lots and lots of colors.

Oh, and so much more! Just stay tuned.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Day In The Life (Of Me)!

Rise and shine!

It's 7:00 am and I get up and kiss my hubby good morning, but before long, it's time to get the day started!

To Do: shower, coffee, get dolled up, make school lunches while the hubby makes breakfast for the kids (tag team!)

8:45 am - Time to get the kids to school and head over to Cox Paint Center for some morning shopping!

No time to linger! By 9:30 am, I'm at my first job site visit. I only have a few minutes to pick out the grout before my next appointment!

At 10:00 am, it's time for a meeting with photographer Laure Joliet about shooting my latest finished project. She likes it!

11:00 am, the kids are in school and it's time for me to volunteer in my son's art class. Don't disturb the artist!

On my way back from art class at 12:00 pm, I head to the car wash. The truck is happy now!

At 12:30 pm, I'm snacking on some strawberries, waiting for a client at HD Buttercup, fantasizing about lunch at Beacon later. Maybe I'll go!

12:45 pm, time to call my mom! Just to say 'Hi'. I take a minute to check some e-mails, Twitter and Facebook.

Oh, and put on lipstick.

1:00 pm, meeting with client at Rug Warehouse! Maybe a Persian rug? Or a custom Sisal? Oooh! We found a gorgeous Nepalese rug!

I look at my watch and it's 2:00 pm! Where does the time go? I'm still shopping. Now I'm at Berbere Imports, looking for goodies for the Malibu project. Gotta load up the truck!

2:30 pm, starting to regret I wore 4 inch heels...

I swing by the office to check in, check my e-mail and finish up some paperwork, 2:30 pm. It feels good to get off my feet for a quick minute!

That's enough shopping for now! I've got another client meeting at 4:30 pm at a client's house where we try out some rugs and place an order.

Pull into the drive way, now 6:00 pm. Oh! It's so good to see the kids! Jumping up and down (all of us!) Time to get some kisses.

6:30 pm, it's Tuesday night, which means family dinner at my mom's. Looking forward to some homemade Mexican cuisine!

Oo! Mail! My new book came today!

7:00 pm, at my mom's and my stylists (my sisters, Malisa and Penny) are here with some new shoes for me! Oo! and a couple of outfits.

8:00 pm, dessert and coffee.

Oof... day's almost over! 9:00 pm, I'm back home and getting ready for bed! Where do the kids get all this energy?! I just want to go to sleep because tomorrow's a new day ... with a whole new list of things to do! I love it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Old Style, New Interpretation: Taxidermy In The Modern Home

Serendipity seems to be the name of the game for us at the Big Bear project. Last week, I stumbled upon a great set of antique skis. Now, it's with the antlers, as it turns out, re-imagining and reinventing taxidermy is becoming popular among designers.

In the premier Fall issue of Malibu Home Magazine, This feature talks about the rise of a more animal-friendly form of taxidermy. These projects aren't trophies, but thoughtful works of art made with animals which have died from natural causes.

I am seeing antlers and deer heads in almost every shelter magazine and design catalogues. 
Restoration Hardware offers a varied selection of realistic looking cast resin antlers. But for those of you who might be squeamish about having a real (or realistic looking) taxidermy head in your home, there are couple of cool, modern alternatives, like this white lacquer deer head. Ruby's Lounge on Etsy also offers these paper resin mounts, for a more whimsical design.

If you want to go green, there are even deer heads made of recycled cardboard! These have to be assembled like a 3D puzzle and would make a fun addition to a game room.

This coincidental trend couldn't have come at a better time since a pair of mounted antlers would be the perfect addition to the chic cabin-in-the-woods.   Although I hate trends, I have to say,  all these different interpretations of antlers and taxidermy are pretty cool and edgy and I find it to be a timeless trend, that will carry on for many years, as it already has, IF done right. 

We made our purchase of these antler's this past  weekend.  This particular find is a rare vintage mount that managed to find its way from Montana.
Don't worry, though. These are naturally shed, so the animal didn't have to meet an untimely end.

Honestly, I find the full head mounts a bit sad and creepy, but I still like the look of real antlers. Naturally shed antlers let me have the best of both worlds: a timeless traditional look without the traditional means.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fortunate Find For The Big Bear Project!

As many of you might know, the Big Bear project is underway and we're in the process of turning an old property into a seasonal escape where we can build great family memories.

