Tile Fashions From Milan to Murfreesboro

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hello there fashion mavens of Middle Tennessee! Design Diva back from the runways of the world to share the fashion trends that will be affecting your home interior style this spring. There are some absolutely FABU looks that you just have to take a bite of this year when thinking about home remodeling. They are as je ne sais quoi as Paris street food.  I do so love Paris street food!

You might think that those high strung designers you see on Project Runway and pin-thin models in Vogue have no relationship to what you put in your home, but have you compared the colors and textures in your newest fashion catalogues and interior design magazines? I have. As Miranda Priestly says in The Devil Wears Prada,  “…you think you have made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”

So from all of the piles of stuff out there shown in many designer’s shows, I have pulled four tasty trends that hit the runways of New York, Paris and Milan this spring, as well as the living, kitchen, bath and/or bedrooms of the interior design savvy.

Luscious Parings. Like a presentation of  the finest sushi upon a stark white plate, design this spring it is all about color parings. One of this season’s juiciest parings is steel grey and yellow, seen in the ultra modern Soia & Kyo collection. Grey has been a color of choice for the last several years, in tile, paint and carpets. A pop of yellow, bright or muted, adds warmth to the stark, cold formality of grey.

Minimalism. Balenciaga’s spare dresses this spring reflect the esthetics of a Japanese garden. Clean lines and the faded colors of nature: white alyssum, dessert taupe, apricot illusion, stone washed and vineyard green. Give texture to these colors by using glass tiles and organic rugs made of natural fibers like jute, sea grass or sisal.

Global Chic. From the tribal prints on Mara Hoffman’s swimwear to the boho casual wear of Vera Wang, 2015 spring fashion is nibbling on the passionate spice of exotic fare. Colors like deep mahogany, red dahlia, desert taupe and pale gold make one think of the mysterious markets of Morocco. Bring the mystery and romance of the East into any bathroom with Arabesque tiles, so reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. Just add candles of cinnamon and clove and a soaking tub for two.

Sea & Sky. Blue from the darkest navy to the palest azure, the top statement color of 2015 is blue. Blue and white solids.  Blue and white geometrics. Blue and white  layers. Blue and white textures. Blue and white feed the soul like a long cool drink of water on a hot and humid day. This combination works especially well when mixing furniture styles, another very current interior design trend. A dark blue tile accent wall in a bath paired with very white subway tiles is a prime example of blending classic and modern.

If you want to see what high fashion flavors Nashville has to offer, check out Nashville Fashion Week 2015. April 7-11. It is de rigueur for those who can’t jet set to the fashion capitals of the world. I am so checking it out. After all, we Middle Tennesseans have our own style. I’m going to see about bringing some Nashville design ideas into my home, which will mean strutting my stuff through the doors City Tile to get my new flooring and tile supplies. They are my tile and flooring design project all stars.

A toast to your fashionably redesigned homes, readers, which I know will be as stylish and updated as you are. Until next time interior designistas!

Lee Rennick is a freelance writer, former Vice-President of Marketing and past Executive Director of the Business Education Foundation of Rutherford County, TN. She shares her interests and knowledge about working, learning and living at http://www.sidelinemusings.com. Loving fashion and remodeling, she is having fun sharing interior design, remodeling, tile, carpet and DIY ideas with City Tile customers.
 Photo from MorgueFile: Face with netting (pedrojperez)

Ethics Going Down the Drain?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I have to say that the Hillary Clinton email debacle in the news brings back faded memories of losing money in the World Com scandal. What they have in common is an age-old question about leadership and ethics. How can we teach future generations to make good ethical choices when we have leaders who are hypocrites? Where are those servant leaders who lead by example? Who walk the walk and talk the talk?

Are ethics going down the drain?

Good Leaders Trustworthy

For ten years I coordinated a youth leadership program in Rutherford County, Tennessee. We spent a lot of time talking about what makes a good leader. Students wanted to follow leaders who were good examples. Honesty, trustworthiness, and fairness were three of the key words that students used to describe good leaders year after year. Trust once lost, these students said, was hard to give again. 

The real question here is, can a leader lead a group of people and live within the rules under which their followers have to live? Before I presented this question to my students, I did a lot of reading on the subject. Most of the great philosophers have asked this same question, with pretty resounding agreement that the answer is “not really.” Some say “not really” because of the demands of government and leadership (like having to choose who lives or dies in a war). Some say "not really" because of the corruption of power.

Ethical Choices Darker Shade of Grey

One of the questions I asked my students to ponder was if power corrupted, and, if faced with absolute power, would they be corrupted. Being raised good Bible-belt Christian children, they said “no.” And yet, when one of their instructors asked them some of those grey-area questions about life, over the years of the program I saw more and more kids making choices on the darker side of grey. I fear this because we are raising good kids in an environment where there are so many examples of unethical leadership in the news. Have kids today lost the desire to make ethical choices because they see leaders make bad choices with no repercussions? 

When I was a child, I was given a framework of ethical choices. I went to a religious school, and had parents with a strong sense of right and wrong. While I have made mostly good choices, I have found myself over the years doing things that I found morally wrong just to be accepted. Or to keep a job. Friends were more important. A paycheck was more important. And I wasn’t going to get into trouble. After all, everyone else was doing what I was doing. 

Now I cringe.  

