Home Design for Family and Friends

Yesterday was a perfect example of community. Wait a minute – I thought we were talking about home design! We are…-“ish”.

Yesterday evening we hosted a guitar meetup at our house. A guitar meetup is a group of people getting together to play guitar. In this case there were nine of us. We lost a few of our farther flung friends due to gas shortage concerns.

Having friends over intensified my desire to eliminate the back stairs in my house. Why? Because I have a wonderful open kitchen/family space that is great for entertaining. However, the second set of stairs (which we don’t need) makes for too small of a family room. I want to be able to host a larger circle of guitar players. I would like to sit farther back from my TV. I’d like to increase the views to my backyard by eliminating a side wall. More light, more people, more socialization = more enjoyment.

Why did I recently remodel my powder room? It was perfectly functional. However, I did not like it. By changing materials, colors, shapes, and textures, I changed the mood of the room. The powder room serves the exact same purpose but now it makes me happy every time I walk in 🙂 See photo above!

Sometimes we remodel because items are worn out. Sometimes we want to change function or flow. Sometimes we just want our homes to represent who we are at this point in our lives. Most often, we change design because we want to make our homes more functional, comfortable, and inviting for ourselves, our families, and our friends.

Let’s jump back to community. While playing guitar, my next door neighbors needed some help. After sending their upcoming travel itinerary to several of us neighbors, they realized that they didn’t have enough gas to get to their destination. Since there is a gas shortage due to the Eastern pipeline closure, a few of us pitched in and gave them our lawnmower cans full of gas.

Friends, neighbors, community, home.

Call me if you’d like a designer to help you achieve your dreams. Leslie

Mindfulness as a Source of Inspiration

Mindfulness is the practice of “being” in the moment. Practicing mindfulness has reduced my stress, improved my relationships, increased my focus, and enhanced my creativity. Mindfulness goes hand in hand with my thoughts on wellness, biophilic design, and designing spaces to improve and enhance our lives.

When I am able to remain in the moment for periods at a time, I am able to savor and appreciate those moments. What’s also nice about keeping my mind in the present is that stressful events are experienced but they end because another moment comes along to replace the stressful one. Now I certainly won’t say that I am the perfect mindfulness practicioner or that I don’t hold on to stress, but mindfulness helps.

HOW is MINDFULNESS a SOURCE of INSPIRATION for me? When my mind stays in the present moment, I hear what you are saying and feel the emotions behind it. I see how you live. I smell and taste the aromas and odors in your home. All of this input is taken into consideration when creating your spaces. Understanding your spoken and unspoken needs and desires is what inspires me to create unique design solutions for every client.

When my mind is in the present, I find much inspiration in nature. The amazing way that a plant sheds water (shouldn’t your shower glass do the same thing?). The color of light streaming in through a window (the color of light affects your mood and your biorhythm so how do we incorporate that?). The beautiful blending of colors in a sunrise (wouldn’t that make a beautiful color palette?). The sounds of water trickling over pebbles in a stream or washing across rocks at the ocean (will soft close doors eliminate the jarring slams of cabinet doors echoing through the house?) . These observations inspire thoughts of sound control in the home, where and how to bring in natural light and views of nature, color palettes that may invigorate versus palettes that create restful spaces. Those are just a few examples.

Two sources of mindfulness training that I highly recommend are the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA (MARC)and Bliss Body Yoga in Raleigh. No, this is not a paid ad – I am just sharing resources that have been a help to me.

My favorite “teacher” at MARC is Diana Winston, the director. I am able to connect with what she is saying and her voice is soothing and keeps me on track. Some of my favorite guided meditations are the ones when she brings in Michael Perricone who plays Tibetan singing bowls. Of course we each have to find what speaks to us. My cousin finds the Tibetan singing bowls to be a source of irritation.

I love Colby, the owner, at Bliss Body Yoga. Her Monday morning gentle yoga class is an exercise not only for the body, but for the mind. I really need to rework my schedule so I can start attending more often. She has, however, put her studio’s classes on Vimeo so if you can’t make it in person, hop on Vimeo.

If you are interested learning how I can incorporate mindfulness, biophilic concepts, and wellness into your designs, please contact me at Leslie@LeslieCohenDesign.com

Golf as a Metaphor for Life

What I like about golf is that it demands my total attention. It rewards patience, self-control, and SLOWING DOWN. Golf is also social and is played outdoors.

