Monday, January 24, 2011

The Mini Suite-Guest Bedroom Design

T h e M i n i S u i t e

Guest Bedroom Design

This projects takes a very small, blank space, and converts it into a fun, comfortable and welcoming guest bedroom on a small budget. By using store bought pieces and combining styles, I created a funky and contemporary space.

The original space was plain box, measuring less than the 10'x10' of a standard bedroom with nothing but an air mattress and lamp. With a budget of $2200 for materials and furniture this is what I turned it into...

Start with the basics... Paint!
Color: If you are not an expert with color, please take the time to get sample paint and put it up in the walls for test swatches. Get others opinions on your color choices. Let's face it, not every color that looks good as a dress will be as hot on your walls. But regardless of what color you get, it will be the same price, so budget is no excuse for having a horrible color on your walls!

Type: In this application I went with a flat enamel paint. I find it to be more sophisticated and if you have walls that are a little older, flat paint hides imperfections better than other finishes. I choseto use "flat enamel" because regular flat paint is easy to scuff and not able to be wiped down. With the flat enamel, it may cost a little more, but it will save you headache and also prevent constant touch-ups.

Note: I highly recommend spending the extra money to get "NO VOC" paints (paints with no toxins) also. Especially in nurseries and kids rooms. Our goal isto make our guest feel comfortable, not kill em slowly.

It was important to keep this small space uncluttered but still dramatic. Simple tricks helped achieved this goal. I purchased 2 inexpensive fabric headboards and mounted them together on the wall. Then I built a basic frame to give it a more finished look. This method created a dramatic bed without eating up any floor space. Instead of using floor lamps, I decided to suspend the main lighting element from the ceiling. This gives you a little something different and saves space for the same price of having a standard floor lamp.
Another method of space saving was to have a wall mounted storage unit as a bedside table. It provides a usable service and storage without taking away from the limited square footage. I brought in a condo sized dresser since the need for clothes storage is at a minimum but the need for space is at a maximum.

I think it is important to have good quality sheets for your guest to make them feel pampered. So I spent a little more for this Gray and Purple Vera Wang comforter set and mixed and matched it with coordinating sheets. Purple is that new hot color that, when paired right, can work for either sex and numerous styles.

Note: Many top designers make less expensive lines of home products that you can find in stores like Target, Khols, TJMaxx, marshalls....

What is a guest room without a little fun. Integrating fun graphic pillows is a great way to add personality to your space.

I like rustic elements! It adds something a little rough and interesting to a space. So I brought in these patinaed metal bars from CB2 to add that bit of variety and fun.
As a photographer I was able to incorporate my own photography art work into the space. For this project I used my serioes "The Capitol Collection" to add a sophisticated, sleek, urban feel to the room.
Everything has a meaning for me. I brought in empty frames to leave it open for imagination. Having personal photos in a guest room is a reminder to visitors that they are not in their own space. The empty frames are to symbolize them having pictures of their own friends and family to make them feel more at home.

This artwork was a very inexpensive online purchase that adds interest because of it's size and mix media. It is a great way to make a budget friendly make-over feel a lot more expensive.

Note: try searching for art on discount websites such as and

This is ultimately a room for sleeping... So bring on the tranquility symbolisms.

For accessories, I believe you have to be a little fearless. This is what really gives the room its personality and individualism. Forget what they told you, it's really a personal choice, but the trick is showing restraint to not over-accessorize. The talent comes with deciding scale, proportions and compositions.

Play with scale-Oversize vases on a small dresser
Play with texture and materials-Natural twig spheres, transparent metal lamp shades
Play with color- personalized travel souveniers from the owner, graphic artwork

Here is the video walk thru of the space. I hope you enjoyed viewing this design as much as I enjoyed creating it!

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011


"(if you can) walk with kings, nor lose the common touch"- 'If'- Rudyard Kipling

This line of my favorite poem speaks to arrogance. It is a feat that is rarely accomplished. Many of us are inspired to walk with kings, but we do not to remember to aspire to converse with paupers with the same comfort and ease.

"If there was one marriage that I can break up, it would be the union of confidence and arrogance"-H.A.S.

