2014 BlogTour Milan & Venice: Dreams Do Come True!

You’re invited: BlogTour Venezia…no wait, Milano…no wait, Venezia AND Milano” screamed the email subject line as I hurriedly scrolled past email message after message. It didn’t register right away. No, my brain was on deadline overload. Scrambling to wrap up an editorial project for a client and bone-tired after working for hours on end without a break (Oh, and lest I forget, physically exhausted after a grueling strength training workout earlier that morning.).   Seconds later what my eyes had seen registered in my weary mind. All activity stopped, as I realized what I thought I had seen. My finger sped across the mouse trackball … page up, page up, page up – faster, faster! Then there it was. The golden message. It was real. I wasn’t hallucinating from fatigue.  “Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh,” I gleefully squealed as I read the message.

Ciao Carmen,

On the off chance that you may not already be booked solid for April I would love to invite you to join us for BlogTour Milano (and yes, Venice too).

This tour is one of two highlight tours in 2014 with Paris being the second one. We created highlight tours slightly longer with more room for editorial focus on the country and cities we visit and with a broader lifestyle aspect. On this trip, we will experience antiques’ tours and trade shows as well as a lot of local culture and we hope you have the time to join us.

….. let us know if you can join BlogTour Milan.

And, like gulping down an energy drink my whole being was revitalized as I joyfully replied yes to the invitation with a resounding, “Grazie!!!”

Gondolas near Santa Maria Basilica Venice Italy | The Decorating Diva, LLC


BlogTour: There’s Nothing Else Like It!

Those of you who know me, know that I have had the good fortune to travel to many fabulous world destinations to discover and report on beautiful design. So you may be wondering why this particular invitation was any different from others I’ve received. Two reasons. The first is that it is a BlogTour event. I was honored to be a part of the inaugural BlogTour London trip during London Design Week 2011, and in the subsequent years I’ve been so proud to see this little dream of marrying design, world travel and culture become a world-wide phenomenon led by one of the greatest dreamers I know, Veronika Miller of Modenus.  A BlogTour is unlike any other design event or travel I’ve ever experienced. It’s about discovery, design, camaraderie and cultural exploration and immersion in a high-energy environment surrounded by an elite group of designers,  bloggers and writers – all made possible by the very best sponsors one could ever hope to meet.  Last year I had participated in the wildly successful BlogTour/ Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in New Orleans, and wasn’t even remotely thinking that I’d be invited on another BlogTour trip less than a year later.  It was a lovely surprise, one that leads me to my second reason. Dreaming of Italy. Yes, Italy.

The Dream: Adventure. Italy. Travel.

Salone del Mobile Milano BlogTour 2014 | The Decorating Diva, LLC

After attending an international design show a few years ago, and becoming quick friends with an ex-pat German design editor living in Milan who regaled me with lovely tales of Salone del Mobile –  I decided I wanted to attend Salone. I signed up for Italian classes, and set my goals for attending Salone that spring. I was ready: comfortable with my elementary grasp of Italian, flights researched and just one-click away from purchasing them – when I hit the wall. The wall that I soon would learn was going to be insurmountable. Hotel accommodations were a huge issue.  Hotels near the design fair had been booked months and even in some cases a year ahead.  The few that were available were extraordinarily expensive – and by that I mean I could have stayed in a very nice Parisian hotel in downtown Paris for what these one or two star hotels were charging. The closest hotel with decent rates and a step or two above two stars was at least 30 minutes to one hour away.  I worked every angle I could think of to get a hotel at a decent rate, but it wasn’t to be. Crestfallen, I realized my dream to travel to Milan and Salone wasn’t going to happen that year. I moped for a week or so and stopped studying Italian or looking at anything related to Italy. But I never allow myself to wallow in self-pity or failure for too long. So out came the Italian workbooks, audio files and Babble online tutorials. I designed my 2013/2014 goal vision board and one of the biggest photos on that vast white posterboard was a picture of a quaint Italian café nestled amongst regal Renaissance era architecture  – perhaps in Venice or Milan! Above that photo the words, “Adventure. Italy. Travel.”  There were times that I saw my goal to travel to Italy slipping further and further away from me. Business commitments, family commitments, time commitments – everything conspiring to keep me from the art, architecture and design destination of my dreams. But one look at the vision board in my office, or sneaking a peek at my digital version on Evernote re-energized me and kept me going.  And, I’m glad I did.  Italy was my travel goal. Traveling to Italy with BlogTour helmed by Veronika Miller and  the Modenus team, surrounded by the brightest and the best of the design world and generously sponsored by top design companies  – that is a dream come true. Had I given up after my first attempt to travel to Milan, had I stopped committing myself to learning Italian, had I not bothered with the vision board –  I don’t believe this opportunity to travel to Italy with the BlogTour Milan team would have occurred.  I firmly subscribe to a quote attributed to William Hutchison Murray that was shared with me by a dear friend a few years ago:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. -William Hutchison Murray

