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18 Jul


Wow.??I’m just cringing when I see the date of my last post! We have so many amazing projects going on (i.e., exciting commissions, the new studio/showroom, worthwhile side projects) and I’m just bursting with vigor and my cheeks are pink with excitement at what is to come around the corner.

First of all, we have received a LOT of calls and e-mails with respect to the workshops we’ve scheduled (more to come, trust) and our August 11 class is full. My next post will outline more information about the workshops and the updated schedule including some locations further into Orlando and closer to Sanford/Maitland. What a great response!? (Wait until you see the pics for the classes — no sponging here!) In the meantime, our Message Forum is up and running and it is FREE to anyone who’d like to write in a question, chime in on their thoughts on design or put in their experiences with their DIY projects.

We’re excited about a super-cool commission we have coming up in a couple of weeks: we’ve been chosen to help renovate the Portofino Bay Hotel here in Orlando, FL. (It’s kind of an odd experience for us to work on a hotel here at home…we are usually traveling to consult and/or work on hotel properties outside of Central Florida.)? We are starting up with one of the restaurants and then moving on to other areas of the hotel.? I’ll try to put up pics as we go along. It’s wonderful to work on residences but with hotels you can push the envelope a little bit in terms of finishes and colors.? Do any of you wonder what it’s like to put together a hotel commission? Let me know in the comments and I’ll keep blogging on it in the future.

Another wonderful project I am looking to commit to is Ladies Who Launch ( as an “Incubator”. It is an organization that supports and nurtures women who are thinking about starting creative businesses or who currently own a business and are looking to freshen and expand their brand.? I am sooooooo all about supporting, helping and enjoying the success of my fellow powerful entrepreneurs?and with the new studio/showroom coming up in January, we’ll have a great space to meet and connect with some of the most brilliant and positive women in our area.? Take a minute (or an hour) to check out their website and let me know what you think! They have a wonderful book out and their site has great resources.

Phew! See why my last post was just a bit ago? (I know, last month is more like it but I’m trying to make myself feel better, LOL.) Have an amazing day!

28 Jun

Imagination: A Preview of Life’s Coming Attractions

A lot of people ask me where inspiration comes from. Great question — it’s a creative endeavor to come up with many fresh ideas after doing hundreds of rooms. You really don’t want to be repetitive or even worse, stay only in your comfort zone. Kiss. of. Death.

Sometimes it’s about collaboration — and how someone else sees something that you yourself never did. Case in point, this room:


The designer, Debbie Miller of Beautiful Homes, thought to do a striking accent wall for the bedroom of a hip, upscale young couple. I set about creating a sample for her based on the fabric, but as it frequently happens when I’m in the studio, I have a lot of different ideas for the finish. So, I taped out different squares on the sample board to show her all the color combinations she could choose from. When she saw them she immediately exclaimed “Yes!”. I asked her which one she really liked and she said “all of them, just like you have it in the squares.” I looked at the sample again and realized all the colors had created a pleasing pattern…and it’s exactly what we created on the accent wall.

Sometimes you have happy accidents. In the case of this room,


we created the tadelakt finish on the walls and noticed (after we did all the work) that you could see a horizontal seam line right down the middle of all the walls. It looked awful and this was a Showcase house…you definitely have to bring your A game. I went home and brainstormed about how exactly to hide the hideous seam without redoing the entire room. My crew was calling me with supportive messages, my husband had no idea what I was fretting about, I was facing a deadline and there was no chocolate to be had in the kitchen (I remember that part vividly). At 5 am, I sat up and thought of a solution: having a chunky horizontal Venetian plaster and gold leaf border running around the length of the room that added visual interest. (Because everyone thinks of plaster and gold leaf at 5 am, right?) The colors and finish would create a nice contrast but most importantly, would hide the seam line. In the end, we added a Moorish Trellis design with jewels along the top of the border in the accent wall. Voila! A room I still get compliments on and my crew still talks about.

