Luxurious Home Bar Design!

Our homes. They’re the ultimate place of rest, reprieve and relaxation. At least, they should be. And, the definition of “relaxing” shouldn’t be limited to beds and couches. For many, letting loose includes anything that provides pleasure, enjoyment or entertainment. What better way to invite those elements into a home than a luxury home bar? I’ve had the pleasure of creating home bars in several residential projects. Here’s what I love about them, and why I feel any great home should have (at least) one.

Sooo…Why A Home Bar?

It’s probably an overused sentiment at this point, but it still rings true: COVID-19 turned the entire world on its head. So many people started investing more in their homes because that’s where they spent–and still spend–much of their time. At the same time, the desire to enjoy life and its pleasures didn’t stay behind the closed doors we all found ourselves behind. The only natural pivot was to create or bring those out-of-home pleasures into our homes. Thus, “hometertainment” was born and continues to flourish in our personal and private spaces.

Yes, we’re all outside and enjoying many of life’s pre-pandemic frivolities. But the fascination of appreciating our homes in new ways and getting more personal and professional use out of them hasn’t slowed, ironically. As a society we intrinsically still want to delight in others’ company and gather with loved ones. The pandemic taught us through necessity that we now have options to go out or engage in some of those same activities at home. Home bars help to facilitate the socializing aspect of gathering we all love, but with unique touches that create a more tailored experience. Whether it’s catching up with friends, celebrating milestones or simply relishing in spare time, having a bar in your home can set the stage for making memories that will last a lifetime. I always say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but a home bar is a very close second space!

Elements of the Perfect Luxury Home Bar

If you want to create the perfect luxury home bar, know that it isn’t a one-size-fits-all project. There are SO many options from which you can choose. However, there are some basics you’ll need to secure your home bar meets every need you and your guests have.

First, consider your home and its capacity to house a bar space. A home bar will require ample square footage, especially if it will be a place for entertaining. It will be imperative for the space to comfortably accommodate the beverage station, a host or bartender, and several guests. Once you’ve secured the space, decide where it will be in your home. That may be determined by its purpose. Will your home bar be a greeting area for guests, or will it be tucked away for “special” occasions only? Will it exist in a larger living area such as the dining or family rooms, or will you put it in the man cave or the patio for outside entertaining? The first rule of real estate, as many would say, is “location, location, location.” Such is the same for your home bar!

Next, think about what statement you want to make with the visual presentation of your bar. That will determine what materials to use for the most prominent part of your bar: the countertop. The most popular materials to use are stone and wood, and each of those brings a very different aesthetic to the bar presentation. The great thing is that there are so many choices between those two material types. From quartz, granite and marble to walnut, maple and mahogany, you’ll have a limitless amount of visual styles to bring to your bar entertainment area. Other considerations like seating options, layout and bartending tools are also important, but I think these two are priority decisions.

Putting the Breegan Touch on Luxury Home Bars

I have been able to use my creativity and custom interior design prowess for quite a few clients, but I definitely have my favorites. Two of them are included in one multimillion-dollar Spanish villa in Bel Air, UNICA. The first bar was located at the entrance of the home. This was intentional, as I wanted the home bar to greet visitors and give them a landing space while waiting for the primary homeowner to receive them. The entrance bar boasts custom Silver Wave marble stone counters constructed in a ‘U’ shape, which follows the natural curves in the stone’s design. I accented the home bar with lush and comfortable custom bar stools that I knew guests would adore. Under the bar, there are four insets of dark charcoal shagreen (leather made from stingray skin) with slight bronze undertones. This entrance home bar is such a refined way to welcome newcomers into the sprawling megamansion.

In this same home, I created a wellness bar that is simply stunning! This home bar can be seen from multiple levels in the home. Its design is an intentional blend of darker and lighter elements of the home, tying in characteristics of upper and lower level features and complementing the brown in the limestone flooring. It’s such a gorgeous presentation! The bar itself was designed by Alex Turco, who infused elements of smoke and water in the design, perfectly symbolizing the views of the fireplace and waterfall you see from the bar area. It presents such cohesion, and I hope the future owners and their guests appreciate it as much as I did while creating it.

Luxurious home bars are an acquired amenity for a certain type of homeowner, but they can do wonders to enhance the look of an entertainment area of your home. If you ever wondered how you could incorporate a home bar, I can be of service! Let’s connect via The Expert and discuss options with your house and desires in mind!

Home Renovations: Expect Anything!

With ever-rising mortgage rates and a more competitive than ever housing market, is it any wonder so many people are choosing to invest in their current homes rather than buy new ones? With the right interior designer, a vision and a hefty dose of patience, home renovations can truly transform your space into the house you’ve been dreaming of. But, let’s be honest about it. People love home renovations because of the gorgeous outcome we get to on the other side of all the chaos. The problem is, all of the chaos! LOL. If you’re thinking about embarking on a home remodel or home renovations journey, I’ve got a few helpful tips to keep in mind!

Keep It All In Perspective

I have talked about the differences in designing for clients versus designing for myself on my social media. I am in the process of designing my dream beach home, and my son’s room presented a challenge. There was a pole that stood in the middle of the space. Instead of stressing over it, I decided to design around it. Problem solved! It isn’t usually as cut and dry when I’m designing for others.

When someone contacts me via The Expert for a virtual consultation, the first thing I do is shift every focus to a client-centered view. It all becomes about what you want and need out of your space. Often, that means attempting to solve small issues that clients see as serious dilemmas. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you while you’re in the midst of home renovations is to not sweat the small stuff! Listen, structural imperfections will exist. Trust me, it’s just something you can and should expect.

Trust Your Designer

When we’re designing a space, we are in essence creating a usable box. That means the functionality comes first. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to explain to clients that the tiny piece of the closet wall that isn’t precisely flush against the next wall will never be noticed. People obsess over things that simply won’t matter, and that’s why you hire a designer who can help you distinguish between the things that do and don’t. Don’t fixate on a window that isn’t completely centered. You can place a beautiful vase there and those six inches you’re worried about suddenly vanish. Besides, even if you could get it centered the way you think you want it, the window would be too close to the kitchen, and it would throw everything off! 