Story time-
I have a horrible memory, but it's amazing what events stick with me. I remember my sister returning on break from college and sitting in on one of my high school classes. It must have been a math class because that's where I really liked to flex my muscles intellectually. Immediately after the class she walked up to me and said something to the effect of "You are so arrogant! I would of hated you if I was in your class!" There was no joking tone, no playful exaggeration, no sarcasm... just honest disappointment and disgust. At that time I brushed it off as if I was unaffected, but here I am over 10 years later writing about it.

So now as a past offender and a current occasional indulgent, I feel as tho I am well qualified to speak on the subject of Arrogance. Arrogance is such a funny thing. It is both powerful and destructive. Arrogance allows people to look like fools on parade, convinced that we are better than most. Our confidence in that falsity has actually convinced a few people that we are in deed superior. But that same certainty in our gross miscalculation has others laughing at our foolishness. However, the beautiful thing about the disease of arrogance is that it blinds the infected to the looks of disgust and deafens us to the laughter. All we hear are the praises; all else is silenced.
Arrogance also makes it easier for us to sell ourselves short. Neglecting the natural talents that we possess. Since these gifts are unique, they are unable to be commpared, rendering them usless in out arrogant minds. Covering up the greatest parts of ourselves... Our true individuality!

"I have to dress, talk and walk humbly because I know I am susceptible to arrogance. I have seen arrogance and it is an ugly lie that does not suit me."-H.A.S.
I "literally" aim to walk in humility

The criteria for what makes someone important is so varied and subjective that the mere thought that you are "better" than someone else is unfounded. Most arrogance is based on a media perpetuated image of success and importance. And I think we all know how reliable the media's propaganda is (feel the sarcasm). The Arrogants constantly look for avenues to assert our supiriority. We use accepted social opnion to cement us in our higher classes.. Whether is it "gourmet" food, "fine" wine, "real" music or "designer" clothes. We stay eagar to experience these things so we can be even quicker to bring it up in conversation. We can show off our impecable taste and feel good as we look down our noses to the common people who have the unfortunate fate of being less "cultured" than us.

Ironically the cure for arrogance is true confidence. Confidence in who you are as a person and the gift you have to offer regardless of what the status quo says. This will curb the need to compare yourself to others and find ways to put them beneath you. When you can truly accept and appreciate your own individuality, condemning others becomes impossible.

"I rather be underrated, unassuming and even looked down upon than to fall victim to arrogance"- H.A.S.

Like always, Leave a comment and lets begin the discussion... Talking about it is the way we grow and the way we allow others to have the confidence to grow also!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Financial Reconstruction- Part 2 of 3 (The inception)

I bet most people don’t know that fortunately for me, I was born a millionaire... Well, at least in mind. For as long as I remember, I liked having money. I like playing with it, planning with it and most importantly saving it. Some people collect coins, well I collected COIN!

Growing up my family didn’t have much. But it wasn’t because we were poor, we just didn’t require much. My mother was an expert at preserving and recycling clothes, my father’s hobby was repairing old cars and neither my sibling or I had any use for toys. We were athletes, give us a ball and space and we are happy.

The one toy I did have an held dearly was the annual hess toy trucks that my parents got from work. This was my favorite toy because that’s where I hid all of my money! I am talking “fat Knots” (mostly ones and fives) stashed in the cargo container and the big bills (I’ve seen a hundred from time to time) chillin in the firetruck. I am still not sure how I did it, but I had hundreds at age 8. I had no job, nor did we get allowance... And NO, I wasn’t a thief. I would request to keep change from making runs to the store. I would asked to rummage the house for loose change. I would wrap coins and store them in tin cookie containers for months then change it from the money that jingles to the kind that folds. My favorite memories were of me being able to lend money to my mother and always being asked to make change for big bills before I was even 12.
Fast forward to college, finally on my own and ridiculously broke. I worked my entire senior year and that was just enough to get me to school and provide me with the basics. My overly proud nature and lifelong need to assert my independence, made it impossible for me to ask my parents for money. They would still send some every once in a while even tho I would always respond “I’m fine, you don’t have to”. Thru the thrift store clothes, discount day meals, 2nd day pizza that other people were about to throw away, flirting for more meal card privileges, selling T shirts, drawing tattoos, throwing dorm parties, buying alcohol for people (even tho I was underage myself), I was able to survive and still able to keep my love for handling money. I got my first credit card and did extensive research on how to use credit. I attended any money management seminar that I heard about, I read multiple wealth books, opened a checking and savings account and even invested in a few stocks. Regardless of my situation at the time, my focus was on being wealthy. Almost weekly I would write out a plan of what I would how I would handle my upcoming post graduate paycheck. I created intricate spread sheets that would let me know how much I would have in savings every year, when I would become a millionaire, when I would retire, how and when I can pay for an engagement ring. I had it all figured out.
I decided as a sophomore than when I graduate I will not rent because it was a waste of money so I would purchase a home instead. I learned how to improve my credit by continuously asking for a limit increase and keeping my balance low. I started with a$1500 limit as a freshman and graduated with a $10,000 limit. At one of the financial seminars I attended my Junior year, I met a brother that recently opened a wealth management company. After the seminar I introduced myself and let him know that we will be working together in the future. Imagine his surprise when he received my “let’s get started” email soon after graduation.

