Is your Life Style becoming clearer?

I have blogged a lot about lifestyle. There are so many ways to slice the topic. I am going to assume that you have got an idea as to what lifestyle you are leading and if you want to make some adjustments.

Now we get to do more of the research. This is when the practical side of programming comes into play. We have just gotten through the “Blue Sky” portion. This part of programming is finding out how you actually use your space now and how you plan to use it in the future.

You might find out in this process that your home is too big, or too small or just right. No matter what you find out there is always a solution. Start your programming process with observing how you are using your kitchen.  Look at how you use the space, how often you are in the kitchen and when you are in the kitchen what are you doing? How do you cook? heat and serve or cook from scratch or something in between?

We will stay with the kitchen for right now since it is the biggest issue in every home. Now take a look at how you move around in your kitchen, are you bending down to get bowls out of an awkward lower cabinet? Work on a time and motion study to see how you actually use this space. Is it for homework? bill paying, cooking, bathing the dog or baby, doing laundry, family gathering? There is a lot to take in and really understand how it works and how you want it to work. Ask yourself lots fo questions and observe yourself and others in the space.

I will give you some time to gather up the research to get this accomplished. Take your time, get this the way you want.

Out door kitchen in France
Out door kitchen in France

I will check in , in a couple of days..




2* C Life Style

Since my time at U.C. Davis I have had this inner need to be a part of the solution instead of a creator of the problem. The problem? pollution, toxic waste, over population, the list goes on.

One of the frustrations I found was “Is my contribution helpful or actually harmful?” With that in mind I have stuck with a few basic changes, limit my use of plastic, recycle, can as much food as I am able, grow my own food, buy from local farmers, and eat more vegetable and fruits. Clean my home with baking soda and vinegar, limit my use of chemicals. These are a few of the things I have done and we have done as a family to lessen our impact on the earth.

Lowering the temperature of the earth by 2 degrees is a beginning. It is what I am shooting for at the moment, when we achieve that goal we can go for more. It does take all of us to make this change..

So here are some big questions, Can we change our lifestyle to lower the temperature by 2 degrees and still do the things we like to do? Can we have the things we like so much? Or do we need to make a concerted effort to only purchase used items and clothes made out of natural hemp? Is consumption simply out of the question?  Is prepackaged food verboten?

Questions to ask ourselves as we consider the concept of lifestyle. Our decisions affect seven generations in the future. We have a responsibility to our great,great, great, great, great, great grandchildren, to leave this earth better than the way we found it.

Until next time;



Exercise #1 , Define the Lifestyle you would like

I have been posting about Lifestyles and what success looks like to you. Now I want to give you an exercise to help you understand yourself better.

Before I do that, you might be wondering why I keep posting about lifestyle and your image of success. Any good designer is going to start out their project with you, asking these tough questions. When you go through the process, the design you have at the end, is a wonderful reflection of you. The design aesthetically is you and it functions for you. We can not get to where you want to go with out understanding you. That is done through a process called “Programming”. I am leading you through your own “Programming” process. It is easier to have someone do it for you, such as an interior designer. That does not mean you can not do it for yourself.


If you want to buy the book I am using by Denny Daikeler’s book “What color is your slip cover” this is on pages 41-43. ( Denny is an amazing designer with years of experience)

This exercise is to be done quickly;

15 to 20 minutes and choose as 15-30 pictures (of anything that resonates with you!) that you can in that time from magazines. Tear them out. Once you have your collection together put them on the floor. Look for the similarities. Write down a list of words that you feel represent the overall selection, colorful, highly social, meditative, romantic, green, earthy and so on.

This is clearly a lifestyle that Napoleon set for himself, he was emperor and everything he did and all of the interiors and architecture supported that
This is clearly a lifestyle that Napoleon set for himself, he was emperor and everything he did and all of the interiors and architecture supported that

Here are a couple of possible interpretations , as per Denny, If you put your photos in categories , you might like to have areas with just one purpose. If you went way beyond 30 photos you might desire abundance, and are very sensuous. Maybe you have photos with no people, that might simply mean you need some alone time..