Spending an insane amount of time on minutia only delays progress. Trust your designer, and fear not when it comes to the little things.

Partner Well With Tradesmen

Home renovations don’t happen without tradesmen. These projects are collaborative. During any given part of the process, you may be working with several different vendors, and they all have a role to play. During what is often a stressful time, it is especially important to remember that everyone has varying management styles. That means you might run into a worker who handles things like invoicing in a way that isn’t your preference. It also might mean you hire someone who isn’t as well-versed when it comes to the administrative side of home renovations. Try to stay calm, and be empathetic. Some people are simply going to be better skilled at plumbing or drywall than they are in billing practices. Don’t get worked up. Keep a line-by-line record of what your contract says, and aim to lead with a smile. Polite will always win.

Keep Cash Handy

This one might surprise you if you haven’t had much experience on bigger home improvement projects, but it’s worth noting. We have several ways to pay people that don’t involve physical money, so you’re probably wondering why I advise keeping it on you, right? The answer is simple. Contracted employees are often scheduling their jobs and time around the size of the job they have on the docket. In the beginning of a project, the tasks, like framing, are much larger. Therefore, they yield bigger checks for the company. The jobs towards the end dwindle in size and pay. It’s much harder to get someone to come out to do one small job without the promise of immediate payment. I have had to have tradesmen come back out to do small tasks like hot mopping a single shower. They were much more incentivized to do so when I had cash readily available to pay them for their time right then and there. So, take it from me, keep your cash flow in order for the best results!

Organization is King

This is where you really need to pay attention. I have one word for you: spreadsheets. Learn them, use them, master them. It’s so easy to get caught up in those “instant” before-and-afters we see on social media. An unsightly space morphs into a magazine-worthy one at the snap of an influencer’s fingers. But to many clients’ dismay, that just isn’t how it works. Good things take time. They also take planning. If you’re planning a remodel or renovation, sit down and strategically plan it all out with your designer. Next, get busy ordering all the necessary pieces. When I’m designing a home, all of my items are already onsite before we begin. That includes lighting, plumbing, bolts, etc. 

Now, ordering all of these pricey items so far in advance means that you also have to be able to keep track of them. We don’t want a single thing to go missing. Put each item into your spreadsheet with details. I add extensive notes to mine. I want to know which door goes in which room, which way it swings, the corresponding hardware and any other pertinent information! Home renovations go well when everything is available to be installed when it’s time to get the job done.

Don’t be intimidated by others’ home renovation horror stories. These projects definitely take a lot of work, but the reward is great! Use these tips to achieve your dream space without all of the stress. Contact me today and I’ll help!

Choosing the Best Dining Room Table

Good interior design is not only about the “big picture.” Yes, everything has to come together to create a great-looking and great-feeling aesthetic. But much of that has to do with choices that perfectly mesh with your lifestyle, and that’s different for everyone. One space in your home that may matter more than people think is the dining room. Dining room tables exist in almost every home, but most aren’t purchased with the intentionality they deserve. Here are some things to consider when looking to incorporate the best dining room table for your home and your way of life.

Start with Scale

One of my favorite design projects was a 41,000-square-foot megamansion in Bel Air. The entire home had sprawling space everywhere! It was fun selecting decor that was larger than life because the space could handle it all. What I realize, though, is some of those same pieces of furniture would completely dwarf the average dining room in most homes.

That’s where your journey to find the best dining room table should start. Consider the size of your space.  Why? Because visual balance is always key. That said, you want to make sure the scale of the table matches the available square footage. Honestly, no one wants an Alice in Wonderland situation. You may adore a specific table, but if it is too small for your space, it will never present the way you want (or need) it to. Such is the same with stately dining room tables. They have such a commanding presence and they can look so regal. However, if you have a smaller dining room, selecting a table that’s too large would crowd your space. That would have the opposite effect you want. Instead of looking grand, you would actually reduce square footage visually. You definitely want to think about scale as you choose your dining room table.

Make & Material

People tend to pick furniture with their eyes versus their needs. They buy what they like, and they like what they see. But with so many different types of materials from which to choose, how do you know which one is best? All materials are not made equally, nor do all of them present effectively in a space. But again, that is contingent on one’s definition of “effective.”

For example, is being environmentally sound important to you when furnishing your home? It is for me. I am a big advocate of thinking about sustainability when it comes to furniture purchases. You may want to consider looking at dining room tables made from reclaimed wood. This material is significantly stronger than traditional wood. Prolonged exposure to various temperatures causes wood to expand and makes it tougher and less prone to splitting. Its rustic look also adds visual depth and character other woods don’t. And, reclaimed wood helps to preserve natural resources. Wins all around!

I also love to design with glass dining room tables. In fact, another one of my favorite pieces that I’ve used in an interior design project featured a glass tabletop. It sat on a brass base and was infused with one of my favorite hues. Glass is great because you can go larger with it without obstructing the view or visually breaking up the continuity in a space. It is a delicate material, so it does have some limitations. I’d say the same about marble. It’s simply gorgeous, but it is a very soft stone. Now, if you love marble but don’t want to have it resealed often (which tends to be the case with marble), go with a manmade material. It’s just as beautiful and more durable.

What’s the Use?

A final thing to consider when deciding on your dining room table is how it’s going to be used. Many people have formal dining rooms that aren’t regularly utilized. Rather, homeowners use the rooms more for beauty and for contributing to the overall look of the entire home. If that is what you’re after, you may want to select a table based on its intricate craftsmanship, look or color. These aspects may be more appreciated because they work to better complement the interior space itself.

However, if you’re looking to get a dining room table you will sit down and use daily with your family, that may be the time to deliberate more on what you really want. Do you want to invest in an heirloom-quality table that may be a bit more costly but more substantial? Or, will having an active family cause you to think more practically? If you entertain a great deal, are you okay with having a dining room table made of beautiful but super porous materials? These are some serious questions to think about.

