Been Busy Lately

cool mural in NOPA

cool mural in NOPA

It’s June and my room arrangement business is really taking off. That’s part of the reason I’ve been absent from this space lately. Having been unemployed since 2011, getting back on my feet has been a challenge. I’ve been seduced by the idea of one day becoming a screenwriter and though I refuse to give up that dream, for the present, it isn’t paying the bills. So I thought I would become a web copywriter and spent many hours reading various books by experts on how to find my niche, create a brand, write an ebook, update a company’s website, write my own website none of which, paid any of my bills either. Only my profile on has netted me any paying gigs so now I’m embracing my calling as a room arrangement specialist and relating my experiences, tips and advice to you, my loyal, interested and curious reader.

The beautiful bay

The beautiful bay

Yesterday I took the ferry to Corte Madera to consult on an office arrangement for a great start-up. I’ll post pics if I get the job and my client agrees to let me share my experience with you.

For now, I’ve been busy updating a living room for a family in NOPA, north of the pan handle.

Their current arrangement consists of a number of quality pieces of furniture that were purchased individually and passed down from parents. So that they are all unique and separate in size, material and style. My client wanted me to create a living room that was inviting for her guests.

Making this room intimate and inviting is the design challenge.

Making this room intimate and inviting is the design challenge.

The shape of her common area, kitchen/dining room/living room is a long rectangle punctuated with two large bay windows and a raised block in one corner that accommodates an unseen stairwell underneath. The challenge was to create a living room that enticed people away from the dining room into a more intimate and comfortable living room without focusing everyone’s attention to the television which stand on the block in the corner.

Retro chrome record cabinet.

Retro chrome record cabinet.

Chinese wooden bar

Chinese wooden bar

Wood and metal shelves

Wood and metal shelves

Chinese style wooden stereo cabinet

Chinese style wooden stereo cabinet

Creating harmony with these different and uniquely interesting furniture pieces was also a challenge. I took a lot of pictures of my client’s home and the more I studied them, the more I realized their commonality and the more I understood how these seemingly disparate pieces actually fit together.  I drew up three different floor plans for my clients.

Plan A

Plan A

Plan A shows my clients furniture arranged next to the bay window. Allowing the focus to be on the guests but also easy visual access to the television.

Plan B has the furniture at an angle that invites diners to explore the new perspective while also accommodating visual access to the TV.

Plan B

Plan B









Plan C

Plan C

Plan C includes a new chaise into the arrangement. Also at an angle, the chaise is immediately interesting creating an invitation to move away from the dining room and into the living room. Again, the focus is away from the TV yet allows access to it.

My clients decided to go with Plan A with the possibility of rearranging the room again in the future incorporating the angled furniture design.

I will take finished pics next week when I return to review the results.



It’s nice to be back as your design detective,


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Feng Shui Crazy

I’ve been feng shui-ing my house like a crazy person turning their home upside down.

The changes have been pretty minor in some of the rooms but big changes are happening in my office. Today, my new desk chair arrived.

Cool, minty green for my hot tush.

Cool, minty green for my hot tush.

Cool, huh? And it’s very comfortable and affordable at only $60. It’s got a whistle: the seat goes up and down. It’s on wheels too but these days, that really isn’t considered a whistle. Just like electric car windows, they’re pretty standard these days but I remember when they weren’t and new car ads would tout the electric window as an added plus.

I’m not sure if I can say that buying this new green chair is a result of all the feng shui-ing I’ve been doing in my office or if its just part of the changes I’ve made. Either way, I’ve got something new that’s just for me in my office so I can do better work. Let’s hope that’s the case.

Today was beautiful here in the city by the bay. The sky was blue, the sun was sharp and the air was a cool breeze. I took Derby out for a walk and snapped the following pictures that I would like to share with you now.


You already know that feng shui is a big part of how I see the world. What feng shui does for me is help me understand why some things work and why somethings don’t work in a given space. Some people intuitively know what’s wrong when look at a house or a room or even a building; they just know what isn’t right about it. Some problems can be pretty obvious such as being built next to a toxic waste dump or garbage heap or fast running river and one would think structures like these would never get bought but they do. They get purchased all the time because the asking price is so low but those aren’t the only dangers to a home.

Feng shui is an ancient Chinese science and philosophy that takes into account a variety of phenomenon including the earth, the universe and we humans. I would be an arrogant liar to say that I am in any way an expert on the subject. My gift is purely intuitive or magical. I connect with furniture and arrange them in such a way as to simplify, organize and inspire. I can relate to what I imagine certain pieces of furniture experience when they are placed in the wrong spot. I know that sounds pretty weird and its a bit weird for me to be writing it since I’ve never articulated that perception to anyone before but its true. I’m a furniture whisperer!


Furniture of course is only one influence on the quality of life we have in homes we live in. Everything about the experience of our homes should be as positive, functional and inspiring as possible. This means that what’s going on immediately around our house will have a strong effect upon our mental state. Take for example the picture to the left.  Notice anything wrong with this arrangement? How does it feel to imagine yourself walking out of that door and into your car? Imagine a different scenario. Imagine a green garden taking up half that space with a lemon tree and flowers. Wouldn’t that be a better balance and better vision to start your day? Ideally, the car could always be parked on the street and the entire space could be filled with nature but with so many people owning more than one car, the street quickly fills up with parked vehicles.

