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?




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