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.

Cadet
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.

cloudGate-photo-01
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.

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Food & Style Workshop with Sweet Laurel Bakery and Kitchy Kitchen

Food & Style Workshop with Sweet Laurel Bakery and Kitchy Kitchen

This past weekend, I stepped outside of the rehabber box and took a “food and style” class with Sweet Laurel’s Laurel Gallucci and Kitchy Kitchen’s Claire Thomas. I know it isn’t quite rehabbing, but making beautiful food is kind of like DIY in that you can be creative with what you do and that it is okay to try new things.

I also figured if these ladies could help me make cake as beautiful as this and that was healthy (for a cake!) I was in! IMG_9669 The workshop was at the Hedley & Bennett factory just outside of downtown LA. We arrived to coffee from Columbo Coffee and delicious snacks like almond milk cheese with flax crackers and curried yam crostini.

After spending some time snacking and meeting Claire and Laurel and the other workshop attendees, we were treated to a tour of the Hedley & Bennett factory. I love that you can mix and match colors and patterns for the aprons and straps, and that they’re made in LA. My favorite part of the factory was the playful vibe and the inspirational quotes on the walls.

Photo of Hedley and Bennett from before the photography class 😀

 

Clearly, I loved the color wall in the office area!

After the tour, we watched Laurel give a presentation on ingredients she uses and why, and then she got down to baking the featured items of the day, a light lemon poppy bundt cake and lavender sandwich cookies.

While we waited for the treats to bake, Claire gave us a class on food styling and photography and we got to test out her tips.

Here I am working on my food styling skills. Thanks to Morgan Walker for capturing this moment!

Now, I’m going to show you a photo I took at the beginning of the class versus the end so you can see just how awesome and helpful it was!

Here’s a photo of the lavendar sandwich cookies that I took before Claire’s photography and styling class.
I took this photo at the beginning of the class, right after we learned a bit about food styling.

Now for the payoff. Notice the huuuuge difference in the photos above and the photos below.

These are my favorite photos from the class:
  
After testing out our new skills, we got to enjoy Laurel’s amazing treats! The cookies were a nice bite of something sweet and the lavender wasn’t overpowering at all. The lemon bundt cake was light and airy and you couldn’t even tell it was grain free!

THE cake!

All in all, it was an amazing class and I learned so much about a healthier way to bake and a better way to get good photos. I can’t wait to do more of both and practice my new skills!

Thanks to Sweet Laurel, the Kitchy Kitchen, and Hedley & Bennett for such an incredible afternoon!

Read and Relax Room Inspo

Read and Relax Room Inspo

I’ve been pulling images and creating some inspo collages for my office, which I want to turn into a reading/ relaxation room.

Since I’m still working on my thesis, I’ve been thinking about keeping a desk in there, but a much smaller desk than the original dark wood monster that was in there before.

Here’s what I’m feeling as of now:

I love the look of this room from Pinterest.

I pulled the photo above from Pinterest and was surprised that I loved it so much because it is not as pared down as the rest of my house. I like that the white keeps it bright and the sideboard at the bottom provides storage.

Reading Room Inspo

 

I liked the sideboard at the top if I decide to go with the look above. I also like the idea of a storage space that can double as a seating area under a window, since I have a big window with a good view. I would probably have a linen cushion made to put on top to make it more cozy and inviting. I like the idea of this “bar table” as a standing desk, and I especially like that the cubbies provide a place to keep my computer and office supplies.

Reading Room Inspo

Since it is a “read and relax” room, I definitely want some bookshelves. I have a ton of books! I know the wood shelves are the opposite of white, but I’m in the early stages of inspiration here! I saw these at Room and Board recently and they look great in person. Plus, there is no wall mounting necessary!

Reading room inspo

Finally, I like the idea of having a couch or chaise in the room to lounge on while reading and relaxing. I pulled these options from West Elm.

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!

Tips for Selling on Craigslist

Tips for Selling on Craigslist

craigslist_01

I’ve been meaning to write this for awhile.

I always have friends texting me asking for tips buying and selling items. I’ve tried several different ways to sell, but I still find Craigslist to be the most reliable, efficient way of selling if I have one large item that isn’t designer but needs to go.

That being said, selling on Craigslist can go terribly awry sometimes, so I’ve been wanting to give you guys some tips on how to do it right:

  1. Don’t be too emotionally attached.
    • I know, I know. You’ve had that chair for 5 years and loved it sooo much but it just doesn’t fit your decor anymore. That doesn’t mean someone wants to pay $100 less than what you paid for it 5 years ago and buy a $600 used chair that your cat has been sitting on for 5 years. People on CL are looking for a bargain. Be realistic about what you can get for your item. If you can’t get what you want for it, consider donating it or reupholstering it, or you’ll be sitting on it (no pun intended) and re-posting lots of ads for a long time.
  2. Do your research.
    • Research what you have and see what similar styles are selling for. I will never forget the time I moved into an apartment and the previous tenant left a lamp inside. The manager told me I could keep the lamp, which I didn’t love, and I listed it on CL for $40. Once I started getting more into selling, I realized that lamp was worth A LOT more. Like $500 more. No wonder the guy who bought it was so excited to pick up what I thought was just another ugly lamp. So do your research!
  3. Have wiggle room in your price.
    • Once you’ve decided on a price that seems fair to you and have done research to make sure you’re on track, list your item for a little more than your goal price. People on CL love to negotiate, and they’ll feel like they’re getting a good deal if you knock some off. Now, I’m not saying to list something for $600 if you’re really wanting $300, that will just scare potential buyers away. But listing for $350 or $400 may work in your favor.
    • If a buyer asks for “the best you can do” on your item, ask them what they’re thinking price-wise before you say a price. Sometimes when I have done this, buyers have put a price out there that was way higher than I was expecting.
  4. Put a photo in the ad!
    • Take a photo with clean daylight, preferably against a plain wall if you have one. You don’t want people to be discouraged from buying your item because they don’t like your other decor. Or take a photo in its setting (think yard furniture in the yard.) Clean the item up the way it will look when you sell it and don’t have a lot of clutter or other items sitting on or near the item for sale. The photo can make all the difference in selling an item or having it sit for months.
  5. Have someone with you when you show the item or bring the item outside.
    • This is just me being careful. I get a little worried about inviting people to my house to look at items, and I especially did when I was living alone. I would have a friend come over when I was showing an item, tell a neighbor someone was coming by to look at stuff, or bring the item outside before they got there if I could carry it. Yes, carrying an item out to sell it is a pain if they don’t buy it, but you don’t want to let random people into your home when you’re alone if you can help it.
  6. Cash only!
    • I’m saying this assuming you only sell a couple of things every now and them on CL. If you have a square card reader, by all means, use it. I still prefer cash.
    • NEVER, NEVER, NEVER accept checks. This may seem like common sense, but what about those people that offer more or the exact amount you have an item listed for without looking at your item and say they’ll give you a cashier’s check? No, just no.
    • This is a major scam. You take it to cash it, the bank realizes it is a fake, and holds YOU responsible. If they have time to get a cashier’s check, they can take their butt to the bank and cash it and bring you cash.
    • Money wires are also scams.
    • Don’t give out your account info for bank transfers.
    • CASH ONLY!

These are my main rules for selling items on Craigslist. I hope they help you have a safer, faster sale so you can buy new stuff to change up the look of your space. Happy selling, Rehabbers!

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