Garden Inspired Dining
My grandparents had 13 children, so sewing was very important to make ends meet. While growing up, if there were any special occasions that I needed a new outfit for such as a choir uniform, prom dress, etc., my grandmother was my guide and taught me how to make it. Those were the days where we actually had “home economics” in school, so I had already sewn a skirt and a dress by the time I graduated 9th grade. While in college, if I found a unique blouse at a resale shop, I would quickly sew up a skirt to match it to create a custom outfit. For Halloween, I’ve dressed up as a fool with my own design, and to my children’s delight, I also made them outrageous costumes. Now, my son who is attending college has asked me to teach him and we are making the costumes for How to Train Your Dragon and we will attend Comic Con together! In each apartment that I lived, I would also sew my own drapery, pillow covers, and upholstery.
One of tips that I learned with home design is to purchase the entire bolt of discounted fabric pattern instead of buying a few yards. Once you have the ample amount of fabric, you can use it to make many items around the house by mixing and matching different colors and themes. I used to work at a fabric store, so I knew the inventory and which fabric was a good deal at the discounted price. With this home, I started by collecting a beautiful waverly pattern fabric and then used it to make throw pillows, drapery, curtains, duvet covers etc. and then built on that theme of nature/garden inspired decor. So this home has an overall nature theme of birds, bees, plants and flowers. Although my area of expertise is in non-profit work, I love home design and the idea of community organizing with neighbors. In my opinion, our whole life is an art form, and I feel neighbors can be living and working together symbiotically, where everyone is helping each other at the local level and being profitable together at the same time.
My favorite places to shop are affordable locations such as Ross, Marshalls, Smith and Hawkin for Target, etc. I also love to window shop because I find what excites me, and then I always look for a cheaper version of it. Pinterest has become my new mindless fun pursuit, and I have the app on my phone so I’m constantly surfing ideas and pinning them. If there’s something I can’t afford, I will make it myself, search for a better-priced version online, or take a walk through the houseware section of Ross to get ideas. Many times, I also like to send my upholstery fabric to be sewn at Thousand Cranes, an organic traditional Japanese futon store in Berkely because they do a phenomenal job sewing pillow corners in a timely fashion.
When I start any home design project, I always begin with choosing a theme and then selecting fabrics that work well with the theme. I start by sewing the draperies, then the bedding and then adding other parts of the home decor as I progress along. The most difficult part of the design process to me is when I’m designing someone else’s home, and having the discussion of discarding items that they don’t use. Clutter is anathema to good design. Convincing people to get rid of items that they don’t use or need is quite difficult. Most people are very attached to their material possessions even if they never use them, and not tidying up a space interferes with the clarity of the design flow and process.
My current home is my dream home. However, there are always improvements that I’d like to make, such as changing the porch overhang, adding a porch swing and replacing the clapboards outside with shingles. I’d also like to add a hummingbird mural on the side of the house because it’s a symbol of wellness. This area of Oakland, called North Oakland Berkeley Emeryville (NOBE) is a great place to live because of the cohesive neighborhood. We all get along very well with our neighbors and my husband who is a massage therapist, even gives massages to the local teachers and neighbors. His massage spa is located inside our house, so our home serves as both our space for business and for living.
A good home design lifts your spirits, it nourishes you, it sustains you, and it delights you. When I come home, I feel like it’s taking a walk in nature, it kisses me in the face and it’s my own sanctuary. Each morning when I come downstairs, I just appreciate my beautifully designed home, my clean kitchen, my fabrics and art, plants and the cozy furniture; all with a story behind them. It makes me feel blessed and appreciative at the start of each day.