Food Network Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown, Ep. 2 Takeaways

The second episode of the Food Network Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown was as exciting as the first! Three new teams didn’t fail to impress and excite us judges, and I think even our abominable snowman would agree they took creative baking to new heights. We challenged the teams to create a “Scary Little Christmas,” and they stepped up in amazing ways!

Judges Kardea Brown, Nacho Aguirre and Breegan Jane at their judges tables, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

In the Kitchen, Timing is Everything

The old saying is true: timing is everything. It’s particularly important when you’re baking and making gingerbread creations. The more intricate the design, the more precise timing will be necessary. Kate and Megan’s “Mountain House” had its challenges, including working with pieces of the mountain that were broken. Lindsay and Stacey also had issues with their “Christmas Mishap” scene. While spray-painting their creation, Stacey accidentally got black paint spots all over the gingerbread flooring. Yikes! Teena and Cashe had similar challenges with their “Oh No Wrong House” scene. Not only were they several hours behind other teams with their build, but their fireplace fell completely apart with one hour to go! Can you say “stressed”??

Listen, being an interior designer means being no stranger to tight (and even oftentimes impossible) deadlines. I frequently find that with shipping times, vendor mix-ups and construction schedules, my biggest opponent is the clock itself! I’ve learned that finding ways to maximize my time is key. I had to recondition a restaurant bathroom with very little time, and after much deliberation I decided to use a seamless stone technology to transform the entire space without a timely demolition. The room went from nautical-themed to elegant and upscale in no time! The culinary and design worlds absolutely place similar importance on timing, and these teams got a healthy dose of that this episode!

Baking and Quick Improvisation

Have no fear; quick thinking and on-the-feet improvisations saved the day for all of the teams. Most notably, Lindsay spray painted her black-spotted floor and used a gel cover to expedite fixing the problem and moving on with their build. Cashe, frustrated with the damaged fireplace on top of being late, had to take a break and a breather. With a little encouragement from Kardea, she immediately got up, regrouped, and continued helping to make decorations while Teena fixed the fireplace. All teams completed their projects, and that was only possible because of swift thinking and alternate creative ideation. These are key skills that everyone could use in their professions. I know I do.

Case in point: for many homebuyers, skylights may seem outdated and unwanted in a house they’re looking to purchase. When I bought my home, my contractors felt the same way and even encouraged me to get rid of it. I hadn’t planned on putting a skylight anywhere in my home. Nevertheless, I welcomed the unexpected opportunity to keep it and make it something I could enjoy for years to come. I shifted my build plans to coincide with the unforeseen element and created a spa-like bathroom around the skylight. Now, it’s the highlight of the space! Unmatched beauty and innovation can come from thinking and responding quickly. All of the Food Network gingerbread teams—and my bathroom—are a testament to that.

Judges Breegan Jane and Nacho Aguirre, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

Food Network: The Ultimate in Creativity

If you’re a Food Network fan like I am, you already know some of the most original recipes, dishes and ideas can be discovered there! I’m not a cook, but I still marvel at the way so many gifted individuals use everyday items to create amazing (and edible) works of art. This week’s Gingerbread Showdown twist was a fun one! The teams had to create a dessert version of slime with gooey caramel! On top of that, the caramel had to ooze when we, the judges, tasted it.

Kate and Megan made spice cake and caramel coconut snowballs for Sammy Sootfoot to throw. To quell any concerns of premature oozing, they placed them in the freezer. A bit of caramel and white chocolate ganache, cornflake streusel, and nitrogen later and the process was complete! Lindsay and Stacey’s interior designer monster served gluten-free oozing caramel brownie cheesecake as a party favors for her guests. Teena and Cashe used caramel, roasted hazelnuts and even cayenne pepper to make “naughty coal caramel brownie balls.” Each of the teams had unique approaches to the twist challenge, and the creativity was palpable!

Judges Breegan Jane, Nacho Aguirre, and Kardea Brown, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

Cooking Up Designs With a Twist

I watched each of the teams face challenge after challenge as they dreamed up how their sweet treat would take form. It reminded me of how I approach interior design. From an early age my mind would allow me to visualize things in ways other people couldn’t. I use that skill when I talk to clients about a space they want refreshed. I look at the “bones” I’m given and I envision what could be, not what is. If you’re able to use your imagination and combine it with strategy and logic, the sky’s the limit. The three teams on Food Network Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown proved that everything is better when you allow your artistry to be guided by inspiration.

From leaning trees to scary Sootfoot to Santa-eating monsters, the gingerbreaders rocked these frightening fantasy creations this week! My mind is still blown as I reflect on how they conceived their ideas and turned them into actual artful pieces. As always, each team had trials to face and overcome, and they did. When you have big dreams, strange ideas and out-of-the-box plans, you can almost always expect to encounter a bit of difficulty. If you’re willing to stay the course and be flexible, your perseverance will pay off. I think this week’s winning duo would agree! Did you catch this week’s episode? Tell me your favorite parts in the comments!

