As I contemplated what to write this week in honor of Mother’s Day, I spent a lot of time filtering through old pictures. Pictures of my Mom and me, me with the kids when they were babies, family pictures, my Grandmothers. Linda and Sadie did the same to. It’s funny to see the different eras our lives span. Linda’s classic photo with her Mom in her mid-century Easter dress, Me with my Mom and my brother with our Kmart special photo shoot (because that’s what they used to do!), and Sadie with her super cute pics that have that ‘90’s look going. It made me quite nostalgic, and really hearing everyone say “kids grow up in a blink of an eye”, its so true.

Dawn

Dawn with her Mom and brother, Sophie, & Cooper at various ages

As I think about those different generations, things were so different. Kids didn’t have the activities they have now, the sports, and sports and more sports. I think I didn’t live that kind of schedule until high school and college. Even now, Sadie and Cooper can talk the same lingo about soccer and ski club because their lives overlap! When I was young, I was a latch key kid at 9 years old, and came home everyday to a few hours of TV. I feel like I may have played one sport, in the summer, maybe.

Now, I can’t stand the Month of May. Trying to manage the schedule between games, practices, rehearsals, performances, try-outs, band concerts, first communions, and graduations is mind-boggling. The phrase, “It Takes a Village” is epic – and certainly true, thank you former first lady and first mom, Hilary Clinton. I wouldn’t be able to survive my crazy work schedule, and the kid schedule without Brian’s help and all the carpools we have going.

Linda

Linda with her Mom, and daughters, Cori and Taylor

But truly, Mother’s Day is everyday. Our kids need to remember that, and so do we. A therapist once said to me, “You truly can’t understand a situation until you have experienced it yourself.” You can try to be compassionate, empathetic, but to truly live it, that is understanding. Friends that have lost Mothers understand this; I see the look that passes between two people who share this sadness. Just like I can know someone who has had a major health scare, we get each other. As Moms, we all know where our Mothers were, either doing a good job, or failing miserably, we all get it. We are both of those mothers now occasionally.

Sadie

Sadie at various stages of young cuteness with her Mom and sisters

If anything, thank your Mom for her good taste or her best effort, or that she has helped you set your own compass forward with your parenting style. Most importantly, honor yourself this Mother’s Day. Whether you are a mom of kids, pets, “husbands”, friends. or even your own parents,  we all do our best and truly, isn’t that all that matters?

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! From our team, Dawn, Linda & Sadie

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LOVEAs Designers, we are always looking for inspiration. It can come from color, retail therapy, vendors, vacations, magazines, nature, and architecture. It can also come from a good meal, a deep breath of fresh air, and a hearty belly laugh with friends.

NYCFriends Rose and Karen in the Merimekko Store on 5th Ave. 

I got all these things this past weekend, on an impromptu visit to NYC. It was a gorgeous sunny winter weekend away with my besties, and it truly energized my mental place, my zen, but most importantly my design brain! Sometime some unstructured time, helps us later “put all the pieces back together again” to create a design masterpiece.

View and girlsSnowy skyline view of Central Park and on foot with Linda Smith, Blulens Design

Inspiration can be drawn from a culinary experience. And every meal in NYC was fantastic. From the Spanish lamb and tapas at Tartulia, to the complex ramen at Ma Peche, to the Italian street fair at Eataly, we ate well! Each of these experiences were truly unique, and very intimate all in the same sense.

NYC foodDelectable dishes, and all sorts of debauchery in Chelsea

Walking around the city during fashion week #FWNY was a treat as well, with extra special window displays, and a buzz in the air with celebrities on every street corner. The link between fashion, interiors, and graphics is tangible, and something to keep track of. A trend on one side, is always and often quickly reflected on the other in the world of design.

NYC Window DisplayWindows during Fashion Week 2014, polka dots? see joelledesign.com

We took pause to stroll around The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and enjoy a glass of wine overlooking Central Park, even in the winter this is a beautiful sight. Such a natural beauty within the concrete jungle is awe-inspiring and rewarding.

NYC: The Met

Truly unique culture is also where it’s at in New York. The performance theatre “Sleep No More” was just that. A dramatically soul wrenching voyeuristic personal experience. The recreated  McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea was live performance art loosely based on the Shakespearean MacBeth, with mind-blowing set designs that the crowd participates in but not, there is no talking and you wear a mask…this cult performance was an experience and truly could set the stage for design trends to come. Dark, mysterious, and yes…sexual…my brain is still trying to figure it all out. See the New York Times review for more thoughts on this performance.

New York….where dreams are made of. And inspiration!

