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.

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.                                                                                    



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.

How about a Labyrinth in your Back Yard?

Ever heard of a Labyrinth? Webster defines it as an intricate structure of interconnecting passages which are difficult to find your way through. But for this blog post, I’m speaking of a garden labyrinth– interconnecting paths, that create a bit of a maze. Notice I said a “bit” of a maze. Nothing too difficult; this is a maze to allow us to relax and enjoy nature.

Recently, a client asked for some type of meditational garden space in their back landscaping. It was to be its own entity, but blend into the yard. We didn’t have hundreds of feet to devote on the labyrith. But we had enough to create a small version in approximately 30- 35 sq. ft. .

The whole idea is a bit like Zen, as you travel the paths of a labyrinth, walking in circles, or in this case, curved, organically shaped paths, you are to appreciate the beauty along the paths that take you to the center. By the time you reach the center, you are refreshed of mind and body.

In this narrow-pathed personal labyrinth, we still  had space to create along the way a shady garden strip, a hummingbird garden strip, a trellis garden strip, a water feature, a butterfly garden strip, a zen stone garden, and a small sculpture.  Both client and I loved creating it.

The labyrinth idea would not need to be circular in nature, but by doing so, it adds to the feeling of “getting away,” as you walk within the circle.  To be really effective, give it some low level night lighting.

Remember, your surroundings need to fit you like a favorite shoe fits you. Ask yourself, “Does the shoe….FIT?” If you need some help; contact us, Breay Design, the Space Specialists.

YOUR Best Color Scheme

In our last blog entry we talked about why color trends don’t really work for us independent Americans. So how to choose the right colors? There are five basic color formulas or templates that enable us to create “successful” color schemes for our homes. First, remember the psychology of color and its affects (for a quickie review, read our last blog entry, “Why Color Schemes Don’t Work.”) First, determine what the function of the room is, the shape of the room itself, and it’s sun exposure. From these things, you will know how to fit the formula to your needs.

The formulas, or templates, are:

MONOCHROMATIC:  One color throughout a room in both light and dark tones, and various intensities of that one color. This is a good one for a formal, peaceful, setting.

ANALOGUS: This is a bit more colorful, using three colors right next to each other on the color wheel. Examples are Yellow, Yellow-Orange, and Orange   or   Blue, Blue-Purple, and Purple.

COMPLIMENTARY: Two colors directly across from each other on the color wheel. Such as Purple and Yellow or Blue and Orange. Unlike the first two formulas, these colors are not related in any way! They will clash if one color is not dominate and the second subordinate.

SPLIT COMPLIMENTARY: Similar to complimentary except that you choose a Y shape on the color wheel. Take one color and go directly across from it on the color wheel–BUT, before you get there, vere off to the right and the left of that opposite color, thus traveling in a “Y”. Example: Purple, Yellow-Green, and Yellow-Orange. If color intimidates you, this may not be the best to try, as it is tricky–but lively and fun when pulled off successfully. The trick is to have a ratio where one color takes about 65%, one about 30%, and one about 5%.

TRIAD: The most exciting look–and most difficult to achieve. NOT for places of quiet refuge. One the color wheel, choose three colors that create an equilateral triangle, such as Yellow-Orange, Blue-Green (Aqua or Turquiose), and Red-Violet (Crimson). Again, the ratio for the three colors needs to be about 65%, 30%, and 5%.

If you have questions, feel free to contact me through this blog, or through private consultation. Remember, your surroundings should fit you like a favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe….FIT?” If not, contact us; we are the interior/exterior space specialists.

Why Color Trends Don’t Work

Henry Ford once said, “They can have any color of car they want, as long as it’s black.” Color trends are a bit like Henry Ford’s statement. We have grown too sophisticated and independent to follow color trends or to have no choice in automobile finishes.

Light, cool colors visually recede, creating a feeling of spaciousness in our smaller rooms. Warm Colors visually advance, helping those long and narrow rooms to seem in better proportion.

