My name is Kisha Gianni and I live in sunny Santa Barbara, CA with my sweet fiancé, JB (who has made me promise not to post his photo so you’ll just have to trust me he’s cute) and this handsome guy…
Lilo’s first ride through HomeGoods.
I run my own interior design business, Kisha Gianni Designs, which you can check out here, and write the Saturday design column, Design Intervention, for the Santa Barbara News-Press.
A little history…
Last August, JB told me to pack my bags for a weeklong vacation to celebrate my birthday. The trip was over the top on its own, but turned out to be part of his elaborate cover for a very creative proposal. The day before we started out, he handed me a folder with special pockets, each listing our itinerary for one full day with the caveat that I was only allowed to look one day ahead so I would constantly be surprised. (He has a degree in engineering, can you tell?)
The next morning, we began driving north. Day One we traveled to San Francisco and explored our favorite spots. Day Two was canoeing (if you could call it that; sometimes we actually had to get out and drag our canoe forward) on the Russian River in Guernville. Then we stopped at an inlet to eat our picnic lunch.
While JB anchored the canoe, he asked me to set up the food and blanket. When I opened the blanket to spread it out, inside was a giant banner he had zip-tied to the center. Here’s what it said…
Yippee! Hearts and rainbows and all things light and bright!
And so we began planning our lives together. Last September, after the nerve-wracking, teeth-gnashing eighteen month roller coaster ride of making offers on eight different houses (we started looking before we were engaged) and losing every one of them (mostly to all-cash offers from either the super rich or “speculator” investors), our ninth offer was the charm. With the combination of our tenacious real estate agent David and surely the alignment of some stars, we managed to buy our first house!
Then reality hit. Like a big punch in the face. The home ownership I had alternately been agonizing and salivating over for a year and a half had suddenly become very real. And my mood dropped and shattered like a Ming vase in an 80s movie. (You know, the mansion-dwelling vase on the fancy pedestal that inevitably gets bumped and crashes to the floor in all its priceless glory? Like that.)
Image via Wikia
This was because I though every gilded frame, mason jar vase, and artfully stacked thrift-store-score book I owned and every paint color, plank of wood flooring, door and trim piece I was about to select had to be perfect. No, better than perfect. It had to be awesomeness incarnate. Anything less wouldn’t do. And that lead to me, one month into house ownership, reading my To Do list with sweaty palms (and normally I’m not the sweaty type!) and popping aspirin to stave off any possible heart attacks–just in case–and thinking, “Something has got to change or I actually could have a heart attack. And we still have a wedding to plan! Gulp.”
Then a good friend gave me some good advice. Suddenly the light shone and the shadows disappeared and I took a deep breath followed by a long, leisurely exhale. What were these magic words? “Turn your ‘I’m stressed’ into ‘I’m blessed’.” It was “Duh!” moment, for sure. Such simple advice, right? But it resonated like cymbals in my ears. Instead of worrying that our house was the “calling card” for my design business and, in the state it was in, might make a client want to hang up, the message was we were so lucky to have a roof over our heads. And it was ours. (Well, the bank’s, too.)
I often remind clients that quality design happens in layers. Sometimes rooms actually look their worst before they look their best. When it came to our own house, somehow I’d forgotten this. But when I remember it, and got back on track, the clouds parted, and the design ideas–thank goodness!–came pouring in.
So this is where you’ve found me: doggedly determined to fix up our house (one posted project at a time), sharing client Before and Afters and dispensing DIY design advice (trade secrets, ahem, cough). And trying to remember, all the while, to feel ‘blessed’ not ‘stressed’. I hope you will stick around and enjoy the ride with us. Bumps, and all!