Sometimes, it’s about visual inspiration. This gorgeous doorway (left pic) inspired the dimensional design around a client’s wine cellar entrance (right pic):

Doorway Inspiration Wine Cellar.jpg

I also have a scrapbook of magazine photos and finishes I like. I think I’m subscribed to about every home design magazine out there and every couple of months, I go through them and take out anything that is beautiful, unusual or just sheer creative genius on the part of the interior designer. It helps to thumb through these books when I am feeling low on creative ideas — and I like my clients to feel as if their space is the best yet. Fabrics and wallpaper (especially Maya Romanoff, I adore him) are muses, so to speak. Regularly going to museums or art galleries is wonderful as well. Anything to keep the love and passion alive for all things Imaginative.

20 Jun

Art, Architecture & Passion – the Italian way

My sister and I took a trip to Italy in April of last year. We were there for three weeks while I was taking advanced Venetian Plaster classes. There is nothing like experiencing firsthand a culture known for their Art, Architecture and Passion for Living. Thankfully, she and I studied conversational Italian before we left – it truly proved beneficial and we were able to immerse ourselves semi-completely. We even got lost one time while walking around in Verona and found our way back strictly by speaking Italian (although some thought we were fairly fluent and would launch into fast-paced directions…sigh). Here are some of the sights that inspired us…aren’t they amazing?

Verona 3.jpg Venice Exterior Art

Mantova Rome 3

Florence Verona

My sister and I formed an even stronger bond and decided to travel out of the country together every few years. We even came up with a crazy idea to write a Sister’s Guide to Traveling. Here’s us taking down our travel notes…and next to it is one of my all-time pics of Suzy…and St. Mark’s Square in the background doesn’t hurt either!

Writing the Travel Guide Suzy in St. Mark's Square

It’s helped, in my business, to have traveled to other countries and have seen so many different interpretations of artistic expression. There is always something you can learn, something you can absorb, something to inspire a better version of yourself.

19 Jun


Hello, Everyone! As you can see, I’ve started playing with the look and feel of the blog. I chose this format since I love the picture along the top line — it reminds me to take the time to sit still and be aware of all the magic that surrounds us, whether it be visual, personal or professional. I have to tell you that I am grateful at how blessed I’ve been — I have an amazing family and I found the personal and professional loves-of-my-life. It makes me feel like passing along the feeling of goodness to everyone I meet.

A little while ago, I was approached to open a paint & faux store in my area here in Clermont (west of Orlando), FL. That idea fell through but it planted a seed in my mind — I really started liking the idea of having a showroom and a studio classroom. My brother and sister started championing the idea and looking at spaces, dreaming of a Garay Artisans location. Although we do consults in our client’s homes, we are frequently asked if we have a showroom where our complete portfolio of finishes for different surfaces can be seen. In the meantime, I kept being approached by DIYers for tips or just some color guidance. We started thinking that we could use our expertise to help homeowners tackle DIY projects successfully — who better to guide them than someone who does this passionately everyday? As the universe frequently works, we found a perfect place immediately: location, neighbors and available space. So, I’m attaching a pic of our upcoming studio location, currently under construction. (Really, the picture would have had the three of us doing cartwheels on the cleared land, but it was raining that day!)

First Studio Pic

The studio/showroom is set to open in January 2008 but we will be holding classes off-site, specifically tailored for DIYers, up until then. The class descriptions and schedule will be updated later this week on our website. In the meantime, please feel free to give us comments on the blog or send feedback via the website. The Message Forum link is currently Under Construction but we are working on it diligently! Thanks for reading this far…”talk” to you soon!

19 Jun

Destination: Oz

I cannot believe it! I’ve actually put down my artist brushes and decided to further explore technology. My husband, who is a computer genius, just sorta sighs and shakes his head while smiling. I can’t help it…I’m still a girl who loves to write handwritten notes on beautiful stationery and hear my loved one’s voices on the phone rather than get an e-mail but I do love my iPod and TiVo so I’m not all that old-fashioned, I guess. After immersing myself in this blog business, I’ve come to feel as if the Kansas house and I have landed with a bang and I’m about to open the door to the gorgeous technicolor world of Oz. The thought of writing a blog was inspired, in part, by the ability to share and discuss beautiful images and inspirations, give a behind-the-scenes look into what we do and just post little silly or serious bits of conversational wontons. Well, I’m off to learn more about blogging and see if I can start adding some new backgrounds, fonts, images…

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