Thursday, March 1, 2012

Latinos Love Color- Use Spring As Your Palette

Hola todos! Spring is in the air and I am SO excited for it's return. Living in AZ, I don't get to miss it much. Our mild winters (usually around 50-80 degrees) feel like two seasons of spring, but I still enjoy all of the suspenseful build up to each season in the rest of the world.

Us Latinos, we really LOVE our colors-the BRIGHTER, the BETTER! After all, we are the true 'Rainbow People' of Earth, coming in every luscious shade from creamy white to deep, dark espresso. Color is our form of expression. It makes a statement in our wardrobes when we rock a fierce red stiletto and our homes when we carry our love to the bold red wall in the living room. And we're DARING. We don't just do it in small doses, we go all the way with our outspoken style and that's why I love our culture! We don't hold back. We don't just go for a few accent pillows in lime green... we'll paint every wall that color if we're feelin it! (Por favor, no!) Pero entiendes? We go hard with color. That's why I love spring.

Spring is your excuse to go nuts with color. Check out this room design I created on Olioboard is a fantastic online design tool I use in my design business to create inspiration boards to present to my clients.  I was inspired by the bright, fun turquoise accessories I found at I would swear the buyers are Latino with all of the amazing yellows, pinks, blues and greens in everything from decor to lighting to fun accent furnishings. You can really create el Ultima Casa de Latino o Latina! Use the example is this design and just paint one of your smallest accent walls with the boldest color you can find, like this "Mirame" yellow!
Here I took the accent color (yellow) and ran with it by using it for my coffee table, a throw pillow and carrying it onto two simple, small wall areas. If you truly love the color and know that you won't get sick of it after a while, a coffee table or another piece of accent furniture in that color is a great way to redesign your room. If you want this look but are a bit scared, use a paintable piece of furniture. Si tu no te gusta ya, repaint it in any shade you like! 

When buying accent furniture that will be the leading color in your room, make sure that you love the color also and make sure it's a color that, when you get sick of the room, you can easily update it by adding another accent color to create an entirely new look. With this turquoise above, we can repaint the yellow wall in a cream and throw in cream accents for a calm beachy theme or go all white for a stark contemporary look. We can add browns for a cozy space or reds like I did for a client below and make the room a little caliente! It's all a game you can play in your space to create the room you love...

So, get your spring on. Have fun with patterns, play with bright colors and textures. Go all out and show your inner box of crayola crayons dying to burst out of you! It will brighten your mood every time you walk into your space and happiness is what it's all about!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Comes First- The Paint or The Furniture?

Hola todos! Ok, so first off- FELIZ CUMPLEANOS Y PROSPERO NUEVO ANO! I can't believe the year is over, but boy am I happy that it is, as it was not the best years for me. I lost a lot of mi familia este ano- un tio, my tia y un primo. To top it off, I was extremely ill for a good portion of the year. No bueno! I positively look forward to a much better 2012!

Today I want to discuss a recent and very frequently asked question for those redoing a room in their home. When I'm going to paint, do I pick my paint colors first or do I pick my furniture and it's fabric first? The answer is very logical to me, but boggles the minds of most homeowners.

It happens so often, you find a paint color that you love in an article in your favorite magazine and you quickly rush out and buy it, a smock and all the tools you need. You put your hair up in two little monyos (buns) and go to town painting the walls of your room and other things you probably shouldn't have gotten paint on, lol. The paint inspires you! You want all new furniture now. The walls look so good, you can't possibly keep your old stuff anymore. Que basura! Now, la problema... You can't find a thing to match that sexy paint color you threw on your walls! Y por que? Furniture come in far less colors than paints do. You may think- well, I can just go crazy with my wall color and then I can easily find a tan sofa, neutral goes with everything! NO! Certain neutrals can go with many colors but even neutrals have their own coordinating colors. Let me explain...

Let's say you paint your wall purple, like this one... This purple has a red undertone, so it works best with a tan that is warm, as the undertone of this violet is also warm. if you used a gray (which I wouldn't put a gray sofa in front of such a powerful color, you would need to use a warm gray as well, which would also have a tan or brown undertone. Not just any tan or any gray would go with this purple... and I'd never put a black sofa in front of this color, AY! "Black is not the new black!" Actually, orange is... but that's a whole other story!