Not only is this home/car experience unattractive, it’s a source of stress as well. Like most things in this world, the car possess an energy that relates directly to its function. Its a big, dangerous moving object that prefers to go fast. This energy doesn’t disappear just because the motor is turned off. The energy carried by the car as it travels through space is hurled upon the house where it has no place to go except inside when the front door opens. Sensitive people will feel the charge of the car beyond the walls of the house. This constant pounding of unspent energy can potentially cause anxiety, stress, fear and sickness because of prolonged exposure to these unhealthy emotions. Here is another example.

Double trouble.

Double trouble.

Wind and water, feng shui, two of natures most powerful forces can nurture or destroy our happy homes.

Since feng shui originated in ancient China, there is much about it that I am too ignorant to understand the implications or applications of those ancient rules in today’s world. And to be honest, I’m not entirely sure they can be applied. Modern advances in home design, smoke detectors, even technology has made some of those ancient disaster traps obsolete but not all of them. The more I learn about feng shui the more I understand common sense. In its most simplified, basic form, feng shui is all about looking at the potential hazards surrounding your home and mitigating them with remedies that support and enhance the opposing or missing energy. More on that later. I’m worried that my posts are too long.


Left are examples of a pet peeve of mine, lolly pop shrubs and tree. Does anyone like the way these poor bushes look? I guess the obsessive need some of us have to completely control nature has gotten to a point where we have to piss on everything to think is looks good.

lolly pop tree

lolly pop tree


And since we’re on the subject of pet peeves, here’s one more: painted rock wall.

painted rock wall

painted rock wall

It just doesn’t work, at least for me it doesn’t. Rocks are rocks and are best left in their natural state. They shouldn’t be painted for a number of reasons including, they’ll never be able to go back to their natural state of beauty without a ton of work using potentially toxic substances.

So that’s it for this post. I hope you all are doing well.  Thank you for supporting my efforts and adding your comments to my ideas.

Warm regards from your design detective,

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It’s What I Love to Do

Some people think I’m crazy because I love to move furniture.  I’m not talking about carrying heavy loads in and out of trucks or up and down flights of stairs. I’m talking about moving furniture that’s already inside a home but doesn’t look right or feel right because it’s in the wrong spot.

Why a piece of furniture isn’t working starts with the expectation that we know how the insides of our homes should look. We figure that since it’s our home and our stuff and we’ve brought them together, we ought’a be able to arrange everything the way we like because after all, it’s our stuff, we picked it out and we love it, right? So what’s the problem? Why isn’t it working? And since we’re talking about our stuff, maybe it never really did work together to begin with. And maybe we’ve got some stuff in the mix that we really don’t like or maybe we really hate it, now that you mention it, right?

That’s how my story started; with my husband’s parent’s furniture filling up our house in an arrangement I came up with that not only didn’t work, it made me feel uncomfortable and worse, vulnerable. The arrangement included a large sofa against the wall opposite the front door. I didn’t mind it being there until my son was born and every time I sat on the couch with my baby in my arms staring at that front door, I felt anxious, nervous and uncomfortable. I intuitively knew that in the unlikely event an intruder should suddenly burst in, my son and I were vulnerable as we were be the first target for whatever deed, intended or not, that they had come to accomplish. So I started moving my furniture around.

Super long couch creates a physical barrier to the front door.

Super long couch creates a physical barrier to the front door.

Front door with tile to create a foyer where none existed previously.

Front door with tile to create a foyer where none existed previously.

Shoe shelf behind the couch offers added protection and a convenient place to put shoes.

Shoe shelf behind the couch offers added protection and a convenient place to put shoes.

A workstation now occupies the wall that faced the door.

A workstation now occupies the wall that faced the door.

Second work station along wall opposite door.

Second work station along wall opposite door.

I must have moved the pieces a hundred different ways before I figured out (in a dream no less) how to make it all work. Later on, my dad and I created a foyer with tiles to give the illusion of an entryway that protected myself and my guests from unexpected visitors. I added a shoe shelf barrier in front of the backside of the couch that conveniently hid the ugly backside and provided additional storage for shoes.

I’ve since added another child into my family so now, where the couch once was, is a study area for two kids to work.

This experience showed me in a mental and physical way that the placement of furniture can have a positive or negative effect on one’s comfort level inside the home and, just as importantly, I realized that moving furniture, paying attention to the chi, life force that surrounds us everywhere, is what I wanted to do and learn more about. So I enrolled in the American Feng Shui Institute and became a certified consultant.

It’s a little ironic that as a kid, I always liked to move my bed around and try new arrangements. Every time I rearranged things, the energy in the room got so stirred up I could feel the change inside my body; the air felt different and the lighting changed. It’s funny how I forgot about all of that and now that I’ve rediscovered it, it’s as though practicing feng shui and doing room arrangements is what I was always meant to do. Now I want to share my knowledge, experience and enthusiasm with others.