We got lucky this week when we stumbled upon a great addition to the Big Bear project at the Timothy Oulton showroom at HD Buttercup. We came across this pair of vintage German skis and poles dating from around the late 1930s. These hickory flat top skis come complete with bamboo ski poles and original metal "bear trap" and leather bindings for the feet. At the bottom of each pole, there are leather wrapped metal rings for extra support in the snow. With winter right around the corner, this is just what we need to make sure our snowy getaway has a warm and cozy atmosphere.

The authentic, pre-fiberglass era skis would make an organic addition just above the mantle or master bedroom headboard. Or casually leaning in a corner, they would add extra character and atmosphere to the living room as they recall simpler times of coming out of the cold, shaking off the snow and sitting in front of a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa.

Shopping accessories like a Pro.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fabrics make a World of a difference

This lil' girls room we designed is super cute and sophisticated. I especially love the fabrics we selected here for 9 year old client. Kravet and Duralee mixed together ! = Happy Client , Happy Me. 9 year old client knows great fabric when she she's it.

Another fun project for the books.

'Course this Heading on both Sheers and Drapes "Goblet Pleat" is delicious!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Little Changes - BIG results

This formal living room was once an out of scale, dreary room. Today , thanks to the EMI Interior Design team , we have transformed this room to an inviting timeless space. Here's how we did it.

These Before photos show the proportions are all incorrect.

First to go was the out of scale fireplace surround. Next, floors were refinished a dark walnut stain. Then we designed and custom build a fireplace surround with slate and wood which is perfectly proportioned for the space. Lastly we chose furniture and and drapery that was appropriate scale for the room . The result is the gorgeous room above. Cocktails anyone?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Taste Maker's Dinner

It was with great pleasure that I attended Standard Magazines' intimate Taste Maker's Dinner hosted by the ever so gracious, style maven Kelly La Plante last Thursday evening.

The evening was truly enchanting.
One of my favorite moments of the evening was when Kelly greeted us each individually at the top of the stairs and pointed to our spot at the breathtaking dining table setting which was elegantly compiled by an incredible collection of vintage finds. That was the perfect prelude to the rest of the night.
The company, conversations, laughter, music, food and drinks was delightful. What seemed like a 2-3 hour evening was actually 6 hours ! Time just flew by! Honestly lost track of time .
I am thrilled and honored to have been part of such an amazing group of people aka Taste makers.
Good Times.

Friday, September 17, 2010

REAL SIMPLE - Decorating with Gray 101

Love Magazine Day ! Especially when you see you've been "quoted" in one of them.

It was a great pleasure interviewing with REAL SIMPLE magazine for their article on Decorating with Gray. A great compliment to be asked to give design/color advice.

The article is in this months issue - October 2010.

Thank you Anna Jane Grossman! The entire article is fantastic !

More design tips for working with Gray :
Perfect Taupey Gray is Revere Pewter from Benjamin Moore- HC-172

This medium toned gray is also great for Trims and Moldings, it enhances architectural details in both a modern space and also a traditional space. It is soft and on the warmer side.

Chelsey Gray HC-168 from Benjamin Moore Is a much more Deeper tone Gray- it is sophisticated and very neutral. I love this for either a modern Living room or formal living room that has antiques such as Biedermeier furniture, or rich woods, It can easily be paired up with yellows, greens, oranges.

Gounlet Gray SW 7019 is another rich, sophisticated deep gray made by Sherwin-Williams. This could be a great color for a Media Room and work incredible with jewel toned colors such as Teal , or Aubergine or Navy.

The deeper Grays are also a Fantastic option for art walls – because it acts as a neutral, and it has depth.

Tip for working with Grays, keep contrast levels subtle and soft , for a sophisticated more tailored look. Don't forget ceilings..... Use lighter shade of gray on ceiling .

Gray can have a “reflective” metallic attribute, light shadows are incredible with Gray, so why not take this opportunity to play on that and bring in Golds, Silvers and Metallic finishes into room for a sophisticated elegant room.

Speaking of Metallics …….
Ralph Lauren has a Paint line called Regent Metallics- I love Silver Plated RM13 for Hallways – because it is metallic it has reflective qualities , and catches light beautifully and adds Drama to what would normally be a boring hallway.

Hope you'll pick up your October issue of RealSimple and see what the other experts across the country have to say about "Decorating with Gray".

Monday, September 13, 2010


Custom millwork is one of my favorites things to design as an interior designer , it's the only architectural element of the room sometimes !