I believe this quote can apply to each and everyone of us. Veronika had a dream called BlogTour. She set the events and actions into motion. She was committed. Absolutely committed to her dream. Today BlogTour is an international success and widely praised throughout the design world. I had a dream to travel to Italy to immerse myself in design discoveries, art, architecture and local culture. I could have hesitated and pulled back, but I was committed. I didn’t know when it was going to happen. What I knew was that when the opportunity did present itself I was going to be ready because I had committed myself to my dream.

Each of us who has dared to dream, to risk it all and  start our own businesses-  we have followed our hearts, or  to paraphrase my favorite modern day philosopher, Joseph Campbell – we are following our bliss.  We are all dreamers. With that, I’m thrilled to share the BlogTour Milan blogger team with you – a group of accomplished, talented and amazing dreamers whose contributions to the design world have been an illuminating gift. Come meet the team of dreamers.

BlogTour Milan 2014: The Bloggers

2014 BlogTour Milan Blogger Team:  Pamela Copeman, Carmen Natschke, Holly Hollingsworth Phillips,  Joann Kandrac, Kelly Kole, Krista Nye Schwartz, Tami Ramsay, Tamara Matthews Stephenson, Lisa Smith, Robin Plaskoff Horton, and Eric Schimelpfenig | The Decorating Diva, LLC

From the BlogTour Milan 2014 Team Page:

BlogTour Milan 2014 Blogger: Pamela Copeman | The Decorating Diva, LLCFrom seaside homes to luxury condominiums in Boston’s Back Bay, award-winning interior designer Pamela Copeman is noted for her posh panache and timeless designs that unite classic style with a modern, often colorful twist. Author of Posh Palettes Blog, Pamela has over 20 years of experience designing exceptional living spaces for a variety of clients, Pamela prides herself on keeping up with the latest and greatest products and trends in interior design. By working collaboratively with clients, Pamela ensures that each space she designs is a true reflection of the people who live in it.Pamela is also an accomplished painter and mixed media artist. Describing her artistic style as colorful, eclectic and loose, Pamela paints with a designer’s eye and a firm belief that inspiration is everywhere. Learn more about Pamela’s artistic style via her Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+

BlogTour Milan 2014 Blogger: Joann Kandrac & Kelly Kole | The Decorating Diva, LLCKandrac Kole is a nationally recognized interior design firm founded by principal designers Joann Kandrac and Kelly Kole.  This successful duo has established a reputation well known for their approachable, dynamic personalities, signature use of color, and one of a kind, custom designs.  Voted one of Atlanta’s Top 20 Residential Interior Designers in 2013 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, their work has been featured on HGTV, The New York Times, House Beautiful.com, Southern Lady Magazine, Atlanta Home Improvement and Houzz.com. Joann and Kelly’s love and commitment to the power of interior design is also exhibited in their charity work throughout the U.S. and Guatemala and thru their blog which was established in 2009. Learn more about this dynamic duo via their Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

BlogTour Milan 2014 Blogger: Carmen Natschke | The Decorating Diva, LLCCarmen Maria Natschke is a new media entrepreneur, freelance writer, social media diva, speaker and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the internationally acclaimed design blog, The Decorating Diva. Her passion for beautiful design has her traveling the globe as a lifestyle and design expert sharing her love of art, architecture, design, and trends with thousands of Decorating Diva fans around the world. Connect with Carmen on Twitter, Facebook Pinterest , and Google+.