Recently, I posted my credentials and reviews on and have been hired to do a couple of home arrangements for clients. The work has pushed me into new areas and forced me to better understand what I do best, what I want to do and what I don’t what to do.

What I do best is listen to what my clients want in any given room in their house. I like to hear them tell me what’s working, what isn’t and why, if they know. What I want to do is help them create a home that they love, is highly functional and inspires them to discover their own creative spirit. What I don’t want to do is encourage consumerism. I’m a heavy weight believer in using what my clients already own to realize the dreams they have for their homes or offices. I’m an interior decorator with what clients have. They just might not see their potential because things have a way and getting placed in the wrong room or being hidden by a mass of other stuff.

My favorite part of my work is hearing my clients tell me how they never would have thought of doing what I did and how much they love the change. So now I need to do something that terrifies me, something I’m terrible at doing, marketing myself. I don’t have a lot of clients, yet, and I love doing this work, so I’m going to market myself here, as  practice, to show you what I’ve done in my home and to see what, if anything happens.


Attractive, meaningful clutter gives me a sense of purpose.


Unattractive clutter with useless, homeless items creates a sense of chaos and confusion.

This is my office. It’s cluttered but I really like the look of the books mixed with personal effects, photos of family, my Egyptian statue and Venus Di Milos that I picked up in Greece. The overall impression I get when I walk into this space is that I read alot, I’m busy and I’ve got a life.

However, I’ve been feeling really stuck lately, like I’ve fallen into any empty well and  can’t get out or accomplish anything worthwhile. I decided it was time to stir up the chi and see if anything happens.

In my current arrangement, my desk faces west and the book shelves are lined up against a south wall along with my Egyptian sculpture on a wooden console. I figured the sculpture likes being in the sun so I wanted to keep it there somehow. I also wanted to add a “money” plant in that sunny spot. A money plant is any kind of green, smooth, round leafed plant, typically a jade plant, that adds the spirit of money to an office.

Left, is a picture of a table behind my desk where I tend to put stuff I don’t know where else to put including speakers and a turntable that I no longer use (it’s for sale if anyone is interested). The roof here is extremely pitched so any attempt to stand up from a chair or futon (unseen in these pictures) will result in a bruised head.


I spent a day rearranging some of the furniture. I turned a futon whose back was against a northern wall 180 degrees so that it faced the wall and had its back to the south. I kept my desk facing west but pushed it against the north wall.



The futon with a Russian rug as a cover, faces the desk and the wall where it used to be.

The futon with a Russian rug as a cover, faces the desk and the wall where it used to be.

I found a new home for the turntable and moved the table with the the speakers north so it’s still behind my desk but less cluttered with stuff I don’t need. Basically, I moved three objects yet I completely changed the look and feel of the room.

The small table still houses important items but isn't nearly so cluttered.

The small table still houses important items but isn’t nearly so cluttered.

So, tell me what you think of all this and if you’re interested in my work and live in San Francisco, email me. Like I said, I love doing this work; its what I do best and nothing makes me happier than making my clients happy in their homes.

With a feng shui attitude, I remain your dedicated design detective,


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Feng Shui Thinking

What is Feng Shui thinking? It’s rearranging the way we think about how we see the world so we can live healthier, happier and balanced lives.


How much info do you stuff into your brain everyday? Do you ever give yourself a break from all that information? Is it even possible to get a break from all the the computer generated, technology driven information plus all the input your senses are feeding into your brain at the same time? Could it be that sleeping is the only way to shut down all that information gathering your brain does?

What happens when there’s too much information and not enough time or energy to organize and store all of it? Our minds become clogged like a house filled with old newspapers, restricting our freedom of movement and thought. In my opinion, we start acting like robots and responding to the world in a self-styled, habitual, unconscious way.

Have you ever asked yourself whether or not you like the way you see the world? Does the way you see the world make you happy or sad? Do you see possibilities or impossibilities and does this perception help or hinder you in living and experiencing your life? Do you want to change the way you think? If your thoughts inside your brain were pieces of furniture that could be moved around from one place to another, would you want to make a change or two so the thoughts you have about the perceptions you have are different.


I remember doing a room arrangement for a young professional who had an apartment in the City that was recently built. Everything was new, clean and shiny; lots of glass and chrome. It was a very nice apartment and all of the furniture was new. The reason she hired me was to help her select colors for her living room and kitchen. We went through her choices and made some suggestions. I was about to leave when she told me she had one last dilemma and I followed her into the bedroom. She had a tall, queen size bed and large dresser with a big matching desk against the wall on the right side of the bed. On the left side was a beautiful, round upholstered chair that belonged to her grandmother but something was wrong with it and my client couldn’t figure out what it was. I didn’t know right away either and then I could see what the problem was; the chair was too short for the room, it didn’t fit in anywhere because it wasn’t the right height. Once I pointed out that fact to her, she couldn’t believe she didn’t see that problem herself, she said it was so obvious.


My point is, a house can’t do feng shui by itself. It needs someone to come and read its signs and hear its voice and recognize the dangers and advantages to where it stands. The same is true for starting the path toward feng shui thinking. It beings with you letting other people who you trust and care about, tell you what they think about your perceptions of the world. Ask them to tell you if they think you’re happy or sad or positive or negative all the time. I honestly can’t think of any other way you can orient yourself accurately without having some input from the outside world. So ask someone you know and trust, someone who’s known you for a least a year and promise them and yourself not to react, positively or negatively, about anything they say.