Food Network Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown, Ep. 1 Takeaways

If you missed my debut on the Food Network Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown, you missed a really great episode! This isn’t your everyday, ordinary holiday cooking TV show. These three teams are made of ARTISTS!! They’re simply using food as their canvas. I had a blast watching them all create. Their processes made me think about what I do in my careers as an HGTV personality and interior designer. Here are a few of my takeaways from Episode 1 of this fun Food Network show.

Holiday Cooking with Heart

The teams were tasked with creating snow globe scenes that depicted personal, fond holiday memories. Let me tell you: these bakers did NOT disappoint! Molli’s design focused on her geographical transition from Arizona to New York City. She and Sarah created two gorgeous cityscapes brought together by the cutest family station wagon between them. From string light-decorated cacti to sights of landmark skyscrapers and Rockefeller Center traditions, Molli’s memories were a gingerbread vision. Linda and Cheryl followed suit with their hometown memories gingerbread layout. Rotating sledding and ice-skating activities accented a splendid scene of country homes and decorated trees. The hardwood gingerbread floors? Amazing! Sebastian was not to be outdone, though! He and Kristen designed a colorful Peruvian scene depicting Sebastian’s childhood and heritage. From the two-story house to the stunning tree and star-holding child, Sebastian and Kristen baked with gingerbread and heart—and it definitely showed.

Though all of the scenes were brilliantly designed and executed, what really made them unique was their connection to each baking artist. I could tell they sincerely drew inspiration from a place in their minds that shaped who they are now. I love that, both as a holiday baking show judge and an interior designer. What I do with design aligns with this week’s baking mission. Décor in a home doesn’t mean as much if it doesn’t cater to the client’s life, needs, desires, and internal heartbeat. I focus on customization in practically all my projects because the final presentation absolutely MUST resonate personally with each individual. It makes a difference every time. These bakers tailored their gifts to a personal connection that mattered. That’s needed to win this competition, and it’s needed to win in interior design!

Judge, Breegan Jane visitis with Molli, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

Baking with a Backup Plan

One of the most important things I’ve learned about building anything is to have a solid backup plan. It’s the root of my 6P philosophy: prior proper planning prevents poor performance. In other words, Murphy’s Law is always in effect (even on Food Network!), so you should always consider and account for failures. They will come—trust me. Sebastian and Kristen learned that the hard way in this episode. Because of the time it takes to make, mold and cook gingerbread, the bakers were given the theme early and allowed to make their gingerbread pieces and ship them to set. Unfortunately, not all delivery people care about a “Fragile” sticker. The odds of all gingerbread pieces arriving broken was indeed slim to none. Thank goodness for Kardea’s help tracking down the third box that didn’t show! She was right: faith was the key!

Molli had my heart with her landscape design training and meticulous attention to detail. She proved that, even with the best plans and intentions, something can go wrong. My heart couldn’t take it when I saw the top of her gingerbread skyscraper sliding down the base! I think all of us judges were unsure if it would stay. There was no choice but to do damage control in the moment. Maybe had there been some forethought regarding what to do “in case [X] happens,” the rebound could have been quicker. It happens to us all, but that’s precisely how I know we can all prevent that from happening, both in our lives and our professions.

Baking With an Innovative Touch

One of the best parts of watching these amazing “ginger-breaders” work was realizing how differently we all translate the same concept. This week’s Food Network Holiday Baking Championship twist was to incorporate coconut into the design somehow. Now, that may not sound like the toughest task. But creating these gingerbread masterpieces truly relies on the bakers’ ability to think outside the box and use their skills in unique ways. Each of them definitely delivered on that! Molli and Sarah came up with an unusual (and might I add, delicious) combination and baked a horchata coconut cake. I was wowed by Linda and Sarah’s Coconut Amaretto Cherry Shortbread Tree! Nacho couldn’t have put it better when he described the sweet confection as a “party of flavors.” Unfortunately, the creative little trees fell short on coconut essence. Sebastian and Kristen created the most adorable polar bear coconut cream puffs. They. Were. Delectable!

As I watched each team’s take on the twist, I realized that baking and designing share something really important to each trade: innovation. We have to be able to take something others might see as ordinary and make it incredible. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has asked me why I enjoy designing kitchens. The reason has always felt simple to me. I love taking a space and tailoring it exactly to my client’s needs in ways they never thought possible. Most people picture a kitchen, and they think about the room someone will cook or eat in. When I begin the process of designing a kitchen, I envision the person or family who will spend time there along with how they will best use the space.

Judge Breegan Jane, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

Baking Championship and Creativity Galore!

Will a family who juices frequently benefit from a mini beverage fridge to store fresh juices? Does the chef need a range to be a certain number of feet away from other appliances? I consider that a family with multiple school-aged children might appreciate an oversized kitchen island that could multi-purpose as a homework station after school. Everything from configuration to material choice comes into play when I’m creating a space I hope my client will love. Kitchens aren’t just kitchens to me. They are spaces that have the capacity to enhance a person’s life and improve their ability to function. Baking and cooking, especially in the way these teams did on the show, required looking at an element in exceptional ways. Coconut creations can be as varied as snowflakes, and these talented individuals definitely proved that with their sweet formulations.

