The Aesthetics of Joy

By Kate Riley September 4, 2018

First, thanks so much to all of you who left thoughtful comments on my post about the loss of my best friend, I appreciated that so much. The grief comes in waves, but every day I am waking up feeling better about life and today I feel ready to jump back in.

Last week a friend of mine sent me this TED talk about Where Joy Hides and How to Find It. As I listened to it, it resonated with me and I wanted to share it with you. In the talk, author Ingrid Fetell Lee explains the aesthetics of joy as it relates to interior design.

In a society where we’re obsessed with the pursuit of happiness, we often overlook joy. What is joy? Joy is that positive emotion that makes us smile in that exact moment we’re feeling it.

In the talk is the reminder that joy can have tangible, physical attributes. We find joy in moments but we can also find joy in things like the colors in a unique piece of art or the softness or pattern in a favorite fabric.

Joy comes from many sources but it also comes from the pleasing environments that we in the design community create with our knowledge of color, scale, lighting, and materials. As decorators and designers, we create welcoming spaces that are not just functional, but a place of joy as well, whether it’s for our own families, a business, or a client.

I loved this TED talk for its analytical breakdown of how tangible things can create intangible joy. Be encouraged, because when we share our projects, our home tours, and our design work, each one of us is part of the process of creating and sharing the aesthetics of joy.

* If you want to dive deeper, you can find the author’s new book on finding joy here.


Snapshots from Seattle

By Kate Riley August 31, 2018

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of the year, I vowed to take weekend getaways to three new US cities that I had never been to before. I checked Austin, Texas off my list in April and in May I spent three very fun days discovering the best of Seattle. My favorite thing in life is exploring a new place I’ve never been before, and Seattle had been at the top of my list for years.

Seattle was everything people said it would be and in my rental car I hit as many recommended spots as possible. During my stay, I rented a private room through Airbnb inside someone’s home – remember this article about what makes a great guest room?

Everyone knows both Amazon and Starbucks were founded in Seattle, so Seattle has solidified its standing in the business world as a place where big ideas happen. Its iconic skyline is changing because growth is readily apparent in this coastal and very progressive part of the country.

Driving around I took snapshots beautiful homes, indulged in a lot of seafood, and sipped the strongest coffee. I also caught up with an long time blog friend who lives in Seattle, which made for an unforgettable visit. I departed after a long weekend feeling both satiated and exhausted. These were some of my favorite experiences:


Space Needle & Chihuly Gardens

Dale Chihuly is the famous glass sculpture artist who’s unique designs have been showcased around the world, I love his work so much so I was terribly excited to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass. It’s next to the Space Needle, you can see the top of it from the solarium at Chihuly Gardens and you can look down on the Chihuly Gardens as you take the elevator up to the top of the Space Needle. When I was there, the Space Needle was under construction but I could still take in the massive views from up at the top! Purchase a joint admission to see both at the base of the Space Needle or at the entrance to Chihuly.








Pike Place Market

No trip to Seattle is complete without a tour of this world famous waterfront market, established in 1907. I visited Pike Place twice while in Seattle, the first time just to walk around at a slow pace and see the flower market, shops and specialty food stalls.

The second time I went with my good friend Melissa from The Inspired Room on a chef’s tour we booked through Airbnb. On the tour we learned the history of the market as we went from stall to stall sampling so much food including smoked salmon from Seattle Fish Co, mac and cheese from Beecher’s, and clam chowder from Pike Place Chowder. It was nice to avoid the huge lines because our tour guide had kitchen access to so many of these famous culinary stops.








Waterfront Walk & Olympic Sculpture Park

I ended up down at the waterfront on more than one occasion just because there is so much do see and do there. One evening I went for a stroll through Olympic Sculpture Park and ate at a restaurant at the end of a pier (I forget which one). Another morning I spent walking all along the main waterfront promenade where you can ride the famous Ferris Wheel and visit the waterfront Aquarium.





Pioneer Square & Smith Tower

Pioneer Square is old historic Seattle dating back to the Gold Rush. I read about it in a guide book and was so intrigued I parked my car and headed out to explore these few city blocks. The brick buildings are over 100 years old, they were built after the great fire of Seattle swept through the city in the late 1800s. I couldn’t help but feel that Pioneer Square had a New Yorkesque vibe to it. I spent some time strolling around, tasting wine, and admiring the architecture. There’s an underground tour you can take (I didn’t on this visit) but I could tell it was a popular attraction by the crowds of visitors on the tour.



There’s a hidden gem near Pioneer Square, it’s Waterfall Park, and it completely surprised me. The juxtaposition of this loud cascading waterfall nestled among skyscrapers did not escape me. This is a tiny yet magical place of serenity in the heart of a bustling city.



A few blocks away is Smith Tower, its Art Deco interior reminded me of the Empire State Building: brass elevators, onyx stone floors and columns, and a swanky bar with panoramic views at the top.





Boating on Lake Washington

Before I arrived in Seattle, I asked some of you what I should do and so many of you recommended getting out on the water. You were right! I booked an afternoon sailing excursion through Airbnb experiences, and it was fantastic! On my boating excursion, I made a handful of new friends and we all shared stories while our captain sailed us around the lake to catch views of the the Seattle skyline and the houseboat community, including the famous floating home from Sleepless in Seattle.

Seattle’s weather is fickle and unpredictable. I had a few cloudy mornings, pockets of sunshine and then out of nowhere the rain would would swoop in. The same thing happened on my sail, first sunshine, then clouds, then rain, then clouds again. Best to be prepared, as the locals say.




Daytrip to Bainbridge Island

From the waterfront port, I rode the ferry across Elliott Bay to Bainbridge Island on a sleepy Sunday afternoon. It was recommended as a charming town and I agree, it was. I spent an afternoon walking around, through the main center of town, and a few residential neighborhoods, then I ended up down by the water. It was picturesque and unexpectedly quirky with its river rock sculptures scattered throughout.










I have to compliment Seattle’s food scene, everything I ate while I was in town was amazing! I had an incredible fish at Shaker + Spear in downtown Seattle and the very best pasta dish I’ve ever had at Vendemmia in Madrona, the tagliatelle with white bolognese was sooooo good, I dream about having it again!

Thanks so much Seattle for showing this gal a great time, I can’t wait to return someday! Those who know Seattle, tell me, what did I miss? What should I see or do on my next visit?