As an interior designer with a family, I think you should also be mindful of the dynamic of the people who will be using it. If your household consists only of you and your significant other, two responsible adults, you may be more willing to purchase a table with a more precious or delicate material. If you have active young kids, though, chances are you may not want a table that can be easily marred by stains, nicks, or dents from regular use. Trust me: NO ONE wants permanent memories of spaghetti sauce or ketchup mishaps. Also, if you have kids, consider the cleaning that will be necessary if you have a glass table. Fingerprints are real—and very visible— with this material.

Need Help Deciding?

There’s so much to keep in mind when you want to create the perfect dining room in your home. A big part of that will center on the elements you want to incorporate, including your dining room table, and how everything will fit into your everyday lifestyle. Need some help making a decision about all your options? I can help! I’d love to look at your room and talk you through some specific considerations for your dining space. Contact me at The Expert, and let’s work to find the best dining room table for your forever home!

Summer is for Boating

If someone had to write a recipe for the makings of you, what would they include? Now that’s a question you’ve probably never been asked, but humor me and think about it. As for me, I think it would consist of a hefty dose of Southern California sunshine and lifestyle, one part Ibiza, Spain, one part interior design, family and philanthropy, and a dash of…BOATING! No one who knows me well would be surprised to learn that, because in addition to being a lover of all things oceans and pools, I’m no stranger to boats and yachts. I even started my design career as a creative director for a luxury yacht company! So, boating has a special place in my heart. I’ll tell you why those roots run deep in today’s blog.

Early Adventures in Boating

When people ask where my love of boating comes from, my mind immediately recalls my earliest memories of summer vacations with my family on Lake Mead or Lake Mohave. My parents, siblings and I would drive up and rent a houseboat with another family. In fact, these trips actually looked a lot like what I’ve coined as tiered vacations! We would pick up friends from the harbor, bring them with us for a few nights, and then drop them back off at the end of the weekend. Now, you might be thinking that this all sounds super fun and luxurious. And, while I certainly did have fun on these trips, I wouldn’t describe anything about them as particularly opulent. In fact, I often joke about the “emotional scar” these trips left on my soul. LOL. I’m kidding! But, it should be noted that the way my parents preferred to vacation varies greatly from the way I do.

The preparation for our boating trips started well in advance of our treks, and it was extensive. For starters, we always brought everything we needed for the week or weeks we planned to be on the houseboat. I can remember the garage at our house being stacked with mac and cheese, snacks and other food we would be eating while on vacation. Anything we would need to consume and use had to be loaded into the car and brought with us. I mean, everything. We even had huge supplies of paper towels and tissue, because there would be no room service! When I think back on those days, in addition to the fun, I remember the hassle and stress.

Let the Fun Begin!

We would pile into the car, and mom insisted on bringing her aloe plant (because in her opinion nothing worked better!). When we finally arrived, Dad and one of his friends would drive the boat. Our time during those couple of weeks was spent jet skiing, speed boating, water skiing and fishing. I discovered that I was great at water skiing. But I hated it! I mean, why would I want to be dragged behind a boat when everyone else is ON the boat? At least, that’s how young adolescent Breegan thought. 

Storms would come through, the boat would sway and sway. We would wake up the next morning, and items would be halfway across the beach because of the wind. It was definitely an adventure. It wasn’t all bad. I learned to catch lizards with my dad, and I had a good time with my siblings and our friends. It was just…different. At least, it was different by adult Breegan’s standards. I think that’s normal!

Redefining Boating for Myself

I’m grateful for all those trips on the lake with my family. It was a defining part of my childhood, and while maybe it was exactly the way I would have planned it, I know it was a privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy. But, sometimes you need to experience things you don’t like in order to uncover what you do! At the age of 16 I made the decision not to go on these trips anymore. For me, it felt like our vacations required too much work! I didn’t want to accumulate all the stuff we needed for two weeks. I didn’t like that the water we were in was so dark and murky. It was the opposite of the clear teal waters in my beloved Ibiza. So, when I became an adult, I knew boating would continue to be a great love of mine; it would just look different. Very different.

These days I plan boating days and trips with the goal of relaxation. My family orders room service. We spend time enjoying each other’s company without the fear of a storm or a boat tipping over. It’s not that one way of boating is better or worse than the other. They just prioritize different things. When my boys and I vacation, I want to show up and give my kids all of my attention. I work hard. My usual life is spent split between design projects, philanthropic work in Kenya and traveling for my work in TV. The moments I get to unwind and unplug with my boys is incredibly precious. I’m also aware that they need time to relax, too! 

So no, we don’t pack up non-perishables and drive to the lake. We indulge and spoil ourselves a little. But isn’t that what we all do a bit as we get older? We take lessons from our childhood and reimagine what life might look like if we put our own spin on things. My parents gave me a gift in all of those boating experiences that have undoubtedly shaped me and the way I prefer to spend my leisure time.

The Beauty of Boating

If you ever catch my Instagram stories, there’s a big chance you’ll see glimpses of me with my significant other, sons and friends zipping to and fro in our boat in L.A. We don’t just vacation on yachts, we take the boat to the farmer’s market and to dinner, right here locally! I do truly love it! There is just something about being out there on the water with the wind hitting your face, and gratefulness filling your heart. It’s a unique sensation that is exhilarating. I don’t feel it when I’m in my car or walking down the street. The power the ocean has to reduce stress levels and boost serotonin is unmatched. 

I love boating because I love to share experiences. I enjoy taking people out on the boat, because I realize everyone doesn’t have one! I don’t want to be on the boat alone. I want to be out there with you, friends and family! I want to spend time listening to music in the sunshine with my loved ones, as we watch the water ripple behind us. Boating sets my soul aflame. It’s my happy place. Summer is for boating as far as I’m concerned. I think it will always be a part of who I am. I have my parents to thank for that. Tell me about something in your childhood that influenced the way you like to spend your time today!