I loved judging this week’s Food Network Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown! I’m still in shock seeing all the extraordinary ways gingerbread can be used to create amazing designs! I have gained a new appreciation for architecture and sweet treats! What was your favorite part? Were you surprised by the winners? Tune in next week for another dose of holiday cheer and deliciousness!

Celebrate the Holidays with Hooker Furniture!

It’s safe to say we, the collective global society, could use a nice, relaxing holiday season this year. The interior designer in me gets excited thinking about how to make visual masterpieces inside my living and entertainment spaces! There are several things that make doing so easy, but the biggest is having quality furniture in place. Hooker Furniture takes care of that without any problems! Their credenzas are already stylish and elegant, and that automatically cuts the holiday decorating in half! Here are a few tips to make holiday entertaining a cinch for you, too.

Selecting the Right Credenza

The holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry. All of those activities require the proper furniture to assist with food and beverage placement. Credenzas are excellent accent pieces that are versatile and easy to incorporate into most living décor. The key is picking the right style that complements the character of your space. 

When selecting a credenza for your home, make sure you purchase sturdy, well-made pieces. You want to have something for your holiday festivities, but you also want something that will last in your home year-round. I also suggest considering credenzas that are neutral in color. I’m a huge fan of neutral palettes in the home, as they have a smaller probability of clashing with other décor in your living space. That’s especially important because the holidays are often celebrated amid a sea of vibrant colors and sparkle. You’ll be able to more easily use your credenza for holiday décor as you entertain if you choose one in a more muted hue! With a neutral credenza, the world is your oyster when it comes to color coordination.

Hooker Furniture has a great selection of furniture lines with opulent accents and unique credenzas. Their newest brand, Commerce & Market, has three that I have fallen in love with! Made from quality materials such as marble, stone, cast metals and hardwoods, these credenzas will add a sophisticated layer of “festive” to your holidays!

How to Incorporate Credenzas in Your Home

Credenzas can be extremely gorgeous pieces of furniture, but they are also incredibly useful, especially when entertaining for the holidays. I like to use mine as a station for a particular activity. It can become a whisky bar for an adult soiree I throw, or it can be a station for dessert or food items when family comes over. I sometimes host kid socials for my sons. For those occasions, I may use my credenza to house arts & crafts supplies. Or, I may arrange board games on it and make it a “play” station. Honestly, the options are endless! 

Credenzas are great because they create a dedicated space for people to gather. They function as a festive “water cooler,” if you will.. Just set up an aromatic punch bowl (hello, cinnamon sticks and anise!), a nice ladle and some pretty glassware. Watch your guests gravitate towards it! You’ll look up and notice that those who would otherwise sit quietly in the corner might turn into lively conversationalists–all because you provided an arranged space where they can gather!

Styling Your Credenza for the Holidays

Because credenzas are decorative pieces in and of themselves, you won’t need to do much to style them for your holiday events. This is especially true if your credenza is primarily neutral, like the Hooker Furniture Angles Credenza from Commerce & Market. There’s no color coordination needed; choose your monochromatic holiday color, and you’re off!

As you begin thinking about your styling, I suggest starting with a layer of seasonal décor. That could be a table runner or maybe some fresh garland across the top. From there, style the credenza with décor elements that have varied heights. This will allow you to catch the eye from a vertical perspective. Vases or decorative holiday gift boxes work perfectly for this tip. Want an insider secret? Cake trays are easy ways to elevate a table’s décor. You don’t even have to put a cake on it! The key is to enhance your visual presentation to draw guests to the table. Try one or a combination of these tips. I guarantee your credenza “station” will be a hit!

Credenzas are beautiful pieces of furniture that make holiday entertaining a breeze. If you go with any made by Hooker Furniture, your space will be the talk of the town even after the holidays! Credenza are the ultimate multi-use furniture, and that will lend well to all of your holiday gatherings. With storage, serving and distribution options galore, using credenzas in your home will help you keep the “fun” in functional décor and enjoy yourself this holiday. Season’s greetings! 

 

Embracing Real-looking Faux Plants (and more!) in Home Decor

Breegan Jane is many things. She is a creative designer. She’s also a great TV personality. And, according to her kids, she’s actually a cool mom (ask them!). What Breegan is NOT, and has never proclaimed to be, is a woman with a green thumb. It’s simply not a gift I have. While I do incorporate live greenery in my home, I find myself using faux plants and artificial décor throughout my personal interior design. And you know what? Most friends and family are none the wiser! Here are some ways I embrace fabricated elements in home décor, and I’m so sure they’ll look great in your home, too!

Using Faux Plants Effectively in the Home

I absolutely love having plants inside and outside my home. They bring so much life and visual interest to any space. It’s just an unfortunate reality that they don’t live long in my presence. Nevertheless, I’ve found an easy workaround. Adding faux plants among your real plants is a trick of the eye that will work wonders in any home. No matter what your gardening skills may be, this is a fail-proof insider secret!

