Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Mill Rose Inn - A designer's perspective

The Mill Rose Inn is a charming bed & breakfast in the heart of Half Moon Bay.  It has been owned and operated by Terry and Eve Baldwin for the past 30 years.  I was fortunate to have discovered this B&B online in my quest to find a local weekend get-away.  As an interior designer, I cannot help but be critical of visual details when selecting a hotel.  Based on the online photographs, the Mill Rose Inn seemed perfect, but of course one can never be sure until one has had first-hand experience.  My husband and I booked a weekend trip to the inn, and we had such a wonderful time that I had to share it with my readers.

As soon as we arrived at the Mill Rose Inn, I was thrilled to find that the property was even lovelier than the website had portrayed.  The moment we entered our suite, we were completely blown away by the luxurious accommodations.  Words cannot describe how exquisite the rooms were.  The attention to detail was impeccable, not just with the vast range of amenities, but in the decor.  The rooms were a brilliant combination of Victorian, Rococo, and English country.  Antiques adorned every corner, and the views were gorgeous, creating a cozy English cottage feel.

The Renaissance Rose Suite
 Terry gave us a tour of the room pointing out all the included amenities, and offered us in-room breakfast, snacks, and a turn-down service.  My husband and I spent over an hour wandering around our room discovering all the little details---terry-cloth robes and slippers, an ample supply of egyptian cotton towels, a stocked complimentary mini-fridge, a hand-painted fireplace, as well free Wi-fi, and much more.  We were overwhelmed by the luxury and beauty within the space.  The views of the beautifully kept gardens were amazing (we booked the Renaissance Rose Suite for those who are interested in the best view).  The downstairs dining room was inviting, and had a round-the-clock dessert buffet with some of the best pastries I have ever tasted.  We felt immediately at home and had a weekend more relaxing than any I can remember.


Words cannot fully describe what a blissful experience we had at the Mill Rose Inn.  I want to thank Terry and Eve for their amazing service and accommodations, and wish them continued success.  We will be back!

Friday, March 15, 2013

"What makes a designer kitchen? A designer."

      It is very obvious to me when a kitchen has been designed by a great interior designer, versus the average general contractor or fabricator.  There are 3 things that give it away:


When I see a kitchen unlike any I have seen before (or will ever see again), I know that a great designer was involved.  That kitchen will stop you in your tracks and really make you LOOK. 

2.  It is COMPLEX

Whether Minimalist or Victorian, the design of a superior kitchen will involve many elements, both obvious and not obvious.  Your average contractor or even kitchen and bath fabricators will tend to have the design consist of three things---cabinets, countertops, and backsplashes.  The end result, regardless of price tag, usually looks bland and lifeless.  You wouldn’t buy a car based on whether it has four wheels and an engine.  You would look at the dozens of details that combine to produce a superior quality vehicle.  Engine/transmission quality, MPG, handling, aesthetic quality, extra technological features, etc.  Do you want a silver Corolla or an emerald green Aston Martin?  Hmmm.  I'd go with the Aston.  

A superior kitchen is very similar to a luxury vehicle.  There are many individual details that make it unique, such as cabinet orientation, cabinet material, countertop material and shape, backsplash type, lighting, flooring, ceiling design, color, additional seating, etc.  The design does not stop at eye level.  Which brings us to reason #3

3.  It is ENGAGING

An engaging kitchen is one that makes you feel good.  It has a visual energy that impacts the user in a positive way.  Your eye will be drawn throughout the space and whether you realize it or not, it engages you.  That is superior design.  Now, not everyone will enjoy the same design style, but that is where the designer comes in.  They are paid to make sure that your newly designed kitchen will be engaging for you!  A successful kitchen design will inspire you the moment you walk in every day.  A good interior designer will accept nothing less.

      Call a qualified interior designer before you start your kitchen project.  Get input on layout, materials, colors, and budget management, and save yourself loads of stress.  You can also hire an interior designer to help select all materials and coordinate the actual execution of the project.  Your end result will be a gorgeous kitchen that is like no other---perfect for YOU.  It is worth the investment, no question about it.  

How many people have this kitchen?  MILLIONS!!!  Every day do-it-yourselfers are opting for the same boring combination:  Red stained cabinets, black granite, and cheap mosaic tile backsplashes.  Boring, boring, boring! This kitchen is nice, but it does not excite or inspire.  It is not unique and is becoming less impressive every day for buyers.  Hire a designer, and avoid paying $70,000 for a kitchen that most of your neighbors have.

THIS kitchen is unique, complex, and engaging.  This is an excellent example of a design that is "outside the box". The overall design generates a thrilling mix of relaxation and inspiration.  This is how it should be.  If you want a "designer kitchen", there is only one thing to do:  Find your designer! 

See my other article What is a "Qualified Designer?" for guidance on finding the design professional that is perfect for you.  Or call 925-895-1336 to schedule an initial consultation, and I can help you achieve your dream kitchen!  

