Sara Eliason on the Visual Conversation of Color

Friends — Today on the blog I am delighted to feature color guru and interior designer Sara Eliason. Sara’s a color expert who has delivered a Tedx Talk about creating a better relationship with our environments.cropped headshot 2

In the Q&A below, she speaks of color as a visual conversation we are constantly engaged in, whether we know it or not. Her idea of elevating the home to altar status and adorning it as a show of love, gratitude and connection to the spirit really resonated with me. And don’t miss her thoughts on determining your signature color palette. It is sure to have you thinking hard about the hues to which you are naturally drawn.

What follows is a super interesting, in-depth dialog. As a fashion designer who also works with color, I find Sara’s message fascinating. This is a read so worthy of your time and attention, as I know you will enjoy Sara’s insightful take on color and environment.
XOXO, Elaine

ET: What is your background and how did the interest in color and design emerge?

SE: My interest in color and design emerged in early childhood, possibly as far back as kindergarten. I have memories in early childhood of conversations around color – for instance I remember an argument that my mother and uncle had when I was about 5 or 6. My uncle was much younger that my mom and so was still a teenager at the time. He got ready to leave my grandmother’s house in a pair of red athletic shorts and a purple T shirt. My mom told him he couldn’t wear that because purple and red didn’t go together. This really struck a nerve for me, and I have honestly spent way too much of this lifetime considering if and how red and purple work together. I’m pretty sure I’ve worked that one out!

As a child I was obsessed with my surroundings and the little details that went into them. Years at school were spent considering the wall colors on the cinder blocks and thoughtfully considering what about them worked, and how they could be improved. I noticed spaces and the materials that made them and how lines and colors interacted, and by the latter half of grade school I was lending a hand at decorating for my mother’s friends when I was meant to be employed as a mother’s helper for the little ones. I had subscriptions to magazines like Victoria and spent my savings on decorating schemes for my bedroom.

By the time I got to high school, I knew my strength and interest was in the arts, but I wasn’t sure how to go about making that a living or a life. I was also torn between the love of art, design, fashion and hands-on work. I had dabbled in all of them and it was hard to know which one I loved most. Twenty years later, I’ve cultivated all of them really, and incorporate all of them into my work. I cannot live without nurturing all of those pursuits.

The initial foray into a career was not so much a matter of decision as a stroke of luck. In my early twenties, I had already spent several years working in banks and financial institutions and it was clear that spending days in a cubicle – no matter how well paid the position or how wonderful the colleagues, was not going to get me out of bed every morning. About two weeks after my first son was born, I needed a little escape from the house and I stumbled into a decorative painting store. They offered classes and sold materials and understood a great deal about finishes and materials from Europe and I was smitten. I took every class that  I could, and painted everything I could get my hands on, and then began teaching classes and taking the odd decorative painting job and before long I had a little business going. Read More

Designer Katie Scott on Creativity & Faith

I am thrilled to introduce another creative guru today, my dear friend Katie Scott. Katie’s playground crosses many mediums — interior design, jewelry and writing — and I feel she truly embodies the creative life. She finds inspiration deep within her heart, and her book is about the spiritual journey that awakened her soul several years ago. Clearly, the fruits of that journey are spilling out into her creative efforts, and I admire the honesty and passion of her faith. Savor Katie’s beautiful, divinely inspired designs and enjoy her take on living a creative life. XOXO, Elaine

Kennon1736 ET: Can you describe your daily creative process? Are you disciplined about it and follow daily routines or are you instinctual about it and just let it happen?

KS: My daily creative process begins with prayer and meditation. I recognize my ability to design as a God-given gift, so I believe it must be nurtured by a higher power. Not only do I seek creativity, but first and foremost peace, love and divine direction. When this is at your core, everything else begins to fall into place and the universe begins to work for you. Inspiration can be found everywhere. No doubt, my creativity has grown tremendously through this vehicle.

I require routine during the work week because you must be scheduled, disciplined and organized in order to manage time efficiently. That being said, I remain open and flexible to the unexpected changes that may be required. My day starts at 5:00 a.m. to center myself in peace through prayer and meditation. I am dressed and out of the door by 7:00 a.m. to drop kids off at school, and my meetings start by 8:00 a.m.

ET: How do you recover from a creative block? Are there any practices you engage in to get you out of a rut?