Once you have that information, play with it. Don’t discard it as ridiculous or wrong or silly. You can think all of those things but try to find instances or examples that would back up what was said. Verify your outsiders’ opinions with events or actions you remember happening. You’ve asked people you like and trust, so you know they aren’t lying to you, now be a friend and back them up. Prove their honesty to yourself and then decide if something in the way you think needs to be moved so it faces a different direction.


You can change the way you think about things the same way I move furniture, by turning things around inside your head before you decide how you want to live with them. Try not to leave thoughts, impressions, or feelings in places that make you feel bad or sick. You can push them into those places and leave them there for a while but not forever because the result will be toxic for you.

Feng shui is about many things but it’s core is movement of chi, the life force that surrounds us in nature and in our homes and offices, its about how we move the electricity in our brains to places that give us peace, comfort, safety, energy, and happiness. Feng shui thinking isn’t hard to do; it’s not rigorous or demanding; there aren’t a lot of rules to follow or consequences for messing up (unless you do a compass reading facing the wrong way). It’s just another option to consider and explore if you wish. I honestly never thought about feng shui thinking before tonight, although I have been thinking a lot about feng shui lately. I just happened to write this title which forced me to explore its meaning in this a blog.

That’s what feng shui thinking does when its working; it turn thoughts around so new energy generates new ideas about the world, love, happiness and prosperity are in more auspicious locations for you to explore, enjoy and experience.


Before I say good night, I want to say hello to my friend from Milwaukee; I hope you are enjoying your visit here and have a safe trip home.

Your design detective,

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Can we talk?

Okay, you’re right, it’s me doing all the talking but you’re here, right? This isn’t just some kind of twilight zone I’m in, alone. We’re here together, maybe not right this second but soon, eventually.

I’m in LA, Studio City to be exact and it’s ten past ten pm. I’m renting a room in a townhouse from a man who offered to let me stay here through airbnb. It’s a nice room and my host is very nice as well. I’m here to visit my parents who are ailing but doing their best to stay strong and find meaning in their lives. They are living in a retirement “village” in an apartment that’s fully equipped for city living. They’ve never cooked a meal in their kitchen because all of their meals are prepared for them and served in the communal dining room downstairs. The food is good and they can order whatever they want to eat.

Yesterday, during breakfast, my mom looked around the room and said that everyone there is just waiting to die. Not exactly the kind of syrup you want to pour on your stack of pancakes first thing in the morning. She’s right of course but isn’t that what we’re all doing. Or are we all just waiting to be born into our next lives?

As I watch my parents grow older and become more dependent on others and lose their abilities to function, I can’t help but see them become younger and younger, the time clock spinning backwards, de-evolving them, returning them to their infant state of being. They’re shrinking is size, losing their teeth and hair, the skin is loose and soft, they can’t see the details before them, they’re uncoordinated, incontinent, fragile, unstable, and lost in the small world they inhabit.

I know this process is a privilege to witness. My known world is slowly coming undone and I have time to experience it unravel. Unlike the tragic, unexpected demise of life, my parents are slowly disintegrating before me and I see the process as a preview of coming attractions for my own demise, if I’m lucky, or not. It’s a little difficult for me to say with any real certainty or conviction which is better, to die young and get it over with or fall slowly apart in old age. That seems like such a ridiculous statement now that I’ve made it. I wouldn’t want any young person to die and I guess that’s not what I mean. I’m rambling. I’m sorry. Can we talk? Can we talk about death and dying and being alone in a stranger’s house in Studio City facing the short wick of life that still holds a small flame of light that is my history; my beginning, my parents.

This is how is supposed to happen, right? Children bury their parents. Its the great design of life as it should be. As a parent myself, I wouldn’t want it any other way. But life doesn’t always give us that choice, as the world has witnessed on a daily basis but here, in the Valley of S. Calif, for me, it’s happening now and I’m not ready for it. I don’t want it to happen. I lived too long up north, away from my parents and I regret all the times I didn’t spend with them.

There have been some bright spots to the visit though. My parents do their best to keep things light and stay upbeat. The village isn’t a nursing home, the women who are rich come to dinner in diamonds and lipstick. The men talk of football and the weather. There’s politics in the dining room, little bets getting made, jokes about aging and snide remarks about the food.

I’m glad I’m here to witness all of it. The final wave of a generation born in the 20s and 30s. It makes me feel young!

I saw a tall telephone pole being worked on by two men in cherry pickers. I wanted to take a picture of it but there were too many cars in the way.

Tomorrow, Friday, is my dad’s 83rd birthday. Six of us are going to celebrate at a round table in the dining room with a sugar free cake. When my dad is born into the universe again, the night time sky will glow a little brighter with a tiny star full of intelligent life.

Your faithful and rambling design detective,

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SF Design Ideas is now

That is just one of them many changes that have been happening to me lately and though it’s not a very good excuse, it’s the best I can say to you about my recent absence from this blog.

