Design Blog

Our latest posts and rants

Using Art to Personalize Your Space

“What kind of art should I put on my wall?” is a common question I get from clients.

Your home should be about YOU!  It’s your sanctuary where you feel protected, safe, comforted and relaxed.  So, the questions I like to ask is, “who are you? and where are you from?”

I have clients from all over the world including Japan, Korea, China, Australia, U.K., Bolivia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  We all have a special place in our hearts of our home town.  When I ask them about their home town, many of them smile and have so many stories to share.  You know that it means a lot to them.  So why not have an image of that special place in your home.

I am of Japanese ancestry, grew up in Tokyo and met my husband there too.  So, Japan is very dear to me.  In our home, we have a map of Japan.  It’s a very old map and shows some of the old names of towns.  This is meaningful to our family and it makes me feel good.

Here are some questions to help inspire what kind of images represent you and your family:

  • where are you from?
  • country?
  • city?
  • village?
  • Is there a landmark?
  • Maybe you went to college across the country and that city has a lot of meaning to you?
  • Where do you resonate with?
  • Is there a vacation or trip that changed your life?



Ready to Remodel? Four Question to Help You Start the Process

There comes a time when a home needs an update.  Over time, we begin to notice that the kitchen cabinets are scratched and look tired or dated, the counter tops take a beating and have lost luster, the paint is chipped here and there and has faded and  the window seals have broken down and they are now foggy.  Or maybe your bathroom has seen better days.  The grout is getting moldy and the tile is cracked.  It can get irritating when you are looking at these things on a daily basis.  You’re so busy, but every time you see it, you mind says, “gosh, I have to fix this soon!”.  I understand.  And yes, it’s natural for a home to deteriorate.   We need to fix and replace many things.  When this time comes, a home owner must  make several decisions to move forward.  But sometimes, we’ve put it off for so long that our desire is to just do it as quickly as possible.  But before rushing off to find the first best offer, ask yourselves the following questions to move forward.

  1. How long are we going to live in this house?  If you are planning to live in the house for over 10 years, go ahead and make changes that you will enjoy and don’t worry about the next buyer.  By that time, trends will probably have changed.  If it’s less than 5 years, ask yourself if it’s worth changing.
  2. What is our budget?  When considering your budget, don’t forget to think about the value of your house and the neighborhood you live in.  You don’t want to overspend and put in expensive fixture that will make your house out of sync with the rest of the neighborhood.  On the other hand, if you are going to live in the house for the rest of your life, I say, “go ahead and do what you wish!” Yet, I do know people who have overspent on their kitchens and regretted it.  Think wisely.
  3. What is the purpose of the remodel?  This is not a commonly asked question, but it’s something I like people to think about.  Many times, we think we need or deserve something and justify the remodel to satisfy those desires.  Is the remodel to just update something that is broken, or is it to help improve they way you live and function in the space?  Does your family need particular needs?  Is the current space a poor use of space?  Write your answers down on paper and think about it.
  4. Who do I call?  A contractor, an architect or a designer?  First, you must ask yourself the above questions.  Then think about your needs.  Do you just want to replace things in the exact same position?  Or do you want a new design to suit your lifestyle and family?  Does the current space work for you?  Have you thought about knocking down walls and opening up the space?  Or do you just need a fresh facelift?
    1. A contractor, is someone who does the actual construction and has the knowledge of what walls can or can’t come down.  Their expertise is on how to build the space structurally.  However, they are not trained to design a space.  They follow a plan that has been designed and specified.  Many contractors do design spaces and I have seen many.  But, I find they are well built but do not function as well.  They also tend to have poor color combinations and designs.
    2. An architect is registered designer qualified to design a building.  Adding an extension  or second floor to your home or changing the roof line?  You need an architect.  Basically, if you are doing anything outside your existing home you will need their expertise.
    3. Interior designers are trained to understand the space within the building.  We understand how things functions, flow of floor plans and also consider their aesthetic value.  A well-designed and constructed space will function better creating a happier and healthier home.  Make sure your remodel is well-designed, not just well-built.

Design is a process.  It takes time to understand your needs and your space.  Often, when we decide on going forward for a remodel, we feel we need it “now“.  However, through my experience, rushing is not a good idea.  My suggestion is to take your time, think about it, let it stew.  Get as many ideas as you can from books, magazines, online photos and talk to people.  Give yourself time.  The more ideas you have the better decision you will make.  If you need advice or help, please call me.  I’m here to help! or call 425-444-3046.


The Power of Empty Spaces

Your home should be a place that restores your whole being:  your body, your mind and your heart.  But unfortunately, sometimes, it instead becomes a headache, a burden, and a stress trigger.  If that is the case, it’s time for change.

First thing to ask is, what is causing the stress and problems.  Many times it’s the mess.  We naturally tend to own too much stuff and live in a space too small for all this “stuff” to fit.  Yet, even when we move to a bigger home, somehow it gets filled just as easily.

Why is that?

Somewhere in our mind we believe that every space needs to be filled.  But in reality, we forget that actually, empty space allows for many things.

In feng shui, empty space is also a form of energy.

In a floor plan empty space creates flow, and allows energy to connect one space to another.  Empty space also allows our minds to wander and feeds our creativity.  It’s just like when you look up and see lots of sky, it’s freeing.  We feel we can truly open up.

So, start clearing your spaces.

First, walk around your home.  Check to see if all your passage ways are clear of clutter.  Are there any boxes or “stuff” that hinder the path?  Is a piece of furniture sticking out too far that you always have to walk around it?

Do you have clutter on the floor?  Another place where things seem to accumulate is on the floor.  If you leave things on the floor, the amount of walking space becomes limited.  Pick them off the floor and put them away in cabinets, shelves or storage.  Clear the paths so they are no obstacles. This will allow your energy to flow better too.

Next, work on your personal things that have accumulated over the years.  Start slowly.  If you plan to give things away to a particular friend, make sure they want it.  If not, donate it to a local charity, who can resell the items.  For things that are difficult to part with, take a photo for sentimental purposes, and be brave and move on.  In Asian philosophy, hanging on to unnecessary items can hinder growth.  Learning to let go can be liberating!

To begin the process, just try and empty a single corner of a room and see how you feel.  How did it make you feel?  Doesn’t it feel like you made progress?

Enjoy the feeling.  Enjoy the process. Once you know how good it feels, it becomes an incentive to work on the other spaces.

You can do it!

Bring in more space for new energy to enter your life!


Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a very Healthy, Happy and Prosperous 2018!

In Japan, New Years is a time when everyone cleans house, re-organizes, and  gets rid of unused items to make space for new energy of the coming year!  Why not do the same in your home and start fresh for 2018?

Begin by purging all your unused items.  I know this is easier said than done.   If  you have difficulty parting with something special but just don’t have the space for it anymore, a good solution is to take a picture of it.  That way, you will always keep a part of it with you.  Now it’s just easier to let go.  Imagine that the item will find a home where it’s really needed and wanted.  You’ll feel good knowing it will be used.

From an energy perspective, all things carry energy.  Material objects occupies space as well as energy.  By clearing the clutter, you are opening up space for energy to flow.  This will resonate in your life and allow new opportunities to enter your life.

May 2018 bring lots of chi-energy to you and your loved ones.  I look forward to posting photos of projects to inspire what can be done to energize your home.  And please do visit my Asian blog, for tips on interior design and feng shui!