5 Principles of Good Design…

Why is a gate standing ajar or roses along a fence so inviting? How does a change of pillows or adding a house plant lift the mood? A clean open room or a swath of colorful flowers pleases the eye. Why are we drawn in with a touch of wonder, a bit of mystery or whimsy, just from reading words upon a page? And, what is it about the morning sunlight, a cheerful window box, open shutters, finding an unexpected sculpture, even overlooking a greening field? Emotions are stirred, inspiring the click of a camera, the swath of a paintbrush, the writing of poetry.

img_4608Whether you’re writing a novel or a blog post, making a garden plan or creating a room… producing artwork, planning an event or marketing a product or service- Good design is essential. Here are my 5 Principles of Good Design:

img_49181. Structure– This sets the boundaries, writes the outline, establishes the parameters. Structure in creative design includes entryways, walls, fences and paths.  Windows, enclosures, doors even garden gates all offer a view from beyond. Structure is  the size of a canvas or even the frame of great artwork. Good placement of structure, allows for taking advantage of natural or planned views. Outbuildings, barns, sheds, greenhouses, even porches are good examples, too. Structure is very much like the plot of a story, the layout of a room, setting the stage, doing a first draft or an initial sketch- even a basic recipe. Everything depends on the planned or existing structure.

img_48652. Light and Color. Whether muted or harsh, light is an amazing tool, that’s why we have phrases like ‘… shed light on a subject.’  Words, fabrics even paints are really absorption of light. Twilight in a garden, dark passages, shady fern glades opening onto a patio’s splashing fountain, glistening droplets cool down a sunlit space. Light highlights form. Color can be compared to a main theme, prompting a response. Color draws the eye and keeps it focused. Shades of color massed together are more pleasing than bits here and there. All good storylines have a main theme, color is way to establish theme. Keeping color consistent is important, with the occasional exception of an accent color, always best when used sparingly.  Do you enjoy reading about colorful places, delightful folks or being enlightened? Remember that phrase and you’ll do alright.img_4924

3. Focal Point– a focal point draws you in. Into the garden, into a story, into a work of art. A focal point has the effect of pausing, just as a curved path slows the pace. Focal points can be compared to deciding which type of frame best suits a painting. And, a focal point is very much like punctuation, exclamation mark or even a main character. img_4855

4. Emotion. This might be the most important principle of all. How does the design make you, your reader, your audience feel? Is it the scent, is it the shape, the shadows? Is it the sense of comfort or being home? It might even make you smile or be inspired. Never underestimate the value of mystery, curiosity, serenity, anticipation or a bit of whimsy. And always leave room for serendipity. The unexpected twist. Emotion is movement, memory and motivation. Change structure, focal point even light and color and you experience new emotions. Adding whimsy to a serious garden, home or story always brings a smile.

5.  Abundance and Restraint. There is a place for both in great design. The abundance of roses, a single flower, each has a message all its own. Generally in a garden or a home- abundance is highly desirable, a huge bowl of fruit, a flower arrangement, an overflowing bread basket, a mass of single color. Often in a painting, a marketing plan,architecture even in writing – restraint is often best. Remember, if the restrained design of a room, a work of art or a garden looks easy, it’s not.  Nature teaches us the best lessons-  dew drop says something far different than a generous spray from a watering can.

Tell me your story, don’t leave anything out. Take a photograph, set the scene, put color and emotion – use restraint or abundance to its best advantage and if it’s a recipe… well, you know I want you to do everything except scratch and sniff the spices, vanilla or lemon! Spark my imagination, let me feel the emotions.  Let the colors in your art or garden lift my spirits, thrill me with color combinations, set boundaries with a fence, gate or beautiful frame.img_4471

If you design a beautiful room, add a focal point or a pleasing outdoor view, maybe a charming window box. Literally, frame the view of your amazing work of art and it actually visually expands the experience. Give me abundance or show restraint, it’s like editing– often what you take away is more important than what you leave in.  And, hey! In the South, we like a bit of whimsy, humor and often we tilt to the morbid side of things. We put our crazy eccentric sides out there and relish being different, maybe we could use a bit of restraint. Oh me, how I do run on…

Love y’all, Camellia

*This is a larger subject than one blog post can contain. Still. I think to have these principles in place builds a framework on which your creativity can thrive.

  • Build the framework with structure. 
  • Light and color are much like adjectives or spices.
  • Add a focal point as your main character.
  • Use emotion to its best advantage, this is the active part of your design.
  • Stir in restraint and abundance and you have a winning combination.

To Blog or not to Blog…

img_4683‘To blog or not to blog, that is the question.’

Over the last year, I have spoken with quite a few incredibly talented folks with hopes and dreams for making a life or a living. Without exception, I came away wishing they had a blog. Why?

My #1 reason has always been, when I find an artist, photographer, author, gardener or an amazing cook or teacher, even a seller, I want to know more about them. A blog offers me the chance to get to know you. I tend to head right to their About page. A business which includes a blog, seems more personal, trustworthy; especially if that business includes a Mission Statement. I’d like to know or see some of the folks who work there too.