Another is, I’ve been getting some work as an interior decorator. I love it; it’s been really great for me and my self esteem. My two new clients are the best. They trust me and seem really happy about what we’ve accomplished together so far. They’ve also pushed me out of my comfort zone and into new aspects of my work such as selecting artwork, furnishings, furniture, and paint colors. And I have to say, choosing the right paint color is challenging. Color theory is a science that some people just naturally understand while others rely on the opinions of “experts” to make color decisions for them.

My client is very keen to know the colors I recommend she paint her living room and dining room. As her decorator, I feel I should have a strong opinion about it and maybe even decided it long ago but I didn’t and I don’t; I’m not really sure what they should be. The walls have some interesting features, the ceiling is uneven and the space is a single, rectangular space divided into a living room, dining room and kitchen whose boundaries are delineated by my clients’ large pieces of beautiful furniture.

My other client is a cool young, engineer working on a startup in Marin. His one bedroom apt. sits like a crow’s nest high above the City. He hired me because he wanted his place to feel more intimate yet still maintain its open floor design and feel. I moved a sofa and that was the key that opened up numerous doors of possibilities. I have to say however, that the sofa move went outside his comfort zone and until he decided it was okay, the room wasn’t right. It was as if I had turned the place sideways but very quickly, he decided he liked it and we proceeded to purchase a large, contemporary wool rug, some original artwork, a piece of multi-functioning kitchen furniture, a light fixture and drapes. Now he’s thinking there maybe a new opportunity to start a business so I’m looking into that angle.

And then there’s my writing. My first and only true love. How patient it waits for me, holding still the last breath of a line waiting to be crossed. My very good friend and fellow writer has a local theater company with her husband. The name of the company is PUS, Performers Under Stress. My involvement with the company has been mostly as fundraising assistant and dependable friend. The company is doing staged readings and my friend invited me to finally ground the play that’s been floating around in my brain for the past decade or two. Of course I said, yes and got to work on it. I’ll share more about it as time goes on. The tentative performance date is in June or July sometime.

I guess this all sounds like a bunch of excuses and maybe it is. I don’t know. I’m still taking loads of pictures and I don’t know where to store them since I’m not ready to make a $10/mo commitment to Dropbox. And its not because I’m cheap, I just don’t always have an extra $10 to spare. Now that really sounds pathetic but that’s been a big deal breaker for me. I have to be able to download my pics somewhere so that’s it, I’m going to sign up for Drop Box and you’ll be seeing me more often, I’m sure.

On Tuesday I’m headed back to LA and I hope I’ll have time to take some pics of the ranch houses that dominate the San Fernando Valley landscape. I’m also taking a day trip to Palm Springs so expect some new pics of palm trees. In the mean time, I’ve got some houses to share with you.


When I was trying to create my painting portfolio for graduate school, the one piece of advice I kept thinking about was that I had to have a portfolio that showed an interest in some aspect of or particular exploration of a specific interest area. I never could seem to limit myself however. Every time I did a new painting, I was exploring new territory. I was seeking my artistic voice. Little did I ever expect to find it years later in photography and more specifically, in shadows and reflections. This picture of a shadow of a tree haunts me. I love it and I’m considering using it for my business card, if I ever get one made. There is something about the life of negative space that shows up in and on everything without notice or distraction. We simply accept the vision of a dark tree growing up the side of a building as normal.



It’s almost like a ghost that exists two-dimensionaly in our world that we see and don’t see. I particularly like tree shadows and the way the tree shadows move in the wind. Silhouettes of everyday life projected onto the walls of our constructions; dancing like shadow puppets in the wind.


This is a photo-graph of  a shadow taking up all the room on a waiting room couch. I had to quickly duck inside the office to take the picture of what looked like a beautiful shadow occupying this couch as I passed outside the window. Its funny how I see so many more details of the scene that I hadn’t noticed when I first walked past the window. I also like the colors of the green plant, the pink couch and the diagonal lines of the shadow.


Doesn’t this look like a trompe l’oeil? Well, to me it does and for those who might be unfamiliar with this French term, Wikipedia defines it as “an art technique involving realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions.” I also love the simplicity of the light shadowed on the plain wall and the wires, of course, none of which are painted on the otherwise flat, nondescript building which would look even flatter and more nondescript without the shadows.

IMG_9049 IMG_9006 IMG_9005

These are just a few more examples of my new obsession with shadows and even better, shadows of telephone poles on houses!!! Now that’s what I call killing two birds with one stone.




And just in case you were wonder-ing where these sights were captured, I took them in Crocker Amazon, which is the far, southern side of Mission St. and the Mission. Here are a few more for your enjoyment and inspiration.

IMG_9018 IMG_8994







And last but not least, it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t share some of my most recent and newly favorite telephone poles.

IMG_8996 IMG_8997 IMG_8998 IMG_9001















It’s good to be back with you. I’m glad we figured out how to solve my storage problem. Thank you for being so patient and interested in my world.


I remain you loyal is sometimes absent, design detective,


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I’m back

Happy new year. It’s still not to late to say that, is it? It’s still January afterall. Unlike Halloween which starts in August and Thanksgiving in Sept and Xmas in October! We can stretch out the new year till at least mid-February, I would think.