You will be amazed at what this exercise will show you about yourself.

Until next time:




What is a successful life to you?

I believe that as an interior designer I am breathing into life what my clients idea of success. I have seen this over the years, some people have arrived at a point in their life that they want to show the world that they are a success. This is as individual as each of us. This completely depends on where you come from and what is important to you..

I ran across this today by Maya Angelo ” Success is Liking yourself, Liking what you do and liking how you do it”

That simple very powerful statement says so much to me.. To me it says, it is not what I have acquired or the places I can travel, but it is “Who I am?” Do I live a life of integrity? Am I being true to myself and doing what makes my heart sing? Most important of all “Do I like myself ?”

So is success simply who I am and how I lead myself? or is it the things I have acquired? or is it a combination of both that then creates my lifestyle?

Each one of us have to find that balance of success.

Until Next Time:

Think about what success looks like to you.



Lace in a window
Lace Cafe Curtains, Eygaliere , France





What is influencing your Life Style?

I left my Heart in San Francico
I left my Heart in San Francisco

Again Wikipedia” a lifestyle is a means of forging a sense of self and to create cultural symbols that resonate with personal identity.” Personal identity.. Hum.
We live in rural Oregon, the local personal identity for women is a country shabby chic , obviously not everyone fits this category..But a lot do and love the painted antique chairs, the cute sayings on the wall and ruffled throw pillows.
For me, I am from San Francisco Bay Area, and that does not resonate with me. I appreciate the country, but what is comforting in my home is an eclectic mix of styles. So for me my past of the Bay Area has heavily influenced my preferences.
What has influenced yours?

Do we pick our Life style or does it pick us?

Back to Wikipedia “Some commentators argue that, in modernity, the cornerstone of lifestyle construction is consumption behavior, which offers the possibility to create and further individualize the self with different products or services that signal different ways of life.”

“Consumption behavior”, this fascinates me to no end. With that simple phrase I can see it all. The homes that are “Green” the homes of people from China, Mexico, Italy, England , the list goes on. Then there is the home of the person following a strong Buddhist practice. All as individual as the person and the culture they come from.

I come from a mix bag of cultures like so many Americans. My grandmother on my mothers side was 100% Croatian, my grandfather 50% English 50% Northern German. My fathers side his mother was 50% Southern German and 50% Scotch Irish; my father’s, father’s side was 100% Scotch Irish from Virginia and Tennessee.

Wrap that all together and you have culturally on my mother’s side Croatian immigrants who came over in 1900 to avoid the draft and were ranchers in Mt.View, California and Germans who went around “The Horn” to San Francisco in 1853 to be gold miners.

My father’s side, his mothers family were early Connecticut colonist and his fathers family came from Virginia to be early Tennessee inhabitants. There are a lot of contrast and cultures that  influenced my parents and of course their parental style. We top all of this off with being raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and there are so many influences that it is mind boggling.

So how do we decide on a lifestyle , or does that lifestyle pick us? Is it an evolution of time and amalgamation of cultures? or a conscious decision to “Be Green”, to follow a religious path, or “To be Modern/Stylish?” I believe that we all have an inner yearning a vision of what will make us happy. Isn’t that what lifestyle is all about? Finding happiness in our life?

I have always had a desire to be connected to the earth. I keep two fronts of magazines, that I tore out long ago, on a quest to understand myself better. One image is of a woman mowing her lawn in front of a lovely Luddite home in England, she is followed by a duck and four dogs. The other is a woman wearing an Arron knit sweater with a tafetta plaid full length skirt and hiking boots.  Most important to me about these images is that they remind me of what is important to me.When I get to mow or walk in our yard, with our animals in tow, the feeling that comes over me is that I am living my dream! Isn’t that what it is all about?

