Simplify! Simplify!

The need to own and to consume more and more things seems to finally be leaving us cold and unsatisfied.  Many of us have begun looking within ourselves for a vision that will satisfy longings.  Interior design styles are reflecting this shift.  Current design is becoming less cluttered and rooms are less packed with "stuff".  If you take a look at design magazines, you will notice this trend. I have seen my own tastes change to lighter color palates and "cleaner" rooms.  I love quiet, soothing rooms where the colors meld together to create a relaxed atmosphere. Too much clutter actually makes me feel anxious.

I've been thinking lately about what captivates me the most about a home.  Of course, I love fine homes but regardless of a home's grandeur or modest-ness, its location or style, a few key traits remain constant:

1. A feeling of welcoming graciousness.

2 A feeling that the home reflects the personality and values of its inhabitants.

3. I don't care for a home that looks staged or overly decorated by an impersonal designer. A talented, caring designer follows their clients tastes and helps the homeowner's home reflect the family.  They guide their clients selections as to nuances like scale and proportion and they offer their vast resources to them but the designer does not dictate!

4.  I find joy in seeing a simple gesture of caring like a vase of tulips on the kitchen table to brighten a dreary winter's day.

5.  An appreciation of beauty and comfort that is captivating in the home.  It is exhibited in numerous ways such as art, photos, a soft throw over the arm of a sofa, and fabrics with a fine hand.

Even though the world is moving at breakneck speed, the art of living well is not going out of fashion.  The art of living well at home is at the heart of having a fulfilling life.  We can increase our standard of living, our wired-ness and busy-ness to the point that we have little time to enjoy it.  We find our happiness in our simple ability to take pleasure in the moment.  I encourage all of my readers and clients to make time for grace and to enjoy their homes in 2015!  

July 21,2013 What's Your Style?

No, you are not allowed to say that you don't have a style! 

Everybody has a personal style but they might not know how to verbalize it. 

Finding your personal style is about tapping into your feelings.  What emotions does a particular color, fabric, lamp, chair or whole room evoke in you?  Have you ever walked into a house and known, instantly, that your family would be happy there? 

Start thinking of the story you want your home to tell.  What do you want your surroundings to say about you, your family, it's past, it's present and it's future?  How do you want your house to FEEL?

This way of thinking, of feeling, about your home is paramount.  The only way your house will ever be truly yours is if you put some of yourself into it.  I cannot tell you how many times that I have walked into a home and known who the designer was.  A home should look like the person who lives there and should not reflect a designer's personal style.  I have also seen many homes that looked exactly like a retail furniture showroom.  Everything was perfectly "done" but the result was soulless.

So, dig deep into yourself.  Take the time it takes.  Slow down.  Notice things.  Think.  This may seem odd---it is not second nature to many---but questioning why you like a room in a magazine photo or why you feel good in a certain place will help you get going.  It is a process.  You are more creative than you think! 

  When I am working with a client, I endeavor to get to know them and their family.  I have to be able to help them understand how they want to live so that I can help them connect it to the reality of how they are actually living and who they are.  (No, you can probably never have white carpeting if you have children even though it looks so pretty in the pictures!) 

Start now.  Carve out some quiet time to reflect on how you can bring more of your heart and personalty into your home.  Without meaning in home decorating...the expression of our beliefs, values, loves and dreams---we have only a pointless display of material goods. 


Dallas Market Trip

                                                      BLOG June 22

                                                    Dallas Market Trip

My husband Paul and I returned yesterday from a trip to the Dallas World Trade Center for me to get some inspiration and to do some shopping for clients.  Although I am much closer to the Atlanta market now that I live in Nashville and Chicago is a very easy flight, I prefer Dallas.  It is a wonderful, large, well organized market.  However, much of the reason I like Dallas is that it is where I began going to market some 35 years ago.  I have developed great relationships with so many of the showroom owners and vendors over the years and it was such fun to see friends that I have not seen for several years now.  It was flattering to have so many people recognize me and call me out by name when I entered their showrooms and sobering to realize that we were both very young when we began doing business together.