Pero si tu tiene este color pupura...Now that's an entirely different story. Notice the tones of neutral they've paired with this violet- a mirrored (gray) nightstand and light gray ottomans at the foot of the bed. They are in a cool gray, because the purple on the wall is a cool gray. If you also notice here, the color on the wall is taken from the print in the pillows and the blanket. It was easy to find a purple to match the print. You can bring a pillow to the paint store and try to match to a swatch yourself, or ask the man or woman behind the counter to custom color match the color in the print for you. Intiendes? Es mucho mas facil! There are way too many shades of purple paint, so it's easy to find the perfect paint to match your linens, but imagine doing it the other way around. It's impossible! If you've already painted the wall and then try to find a set of linen or a furniture with the exact color fabric as this paint, you are searching for a very tiny needle in a very large haystack! The colors in furniture or linens are very limited. There may be four or five bed sets in purple, but none that are anything like the one you are looking for. It's just too difficult, and not worth making the mistake.

So, when you decide to paint your room, first think about exactly what you will be doing with the space. If you will be changing the furniture or if it's a bedroom, find the perfect set of sheets for your room and then select a color within the print (or just the solid color) and have the paint store make the paint for you. It will save you time, money and stress!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Quickly We Grow- Hispanic Population On The Rise! Doing Latin Business

My people are some of the most beautiful people in the world (as are all other Latinos). We are strong, we have curves, we have pride and we are very rapidly becoming the majority population of the entire world, much less the United States. And while many continue to slam us, mock groups of us and ignore us, to do so is not a wise decision for any business owner- ANYMORE!

Census results which review the last decade show that the Hispanic population has grown 56% from the year 2000 to the year 2010. We are becoming business owners and career-minded two earner households with great buying power. We are becoming wealthier and even in the lower income homes are some serious shoppers! Wouldn't it be smart to cater to such a large group of potential buyers? Despite any negative feelings toward us, we are too large to ignore and if you don't market to get our money, someone else will!

I progressively search for Hispanic clientele, in addition to all other clients I cater to. I have yet to work on the home of a Latino, and it makes me discouraged at times, as I know that there are thousands of affluent Hispanics out there. It makes me wonder who they go to to design their homes? Do they research Latin owned businesses in their area? I'M HERE WAITING TO SERVICE MY COMMUNITY! Find me please!

If you would like to find Latin business owners in your community, search the following websites to find them. You will be surprised, and hopefully impressed by the results.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Change Your Room For The Season

Just a few minor tweaks can give you a winter wonderland feel, JUST DON"T OVER-DO IT!

A standard living room with basic decor (except for that great chandelier((had to do it!)), can transform with subtle changes! BEFORE PIC
Hace frio! At least it is everywhere else. I live in AZ, and I guess we would say it was freezing here too, but we'd be over-reacting, it's in the upper 70's. We cry like babies when we have to wear three quarter length sleeves! But your poor living room is sad too, sad that it has to wear the same decor season in and season out without a little change to spruce things up when the holidays come. 

So.... some us of tend to go un poco loco with the Christmas decor. You're in the store and you see the cutest little turkey pillow and think "hmm, that would look great on my couch." Then, across the same aisle you see little pilgrim statues and "ay que lindo, the indians right next to them make you think of the village people." Usted tiene que tener! Before you know it, you've filled your cart with sparkly cornucopia, pumpkin spice scented candles, all of the pilgrims, village people and gingerbread men that you can find (cuz you're already thinking about Christmas!). Ay, yay, yay, your poor living room looks more like a holiday flea market, than a well put together room. While the urge to alter your decor for the changing seasons is right, the approach of more is better is all wrong and us Latinos can't help but want it all- we shop in complete sets honey!

One of the greatest things about the seasons changing is that you can create a new identity in your room for very little money. Here are the do's and don'ts for a sophisticated yet understated transformation.