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RED: Go Red For Women & Another Year

hear and wear red

I’m seeing Red. Because it’s February, and my favorite month. February is American Heart Health Month. On February 7th, it’s “Wear Red Day” to support the organization Go Red For Women and Heart Health Awareness. Let’s all wear a bit of red to support this important cause! More women die of heart disease than any other cause. And truly, I could have been one of them.

red pants and hearts1 | 2

Tomorrow February 6th is my birthday, I turn 45! Good! How appropriate that it’s heart health month! Because I have a newly repaired “bionic” heart. Yes, I am old (ish). But I get to see another year. Another year with my kids and family, of health and happiness, of drama and woes. It’s ALL GOOD, because I am here. Yes I dread the wrinkles, and the grey hair, and someone calling me “middle age” (and they did), because I guess I am. It’s ALL GOOD because I am here.

Fashion collage

 Kaftan | Bra | Heels | Necklace | Sunglasses | Bag

On February 21st, I will be honored as a Heart Survivor at the annual Go Red For Women Luncheon and Expo. 1100 women, heavy corporate sponsors. I get to tell my story to the masses about how everything came to be. I can’t believe the company I am keeping. My story sounds “boring” compared to some of the other ladies experiences. But the American Heart Association assures me it is quite moving and important, and people will want to listen. Again, I am here to tell it, with a new and improved heart, when the situation could have been much different. I am truly honored and excited for this experience.

paris and lips1 | 2

Did you know that the American Heart Association funds over 9 million dollars in heart health research in CLE alone? Wow, go Cleveland! What a great place to live when you need heart care.

So I Go Red, for doctor’s to find cures for early heart disease; for my kids to understand the causes and protect their futures; so every woman understands their body and takes pause to listen.

Celine and rug1 | 2

Perfectly, Red is the color of Dawn Cook Design, so you all know I love this color. It’s fiery, and bold, and dramatic, and strong, and I guess it sounds a lot like someone you all know.

So Go Red and enjoy some of these lovely Red images that inspire and move me as we celebrate February!

(See….”Be Still my Beating Heart” for more inspiration)

Cheers, Dawn

Opening Image Sources: 1st image-Five Alive Friday 2nd Image – Atlantic-Pacific

 

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Time After Time: Taking Pause in 2014

kitchen

It’s here. My favorite time of year. A new year, a fresh start. Whether it’s a New Year’s Resolution or a new beginning. It’s a wonderful time to reset, replenish, and regroup. Give your soul a break, or a jumpstart, whichever is needed.

This is the time of year that the entire holiday bustle comes down and we reflect on the blank canvas of our lives. Our walls? Or our beings? It’s time to reset the clock and take pause in who we want to be. Is it healthier, wealthier, or wiser? Or none of these? Can you look around the blank walls and just appreciate the now. The empty canvas. The who you are today, not who you want to be tomorrow.

kitchen and scale w/clocks1 | 2

Sometimes when the resolutions fall short, we look in the mirror and feel regret. But why? We do the best we can. We can stay the course, or try a new direction, but if we stop trying to test time, move time, or recreate time….sometimes the beauty is in the present. In being present, in living in the moment. That’s something I’ve learned along the way.

Clocks and table1 | 2

So embrace the clock. It’s going to keep ticking into the future. It can’t move backwards, only forward. Reflected in our face, or in our homes, let’s turn to 2014 with an open mind and open heart.

Happy New Year, Best Dawn

happy new year

 

Abundance

 

Opening Image Source:Little Helsinki

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Happy 2014

Cook christmas 2013

The Cook Family at the Gorge of Doan Brook in Shaker Heights, Ohio 2013

As we look forward to next year, we are excited to start the year off with a plethora of wonderful clients, tons of momentum from a successful 2013, and lots of great ideas to grow and expand the Blog.

All of our clients this year gave us great joy from artists to art collectors, whether big or small projects,  we loved clients willing to take a risk and knock down a wall or just paint the fireplace a cool color. We got the pleasure to design master suites, teenager rooms, glamour kitchens, and swanky living spaces. Thank you for inviting us into your homes.

It’s a joy to do this job and always fun in the process. Even though our clients entrust their money in our vision, we always want the design to reflect back to the Homeowners heart and soul.

Gingerbread houses

Gingerbread Houses, Mom and Daughter Holiday Event, 2013

A few days ago, Sophie and I made gingerbread houses with friends, and it was great fun and right up my alley to “build a house made of cookies”. So whether it’s a house made of brick and mortar, house of cards, or house of candy, this is my passion and I enjoy sharing it with each and every one of you.