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Move-In Quandary

     Well, it's moving season again.  New homeowners get their keys and are excited to make their new house into their own customized space.... but how exactly? This is what I call the "Move-in Quandary".  There are three very common big ticket items that are the first on the move-in expense list---painting, flooring, and window coverings.  Other major investments that people are eager to pounce on are kitchen and bath remodels, which can be easily triple the cost of fore-mentioned.  The bigger the ticket, the more critical it is that the correct decisions are made with regard to color, style, and durability.  I have seen countless cases of frustrated new homeowners that cannot decide on a paint color, a wood finish, carpet style... you get the picture.  This aggravating period during and immediately after move-in is not necessary.  There is something you can do to solve your Move-in Quandary.  Here are two simple solutions:

SOLUTION 1  -  Hire a designer

To many, hiring a designer seems like an unnecessary expense, and that's about it.  Those that would love to hire a designer, but are afraid of cost should at least schedule an initial consultation with a designer to get them started.  When searching for the right designer, bear this in mind:  Do not call for "free" design consultations.  "Free design consultations" are merely a tactic used by sales-based companies.  Their "designer" basically walks into your home with the concern of selling you their product.   Unless you know for sure that you want to purchase that product, and price isn't an issue, avoid calling in the "Free" designers.  See my article "Are free designers really free?" .  What your first priority should be before ANY money is put towards materials and labor, should be creating your "Design Concept".  Do not order flooring, window treatments, furniture---NOTHING without having a design concept.  This is where hiring a legitimate interior designer is key.  They work with you to determine the "Look" and style that will work best for you, and ALSO, how to turn that style into a final design.  Determining a plan of action for your entire house may not be feasible in an hour long consultation, but a few sessions with a legit designer will be one of the best home investments you ever make.  My fee is $150 per hour.  See my new line of Move-in design services Housewarming Design Services.  I can help you create a clear and concise road-map towards your dream home.

SOLUTION 2  -  Find Inspiration

As simple as it sounds, buying a few home magazines can really ease the tension.  I recommend House Beautiful and Architectural Digest as excellent visual resources.  While a magazine cannot coach you on how to actually create your space or manage your budget, you can find photos of finished rooms that inspire you.  The main goal when browsing through magazines is to find a room that OVERALL is very appealing to you.  Not just one piece of furniture in the picture, or the wall color, but the ENTIRE room pictured.  The picture serving as your inspiration should give you a feeling of joy.  The picture should be one where if you walked into it in real life, you would feel completely at home.  A picture will not pressure you to buy from a certain company, or choose a certain  investment over another.  A picture will guide you in any of the many choices you will need to make.  The disadvantage to pulling a picture out of a magazine is the fact that you cannot consult with it.  You cannot ask it questions, or get input from it.  That is where a legitimate qualified interior designer is helpful.  Also, when it comes to getting the best of both worlds, my service called "Concept Design" may be just perfect for you.  You pay a flat amount for a visual road-map to your professionally designed space.

When moving and investing in a new home, or old home for that matter, it is critical to be educated.  See these other articles for advice that may apply to you.

DIY... Not for Everyone
1st Step Paint Color...NOT!
Are interior designers worth the money? You do the math.
To invest, or not to invest? Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Contractors Prefer Designers
What is an initial consultation, and why should I PAY for one?
In hindsight, maybe I should have hired an interior designer.
No Strings Attached- Clarification on the benefit of hiring an interior designer
Home Staging- What is it, and is it really necessary?

Call for a consultation and let Judy Olson Interiors make your house a home!  925-895-1336

Thursday, February 28, 2013

1st Step Paint Color..... NOT!!!

      I have noticed in my career that many new homeowners assume that their first project should be to choose new wall colors.  This would be common sense to the general public.  Common sense, to a qualified interior designer says "This is WRONG!"  Though covering blank walls first seems natural, it is actually unwise to make it the first priority when moving into a new home.  Why?  Choosing a good wall color is dependent on knowing what else will be within the room.  You also need to have a design concept that you are working towards.  If you have not yet moved the furniture that you plan to keep into your space, choosing paint color will be an aggravating process to say the least.

      The first step to successfully decorating a new space is to have an inspiration piece.  Whether it be a piece of furniture, wall art, or area rug, you should have a source that will guide you in selecting details like paint color, window treatments, etc.  When shopping for a car, you should not make a decision based on the color you like.  You need to factor in the quality of the vehicle, size, mpg, price, etc.  The same goes for wall color.  Wall color is a detail that accentuates a space, but it is not THE space.

      Whether you are in the moving process or have moved in already, call Judy Olson Interiors to help get you on the right track for making all your new home selections, from paint, to window treatments, to quality home furnishings.  I look forward to helping you make your home a beautiful space that works for you.  925-895-1336
Ouch!  What happened here?  These wall colors were most likely selected without much thought given to the rest of the room elements.  Honestly?  Bert and Ernie colors with an antique fireplace and cherry floors?  Do not make this mistake!  Consider the big picture before you take this kind of leap.