KS: A creative block is essentially mental exhaustion. When this happens, I literally step away from everything and clear out the clutter that has accumulated in my mind. Nature is my cure – whether it’s escaping to the beach or something as simple as a walk in the park or through my neighborhood. It carries my soul back to just being, letting go of acquired “thoughts” so I can be open to receive inspiration and develop new ideas. I breathe out what was, and breathe in “today,” this very moment of simplicity and life in itself, circling back to purpose and accomplishing what has been placed on my heart.

Once I have cleared my mind, I recharge by getting back into my element, and my environment is very influential – I adjust the lighting, I light a candle, I turn on my favorite music. I ask God to infuse me with knowledge, wisdom and new ideas. I take a deep breath and I grasp what comes naturally to me, using my senses to guide my inspiration – looking at color, touching and feeling fabrics and metals, turning to the past and reinterpreting the inspiration through a modern eye with a fresh perspective.

ET: What are your feelings about your career being connected to your creativity? Do you struggle with this? Or is it natural for you?

KS: Being creative is what comes naturally to me, it’s all I know. Everything I do has been “self” taught, and practiced over time. I am definitely a student of life.

ET: Do you have other outlets of creativity that you engage in that fill your soul other than interior and jewelry design? If so, what? And how does that enhance your creative process if at all? Read More

Interior Designer Jillian O’Neill on Creating A Sacred Space

From man-caves to she-sheds, having your own personal space is very of the moment. And it doesn’t have to be an entire room!  Sacred space can simply be a table showcasing meaningful items, fresh flowers and a scented candle or a corner of a room with perfect lighting, beautiful art, and a favorite chair. Today we turn to an expert in creating unique spaces (and one of my favorite interior designers) Jillian O’Neill, for her thoughts on personal, sacred spaces.

jillianoneillI love Jillian’s style. She creatively blends fresh and timeless furnishings with color, texture, scale and functionality in her design projects. She has a love of textiles and fashion thanks to a post-college modeling career. Her work has been featured in Elle Decor, Modern Luxury, Luxe Interiors and LX/TV. Here’s Jillian on personal retreats and sacred spaces and how to create your own. ♥ Elaine

E: Why is it important for women to have their own personal retreat?
J: We are all so “busy.” Exclaiming that “I’m busy, busy, busy” is like wearing a badge of honor. Recently, there has been a pull the other way — the “slow down” movement — but I embrace my schedule because I am doing things I love! Time with my family, work, travel, friends — how can I possibly complain about being “too busy” witWomen's retreath such luxuries? I wouldn’t want to live any other way. With this being said, I make sure to balance my lifestyle with nights sitting quietly and chatting with my husband or diving into a book. Or I take an afternoon off to practice yoga or have coffee with a good friend. All of this can be done in a small space, in a short amount of time, with very little cost so it is achievable (and I’ll just go ahead and say necessary) for everyone.

E: What are your top tips for creating a sacred space?
There is a talented color theorist here in Houston, Sara Eliason, and she maintains that everyone has many colors they love and there are hundreds of colors that can work for a space. However, there are only a few colors you can be happy living with and those are what create a successful room. I believe this to be 100% true. For me, purple is my “sacred” color — it makes me happy every time I use it in a room. I use it in textiles, sometimes even paint, definitely in art. Take time to think about spaces you’ve spent time in (hotels, restaurants, etc). What is the palette that makes you happy or most comfortable? What are the textures, sounds and scents? Now, how can you bring these elements to the nook you’ve found for yourself at home?

haley living room

E: How can I make my space personal to me?
Be sure to make this space useful. How would you like this area to function?  Do you need a space for yoga, to journal and read, or to catch up on your DVR with a glass of wine? All of those things take just a small corner of a room, a cozy chair, an end table and a few lamps and you have a great start. Add personal elements such as a throw rug (Crisp Interiors has a beautiful selection), pillows (check out Willa Skye), items of beauty (art, photos, flowers) and you are just about set! This area does not have to be large. In fact, my own first floor is about to be restructured to include a small private space off my bedroom that will be just 8’ x 10’. I can’t wait to use it for sketching off hours, reading and yoga.

E: What elements can I add to make my space calm and tranquil?flowerscandle
J: Lighting and scents will be the key aspects here. Lighting in your chosen space (and every space) should come from all levels: ceiling, eye level, table level and
occasionally even floor level. Using these together will leave you energized, while just using your table lamp/task lamp and a candle is perfect for relaxing with a book. As for scents, I thought I’d never find another candle I like as much as Slatkin’s Bamboo and Jasmine. In fact, when I found out it was discontinued I sent my brother all over Chicago buying up whatever stores had left. (He must have owed me a big favor that I’m forgetting now!) Thankfully, I found a new love in Lafco so I buy those regularly and change them with the season.