Monday, May 23, 2016


Come on over to and see what I'm up to!
-xo Niki

Monday, July 20, 2015

0 7 iPhone Apps Every Interior Designer Needs

iphone apps for interior design

First of all, let me apologize to all my Android loving readers. I know nothing about your phones, and I can't really apologize for it. I've been #teamApple since Apple was Macintosh and I fully admit to drinking the Koolaid; I'm hooked! All my devices are Apple products so I can only speak for iPhone apps.

Second, I have to admit that although I love my iPhone, it's an iPhone 5. I'm a couple generations behind, because I'm really frugal and refuse to go get the new phone version as soon as it comes out. But I do maximize the power of my little smartphone for what I do, and I think every designer should use these 7 apps on their iPhone.

As a designer, I'm constantly juggling multiple projects within a day. I may spend 15 minutes on the phone with a project manager, 3 hours on a schematic design plan and then 10 minutes talking to a client about paint colors. It's so hard to keep up with how much time you've spent on which project, but crucial to have an accurate account of time for billing purposes. Toggl Timer is awesome because it allows you to easily create a project and track your time with one click. The app also automatically sends you a report each week with the time you entered, making it easy to keep up with your projects.

Genius Scan turns your iPhone camera into a scanner for any document of photo that you want to save. I've used this app countless times to sign a document by hand, "scan" it and send it to someone via email. It's also great for handwritten notes or drawings that you make on the fly and don't want to lose. There is a free and paid version of this app and I've done just fine with the free!

Inspired by the beauty of a sunset? Love the color scheme of a certain pillow? Color Snap allows you to take a photo and pick Sherwin Williams paint colors directly from it. A great resource for creating color palettes! 

This is an app that comes with the iPhone but I don't think most people know that not only is it a Compass but it's a level! Swipe to the right on the compass and it brings your to the level feature! Having a level on my phone is so convenient for checking hanging frames or making sure horizontal surfaces are actually level. 

For commercial designers, this app allows you to select fabric from the Momentum collection and place it on furniture from pretty much any commercial manufacturer. It narrows down the gigantic variety for you by grade, color and type of pattern. Once a fabric is selected, the app tells you the price per square yard, how much you'll need and it's availability. This saves me so much time and communication between myself and a fabric/furniture rep.

My friend Dana introduced me to Trello and it's such a great tool for organizing! Similar to Pinterest, you create boards, but instead of adding photos, you add cards. These cards are interactive and can "hold" photos, pdfs, hyperlinks and more. Super useful when you need a digital file of all the elements you're curating for a project. If you're like me, the less paper in your life, the better!

If you are a woman, a frequent internet browser and reading this blog, more than likely you are a fan of Pinterest. This now $5 billion valued company has captured the attention of so many for keeping a virtual scrapbook of what you love, but have you used it for client projects? Recently at one of our team meetings, one of the architects raved about how one designer in our firm used a Pinterest board on her iPad to present to a major client. She printed off a screenshot of the entire Pinterest board and used that as handouts, and then talked about each pin while displaying them via her iPad through a projector. How cool is that? I challenge any designer to use this app for more than just your favorite photos.

The best thing about all these apps is that they are FREE. And I've included download links in each of the descriptions above. If you're reading this on your iPhone right now, simply click the link and it will lead you to the App Store on your phone to download. Do you have favorite iPhone apps that help you in your design business? Please share them below!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

1 my 5 day hospital stay

So I told y'all a month ago that I would elaborate on why I spent 5 days at Piedmont Hospital last fall. My stay there really forced me to push pause on my life, and I can honestly say that I didn't leave the same. Disclaimer: There's no way to make this a short story, so grab a snack and get ready to read!

On the morning of October 23rd, 2014, I woke up to a pile of moving boxes and a messy apartment. I was excited about having lunch with my friend Ally (From the Right Bank) and dreading finishing up packing for the move back to NC that I was preparing for that weekend. 