When I finish a round of golf, my mind is clear and my body is, well, exhausted. Oh, and I am hungry:-)

I think I enjoy design for many of the same reasons. When I am with clients I am totally focused on them. When I am designing their projects, I am totally absorbed in developing solutions. My mind stays in the moment. And yes… here we will cross over into mindfulness.

Whenever I stay focused on whatever is happening at the moment, I truly absorb and remember it. I experience less stress. If it is a stressful moment, such as a horrible golf shot, it passes quickly as I must move on to thinking about the next shot.

Yesterday I golfed. I met new people, enjoyed being out in nature, and cleared my mind. I can still visualize the delicate beauty of a grouping of yellow flowers that was blooming alongside the cart path.

In this moment, I’ve enjoyed sharing my experience with you. Next up will be enjoying a cup of coffee on my deck while listening to the birds sing. Then I’ll start work with a clear and rested mind.

We finished just as the sun was setting. Breathtakingly beautiful.

Yes, he nailed that one!

The Order of Things

A phone call with a prospective client reminded me of how many people need help determining the sequencing of their remodel project. With each client, there is an order that makes the most sense for what they want to do.

For example, does it make sense to refinish the wood floors throughout your entire house (including your kitchen) if you plan to remodel your kitchen within a year. What if you end up with a kitchen plan that moves cabinets? Now you have more floor to refinish. Do you really want people tromping around on your new floors for several months even with protection over the floors? Now if the house is empty and you really need to move in, that will factor in your decision. Maybe you refinish everything except the kitchen and create a logical transition point where you can refinish the kitchen floor later on.

Another example… at the moment your budget only covers one of the projects you want to do but you’ll be able to afford all of the projects within one year. Do you come up with a master plan now or just jump in and get work done on one area? If the one area could potentially affect what you can do with the others, you may want to come up with a master plan so your options aren’t limited when you get to the later projects.

As a full service design firm, planning proper sequencing is just one of the areas where we help clients. We want to make sure that you progress in the best manner possible for your needs. That means planning your projects to minimize your inconvenience, make the least mess, eliminate rework, and make the most of your budget.

Cars!

What can I say? I love fast cars and cars that handle well. After driving my Audi Q5 for 8 years I decided I just couldn’t be that “practical” any more so I traded it for an Audi S5. Isn’t she pretty? I’ve only had her since September.

The Corvette was my every day driver and national championship race car for many years. Rhonda the Honda (yes, silly name, I know) was the only dedicated race car I have ever owned. She got towed everywhere because she was setup with such stiff suspension that she was unbearable to drive around town. Plus we had removed all creature comforts such as air conditioning and stereo.

I found a new race community here in North Carolina. It’s not the same as So Cal but then again I have only just started to show up. I miss you SDR, Cal Club, Corvette Club, and PCA friends – you welcomed me with open arms and I treasure all the good times that we had:-)

The Hounds

Tank often sleeps with his tongue out.
Alia giving me the eye!

I thought you might like to see my dogs since you hear so much about them. These are recent pictures. Can you believe that they are 5 years old? The photos are deceiving – he is 80 pounds and she is 60 pounds.

Tank is the one you usually hear in the background. He’s very vocal!

By the way, I have found leather to be the most resistant material to sharp dog toenails. It is also the only material where none of my dogs have ever chewed the corners off the furniture. In addition, leather is super easy to clean.

I’m Back!

I am happy to announce the re-opening Leslie Cohen Design. After 20+ years of running my own firm, I took a little “sabbatical” and tried something a bit different.

I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years building a design team for a design-build remodeler. What a wonderful experience that was. Mentoring the design team and teaching them not only the mechanics of design but how to build great relationships with clients… Assisting with marketing, building new vendor relationships, creating business processes… It was rewarding to be able to use my skills to help another firm to grow.

Now it is time for me to be back in charge of my own business although I do miss the team tremendously. I’ll just have to build a team of my own:-)

Your outpouring of support for this decision has been tremendous. Thank you so much!!! This is an exciting time for me and I look forward to working with all of you. Look for another blog post soon.

Leslie