I’m a busy mom/designer/TV personality, and I’m always on the go. Travel for me sometimes means leaving one event and flying directly to the next. Being away for days—sometimes weeks—on end is never good for maintaining live foliage. That’s the primary reason I don’t mind using artificial décor, namely faux plants, at home. Even when I do have live plants mixed in with my artificial ones, having the evergreens mixed in softens the visual of any that may be barely hanging on. Don’t let anyone tell you this is “cheating.” If it works for your lifestyle, go for it! At least give it a try!

The Benefits of Synthetic Grass in Home Décor

Along with faux plants, I have been a very vocal advocate for incorporating synthetic grass in home design. I have two motivations for using it around my home: their names are Kensington and Kingsley. Artificial turf is extremely durable (it has to be with my two wiggly bears). This makes it a great grass alternative for kids to play on. Higher-quality turf can be safer because it is softer than natural grass. There are also turf options that are free from dust and metals, which is also a safety plus for my kids. (Plus, there are no mud or grass stains to clean – MOM WIN!)

As someone who is deeply passionate about preserving our planet, I also love that synthetic grass has sustainable properties. There are options to use turf made from recycled materials, and that makes me extremely happy. What’s more, there are no fertilizers or pesticides used for synthetic grass. And, because turf doesn’t require water, there are opportunities to conserve natural resources. Using décor like artificial turf has so many benefits. Why wouldn’t you consider it?

Choosing Manufactured Stone for Interior Design

Though it may not have anything to do with growing something like plants or grass, there are so many benefits to incorporating manufactured stone in home design. Don’t get me wrong: I haven’t found a marble slab yet that I didn’t fall in love with. It’s such a gorgeous natural stone. I’ve even traveled to Italy to pick out marble for some design projects. In my home, however, I prefer something like Caesarstone for my personal interior décor. The look and feel are practically synonymous with natural stone. However, it functions quite differently.

As much as I love marble, it is a softer stone. In layman terms, that simply means it stains and scratches very easily. That isn’t a good thing for a home with active kids. On the other hand, Caesarstone, an engineered, quartz material, is much more durable and stain-resistant. Unlike marble, you won’t have to seal it every year to protect it. You get all of the same visual refinement and none of the headache!

Some people may think using artificial décor like faux plants in your interior design is less elegant than having real elements in your décor. I completely disagree, and these are just a few reasons. There are no hard and fast rules for creating beautiful interior design in your home. Feel free to try some alternatives that fit your lifestyle. I promise the results can be just as stunning!

Hooker Furniture at High Point Market!

Very rarely do you get to see interior designers and home design enthusiasts in their ultimate place of excited anticipation. High Point Market is juuuuust about the closest thing to Designer Disneyworld as you can get! The event boasts hundreds of vendors and thousands of new and innovative home furnishing and interior design options. It’s no wonder Hooker Furniture has a very visible presence there, and I cannot wait to see all they have to offer this year’s attendees!

 

What is High Point Market?

If you’re not familiar with High Point Market, well, it’s simply the biggest home furnishings show in the world! Nestled in the Piedmont region of North Carolina in the city of High Point, Furniture Market has been called the “Fashion Week” of all things furniture and home decor. With almost 12 million square feet of showrooms to see, there’s a buffet of beautiful furniture to see at the event.

High Point Market has home furnishing and decor as far as the eye can see, but that’s not all. Each Market, held twice a year in April and October, holds special events, gatherings, panels with industry leaders, and numerous networking events for attendees. This year’s fall Market will focus on sustainability efforts throughout the industry, and I’m so excited about that. As a leader in sustainability efforts, Hooker Furniture shines when it comes to environmental stewardship. Attendees will have so much to see and learn about regarding this focus, especially when they look at Hooker Furniture’s offerings.

 

Hooker Furniture Collections at High Point Market

I talk so much about modern, approachable luxury not only because it’s my signature design style, but also because I sincerely believe in that philosophy. Luxury should be attainable to everyone, at any price point. Many of my clients and prospective clients have a hard time believing that is possible until I explain and show what “luxury” can be. It isn’t just beautiful pieces with exorbitant price tags or “pie in the sky” dreams for a space. Rather, luxury exists in the styling details. What better way to add opulent touches to your space than to have it specifically tailored to YOUR individual tastes, needs and desires?

That’s one of the ways in which Hooker Furniture excels. I love that, with any of their collections, they make customization a breeze! If you can think of it, they can create it! Their Bradington Young brand, for example, provides personal customization for quality leathers. Sam Moore, another Hooker Furniture subsidiary, specializes in fabric-to-frame furniture customization. The options for one-of-a-kind home decor are practically endless. These are just two examples of Hooker Furniture bringing affordable luxury to High Point Market attendees.

