Industry Influencer Nicole Gordon

This industry influencer is particularly special to me. When she was Senior Designer at Waldo’s Designs, she hired me at my first job in the design world. I came in, a flea market fiend pulling at my sleeves to hide the paint on my arms, and she gave me a shot. Her enthusiasm and passion were contagious. She explained woods, finishes, famous furniture designers, and scale. She taught me about why different fabrics should be used for different applications, and the brilliance of small details that can make a room.

Since then, she has launched her own firm. She hit the ground running, and has been on fire ever since. She’s been busy designing hot restaurants and homes for celebrities including actors, models, and media moguls. When I spoke with her, she had 8 projects across the country, and her client roster was only growing. She also recently participated in LCDQ Legends 2016 and created a featured window display for Maine Design.

Her design choices are elegant in a cool, “I’m not trying to be chic, but I can’t help it” way. Most importantly, her passion shines through in her projects, creating spaces that clients can truly be excited about.

Read on to learn more about Nicole Gordon, what she loves about having her own firm, things she finds inspiring, and an important lesson she’s learned along the way.

 

RR: How would you describe your personal style?

Nicole: That’s supposedly easy… I’m a mix of traditional, but I don’t see it as traditional. I like warm interiors. Mostly my style is dependent on the architecture of the house. If it’s a Mediterranean style house, you can’t really put vintage 70s furniture into it. You have to respect the architecture of it. I really feel like that is what drives all of my spaces. Location and architecture.

RR: What is the first thing you notice when you enter a space?

Nicole: I look for light. Is there natural light? Are there windows? Or is it a dark space?

RR: What have you been working on?

Nicole: An apartment at the Edition Hotel in Miami, 2 homes in Bel Air, a George Washington Smith home in Montecito, an 8000 sq ft new build in Montecito, and 2 homes in Westwood.

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Cadet in Santa Monica, one of Nicole’s projects

RR: How has your style evolved since you got started in design?

Nicole: Now I have a broader understanding of what’s out there and what is possible, so I’d say my style is more sophisticated. My experiences, travel, and all of the jobs I’ve done have impacted my style. I’ve been exposed to so many different spaces and have grown from a lot of people I’ve collaborated with—clients, architects, and vendors. I’m learning all the time about materials, new details, and things that are possible.

RR: How did you start working in interior design? Have you ever had a job outside of design?

Nicole: I have a degree in psychology. Before becoming a designer, I worked at a children’s hospital and school for four years. It was a painful and difficult job. I was always really upset and realized I didn’t have the constitution for it. I went and met with a career counselor. I took some tests, and they told me the job I was #1 best suited for was interior designer. My mom is an interior designer, so I grew up around it. I interned for a while, then moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA Extension’s Interior Design program.

RR: Does your degree in Psychology help you as a designer?

Nicole: 100%! As a designer, you are working with people and balancing all day—vendors, clients, and friends. You’re dealing with so many different personalities. My degree was a good foundation for that.

RR: What is your biggest source of inspiration?

Nicole: Travel. Just going to different cities, countries, restaurants, and hotels. I think traveling is the best education on so many levels, for anything in life. To learn how different cultures live, to see different architecture, materials. I went to Japan last year, to Tokyo, and that was my year highlight. My goal is a new city or country every year (that I haven’t been to before.)

RR: What is your dream trip?

Nicole: Axel Vervoordt’s castle in Belgium. I worship him; that would be awesome.

RR: What is your favorite part about having your own company?

Nicole: I love the freedom. I have the autonomy to source things at my own pace; I can go shop for 2 hours and not worry about it. I love my clients and I love building relationships with them. I love treating my clients to great finds. I just bought a Murakami sculpture for my client Jared Eng (Just Jared.) It was a total find, and he is so excited to put it in his house, and I’m really excited about it, too.

I love finding good things. You know… when you find that great chair? (RR: YES!) You feel like you’ve won the lottery. When you happen to find that vintage piece or that art piece that is so coveted, and you actually find it for a good price—that’s so rewarding. And that you’re able to treat the client with that, that feels really good.

I also love that I am able to create my own inventory. It’s really fun being able to curate and collect, and to know that you can buy a fabulous piece, and you might not have the place for it now, but you’ll  find the right home for it soon. I love that feeling.

RR: What is your dream piece?