People have a feeling of intimacy in darker colors–good for our dining room, bathroom, bedrooms. It goes back to our prehistoric cave-dwelling days of dark interiors where we felt safe. In light cool colored spaces, we work more efficiently.The cooler colors, blues, greens, and purples, are great for un-stressing and quiet activities like sewing or sleeping or reading. Warm colors such as reds, yellows, and oranges put us in a social mood, and the warmer or more intense the color combination, the more the party atmosphere. Warm colors make us feel hotter in a room with western exposure.

So what is the function, shape, and sun exposure of your room? They are not all the same, nor do all people have the same functions, shapes, and sun exposure to the same rooms of their home. So how can color trends fit your individual needs? They can’t. They are groupings of pretty, compatible colors–but totally impersonable to YOUR needs.

Then how do you pick and choose from so many colors? Actually, there are 5 successful color formulas or templates that help you choose the best color combination for each of your spaces, once you determine the areas main function, shape, and sun exposure.

We will talk about these 5 formulas or templates in the next blog. Remember, your spaces need to fit you like your favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the shoe…..fit?”  If not, contact us, Breay Design. We are the interior and exterior space specialists.

Those Awesome Accessories!

Once your function, mood, and space arrangement of an area has been determined; once the color palette and fabrics have been chosen–it’s time for the really fun job of accessorizing your space! As the regional manager of a well known furniture store once said, “Your spaces become  like the little black dress–they need accessorizing.” Accents provide pattern, color, and impact to an area. This is the place to interject a little opposite of your preference if your significant other is your opposite, without destroying the entire mood or style of the space.

What are the latest  thoughts on accessories? Here are a few, some given by this same regional manager from her experience in dealing with the public. She says Americans insist on quality craftsmanship with good design of the piece. It should be as authentic as possible, particularly in materials. These considerations guaranty lasting appeal.

Today’s population is more traveled and wordly than previous generations. They stop at boutiques, trade shows, world markets, vendors and manufacturers. They will discuss the quality and details of a piece.

We are seeeing a bolder, stronger look with ethnic influences, giving a feeling of relaxation in overall appearance. In the right setting, antique items continue to be popular. Americans like unconventional options, things being used with a new twist; we like exaggerated shapes and forms, and unexpected materials.

Artwork is often dimensional, sh0wing details of an object or image, as opposed to the whole. Often it is digital. Custom framing and matting show the artwork to best advantage.

Take some time choosing accessories that reflect YOU, your style, your take on life. Remember your surroundings should fit you like a favorite shoe. Ask yourself–Does the Shoe….FIT? If you need help–contact us. We have been helping people personalize their spaces for decades.

Missing the Tree inside?

Does the house look bare without the “Holiday Tree?” January, for many of us, can mean barren looking interiors after holiday things are taken down. Often winter can keep us house-bound–when we’d rather be out in the garden. Do you miss real, live, trees?

Consider Bonsai, live miniature trees and shrubs that grow in pots. They can be colorful, easy to place around the house, and fairly easy to care for. Some popular plants used as bonsai include Juniper, Elm, Sago Palm, Australian Tea Tree, Red Maple, Green Maple, Cotoneaster, Rose, Oak, Boxwood, Blue Cedar, Pyracantha, Black Pine, Azalea, Ginkgo, Ivy, and Bamboo. There are many more!

Just as lawn trees need water, the small containers for these miniature trees necessitate watering frequently, about once every 2 – 3 days. Submerge the pot in water up to the tree trunk for a couple of minutes. If you have a flowering bonsai, feed it monthly all year. Nonflowering types should not be fertilized in winter.

Bonsai like direct early morning sunlight, or filtered afternoon sunlight. In warm climates they can be kept outside all day in a bright shady spot. They do need time outdoors weekly, so find a protected. cool, bright shady spot like a porch or balcony or patio to place them on for a little time a few days a week. In the cold of winter, even time near a cool semi-shady winidow will be a boost for them.

Pinching off the ends of new growth with your finger helps the plant keep it’s original bonsai shape. Bonsai  like repotted every 2 – 3 years, in the spring, pruning the roots enough to give room for expansion. Remove one-third of the soil from the tree, then transplant in sandy soil in a slightly larger pot.

