What Fall Means to Us

More than Sweater Weather

by Barbara Schmidt

Location Editorial with Photographer Joel Larson  @joellarson ; Creative Director and Stylist Barbara Schmidt  @studiobstyle ; HMU Andrea Holton  @andreaholton ;  Model Caroline Gidlow ;  @ignite-models.com   @freepeople   @alexanderwang   @dvf

Location Editorial with Photographer Joel Larson @joellarson; Creative Director and Stylist Barbara Schmidt @studiobstyle; HMU Andrea Holton @andreaholton; Model Caroline Gidlow; @ignite-models.com @freepeople @alexanderwang @dvf

What cooler weather means in New York and Minnesota is the beginning of layering our wardrobe again. We start to look for jackets and scarves for those cool mornings on the way to work and school.

Fall fashion is comfortable – like these stovepipe silk pants and oversized “Elmo” jacket. Mixing and matching layers is one of the best parts of fall wardrobe, and we can’t wait to build more drama into the new season.

Afternoons are still warm so time in the garden and on the deck are important. Sacrifices are made to sit in the sun a little bit longer. We cherish each warm day knowing that it can snow in October, and then we will have to wait until March for those warm afternoons to return.

“Grey Gardens” editorial; Set build and Photography Tim Nehotte  tnehottephoto.com ; Set Designer and Stylist Barbara Schmidt studiobstyle.com

“Grey Gardens” editorial; Set build and Photography Tim Nehotte tnehottephoto.com; Set Designer and Stylist Barbara Schmidt studiobstyle.com

We get ready for winter just like the squirrels stash away nuts. Covering our planters with sheets every night in the fall allows some extended garden time until the hard frost forces us to bring our plants inside. Then our indoor rooms become nurseries for perennials and annuals that go dormant only to wake in January as the days gradually start to get longer.

 Then we get out our shovels and buckets of pet safe deicer for the front door and the driveway. The garden hoses are brought in and the hummingbird feeder waits for the last migrating stragglers before a final cleaning and storage until next April.

During fall we reach for warm coffee, hot tea, and some harvest foods like squash and apples. So much of what we decorate changes into Halloween and Thanksgiving that it’s hard to see any other décor after back-to-school dorm room collections.

Local apples have been grown to withstand our early fall dips in temperature. One of my favorite apple varieties is the Haralson. It’s tart and a late harvester so we can enjoy fresh local fruit well into the holiday season.

“Apple Crisp” Editorial shot at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel; Photographer Tim Nehotte tnhottephoto.com; Creative Director and Stylist Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle.com

“Apple Crisp” Editorial shot at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel; Photographer Tim Nehotte tnhottephoto.com; Creative Director and Stylist Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle.com

Once the frost settles across the land, our ovens turn on to bake hearty foods. Kitchens become our warming houses for all things culinary. Some of my favorite desserts are pies made with peaches, apples, and berries. Nothing beats a homemade crust and warm slice of piping hot pie on a cold day.

 When we were getting ready to shoot this apple story we harvested the apples ourselves from an orchard out near Stillwater. Then I baked the skillet pie myself the night before.

“Apple Pie” Editorial Photography Tim Nehotte tnehottephoto.com; Interior Designer and Stylist Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle.com  @kitchenaid ;  @masterbrand ;  @jeffreycourttile ;  @piebox

“Apple Pie” Editorial Photography Tim Nehotte tnehottephoto.com; Interior Designer and Stylist Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle.com @kitchenaid; @masterbrand; @jeffreycourttile; @piebox

While we were sourcing the set elements I happened upon the Pie Box creative team.  They custom make boxes for pies with leather straps and nifty slide-off lids. They were kind enough to send us one for our shoot, and I still have it our pantry stacked with other props waiting for another project.