 

One of Hooker Furniture’s latest and most exciting introductions, Commerce & Market, is definitely going to be a Market highlight. The line is full of exquisite pieces, including bar carts, cabinets, chests, credenzas, occasional tables, and so much more! The globally inspired brand features multiple varieties of textures, designs and styles catered to younger furniture buyers with homes of various sizes. Whether your home space is smaller in scale or has a larger layout, Commerce & Market is a line you should see at High Point Market to help accentuate your interior.

 

Hooker Furniture’s Latest: The Serenity Collection!

Honestly, I am MOST excited about a new collection Hooker Furniture will debut at High Point Market this fall. Attendees will get a first glance at their 56-piece Serenity group. It’s inspired by coastal, waterfront living; as a Southern California girl, THAT’S MY ELEMENT! I love the whitewashed visuals and weathered textures featured in the line; they create a relaxed and casual aesthetic that I know will be a hit with Market visitors and potential clients. I’m also an advocate of interior design that links the outside and inside with an effortless and intuitive continuity. The Serenity line aims to do just that, and I cannot wait to check it out in person. Casual contemporary styling, I have you in my sights!

 

The anticipation of High Point Market is at an all-time high in my office. I know I can’t wait to see and show all that Hooker Furniture has to offer. If you’re a design and furniture enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit and see what’s new and next in-home furnishings. You’re guaranteed to see something that catches your eye!

Encouraging Healthy Sibling Relationships

Do you have siblings? What’s your relationship with them like? I am the oldest of three kids, and I’ve always loved having a sister and a brother. I often joke that my sister was my baby, and that I potty trained her myself! There’s nothing like having close relationships with your family members. Your relationship with siblings? Well, that’s a bond unlike any other. While many of us wish that simply being related would be enough to guarantee an unbreakable sibling connection, it often takes a little more effort than that. Luckily for us, parents, helping to form healthy sibling relationships is easier than it may seem! I’ll show you what works for the Breegan household.

Sibling Outfits: To Match or Not to Match?

If I made an “FAQ” (frequently asked questions) about my sons, one of them would definitely be about their fashion sense. I am admittedly biased. If you ask me, they’re the cutest kids on the west coast! Of course, every mom says something similar about their kids. However, I do get an inordinate amount of inquiries about my sons and their fashion sense. The first thing most people notice is that the boys are often in matching outfits. The most common questions I get are regarding why I coordinate their clothing and whether my sons enjoy the matching. 

My reasons for the adorable duplicates are both convenience and style related. For starters, it is honestly simpler to select one outfit and buy two of them in each of their sizes! There is an even greater advantage to the matching, though. When we’re at a playground or on a playdate, it is much easier to quickly identify my boys in a sea of other kids if they’re both wearing the same color and ensembles. That’s a “mom hack!” 

Support Sibling Differences

Of course, as a mom who delights in the power of visual representation, I do enjoy dressing my boys for important events and appointments. I pick out their outfits for the meaningful stuff, and I allow them to flex their own individual styles on other days. It’s been interesting to see how their personalities impact their fashion choices. While there’s nothing cuter than coordinating kiddos, sometimes fostering healthy sibling relationships means finding ways to allow their differences to shine through. Kids need to feel good about having individuality, and I never forget to prioritize that whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Between Brothers

I have always been maternal, and I knew that no matter where life took me, children would be in my future. My sons are two years apart, and I beam inside when I think about the closeness they currently share. I hope that’s something they will take well into adulthood, but I know it’s up to me to lay the foundation. I believe healthy sibling relationships thrive when the diversity in their personalities is cause for celebration, not dread. 

In many ways, my boys couldn’t be more different. Kingsley, my oldest, is a gentle and compassionate child. He even displayed caretaking traits very early on with his younger brother. Kingsley is easygoing and patient, where Kensi, his brother, is much more of a risk-taker. My youngest is an active and fearless child. I see their personality differences daily, and I embrace them. Neither is better than the other or more preferred. In fact, they balance one another out. I can see the way each of them appreciates the other. When you notice your kids’ varying characteristics, don’t shy away from them. Point them out and compliment them. Say things like, “I love how thoughtful you are,” or, “I think it’s great that you are always willing to try new things.” You will instill confidence in your children while reminding them that their unique personalities are embraced.

Healthy Sibling Relationships Are Made

I’ve talked about the benefits of keeping kids active and empowering them in various ways. When your goal is to nurture positivity between siblings, you have to go the extra mile. One way I regularly do that is by seeking out activities my boys can do and enjoy together. This can be tricky when your kids have different strengths, but that shouldn’t impede the fun. Enroll your kids in fun extracurricular classes, sports and activities that will allow kids of different ages to participate together. My kids love horseback riding, learning music production, basketball and more. I’m careful to ensure the focus is on learning, fun and good sportsmanship, instead of winning or losing. Every kid won’t be amazing at sports or art. Neither will every adult. But, if you can have a blast while doing something fun together, you’ll create memories that will last well beyond a number on a scoreboard.

Siblings are like having built-in best friends. Parents always wish for the relationships between their kids to be strong and lasting. Consider these tips to help enhance the bond between your littles. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Design More with Hooker Furnishings’ Sam Moore!