BlogTour Milan 2014 Blogger: Eric Schimelpfenig | The Decorating Diva, LLCEric Schimelpfenig, AKBD is the founder of SketchThis.Net. Eric has utilized 3D technology throughout his career. He has taken pencil and paper operations and converted them to 3D, worked with Google on Sketchup’s development, created 3D content for companies large and small, and taught Sketchup to countless students all over the country.He is also an active columnist in Kitchen & Bath Design News, is often hired to teach Sketchup, and speak on emerging technologies for the design field. He is currently touring the country on a three year teaching tour with Ellen Cheever and Kitchen & Bath Design News. Meet Eric and learn more about 3D technology via his Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

BlogTour Milan 2014 Blogger: Holly Hollingsworth Phillips | The Decorating Diva, LLCHolly Hollingsworth Phillips is a residential interior designer and owner of The English Room in Charlotte, North Carolina. Holly’s style is elegant, eclectic and colorful. She has completed homes all over the East coast that have ranged in style. Holly has been published in many publications in print and digital.  She loves overseeing the design process from beginning to end. “The best part is when your clients really trust you and set you free to do what you do best.” Her love of color, pattern and layering of old and new can be seen in all her work. According to Holly, “Color makes people happy!”  Holly is a Blogtour London 2013 alumni and Blogtour devotee. Learn more about the colorful Holly via her Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

BlogTour Milan 2014 Blogger: Tamara Matthews Stephenson | The Decorating Diva, LLCSince 2008 Tamara Matthews Stephenson has been writing Nest by Tamara, a lifestyle blog inspired by her busy life as a NYC interior designer. She muses about all that encompasses “nesting.”  Tamara has also written for Traditional Home Magazine, Venu Magazine, Today’s Equestrian and New York Spaces Magazine. Tamara hopes to help her clients and readers create a stylish yet well-lived in home while putting it all into perspective. Learn how to “nest” with Tamara via her Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

BlogTour Milan 2014 Blogger: Krisit Nye Schwartz & Tami Ramsay | The Decorating Diva, LLCCLOTH & KIND is a boutique interior design firm and blog led by Krista Nye Schwartz and Tami Ramsay with offices in Ann Arbor, MI and Athens, GA. They are storytellers that design well-curated, layered and cultured spaces created to reflect the personalities of their clients and how they live their lives. Meet the fabulous partners and learn about their steadfast passion for textiles and cultured spaces via their Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

BlogTour Milan 2014 Blogger: Robin Plaskoff Horton | The Decorating Diva, LLCRobin Plaskoff Horton’s award-winning and Webby-nominated blog, Urban Gardens, is a lifestyle story told from the ground up. A mix of urban style, design, and nature, Urban Gardens is about the whole circle. Urban Gardens explores the world’s most captivating destinations, to see, taste, and experience multi-culturally, what the global creative universe is growing and serving up in their own particular style.Robin has been a featured speaker at the Garden Bloggers Conference, Women at Woodstock, and the Garden Writers Association Annual Meeting. She contributes to Houzz, and has been a featured curator for social commerce sites, Pickie and Luvocracy. In addition to several awards, Mashable named Urban Gardens “One of the Top 10 Must-Follow Home and Garden Twitter Accounts.” Get connected with Robin via her Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

BlogTour Milan 2014 Blogger: Lisa Smith | The Decorating Diva, LLCLisa Smith, interior designer, author, publisher of DecorGirl.net, artist and sportscar driver is more than your average designer. Owner and visionary behind Interior Design Factory, Ltd. a boutique design firm where they design everything from furniture to light fixtures to provide their clients with a completly personalized interior, Lisa lives by her words, “do it once, do it right.“ She brings and artist’s eye for color and composition to everthing she does. Her automotive interests fuel her personality of living outside the box and provide endless inspiration for design solutions. Live outside of the box with Lisa via her Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.