What does Buddhist architecture, Islamic architecture, Notre Dame and Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth all have in common?

golden-ratio of a RoseWhat does Buddhist Architecture, Islamic Architecture, Notre Dame, and Mies Van der Rohr’s Faarnsworth house all have in common?   Sacred Geometry!

Sacred Geometry, as architect Robert Armon  has described to reporter Erika Christiansen, ASID, is based on the Golden Rule, that “map” of divine proportions which simultaneously reflect the beauty of the human body’s proportions, the proportions of the nautilus shell, and everything else in  the natural universe. Studies have found that humans tend to feel more at ease and more energized whey viewing and experiencing structures with sacred proportions.

If this is so, then =sacred proportions can increase individual and employee emotional wellbeing—-which can cascade into positive effecdts for physical well being, and on to employee productivity. Compare this with similar outcomes of many environmental design practives, such as using natural light and no volatile organic compounds, and we can see that sacred geometry may be as practical as “green”/environmental design.

Green/environmental design is focsed on life-style, comfort, health, safety, welfare and respect fot the Earth. The same with the sacred arts, the ultimate goal being the metaphysical state, or enlightenment, rather than the basic physical realm. Change the thinking and the physical will follow.

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., Allied NSA, principal of Breay Design Associates is not only a popular, awarded designer with degrees in design from University of Michigan, but is also a speaker, instructor, mentor, and author on design and design issues. Contact her by clicking the contact button on the left of these pages. She often asks clietns, when discussing their spaces, “Does the Shoe….FIT “you” …..like your favorite shoes do? If not, then some adjustments are necessary.

More ways Design is Fighting Obesity

Child-on-StairsHello again!  Last post (March 31, 2013), we described some ways design is helping to battle obesity problems in our society. Here are  a few more:

* We are beginning to see traditional school chairs with attached desks set up in rows being avoided for a more open space environment. The idea is to encourage movement within the classroom. There are stand-up tables, beanbag chairs, and WittFitt yoga balls with udders that prevent rolling. Furniture that stacks & rolls not only allows students to move around, but also permits others to configure space as they wish.

* Shower and locker facilities need to be safer to encourage exercise rooms; bike storage areas also need be more safe. Often these areas have been tucked in dark corners. N ow, they are beginning to be more exposed. For instance, in a multi-family residence, you may find a gym for adults with a glass wall separating it from a play area for children. The kids feel secure that the parents are watching them, and the parents feel secure seeing their children, so they tend to spend more time in the gym.

“The goal of active design is not to make exercise more convenient for those who already do it, but to increase everyone’s activity level. ” Many thanks to ICON (ASID, American Society of Interior Designers) Magazine, Spring/13.

Sharon Breay, ASID, Principal of Breay Design Associates is a certified, awarded, and popular designer, speaker, workshop facilitator, and author on design issues. She has been in the field for 24 years; starting Breay Design Associates in 2002. Contact her at sbreay@breaydesign.com.

Ice Dams do Interior Damage!

Icicyle-2This blog is concerned with interior and exterior design; I seldom write about our roofs. However, so many people this winter are being blasted by heavy snowstorms. And in Colorado, our heaviest snows are always in March. There are precautions we can take to save both our roofs AND our interiors from water damage. I got this information from my trusted roofer, Jim Cambron of JBC Roofing & Gutters.

So what are ice dams on our roof? Ice will build up on the edges of the roof, and can cause serious damage when  some of it melts, seeps around the shingle nails or at cracks and openings, and runs down into our walls or through our insulation to interior ceilings.Even on a good roof, the ice dam can grow as it is fed by melting snow above it; the dam will limit itself to the portions of the roof that is below 32 degrees–and freeze. Overhangs are often colder than the rest of the roof, and icedams are common on north facing slopes. Since the ice forms on the edges of the roof, it must melt from a heat source coming from the house itself or from the sun shining on the roof.

You may wish to remove the heavy snows from the roof with a roof rake. but this is dangerous. For a long-term solution, prevent ice dams by using ice and water shield under your shingles. (I always specify it to go 3′ up the roof, from the eave.)