Bookcases are exciting to design, especially if you have a client who is a world traveler and has an exquisite collection of art and sculpture. Lucky for me, that was the case here. This particular client has one of the most amazing collections of "stuff" I've ever seen.

We haven't photographed the completion of this room, but we custom designed and detailed this bookcase for my client who wanted a bookshelf built around the antique wood train featured here. Of course it's now filled with many books and great sculpture all perfectly stylized and very well lived in. It looks even better, now that it's all filled.

Here's a great link for inspiration of other AMAZING and UNUSUAL bookcases. Enjoy !
35 Really Unusual and Desirable Bookshelf Designs.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Launch of Standard Magazine

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Standard Magazine . An eco-magazine where sustainability is not touted as a special feature… it is bottom-baseline criteria. Standard was created by my very dear friend Kelly La Plante. She is an extrodinary interior designer who inspires me and is passionate about introducing us to new eco-product and design and more importantly educating the world that "Green is a Standard , Not a Style".

Before Kelly launched her magazine we had lunch at the SLS , as I wanted to go there to find inspiration (Phillip Starck) for my latest Big Bear cabin project. As we talked about my project and got deeper and deeper in conversation about it , she asked " are you going to make it eco-friendly?" nodding her head. And then it occured to me.......that I hadn't thought about it, and my answer was "Yes, why not? " Why not make the effort and make smarter choices in materials ? I wouldn't be compromising the design. Anyhow, to say the least, I was insprired as Kelly gave me some great tips and product info. It's not like I haven't done it before. I try to design with sustainable materials and often as I get the opportunity. Now with the launch of her magazine , I won't be the only one getting inspired . I hope you will enjoy the very first issue of standard Magazine, which is remarkable and first of its kind. I honestly couldn't get enough. Congratulations to Kelly and her incredible staff ! Your magazine Rocks !

Kelly La Plante and Erica Islas at the SLS

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Press : Nesting Newbies issue No. 4

Check out the wonderful press my colleagues and I just got
on Nesting Newbies Magazine Issue no. 4
for our ProBono Work at Upward Bound House.
page 176 - 179. Click on link to read.
Thank you Nesting Newbies Jodi Murphy, Vanessa Kogevinas, Laure Joliet and Vanessa De Vargas .

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Newsletter Archives

You can new view our past newsletters by clicking here . Get the latest news, great design tips and much more.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

HGTV's Blog Post Today June 30, 2010

"The always busy Erica dishes on a challenging kitchen remodel and what she loves about vacationing south of the border." - HGTV

Click here to read HGTV's blog post on Erica Islas

Thursday, June 3, 2010


A gift from my Grandmother in 1983 ! , might have been where my passion for interior design began.

This Interior Design Planning Book Kit from Crayola was the perfect little gift for the artist in me. I remember countless hours of drawing and re-drawing rooms! It came complete with vellum , a T-square , templates and much more! So you could create and re-create over and over. I loved it!

Honestly, Art, Architecture and Design is in my blood, I was born an artist, it wasn't just this cool toy that I got for Christmas When I was 10years old , that made interior design so appealing to me. I was the little girl who enjoyed hanging out with Daddy after school and in the summer at construction jobsites watching renovations. I loved it. I couldn't wait to see the next creative transformation.

My Dad, forever in my eyes, is the most creative man I know, That's really where I would say I get my "design eye"..... Having my Crayola Interior Design Planning book was simply the icing on the cake.

This Crayola Interior Design Planning Book is so old and brittle, It's time to frame the little guy!
Thanks MOM ! for never throwing out this awsome Keepsake ! Moms are The Best !

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recycled Glass Tile

If I got paid for every time someone emailed me "where can I get the recycled glass tile that you used in the kitchen Back splash of this photo I found on ? ", I'd be Rich !

I'm kidding....but really , at least once or twice a month I am asked this question. We actually think it's kinda funny here in our office , because it is the most asked question by our HGTV fans.

I designed this small Beach Guest House Kitchen 5 years ago and it's no surprise that we are still asked this question. It's an incredible tile and It's a timeless look. So what tile is it?

The answer: Lunada Bay Tile - Sumi-e, It is a recycled glass mosaic. It comes in a variety of colors.

For the kitchen we used cool ones of grey, blues, reminiscent of the beach ocean water. It comes in two finishes, either natural or silk, for this Kitchen I chose silk.

Sumi-e are hand-poured and will have a certain amount of variation and variegation of color, tone, shade and size. Additionally, you will notice creases, wrinkles, shivers, waves, bubbles topped off with a natural surface to catch all forms of light for a brilliant effect. These characteristics of natural glass and only serve to enhance the final beauty of the installation.