Nicole: FANTASY is more the word. Something from Anish Kapoor.

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Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

 

RR: What is your favorite piece in your own home?

Nicole: That’s a good question. A photograph by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. It’s an angel in a subway, and it’s beautiful. There are lots of things that I like, but I love that, and I bought it for myself, and that is amazing, too—it makes me feel proud.

jean baptiste modino

Jean-Baptiste Mondino Subway Angel, purchased at M&B Gallery

 

RR: Do you have any tips for someone starting a project?

Nicole: Do a plan. Determine what your goals are and decide on a budget. If it’s a project for yourself, be realistic about what you can or are willing to spend.

RR: Have you done any DIY projects?

Nicole: At Cadet, I created a salon wall of Carlo Mollino prints. I bought a Mollino book and cut out pages then framed and matted them myself. It turned out great.

carlo mollino print

A Mollino print in Cadet

RR: Do you have any design disaster stories?

Nicole: When I was working at Michael Smith, I found this mirror in the auction catalog at Christies for $60k. I had it air shipped. Well, I hadn’t converted metric to inches, and it didn’t fit in the space. I lost thousands of dollars on shipping alone. It was a BIG lesson. Now I always check dimensions and measurements a minimum of three times. I never trust photos for scale. I always physically look at the tape measurer. It was 15 years ago, but it still feels like yesterday.

Nicole’s firm, Nicole Gordon Studio, is based in Santa Monica, CA.

This Little Piggie

 

 Loves this doll high chair I painted a bright, vibrant Tiffany Blue! 

This is a project I started a while ago and recently finished off with a fresh coat of paint. I love it! The second coat really makes it POP!

Tips for Buying on Craigslist

Since I got a lot of response on Tips for Selling on Craigslist, I wanted to give you guys my top tips for buying on Craigslist, and just in time for the weekend!

  1. If you have questions, ask.
    • You can save time this way. For example, I found a great settee on CL. I emailed asking for more pictures, for measurements, and if it was sturdy when you sit down. When they sent the measurements, I realized it wouldn’t fit in my space. Sad, but I did save time not driving to Orange County to pick up a settee that wouldn’t fit in my house.
  2. Contact the OP the way they say they want to be contacted.
    • Some posts say “call only” or “text” or some posts want email only. Do what they say so you’ll get a response.
  3. Be on time.
    • If you say you are going to look at an item at a certain time, be on time. Even if the seller is late, you won’t annoy them (more annoyed= less likely to get a deal.)
  4. Don’t make a ridiculous offer and only bring that much cash.
    • If you’re not willing or able to even pay close to the list price, you may want to consider asking ahead of time. Don’t just bring money for half of the listed price. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs.
  5. Do your research!
    • Look for similar items online and see what they’re selling for so you know whether you’re getting a good deal or not.
  6. Don’t list the item’s flaws to the seller when asking for a better deal.
    • The seller likely already knows the item’s flaws. They probably don’t want to sell to someone who is “just not that into” their beloved item. Be respectful. Frame it that you really love the item, but it is out of your price range. Don’t nitpick it and expect someone to be happy to give you a discount. You end up sounding like an a-hole.
  7. Bring someone with you!
    • Meeting a strange person in a place you don’t know can be scary! Bring someone with you. They can keep you company on the drive, help you carry your item if you need it, and provide a little extra piece of mind. If you can’t get anyone to come with you, tell a friend or family member the time you’re going, the address of where you’re going, the information for the person you’re meeting, and that you’ll call them when you leave. I may be hyper vigilant, but, hey, better safe than sorry.
  8. Check the free section!
    • When looking for items, I always check the free section. My favorite table and chairs set came from the free section, the girl just needed to get rid of it ASAP. You never know what you’ll find, because as all rehabbers know, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
  9. Don’t pay ahead of time or allow someone to ship the item to you.
    • You want to look at the item before you purchase. You want to make sure its in the shape you think it is. You want to be sure its not a scam. Beware of people who say to send the money and they’ll send you the item.

Happy buying!

Dressing Table Dreams

I recently read something that said you shouldn’t keep your makeup in the bathroom. In general, I try to keep it under the cabinet, but that got me thinking. Would I use makeup that wasn’t right there when I was getting ready? Would it just sit in my drawers unused until I had to throw it out? I’m already pretty lazy about using all of the stuff I have, but that could be because I have everything in makeup bags under the counter and have to pull it all out when I’m getting ready or else deal with a mess on the counter.

