Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Redesigning Design

I have to be honest...I USED to believe that anything "affordable" was horrible.  Shopping at a certain mass-retail 'all in one' big box store was not just out of the question, but down right depressing.  Second hand (even if deemed 'vintage') was horrifyingly embarrassing and a store of such mothley merchandise was certainly not a place to step foot in, let alone bring something back to your home  from thee there...and then live with it.  Anything previously owned, even a home, was not a consideration.  I'm not proud of this fact, actually, my narrow-minded opinion on the matter is quite embarrassing to me.  I frequently feel the urge to offer a wide-spread apology to all those whom I would have offended, if I had voiced my opinion on the subject in any type of public setting.  I believe in taking the negative, lesson-learned situations in life, and using them to bring about a positive change.  I did just that and turned a very important page in my book, which began a new chapter in a frugality that brought about fabulous endings.
 Anther confession...I LOVE packaging, advertisements, glossy/sparkling product facades, and the latest and greatest of just about any type of product on the market (side note: fave marketed merchandise I can think of off hand...Victoria's Secret, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren anything, endless brands of department store fragrances, the Cadillac Escilade..which turns out to be, in my opinion..substantially sub-par quality, and embarrassingly... Hello Kitty stuff..to name a few).  This hasn't changed even with my new shopping mindset, which I am perfectly okay with because of a little think called 'balance'.  See, in the past.. when presented with a retail opportunity of any kind, I always came away with a purchase(s) in hand,  especially when tied up well with a pretty bow.  I was an easy target in the exact demographic all the advertisement was aimed at...they always won.  Then I mentally woke up one day and realized what was going on. I was being duped by advertisements,  and the rhetoric they verbally and non-verbally fed me.  I felt kind of ridiculous at that thought, especially as a sat in a room filled with tagged items I had purchased over a year ago..and didn't even really care for them (hence the non-use/still tagged status).  Then a specific event happened that brought about my new awakening, which although I find to be embarrassing, I am forever greatful for in so many ways.  Each month when the bank statements came I paid no attention to them, didn't even open the envelope, it always went straight to the wastebasket, along with all the other 'boring' pieces of mail like the utility bills.  I hadn't had a credit card since college, when my mom paid off the monthly balance, and now I was married, my husband was great at his job, and provided a substantial living, which equipped me with a platinum status debit card and a lot of free time...that was quickly filled up with a daily shopping, and other such luxury time spenders.  A couple years into the money madness that I didn't think twice about managing, the monthly statement came right on schedule, and as usual I tossed it on the table (unopened of course), then headed out the door, with my new baby...to..you guessed it..shop! That night when my husband and I were winding down for the evening, he looked at me with surprise (not anger), opened bank statement in hand, saying, "did you know that you spent $45,178 last month and $46,382 this month on debit card purchases alone?!  What did you buy?!!"  This shocked the both of us since I struggled to determine the purchases to account for it all.  It was scary to think I had carelessly wasted just under $93,000 in only 2 months, with seemingly little to show for it.  Sure, the basic bills were paid from our debit account, but that only totaled roughly $8,000 per month.  I had bought some furniture as well, which was the only sizable purchase of the many I  had made within those months, but even that had still left a lot I lost in the daily frivilous spending.  I literally 'spent' my afternoons wasting money, with very little gain.  The spending shock caused me to slow it down a bit and find more constructive habits to fill my day.   I knew I was not stupid or shallow, but this was exactly what my behavior represented.  Now, flash forward a couple years from then, to the massive decline in the economy, which personally brought about a 180 degree change in my money mindset.  By nature I am creative and constructive, two traits which had previously been buried by my shopping obsession.  Those God-given traits were making their way back to the surface in the face of adversity, and I couldn't have been more grateful for the change, even though at first it sure didn't feel anything close to that!  After the sulking had subsided, mental clarity set in, along with an addicting amount of motivation.  