This tile can also be used in bathrooms, as We did here on a project I worked on with my friend /colleague, Gabriella Toro. In this bathroom we used warmer golden tones of the same Sumi-e line.

This tile is post-consumer recycled glass , and so it gets the thumbs up for eco-friendly product.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

WestWeek 2010

West Week 2010 - Pacific Design Center - West Hollywood , CA

West Week 2010 was like no other.

I've been attending West Week events since '98 and I've never had so much fun as I did this time. Yes, the parties were fun, and the book signings super cool , the showrooms were all decked out and stunning as usual, and the panel discussions I attended were very informative......BUT what I liked best was the company I was with. Hanging out with my colleagues at different events during West Week was totally Fun and inspiring.

All because I became a member of DNG ! 10 months ago.

I've met some of the coolest, talented designers around and have become really good friends with a lot of them. It's amazing what happens when a bunch of designers get together, we all share one common interest and inspire each other.

I have to wonder if it's like this everywhere ? Or is it just us? Are we just really lucky ?

In any case, This kinda reminded me of stories I've read about the classics (designers, architects and artists) back in the days when they hung out together , whether they were partying or collaborating. One story in particular that I find amusing, is the story of how the Nelson Ball Clock came to be.....if you haven't heard the story here it is :

George Nelson often collaborated with other designers, and in the case of the Ball Clock (1948), Nelson was at a dinner party with Isamu Noguchi, Irving Harper and Bucky Fuller. As the story goes, they were all sketching and "we'd had a little bit too much to drink," said Nelson. In the morning, they saw a drawing of the Ball Clock on a roll of drafting paper. "I don't know to this day who cooked it up," said Nelson. "I know it wasn't me. It might have been Irving, but he didn't think so. [We] both guessed that Isamu had probably done it because [he] has a genius for doing two stupid things and making something extraordinary out of the combination. It could have been an additive thing, but we never knew." Nelson Ball Clock is Reproduced by the Vitra Design Museum.

Photos above: Me, Vanessa Kogevinas, Vanessa De Vargas
Sara Kelly, Kelly LaPlante, Me, Lynnea Schwieters and James Saavedra

Lynnea, Rachel Winokur, Carlo Rios and Me
Me, Lynnea, Typhanie Peterson, and Linda Graveline

Friday, March 19, 2010

Think Like a Designer

There is so much product our there these days, that you should not have to go with the traditonal tub filler we are all used to seeing. Be creative, be different, think like a designer.

Here are two tub fillers I specified for my current Santa Monica project. They are both incredible and unexpected .
Yes, the tub water looks green, that's because this infinity tub has the chroma-therapy option, to see the color changes, check out the video below .

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tree House

Now that's a Tree House ! What better way to get your kids to play outside? We spend countless hours out in our backyard with our children, and all the neighbor kids and parents. We are loving our tree house and all the added little details. Most recently we added the sandbox and the recyled tire "rubber bark" to the play area under the tree house. The rubber bark is perfect for softening the fall, aesthetically it looks great (kinda looks like the water), and most importantly It is enviormentally friendly. So forget about Nintendo, PlayStation, Wii or what ever video games you play, get out there and play outside ! Use your imagination.
Kids love the Sandbox! And Mom loves the blue rubber bark!
Who's going down the super slide first? There is only ONE way down !

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Palms Springs Inspirational Trip....

Ranch Style houses ...My Favorite and next Future "Dream" House. So what makes these Ranch Style homes so great? Truly they are very simple architecturally speaking, yet that is what I love most about them along with these other typical features: They are Single story, Low pitched gable roof, Deep-set eaves, Horizontal, rambling layout: Long, narrow, and low to the ground, Rectangular, L-shaped, or U-shaped design, Large windows: double-hung, sliding, and picture Sliding glass doors leading out to patio, Simple floor plans, Emphasis on openness (few interior walls) and efficient use of space , Built from natural materials: Oak floors, wood or brick exterior, Lack decorative detailing. Although Ranch Style homes are traditionally one-story, Raised Ranch and Split-Level Ranch homes have several levels of living space.
Driving to Palm Springs this past weekend inspired me to take a detour and drive thru the great neighborhoods and look closely at the architectural details . It is here where these homes can be seen, set perfectly in front of the mountains and nestled in between palm trees. It was a perfect weekend field trip.