Another solution is to have heating tape installed on the roof’s lower edges. Do not wait until you have ice to turn on this tape, which is laid in a zigzag pattern across the lower roof.  You need to turn the tape on as soon as it snows, to keep it from freezing as it melts and runs down to the lower/colder portion of the roof, creating an ice dams.

If you’ve ever had the shock of water dripping from the ceiling–and the concern about the ceiling caving in, or watched the drywall turn to mush, and wallpapers get bowls of water behind them, slowly moving down the wall and ruining the wall—you’ll wish you’d thought of ice dam prevention!

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., principal of Breay Design, is an awarded recognized designer, speaker, and author on design. Her degrees are from University of Michigan; she currently resides just west of Denver, CO in a mountain canyon.

This room is too narrow! It’s like a bowling alley!–Part 2

Last blog we discussed three things you can do to make a narrow room more functional, as well as long good. We discussed lighting in a narrow room, color, furniture scale, and creating furniture groupings for areas of activity. Here are some examples concerning furniture groupings:

You want to fully utilize the space. Think about a small dinette or game table with chairs added to a living room or bedroom space. You could add a rather solidary area for one or two, just for reading, with some bookshelves in this area of the room, a few more chairs just for this area, and perhaps a round table with table lamp. Area rug(s) can define an area of activity.

Fireplaces are always a wlecome, cozy addition to any room; even warmer climates in the U.S. have chilly (if not darn right cold) evenings. It needn’t be an expensive built-in fireplace; think about the thousands of choices of portables, in the style to fit your decor.

If the Dining Room is the “wind tunnel” of your home, take away its strickly dining mood. Add some bookshelves on either side of a window, with a rocker and table with a table lamp. Add a settee or even a sofa perpendicular to the table seating arrangement for people who may wish to visit without dining. Add a portable fireplace in this room, as mentioned in the paragraph above. Use a few dining room tables, instead of just one long one (that will accentuate the too-long room). Make the room livable; so many dining rooms are rather formal and “set” for only one activity–dining.

Your spaces need to fit you like your favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe FIT?” If you need help, contact us. We have clients cross country, thanks to electronics. Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D. is an awarded, recognized, certified interior designer and garden-yard designer, speaker, author, and instructor on these subjects.

This room’s too narrow!

Feel like you’re in a bowling alley–in your own house? Narrow rooms can be a problem. Often there is space that is not functional. But not with a little thought given them.

First of all, make them as light as possible. You can use mirrors at either end of the room.Having light on the long, narrow walls will visually push them back, also making the room look wider. This can be done with recessed ceiling lighting aimed at the wall, or sconce lighting or track lighting.

Secondly, I also like to paint the two small walls (or at least one of them) a warm medium to dark accent color. This makes the wall visually advance, giving the room some visual square-ness, vs. the bowling alley rectangle. 

Third, I like to use furniture in a smaller scale. Yes, you may have plenty of room to spread out longwise, but larger scale furniture just accentuates the narrow parameters of the space. And I want you to have groupings of furniture and various activities, so you’ll need to have space for circulating from one area to another within this room.

Join us the next blog, for details on furniture groupings and activities to plan for in narrow rooms.

Your spaces need to fit YOU like your favorite shoes. Ask yourself…”Does the Shoe FIT?” If you need help, contact us. Our clients are cross-country, thanks to todays electronics. Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., is an awarded, certified, popular interior designer and garden-yard designer, speaker, author, and instructor on  these subjects.  





































































































































If I designed for an HGTV program

WHAT an opportunity! What fame! My design process on a 1/2 – 1 hour TV program for all to see. But then I thougtht about that “opportunity.”

Programming, the extremely  important step of learning about a client’s lifestyle, personality, living and personal habits, allergies, pets, etc. would be extremely downplayed on a progam 1 hour or less….if it was allowed at all. This would give viewers the impression that “real” designers design for their own preferences rather than the clients.

This would seem even moreso as no mention would be given to providing the client various sucessful alternatives or choices for the areas to be addressed, perhaps on the floor plan, the colors, furniture, fabrics, flooring (material, styles, colors of  each).The  televised show would only air a second or so on it’s installation. And in a 1/2 –  1 hour show, it would never reflect on the time a client may need to make such choices. It is YOUR home, the decisions should be guided by a knowledgable designer, and made by—YOU.