2. Then, I scan a few of your posts. All businesses large or small seem more trustworthy, more solid, more stable and committed, if there is a blog. My favorite sites show Behind the Scenes. Showing your reader what you do, engages them, tells your story, makes anything more interesting and personalized. For instance, if you’re a jewelry maker, telling me the piece you made was inspired by the hollyhocks that grow outside your studio, brings me into your thinking and surroundings.

img_4682An artist who tells me what inspired a painting and a bit of your process gives me a personal experience.

A realtor who shows me unique homes, beautiful interiors or simple plans being developed – creates intrigue, increases interest. These things makes me want to linger longer on your site.img_4580

 

3. Your blog is a Virtual Brick and Mortar shop– a place where folks can enter anytime, look around at their leisure, get a feel for the place and owner. A blog gives folks reasons to be there, get to know you, trust you, your services and your products. And! Trust you enough to sign up with their email- giving you a reliable and inexpensive way to stay in touch.

Invite me into your garden, your seed and plant nursery. Let me see your bakery, your design aesthetic, or hear your music.

Now, you know I’ve got far more reasons, yet let me leave you with this- pandemic or not, virtually telling your story, showing your process and conducting business is all about creating a personalized way to engage others. I must say- since talking with all of those folks? The ones who have blogs or started blogs (especially in short form) have far outpaced those who haven’t. So, the answer to the question- To blog or not to blog…is a resounding ‘Yes!’ We will stay in touch and revisit this subject again! Hope y’all are staying safe, well and going strong.

Love y’all, Camellia

Message from Brenda: Since this post was written,  a dear friend, one of the most unique people I’ve ever known, has gone on and been received on the other side. I will miss her terribly. She didn’t have a business. Still. I wish she had shared her stories, which are many, I wish she had written her perspective on things, told her family history and the truly funny stories only she knew how to tell and make us all ‘laugh our sides off’. No doubt she has left behind stories and lessons that have never been told. Just one more reason, for any of you out there who need another reason to blog- this is it. Tell your story.

At Home…

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I’m a homebody. I do love to be at home. Of course, I’d prefer not to have to stay at home. Yet, even if I were out shopping, I’m basically a window shopper. So! During this critical time, I’ve been doing what I  naturally enjoy doing… looking at catalogs, magazines, reading books and I do love a good success story. I might be at home- yet I guess what I’ve been doing is collecting.   I started collecting success stories right after the stay at home orders.  What would folks do? The small restaurants, the home owned businesses and cute shops I count on or enjoy rambling around in? These are the hardest hit right now.  The major holidays were past- though I knew Mother’s Day always adds a boost in spending or dining out. And, what inspires me most is the ingenuity of businesses large and small, to adapt quickly, embrace the situation, make the adjustments and move forward. And you know, this has always been true, pandemic or not.

The folks who face facts, protect and respect others even when life was disrupted, they made hard decisions and knew they would take some losses, yet are using their genius to move forward.
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So, here’s a few I’ve admired and a few things I’m working toward; I hope you’ll be inspired too!  A large retailer who I’ve long admired, has added At Home features, updated to reflect what they’re doing at home now, rather than just trying to sell home products- it’s in their blog area on their website. His wife’s recipe for waffles, a peek into their home life with games and outdoor walks.  It’s being updated regularly and rather than pointing to the retail products,  they’re opening with an At Home feature in their notifications and ads, with this soft thoughtful approach.
img_4483I’d like to do something similar by giving you a link to a dessert we’re loving right now here at our home, Camellia’s Cottage! The ever popular Lemon Squares…

And, may I add, this large retailer, is doing something I love with their At Home blog- they are micro-blogging, writing short up to date, time appropriate content. We bloggers would do well to be inspired to micro blog right now!
img_4487Another large retailer, known for their classic clothing quickly added stylish face masks from the fabrics of their most popular styles. Guess what? They’ve sold out! Masks are on backorder, I predict they will have added substantially to their accessory line!

img_4194A beach hangout renowned for it’s good food and rowdy fun loving crowds- made the decision, when they were allowed to reopen- they would have tables set ‘one alligator apart’ in distance that is! They set their tables six feet apart outdoors, closed the interior  spaces and provided their employees with protective masks and gloves for food preparation. They decided the safety of their customers and employees was imperative and did it in an amusing way!  I predict they will have a good season. Other local cafes and restaurants hopefully will be able to serve in outdoor settings too!

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Retail clothing sales will be different for the foreseeable future. For years now, Alabama fashion designer, Natalie Chanin has employed folks who work from home, doing the hand applique required for so many of her designs. Those employees may not face the layoffs since Alabama Chanin was a forward looking company to begin with! (find them @alabamachanin on Instagram) They were already a slow fashion company, it’s paying off now! And p.s. they also have a blog within their website- it’s a thing, y’all For instance, a beautiful gardening product site I love has been doing this for years- it’s called @shopterrain) If you have a business website, adding a blog is vital now!