This was a full blown show so the temporary exhibitors were open and that is always interesting. Some of the better ones end up having permanent showrooms and it is fun to separate the wheat from the chaff. Some of them were very exotic and there was a special section that I really enjoyed of handmade crafts from around the world.  Many were from small women’s co-ops that were the result of entrepreneurs that were able to get their business going through micro-loans. I love these programs!  Some were the result of philanthropic groups that have worked to help refugee women or disadvantaged women get a new skill and start.  All were fair trade.  They were all going on to the Santa Fe craft show which I would love to attend one summer.  I hear it is fabulous!

Fabrics continue to improve and I just love them!  I can barely make any money because I cannot resist buying fabric samples because they are just so beautiful!  Fabrics made with CAD and CAM programs are able to create cloth with complex warp and waft combos and therefore different textures and weaves. They are using actual photos and paintings for some of their designs and dyes that don’t penetrate the cloth so that it can be one color on one side and another on the opposite. Cashmeres dyed like that are unbelievably yummy!

We sat in a lot of chairs and sofas.  I have gotten very expert in knowing what dimensions will fit my client’s proportions but I love to have given them all “the fanny test” myself!  Global completion is making good things very affordable and more green options continue to be available.  Honestly, though, nothing is greener than buying quality goods and then holding on to them.  If you have a great sofa, it can be recovered rather than ending up in the landfill.  My den sofa admittedly needs recovering but it is 25 years old and still sits very well and is a timeless design.  Seeing all of these beautiful options may actually have gone a little way toward convincing Paul that we need to do some freshening up! I think all men dislike change and we must approach it gently!  In my experience, however, once it is done and they have a while to get used to some changes around the house, they like them and often think the whole idea was theirs!

Paul has a wonderful eye and terrific taste and although he has trouble imagining that anything that I look at might actually be for our personal use, he is an asset to me on these trips and we had a lot of fun.  I feel like I have been energized and my creative juices are flowing!

A beautiful stairway at a Dallas showroom.  The stair treads are leather.

A beautiful stairway at a Dallas showroom.  The stair treads are leather.

An old Turkoman carpet made into a stunning ottoman. I believe this one is of Russian origin, Caucasian tribe.

Paul and I celebrated my birthday at a Uncle Julio's restaurant  while there.

Great collections of copper ware

This is a magnificent table made in Thailand of reclaimed monkey wood. 

BLOG June 7, 2013 Project Binders

There are a few key things that need to be put into place before you embark on a project.  I previously wrote about getting together a manila folder with photos of rooms and spaces that inspire you.

A project binder is invaluable in keeping a project organized.  An organized project is less stressful and saves money in the long run. 

I like to keep everything in one place in a three ring binder.  Use dividers so that you can label each section.  Add extra dividers with pockets.  You will find these at any office supply store or drug store.  Label your sections as follows:

Contact List:  Names, business cards, and recommendations go here.  This is invaluable! 

Floor Plans:  Put floor plans and measurements in here.

Photos: Insert magazine photos or pictures that you've taken that pertain to this project  in here.

Swatches:  Insert any material swatches here.

Tear Sheets:  Insert any spec sheets of specific pieces.  Also, any manufactures details on specific pieces. 

Quotes:  Any contractor's quotes or quotes on plumbing, lighting, furniture pieces, etc. go here. 

Paint Schedule:  Put photos of rooms with color schemes that appeal to you here or swatches of paint colors that you like.  Pay attention to the colors that you surround yourself with at home and in your closet.  As this evolves, you can create a total paint schedule.  This is very helpful for future reference.  I highly recommend trying to use one trim paint color throughout your house to simplify your life. 

Invoices: Work that you pay for as the project progress goes here. 

Lists and Spreadsheets:  I break down everything detailing estimates and final costs and a spreadsheet tracking all purchases made to date.  Put receipts in this folder.  They can be tucked into one of the envelope dividers until you have time to enter them into the spreadsheet. 