Luxury Hotel Stays: A Lesson in Gentlemanly Habits

I bet most moms and dads will agree with me when I say parenting in 2023 is…different…than in years past. The idea of a “tribe” living in the same area to help support us with our kids has changed, if it even exists at all. With so much going on in the world, it’s a challenge allowing our kids to interact with adults. And I think there’s just reason for that. All of that said, I primarily rely on myself and our experiences as a family to help guide and gauge some of the life lessons they need. One of those recurring experiences for us happens to be our local staycations. I use our luxury hotel stays as conduits for them to learn lessons in being little gentlemen. So far, it seems to be helping.

The Power of Paying Attention 

I started thinking about this as my boys and I took quiet reprieves during the downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because hotels were virtually empty, we would take a two- to three-day staycation at a luxury hotel in the area. Some, like the Waldorf Astoria, had reduced rates on Mondays and Tuesdays. There were specific things I remember about the check-in experience there. When I checked us in, the receptionists would offer me something like champagne, but they would also get the boys coloring packets. I thought it was really nice to not only think about the adult but also provide a welcoming gift for the children.

Receptionists would typically ask for my information when getting a room. However, they would always ask my boys their names, also. I didn’t think much of that until we walked back by the main desks after checking in. I would hear, “Have a great day, Breegan. Enjoy your day, Kensi and Kingsley!” The clerks made a point of remembering all our names! It was such a special touch that doesn’t happen at every hotel stay. On other occasions when they realized the boys liked to paint, they would bring up easel sets with French berets for them to wear. It made such an impression on me as a mom.

Since those times, I’ve made it a point to talk to my boys about their experiences during our luxury hotel stays. I would emphasize how cool it was that employees remembered their names out of everyone who was there. We would also talk about what it meant to them that the employees cared about them having fun things to do while we were there. Even at their young ages, both boys recognized those actions made them feel special. I took the time to explain how they should do the same for others. Remembering names helps people feel connected to us. And, caring about what matters to others helps them feel important and loved. It’s my way of empowering them to be emotionally intelligent little men, but on their level. I’ve already seen the fruit of these conversations in their actions toward others.

Kindness Through Conversation

I found similar experiences with other luxury hotel stays with my sons. The staff at The Beverly Hills Hotel was just as accommodating. If I happened to ask someone at the front desk where the pool was, they wouldn’t simply tell me. They would stop whatever it was they were doing and walk us to the pool. Who does that?! On top of personally escorting us to our destination, the employee would start a conversation, and it wasn’t a superficial exchange. We would get questions like, “What brings you to our hotel?” “What’s the best part about your time with us so far?” and “Have you all visited the swan garden?” Those instances were brief moments of courtesy, but they had such an impact.

These exchanges were significant because I recognized they didn’t happen everywhere we chose to stay. Don’t get me wrong: we’ve had really nice people and experiences in budget-friendly hotels. But interactions were different in that they felt more obligatory in those hotels versus the luxury hotels. It was as if people were nice because they were paid to be. Luxury employees seemed to be kind and helpful because they wanted to meet our needs. They wanted us to be happy. What’s more, all of the employees, whether they were managers or maintenance, took so much pride in all they did for the hotel, no matter their position. Being kind to everyone was a detail in their roles that they took seriously and enacted with sheer excellence.

My kids picked up on these things, too, in their own way. My oldest would exclaim how attendants and receptionists made him feel really happy during our luxury hotel stays. He loved how “nice” they were to him. I took those opportunities to discuss the difference between being nice and kind. As a young gentleman, I wanted him to always make people feel the same way the workers made him feel.  He seemed to get it, and it shows in his interaction with both adults and other kids.

Equality Etiquette

There’s so much more I’m able to teach my boys about being gentlemen during our luxury hotel stays. One other thing that has been really important to show them is that being kind is a universal act. It wasn’t just the hotel manager giving great service to us and making us feel special. The housekeepers, the receptionists, the bellboys…they all treated us well. Likewise, we don’t get to treat people differently because of their professional role, pay scale, gender or color. I intentionally taught them through our stays that everyone is valuable and worthy of respect and feeling loved.

As a mom aspiring to raise global citizens, I want my sons to understand everyone has a role to play in the world, and everyone’s part is equally important. We all have a gift and something to contribute to society. One person not doing their part, or not feeling worthy of contributing, can impact us all. Breegan, your boys can learn all that by staying at a luxury hotel? ABSOLUTELY! If there’s a manager running an exquisite hotel with custodians who feel underappreciated, that can impact the success of the entire enterprise. It’s important that EVERYONE feels valued and worthy. People may be on various rungs of the life ladder, but we all have the same heart—and that’s what should be positively impacted.

Raising young boys to be gentlemen is an intentional task. But utilizing what we do as a family, including our luxury hotel stays, helps them live and learn in the moment. That makes the task a little easier for me as a mom. Parents, how are you teaching your kids about kindness? I’d love to know more in the comments.

Create a Tranquil Home With Interior Design

Is your home your absolute favorite place to be? I believe it should be. Don’t get me wrong; most of us love a nice tropical vacation from time to time. However, when it comes to the place that makes you feel like the embrace of a nice warm hug, home is what it’s all about! I think that’s one of the reasons I love my job so much. Interior design truly has the power to transform any space into what we want and need it to be. With the craziness of today’s world and our nonstop schedules, having a tranquil place to return to each day shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be everyone’s normal practice. If you’ve been wishing for that to be your reality, I’ll help get you started with easy tips in this blog!

The Power of Home

Most people never think about the concept of “home” outside of a structure that keeps us warm and dry each day. But our homes do so much, and they mean so much! I have been blessed to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that has made it its mission to fight for everyone to have access to fair and safe housing. I can think of no better reason for what I do than this. I also work to end child marriage and FGM in Kenya, and one of the biggest risks the girls and women take on the road to a better life is leaving the home they know with nothing but hope for a safer future. They often live in buildings that also house the classrooms they attend. 

