Inspiration: Bathrooms

I’d rather be able to face myself in the bathroom mirror than be rich and famous.
~Ani Defranco

bathroom_blood & champagne


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dark bathroom with fuschia curtains_escapade


Check out more bathroom photos on the Home – Bathrooms Pinterest Board!!


Black Friday: Norma Merrick Sklarek [1926-2012] – Architect

 Hello, loves!  It’s the first Black Friday post of the year, and am I ever excited about today’s featured designer.

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Norma Merrick Sklarek in the 1970s

I usually focus on fashion, interior, and event design, but this week, I want to share someone that has inspired me to be courageous and follow my heart’s authentic desires. There are so many times we look up to others to inspire us…but in reality, we should be measuring ourselves by the person we are today and the person we can be tomorrow.

“The schools had a quota and it was obvious, a quota against women and a quota against blacks. In architecture, I absolutely had no role model. I am happy today to be a role model for others that follow.”

Born on April 15, 1926, Norma Merrick Sklarek was one of the first African-American women to receive an architectural degree, and owned one of the largest women-owned design firms (Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond) in America during the 1980s.

1986 staff file photo of architects from left: Margot Siegel, Norma Sklarek and Katherine Diamond (all A.T.A.)

She was a graduate of Columbia University, but had much difficulty finding a job in the field upon graduation.  Landing a position at the New York City Public Works, she worked there for a while before taking the state test and receiving her architect’s license.  Skidmore, Owings, Merrill then hired her, but she still faced barriers because of her race and gender.  Moving to Gruen Associates in the 1960s and climbing the corporate ladder, she became the leading technical architect for designing the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the Pacific Design Center, and the Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport.

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US Embassy in Tokyo, Japan

As a “highly visible” employee, Sklarek held herself to a noteworthy standard; she was described by colleagues as punctual, and was “mentally the strongest person” Marshall Purnell knew in the field.  Her incredible production management skills and ability to “see in 3D” landed Sigel, Sklarek, Diamond $50 million deals, and she was known for coming in under budget and on time. The autonomous woman she was, Sklarek knew that her passion for megaprojects was where her skills were best used, so she left her firm after three years.

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Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, CA

Because of the era’s racial tension, Sklarek did not always receive honor when honor was due.  But today, Mrs. Sklarek, we salute your passion, ingenuity, skill, and legacy.

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Norma Merrick Sklarek, April 15, 1926-February 6, 2012


Inc.comLA TimesNorthStar News


Wedding Wednesday: Monique + Josh

Everything about this wedding from Style Me Pretty makes my heart swell.

The rose colored flowers, African print bow ties, the flower girls’ head bands,  the red rain boots, the authentic Haitian food, the do-it-together buffet; every detail of this June New Hampshire wedding was well contemplated and executed.  What a lovely couple!

Take a look at the good stuff below, and check out the deets @ Style Me Pretty

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Ivy Blog Signature

“Feed The Soul”: Courage

This month’s theme focuses on “courage” and the ability to find strength in authenticity–despite the fear!


Welcome to the New Year!

It’s been a great entrance into 2013, and I know there is so much in store for those of us who are embracing the opportunity to set out upon new oceans.  The New Year is always a time to reflect on what we need and desire for the next 364 days.  I’ve always been someone who makes resolutions only to find myself at the end of that year complaining about not getting things done.

The reason I usually had things left on the list is because of fear.  I was afraid to move out of my comfort zone, and I was unwilling to let go of things that no longer served me–even if it meant being in that beautiful place I wanted to be.

This year is different.

 I realized around six months ago that I placed more value in my fear, insecurities, and faults than the future I wanted for myself–than who I was authentically. I placed more value in fear of failing (myself or a client) than pushing the design limits.  I would come up with a design idea, write out the plan, then toss the idea (and the desire) in the trash can.  All because I was too afraid to set out on that new ocean.

Since that realization, I spent the next months feeding myself encouragement, love, and as much of the authentic Ivy as I could.  I required myself to design, dream, and inspire myself.  It was hard. I had to acknowledge that small (sometimes loud) voice that said “What if you fail? What if they hate it? What if you hate it? What if they laugh? What if? What if? What if?!” I also had to come to the conclusion that even if all of those negative possibilities come true, there was a host of other possibilities that could also take place.   “What if I succeed? What if they love it? What if YOU love it? What if they are in awe?”

There are so many possibilities out there–negative and positive.  But we have to be willing to accept them as they are and set out on these unknown seas to get to them.  There are storms ahead; winds will blow; we’ll be scared out of our minds.  But we’ll get to those beautiful places…because we had the courage.

Here’s to the courageous you,

Ivy Blog Signature

Inspiration: DIY Baby Shower Gifts

Hi loves!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted (due to chronic illness), but I’m back with a treat 🙂

Baby showers!  I love ’em!  The mini-clothes, the “oohs” and the “ahhs” over imagining the new little one in the cutest miniature outfits ever seen.