I hope you had a happy holiday and had some fun with friends or your family or your pet. I had a good time and I went to a really fun new year’s party at a friend’s house who lives within walking distance of me so I could drink and not drive.

At first I was planning on coming back right away but the more time passed, the more I started to wonder about whether or not I should come back. I started thinking about how this blog will probably never make any money for me. At least that’s the message I recently received in my inbox and I believe it. Plus, this was and is a time-consuming way to spend my day; is it worth all that effort and not get a cent for it? I didn’t think it was, so then I had to ask myself, why should I continue? I couldn’t think of anything new to write about. I didn’t want to take my camera out with me anymore but I always did anyway.

I love taking pictures because I love looking at the world through a frame. It makes everything have more sense to me and I see more when I look at the world that way but then, along came the problem of where am I going to store all these pictures I’ve been taking? Dropbox was telling me it’s full and if I want more space, I have to pay $10/mo. I didn’t want to do that  so, I came up with a solution.

I hooked up my old mac which is connected to an external hard drive and passed my personal pics to the mac that dropped them into the external drive. Now I have a bit more room to store stuff and missed all of you (11 was my most visited day so far). I want to share with you the pictures I’ve taken and tell you about the work I’m doing and maybe I’ll even bore you a little with an update on my current screenplay. So I’m back. I don’t know for sure if I’ll ever make any money writing this blog but I’m still going to do it. I may take off again sometime and I’m not going to try and do it everyday but once a week for sure.

Now, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share with you some recent discoveries:



I wonder if humming birds ever show up and move into these warm houses. They’re so simple and surprising. I can’t tell if they’re practical or decorative but I like them either way.

One of the many great things about living in San Francisco is the sense of community I find here, even if I’m walking alone downtown at night, I see City Hall, all dressed up in 49er colors (in real life it is, my camera has a bit of Andy Warhol in it). The same thing happened when the Giants were making it big. The whole City turned orange and black. The team colors makes me feel like we’re all in this together. The Giants triumph is the City’s triumph and my triumph because I live here and the Giants and 49ers are my team. It doesn’t matter if I’m not really into football, they’re still my team and I’m proud of them and I love City Hall for turning on my teams’ colors.


I still have a thing for telephone poles. I think its almost an obsession that has something to do with me trying to hold on to the past even though I embrace change, fearlessly embrace it, I want to hold on to this pole and never let it go. I fear one day the winds of change will blow away everything I grew up seeing which makes me feel a little scared. Or, maybe I just like the way they look and the fact that my dad did a watercolor of the telephone pole in our backyard when I was a kid. I wish I were more of a fearless computer programming so maybe I could figure out how WordPress works so I wouldn’t feel so mystified when it comes to placing my pictures  and how my text.

One good thing that happened to me already this new year is I started another business, sort of. It really isn’t new its just that I’m suddenly getting paid to do what I used to offer for free. It being space arrangement, which sounds kind of funny. I was calling it, room arrangement but I never really liked the way that sounded so I’m testing out other possibilities like, space arrangement or furniture placement, furniture placer, which is a little bit hard to say. The name of a business should roll off the tongue so you want to say it.

I used to offer my service as gift certificates to help raise money for my kids’ preschool. What surprised me was the fact that my certificates always sold out and then I’d go to their house and try to spin up some magic. To my surprise and amazement, I did and everyone was happy with the results. I stopped offering the gift certificates because I wanted to get paid so my business died which was okay since I never got paid (you can see money is fore front in my mind lately and I hate it but I can’t help it. I tell my kids its a real drag to be broke because all you ever think about is the money you don’t have to pay for things like property tax and cavities).

Then, I found a website called that offered all kinds of services from people with all kinds of skills so I signed up as an Interior Designer and Color Specialist. Something I never could have done if it weren’t for writing this blog. I realized that writing about something I really like and am interested in, has given me better, stronger sense of myself and a sharper vision or opinion of my likes and dislikes. I came to the realization that that’s what all interior designers do; they give you their ideas and opinions on how they think your things ought to look. And if you like their vision, you hire them and let them do their magic on your house. If you don’t like their vision, you hire someone else and see if their ideas fit. I figured it was time I throw my hat into the ring by offering my expertise in helping my clients figure out what they like, in case they don’t know, and help them create the kinds of rooms and arrangements they do want.

The wonderful client I’m currently working with has presented a new challenge to me. She and her husband recently moved into a new home in the City with plenty of beautiful furniture that doesn’t quite fit their current needs. What’s new about this is my client has to hire a moving company to do all the heavy lifting. Which is great because she and I and her husband could never do it. Which brings up a old thought of mine, before I bought my own house and inherited all of my husband’s parents’ furniture, I always imagined how great it would be to only own the kind of furniture that I could move myself, like lawn furniture. Really comfortable stuff that you could fold up and easily move somewhere else if I wanted to.

