To market, to market …

North Carolina has a long history and reputation in the home furnishings industry for manufacturing fine furniture and textiles. The renowned High Point Market in High Point is the world’s premier home furnishings event.

High Point Market Square
High Point Market Square

Each spring and fall, thousands of industry professionals from around the world descend upon the sleepy little town of High Point, North Carolina to discover the latest interior design trends, see new product debuts, and network with their colleagues and peers. It’s the KBIS of the home furnishings and decor world. Manufacturers ship their newest and most beautiful creations to exhibit halls and showrooms for presentation to buyers from across the globe.

This fall I was presented with the opportunity to experience a small taste of the market while attending the NKBA Design Business Summit, which was taking place in High Point. The event began with a presentation from the High Point Market Authority, where it was made clear to us that a relationship between the NKBA and the High Point Market Authority would be mutually beneficial. Kitchen and bath designers who open accounts with merchants displaying at High Point would have access to a complete array of home furnishing products and decor.

Following the presentation, NKBA designers were divided among five tour guides, who each had favorite showrooms and manufacturers to share with us. Short of sounding like a giddy teenager, the next couple of hours were amazing. The only time I probably stopped smiling was to sip champagne or nibble on a delicious morsel.

When you are working on a kitchen remodel, do you have resources if the homeowner asks for your help in the living room or bedroom? Will you have sources for furniture, soft goods, artwork and beautiful lighting?

We were lucky to meet some designers who could talk to us about their products and answer questions. Raleigh, NC-based designer, Louise Gaskill (pictured below in yellow blazer), turns recycled Murano glass into the most amazing lighting. Clients commission custom pieces and Louise works her magic to create them.

NKBA-certified kitchen and bath designers should not be afraid to apply their knowledge to other areas of the home.

Even if one is completely content to focus only on kitchens and bath, it is difficult not to be impressed with the sheer volume and variety of quality products available at High Point. From exquisitely designed furniture to handcrafted lighting and decor items, I was excited and inspired as we ventured from one venue to the next.

Following the tour, the NKBA designers spent the evening socializing with colleagues. It was a fun way to end a busy day.

NKBA Design Business Summit Attendees
NKBA Design Business Summit Attendees

In addition to a lovely meal, we were gifted with really cool shades!

At the NKBA Design Business Summit, we were presented with tools to help us take our design businesses to the next level. Speakers included :

  • Luann Nigara, author of The Making of A Well-Designed Business and host of the #1 podcast for the interior design business – A Well-Designed Business
  • Leanne Wood, principal of Flying Camel Advertising, Design + PR
  • Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing
  • Panel discussion moderated by Sherry Qualls, featuring Veronika Miller of Modenus; Claire Jeffords, Interior Design business coach; and NKBA insider Elle H-Millard, CKD

Many thanks to the NKBA for hosting this educational and inspirational event!


Studying Modern Design and Trends at the Monogram Designer Summit 2018


I was honored to attend the Monogram Designer Summit 2018 in Louisville last week. This year’s theme was Journey: The Impact of One to Many.  Our gracious Monogram hosts began the summit with a cocktail reception and dinner at the historic Brown Hotel. This was followed by two days jam-packed with opportunities to learn and wander awe-struck through the modernist masterpiece that is Columbus, Indiana.

To help us get started on our journey, Bryan Goodpastor, Senior Creative Director of Trends and Forecasting at LPK, shared a dynamic presentation about trends for now and the future. At LPK, Bryan specializes in looking ahead to identify trends and help businesses optimize for the future.

Bryan’s team forecasts global trends and identifies shifts in socio-culture that affect consumer attitudes, values and beliefs—ultimately defining the consumer behaviors of the future.


Bryan’s presentation was a great segue to our trip the next day to Columbus, Indiana, an architecturally significant town that clearly demonstrates how one person’s vision can create a lasting impact.