I have attached a photo of a clients master bedroom, this was her dream, the furniture had been her much loved Grandmother (Noni). We created this very fun bedroom using a newly woven Bark cloth.



What is your definition of a Life Style?

I have a question, what does Life Style mean to you?  Wikipedia say’s, “A lifestyle typically reflects an individual’s attitudes, way of life, values, or world view. Therefore, a lifestyle is a means of forging a sense of self and to create cultural symbols that resonate with personal identity. ”

There are so many aspects that define life styles. It could be eating organic food, taking a yoga class, riding your bike to work and traveling to places that you can be of service. Maybe you are drawn to a lifestyle that is in the fast lane with technology and traveling from one business meeting to the next? What ever lifestyle resonates with you, or maybe better said “what ever your habits and desires are, that creates your lifestyle”, will help you define what design solutions are best.

Design is really all about solving problems. Yes ,there is a huge aesthetic component to Design, but at the heart of the aesthetic is a function. Example, Lighting, we can light a space with all 2′ x 4′ fluorescent fixtures, or we can use recessed down lights on dimmers, or maybe we want a mix of both? All of these solutions are appropriate for an exact function and lifestyle.

Then there is you, maybe you are like my husband, he has baby blue eyes and fluorescent light is very hard on his eyes. Or maybe you have a huge art collection you want to highlight in your home and you want recessed lighting angled correctly for your art work to really shine. This is a small example of the thought process designer’s and architect’s go through on a daily basis to meet client lifestyle and design needs.


The open shower above is in a clients mud room area. The shower is designed to make it easy to shower off your feet, your dog and eventually you. With an active lifestyle this is a great solution to being able to clean up effortlessly. It is also a universal design which always is a great addition to any home.

What is your lifestyle? What design solutions might help you to function even better in your home and support you in your lifestyle?




Happiness is Loving my Life

Have you had a chance to think about the life style that you would like to lead? Was it easy to figure out the life style or do you need a little assistance? There is a wonderful visualization exercise for this from Denny Daikeler and her book “What color is your slipcover?”. page 44 -46. This is one of the best exercises.

Another great way to help you determine your lifestyle is to do go through magazies, cut out only what resonates with you. With all of these great pictures of ANYTHING that resonates with you, glue them into a large format sketch book. This is the best exercise to do, quiet no one to interrupt and indulge into time for yourself. You will find that the lace drapery at the French Cafe, with the art deco chair and a picture of a waterfall in Scotland do truly create a life style.

This is the critical part of the whole process. Don’t cut yourself short

Beech Hill Studio is Online

Here we are our very first Blog post for Beech Hill Studio.

We are a Life Style Design company, blending life style with interior design.

This is a very broad category and as individual as you and me. Creating life styles is really what interior design is all about. Good designers are asking the questions about you, what are your preferences, and observing how you live, then coming back to you with a design that fits YOUR LIFE STYLE, not the interior designer’s life style.

I recently saw an add by WayFair that stated that you would not be called by the style police if you select things from WayFair. The sad thing is that people think that interior design is like the fashion runway.

Certainly there are trends, that is what keeps people buying, but for the most part people are eclectic.  There is the chair from Mrs. Haloran, Victorian, then there is the sofa from Mrs. Fulgham, mid-century modern, and so on..It is the interior designer who can take all of those styles and make them into a wonderful cohesion of design and grace. Truly your life style.websitelaflivrm

Here is an example of a client who loved Asian antiques, art and books and a living room for conversation with a medium size family. This fit beautifully for the clients needs and they enjoyed the space for many years.

Life Style Design is what we are all looking for. Creating the effortless lifestyle that allows for graceful living and enjoyment of family and friends. Over time I will be posting inside design tips on how to accomplish this using tried and true design methods. I will be posting different lifestyles to consider, questionnaires to help you think about what you truly want in a life style.

Until my next post, think about what Life Style means to you..


Maryann Ewing

Beech Hill Studio