We as human beings value our individuality. It separates us and makes us uniquely who we are. Being an interior designer, I work to create that same distinction in each client’s project. That task is made easier when I work with Sam Moore, a Hooker Furnishings company. Sam Moore specializes in fabric-to-frame furniture customization, and the options for one-of-a-kind home products are practically endless! Here are a few reasons why I love working with them.

Fabulous Fabrics

One of the most challenging but exciting parts of being an interior designer is finding new and innovative ways to meet the demands of each of my vastly different clients. A mom who wants a livable, practical space for her young kids might seek something completely different from my entrepreneurial client on Rodeo Drive. One of the ways I meet the need is by tailoring each piece with the plethora of options I have with Hooker Furniture and Sam Moore. From neutrals to navy and everything in between, I have an infinite amount of color customizations.

Options also include various materials that can be used for customized furniture. I love that I can offer my clients choices of natural cotton, prints, jacquards, comfortable linens, gorgeous plaids and so many more texture and pattern varieties. Regardless of a client’s penchant towards trendy or traditional, I know I can give them furniture with the personal touches they prefer.

I also love that I can take a great foundational piece of furniture and fit it in a beautiful, kid-friendly performance fabric. Sam Moore has over 100 performance options from which I can choose that are stain-resistant, super easy to clean, and very durable. Using these, I know my clients who are parents won’t wince every time their kids come in from messy playdates and pounce on the chairs. There’s peace of mind knowing I can select functional furniture choices for them that will live in a more formal setting.

Customized Cushions & Chairs

If you’ve been around for a bit, you’ll know how much I talk about the intertwining of form and function. When it comes to design, the two concepts are equally important in my book. Interior photos for social media with every piece perfectly placed are nice. But I want my clients to have a space that not only looks gorgeous but FEELS great as well. Let’s face it, that stunning living room I create for you? Life will happen there! I want to give my clients chairs that will become their favorite places to sit after a long day. I want to design the place you always go to read bedtime stories to your grandson, or to enjoy your coffee in the morning. Comfort is a priority when I’m looking at the seating in a space, and Sam Moore’s cushion and chair offerings prove that they’ve thought of everything!

Now, you can choose from three cushions, each with varying levels of comfort. Spring Down Luxe is a premium cushion sheathed in a down-proof ticking, and it features a three-inch pocketed coil spring system surrounded by polyurethane foam and topped with a 50/50 blend of down and fiber. The Down Plush has a polyurethane foam core topped with a 50/50 blend of down and fiber in a down-proof ticking as well. Then there’s the Classic, which is constructed with a polyurethane foam core topped with bonded fiber in a woven ticking. Gone are the days of “one-size-fits-all” comfort. Everyone’s body is different and requires assorted degrees of support, but we all deserve supreme enjoyment from our furniture. Sam Moore is securing that we can optimize each chair to our liking with this broad range of cushions.

Start to Finish(es)

When someone entrusts me with the design of their ideal space we typically begin with a consultation, and then we proceed to strategize on how to make it all happen. My clients often have envisioned what those spaces look like in their minds in great detail.The last thing I want to do is disappoint them with news that I can’t get their design just right. This is why custom finishes matter so much! If I’m redesigning a room with existing elements, I can choose from cherry, rustic wood, black white and gray tones in finishes to perfectly match the other pieces in the room.

As if that wasn’t enough, you can even determine whether you prefer medium or high sheen on the pieces you select. No stone is left unturned with the over a dozen finishes offered. Each of them goes through up to 12 steps including dry brushing, highlighting, glazing and antiquing. If you can think it, they have it! Grey Metallic, Aged Black and Coveside are just a few of the splendid options. You can customize your items with amazing standard finishes with no upcharge! Tailoring these furniture pieces means I can give my clients interiors that are unrivaled.

Have a Seat — YOUR Seat!

One of the biggest myths I regularly debunk has to do with square footage and its relation to a designer’s ability to beautify the space. I remind my clients that no space is too small to undergo a wondrous transformation. You only need to find the appropriate decor and master the execution to make it a reality. A major part of that process involves furniture that will complement the space—not just in color, but also in size and configuration.

What would you say if I told you that the Sam Moore collection from Hooker Furniture allows you to decide where or even IF a chaise has an arm? You know that little corner you’ve always wished housed an accent chair? Well, now you can pick out a piece and feel confident that it will fit impeccably. The 13 custom seating styles include armless and left- and right-arm facing seats. These options are available in loveseats, open chaises, and bumper chaises, as well as curved armless chairs. As a designer, it’s great to let clients know that I can create furniture for them that will fit practically anywhere in any space of their choosing. This is how I work to create nonpareil spaces for clients. That’s only possible because of partners like Hooker Furniture and Sam Moore!