  1. Focus only on the rooms that your guests will see, and even then DON'T GO CRAZY! Start with your powder room and just add a new scent, a tasteful hand towel in the holiday theme- PERO, ES MUY IMPORTANTE that it stays in the same color scheme as the room currently is. Where we start to get tacky is when we throw red, green and gold in a room that is teal or lavender or rusty orange. Don't go there! Stick with a hand towel and possibly a small statue in a neutral tone of cream or silver or gold, not multiple colors of joy.
  2. A tablescape is another great way to show your holiday spirit. A tablescape is a grouping of like items on a table, console or cabinet. Si, yo se usted tiene todo el pueblo de Navidad- but that doesn't mean all fifty little houses need to go on your dining room table. If you truly have the space to display them, then do so, but not in an area that gets used constantly like a coffee table or an area where your pets or children/ grandchildren can attack the little skaters on the ice. A good example of a grouping would be a decorative bowl of pretty Christmas tree ornaments, 3 metal mini trees, or 5 small angel statues. Make sure you group in quantities of three or five, never just two items. Also, unless going for a very modern look, do not line these items up like you would do to your village people, no bueno!
  3. Change out your pillows- AGAIN NO TE VUELVAS LOCO! That red plaid pillow with the grandma and the snowman is NOT HOT! Here is a real chance to change the overall feel of your room with simple changes. Focus on the color of your room's main pieces- the wall color, your sofa and the accent furniture. Remove your current pillows and accent your room with a new fur throw in snowy white and maybe a few throw pillows in cream or white with white shimmery or silver snowflakes. If your room has blues or teals, incorporate the white and blue combination or even purples for your bold Christmas decor. If your room has more of a neutral palette- tans, browns, camel colors- use white, cream decor, red decor or golds. If your room has a cooler neutral palette- the trendy grays or blacks, go for whites, blacks, shimmery silvers, reds, teals or purples. To sum up, a bright white snowy look will work with any palette. If lost- go for white!
  4. Have fun, not too much fun! Be practical- this is a space you will use constantly. If you see the room above, replacing just a few small items makes the room ready for snow- even in a warm climate like AZ or FL, where you just won't get any... There are also many pieces of trendy current decor that can be interpreted to have a holiday theme (like the crown pillow). You can always work that into your room later on in spring.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Free Fixes For Your Home...y otras mentiras!

Hola mi amigos. I have been gone for a while. After nearly thirteen years of unwed bliss, me and my non-husband Jay became marido y esposa! It was a beautiful day and I am swimming in happiness, but I've been a little neglectful of my blog, with all of the planning I was doing for my wedding... and for that, I am truly sorry.

For the last few weeks I have been searching many home improvement websites, only to find that many of them tend to pull your leg with the information they deliver. Mentirosos! The largest offender I found this week was Better Homes & Garden's site, which claims to give you tips for no cost decorating- 26 examples of it too! And, while I am a firm believer in lost cost, but don't call a chancleta un zapato!

One of their ideas is to add height to your room by raising your curtain rod close to the ceiling. this is one of my favorite designer tricks and really does work to expand your room, but what it isn't... is free. Sure, to remove the curtain rod and then reinstall it a little higher is nothing but labor, provided that you have spackle near by to patch up the former holes in the wall. Then you have to put the curtain on the rod. Oh, what's that you say? Now it's too high off the floor? Of course it is! Now you have to buy a new curtain. And longer curtains, though they will look better in the room, will cost more money because they use more fabric. I have already known someone who tried this themselves but didn't think about the!

So, if you are crafty or a good sewer and have a few yards of leftover fabric that just so happens to coordinate with the rest of the furnishings in your room, you can always add the new fabric to the bottom hem of your old curtains for a color block effect. This doesn't always work well. Your room has to be more contemporary in style for it to look like you meant to do it; definitely don't try this in a more traditional styled room. I have done this before, on purpose and it looked fantastic. But it just might be easier to explain the whole truth to the reader, cree que si?

Last week I truly did do a "free" remodel. My 6 year old son, whose room was going to be designed in a motorcycle theme came to my husband and I and requested that it now be army style. I asked him what we would do with all of the motorcycles and he said, "mommy, there are military motorcycles". Well, excuse me... We had one gallon of a deep gray paint for three walls of his room and hadn't yet bought the red that was going to be for the last wall. This gave me an opportunity to do one of my most favorite things...recycle. I always save the old paint from past rooms and am pretty good at mixing colors. I used the minty color that Walmart messed up in my hallway, added some purple gray from my last home's living room (seen in a past wallpaper blog post), added a dash of bright white that I use for all of my trim and a quarter if a can of lime green from my daughter's room. I mixed it all together and created an army green that looks great against the other three walls. Jay (my husband) likes it because I got rid of some paint from the garage. Jaidyn (my son) likes it because he got his dream fulfilled. I (me) like it because I was too tired to go to the store! And, it was really free.

Now, I'm not saying that anyone can do this. You have to experiment with proportions and combinations of colors, but it can be done and it's better for the environment whenever you can use existing products versus buying new, especially when the item contains chemicals!