In a televised progam, during which the entire project is done while the home-owners went to the theatre, you are led to believe this whole thing is a pretty quick & simple process. IT ISN’T; there is much to consider, with one thing leading up to another. You, as homeowner, need to be informed of the Schedule of Events, and what will go into each of them.  Ninety percent of the time, the process is much longer than a couple hours, much messier than television programs, and you, as homeowner are inconvenienced. This is particularly true if the work is done in stages, as is often the case.

The HGTV shows are very interesting, and make people aware of the need for design, but they don’t reflect the possibility of a back-order of a material, or faulty (or incorrect) product being delivered, or workers running into unforseen obstacles.

SO IS THIS ALL WORTH IT? Clients definitely think so, because they have been made aware of the ups and downs “up front”, at the project’s beginning. There is no apprehension or outright fear; after all, the client makes all final decisions from various successful alternatives. There’s very little surprise because everything fits them and their life style like their favorite shoe.     Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe FIT?” If you need a little help, just tune in to HGTV’s programs—or get a reality check with a professional designer.

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., is a certified, awarded, popular designer, speaker, instructor, and author on design. She has designed for home-owners, apartment dwellers, hospitals, corporations, home-businesses, single people, couples, families—and even pets! Her speaking company, “Does the Shoe ….FIT” offers various programs & workshops. This blog is posted on the 15th and the end-of-month; her facebook page with quick tips, questions & answers, comments, is at http://www.facebook.com/BreayDesignAssociates

What to do when you’re out of money and wish to decorate for the holidays—

     Well, you’ve spent money on gifts for others, and now have little to nothing left for making your own home festive and enjoyable? That’s OK; you have thought of others—and very little money is needed for a lovely holiday atmosphere. Here are a few ideas:  For the holiday tree, whether it be an evergreen, a large houseplant, or a group of twisted branches, ALL can be made to look festive with lights. If you can only buy one item for holiday decorating, buy clear/white  holiday lights. The rest will be fairly simple. Here is a “budget” holiday tree decorated with nothing but ribbon. (By the way, both lights and ribbon can be purchased at a fraction of the cost in January. ) You could also use foil icicles instead of the ribbon, letting each hang from the tree branches; this is stunning and less costly than even the ribbon.

Now find anything and about every household accessory that you have in a warm color, or colors, like yellow, orange, red. Make groupings of them, as mentioned in the last blog. Groupings of candles in warm colors or in white are always effective, particularly if you’ve gathered some evergreen boughs or wild holly and/or pinecones to place with them. Gather many of those natural materials, because you can stick them in vases, baskets, and strewn across the dining table.

 If one item of a grouping isn’t tall enough, perhaps you can stand it on top of another. In this photo, you’ll notice that the green candle was placed atop a simple kitchen juice glass to make it taller. Since several pieces in the grouping were clear glass, it fits right in.

We know at Breay Design that your home and surroundings need to fit you like a favorite shoe, both in personality and budget. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe….FIT? ” If not, contact us; we can help you save money, AND have a great looking area, that is uniquely YOU. Sharon Breay is a certified, awarded, and popular designer, speaker and author on design. She can work with people electronically or in person to create spectacular improvements with you for your home and surroundings.                                                                                    



Holiday Arrangements–

Here are some holidayt decorating tips from another designer, Melissa Svenby, as posted in Colorado Homes and Lifestyles. Although not new to many of us, she did such a good job of condensing the main ideas, I wanted to share it with you.

Find things you already have in your home and make vignettes with these items and some decorations. Think of placing them in a corner of a bathroom counter, a guest bedroom dresser, an end table, and/or a mantle, on a porch if they are large enough, and/or the center of the dining room table. (Sharon’s note: Vignettes are so much more interesting than a single decoration, and they are great for small spaces. Another idea for a vignette are an assortment of house plants with holiday lights and brightly colored ribbons.)

Vary the height of the decorations to add interest. (Sharon’s note: And also vary the textures and shapes–some narrow and taller, some short and fat.) A few lighted pieces in the arrangement gives a special aura at night.

Wrap gifts beautifully; it doubles the enjoyment for the receiver. AND– beautifully wrapped gifts setting around the house in small groupings give holiday cheer with their bright colors. Place a few over the curtain rods, a few more in a hall corner, etc. (But don’t forget where you put them all come gift opening day!)