Home for so many is a sanctuary. It is where we look forward to resting after a long day of work and stressors. It is the place we raise our children, gather with our loved ones and take shelter from storms. Home is everything. So finding ways to ensure these spaces can transform into the ultimate in tranquility is so important. More than that, though, it is achievable with the right choices in interior design. 

Summon the Spa

When a client tells me they want a space to feel peaceful, one of the first things I do is consider the places that immediately conjure up those relaxing vibes. For many, that is the spa! Spas typically feature neutral color palettes of white with hints of shades of blue. A good rule of thumb is to go with creamy neutrals when your goal is tranquility because it tends to make the space feel…well, spa-like!

If you’re not a fan of those particular hues, don’t feel pressured to use them. The next step is to simply consider when you feel the most at ease. What do your surroundings look like in those moments? For instance, say you adore bright yellow. Your first thought may be to put it all over your room, because it makes you happy, right? Wrong! Colors affect us in various ways. That means, you can love yellow, but if it energizes you, maybe it’s best in a space meant more for productivity than relaxation. So remember to hone in on the shades that bring about a serene feeling when you’re using home design for these results.

Don’t Forget Your Senses

All too often we forget that interior design isn’t just about what you see, it’s also how a space engages the other senses. Creating a calm space involves the way things smell as well. In fact, you can impact the way someone feels in a space with smell in several ways! I’ve heard realtors talk about baking cookies when they are doing open houses for homes they’re looking to sell. Why? Because it evokes a certain familiar (and positive) feeling. That could potentially sway things for a potential buyer while they peruse the home.

You can use a similar trick with something like candles or a diffuser. We can even take another nod from the spa here. Masseuses will often use scented oils and lotions on their clients. Now, of course those are needed so that their hands glide over skin more easily. However, much of the benefit lies in the aromatic quality of the oils and lotions. In fact, the National Institute of Health, or NIH conducted a study that proved that after inhalation of certain essential oils “Different sets of responses would be triggered…” that “… would ultimately affect both mood and emotion.” Grab some calming scents and let them waft through your home. You’ll definitely feel the tranquil vibes!

Be Inspired By Your Favorite Places

Where is your favorite place on earth, besides your own home? When you think of that place, what are the first things that come to mind? Is it the way the sun shines in a particular way that feels warm and soothing? If so, consider smart lighting! You can purchase bulbs for your fixtures that allow you to change the shade of light and even when it comes on each day in order to mimic that relaxing orange hue that you love. 

If your mind immediately goes to the architectural features of a place, such as the structure of the houses, or the ornate gates, I can help you find ways to incorporate them in your space. I loved the detailing of the doors in Morocco, and I knew I wanted to capture a bit of that at my own home. I sourced a hundred year old gate and had it custom painted. It remains one of my favorite parts of that house. 

It isn’t unusual to cling to memories of the natural and physical characteristics of a place. Often, people will mention how comforting they found the sounds of waterfalls in their favorite locales. They will remark about the beauty of the trees and green grass, or the rich blue tones in the ocean. When I hear these comments, I immediately begin to think about how to bring those components to their spaces in imaginative ways.

Soothing Sounds and Natural Beauty

Fountains are a beautiful way to bring in the sounds of running water, and they can be used in many places throughout the home. They can be as decorative or organic looking as you wish. I have placed them in and around bathrooms in my projects, and they’re always a huge hit. Of course, using gorgeous greenery to surround yourself with nature is always a great idea! I even have a trick for those who aren’t blessed with a green thumb. Interior design can be a visceral and palpable experience if you lean into your own sensitivities and passions.

Décor that feels well-traveled is always a great addition to a space, because it becomes a conversation starter as well as a memory trigger tied to serenity. Get retrospective and really dive into the feelings you get when you are in the lands that make you feel most at home. We can easily recreate those sensations with interior design!

Your home isn’t a place that should be tolerated. It should be celebrated. I want my clients to be excited to return home each day. I want them to know that no matter what life throws at them throughout the day from work and other stressful encounters, they get to go home to an atmosphere rich in relief. If you’re seeking a tranquil home, contact me on The Expert! Let’s design one together.

The Best Neutral Paint Color for Your Home

Interior designers have a way of making various elements of home design work to create moods and evoke emotions throughout the home. But that has to be done with consistency. How do we do that? Well, each designer’s strategy is different, but one of the ways I create that consistency is with neutral paint colors. Here’s why.

The Power of Neutral Paint Colors

When it comes to making statements with color in interior design, bright and bold colors certainly have “stand-out” factors. Something vibrant and flamboyant may definitely get seen. However, using that colorway throughout your home may present as a little more maximalist than you ultimately want.

Neutral colors, on the other hand, are much more calming and inviting to the naked eye. That’s because they have less variation from one to the other, generally speaking, so you can more easily move from neutral to neutral without interruption. The seamless transition also helps with coordination and more cohesion in a space. What’s more, using neutrals as your base palette in your room design will create a space that is easier to maintain AND coordinate with non-neutral colors. These are just a few reasons why neutral paint colors are my go-to in my design projects.

Wonderfully White

I learned early on in my career that white isn’t just white. So many different shades add to or detract from the inviting vibe of a space, and I found it essential to hone in on which white shades were the best. I ended up choosing a shade of white that works well in practically all of my interior projects that require white tones. In my book, there’s no better white than “Cool December” by Dunn-Edwards. I’ve been using it in my design projects for over 10 years.

“Cool December” has a much cooler tone than many other white shades, yet it doesn’t feel clinical or hospital-esque, if that makes sense. Rather, it’s a crisp, clean tone that is extremely tempered with respect to brightness. It’s great for any area of the home, but I love it in rooms that get used frequently simply because it’s touch-up friendly. Magic erasers work well with this shade, and that’s great for homes with active toddlers.