In today’s 50 shades of grey ethical environment, yesterday’s “no” is becoming today’s “it depends.” We are on shaky ground here.

Historical Backlash

Along with a lack of solid ethical standards, we also have no interest in history. Yet, what is happening now, is very reminiscent of issues faced every millennium. Amazingly, every thousand years, or so, mankind comes to a place of great social upheaval that rocks our being. The laxity of moral standards always seems to be a symptom.

These massive social shifts have brought about great changes, such as the beginning of civilization, the founding of the major faiths of the world, and the Renaissance. If we are in a period of world social upheaval, how do we prepare the next generation to make the best choices for mankind without strong ethical standards?

While I do not have an answer, I feel that when in a position of authority I need to be very aware of my choices, because those I stand before will follow my lead more than my words. 

Lee Rennick is a freelance writer, former Vice-President of Marketing and past Executive Director of the Business Education Foundation of Rutherford County, TN. She shares her interests and knowledge about working, learning and living at http://www.sidelinemusings.com. During her ten years as the coordinator of State Farm Summer Business Camp and Youth Leadership Rutherford she made sure her students learned a few things about ethics, which started lots of interesting and appreciated conversations between participants and their parents at the dinner table. 
Photo from MorgueFile: Water running down a drain (grietgriet)

Good Manners Still Stylish

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bad manners and a lack of etiquette are epidemic – in business and personally. Articles all over the Internet rant about rude service personnel, oblivious drivers, and don’t even get me started about hog-like eating styles. Yes, we are all in a hurry these days, but it only takes a second to say please, thank you, and excuse me. Not to mention covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Or cough.

I once heard one of my students sniping that manners were created by the elite to keep the masses from rising in social status. He thought they were out of date and stupid. Where they came from and how far back in time they were developed is beside the point. Good manners show respect for others. They are a form of civil interaction between strangers and friends. They give structure to society. And they some have health benefits (such as not passing disease -- see sneezing and coughing above).

About 12,000 years ago mankind grunted and threw stones at each other, then slowly we learned to work together and then communicate. Communication allowed man to think and develop structure. From structure grew civilization. Manners and etiquette are rituals developed over time that makes social interaction easier and more orderly.

Under the reign of Louis XIV (he’s the one history calls the Sun King) there were lots of parties. He’d have these massive dinners with many of his courtiers. Yes, these were rich people. During that time the way to power in the government was to show up to these parties dressed up in these big poufy dresses and floppy men’s coats – called frock coats -- which took up a lot of room. As did the elaborate wigs and headdresses. When everyone sat down to dinner eating got kind of messy with all the lace and feathers and what not. Louis XIV developed a rigid system of eating that kept elbows off the table and massive headdresses out of the candelabras placed in the middle of the table so everyone could see what they were eating. Because he was king and everyone was trying to get on his good side, diners at these big parties followed his lead. Fewer people went screaming out of the dinner party with their massive wigs on fire (yep, it happened). These rules still make it easier to work together to get food to everyone sharing a table without much confusion. He was a bright man (pun intended).

Rules of the road are there for the same reason; to make traffic move more smoothly. When everyone follows the rules and lets other people know what they are going to do on the freeway by using their blinker, then there are less accidents, confusion, and road rage. And when you are done using it, please turn your blinker off. If you are merging onto the freeway, hopefully with your blinker on, you need to speed up, NOT slow down. I could go on forever about driving stuff, but that will have to be another post.

My pet peeve I am leaving for last. It is what I call customer rage. I feel it every time I am ignored or treated as if the sales associate is doing me a big favor by helping me. Trust me, I have a closet stuffed full of clothes and a house full of furniture. They are not doing me a favor. By purchasing merchandise in their store I am paying their salaries so they can buy those iPhones they are addicted to. Once upon a time I worked in the world of retail and the world of food service. Treating customers well and remembering their tastes goes a long way.

I have a particular addiction to World Market. I have a favorite store. I know the managers there. They know me. I have spent thousands of dollars in their store. I have sent friends into their stores who would not have gone otherwise. They treat me very well. I have a World Market that is closer to my home, but I will go out of my way to go to my favorite one, even though I no longer work close to it, because they have been very good to me. Their sales people are always helpful and friendly. I have never been ignored or treated rudely in that store.

There is another chain of stores, which will remain nameless here, where I only go when I absolutely have to. Even when it is much cheaper. I feel like I could die in one of these stores, and my rotting body would have to be in there a week, before anyone would notice me. I’m not the only one who likes good old-fashioned service. With a smile. And courtesy. And manners. Like a thank you for shopping there. With real feeling behind the words.

Manners and etiquette do make a difference. My student who was ranting about all these rules of conduct being out of date and unnecessary finally decided to try some. His comment after applying what he was taught, “you know, you are right, people treated me different once I started saying please and thank you and doing all that stuff you told us about. They were nice to me!” Wow, what a surprise.

Lee Rennick is a freelance writer, former Vice-President of Marketing and past Executive Director of the Business Education Foundation of Rutherford County, TN. She shares her interests and knowledge about working, learning and living at http://www.sidelinemusings.com. During her ten years as the coordinator of State Farm Summer Business Camp and Youth Leadership Rutherford she made sure her students learned a few things about etiquette, which has kept her mother from rolling around in her grave. 

Photos from MorgueFile: Man in suit (elsiehamilton), silverware (priyanphoenix), thankyousign (quicksandala)