The baby shower I attended this past weekend is quite the special one.  My second eldest sister is having my father’s first grandson.
How exciting!  I’ve been dreaming and dreaming of spoiling this baby until he can’t be spoiled anymore…but…that’s not reality.

Truth be told, my family and I are on a very limited budget (we’ve got our own kiddie mouths to feed), and have been since the beginning of the summer.  Fortunately, my sisters and I are a little bit crafty as well as innovative, and we’ve decided to make our own gifts, and spread the love over the years.

Here’s a little bit of inspiration for our spectacular plans, and a few pictures of the final product!

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and here are some quick pictures we took of the lemon scented diaper pail booster, personalized diaper cloths, and 0-9 months clothes separators.  We chose to label the clothes separators up to 9 months because the 1 + 2 numbers were too big to fit on the tags 😦  Nonetheless, they came out pretty awesome, and the lemon scented diaper pail booster smelled amazing!

(pardon  my father’s dining room table…it’s a little messy!)

I hope you all enjoyed and are having a wonderful weekend.

Happy Saturday!!


Inspiration: Change



“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” -Andre Gide

This week’s  theme of the week at VieDesign is change…one of the hardest things to accept about this life.  During the last six months I’ve gone through many changes–some of my own volition, but most it seemed that life had another plan in place she hadn’t made me privy to.

Despite all of the changes that have occurred, the quote above sums up my perspective on change and its place in my life.

I know that I can never sail unknown design seas unless I muster up the courage to let go of what I’m leaving behind.  That may mean relationships, that may mean my ego, a dream room, home, or the wedding your heart’s been set on as a little girl (or boy).  As much as we like to say “we think, therefore we have” there are some parts of life that are beyond our control and change without our permission.  And yet, we should never forget that life has a reason behind these changes.  We may not see them or understand them, but as we hold fast to the truth of change, those reasons are slowly revealed.

Daily I choose to look change square in the face, accept this part of life, and embrace the lessons I am meant to learn from it.

Ask yourself this week, along with me, “What is the shore I must lose sight of?  What are the dreams, desires, hopes, wishes, relationships,  plans, thoughts, that I must let fly into the wind of change?”

You just might be surprised at what you receive upon letting go…

Here’s to a beautiful first week of July.


Black Friday: Designs By Onye

It’s Black Friday here at VieDesign, and this week we’ve asked a phenomenal artist, Onye with Designs by Onye, a few questions about her 20 years of artistry.  Inspired by mathematics and chemistry, her artwork is not only beautiful, but boldly creative and original.

Check out the question and answer session below!

A little about Onye: 

 Born in Nigeria, raised in MD,  Onye attended college at Tallahassee, FL (FAMU) and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. She now lives in Indiana.

Alongside art (beads, jewelry-making, micro-tile print-making & various crafts), her interests include ministry (she’s a licensed deacon), computer & information technology, global culture & unique subcultures, upcycling, interior design & administration.

How did you get started in jewelry making?
I joke with people that ‘I’ve been crafty all my life’, so it naturally makes sense for me to be passionate about jewelry-making. Specifically at age 13, because of my Nigerian background, my mother always had our (traditional African) clothes sewn by a seamstress. One summer, I started to notice that a certain fabric she cut would liberate tiny plastic ‘pearls’ and I would collect them from her cutting-area floor. Carrying them home and I practiced ‘sewing’ them together and created daisy chains (not knowing there was a stitch ‘established’, or a whole culture of beadwork yet to be discovered). I spied a girl wearing one made of seed beads (a fellow freshman at my high school) and asked her if she’d let me borrow the necklace over the span of a weekend. Without disassembling her precious neckwear, I figured out how to recreate the chain with beads I had, then (triumphantly) returned her piece to her. After that I was hooked. ‘All daisy-chain everything’ was my fixation. My initial attempt at a business name was ‘DaisyHaze’ (and I still have the business card!). I harassed my mother at least weekly to allow me to purchase beads at the fabric store alongside her fabric purchasing; I began to examine and compare beads, stringing material, and different beading elements. Since I knew the ‘habit’ was going to get expensive, I started selling my creations to my friends. I even created a ledger book where I wrote up orders for rings, bracelets, anklets & necklaces and tracked all my ‘inventory’. They began to recognize my face at the fabric stores my mom frequented, not for her regularity but because of my tendency to almost always have a list of bead colors that I’d be requesting to be refilled (I had not yet discovered the joys of bead and craft stores). The next evolution occurred when my art teacher of 3 years rewarded my service (I helped clean her room every year before school would let out for the summer) with a trip to a craft store. I purchased my first set of jewelry-making tools, my first Bead & Button magazine, and a modest treasure trove of various beads. I started teaching myself the basics of jewelry assembly and learning about the vast quality differences in beads, as well as learning many of the other techniques and eventually became a subscriber of Bead & Button magazine.

What are the materials that you use on a daily basis?
My life feels somewhat incomplete unless I use seed beads every single day. Whether it’s embellishing an existing piece or creating the framework for something new, 99% of the time, seed beads and monofilament are involved.