Black is Beautiful

As with all colors, selecting the perfect shade is always key in design projects. When I want a darkened space and dramatic impact, I reach for Behr’s “Little Black Dress.” Most people don’t even think about black as a neutral paint color, but it actually is. In fact, it’s a bold neutral I think should be considered more often in home design. I consider this a more versatile version of black because of the hints of navy undertones layered within. That adds a bit of warmth and gives the color depth when used on walls and cabinetry. The slight hint of blue also adds personality and brings a more inviting aesthetic that more stark shades of black don’t present. “Little Black Dress” is a favorite for creating timeless looks, such as tuxedo kitchens.

Now, when I need an absolute black, there’s nothing that works like “Tricorn Black” by Sherwin-Williams. Tricorn Black has a light reflectance value (LRV) of 3, which means it virtually absorbs ALL light with which it comes in contact. At the same time, the lighting in the space can make it look a bit lighter or darker. I mention that to say it is a solid choice for an all-around black neutral paint color, but it can be flexible depending on natural light options where you may use it. And, because it has no undertones, you can pair it with many other colors that do!

Going Greige

If you’re looking for a neutral paint color between black and white, I have a perfect choice. It’s a mix of gray and beige, or “greige.” The combination has the visual flexibility to look “gray” without being as cold. Beige adds the warmth needed to give the shade a unique dimension and appearance. If you’re curious about what it looks like, I love Behr’s “Campfire Ash”.

The awesome thing about greige is that it’s a muted neutral that evokes calm and serenity. It not only works well as a neutral paint color for walls, but it is also amazing for furniture and wood stains if you don’t prefer dark tones in your decor. What’s more, it allows designers to bring inside the shades and tones from outside hardscapes. Greige can make an impact in any room in the home, but I think it works exceptionally well in living rooms and dining rooms. It also complements natural stone elements in the kitchen area wonderfully.

Your Favorite Neutral Paint Color?

These are a few of my favorite colors I use when selecting neutrals as a foundational color palette, but I’m curious about what colors you prefer. Let me know in the comments. If you’re curious about what neutral paint color would look best in your home, I can definitely help guide you! Contact me at The Expert, and let’s look at your space together to see what would make your gorgeous home look even more magnificent!

Create a Flex Space in Your Home

Is it just me, or is life just getting more and more hectic? I think it’s safe to say that most of us are maneuvering through all the twists and turns of everyday happenings the very best we can. While that’s easier said than done, having homes that can accommodate our busier lifestyles and ever-changing needs certainly can help! One way of maximizing a home is to create what’s known as a flex space. It’s a feature many are adding to their homes, and today I’ll show you how you can too!

What is a Flex Space?

I’d be willing to bet that you have either heard of a flex space, or you’re familiar with the concept. A flex space is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a room or space that can be used for multiple purposes. A few years ago when the world was hit with an unforeseen pandemic, we were all stuck inside our homes for lengthier durations than ever before. That meant we had to get creative in order to meet the challenges of our spaces. All of a sudden, we were expected to have classrooms in our homes for kids to continue school. We couldn’t go to the gym, or to the office, and our kids had to hit pause on their extracurricular activities. Because nothing even remotely close to this had ever happened before, our homes couldn’t keep up with the demand. 

Instead, we made due with what we had, often crowding into whatever room was available for everything from zoom meetings to spanish lessons. It was a time, indeed. The truth is, many people thought (and some still think) they didn’t have any other options. The idea of a flex space felt impossible when they considered the home they worked so hard to create pre-pandemic. And, I get it. I mean, there aren’t a ton of people rushing to completely re-do their homes when they’ve invested a significant amount of money to curate those spaces to their preferences already. The other myth was that you needed a lot of extra square footage to create a flex space—square footage they didn’t have. Fortunately, that’s simply not true! You can achieve these multi use spaces with what you have with a few easy tips.

Flipping Your Space, Temporarily

One of the things clients often bring up when we’re seeking answers to their space conundrums, is that they don’t want to waste space for situations that only arise every now and then. For instance, what do you do if you want an office, but the only “free” room in your home is a guest room? If you booked a virtual consultation with me on The Expert, I would likely begin by asking how frequently you have guests staying in your home. Many of us are holding space for people or activities that occur rarely enough that there might actually be a better use for that room! 

So, let’s create homes for the lives we live now! Make that room an office that can easily be flipped into a guest room when needed. I love creative solutions like murphy beds for this exact purpose. Murphy beds fold up into the wall when not in use, so you never have to sacrifice space! You can put desks, tables and any other office equipment you need in the room, and conveniently let down the bed for your guests when they’re in town. Voila, flex space activated! 

Put Your Interior Design to Work

I say it all the time; interior design doesn’t exist only to make things pretty. It also helps you get the most function out of your space. When you want to create a flex space, consider the power of design in your choices. If you’re a huge movie buff, but your home doesn’t allow for a built-in movie room, create one! Depending on budget and wall space, you can buy inexpensive projectors and screens that can be used for movie nights in any room! If that feels too lofty, turn to lighting! There are so many smart lighting options that are ideal for setting the vibe for a fun movie night. You can program scenes as you wish that will transform a space into dark theater mode at the touch of a button. All you’ll need next is a comfy blanket and popcorn! Flex spaces don’t have to be permanent. You can shift into them as needed.

Redo, Repurpose, Reuse

What’s in your garage? What about your basement? One of the best ways to create a flex space is to take advantage of the spots in your home that have gone forgotten and unused altogether. I can’t tell you how many clients tell me they wish they had a home gym or a safe place for their kids to play, all while completely overlooking the most obvious answer. If your garage has become a place to store a bunch of junk you keep meaning to get rid of, now’s the time! Park that car in the driveway, and transform that space into your home garage or yoga studio! Looking for a craft room? Maybe a playroom for the kids? Tidy up your finished basement and design one. Most of us aren’t lacking space, we just lack vision. Don’t waste good space! 

You Have What You Need

Would you believe your existing space is likely already flex space material? Because it is! You simply have to decide how you need it to perform. Then, we can use innovative ways to bring it to life! Maybe you have an office, but you want to be able to look over notes without feeling disconnected from the rest of the family in the evenings. Occasional tables are perfect for this reason. They’re small enough to pull up and place your laptop while the kids are enjoying a board game just a few feet away. I love looking over blueprints while my boys eat their messy lunches right next to me without the fear of their little fingers staining my documents! Occasional tables are small enough to be placed beside any seating area without obstructing walkways. They’re available in various design styles ensuring anyone can find one right for their space.