“Harvested Farmhouse” Photographer Tim Nehotte tnehotte.com; Interior Designer and Stylist Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle.com  @marvin   @northerncontours   @wilsonart   @dxv   @interceramicusa   @hafele

“Harvested Farmhouse” Photographer Tim Nehotte tnehotte.com; Interior Designer and Stylist Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle.com @marvin @northerncontours @wilsonart @dxv @interceramicusa @hafele

Fall has a special meaning to the Midwest because it’s harvest time for a lot of crops in late summer and into fall.  There is bounty across the land and a warm feeling of gathering and sharing. That feeling was exactly how I thought of the kitchen below – warm and inviting to create meals for the family. Happy fall everyone!

 

Top 10 reasons you need a website and style update

by Barbara Schmidt, Marketing Consultant and Creative Lead, studiobstyle.com

 

1)   Your messaging is tired.

If you see the same terminology over and over again, it’s time to get a fresh perspective. “Disrupter, Bringing to Life, Authenticity and Storytelling” is starting to sound rote. I had a design assistant that told me, “if you have to say it, it’s probably not so. “ So show me, don’t just tell me.      

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2) You rely on still imagery for the bulk of your website and social media.

Your competitor’s websites are built with video. You know why? Because at a minimum, it’s four times more effective. Make that change now – you need to.

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3) Your website navigation is so nested your audience can’t find what they are looking for.

A website is a qualifying resource, not your company’s Wikipedia. Share “just the facts ma’am” and maybe a few case studies with results (not “storytelling” because that would be telling me the obvious).  Time is money so get to the point quickly and concisely. The elevator speech should be there plus a bit more, but don’t get hung up on telling your audience everything because there should be a reason to connect.

 4) Your photography is more than 5 years old.

That’s right, very few photos can withstand the half-decade mark unless they’ve been retouched. Too much yellow, glowing, poorly cropped and unfocused images float around out there. Remember that humans remember the worst, not the best photo when reviewing your gallery. Don’t ask me why, it’s just our nature. 

5) You haven’t updated your blog in months.

We all get busy and then can’t seem to pull it together but take the blog page down if you aren’t going to keep up with it. No one will miss it anyway because you haven’t been posting. Consistency is the hallmark of social and digital media.  

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 6) Your logo hasn’t been updated in ten years.

Even Coca-Cola updates their logo and so should you. Every logo can be brought into the current and maybe even future design aesthetics with the right designer. Are you targeting your market? Ask around and see. 

7) You have no calls to action on your website.

This is probably the biggest issue with almost every website we look at in any industry. What do you want your audience to do once they get there? Seriously, is there something they can sign up for? (Not the blog you just took down) but how about a cup of coffee? A quick phone call, a hello? Give the people some sort of communication because that is why they are there.

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8) You don’t update your website every year.

That’s right, e-v-e-r-y y-e-a-r. Times are a’changing faster and faster so look around in your industry and see what is going on. Try new ways to communicate whether it be animation (not cartoons but simple movement of objects or graphics) or stop motion or gifs or video. Every messaging tool can be measured as to its effectiveness digitally so test it and see how it works.

9) All for one and one for all.

If you have left over letterhead and business cards with the old logo and tagline please recycle them. Mixed messaging is one reason there are cracks in brand consistency. Everywhere you message, the brand should feel, look and sound like the same voice.

10) Don’t forget to Give Back.

Every company no matter how small should be giving back to the community in some way. Make sure to share that story on your website somewhere. If you have an intern program, you are giving back. If you have a donation program, you are giving back. If you have pet days at the office you are giving back. Ask your employees what they care about most and help give back where it counts.

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Designing for Yourself and Others

What are the key questions to ask?

by Barbara Schmidt

Photographer Mike Maki; Custom Designed Bath by Interior Designer Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle

Photographer Mike Maki; Custom Designed Bath by Interior Designer Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle

Interior design isn’t about what it looks like to the world, it’s how it makes you feel and how it helps you to live your life. A lot of pretty pictures are just that – pretty pictures without a living story. Great interior design is born from architecture, function, flow, scale, texture and color among other elements.

Each project I design is unique to the client and the specifications of the persona who would spend time in that space. No one wants to have cookie cutter design and we develop an entire proprietary outline of each project’s desired outcome.

