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Why Work Life Balance is Baloney in My Book

Posted by Denise McGaha
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I have had this post spinning around in my head for some time, so when an appointment was rescheduled this morning, I decided to write my thoughts to all of you.  I want your feedback and would love to hear what you think on the subject of work/life balance.  So here we go….

I think work/life balance is BULL!  I think all this talk about finding a balanced life only supports the image of a perfect life.  My life isn’t perfect.  And I don’t know about yours, but I would venture to say it’s probably not perfect either.  And what is balance anyway?  I am a mommy, a wife, a designer and career person, a daughter, a sister, a church member (though not at the level I want to be lately), a friend, a sister, a pet mommy, a bookkeeper, a gardener, a driver, a cook (my husband is the true chef in our family), and a boss.  How in the world can anyone be expected to balance all of that?

You DON’T.  You ebb and flow.  Right now at work, I am experiencing more work projects than we have had in years.  A promising real estate market, great realtors and developers and all that marketing of our projects to the world have paid off.  We have more work than I can handle with my small boutique staff and we are adding to our team.  A HUGE blessing.  And for those designers who lived through a recession and are experiencing the same thing, I am hearing the following::

I don’t have time to blog!

I don’t have time to workout!

I need to spend more time with my significant other!

I am SO tired!!

When do I fit it all in?

So is this complaining?  Are you a failure if this is how you feel?  NO!!!  So right here, right now I am banishing the phrase “work/life balance” from my vocabulary.  For me it doesn’t exist.  I am SO happy to be where I am at work right now and while my household may be in disarray and my husband has taken over cooking for a while (he is awesome BTW), my life is pretty darn perfect.  We have a child with a broken arm, a geriatric dog that will need to be put down soon, my closets are a complete wreck, my kitchen is in desperate need of a deep cleaning, my washer has been broken for three weeks and fitting a vacation in this summer looks almost impossible.  And now my response…………


I learned this phrase when I did experiential life training almost 10 years ago and it has become my new mantra.  Get over it people.  The pendulum will swing in the other direction soon, and I will have an additional person in my office to help take up the slack.  Kids will be out of school and homework and projects will be a distant memory.


I will find a pace that is a little slower and that kitchen will get cleaned, and maybe even remodeled (YAY!).  And if none of that happens…..


So I haven’t blogged in a while due to the fun I have been having working on projects.  Here’s the deal, I am a designer who has a blog.  When I have huge projects that are paying really great and these projects need to be Designed with a Deadline, they become the priority.  And the blog suffers…..


I will pick up the blog again and share with all of you the great things that I have been working on behind the scenes.  I will swing the pendulum again in the other direction and get back on track with blogging.  And I haven’t worked out and I have gained like almost 10 pounds. Workouts have been traded for late night and early morning work jam sessions.


I will try to grab salads for lunch this week and have started walking again in the early mornings with my son (which is a way good thing).  And have you heard about those Spanx bathing suits?  And so what if my friends see me with  little more weight on than I had last year.  If they love me for my waistline, I am spending time with the wrong people anyway.  I will get back on track and feel better about my body soon.  It’s an ebb and flow.

Wow, do I feel better just writing this.  I hope it speaks to some of you and that you aren’t sitting around, blaming yourself for all the negative things that are happening as a result of your “lack of balance”.  It’s a myth.  You juggle and you tap dance and you do what you can.  And you stay happy and in the moment and enjoy every minute.  Here’s to celebrating your life and all of it’s craziness.  Right.  Where. You. Are.

Have a great weekend and let me know what you think about work/life balance and SO WHAT, NOW WHAT?

The definition of CUSHY

Posted by Denise McGaha
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So I recently polled my Facebook friends on a word that has been tossed around the design studio ALOT lately.  It’s the word “CUSHY” and as we started sharing what that word meant, I realized it meant very different things to different people.


A cushy sofa and seating area in a living room designed by Denise McGaha Interiors

One of the steps in my “Designing with a Deadline” process is making sure that the client and designer both have similar terminology and potentially a deeper understanding of the “designer lingo” we toss around. That way there is no confusion when we start describing (1)what we as designers are presenting OR (2) the client is describing as what they want.