I moved to DC and in my typical stubborn nature, I slept on the floor of my then girlfriend’s grandmothers 2nd bedroom and refused to get a lease as I looked for a house. With only a promise of a job, no money, but good credit I finally found a place. I went back home (because I couldn’t afford to stay in DC) until it was time to close.

I closed on my condo three days before I started my new job in good ole corporate America (feel the sarcasm). I had a home, an old car that was paid off and a good steady steam of income. Who would have thought that this would be the beginning of my demise?

In college everyone was broke along with me, It was expected. In DC it seemed as everyone was established, refined; Ballin! Everyone drove nice cars, wore nice clothes, went to nice restaurants and lived a glamorous nightlife. I still saved, I drove my old car, furnished my condo only as I could afford it (over an 8 month period), I kept a tough skin thru all the mockery of my clothes and got into most places for free. I thought I was different.

And then, I finally became and Alpha... in DC... And if you don’t know, there is a culture of arrogance and affluence (image) that is strong within the capitol city Alphas. My crowd was changing and I was changing right along with it. I was performing well in my career and within one year I had already received two promotions.

My car finally broke down, and without even carrying it to the shop, I was on the hunt to buy a new ride (I couldnt wait to have an excuse to upgrade). I set out to be responsible; to purchase a used, reliable, good gas milage car for less than $15,000. I went car shopping with one of my “affluent” friends when I saw the car I have fantasized about... Forget the fact that it was horrible on gas milage and $10,00 ABOVE what I wanted to spend... at least it was used and oh so SEXY! Most of all... for the first time in my frugal life, I could “afford” (defined by the culture of credit that we live in) it! I was persuaded that “you only live once”, “you can’t take the money with you when you die” and “you deserve it” and I made the purchase. Now I am 21 year old home owner with a nice ride and good job... Not only did it place me in a new status bracket among my peers but more importantly, it set me up with a lifestyle to uphold.
I would eat out and drink and would be justified because I did it less than most of my peers. I slowly upgraded my wardrobe, but justified it because I spend less on clothes that my other peers. I did a lot of things in moderation when compared to my peers, but in excess when compared to my actual means. I fell for the image most people presented and never looked deeper. If only these “refined” people I was around would have let me know that they were broke, I could have prepared myself.
Pretty rapidly I started to despise working in corporate america (check out my previous “throwback” blogs). I quickly saw my financial plan unravelling. For the first time I was living based on money that I was planning to make not on money that I had. When it began to get to be too much, I started working a 2nd job at a night club to save up money to leave my career. But I still couldn’t do it. I had a good salary and the bills to prove it. More months passed and I could not keep sacrificing my happiness for my fear of not making ends meet. And one fine day... it was over! I had reached my limit and I was unemployed... What was to follow, I have never imagined would be a part of my story. I reached new depths and was placed in situations I never thought I would be in.... But that is for the next chapter “My Decline, My Change”....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Financial Reconstruction-Part 1 of 3 (The Motivation)

In my opinion the misuse of finances is one of the greatest tragic novels written by young black America. Sadly, this is a behavior that is pass down from previous generations, learned from peers, and perpetuated by the media. It's like there is an entire army that is after your wallet. And it seems we have decided to just surrender instead of fight back.
I think our relationship with money is absolutely ludicrous. I say "our" because even tho I know the idiocy of living beyond my means, I have found myself falling victim to influence from time to time. This is a three part series because I believe it is THAT serious. And its about time we really talk about it.