My house if full of really heavy stuff that doesn’t fold and neither does my client’s furniture. So what I’m really leading up to is this, I’m moving this blog into a new direction; I’m going to add on a new wing to it that faces south and east and in that wing I’m going to write about my new business, the challenges I face and my solutions. If you didn’t notice, I’m creating a real niche for myself! A notion that has been as slippery to me as a wet stone in my path.

I will also be uploading pictures that are my portfolio as well as reviews of my work on I’ve also created a page for my writing skills. So if you like the way I stick two words together, you can hire me and I’ll create content for your website, or a script perhaps. I just wrote one for another new client who wanted a script for a video introducing a new product for funding on Kickstarter. I have a lot of experience writing scripts and they’re easy for me to write. Okay, enough touting myself, gee whiz, give it a break, will ya?

I’ve also decided that I’m not going to write about my script because this blog really doesn’t seem like the right place for that kind of post. If you disagree, let me know.

I want to do a last shout-out to the 4 readers who kept the torch lit waiting for my return. Thank you. It’s nice to be wanted.


Regards from your design detective,


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In the Castro

One of my favorite neighborhoods in the City.

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There’s so much going on here especially at the Castro Theater. Going to see a movie here is more than just going to see a movie, its a cinematic adventure. Not only is it a one-screen cinema, but it’s a grand theater in the most traditional sense of the word. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the inside, but I will make a point of doing a blog post specifically about the different theater houses in the City.

I don’t know about you but I love the rainbow flag. It says so much about this City, the people who live here, the state of mind most of us share and the overall desire we have to create a City of singular beauty out of a variety of styles, cultures, faces and backgrounds. There is something here for everyone and that something is best represented by a rainbow  of colors which by the way, is not lost on the color choices residents here have made for their homes.

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This pink home is so visually delicious. It just calls out to be loved. Not every house, in fact, most houses couldn’t pull off this color but this one does perfectly. And I especially like the garden that will soon grow tall and wild. The green being a perfect compliment to the pink.

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This blue structure is both a business and possibly, a residence. With so much eye-candy in this neighborhood, it’s challenging for a business to announce its presence without being too obnoxious and turning residents off. People in San Francisco are sharp. They know what’s going on, especially in their neighborhood and one thing they don’t like, is being manipulated by someone drawing attention to themselves in order to sell you something. This choice of color is both a strong statement and a subtle reminder that you are in the Castro where beautiful color is everywhere and deserves to be celebrated!

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Now this business, so subtle, yet incredibly cleaver, made me take a double take once I realized what was happening. How cool for two buildings to share a strong diagonal; talk about cooperative! Its surprising how subtle this strong statement is on the street. With so much car traffic, people traffic, stores, restaurants and cafes, it’s easy to miss this wonderful and simple stretch of possibilities and yet, here it is! Just imagine how may other possibilities are out there for expanding one’s canvas if neighbors decide to work together.

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This unusual house on a hill caught my eye as I was looking for pictures to take. Needless to say, the people who live here have a fantastic view looking north but what really caught my eye was the red wing slats coming off the arched roof. Since it only exists on one side of the structure, I’m guessing that it may also act as a covering for a deck that wraps around the eastern side of the house. You can see how high up it is in the lower photograph.

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Not only is San Francisco built on hills, but the houses here are hilly too! Tall, narrow, rising up to touch the sky yet accommodating residents need to be outside. Lacking yards or yards with sun, these homes satisfy the needs of sun lovers by creating rooftop space exposed to the elements or enclosed with widows as the two examples below illustrate.


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Now look at this show stopper! How this roof design made it all the way to San Francisco is a riddle to me but here it is and it’s beautiful!

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Again, this house is almost invisible given its location right next to Market Street. Cars whiz by at 50 mph (or at least it seems that way). I’ve lived here almost 30 years and never noticed it before but I’m glad I did on this day. Houses like this one make me think anything is possible the only limit out there is one’s imagination.

So on that final thought, I bid you good night. Thank you for hanging in there with me. It’s been a real tough last few days with the horrible event that took place in Newtown, Conn. I know everyone has been thrown off balance because of it, I know I have, and I look forward the to ongoing dialogue and examination of values that we will collectively bring to the table for a better America.

As always, I remain your design detective,



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Fine Fences

Have you noticed that fences are going horizontal? I have and I like it.

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It could just be me but I feel horizontal fences convey a friendlier note of boundary delineation than vertical fences.

There’s something new about them; something a little bit exciting and unexpected, surprising if you will.

Horizontal is a position of comfort; we lay out bodies down, horizontal with the earth. The horizon, where days begin and end. Horizontal seems in harmony with the planet earth, the way streams flow and clouds pass overhead.

Trees are vertical but they are often inaccessible, unless one is so inclined to venture up a trees’ branches. Much more enticing, to me anyway, is to lay down, horizontal beneath the branches of a tree and stare up into the sky.

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Small choices, like the direction of the wood in a fence, can have a huge impact on the curb appeal of your home. Just like choosing the right colors to paint your home, the message you consciously, or not, express to the world will impact how the world sees and responds to you.

This simple truism is applicable to life in general as well. Afterall, how we live our lives is affected in great measure by how we view ourselves and the world around us.

