Interiors004I’ve mentioned one of my forty firsts is that I’m working as a design intern. What started as a half joke became a reality this year. I have been a professional wedding and portrait photographer for several years, but by the end of 2015 I found that my photography work had really dried up. I can’t say I did much to try and get it going again, honestly. I was burned out creatively, and being an entrepreneur is exhausting, frankly. It’s true what they say – when one door closes, another door opens. So when the opportunity came to learn from my friend Valerie of Serendipite Designs, I walked right through that door.

While I have always loved interior design, I am very much unschooled. Needless to say the internship learning curve has been steep. One of my favorite takeaways so far is the concept of “the lead.” That tis when you take something: an object, a color, a fabric, a piece of art, whatever suits your fancy, and that becomes the backbone for your design choices. I love the idea of starting any room design with a piece you absolutely love: a painting, a souvenir, a book cover. If you start with something you truly love (and not just a tchotchke you picked up at Home Goods…) you will create a space you will always adore.

I’m excited to apply my first design intern lesson to my daughters’ rooms. This summer we moved them into separate bedrooms, and they are wanting to express more of their distinct personalities. We’ve selected “leads” for each room: for my 10 year old, she wants graphic and bold, a room fit for a tween. For her room lead, I found this Serena and Lily wallpaper that fits the bill. As for my 7 year old, she wants girly and sweet. My husband inherited this sweet painting from his grandmother’s apartment, which is the perfect lead for her new room.

Stay tuned: one of my firsts this year is learning how to wallpaper…


Ah, where to begin? A friend of mine asked me “what were your firsts in 2015?” I thought about it for a minute, and I couldn’t really articulate more than one “first” (I taught myself to crochet). 2016 is a big year for me – I’m turning forty – and I came up with the idea of celebrating 40 years with 40 “firsts.” I’ve been documenting my firsts over on Instagram (@melissabrandman) and I thought my blog is where I can elaborate on some of my firsts: the good, the bad, and the hilarious. Some of my “firsts” for 2016: I am working as a design intern. I am determined to finish a gallery wall in my home. I am running (more like walking) Bay to Breakers in San Francisco. And many more firsts to come.

So cheers to 2016 – may it be one full of firsts for us all. Speaking of: this is the year I publish a coffee table book of my photography work. I think an entire book of the horizon would be so soothing, don’t you?

cabo san lucas