It is no secret that we live in a time of instant gratification; The microwave generation. We rather spend our time looking like we are affluent rather than actually becoming affluent. Are we really not aware that the more time we spend portraying a certain lifestyle, the less of a chance that we will actually get to live it?

You always here the argument, "I am going to enjoy life because life is short" or "you can't take it with you" as a reason to throw money away. But who the hell are these people convincing you that blowing money is "living"? That spending every dime is more fun that saving it? When did it become a rule that buying an expensive suit, couch surfing, buying bottles that are marked up 300% because it comes with little sparklers was more fun than having a bunch of friends at the house with drinks and food, just wilding out and laughing? When did simple stuff become equivalent to "not living"?

In what twilight zone do we look to uneducated, frivolous, millionaire ex drug dealers (who are still pushing the idea of selling drugs as a viable income producer), that will be broke in a few years for our financial advice (Damn dude, how do you really feel!?). We buy the cars they say to buy, we pay for the liquor they deem to be the best, we aspire to the wear the clothes on their back. We wanna make it rain trick! This is insanity at it's best! When do we find the strength to stand up and think independently? (tell em why you mad son!)

So I decided to make that commitment to be that counter example. I loathe the thought of putting my finances out there but damnit somebody's got to keep it real in this city of posers. You will be surprised how many of your highly paid corporate friends driving luxury vehicles that stay fresh are actually broke! And you will be surprised how many of your unassuming friends driving old cars are actually balling. But what they both have in common is that they keep quite about there real financial situation (for obviously different reasons). So hear goes nothing... Today we change the game.

For 2011 a friend and I entered into a financial reconstruction challenge with each other. We both want to live lives like most people can't so we understand that means living life like most people wont. I refuse to live life paycheck to paycheck. I refuse to have to fake my wealth at the price of not being able to actually attain it. And I refuse to be stressed about money my entire life. Unless we change our relationship with money, we are not only going to pass down bad habits to our children but also mountains of debt. So I am going to layout my financial history, my current financial standing (it's not pretty so be prepared) and also my financial goals in this 3 part blog. And thru the year, I am going to post progress, fall backs (hopefully there are none), tough times and great triumphs. I am going to succeed at this money game, I just want others to win too. There is so much economic power that we are wasting. Lets get it back!

This is an interactive process and we need more people to speak on the subject. Please post comments and insight on the topic. Thanks!

Paralyzed by fear (throwback)

It is crazy to see how much I was going thru when I realized that I hated being in corporate America, but didn't know how to find the courage to leave.

I am stuck here
Afraid to move forward
Risking that I could fall back
Terrified to stay still
Growing roots in unfertile soil
Permanently cementing my faith of a premature death
An unhealthy existence
One of pure happenstance and void of purpose
Life giving potential wasted
Robbing the earth of nutrients
Producing no fruit
Unable to uproot and relocate
Without dying in the possess
The leaves all almost gone
Is this my death
Or is it just the seasons
This year I hope it’s my death
Because I cant take another wasted year
Scorched in the summer
Bitterly beaten in the winter
Embarrassed in the spring
And depressing in the fall
All because I got stuck here
Paralyzed by fear

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Come in!

For a long time I felt as tho no one really understood what I was going thru at this point in my life. And as I began to publicly talk about my experience, I came to realize that my struggles in this quarter-life crisis ins't reserved to just me. It is a silent depressor of many. The insecurities caused by this transitional stage in life is the weapon it uses to keep everyone quiet. alone. scared. We all want to look like we have it figured out, like we are on top of the game, and secure in our life's choices... But we aren't! We are new adults still trying to figure everything out; Put in the awkward position of guiding the generation behind us while being asked to step away from the generation that raised us. We are the 20 somethings (and some early 30 somethings) that took a quarter of a century just to get to the point of learning ourselves all over again.
With the all the people stressing in solitude, we feel even more disconnected; Convinced that our uncertainty is an unlucky anomaly. But I choose real life (hence the name of the blog), so I am on a mission to put my journey out there so that if we have to struggle, we can do it together. That the Journey because easier (or at least more fun) with traveling partners. I was very reluctant to be so open (and my PR representative explicitly said not to be... ooops), but I feel like I have to. I am very far from having everything together but I am determined to get there. Join me as a navigate thru this maze of relationships, finances, career, friendships, reputations, family and personal growth. The fantasy is good for the image but the reality is better for the soul. Choose real life!

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