Remembrance on Memorial Day

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Memorial Day began as Decoration Day after the Civil War, a time to remember the soldiers who lost their lives, both on the Union and Confederate sides. Today, it is a day of remembrance for all American service men and women who have dedicated their lives to duty for their country.

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“Perform, then, this one act of remembrance before this Day passes–remember there is an army of defense and advance that never dies and never surrenders, but is increasingly recruited from the eternal sources of the American spirit and from the generations of American youth.”

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My father, Lt. Col. Robert W. Stefanov, US Army Air Corp, 1944

For all who serve, we thank you.

Small Wonder

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There’s a movement right now among people who want to live in smaller places. It ranges from Tiny House Nation–a fascinating television show that features homes built in as little as 300 square feet!–to couples simply downsizing and making do with less stuff, in order to have more time to do the things they love. Sometimes, a small home is built for other reasons. The house above is called the Hollensbury Spite House. The seven-foot wide, 325 square foot home was built by John Hollensbury in an alleyway next to his home in Alexandria, Virginia, to stop people from using the empty space.

 tiny house 50's bungalow1950’s style bungalow

People used to live in smaller houses than are typical today, although the average house size in America is still only 2,300 square feet. We’ve gotten used to large, walk in closets, luxury-sized master bedrooms and adjoining baths, and family rooms that accommodate a large crowd. For empty nesters and older couples, as well as younger families living on a budget, or just for the aesthetic of living with fewer items and more open space, smaller can sometimes be better.

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You can trade a large traditional home for a smaller, renovated barn, or swap enough bedrooms for a houseful of guests for a country cottage that is perfect for two. Original farmhouses–the kind that haven’t been renovated and expanded over the years–can provide just enough space at 2,000 square feet, or less. They were built small to save on heat and maintenance costs, a consideration to appreciate then and now.

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Or if you’re not ready to move, you can create your own little getaway in your garden, as I did a few years ago on Nantucket. If you can imagine it, you can create it!

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If you’re ready to downsize, consider the following steps:

1. High quality furniture is more important than ever. Only buy the best you can afford. A small space doesn’t have room for extraneous, lower quality pieces.

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2. Measure carefully. Smaller rooms aren’t as forgiving, and both function and flow need to be planned. Small scale furniture is a must. This is where the services of an interior designer are invaluable.

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3. Make a fresh start, and put in the new house only things you would replace if you had to start over from scratch. You don’t need as much as you think you do to be happy. Less is often more.

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Becoming a Fellow

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In the course of a long career, there are many markers along the way, times when I’ve been able to step back and take stock of the path I’ve traveled. Certainly I’ve been proud of the many beautiful homes I’ve helped to create for clients, the talented professionals I’ve had the privilege to work with, and the awards my firm has won over the years.

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 With John and Chad Stark

Recently, though, I received word that I had been chosen by a committee of my peers at the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) to receive the designation of Fellow, the highest honor the group confers. To say that I am gratified to be selected is an understatement. I am more than proud to stand among the many, many fine leaders of the profession who came before me and inspired me. Among them are my dear friends Rosalyn Cama and Lisa Henry, as well as Honorary Fellows Wayne Ruga and Alan Siegel.

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 Dr. Wayne Ruga, founder and president of The Caritas Project

I am especially proud to be in the company of the other four 2015 designees: Edward Bottomley, ASID, Joan Kaufman, ASID, Jean Pinto, ASID, CID, and Patrick Schmidt, ASID, RID. We will be formally inducted on July 18, 2015, at an Awards Gala at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

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 photo courtesy of mfa.org

When I published my book, Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior, last fall, I did so with the hope that I could help people live healthier lives, in sustainable homes that are also beautiful, and built without too heavy an impact on the earth. In the same way, I hope that by adding the Fellow designation to my name, the respected initials FASID, that perhaps I will have just that much more influence, that my voice will be heard in perhaps a little bit wider circles, that more clients will choose a home that is elegant and sophisticated as well as eco-friendly.

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I have practiced the art and science of interior design with the goal of bringing peace and beauty, health and well-being, to my client’s lives. With that as my legacy, and the very much appreciated recognition of my peers, I can hope to have made a difference with my work. I think that’s what all of us intend, and what many people achieve without public recognition. But it feels good when it comes.

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For that, I extend my heartfelt thanks to the ASID Fellows Selection Committee.