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This fence was also a pleasant surprise to find. It reminds me of a purse a good friend gave me. And the fact that it provides a lot of privacy for the homeowner, it doesn’t do so by sacrificing my experience of the fence. My view isn’t compromised so that the folks on the other side can be left alone.

The fence says to me, the people who live here value their privacy but they also want me to feel valued. So they’ve come up with a creative solution that fulfills their need and respects my feelings.

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This fence not only cares about privacy, it also cares about the trees growing around the house. After all, why shouldn’t these tall trees be incorporated into the fence? Do they not provide the same space delineation as the rest of the fence? And what does this fence say about the people who live inside that house on the other side? Do I like them? Would I want to get to know them? If my kid’s ball landed in their yard, would I feel okay to knock on their door to retrieve it?

This particular fence makes me want to know the people who live inside that house. I know I will like them and I have a strong feeling, they will be kind to me because they are kind to their trees.

Am I crazy? Do you think I’m reading too much into a fence? How else do we navigate in and around this world we all share if we fail to read and respond to unspoken messages? They’re all out there and they’re all putting across some message of warmth or fear, don’t we have a natural tendency to read all that we can so we know how to proceed? I think so.

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This fence is another example of a friendly fence. Clearly people passing by are more than welcome to have a peek at what lies on the other side. In this case, its a pretty garden.

I also like the trouble the owners went to to create the scallop shape at the top of the fence. Another detail one doesn’t see too often in fences like this. Again, the owners of this property took into consideration the message they wanted to convey to their neighbors and the world. Which is, this is our house, this is our yard, we enjoy it and we hope you do too but it is our private space so please, don’t come in. Or something less wordy but to the same point.

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This lovely fence, like the one above, invites inspection. The staggering height and planter box in front, make the experience playful and well as utilitarian. The uneven spacing of the various width of slats, all express a message of haphazard order. Randomly intentional. Fun and functional. A low fence that allows persons of all sizes to enjoy, discover and observe it’s request for minimal privacy.


Another notable item about this fence is the planter box mentioned above. As you can see, the owners not only took care to create a colorful garden on the opposite side of the fence, they went so far as to soften the effect of the fence by adding a small, horizontal garden on my side as well. It’s this understated thoughtfulness, that makes me happy to have this person for a neighbor.

Finally, we have the most popular, and typical fence around my parts. A vertical, tightly fitted wooden fence topped by horizontal lattice.

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What makes this sample so nice is the color the fence has been stained. Rather than letting the whole thing turn prematurely gray, the owners treated the fence to a heavy dose of wood stain. The warm golden glow of the wood adds a nice touch to what would otherwise be a boring fence. Also the pretty and delicate white flowers soften the height and strength of the fence turning a message of, keep out, into one that says, we value our privacy but we also care about you so check out our pretty yellow fence and white flowers!

Until tomorrow, I remain your design detective,


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Time is Everything

I started this blog after I read a book about moms who blog. The book related stories about moms who had good jobs and then had kids and either couldn’t or didn’t want to return to their old jobs but still wanted to do something with the talent or new interest they had in whatever it was. The book inspired me to start writing about something I felt passionate about, a subject I could write about everyday and that something was home design.

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I already liked taking pictures of houses so this was the perfect forum for me and hopefully, I’ll be able to write something for someone who wants to pay me for my words (hint, hint). Until that day comes, I’m enjoying my freedom and my commitment to my blog and to you, the few, the dedicated, my loyal readers; all 20 of you (on my best day so far).

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The book recommended posting everyday and that’s been my goal. Every morning when I wake up, I make a conscious decision to sit down at my desk and post a new blog. This particular entry marks my 24th post, I think, although I started writing more like 40 days ago. I just couldn’t keep up with the daily demands of posting new content and new photographs. My life was hitting a wall and posting is a demanding task and time consuming as well. I didn’t create a blog calendar, like the book recommended. Every entry is random exposition; stream of consciousness blogging within the rubbery confines of design.

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What I’m trying to get at is, this morning, instead of tackling this blog, I went to work on the script I’m writing tentatively titled, LOSER. I stayed with it for about four hours or so and then went for a walk with Derby. We headed down to Glen Park. On the way I took a lot of pictures of sidewalk cracks and old leaves and houses. I stopped for a latte at my favorite cafe and now that I’m home again, I feel ready to post this new blog. You see, time is everything.

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A complicated construction of our world around which we tie everything.

I started writing, seriously writing in my journal everyday in an attempt to hold on to the time that was always falling through my fingers. If I didn’t record what had happened, then what was the point of it happening and did it even happen at all? I needed to have access to my past if I was to really exist, that was my thinking anyway but I quickly discovered that recording the events of my day is pretty boring to write. My favorite subject was actually how crappy I felt about my relationship with my boyfriend who later became my first husband. When he and I broke up, that’s when the flood gates of my mind really opened up and there wasn’t a spiral bound notebook in the city of San Francisco that was safe from being filled up with all the rant and rage of a woman finding her voice.

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Now that I’ve found it and am exercising it to sound as stretchy as I can make it, I discovered today that finding the right time to write is critical and for me, writing this blog first thing in the morning isn’t going to work. I need to work on my script in the morning, take pictures in the afternoon and blog in evening.

Still you design detective,


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