Elevate your home from Off-the-Rack to On-the-Red Carpet
Beauty knows no bounds, and credit cards make the rounds, especially when we are tempted with attractive, ready-made fashion. Wrap it in a bow, and allude it's on sale, and that off-the-rack deal becomes a full-blown adrenaline rush, ending in an orgasmic state of rapture! But, if you're anything like me, she and they, you take that perfect ensemble home and say, "Wait ... what happened? I felt so glamorously red carpet at the store:' Well, the writing was literally on the wall, or in this case the rack. The term "off-the-rack'; according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as "bought, mass-produced, off-the-shelf, ready-made, store-bought:'
For most, we are repeat offenders adopting the same fashion shopping habits to navigate how we purchase items for our home, or as the French beautifully refer to it, "Maison:' It is my belief that if you understand what you are in search of, you can transform your home into a "Maison Couture:' As a literary nerd, I had to look up the word couture and, in its simplest definition, means: "Something constructed, or made by hand, tailored exactly to your measurements."
Being a builder and creator of homes, practicing obsessively for 32 years, I've been exactingly hand-tailoring items for my client's maisons. One Sunday morning, the phone rang, and a producer asked me to appear on one of those ubiquitous Home and Garden type TV challenge shows. They said I would be given an unusually small budget and a matter of days to design and build my version of a Maison Couture. I said YES, and questioned ... just after my second panic attack, if, in fact, I could do it!
I was accustomed to working with significant budgets, which had been my crutch to finding and creating beauty. But, what if I pulled together every lesson I've learned throughout my career and went on a search for true red carpet beauty without it breaking the bank? What if beauty was not based on what something cost, but rather what it "felt" like when it's wrapped with a completed bow? I pondered this for a few peaceful moments, took a deep, doubt-cleansing breath and realized I could do this, based on a few simple steps. Step one, I needed to take my own advice and jot down my two most important mantras in search of beauty.
Internal Shopping Advisor (ISA)
We are all born with a gift. I call it our "Internal Shopping Advisor (ISA):' It's a designer's best-kept secret in the industry. While we all have it, we often forget to access it. What is this gift we are born with? The gift is intuition. My best explanation for what intuition is - it's the newest, hottest, high-speed evolved version of the Internet. While the internet is more of a one-way search engine, your intuition is a way to connect with every sentient being on this planet simultaneously, and as you think or ask, you're fed back a collectively accurate answer, superior to all others! And the best part is, there are NO advertisements or agendas to filter out when the information comes through.
Set with a few dollars in my pocket, and a lump in my throat, I reminded myself to turn on my ISA. As I was driving home, I suddenly felt the urge to make a right turn, than a left and a right again, not knowing why, I ended up feeling magnetically pulled into a store I would never otherwise travel to. But hey, ISA is on, so follow it, right? I second-guessed myself until I finally hit the back of the store and it all became clear. I saw an inspiring set of black and white, paisley printed chairs that were only $25 each! This find shaped the entire project's design, which evolved into a classic, 1920s French cafe theme. First, the kitchen suddenly became clear: high gloss, black lacquered cabinets with silver leafed trimmings (I used paints), crystal chandeliers, glass cabinets lined with whimsical paisley paper inside, crystal knobs to marry the chandeliers, and pure white marble with stainless steel accents.
ISA on. CHECK
Turn on your ISA and take my word that you will never look back again. If you're a beginner trying out this new Ferrari I license, ease into the driver's seat, turn on the engine, listen carefully as it revs with power, and accelerate with your newly tapped confidence of insider information. Just remember to keep the receipts in case your ISA wasn't fully tuned in yet!
Human Proportions Make Everything Relatedly Beautiful
It's in our DNA to find beauty. It's so deep within us that it consumes most of our life's thoughts and energy. But not just any beauty, we are looking for the perfect human beauty, the perfect balance and symmetry. While some mathematicians were off in search of defining the power of splitting the atom, others were in search of beauty's intangible formula. They discovered there is one perfect formula that universally emulates nature's beauty known by many as the Golden Ratio.
They proved that what we are instinctually attracted to is, a singular, rectangular proportion that is nearly the same ratio as a 3" x 5" index card. I would bore, even myself, writing about how the equations are used to derive this, but what I do know is, that there is undoubtedly, one magical proportion. When we see this ratio on the body, or on an object, it is often what makes something feel "couture;' and inspires us to react like a teenager in love as we become curiously captivated by it.
As I tuned in again to my ISA, I decided to search for this perfect ratio. They have mapped this exquisite proportion perfectly over the face of Tom Cruise, the Eifel Tower, the Mona Lisa and the list roves on. What if I borrow an index card from my office and see if I can map that over an otherwise simple find? Can mapping the human body over a storebought item make the otherwise passed over item, a novel gem?
With ISA in gear, I let it become my chauffeur. I was again drawn into a discount tile store that I would normally turn my nose up to! Headed to the back of the store again, I found a closeout of what otherwise appeared to be standard subway tiles, ahhh, but not quite. On closer inspection, I saw that their shape was subtly different than the others. I checked and it was nearly a perfect match to the golden ratio!
ISA and Golden mean combined. CHECK
What if the mathematicians were on to something, but were just too leftbrained to seek the next level of intuitive design?
What if it's not a rectangle that what we are singularly attracted to, but it's actually the shape of the human body we desire? No pressure right? I'm only doing this on national TV, but you only live once ... and after being momentarily empowered listening to a rap star on the radio, I thought I would experiment further!
I started envisioning the parts of the body that catch my eye. The small of a woman's back can be so sensual, so why not use that imagery to create a subtle, yet sexy crown molding? Why not find a single hot-red accent or crystal, laid at eye-level to remind us of intoxicatingly pouty lips stained in a shade of fiery red? I recalled the shape of a woman's rib cage as it seductively flairs out to her hips and found this beautiful shape in the base of an oval table. The armchairs can be masculine and feminine, which was my vision as I found a piece with strong shoulders and tapering shaped legs.
Wait ... I get it. If we use the proportions of the human body and recreate them into buildings and designs, not only are they curiously alluring, sexy and beautiful, but most importantly, they are familiar without the observer knowing why they are feeling a deeply passionate, architectural love affair.
In the end, the show was a big success that led to many more amazing opportunities, but more importantly, I was able to expand my thinking and personally confirmed that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty and Couture is simply flowing in every direction. There is NO such thing as a person or object that is unattractive and "off-the-shelf,' as much as you have to understand what you are looking for by listening to your own ISA and searching your DNA for what attracts you.
More simply put, I'm making a submission to Merriam-Webster: cou•ture noun
• The act of being aware that beauty envelops us.
• Couture is an evolved awareness of human beauty simply broken down by the balance of colors and shapes.
You deserve to live on the red carpet everyday and you don't have to go into debt doing it! Try these free tips and add a little subtle bling into the mix and watch your home evolve into your very own Maison Couture as you elevate the ordinary into the extraordinary!