As soon as mi hijo cleans his room, I will post a picture to show you the new color scheme. I hope to get back into the war zone to finish decorating my drawing figures on his wall to tie in the theme. I will post those as well. It's always a work in progress, but so rewarding!

My next post will be answering questions from homeowners across the country. If you have a question for me, please email it to I will do my best to answer it this Friday. Bye for now. Besos!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Erase The "Ghetto Mentality" to Beat The Minority Stigma With Your Business

Hola Todos. I love my blog because it allows me to speak frankly, directly to my people. Today I wanna talk to you about something near and dear to my heart- Minority Owned Business. You know, I just recently found out that there is a Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in AZ. I'm excited to know this because it means that there are enough viable Hispanic owned businesses within my community to warrant a club! I love to work with and know of other minority owned businesses, not just Hispanic owned, but Black as well. Throughout the years I have seen many Blacks and not so many Hispanics start businesses. Nearly all are no longer standing. Con la gracia de Dios, mine is still here! But one thing that always plagues me about our businesses is how little thought, time and money we invest in making them strong companies that are respected by the community. Many average people just don't take us owning a business seriously and we perpetuate the stigma by making these "ghetto fabulous" little stores, salons, barber shops and restaurants that no one, other than people of the hood would truly want to visit. Our appearance is everything! It is the key to having a successful company. If you want to walk the walk, you must talk it first!

Just recently a friend of a friend- my friend to the second power, asked me to help her with her salon. She is seeking to attract a slightly more upscale clientele and want them to feel welcome and take her business seriously. The locale of her place is in the midst of moderate income, but she does have the occasional higher end client in to get a cut or style. Her place had become the typical shop where people come and wanna hang all day watching TV and chillin. Having people occupying that space for hours on end does not make her money and she knows that. The problem came when she asked for my help to upgrade her space. Now I don't say this to diss or call her out in any way, because I like her- she's a hard working, strong black woman making her way with two businesses. I want to see her do well and would love to help her get there; but after spending nearly two hours with her going over her visions and perception of her future space, she looked at me and told me she could devote around $500 a month to fixing up her place. My heart sunk when she said this. I first wanted to say "seriously?", but I can't blame her. If you have never done any real renovation work, you might have no idea whatsoever how much it can cost. The mistake usually comes from a situation very similar to hers. What mainly needs to be done is cosmetic, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't cost, it just doesn't cost AS MUCH as it would if you did a full blown remodel. Many of our people buy full living room sets for $599, so when you explain that an average waiting room chair can cost $300 or more, they can't compute. Spending $300 on one waiting room chair might sound crazy, but it is on the lower end of the spectrum. The average is between $400- $700.

The appearance of high quality in your place of business greets customers with the comfort of a "stable company worthy of their patronage". Just think, for a second. You're looking for a home in a great neighborhood and are hiring a real estate agent. Two agents come to your home. One pulls up in a beat up 89' Corolla, dressed in jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt. The second drives up in a 2010 Nissan Maxima with nice rims and steps out of the car wearing nice work attire. She's not stepping out of a Mercedes with a power suit that says "I cost a million dollars to hire, but she's also not stepping out of a piece of crap that says "I'm not very successful at what I do because if I was I'd have a way better car!" Who would you trust to find your dream home? Our business' earning potential is directly affected by the face that we put on to the public.

I take a long time and use these examples because BRANDING is such an important part of making people "believe" our business. So many minorities try the do-it-yourself approach to opening up their store. They underestimate the start-up costs. They say- "I can pick some colors, throw up some hanging racks and open up a clothing store and they will come if I have fly gear" or "if I throw up a few flat screens I will look more upscale". They never think that certain colors will attract more buyers within their target market. Perhaps cramming ten cheap looking plastic tables and used chairs into their restaurant might not be the best floor plan for the ease of your customers and traffic flow. Yes, being proud of Puerto Rico is great, but throwing up murals of palm trees and tacky flowers and the flag might not be the best decorating choices to attract a more universal customer. Sometimes we think so much about ourselves that we don't understand who our customer is or SHOULD be.