Columbus, Indiana was forever changed as J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia made extraordinary contributions in their home town. Miller clearly was a man ahead of  his time. Watch the following video and see for yourself:

J. Irwin Miller: Portrait of a Leader


The highlight of our visit to Columbus was touring the Miller House and Gardens, which is now owned and maintained by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Still photos cannot capture the magic of the house and grounds, but the following video gives you an idea:

Miller House and Garden

Unfortunately, the magnolia trees were not in bloom for our visit. Having grown up with a magnolia tree in my front yard, I immediately recognized the budding beauties and can only imagine the spectacle they created when all were in bloom.

If you want to learn more about Columbus, Indiana and J. Irwin Miller, read Columbus, Ind.: A Midwestern Mecca Of Architecture.

We ended the day  with cocktails and dinner at the KY Museum of Arts and Crafts.


Tuesday began bright and early at The Speed Art Museum with Bryan Goodpastor reporting on industry trends, followed by our dynamic facilitators Sunni and Jesse setting us up for an afternoon of discovery and innovation.


One of the most fun parts of the Monogram Designer Summits is being able to envision and create product prototypes. Building on Bryan’s information with Sunni and Jesse motivating us, we broke out into teams and let our imaginations run wild.

Using “junkyard” scraps of cardboard, foamcore, handles and knobs, we put our heads together and built full-size appliances. Each group was assigned a demographic based on Bryan’s presentation,and we had only a short time to come to consensus and build our prototypes!


Unfortunately, I cannot show you pictures of our top-secret, innovate creations or I will be sent away to appliance jail and tortured. Just kidding. Nyuck nyuck nyuck!

But seriously, folks, if you want to see truly innovative products that exceed your wildest dreams you only have to check out Monogram Appliances!

We wrapped up the 2018 Designer Summit with cocktails and dinner in The Crystal Ballroom at the Brown Hotel. As we savored as last hours together, Karl Champley, Master Builder, Humanitarian, and TV host shared his journey with us.

Thank you, Monogram, for hosting another fabulous designer summit!

Kicking off the baking season

What happened to autumn? It rushed right by and now suddenly the holiday season is upon us! Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanza, New Years… Each of these holidays have baking traditions associated with them. To get you in the spirit, let’s start with a little music from some old friends at Saturday Night Live.

Sorry, were you expecting something else? The best way to get psyched for chores is to listen to some mood music that puts a smile on your face. I dare you not to smile after watching this. Yes, I know it’s not politically correct, but I don’t care. I am not so sure our politicians are politically correct themselves these days, so I’m going for the laugh.

I have a love-hate relationship with holiday baking. Growing up, my family had very labor-intensive baking rituals for every holiday. My sister and I helped our mother for days approaching every holiday. Even though our aunts also baked for the holidays, they all had different specialties. And being Italian, it never occurred to them to split the holidays among the sisters; no, they all had to bake their specialty for every holiday. I’m not complaining! As a kid who only had to “help” with the prep and baking, I was only too happy to help with the eating.

Fast forward to adulthood and marriage, living 500 miles away from my Italian family and now part of a family with no holiday baking traditions, it was up to me to do all of the baking if I wanted holiday treats. I learned to scale back quite a bit and enlist the help of my kids whenever possible, but it’s usually just me in the kitchen. For some reason, spending a couple of days baking and decorating cookies and other baked goods does not appeal to them. Eating the baked goods appeals to them for a day or two. Then it’s up to me to eat the rest of the baked goods. Sadly, I have no problem wanting to do that. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

This leads me to believe that people who love to cook are probably also the ones who love to eat. They say the world is divided into two types of eaters: those who live to eat and those who eat to live. And damn it if those eat to live types are also the skinny ones!

One thing is for certain about baking rituals: they bring to center stage every dysfunctional or disliked thing about your kitchen. This is probably one of the reasons so many people start dreaming of a new kitchen after the holidays.

If Santa stops by your house with the gift of a kitchen remodel, make sure you engage a kitchen designer to help you get the kitchen of your dreams. Whether you plan to bake yourself silly or order in every night, a designer helps ensure you have everything you need to have a functional, beautiful kitchen.

For the bakers gearing up to remodel their kitchens, please take the time to read the post below from DuraSumpreme Cabinetry. You are sure to find some ideas that will help you create a baking center that works in your kitchen.

The Kitchen Baking Center.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving surrounded with friends and loved ones. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to visit my blog!