It was the final day of school before Christmas break, and my two youngest children gleefully skipped all the way to my car and bounced into the back seat. As I relished their beaming faces, I suddenly realized how very busy I had become during the holiday season while in the throes of juggling the Christmas chaos to which I had become accustomed. With envy in my eyes, I set forth to achieve some of the same relaxation my children always seemed to easily ascertain by DAY ONE of their holiday breaks! I decided that I, too, was much in need of a… drum roll, please…. A TWO-WEEK VACATION! At once, I began to plan my escape… a much-needed sabbatical from early morning alarms and late night assignments. I would sleep in until eight o’clock each morning and lounge in my pajamas until ten (which is a BIG deal for a gal who typically rises at 5am and doesn’t stop moving until she drops into bed at night!). Perhaps, just maybe, I would even break for a cup of hot tea each morning and catch up on the content of my beloved stack of design magazines (which had been vying for my attention for weeks!). In addition, naturally, as part of my delightful holiday, I would absolutely NOT step foot into the store, and furthermore, there would be NO designing at all going on in my brain.


Welllllllll, let me just summarize by saying “my plan went slightly awry”. I will now share how the first day of my “vacation” played out….


Wake up at 6am in a cold sweat, wondering where the heck I am supposed to be and why the heck my alarm clock has not informed me that I am supposed to be awake. I fling on my clothes, brush my teeth, and as I am ripping a brush through a knot in my hair, while also attempting to slip a dainty shoe on my foot, I suddenly realize I have completely lost my balance. In an attempt to rectify the situation, my right hand automatically reaches out for the edge of the dresser, which is then followed by a giant “crack!” as my pinky nail makes contact with the hard surface and breaks at the quick. Now stomping my foot in pain, I inadvertently whack my big toe on the edge of the SAME DRESSER (And before I say more, yes, this dresser is now available for a bargain basement price at my shop, if anyone is interested!)! And as luck would have it (or lack thereof), at that exact moment, in walks my dear husband with a giant smile and a steaming cup of hot tea…. To celebrate my first day of vacation! HOORAY!?!? He backs carefully from the room as he finds me in the aforementioned state of appendage pain, with the added insult of my brush still caught and swinging wildly from the knot in my hair.

Need a vacation

HIDE from this day! (Photo from Jupiter Images)

OKAY… so fast forward about 25 cell phone calls later, all involving fires in need of extinguishing at the shop….or the voices of panicky clients suddenly concerned about a wallpaper or sofa selection that was the “perfect choice” just yesterday.  By noon, I had almost made it to my pilates class when I heard the familiar voice of a sweet, Steel Magnolia lady on the other end of the phone, asking if I would mind stopping by the store for “just one quick second” to answer “just one teeny question”. Fast forward again… three hours and nine projects later… I stood appalled at the sight staring back at me in the mirror. Completely forgetting that I had been flitting around my place-of-business in my gym clothes, I also noticed the same woman with two large fabrics samples draped around her neck, a safety pin between her teeth, a gardenia-scented candle in one hand and a fistful of sawdust (don’t ask!) in the other hand. What had happened to me?! I looked like a train wreck!  Leaving at once, I headed home vowing to start my vacation FOR REAL this time! Uncharacteristically turning off my cell phone, I steeped myself a cup of hot tea, slid into the most comfortable, overstuffed chair in my house, and flipped open my favorite design magazine. I FINALLY DID IT! I was taking a vacation! WHOOOO HOOO! Now “THIS is the LIFE”, I thought to myself!

I was only on page 12 of my magazine, when I realized how relaxed, yet excited, I felt…. JUST LIKE MY KIDS felt when they left school that first afternoon of their holiday break. I realized that my mind had been happily wandering away to many of the delights of design that had made me fall in love with the business to begin with…. the marriage of Dressed Down Designbeautiful colors; the evocation of feelings through one’s environment; finding clever, non-traditional uses for traditional objects; creating balance through furniture placement; And a plethora of other simple, yet fundamental ideals that I had come to live by. As idea after creative idea began to spring forth in my mind, I realized something magical…. I really WAS on vacation! Design was – and IS! – My true love! Sometimes, taking a “mental holiday” is often all that is truly necessary to start the artistic juices flowing in a positive direction! A two-week vacation might be an extravagant treat for some, but realistically, not many of us (including me!) can typically pull that off… Life simply gets in the way. Instead of fighting the challenges, expect them… embrace them! Sometimes, it is necessary (and fun!) to exchange the pomp and circumstance of high-end design for the comfortable fundamentals of some “Dressed Down Design”!  Although it may not be what you had originally envisioned for yourself (i.e. sweatpants and sawdust!), taking a vacation from the expected may be just what the designer ordered.

Knotting Hill

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