Why can't we have beautiful, successful businesses? Why can't we invest the money it truly takes to show our best face to others? Last year I had a NFL football player and his wife come to me wanting me to design and build a fabulous space with a "rock star" feel. They wanted it head to toe extravagant because they would have mostly "baller" clientele and wanted a high end look to go with what they would charge their clients. The place was a former salon that already had it's own distinctive look. When it came down to investment- they wouldn't spend any more than the cheesy $20,000 they got for build out money from their property owner. Just a new floor alone in that amount of space was going to run $13,000. In the end they settled for a low end remodeling company who did nothing to make the place look any different than what it did originally. Such a shame that money wouldn't even spend money to make money!

My bottom lines are many. Let's stop giving others a reason to talk about us as lower class business owners. There is nothing wrong with trying to go it alone when planning your business hub to a certain extent, but a truly successful commercial space involves many "tricks" that are known only to true Interior Designers that deal with this type of design. This doesn't necessarily mean that you will have to drop $30,000 to remodel your business interior, but perhaps hiring a designer to work with you on even a few design improvements is a worthy investment. Allow him/her to design a plan for you that will work with a budget that is one you can eventually save up for, if you don't have the money now. Don't think that just changing one or two things like paint color and accessories might give your business an entire style overhaul. Commercial spaces are not as easy to upgrade as a room in a home. There are codes to consider, lighting issues, space constraints, traffic patterns, ergonomics, different moods of client, themes for branding your company. Designing a space is a well balanced combination of science and art. Non-minority business owners care enough about their companies to invest in opening well done restaurants, offices, spas and stores. We can do it too! Let's stop giving them reasons to call us ghetto! Let's put our businesses on the path to recognition and success...

picture from :

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Mothers of Recycling... Hispanics

Hola todos,

How are we all on this beautiful day? Of course, with Earth Day so fast approaching, everyone is talking about doing for the environment. Being socially responsible, being green... don't they know Hispanics are like the mothers of all recycling? Sheesh, we've been repurposing for hundreds of years; mami's couch, abuela's coffee table, tia's knick knack collection of good luck elephants, prima's capia collection. Even our teenage daughter's collection of roses from her boyfriend, all dried up- but they won't dare throw it out! lol. We do it out of love, we do it out of necessity, but we need to realize that we are also doing it for the environment. Whether we realize it or not, hand me down furniture keeps it out of landfills, off street corners and junk piles. It might have been born out of necessity, but we are still helping to save the planet, in our own backwards way.

Now, just because you have that old piece of furniture doesn't mean it has to stick out like a soar thumb from the rest of your home's interior. Your old pieces can become just as stylish as that newer leather sofa you just bought. (Just please tell me you didn't buy it in red! Red is sooo outdated!!!) If it's an old beat up sofa with faded cushions- go to Target and spend under $100 to get a nice slipcover. They are not all vieja looking anymore. They come fitted and some have great little straight edge skirts. Contrast it with different pillows for a newer looking piece for under $200.00! If it's an older coffee table, there are two ways you can go with that. The first is to darken the stain. I know, we are not all talented in the D-I-Y area, but while sitting in front of the TV watching novelas you can spread out an old sheet, put the table on top of it, sand the top and legs with a fine grit (220 grit) sandpaper to scuff the top layer of sheen off and use a rag dipped in an expresso stain to bring the table back to life. Just make sure you use a small can of stain and sealer in one (for less work!) The second suggestion- when all else fails, go silver. Metal colors are always a timeless alternative for decor and they go with everything!

If you are tired of the dried flowers, create a small compost pile under your sink for your avocado plant. (You know, the one you made out of the pit, sitting on the kitchen counter!) I bought a small composting pail from Marshalls for $14.99. I put all veggie scraps, egg shells and occasionally shred some paper and stick it in this pail. It slowly composts the material to use as fertilizer in my lawn and for my house plants.

I know I have kinda rushed through these ideas, but I get so excited at the thought of recycling! It's not a new thing and Hispanics ARE socially conscious, we just might not have known that our passing down things from one family member to another was actually the act of recycling. We all need to be praised for our actions, every now and then! El trabajo bueno, mis personas!

Want to learn more ways to help? Are you finding no family members to pass things onto or are you just tired of your old furnishings and household products? Consider donating them to St. Vincent de Paul, The Salvation Army, The Goodwill, Big Brother/ Big Sister or my personal favorite- Habitat For Humanity. My company donates my client's old furnishings and appliances whenever it can, so they go into homes of those who really need the help. One persons trash is another man's treasure, and it's just another form of recycling...

To contact these organizations and do your part-
Habitat For Humanity
St. Vincent de Paul

Let's make a difference in the lives of others, while making the planet better for ourselves and our families!