Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tools of the Trade: Michelle from Ispirato Design

Continuing with my Tools of the Trade series, today I've invited over Michelle from Ispirato Design.

I'm glued to my computer screen when Michelle has a post about her kitchen facelift (which you'll read about below) and I also love Michelle's post about her piano room. She is really talented and I'm so glad to have her here today...

When you start a project whether it's for your own home or a client, what do you turn to for inspiration initially?

The short answer is pictures. I have quite a collection of books and way too many magazines. I haven't been renewing my subscriptions though, and little by little I'm getting rid of all of the back issues. With the internet and programs like Pinterest there's no need. It seems like a such a waste of space to have them hanging around. Pinterest- is an awesome tool! One thing I don't like about it though is that you can't have private boards so for some jobs I'll use Microsoft's One Note to clip pics from online and keep them organized. That's a useful program as well.  

pamplemousse design
If I had this space- I may still have those magazine subscriptions because sitting at the computer will never compare to flipping through a good magazine with a good cup of tea!

As a designer, what items can't you live without?

My laptop and my 3D CAD software- Chief Architect! As much as I love drafting by hand, with Chief Architect, drafting is so much quicker and it's invaluable to the client to be able to convert a plan into a 3D drawing where they can actually see the space- even for things as simple as a color consult. 

Would the client prefer the darker color below the chair rail...

...or would they like it above the chair rail?

You are in the process of a major kitchen renovation, tell us a little bit about that and the story behind your renovation.

I woke up one morning to the sound of pouring rain- unfortunately, what I was hearing was coming from my kitchen! A pipe had burst in the ceiling, seemingly at the moment that we went to bed because so much water had accumulated that the entire ceiling, wallboard, wall cabinets, and some base cabinets all had to be removed. It was a mess. 
The kitchen reno is the silver lining

Here is the stripped down kitchen. I wouldn't call it a major renovation- we are replacing the countertops, some of the base cabinets and adding new lighting (the bottles hanging from the ceiling were me trying to see if I would like pendant lights over that area). We are keeping the footprint as we had all ready changed that a few years ago. You can see the old plan HERE. The new plan is a little further down.

Breakfast and coffee bar  Photo By:  Jack Gardner Photography  Designed By: Braulio Casas, Architect

Here is one of the inspiration photos that I have been referring to. 

Give us three tips that you have for a successful kitchen renovation.

Oh my gosh, only three is hard!
The obvious is choosing a kitchen designer/ contractor with experience and integrity. They will be able to keep the project rolling- IE. ...you've got to figure out that floor plan, custom cabinets have at least a four week lead time and the countertops can't be templated until the base cabinets are in, but the wall cabinets should go in first but they have interior lighting and where is the electrician and so on- there is a lot of organizing of schedules that go into a kitchen remodel.

The new plan

Have a good plan with good space design/traffic flow- The triangle works! Don't reinvent the wheel. Also, define areas for certain tasks like the morning routine, baking, cooking, clean-up, etc.

This old German Baking cupboard is an integral part of the morning routine- it holds the coffee!
The morning is a busy time in the kitchen! By having the coffee, mugs, cereal, bowls, silverware all in this area someone else can be at the stove making eggs and someone else at the counter making lunches and nobody gets hurt!

 When you're on a budget, be real about what's important to you and your family. How do you live in your kitchen. I mean really live in your kitchen. Prioritize- what are the must haves and what are you willing to concede. Everyone wants that pot filler by the stove top but an under counter fridge for all those juice boxes would sure be convenient. The kitchen is the one room that function rules over form- although, with a good designer you should be able to have both (had to say it!).

How has your blog, Ispirato Design, had an influence on you and your business?

I have a love hate relationship with my blog. Maybe I'm not supposed to admit that but I really don't like having open ended tasks hanging over my head. I never have that sense of completion. What outweighs that though, are the relationships that you make and the sense of community. I'm not just saying that either. I really think that if I was traveling through PA, I could email Holly and invite her to lunch. I want to meet so many of Ispirato Design's followers! As far as business goes, it has been an asset. When you don't have an actual brick and mortar, you have to have a way to get the word out. A blog is much more dynamic than a website and even though I used to hate, and by hate I mean loath English class (my first essay in English 101 was about how I didn't think English should be required for Architecture majors!) I have found that I enjoy writing. Weird, huh?

You also have an Etsy shop too. Tell us a little bit about that.

Oh Holly, you are a dear. Why yes, I do have an Etsy shop.

My Etsy shop is where I sell my Home and Pet portraits as well as some home decor items I create.

Custom Pet Portrait in Pencil 8 x 10
I Design Marketplace

I Design Marketplace

In addition to your kitchen renovation, what other projects are on your radar for 2012?

Hmm, How much time do you have? Well, here are a couple-

I'd like my foyer to look more like this:

wall panels

...and I'm still planning on painting the piano this color:

Miles Redd
This was a lot of fun. Thank you so much Holly for including me in this series. Good luck to you in your new design pursuits- you're on your way!

You were a hit, Michelle, thank you so much for stopping by! 
I love Michelle's honesty about her blog. I think we can all admit to having a love/hate relationship at times with our blogs, don't you think? Blogging is hard. Ok and how about Michelle's German cupboard - I love that. And her creative way of simulating pendant fixtures with soda bottles - you're good Michelle. And I can't wait to see your kitchen project come together.

Have a good day everyone!


  1. Loved getting to know a 'new to me' designer this morning. So funny about the soda bottles!

  2. Thanks for the introduction, Holly! Can't wait to check our Michelle's blog and follow along with the kitchen renovation. Love her pendants! :)

  3. I really enjoyed this interview, Holly. I think it's because Michelle was so matter-of-fact, and you can tell she knows her stuff! And I have to agree with her on the relationships you make through blogging... If I'm ever in PA, are you up for lunch? Have a great day :-)

  4. As someone going through a kitchen remodel, this interview was perfectly timed. Not only was it super interesting, but I learned a couple things :)

  5. Ahhh...great tips for my dream kitchen remodel! Anyday now I'll have that money tree planted.

    And GET OUT. Currently planning a piano paint job in that exact color. Can't wait to compare afters. :-)

  6. Holly you made this so easy by asking great questions. Thank you so much for sharing your friends with me! I am on my way to visit each of their blogs too :)

  7. Another great interview, Holly!! Loved learning more about Michelle, she is such a doll. Awesome kitchen reno tips...we will have to redo ours eventually and I don't want to think about it because it scares the crap out of me:) Good to know there are others out there who agree that blogging sometimes has it "downs" too! I am loving this series!

  8. Great interview! Love that entry with all the trim!