And here’s a few more ideas I’ve seen… businesses who are finding new ways to do business!, after we’re allowed to img_4475

  • The owner of a small chain of breakfast places- is serving drive thru only, yet he reconfigured the inside of his restaurants as a small grocery store- using his supply lines, he’s buying milk, bread, bacon, eggs and more. The customers are thrilled to get their breakfast to go and pick up a few grocery items while they’re at it!
  • At a local Chinese restaurant, the owners have converted one of their glass storefront windows into a takeout window, they accept phone orders only and have reconfigured to accept payment safely or by phone.
  •  A small women’s boutique in Wisconsin, has added an online business and has personally contacted their loyal customers. When my friend in Houston orders from their shop- they’re now offering free shipping and have started including a handwritten Thank You Notes! (they never go out of style) Think. Personalized Shopping Experience!
  •  Rethinking consumer habits during the time of COVID 19, a dry cleaner who was already doing pick up and delivery has been able to retain their alterationists by offering face masks at a reasonable price. I think this is brilliant!
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  •  Collaborating is becoming one of the best things to do for small businesses. A gift shop works with a garden shop, to create gift containers and baskets including live bedding plants or herbs – even small garden tools, seeds and small bags of potting soil. Even potting up windowsill gardens or indoor plants that are vital to indoor air quality are great ideas too! They’re offering free gift wrapping and curbside service and delivery options! Ditto for bakeries collaborating with florists!
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  •  A hair salon is offering products for stay at homes with facetime calls for directions for using these products. Another is making house calls. (Some states are allowing this) Still others are collaborating with small cosmetics, small boutique clothing shops or health food stores to offer personalized care. Why? How to look good on video is highly popular and much needed now! We all need all the Tools we can get!
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  • An Interior Designer shifted her focus from interiors by collaborating with a local landscapers and realtors to create Curb Appeal for her customers. Brilliant isn’t it? Using antique urns, outdoor safe containers, paint for shutters and front doors has helped all of those businesses keep going, not later- Now!
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    Some are organizing Pop Up shops, with permission and collaboration with essential businesses for a set number of hours, with safe payments and limiting handling of stock. Pop up shops would be a wonderful addition for grocers and plant nurseries or florists assuming the grocer doesn’t already carry these items!
  •  Travel and Food photographers are pitching magazines in their fields to sell photographs- buffing up a few writing skills has helped many. Even contacting stock image sites is becoming a way photographers are adding to their incomes. *Check out @greatescapetravelpublishing for all sorts of hints and tips for photographers and travel writers- don’t wait, do it now!img_4495
  • The most amazing thing I’ve seen so far is from a large printing service which is now offering face masks with a package of filter liners. I ordered masks from this company- after I ordered, they notified me that the price of the filter liners had gone down– and they refunded me the difference- now, I ask you? Who do you think I’m going to do business with? The one who refunds or the one who decides they’ll pocket that extra profit? Find them @vistaprint

Now, I told you that I’ve come up with a few ideas of my own. Here’s one or two I’m ready to share now-img_4461

One of the reasons I was motivated to write this blog in the first place, was to record my grandmother’s recipes and other southern classics. I’ve now written over 400 blog posts, many of those recipes have been shared, so! I’m thinking of using these recipe blog posts including a few humor posts to produce an Ebook! I’m checking out Kindle Direct Publishing (print on demand) since I’ve already self published a physical paperback and Ebook before.  Please know it’s a rigorous process. If I do publish an ebook, maybe I’ll help others do it too! There are lots of books and courses about creating ebooks, just know the prices for online instruction may vary widely. Just look into everything carefully!

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One recipe I’m sure to include will be Homewreckers… a recipe for the most decadent brownies you’ve ever tasted from a famous screen star!  And, I would love to combine all of the humor posts I’ve written into a book as well… I’m sure to include what was one of my earliest posts and continues to be a favorite… I warn you it’s longwinded like me- yet, it’s my Mother’s Day gift to you! If you’ve read this far, you deserve something for your trouble! I do believe businesses and blogs should offer something for your time, right now! So, that blog post? I’ve made it easy to find…You’ll find it here Our Southern Mothers…

Now. It’s Mother’s Day here in the States, yet there’s another holiday being observed here and abroad- it’s VE Day- the day Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally to European Forces on May 8, 1945. I was reminded this morning in a dear friend’s post of this quote by Winston Churchill, which is perfect in these days when we’re finding out new ways to succeed at living and doing business.

‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.’

Keep moving forward with all of the enthusiasm you can!

Love y’all, Camellia

*A word from Brenda

I am trying to support local businesses, I hope you are too! And, if Camellia hadn’t been so longwinded today- I would add I am also using stock photos, along with my own- and gleaning ideas wherever I can to bring them to you! That street side café is a cute example of a stock photo- yet? If you’re wondering who that beachside restaurant is- with tables ‘one alligator apart’ it’s none other than the Florabama ! find them @_florabama along with over 42.1K followers, we love them too! They also offer watersport rentals and plan to follow CDC guidelines. In other words, they’re keeping their business open because they know- it’s not about them- it’s about their customers!

* Remember- Accept the situation. Adapt quickly. Embrace this time as an opportunity. Make the adjustments. Move forward. Y’all, we can do this- stay inspired…. the photo below is one I clipped and put in a journal years- I took a pic…it inspires me to work At Home!img_4471