What other materials would you like to explore?
I want to explore using sturdy, non-bead materials to sculpt ‘life-sized’ versions of my creations (think: wood slabs, PVC pipe, foam shapes).

What inspires you when creating?
God… what doesn’t?! Art doesn’t just imitate life, it is inspired by it. Specifically and more regularly, I am in complete love with mathematics as my muse, as expressed by the 5 platonic solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron) and Archimedean solids (many combinations of the 5 platonics, too many to name without boring you), as well as chemical structures (which are also very regularly related to and expressed in platonic and Archimedean geometry) my favorite being the buckminsterfullerene a.k.a. the Bucky-Ball, a Carbon-60 molecule shaped like a soccerball and the basis of nanotechnology. The chemical was first discovered and synthesized by Buckminster Fuller.

Do you create any other type of art?
I love isometric drawing and hand-building with clay. I desire in the future to use some of my isometric drawings in screen-printing (which I need to either learn or contract) for interior design & fashions (home furnishings & clothing).

What is your favorite color(s)?: All things Blue, but especially cobalt blue and baby blue (my ‘pink substitute’).

Who are your favorite musical artists? favorite artists?
Music: Sade, Coldplay, The Fray, Imogen Heap, Jem, Bjork, Radiohead, Tori Amos, Natasha Bedingfield, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Evanescence, Mos Def, Common, Talib Kwelli, India Arie, Israel & New Breed, J.Moss, Martha Munizi, Florence & the Machine, Soundgarden, Nirvana, the Foo Fighters, U2, Incubus, Linkin Park, David Gray, Maroon 5, PJ Harvey, Jewel, Kings of Leon, Live, Soundgarden, Lfehouse, Switchfoot, the Cranberries, Augustana, Hugh Masakela, Fela Kuti, Angelique Kidjo, Incognito, Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, Goapele, Ledisi……
(so I have no singular ‘favorite’ is what this superbly-long, unfinished list really says. I listen to what uplifts my soul and/or reflects my emotions. My ears have eclectic taste!)
Bead Art: Valerie Hector, Gwen Fisher & Florence Turnour (BeadInfinitum), Heather Collin, Carol Wells, Eva Maria Keiser
Other Art: M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, Picasso, George Hart, Sandor Kabai

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
Such a loaded question. I see myself as a manifestation of success, and yet still very much a work in progress. As I dream of ‘being’, I begin to see the strategy in ‘doing’. It’s not an easy thing, attempting to live from the center of God’s hand (especially when the art is beautiful, but not yet enough to feed me). I give God praise for blessing me with so many creative gifts, wisdom, insight and most of all, patience. I’m on a path that has been course-corrected many times, has had pitfalls, trap doors, and sometimes even signs pointing me back to what’s behind me. But in all things, I remain grateful, productive, and progressively moving forward.

Sunday Photo: Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I’ve not had a good sweet in such a long time!  Reserving them for special occasions–like birthdays, holidays, and parties–I think the most I’ve had all month is half a cup of gelato! 😦

So when I saw this photo online, I just couldn’t say “no!” to posting it.
I won’t be making this recipe anytime soon, BUT I hope one of you finds enough courage to create these bad puppies instead of salivating at your screen like I have for the past 30 mins!

Happy Sunday,


Inspiration: Designing with Children in Mind

It’s moving time! And this time I’ll have two adults and two children as my beloved roommates.  Per my love for design, I’ve taken up the wonderful task of designing the living spaces within our home.  We’ll be sharing a three bedroom apartment: one master, an office/bedroom, and the children’s room.  My focus for the next few weeks is the living room, as that’s the place we will all share and use the most.

Here are a few tips that I’m using to choose pieces that fit our design philosophy and our family-centered lifestyle.

Use non-traditional pieces for your surface space

House Beautiful

This coffee table is actually an ottoman!  With nice, soft edges safe for children, you don’t have to worry about the little ones bumping their heads or somehow injuring themselves via the hard edges.  It’s also easy to move out of the way for play time.

Use diverse dining room seating

Decor Pad

Benches! Benches! Benches!  My favorite type of seating for when you have children!  Thinking back to when I was a child, it was highly uncomfortable for me to sit in those “grown-up chairs.”  Not to mention, I moved around too much, and had the tendency to rock back and forth in the chair—of course, damaging the legs.  The bench or even a small armless sofa will provide more comfort and make what could be a too formal dining area for children a more homey space.

 Designate areas in every single room

Our Lake Life

Although we’d love to keep all the toys hidden away in the children’s rooms, as active as they are it’s not realistic.  Designate areas within each room for the children by placing commonly used blankets, two to three toys, a coloring book and crayons, etc., in a few small containers.  Slide them under the coffee table; place them into the ottoman, or under the end table.  That way if they’re watching TV or just hanging out, they won’t bring in five million toys and start to clutter.  It’s also a great way to help them feel included in whatever activities may be going on in the spaces.

Here are a few links for more tips for designing with children:

Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!