We ask ourselves what success looks like and how that will help us to reach creative and budget perimeters.

 

Photographer Mike Maki; Custom Designed Master Suite by Interior Designer Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle

Photographer Mike Maki; Custom Designed Master Suite by Interior Designer Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle

Here are three of our questions for a quick start to our process:

1)   How would you like to feel in the space?

This is truly the most important outcome of great design. I personally love wide-open spaces because they help me dream. I also love cozy nooks that help you feel tucked in. Within every space I’ve designed there are resting points where you can enjoy your surroundings.

Custom Designed Dining Room; Photographer Tim Nehotte; Interior Designer Barbara Schmidt studiobstyle

Custom Designed Dining Room; Photographer Tim Nehotte; Interior Designer Barbara Schmidt studiobstyle

2)   If you were describing this space to your best friend what would it look like?

This is the question that gets to the honesty of the design outcome without judgment. How someone shares a space with his or her favorite friend is a telling scenario. Spaces are emotional and to me I think that’s where studiobstyle’s success has come from – my passion for designing environments.


Kitchen that needs natural light and more cool tones in the design

Kitchen that needs natural light and more cool tones in the design

3)   What spaces don’t you like and why?

Someone once asked me if I would regret a decision.  This was to see if I could make a decision in reverse. Would I feel regret for the choice I didn’t make? Sometimes this brings more clarity to decision making.

Now I always ask what clients do not like. Some of the answers I’ve received are silly for example not liking shells or butterflies but then sometimes I find them not liking cool tones like blues or grays. This question helps us focus in on what is pleasing to the client’s eye.

Ultimately whether you are designing for yourself or a client it’s good to do some creative research by asking yourself what are the creative goals. In marketing we call this a creative brief and this is the measure of success. A successful space is one that you want to share and don’t ever want to leave.

Home Maintenance- 5 things that drive me crazy

By Barbara Schmidt

If you want weekend warrior ideas just ask yourself what drives you crazy about your home. It could be something in disrepair or maybe something that never worked in the first place. 


Most of my crazies are things that don’t work – either they were never designed correctly in the first place or something was never set up right. Try to tackle these items “bird by bird” as they say so that a little sanity can creep into your daily life.

  1. Lights on Lights off.

The winters in the New North (Minneapolis) are long, cold and dark. We used to rely on a motion sensor to turn on our lights when driving up to the house. The sensor would get cloudy so that after a year or two it wasn’t very responsive so we’d be coming home in the dark.

I was out on a project in LA when I ran across the timer duplex switch from Lutron. I love this switch because we can program it turn on and off by the amount of daylight streaming onto the sensor inside the house.

As the days get shorter and shorter the garage lights come on earlier and earlier. The switch allows for manual operation as well.

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2. Migrating Toilet Seat

That’s right, our master bath has a toilet seat that stays tight for one or two tries and then migrates back and forth just to make those middle of the night trips to the bathroom really perilous. 

I asked around – spoke to a photographer friend of mine who suggested going back to old stock toilet seats but they fit round fronts not the elongated front toilet we have. 

I asked at the wholesaler where the toilet came from and they didn’t have a suggestion either. My husband complained and complained about it until one day it came up at topic of conversation in our of our remodeling projects.

Finally I’m in a meeting at Aspire Showroom and the local representative for Bemis tells us about STATITE® the professional hinge fixing system. Well, I felt vindicated – obviously we have an issue that many other homeowners have had as well. So hallelujah! We now have a toilet seat that stays put and the toilet seat itself is slow close from churchseats.com. 

 
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3. Organized Flatware

Admittedly I do not have this problem solved yet but I have big plans. Every year at KBIS I see the Hafele booth with their drawer organizers and I proclaim my intentions to fix our flatware drawer. 

Sometime in 1994 someone had the great idea to use a plastic molded drawer form to rest our silverware on. The big problem is that silver and plastic are slippery so every time you open or close the drawer the silverware slides forward or back and after a few times the entire situation is a jumbled mess. Felted bottoms would be great and sections so that we can keep my chef husband happy and at peace.