Buying Your First Home? Don’t Make These Mistakes

Home. It’s a four-letter word that encompasses so much for so many. Everyone defines it differently. For some, home is, like the old adage says, “where the heart is.” Others believe home is wherever family and friends gather. Still, others identify home as a physical dwelling they return to each day. However you describe it, home is important, and we all hope it will be a place of safety, solace and serenity. These are the things that come to mind when you’re buying your first home. It takes more than hope, though, to find the right property for you and your family. I’m putting my interior designer and real estate developer hats on to help you avoid making a few common mistakes along the way!

Prioritize Preferences, Not Perfection When Buying Your First Home

Taking the step to become a first time homeowner is huge! On my discovery+ show, The House My Wedding Bought, I walked several couples through the process of finding the home of their dreams while planning the wedding of their dreams. Each couple wanted something different in a house, and sometimes it seemed almost impossible. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when YOU are home searching. One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to home buyers is don’t look for perfection. It’s easy to get caught up in the picture you’ve always held in your mind about the home you’d buy one day. Now’s the time to shift the focus onto the aspects of your home that matter most.

Identify your non-negotiables. When you’re buying your first home, you will likely view lots of houses. Most of them will have something that isn’t exactly your style. Maybe the countertops are the wrong material or color. The house might have carpet when you’re a fan of hardwood flooring. But, an outdated backsplash or unattractive cabinet handles aren’t a reason to write off a house that otherwise checks all your boxes.

First Things First

Remember, you can always wait a few years and redesign your kitchen or get those floors you’ve always wanted. What you can’t change is the neighborhood or the layout of the home. Consider the major factors that are often permanent. Is your home in an area with a good school district? Are you in close proximity to the places you frequent? These things are worth a yes or no vote. Don’t discount a house because of features that can be modified. I always tell people that part of the fun is in creating the space you’ll live in together as you grow. Every part of your home doesn’t have to be flawless upon move-in. Select the house with good bones and great potential. You’ll be happier with your purchase in the long term if you do.

Money Talks

Let’s be real. Nobody likes to talk about money. If you’re buying your first home, determining the budget should be one of the first things you do. It will help you remain realistic as you search. Have conversations about what you’re willing to spend on a home, as well as what will be comfortable. Many people plan based on what they believe they can afford on the top line. They assess the down payment and the monthly mortgage, but that’s not all you should be thinking about. Unexpected circumstances happen to the best of us. People lose jobs. Medical emergencies arise. Don’t enter into a bad decision simply because you want “more” in a house. Don’t get in over your head with bills. Set yourself up for success by being pragmatic when it comes to the financial aspect of buying a home. 

Invest In Sync

Buying your first home is something to celebrate. So much about the process can be stressful, do your best not to add to that. My advice is to be truly united in this significant investment. Don’t fixate on who supplies more money or how it all came to be. You’re making this investment together. Whether it’s a small condo or a multi-million dollar house, don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re not just buying a property. You’re creating the life that you will live inside of it. If you begin the home buying journey on the same page, you will be that much closer to achieving the goal at hand. 

Ultimately, when you’re buying your first home, you are making the decision to begin a bright future together. It’s an exciting time, but also a serious one. If you make wise choices and keep the important aspects in perspective and on the horizon, you’ll be successful. Don’t make these mistakes if you don’t have to! Happy house hunting!

Wedding Budget Tips and Tricks

So you’ve found the love of your life. Now you’re ready to spend the rest of your days together united in matrimony. The wedding will be one of the most exciting days of your lives! However, between the number of guests, the dress, venue and food, it could also be one of the most expensive. An occasion that should be a source of so much joy shouldn’t be met with dread over exorbitant price tags. With a bit of smart decision making and a lot of wisdom, I’ll show you how to make the most of your wedding budget and still have your dream day!

Timing is Everything

Talk to any number of women and you’re bound to find at least a few who have dreamed about what their wedding would be like since they were little girls. They pictured the dress, the location and sometimes even the mate. What they may not have thought about is the time of day they would be saying their vows. At first thought, that might not seem to matter very much. A closer look will prove otherwise. 

You see, the time you choose to get married often determines the type of food you will serve at the reception. Typically, weddings that occur earlier in the day are accompanied by a lighter, less expensive fare. If you’re looking to stay within a strict wedding budget, consider having your ceremony during a time where you can serve your guests brunch or midday meal options. The food is tasty, and the prices won’t hurt your wallet as much as a formal plated dinner with multiple courses and white glove service.

Uncommon Confections

Wedding receptions usually conjure up images of tall, tiered cakes layered with fondant and immaculate and decorative designs. But, those cakes can really take a toll on a wedding budget! Don’t feel pressured to go the traditional route with your wedding day sweet treats. You can make a splash with unique desserts like cake pops, cupcakes, fondue fountains or donut walls. There are even DIY ideas like ice cream sundae and s’mores stations. These tend to be big hits with wedding goers. These types of desserts are fun and interactive, and you don’t sacrifice any of the decadence! Stay on budget and wow your guests with any of these alternative sweets.