After doing some more packing, I threw my hair into a bun, wrapped a scarf around my neck and ran out the door to meet Ally at this cute lunch place in Buckhead. I remember driving to the restaurant and thinking, "Did I put my contacts in backwards? My eyes feel weird!" (I don't know if any of my fellow contact lenses wearers do this, but I've made the mistake of putting my left contact into my right eye and vice versa several times.) I shrugged it off as nothing, and planned to switch them later.

As Ally and I were catching up through lunch though, I realized that something else was going on. I noticed that my vision was more than blurred; there were spots within my field of vision that were just.... gone. I left lunch, called my eye doctor explaining what I was experiencing and they suggested coming in right away. 

And because I am crazy, I drove myself there without first thinking, "Maybe it isn't a good idea to drive yourself around Atlanta with a vision impairment..."

Nevertheless, I made it to the doctor. On the way, I noticed that my vision was generally clear, but the "pockets" that I could not see were increasing. It's really hard to explain but, I noticed that I could clearly see the car in from of me, but the license plate was completely invisible. Or I looked at where the stoplight should be, and I could see all the clouds in the sky, but the stoplight itself? It was completely "gone" even though I knew it was there.

Once there, my ophthalmologist tested my eyes with every instrument and test that he could, and found nothing wrong with the anatomy of my eyes. At this point, I became really frustrated because the doctor basically insinuated that I was making this up, imagining my symptoms or so stressed that I literally couldn't see. He suggested that if I really was experiencing what I was experiencing, that it had to be neurological and that I should seek consult from a neurologist.

So after this, I'm sitting in the lobby of the doctors office, with no explanation and unable to drive myself home after getting my eyes dilated. While waiting for it to wear off, I called to confirm dinner plans with my friend Kelli and I mentioned that although I felt fine, I didn't think I should drive later because something was going on with my eyes.

Being the great friend that she is, Kelli was concerned and tried to get to the bottom of this situation with me, rather than go grab cocktails & sushi as we planned. After playing doctor ourselves, I called my dad and he suggested that I go to the ER. I do NOT like being a patient, so I did not want to go. Kelli and my Dad convinced me that if I didn't go that night, I could wake up blind, or worse, not wake up at all. 

So, we went to the hospital.

Once there, they put me through triage at the ER and gave me the simple "stacked letter" eye test. I remember not being able to see the big E at all with my left eye but the rest of the chart was clear. With my right eye, I could barely see anything at all. Frustrated and tired, I felt that undeniable pit of fear my stomach. They gave me a quick CT Scan to see if anything showed up in my brain, but nothing came up. The doctor on staff suggested that I stay overnight so that they could give me an MRI in the morning. 

Since Kelli was only in town for work, and had to be there early in the morning, she left and I was there with just the clothes on my back, what I had in my purse and the cell phone charger she most graciously left me. Seriously, I don't know what I would have done that night if Kelli wasn't there!

The next morning, I was given an MRI. For those of you who have never had one, you have to lay down in this big tube that sounds like pieces of metal are banging all around your head. I'm glad that I'm not claustrophobic, because you're in there for a while! At this point, I've called my parents back in NC to let them know what's going on and my dad is in route to GA. 

After a couple hours, a neurologist visits me in the room and asks me a lot of questions and does a series of "tests" to determine what to do next. She shows me my MRI and explains that there are lesions on my brain that indicate I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). She's a bit perplexed though, because I had absolutely no bodily symptoms or family history, but the inflammation of my brain and the lesions present were aggressive.

My MRI looked something like this, with more lesions (the white spots) present and a ring of inflammation that showed white around the perimeter of my brain.

In this moment, I was in shock and I really kind of went numb. The next step was for me to get another MRI on my spine, to make sure there were no more lesions in my spinal cord. And then I had a spinal tap (lumbar puncture); where they stick this really big needle in your back to get a sample of your spinal fluid. They wanted to make sure this wasn't cancer or an infection.