This project binder plus the manila folder that you already assembled with pictures from magazines of rooms and styles you like gives you a solid, organized starting point. 


May 28 Blog Family Wedding

                                                                 BLOG  May 28, 2013

I’ve had a busy two weeks and taken time off from writing about your decorating journey.  My niece, Megan, was married at our Lake Martin, Alabama family home this past weekend and I did the flowers for both the wedding and reception. The wedding was held at a charming outdoor chapel on Lake Martin.  It is accessible either by boat or car and there is a charming, wooded path to the chapel and there are no walls so that the woods are visible on three sides and the lake is the backdrop.  The weather was cool and the light sparkly for the ceremony.  Megan graduated from medical school earlier the same week so she felt happy and carefree having arrived at this point.  Her father, my brother, Tom and her mother Vici are blessed to have a wonderful bunch of friends and family that all lent a hand in the event and the extended party weekend.  They went so far as to provide the rehearsal party site, the reception site, provide a magnificent fireworks display, do the brides make-up,  bake a beautiful wedding cake and cook up a wonderful  Louisiana crawfish boil.  There were lots of willing hands to transform the already beautiful  lake home that was the site of the reception into a truly magical setting!  Megan’s groom  plays fiddle in three bands and all three bands came from Atlanta and provided great music!

I’m home now and just so happy that it all went off so well and really amazed AGAIN (as this is not the first time I’ve seen this) at what spectacular things loving friends and family can make happen when they all come together and share their talents and abilities.


                                                                  BLOG May 6, 2013

What do you need to get started?

Get inspired.

Digging for treasure is the perfect starting point as you begin to decorate.  Finding your personal style need not be labor intensive or overwhelming.  I like to approach this as casually as possible.  I ask all of my clients to start a folder before our first meeting.  I ask them to tear out pictures from magazines that they like and to put them into a manila folder.  Don’t think about the photo or analyze it.  If you like it, tear it out!  Finding your personal style is all about tapping in and considering the feel that you want your home to have.  It’s about having your home tell about you, your family and your life.  Perhaps what speaks to you is a mix of country and retro floral and geometric patterns.  While this may appear to you as unfocused at first, a pattern will emerge over time.  Eventually, you will see that you are, for instance, a “ Bohemian modern with a dash of romantic country and little bit of vintage”.  Once you get your personal style figured out, you can start weaving those things into your space.  The first step then is to start this picture file.  Once you have a collection of pictures, go back through them and ask: “Why am I responding to this?”.

Getting started is that simple!

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Welcome to Carolyn Campbell Interiors

This blog will be designed to lead you down a happy path, free of judgement, bossiness and pretension.

I am passionate about improving my clients’ lives through style, comfort, organization and concepts that are unique to the individual.  I am an expert at balancing design excellence (pattern, color, texture)  with functionality ( space planning, organization, technical/performance requirements) and staying on project.  I want to help you get going on the process and to not be intimidated and to have fun!

 Your home should be an authentic expression of who you are, who you hope to become and it should honor your roots because they have made you exactly who you are today.  That is something worth cherishing and sharing with others.  Decorating is an act to creative self-expression, which is why it’s most often pushed to the side simple because creativity is not seen as a necessity.  Exercising ones creative side is viewed as a luxury, something we can tap into only when we’ve finished everything else.  I encourage my clients to get involved in the creative aspect of setting up their homes.  We all have a creative side.  We simply need to engage it.  Making a home your own really is the spice of life. The ultimate compliment is when someone steps into your home and says, “ This is so you!  I love what you have done!”  

The making of a home is an ongoing process: it’s like a never ending art project, and most importantly, it should be fun!  So….we are a team now.  I wholeheartedly believe that together we can make your home function better, look prettier and make you feel happier.  I’ll give you suggestions every week or so, give you my opinions and ask any questions that you have for me.  Want to get started?