Befitting Blooms

My business as an interior designer is largely based in the aesthetics of a space. I completely understand the importance of the “look” of all things bridal. For many couples, the floral element will play a significant role in attaining the appearance they want on their special day. Flowers are used for bouquets and boutonnieres, table settings, and even for adorning arches, chairs and the reception space. To put it plainly, the flowers are a major player on the wedding day! For this reason, purchasing florals can easily absorb a large portion of your wedding budget. 

One of the best ways to offset the cost of all those flowers is to select ones that are in season at the time of your ceremony. If your heart is set on Lily of the Valley or tulips, you’ll find the best prices and most vibrant hues in the spring. Hydrangeas are recommended anytime from May to July. For a dreamy winter wedding consider Casablanca lilies or poinsettias. Matching your floral choices to the season of your wedding will often result in a greater variety of flowers, more availability, and less of a hit to your pocket. 

Worry Free Wedlock

Wedding preparation can make even the calmest person a bit tense. With the myriad of details to be perfectly solidified before the big day, anything that can be simplified, should! I helped couples on my discovery+ show, The House My Wedding Bought, find wedding venues that made their hearts sing. Some preferred a traditional church setting. Others wanted a big backyard soiree. When you’re choosing the location for your wedding, it’s tough to picture it without thinking about how you’re going to decorate and beautify the space. Let me give you an easy workaround: the beach! 

Keep it simple with your venue and choose one that has natural beauty. Getting married on the beach gives you gorgeous white sand, magnificent blue waves and uplifting sun rays as your backdrop. Even as an interior designer, I have to admit that it just doesn’t get better than that. If you select a scenic venue like a beach or hotel with its own organic allure, you don’t have to break the bank to make the area feel and look magical.

Your wedding day should be joyful and merry. You should be free to focus on the love you share and the happiness that lies before you. Stressing over your wedding budget can quickly strip those good vibes away from the planning of your big day if you’re not careful and calculated. Use these tips to minimize any financial strain related to your wedding, and enjoy the beginning of the best days of your life! Happy marrying!

 

Hooker Furniture: Introducing Commerce & Market!

According to the National Association of Realtors, Millennials and Generation Y make up almost 40 percent of current home buyers. With younger generations encompassing such a large section of the housing market, it’s important that the interior design industry provide options that cater to that demographic. Hooker Furniture recognized this and answered the call with a newly unveiled brand, Commerce & Market. It’s an amazing assortment accent furniture pieces, and let me tell you: the entire line is GORGEOUS!

A Marked Difference

The Commerce & Market brand is set apart from Hooker Furniture’s traditional offerings. It consists of occasional pieces that highlight a variety of designs, styles and textures throughout the brand’s portfolio. Also, the furniture selections don materials that span the gamut. You’ll find cast metals, acacia solids, bone inlay, marble, painted glass, mango wood, travertine and walnut veneers, just to name a few.

The line focuses on globally-inspired home accents sourced from places like Mexico, India and Vietnam. The pieces are smaller in scale with respect to Hooker Furniture’s more traditional offerings. However, that was done by design. It helps to make the furniture more approachable for younger families and homeowners who may have smaller homes or living spaces. Nevertheless, the Commerce & Market offerings are flexible and perfect for any home layout, which aligns well with Hooker Furniture’s exceptional design dexterity across their brands.

Opulent Options

So, what can you expect from Commerce & Market? Look for consoles, credenzas, bar carts, étagères, stools, cabinets, chests, and so much more. Plus, the brand will also offer occasional tables that will include martini tables and desks, end tables, nesting and cocktail tables. It’s an extra bonus, in my opinion, that this line has a selection of practically anything my clients could ask for in home accents.

Within the versatility of the line exists a cohesive, sophisticated neutral palette, and I LOVE it! I’m a huge fan of neutrals because they allow you to do so much with the aesthetic of a space. And, neutrals provide consistency and freedom to coordinate virtually any combination or pops of color. The Commerce & Market brand maintains a neutral constant that refuses to be stagnant or feel repetitive in its presentation. It does so by incorporating intricate detailing in each piece, and the final result is nothing short of stunning! There’s such a depth of character throughout all of the offerings, and my mind bursts with excitement thinking about incorporating combinations of furniture in future projects.

Standout Selections

I got a chance to see several pieces of the Commerce & Market debut line at High Point Market in June. My jaw dropped when I saw the Jaiden Three-Door Credenza. With three incredibly unique hand-placed (!!) bone inlay patterns on the front, the vibrant personality of this piece made me fall in love at first sight. As with all of Hooker Furniture’s offerings, the intricate patterns make it such a statement piece that would be perfect in any home.

The Carved Stumped Side Table was another highlight for me. Its resin-cast design evokes a sense of tradition and history. The hand-painted tribal print honors a history and tradition of long ago. But, it remains timelessly preserved in this gorgeous table. This is the elegance Hooker Furniture always presents, and I appreciate all they provide future homeowners in this new line.

These are just TWO of the many exciting accent offerings of the new Commerce & Market line from Hooker Furniture. With over 70 new pieces to choose from, I will enjoy selecting home accent pieces for my upcoming design projects. I know you will, too!