Now this is more like it!  This strong cobalt blue tone is used gracefully, unifying the space.  This potentially overwhelming color is used in perfect proportions to create a lively but relaxing space.  The accent wall location was most likely chosen during the space planning process, an un-common but very wise approach.  This kind of look is easily achieved when one can see the "Big Picture".   For those who struggle with this, call a designer!  We do what we do because we can easily see the big picture.  Call 925-895-1336 to start your new home off on the right foot!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Housewarming Design Services

Judy Olson Interiors is now introducing a special line of services called "Housewarming Design".  This new collection of services is based on the most common design needs of a new homeowner. Examples include:

  • INITIAL CONSULTATION-  For those who need help with miscellaneous/numerous aspects of design and furnishing, an initial consultation can get you on the right track.  Your initial consult is only $150 per hour.  Its worth every penny.  I can provide references.

  • COLOR CONSULTATION-  One of the first projects people pursue upon buying a house is painting the walls.  Often, the property manager (if there is one) will refer a paint contractor, and the decision for colors is rushed before all furniture is delivered.  This causes a huge amount of unnecessary stress.  For those getting ready to move in, JOI offers paint color consultation to help relieve stress and ensure the correct decisions are made.  Painting a whole house is not something  you want to screw up on--- especially if NONE of the colors are quite right.  With JOI, you can have the security of knowing your colors have been professionally selected and are right for you and your style.  Plus JOI can refer a paint contractor if you do not already have one.

  • SPACE PLANNING-  Everyone is eager to get new furniture for their home the second they move in.  Sometimes they are eager to the point where the size and configuration of new furniture is not given enough thought.  And once you get that comfortable but tacky La Z Boy sectional into your house, you are committed for who knows how many years to something that may be entirely inappropriate for your space.  Many homeowners will bring a hodge-podge of "Had since college" and "Inherited/family heirloom/can't get rid of it" furniture with them.  Not to mention the "Spent so much on it, but its not quite right" furniture.  These are all situations in which JOI's "Space Planning" services can help.  If you want to either avoid spending a ton of money on furniture that may or may not work, or part with current furnishings and are unsure how to get started, call for an initial consultation. JOI will measure your room(s) and propose some floor plan ideas both with new furniture and existing furniture.  You get SO MUCH for so little.  Call 925-895-1336 to set up your appointment.

  • WINDOW CONSULTING-  These days, one of the first and biggest investments is furnishing your windows.  When its summer and the sun is already frying your new wood floors, you want to cover those windows as soon as possible.  If you have purchased an older house with single pane windows that offer poor insulation, you want to cover your windows as soon as possible.  If you are only 10 feet away from your neighbor, you want window coverings for privacy as soon as possible.  The list goes on, and that is why this category is in my "Housewarming" line, no pun intended.  I can bring window covering catalogs and samples directly to your home, make professional recommendations based on your window size, shape, and utilization.  I can measure, and give you a price on the spot, plus even place your order same day!  I offer my clients up to 30% off Hunter Douglas window coverings.  You get discounts and unbiased advice from a professional designer with years of experience in window treatments.  Also, for those rooms that require more decorative enhancement, ie living rooms and master bedrooms, we also offer custom drapery design!  

  • RENOVATION CONSULTING-  Nowadays, everyone wants to make their kitchen and/or bath their own by remodeling.  Remodeling, despite what cheap ads in PennySaver may imply, are a significant investment if you want to do it right.  That is where JOI comes in.  We can guide you on the key techniques to improve your space.  We help determine, which walls need knocking down, if any, and how to configure the new space, plus make recommendations of materials, style, and finishes that are suitable for your style.  The $150 per hour is more than worth it.  One may argue "There are companies that come out and do the design for free".  NOT TRUE.  Companies that come out for "Free" are counting on closing the deal, in other words, retaining a minimum thousand dollar deposit towards your remodel.  Unless you are ready to write that $1,000+ check, call Judy Olson Interiors.  We can help you without obligating you.  No pressure!  JOI charges on an hourly basis for professional consulting.  We are not out to make a sale like all the "Free" companies you find in weekly coupon books.  Whats more, is we can refer you to contractors you can trust---those that are experienced, friendly, affordable, and INSURED.  You can skip months of sifting through Yelp and Angie's List.  While JOI offers "Project management" design packages (we can take care of all the remodel details and project coordination for you), the choice to invest in that service is totally up to you.  No strings attached.  Make this tiny investment, and save yourself months or even years of stress.

*Promotional pricing may vary during periods of significantly high traffic.  Standard hourly rate is $150.  Extra charges may be necessary for customers outside of the San Francisco East Bay Area.  JOI offers many more services that you can see on our website.

Call and let Judy help you build the new home of your dreams!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Phone # Changed

Hello JOI fans!

Though I have updated my website, ad, and email accounts, my past blog articles may still contain my old phone number.  My new phone # is 925-895-1336.  I can always be reached via email at

I look forward to assisting you with your homes this year!