Cheers to you and yours in 2014. May your days be Beautiful and Bright in 2014!

Dawn, Linda, and Sadie

 

Opening Image Photography: Linda Smith of Blulens

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Appreciating Second Chances: A Reflection

Cook family

This week is full of anniversaries. Our 17th wedding anniversary on the 12th. On Thursday the 17th, it will be the two-year anniversary of my heart surgery. Sophie has the same teacher in 3rd grade that Cooper had two years ago. Today is her birthday. All these anniversaries give me pause for reflection.

Coopers class

Dawn with Cooper’s 3rd grade class – Fernway School, Fall 2011

Consequently, this time of year makes me happy, and sad, and melancholy, and….grateful. I have been filled with emotion in October as I recall all the good and bad things that have happened during the beauty of Fall here in Northeast Ohio.

Last weekend, I spent time with college friends. My lovely friend in Lexington, KY is celebrating her one-year wedding anniversary this month as well. As I got caught up with her on how she and her 13yr old are doing, I also got to see the gorgeous wedding photography she had taken at a beautiful Southern estate. She certainly is celebrating a second chance at wedded bliss.

Wedding shotsSecond chances sometimes aren’t as big as what I’ve described above. Sometimes it’s about recycling your grandmother’s favorite chair. Or clearing out the clutter and starting over in the same space. Or just packing up, and moving to a new and different home.

We’ve had empty nesters sell their homes and move into condos downtown. We’ve had people downsize and upsize, and we’ve have clients redecorate the same space many times. We’ve even had clients argue over furnishings in a divorce, and then argue who got to keep the Designer. (For the record, we were able to continue to help everyone!)

There’s so much emotional content attached to our things, our homes, our spaces. But although they are beautiful, (and sometimes heirloom quality!) In the end, they are just objects with a lot of memories, good or bad attached to them.

So in reflection this week of the many anniversaries, and in honor of my lovely friend Natalie, give something a second chance – either in your heart or your home. You’ll appreciate it in the end.

Wedding shoe shot

 

 

Opening Image Photography: Linda Smith of Blulens

 

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Paying It Forward…. Random Acts of Kindness

Princess Diana Quote

When I started this blog, I wanted to discuss more than just Design. I needed to speak about what is important to me. After being where I have been, see (Be Still My Beating Heart….), it’s hard not to be continually floored by how kind and generous people can be. Random people. Everyday people. Yes, we all complain about “those people”, the ones who bother us, drive us crazy, or even those we are just a little bit jealous of. But in reality, there are so many just great people out there. When do we celebrate them? If your life is touched  by a few of them, you are blessed.

And I don’t come at this from a religious or spiritual position. It’s just life. Think about it.

The other day Brian was in the grocery store with the kids, he overheard a woman behind him getting some unexpected bad news on a call. After the call, he asked her ‘How is your day?” When she replied “Horrible!”, he gave the cashier extra money and paid for her groceries, and left, never waiting for an acknowledgment or thanks. How did I hear about it? Sophie told me. So happy she watched, and learned this lesson.

Big or small, you remember these moments. When in the Cardiac ICU, I will never forget the nurse Nancy, who mothered me, and let me grip her hand until it was white, who looked after my parents, calmed my fears.  Now this wasn’t a random act of kindness, you many say it was her job, but she truly cared about me and my family’s well-being. It was much more.

Last night at the Blossom Music Center for the Pixar Concert by the Cleveland Orchestra (which was fabulous by the way…) we had lawn seats and a picnic to celebrate Sophie’s 8th Birthday. While we chatted with the couples wining and dining next to us, the sky opened up and thunder and lighting ensued. Sophie, who still has fear of storms, was not pleased. The couple handed us their four pavilion tickets and said “Happy Birthday” and continued on with their party in the elements, while we enjoyed the sounds of the orchestra in the comfort of the amphitheater.

Friends, and teachers, and mentors, and work associates all influence us with kindness. We all have people we respect in our circles. But think of the randomness. Think of the souls that we are all connected too in some way. I do believe that things all happen for a reason. Good or bad, large or small. Just think about it this week, and take the time to do something a little uncomfortable, a little unexpected, a little kind. But most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself….that’s the hardest part!

What unexpected acts of kindness have you experienced in your life?

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Pattern Play #4: Sweet As Honey: Hexagons

Beekeeping

I know I have blogged about patterns a lot lately, I can’t help it, the geometric pattern play is hot for the moment in design. Right now, it’s all about the hexagon, or honeycomb pattern. After the lavender farm visit see “Lavender Dream: Our Visit to the Farm”, and talking to some of my beekeeper friends, the sweetness of the honeycomb pattern is more complex and yet engaging than ever before. Represented with six even sides, the hexagon is a symbol for efficiency and community.