I’m a busy mom of two boys, so I know what it’s like to deal with mountains of homework. We’ve been lucky enough to have a space converted for schoolwork for my sons, but an alternative to that is something you probably use daily: your kitchen island. These make awesome flex spaces in a home because they often already have electrical outlets, something you definitely need with all the devices our kids use. If you haven’t already, invest in smart switches and outlets that allow for conveniences like faster charging, and even wire organization to keep things neat. My favorites are from Legrand. Durable countertop materials (we don’t want sharpie marks on marble!) comfortable barstools and enough outlets make for a superb working station!

Demand more from your home! You spend a lot of time there, so it should be able to keep up with your lifestyle. Flex spaces are becoming more and more common, and they really do help you maximize your usable square footage in creative ways. If you need better performance out of your home, contact me and let’s figure it out together!

Tiered Vacation: Why You Should Try It!

I look forward to summer for so many reasons. First, there’s no better weather than the hot, sunny climate here in Southern California, in my opinion. I’m someone who loves to be outside, and these are the ideal conditions to enjoy it! But, summer is usually when the kids have much more free time since school is out. That allows us to go away on vacation without the consideration of their busy school schedules. Simply put, summer in the Breegan Jane household means vacation time, and if you know anything about me, you know where I want to go! Ibiza is my favorite place, and recently, my family has been enjoying what I’m calling “tiered vacations.” It involves a lot of time, a lot of people, and even more fun and festivities! I think we could all benefit from these types of trips. Let’s discuss!

What is a Tiered Vacation?

I have written about the need for vacations, both with kids and without, many times before. Life is crazy, and we all need a reprieve from those everyday stressors that can start to wear on us from time to time. I’ve been blessed to visit so many places around the world, but Ibiza, Spain is the one spot that continues to beckon me year after year. I have taken my boys there since they were little, and over the last few years it’s truly become like a beautiful, tropical home away from home. Because I have so many friends who live in various countries, I don’t always get to see them as much as I desire. But, with several of them living in Europe, Spain is much more easily accessible than the U.S. 

We started a tradition of meeting up in Ibiza about once a year to hang out and reconnect. I would secure accommodations for a large group, and invite my friends to come when they could. It was such a joy to be able to spend time with loved ones in paradise. If we stayed in the country for a month, one group of friends would come for a week, and when they left, another would fly into town for a few days. Maybe a few family members would arrive at the end of that same week, and the cycle would continue until we had visited with everyone. In essence, we vacationed with our various friends and family members in tiers. It was an incredibly effective way of maximizing the time, and surrounding ourselves with all our favorite people!

Prioritizing Adult Friendships

Between filming for HGTV Dream Home and other TV projects, virtual interior design consultations with clients, working on the Mekuno Project and all that comes with being a mom, I often find it challenging to carve out time to simply nurture my own friendships. Moms will understand. We tend to spend much of our schedule ensuring our kids make it to every playdate, sports practice and game or other extracurricular activity. That doesn’t leave much room for our own personal needs. It’s hard to maintain friendships with people who live close by, let alone those who abide on different continents! So, arranging a way to get away and connect with those people is necessary. 

During our Ibizan trips, we do a lot of everything and sometimes nothing at all. It’s a month filled with boat trips, swimming, dancing and eating. I cherish the conversations I get to have with my friends. We talk about shared experiences in parenting, personal conundrums and business matters. Of course, we can do this via technology even when we’re not in the same space. But there’s nothing like face-to-face heart to hearts! I always leave those moments with my love tank overflowing. It’s a great reminder that we all need to prioritize ourselves a little more. Moms, making time for yourself allows you to be a better parent to your children. You don’t have to fly to Spain, but you do need to check in with your adult friends and grab a coffee or a meal every now and then. It’s good for the soul.

More Than Just Mom

While I wait with bated breath each year for our trip with friends, I’ve noticed something interesting that occurs that I wasn’t expecting. I’m not the only one who benefits from the time with my friends. My kids actually really enjoy it too! I think many parents believe kids only want to hang out with other kids. That’s likely mostly true. However, don’t minimize all that can be gained in the moments when kids sit and talk to adults. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched my sons attentively take in advice from one of my artist friends on how to improve on their drawing. My boys revel in the ability to hear life from my friends’ perspectives, and they get to practice and grow their social skills by participating in engaging conversations with them. 

When we take a tiered vacation, my sons get to see what healthy adult friendships look like. They get to see their mom in a new and positive light. Do you remember being a kid and seeing your elementary school teacher outside of the classroom for the first time? It felt strange to see “Mrs. Graham” in the grocery store! All of a sudden, you realized that teachers were real people who had lives outside of science class. I think our kids often forget that we are more than just “mommy.” When they’re allowed to see us interact with our friends in appropriate and fun ways, it gives a great context for what multi-dimensional adulthood looks like! My sons benefit from all the conversation and interaction with my friends, and I’m grateful my friends enjoy it too!

When the Kids are Happy…

“Are any of OUR friends gonna be there?” It’s a question I hadn’t really considered before my boys asked as we were planning one of our summer trips. Until then, I thought about all the fun we would have by just getting a way for a few weeks. But, those words echoed in my head over and over again. I realized that while my sons love my friends, our Ibizan paradise hadn’t actually been introduced to their kiddo friends! So, we changed that and extended a few invites.

One of my favorite parts about Ibiza has always been that it is so child-friendly. I think most people hear about the party aspect of the island. And yes, you can definitely live your wildest EDM party dreams there if that’s what you’re after. But you can also dance the day (or night) away at one of the fun beach clubs with your littles! There are plenty of things to do with children, and ours never get bored. So I knew their friends would enjoy the time. We’ve been having a blast spending time with our homeschool hybrid families lately. From dance parties to fun community service projects, these friends have become more like family. Getting to frolic in the Spanish sun rays with them was amazing.