I had my typical need to redesign my home again, this time to accommodate my renewed spirit (which was really me just coming back in to who I truly am).  I thought about how annoying it was that I had purchased a $4000 entertainment center a few months prior, and it wasn't even what I really wanted for the family room anyway.  I liked it well enough, it was from a much adored retailer, but it wasn't doing anything for me, nor did it speak to my overall personal style that my home should represent.  I have always really, REALLY, loved...well, been completely obsessed with... interior design, color, textiles, and art since I was at least 9 years old (which was when I got my first subscription to Architectural Digest and spent my summer break watching hours of HGTV). I soon realized there is always more than one way to do pretty much everything.  The easiest, in interior design,  is typically the most expensive (see pretty= buy many, mentality to getting a room done).  But that leaves very little room to the imagination in designing a space.    Also, buying the most obvious (and well advertised) furniture and decor, deprives your home design of the self interpretation it desperately needs to make it comfortable, perfect, and different from all the other's in your town.  It was apparent to me at that point, that what the interior design industry lacked most was the high end look/style, we live to create, at an affordable rate.  Of course there are standard, mass produced, affordable interior options out there, but they leave a lot to be desired, and basically just aren't worth even the little amount of money they cost, especially if you don't LOVE it.  Having attained a lot of high end product experience/knowledge (see,  not all was lost in my frivillous endeavors), I knew what made these items 'high end', to somewhat justify the high end price.  It comes down to three aspects, quality materials, (usually) impeccable construction, and brand recognition.  The last of these (brand), it what we typically pay for most, it comprises the largest percentage of the overall cost.  Since so much $ goes into advertisement to build a brand,  the company needs the fabulous return on their investment.  I'm not discrediting advertisement and branding all together, don't get me wrong, there is a lot of ingenuity and creative genius that goes in to that which I truly respect, and it should be recognized and rewarded.
I began La Dolce Villa with the goal of changing the look of affordable interiors, to one that feels curated over time, is high quality, stylish, and aesthetically represents the individuals that reside there.  Every piece we produce and room I design, are done from an artistic point of view.  Colors, balance, scale, etc. will always be in harmony and flow effortlessly throughout the space.  My obsession with the industry and type of work I truly love to do, has me constantly keeping up on all the latest and greatest styles and design tools.  Most importantly though, I am in touch with reality, real budgets, people's lifestyles, and their personalities.  I listen to your needs, wants, and limitations, never imposing my personal opinions on what you should do.  Home design is always a collaborative effort between myself and the client(s), taking what you tell me and what I see, and orchestrating it into several flexible design plans for you to choose from.  What goes into these plans is my knowledge of interior design, high end styling/merchandise, and endless creativity.

'Home' can now be redefined with great design that truly represents it's residents.  Affordability has never been so beautiful and attainable.  Now is the time to not just live in your home, but really love your home!


  1. I am just in love with you, Amanda!! I felt a connection with you the first time we "met" via Facebook and that connection was strengthened when we met in person. Thank you for opening yourself up to the world. You are a gift to all of us and your creative gift that you share with the world is a blessing. I am so excited about my new piece(s) that you are designing JUST for me and my family. Original La Dolce Villa pieces! How does it get any better?

  2. Jody, you are the sweetest ever! Thank you for not only taking the time to read my blog post, but to also leave a wonderful/touching comment! We both have so much in common, I really love your mindset, and truly appreciate your positive energy and optimism. Our world needs more people like you! So glad I had the opportunity to meet you and become friends :)

  3. I have to admit, this story has a comic edge to it, knowing you and the hubs as well as I do. :) But I'm so, so impressed at what you've built here and the principles it stands for. I just wish I could fly you out to Seattle to help decorate my little house! Miss you guys!

  4. You know it does have a comic edge of course! Im sure you can just picture(hear)Tim's voice when he broke the spending news to me...
    Ahh, what I would LOVE to do with a little home in Seattle! That sounds like more of a treat to me than designing a mansion in Malibu!