 
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4. Dingy Bath Towels

We are having family over for dinner in a few weeks and all of sudden I noticed how worn and sad our guest bath towels look. They are embarrassing so I’m on the hunt for some better quality bath towels in a grey or charcoal. 

It’s funny how we miss things everyday and then all of sudden they cross that line needing replacement. No one should have to dry off with a questionably clean towel. Come to think of it my husband did ask for new bath towels that are “fluffy” and bigger. 

 
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5. Wall Marks

We move a lot furniture in and out of our home for photography so it’s not surprising that we have a lot of marks on our white walls. Once a year I try to take Mr. Eraser to visit all the high traffic areas in our home to freshen up all the dings.

In the meantime I look at each wall ding as a sort of birthmark of each my projects. Do they drive me crazy? Yes but on the positive side it’s so satisfying to rub them out of existence.

 
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What’s On Trend?

My first visit to the Aspire Design Showroom Gallery in Plymouth was to attend a recent Women In New Construction (WINC) meeting. It was also my first time attending a WINC group meeting and it was so inspiring. There were women from the interior design side to manufacturing to media in attendance.

The Aspire showroom is so beautiful and informative. For instance, the shower display is something I’ve thought about for years. Wouldn’t you want to try a shower-head before you buy it? Sure you would and they are all lined up so consumer’s can feel the spray on their hands before choosing the shower system for their dream home.

This particular event featured Kohler’s Jennifer Nye, Marketing Manager, and she presented trends in the Kitchen and Bath industry. Here are some of the trends Kohler has identified as influencing the kitchen and bath industry:

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Wanderlust

“Travel is a spending priority for most consumers,” said Nye and it competes with disposable income that could be invested for home improvements.

As one of my biggest sources of design inspiration, I find travel a must-do on my priority list. One of my favorite ways to see more is to work in other cities across the country. It forces me to see what else is out there for resources and design.

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clean

Nye explained, “… consumers seek …peace of mind, serenity and freedom from chaos.”

The idea of what is ever is included in design has a purpose is a wonderful tenant. Clear focus on what the purpose is of everything in an environment can be very satisfying. It is in the nature of humans to arrange and rearrange. One of the principles of our firm is to “edit” oneself but first to have the freedom to try whatever one feels may be a possibility because design is full of surprises.

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Tech tightrope

“Technology has become a modern addiction, invading all aspects of life… Consumers are finding that they have to mediate and at times, experience the joy of missing out,” Nye presented.

With just about every appliance in the industry linked in someway to a smart phone we are seeing the creep of technology in more places in the home than ever. Window lock and patio doors are now configured to open via apps on your smart phone. So where are we headed with this? Will we need to simplify? We say yes.

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treat yourself

Second to last, Nye said this, “Our New Sophisticates are willing to spend more on things that matter, and more likely to indulge in everyday things that bring them joy. Those things are not considered a waste of money because they center around happiness and not necessity.”

This is the idea of experiences vs. owning things just to own them. Will you use that extra space or will it become a burden? Will you need to store and organize inventory or delight in the presence of its existence? Sometimes this is hard to say because human nature is extremely adaptable. The question is what truly brings you happiness?

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modern momentum

Lastly, Nye said this, “Nearly all consumers want a ‘modern’ space, but by that they mean up-to-date, not necessarily a certain aesthetic….online environments create real-time exposure to the latest and greatest, accelerating consumers’ tolerance for what is ‘in style.’”

We used to be design influenced by our parents, neighbors, friends and local environments. Publications broadened our sphere but now we have video and Airbnb to expand our horizons even further. Just about any style can be found within vertical categories. Overall, the modern mash includes a touch of transitional contemporary everywhere.

All in all it was a wonderful peek into how Kohler looks toward trend for their product inspiration and offerings. In fact, I was there to specify bath and kitchen products for our upcoming project @Dohmicile. Absolutely everything we could ever want and more is displayed at Aspire. Now it’s going to be hard making decisions. To watch our progress follow us on Instagram @Dohmicile or @studiobstyle.