Mr. Beckley having a CUSHY nap on our down filled duvet while I worked from bed this weekend

So here were some of the answers I got when I queried my friends on what the term CUSHY meant to them:

“Like a pillow – fluffy or soft”

” A hot colored cotton velvet” – NOTE THE COLOR REFERENCE HERE – NOT FEEL

“Down-filled seating”

“Comfy and plush”

“Cushy, mushy, not tidy, but comfy”

” I know it involves velvet and a deep pillowy softness” – NOTE THE REFERENCE TO VELVET AGAIN

THEN – there were the comparisons to body parts

“My stomach looks cushy so I better step up my workouts”

“My rump”

“It’s my bum girl!”

AND FINALLY – as it relates to life

“Used in a sentence…Interior Design is NOT a cushy job–it’s freaking hard work!”

“As in …my life is wonderfully Cushy when I am in bed drinking hot coffee with 2 million cushy pillows around me…. I just love those days!”

“My life is cushy…”

So as you can see, definitions of a word are very important.  And when I was working with a client recently, they wanted their living room seating to feel cushy.  Does this mean they want 100% down cushions?  The Mr. thought he did.  Until the Mrs. found out how much maintenance they were.  When I explained what they wanted was a “down wrapped” cushion and that it would be plenty cushy for them and we just added two inches of depth to the sofa, then they both got what they wanted.  A comfortable place for them to snuggle on the sofa together AND no fluffing maintenance needed.

Then we started discussing fabrics.  He wanted something soft and “cushy” but a silk velvet and two small children were not meant for one another.  SO what he really wanted was something that was soft to the touch, but very durable…..which he thought wasn’t an option.  It was – outdoor velvet fabric to the rescue.

In the end, the moral to this blog post is to make sure the words and terms you are using in life and with your design are either universal or defined so everyone is on the same page.  Here’s to a CUSHY life for all of us to enjoy!!


Cushy graphic pillows in a modern bedroom – Denise McGaha Interiors


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Guest Blogger: Liz Carroll – Holiday Design

Posted by Denise McGaha
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HI!  My name is Liz Carroll of Liz Carroll Interiors in Wilmington, NC. 


I want to thank Denise for allowing me to be a guest blogger for her this week.  What an exciting opportunity!  I absolutely love Denise’s Design on a Deadline and have had a ball getting to know her over the past year.  Not only is Denise extremely talented, but she also has one of my favorite laughs and is about as quick-witted as they come! 

As readers of Denise’s Design on a Deadline tips every week, it goes without saying that all of our lives are busy, so it’s nice to not overcomplicate things when the holidays roll around.  My holiday decorating style and design aesthetic are similar.   I like to keep things light and beautiful, while creating a sense of calm.  My look is a “hip traditional” that while beautiful, has to function for everyday living.  There are so many factors that can contribute to stress and chaos these days, it’s nice to be able to walk in your home and feel relaxed.  Getting ready for the holidays should be the same!

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite tips for getting ready for the holidays.  I hope some of them inspire you this holiday season! 

Paper whites and pine.  A little bit of garland and some simple, white bows go a long way on this banister.  It’s simple and elegant.   Anyone can do this!



This is another effortless way to add some holiday cheer to your bookcases.  A few simple wreaths and ornaments, and ta-da!  You’re all done.  Design tip: Keep the ornaments in a cohesive color-scheme, and use solid, shiny colors.




A must-have for me during the holiday season is solid-colored wrapping paper.  Again, it’s a simple way to create a beautiful look.  I keep a ton on hand and try to stick to one or two colors under the tree, but I could see a rainbow of solid colors with fun ribbon too!  Every gift looks so chic when it’s in a solid paper with a beautiful bow.




Gifts that give.  ONEHOPE Wine is my go to wine year-round and I love to keep cases of it on hand during the holidays for impromptu gatherings and gifts.  ONEHOPE donates 50% of ALL profits to charity.   That’s right….they give HALF of everything they make back to charity!  Pretty amazing, right?   And, it’s great wine!



Finally, what is the “new” Christmas without an Elf on the Shelf?  I have two young children (5 and 2), so the holidays are nothing short of magical at our house.  If you have been living under a rock and don’t know about the Elf on the Shelf yet, read the story and go get one.  I can’t imagine getting ready for the holidays and not having that sneaky little elf around!




Thank you again Denise for having me over to share these tips for decorating for the holidays!  I hope you will all come virtually visit with me on Facebook and Pinterest!  Happy holidays!









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