Remember, your home and work environments need to fit you like a favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe…..FIT?” If you need some help with your interiors or exteriors, contact us. We are the interior/exterior space specialists.

Small Space II

Hi Readers! (WHY didn’t this publish when it was set to???)Remember Rachel and her small apartment from our last blog? Today we look at her all white walls within a space where living area, dinette, and kitchenette all flow together. We defined the living space and making it more spacious….but now what about all those white walls? Whenever Rachel moves out, the walls need to be white. But she is so very tired of ALL white walls.

We had some choices. What if she painted an accent wall; it could quickly and easily be repainted back to white when the time came to move. But which wall? The wall behind the sofa could be a cool light color to visually allow it to recede–making the space look bigger. But then as you entered (the entry was next to the sofa), you’d look ahead of you and still see three areas of white walls. The wall across from the sofa was already open to the kitchen; paint wouldn’t achieve much. But the dinette was right off the living room and easily visible from the entry. By painting the dinette, we could actually create an intimate dining “room” feel, while breaking up all that white. The space was small, three walls with a large window and a french door. It wouldn’t take much time, energy, or money to paint the three walls, and the trim would be left the existing white, which gave a crisp look to the muted green paint put on the walls.

Having a deeper color on these walls gave a feeling of intimacy and relaxation. The green emulated the natural landscape beyond the windows, and tied in exactly with the green in two existing paintings of wine bottles. We put the small painting on a small wall in the dinette, and the large painting opposite the small one, on the far kitchen wall. Before hanging the large painting, we painted a square of sintra board (easily removed) with the green paint, and hung it behind the framed art, sort of like a green border around the art. With some green plants and colorful fruit around the kitchen, it tied right in with the dinette. What a difference to that apartment!

Your spaces need to fit your life and style like your favorite shoe fits you. Look around your interiors and ask yourself, “Does the Shoe…..FIT?” Contact us if you need help; you’ll be glad you did!

Small Space Design

Dear Readers–My face is red! When you visited our site 2 weeks ago–there was a garbled headline–and no text!! My apologies!!! My husband has been extremely ill for the last month.It has been scary, and he needs treatments daily, even though he is now out of the hospital. However, it’s turning around!  As for the blog– I never got to it–and I see now you got my pre-planning!!……………..

HOWEVER, we have a special treat for apartment and small-space dwellers today and also in our next blog of November 30th.  This fall “Rachel” called me for an in-home interior design consultation, and expained she lived in a tiny apartment. She said she really needed help to enhance it on a budget. She hated the all white walls and wanted to give some mood and style to the place. She also thought it appeared too cluttered. The apartment consisted of a living area, dining nook, and kitchenette all open and flowing into each other (plus a private bedroom & bath.)

First, we looked at the scale and amount of the furniture. The sofa was the main piece;  there was a coffee table in front of it, a side table on either side of it, and a console table directly across from it that held Rachel’s entertainment components. A  trunk sat under the side window that could also be used for seating. I asked Rachel if she really needed all 4 tables. She loved the coffee table with it’s convenient shelf underneath, and one table was near the entry door, where she could put things on as she entered. So we removed the opposite end table, found a floor lamp to put in it’s place, and created a more spacious corner. The taller floor lamp also better illuminated the room.

A larger sized piece of modern art on the wall, hung off center to create asymmetrical balance with the lamp, completed the wall. The openness of the artwork allows the viewer to see through sections of it, rather than having an overpowering solid piece in this small space. Taking out the area rug would have visually expanded the area, also; but the soft color and it’s large size gave definition to the “living” space. We decided to keep it. Notice how the accessories are mainly tall and thin, with vertical emphasis, rather than horizontal, which takes room space.

Next blog, we’ll tie in wall color (in a rented apartment!!) for Rachel. See you then! 

If you have an interior or exterior design problem, feel free to contact us. We are the Space Specialists that make YOUR space fit YOUR way of life like a favorite shoe. Look around your space  and ask yourself, “Does the Shoe…..FIT?”