Whatever is best for you, enjoy the holiday decorating! Make it a fun family event, a yearly tradition, whether the decorating is elaborate or just a few simple items. If you need any help, give us a call or e-mail. I know that your decorating and it’s style must fit YOU and your lifestyle, like everything else in your home. We’ve been helping people with their homes for decades, and each one is unique.      

Sharon Breay,principal of Breay Design and her speaking business, “DOES THE SHOE FIT?” is a certified and awarded designer, speaker on design, and author. Feel free to send questions or call her for a consultation or project.


Yeechy Stuff that hopefully won’t go Bump in the night!

Well, it’s the season for Halloween preparations here in America, and tales of yeechy, gross creatures and things. What better time for an interior design blog than to talk about toilets or water closets! Perhaps not the most comfortable subject to discuss, but nonetheless, we all have them!

One of the reasons we grimace when thinking about them, is the process of cleaning them, and cleaning around them. The floor mop never seems to fit into the nooks and crannies behind the toilet for thorough cleaning, and we end up on our hands and knees doing it by hand. But with the 100% raised from the floor models today, we needn’t do such things any more! What a relief! Also, if we are over 50 years of age, or have a movement challenge, we can install these models a bit higher on the wall to help us sit easier, with less bending. We couldn’t do that with a floor model!

For those using wheelchairs, raised from the floor models are great as they allow space underneath. One of the biggest hurdles to bathrooms is that the rooms are small. If there is an injury in the family, the wheelchair often can’t turn around in the bathroom; just these few inches can help so much! And yet, these models never look like they belong in a nursing home–they don’t! They are sleek and modern to fit into any home for any user.

One floorless model also has a concealed tank that fits into the wall cavity (as shown), taking even less space in the room, and allowing the room to look even more attractive. A Gerberit Concealed Tank & Carrier System claims to support 880 pounds (400 kg) with its 16 gauge steel support. And it also utilizes water-saving, dual-flush technology. I give the brand name not to endorse it, but to allow you to find this type of system should you be interested.

While we’re on the subject of toilets & water closets, one American manufacturer is producing a model that water-washes and dries the underside of the user. Water temperature and water pressure are adjustable.

Well, that’s a few solutions to yecchy things! At Breay Design we know YOUR interiors need to fit YOUR lifestyle like your favorite shoe. That’s why Sharon Breay, certified and awarded interior and yard designer named her speaking company “Does the Shoe……FIT?” If you need some help, or wish a program or workshop, contact us; we’ll be happy to work with you.

Starting your Home from Scratch?

Sometimes a client wants to start all over with a new home. And we are seeing this as the economy picks up more and more. This, of course, involves both an interior designer and an architect. The first question is WHERE will it be? I have found an article by architect Michael Gallagher in Mountain Magazine so very helpful, I’m filing it in my Give To Clients file. It’s simple, but important questions can be such a help. Here they are:

Consider this site-selection checklist as you begin the exciting process of building your dream home:

1. General location and proximity to what is important to you, whether that is your place of employment, recreational amenities or shopping and nightlife.

2. Cost. The neighborhood’s reputation and resale value will affect initial and long-term cost.  

3. Views are extremely important, especially when selecting a site in the West. 

4. Topography, which is often not considered. A sloping site might offer excellent views but can result in higher construction costs.

5. Privacy. Consider the location of nearby existing homes, future construction, trails, easements and other factors.

6. Size and buildable area. Make sure you read and understand your HOA design guidelines before purchasing the property.

7. Good solar access, and geothermal and wind resources are important considerations for the home’s operating cost, overall value and quality of living spaces.

8. Access to municipal water and sewer, or the need for and feasibility of a well and septic system.

9. Does it feel right? Visit the property at different times of the day or year, if possible. Can you picture yourself waking up every day with this view?

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D. is an awarded, certified interior and exterior designer, speaker, and author on design. Sharon knows your environment must fit you like your favorite shoe fits, which is why her speaking company is named, “Does the Shoe….FIT?” Projects are generally located in the mid-west and western U.S., although many projects are completely worked out by electronics. To contact Breay Design and Sharon Breay, prinicipal, click the Contact button on this website.