Another neurologist came in and explained to me that what I was experiencing is optic neuritis. Basically, my brain was so swollen that it was squeezing the optic nerves which supply information from my eyes to my brain. In order to get the inflammation down, I had to have a huge dose of steroids, by IV. So they hooked me up to a machine, and gave me my first dose of "the juice" and I wait.

By this time, my dad has arrived from NC and several of my wonderful friends came by the hospital to check on me. I'm still completely in denial that all of this is happening and thinking about how I need to pack because I'm moving and starting my new job on Monday! It hadn't sunk in yet that this was the beginning of an uphill battle and that my vision wasn't going to come back quickly. Being pumped with steroids sucks, and has all sorts of weird side effects, which I wasn't expecting.

Thankfully, my family and the guy I was dating at the time showed up and completely handled my move over the weekend. My mom came down and helped me wrap up the last details of my move and drove me up to NC. My dad pulled some strings back in Raleigh and got me an appointment with a neurologist right away. When I arrived back in NC, I could not see out of my right eye at all and my left eye had only improved to about 50%. I didn't feel comfortable driving myself anywhere, so my mom and my sister took me anywhere I needed to go. 

I started my new job one day later than my originally planned start date and they had no idea why. I told them that I needed one more day to finish up my move. Starting a new job is always a little nerve wracking, but it's even more strange when your mom has to drop you off and you cannot see out of one eye. I can only attribute me being able to pull it off to the grace of God! 

After a couple of weeks, I was able to see a neuro-ophthalmologist (a brain doctor who specializes in eye conditions) who gave me the go ahead to drive again, with caution. Once I was able to drive again, I felt like I could finally get started on my new normal. With some intentional adjustments, I was able to drive, get settled in my new place and my new job.

So what now? It's been 9 months since my first attack and I have not had another. MS is a hard disease to diagnose and treat, but I am thankful that I have an awesome team of doctors who have gotten me on a treatment plan that seems to be working. The vision in my right eye has not completely returned; I can see out of it, but it is still a bit blurred. I'm able to do everything I need to do though, so I cannot complain. My doctors are pretty confident that I will not have another incident like October as long as I stay on my treatment plan. According to my doctor, sometimes it takes years for the optic nerves to fully recover from attack like mine, so I am especially grateful for how quickly I have rebounded. 

What I learned from all of this: Youth and knowledge allowed me to take my health for granted. I was so focused on my worldly goals that I neglected to appreciate the blessing that it is just to wake up, roll over and to be able to SEE. The whole ordeal, and the months following, really forced me to take stock of what's truly important to me and how I was caring for it. 

If you've read this entire long story, thank you! I hope that sharing my story blessed you in some way and puts a different face on Multiple Sclerosis. Before being diagnosed myself, I only knew one person personally that had been diagnosed, and her story is completely different from mine. If you're reading this and have any questions about MS, have MS yourself and/or just want to connect further, please feel free to reach out! Comment below, email me, or tweet me. I'd love to hear from you! If you want to hear more about what it's like for one woman to live with MS for 20+ years, check out this great blog by Tricia Chandler -

And lastly, God is so faithful. And I can only attribute my continual healing to Him. I don't think it was a coincidence that this happened the very week that my friend Kelli was visiting Atlanta and I was planning to move back to NC, where I have the support of my family and friends. I could not have made it through without all of them and I am forever grateful!

Monday, July 13, 2015

0 the olive guide : summer edition

I had the privilege of contributing to The Olive Guide, a new quarterly online magazine! This magazine is the vision of my friend Quintel and it's full of bright, fun inspiration not just for your interiors but for your whole summer.

Can you believe that the chandelier on the cover is a DIY project? Interior Designer Saudah Saleem tells you exactly how to make your own inside this issue.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me post my favorite photo from the issue, designed by Astral Ricks. I absolutely love the dark walls and bright artwork she used in this warm bedroom makeover.

There is so much more goodness inside this issue to see so please, check it out HERE!

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