Brentano/Mr.Brown1|2

As traditional as can be, many of our classic 1920’s style homes in the neighborhood have hexagon tile patterns in halls and bathrooms. Yet now, the shape is rendered on carpets, rugs, and fabric patterns. Every room needs some geometry, and a geometric pattern is evident in the hexagon. Recently, I shopped for a hexagon shaped table lamp for my client, the hexagon was just the shape we needed. We didn’t want any sharp corners and we needed to get around it easily, but have some visual interest.

Table and Stair runner1|2

Traditional, Classic, or Modern, everyone can make this shape work in their design. Take a little tip from the bees, it will be sweet as honey!

Hex floor in kitchenImage Source: Flourish Design + Style

To learn more about beekeeping, read this quirky post from Gardenista: The Beekeeper Diaries: Rob Keller Does Not Get Stung (Today)

 

Opening Image Source: Gardenista

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Diet Confusion or Design Confusion?

Reflecting girl

I started a new wellness program last week. It’s called the Fast Metabolism Diet, by Hayley Pomroy. It’s essentially a 28 day cleanse. No caffeine, alcohol, dairy, wheat, soy, sugar…so yeah, I’m a joy to be around right now! But I had to do something.

After the heart surgery, nearly 2 years ago now, I had such diet confusion. I had no risk factors. No high cholesterol, no high blood pressure, no anything! Afterwards, I did the required cardiac rehab program and learned about the good fats, bad fats, trans fats, etc. Stuff I already knew. I met with the nutritionist who said, great job keep eating the way you are. Well, where did that get me?

I really didn’t know whether to be vegan, or just eat, drink, and be merry because really, I was alive! The most ironic part of this whole scenario is after I had Sophia seven years ago; I worked out like a manic and lost a ton of weight. I was in the best physical shape of my life BEFORE this all happened. So part of me just needed to get through the mad, the why me, and just be happy to be here. Instead of being the mega-healthy restrictive dieter, I went the other way and said – “Just Live!”

Well, now I need to do what’s right and get it all back under control. So I am detoxing, de-everything, and trying to clear out, and figure out what really works for me. It’s a process, but I know it’s the right thing to do.

So how does this relate to design? Maybe it doesn’t but I see “Design Confusion” every day in my job. Am I Modern or Contemporary? Do I like stark Gustavian Swedish, or Mid-Century eclectic? Do I like bright colors or warm neutrals? And the dreaded “Transitional” style, a catch all for “Just Update my Décor!”?

Most clients I believe are a mix of everything, and truly that is what appeals to most of us. We like our creature comforts, icons that we grew up with, but also the styles from pop culture that draws us today. I rarely see the true style loyalist. The only design style we need to worry about, is the one that most reflects who we want to be in our homes. And what works for us. Isn’t that the same as the diet? It has to work with our lifestyle, it has to be functional and get results, and most of all we have to look good when we are done! That’s exactly the same objectives of a design project.

And most importantly, like a good nutritional plan, there’s no end (so much for my 28 days)…. It’s an ongoing evolution and process that changes with the demands of our lifestyles. In design, our tastes change, and so does our palette of decor.

No more deliberating, or confusion, let’s pick a plan and get some results!

QuoteImage Source: Nancy Ray Photography 

Opening Image Source: Image Source: Unicorn/Dream Magazine

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Remembering Why…Happy Memorial Day!

A little patriotic...the Palamar Hotel Embassy Row, DC.

As we enjoy our day off today, I like to remember all those who have served our nation, known and unknown. Our community, Shaker Heights, does a great job with our local parade, and there is much reverence and silence as the armed guards lead the way passing us by.

I always remember my grandfather who served in World War II. Brian tells me all the time to watch more Ken Burns to understand why he received the honor of a Bronze Star. Also, Brian’s sweet Uncle Don who served in Korea and recently unexpectedly passed. The formality of the Honor Guard at these services, the shots fired, and the flag displayed is a memory that will be with us forever.

 

Cooper at Shaker Memorial Day ParadeTo understand this, we like taking the kids to D.C. We went a few years ago for the 4th of July. You feel such a sense of wonder and awe when you are there. Our kids learned so much and enjoyed it as well. Walking through the Vietnam Memorial and explaining to them all those names…its stunning. And the gripping honor of Arlington and the tomb of the unknown solider.

So as you kick off your summer projects around your home, take a moment to reflect, then pick up the paint brush, the garden hoe and dig in!

More design next week!

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