Then I realized a perfect solution: a vanity area/ dressing table where I could sit to get ready, lay out all my stuff, and feel like a 1940s screen goddess when getting ready (okay, maybe the last part is a stretch, but you get the picture!)

So I started collecting inspiration photos on Pinterest, and here’s what I have been dreaming about ever since:

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I love the idea of using pieces that aren’t “vanities,” per say. The photo on the left is Ikea’s Malm desk. I love the way Forever Amber kept it clean and simple with the plain lighted mirror and clear chair.

The table in the photo on the top right is called a “vanity desk,” and I love that you fold it up for the mirror so the mirror isn’t always on display. That means you can also use the vanity as a desk (points for double usage!) I also love the Eames-inspired chair. Here’s the whole room from Cara Loren.

The stool in the bottom right is just my style. I pulled the photo from Blog Lovin’. I love the idea that you can mix old an new and still achieve a clean, modern look.

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As you can see from the photo above, I’m loving the idea of a “girly” and “glam” vanity space. The pink tufted chair is so inviting (photo pinned via Decor Pad.) I’d be happy with acrylic or glass storage boxes for makeup and certain pieces of jewelry (inspo via Savor Home.)

I love, love, love Dazzle-n-Sparkle’s idea of using a vintage silver treat tray for storage. It plays right into my latest antique silver hoarding collecting obsession.Slide1

I like these ideas for a dressing table because they aren’t quite as girly.

The photo on the left (A Merry Mishap) mixes shapes and color for a clean, modern effect. I love it. I love that the table is so small, it looks like they used a console. I’m not bothered by the difference in stool height and table height because I have a super long torso, but this option probably wouldn’t work for a shorter person.

I love the way the blue balances the style of the vanity on the top right. While it wouldn’t work in my home, I had to post because I love the “rehabbed” feel.

The photo on the bottom right is the stuff dreams are made of. It’s a vanity from Pinch Design. I love that it’s modern and feels a bit French. It’s way out of this rehabber’s price range, but I had to include it. Hey, a girl can dream!

I hope you guys enjoyed my inspo collages and are feeling inspired to set up a vanity area of your own!

DIY Birthday Banner

I absolutely love banners, especially homemade banners. Today I’m going to tell you how I used cheap gift wrapping supplies to make a custom birthday banner, and how you can easily make one, too.

I was walking through the $1 section at Target and found this collection of items and decided they would make for a fun project.

The supplies I scored from the dollar section.

When I got home, I gathered a couple more things from around the house and got to work.

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Everything ready to go.

First, I arranged  the gift tags to see how many I would need, then simply wrote the message in Sharpie. How easy is that?! The gift tags were $1 for a pack of 8. I got 16 brown tags and 8 white tags, which was way more than I needed. Don’t worry if you mess up on the lettering, just keep writing. If I stop to fix or redo a letter in the middle, I always start obsessing over every little mistake and end up messing up a lot more. I looked through the letters at the end and replaced the ones that looked really bad (this is why it is good to buy extra tags!)

After the message was done, I set out to add a little sparkle. The glitter bags came in packs of two, but they were only glittery on one side (rats!) I cut the bags open and drew templates to cut out on the back. That way, I could play with the sizes before committing to the cut and wasting paper. I chose hearts (but you could do any shape, stars would also be cool.) I used double stick tape to attach them to the gift tags. Glue would also work well if you have that around the house instead.

close up of the hearts

I used the clothes pins to attach the gift tags to some twine I already had at home. At first, I wasn’t sure about what kind of spacing I wanted or if I wanted it to be one or two layers. My solution was to wait to cut the twine until all of the tags were attached so I could assess how it would hang (and not waste twine!)

the finished product

I just taped the banner to the mirror, but it could easily be hung by tying knots in the twine and hanging them on command hooks if you want it to look a little fancier. I chose the mirror because my boyfriend was coming home after dark, and that area of my place reflects light well at that time of day, calling attention to the banner and reflecting light on the glitter hearts.

What an easy and fun way to craft your way into a festive environment! The best part? You can create extra tags for each family member or friend and customize the banner for each occasion!

Another look at my cheap and chic banner.