The Kids Are Alright

So, after a few groups of my friends had to return home, the kids and their buddies gave Ibiza a run for their money, and boy was it a time! Seeing all the kids live their best lives in the pool, on the boats, and at dinner each day made my heart soar. I realized that this tier of the vacation gave me a chance to gift my boys their own little reprieve. That was more than enough, but it wasn’t the only thing I noticed. This part of our vacation adventure allowed me to bond with the parents of our kid group in new and refreshing ways. Everyone’s a little more free on holiday, and it’s so nice to let your hair down and just “be” with other moms and dads. Parents will understand me when I say that it’s always great to have other kids around so they can entertain each other. The other parents and I definitely enjoyed that part. But, it was also lovely to have their company and get to know them outside of our regular L.A. happenings! Tiered vacations provide a chance to grow relationships in new and interesting settings.

I realize that not everyone can take a ton of time off and escape to Ibiza. You don’t have to. But if you have a trip planned, or even if you have a stretch of time when you can plan to have people in town to visit your home, consider inviting people in tiers. It makes the time fly by, and you get to see a little of everyone in your life. We just left the island, but I’m already planning to invite so many more people back for our next trip. So tell me, is this something you think you’d try? Why or why not? Let’s talk about it in the comments.


“Baxter”: A Children’s Book About Acceptance

Being a mom has been one of the best experiences of my entire life. I’ve learned so much from my boys, and I hope they’ll say the same about me as they get older. Now, I consider myself a very creative professional, but I also want to facilitate that creativity in my kids’ development. That’s why I became a children’s book author. When my children began asking questions about various aspects of our family and friend relationships, I wanted to respond to and reach them on their level. Thus, my second children’s book, Baxter, was born! It’s so much more than a children’s book, though. Baxter is a tool that can help you foster kindness and confidence in your children as they navigate the world and the people around them.

Who is Baxter? 

Baxter Birdie is a little kid bird who’s very connected to the members of his community. He likes to walk around his village and be friendly with all of his neighbors. One day, just like any kid, he decides to count his neighbors. He realizes some of them live in pairs, and a few even look alike. Others, he noticed, are best friends with each other but look nothing alike. Baxter starts to consider all the things that make his friends different. This is the first time he notices this about his community, and it piques his curiosity.

Throughout the book Baxter ponders what all of this means: why some friends are different and others similar, and how they can be so close within those differences. If you’re a parent, you may notice when your kids get curious, they like to ask questions to seek understanding. That’s exactly what Baxter does. He has conversations with each of his friends, and they each tell him about their relationships and families. It’s an eye-opening journey for Baxter. He learns that the beauty of his neighborhood and friends lies in the reality of them being so different—and that’s okay! It’s completely fine to not be like others. It’s a great coming-of-age scenario that all parents will relate to.

A Message About Acceptance

When I decided to start my family, I did so in a pretty traditional way. My then-husband and I were a two-parent household raising two young babies together. That’s the way I saw things going…but life had other plans. Personal circumstances took a turn, and I decided to go it alone as a single mom to raise my two kids. Becoming a single mom was a challenge. I had many hills to climb, and I wondered how I would be perceived. I wondered how life would change. While it wasn’t an easy decision to make, it turned out to be the most empowering decision I could have gone with. My family and children are thriving, I found my strength, and life got exponentially better.

We’ve been very blessed to live in one of the most diverse regions in the U.S. Los Angeles is a place where you can find a little bit of everyone. Even in our own neighborhood you can drive a few blocks in any direction, from one side to another, and be surrounded by a completely different culture than the one you live in. My family and friends both fall into many types of groups that are diverse: ethnicity, age, gender, hair, skin tone, and even family structure. And we delight in celebrating those differences.

I wrote the children’s book Baxter because, as my kids got older, they started to identify differences in others. Likewise, their friends started to identify differences in my boys. Kids at the park would ask about my boys’ hair being different. I’ve always been the parent who never shied away from questions, even when other parents chastised their kids for noticing and asking. I think it’s okay for kids to be curious about those things because I believe differences make us all beautiful. I wanted my kids to know that noticing differences isn’t a bad thing, and neither is being your own individual. Having different types of families and friends isn’t just okay, it’s wonderful! Our lives are richer when we are able to engage and be in community with people who bring something new to our lives.

Starting the Kid Conversations

I have two talkative, very inquisitive boys who notice EVERYTHING and want to discuss what they see, what they know, and what they don’t understand. Much like what I did with my first children’s book, Carbie, I wanted to provide a way for parents to talk to their kids about what it means to be different, and what it means to notice other people’s differences and not be afraid of them. As a parent, I think it’s important for kids to know they shouldn’t view differences in a negative light, and parents shouldn’t be afraid to have these conversations with children. If we’re comfortable enough to talk to our kids about differences and to explain them well, we raise more accepting human beings who grow to appreciate and celebrate others.

Writing Baxter became a way for me to explain to my kids that, while they have a mom and dad who love them but live in separate homes, they might have a classmate who has two moms, or a peer who may not have a mom or dad at all. They may have classmates being raised by a grandmother or a single dad. I want my sons to understand that some families have multiple kids, and many only have one. Some families live in large houses with extended families, and others have small families. All of these configurations are right and okay. What matters most is finding and being with your people. That could be an adult finding another adult to share life with, or a kid finding a best buddy, close friend, or group of people who enjoy each other.

A Book For Families

I hope Baxter opens many opportunities to talk about diversity in personal and family relationships. Seeing someone different isn’t an anomaly in the world we live in, and it shouldn’t feel strange or novel to children. Baxter birdie comes to the understanding of accepting and seeing the beauty in the variety of relationships we all have. And, he realizes we are all better beings and a better society for embracing diverse people in our lives, neighborhoods and communities. After all, we as a collective are what makes the world the amazing place that it is.

Click here to get your family’s copy of Baxter!