James Swan

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The Power of DECOR and What it Really Means

Anthony Hail on Million Dollar Decorating


If traveling across country no one I know would make the journey without GPS or at the very least a dusty Thomas Guide stashed on the back seat.

Putting together a piece of furniture from Ikea? Do so at your own peril if you tackle the task without the instructions.

Having a child warrant’s a library filled with enough books and guides to last your lifetime and that just gets us to the day of birth….without a thought for the next 18 years!

And don’t get me started with the analogy of building a house without a set of well-conceived blue-prints.

Winning at the high-octane adventure of home decorating requires no less; a rock solid plan. With each step clearly and thoughtfully outlined the actual realization of the dream (i.e. installing all those beautiful items and objects) really does become fun.  The terror and fear are gone and you enjoy not only the process but the finished results.

To that end I’ve put together this simple mnemonic device:

Dream-What’s to be done?

Evaluate-What currently exists?

Conceive- What do you want to change or add?

Orchestrate-How will you get it done?

Review- Constant assessment of each step keeps the project moving forward

We will use DÉCOR as our touchstone, the heart of our Decorating system.

Tomorrow we’ll jump into the first step and see just how expansive, consuming and thrilling the process of dreaming can be.

See you here tomorrow!

Before you go check out my interview with Keith Williams

Keith Williams on Million Dollar Decorating

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About the author, James

With the launch of the new podcast, Million Dollar Decorating, James Swan adds media-host to his career accomplishments. The interview-based show becomes the first daily podcast devoted to the worlds of design, decorating and beautiful living and features interviews with the world’s leading designers, decorators, architects and artisans. Life-style leaders like Robert Couturier, Sandra Nunnerly, Vicente Wolf and Timothy Corrigan populate the podcast where unguarded conversations reveal behind-the-scenes sources of inspiration, resources and stories that inspire and motivate.
James Swan has built a career crafting classically influenced interiors across the United States. Swan has been featured in House & Garden, House Beautiful, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune and wrote for the “Trends & Shopping” column in House & Garden magazine. His book “101 Things I Hate About Your House” won a 2011 American Bookseller’s Award.
Television appearances on HGTV’s “Homes Across America,” speaking engagements with the professional design industry association NEOCON, regular guest spots on national radio programs have consistently placed Swan in the media spotlight.
Swan’s career took off back in Northern California at a noted San Francisco architecture firm, where he managed residential interiors. After that, Los Angeles beckoned, specifically the prestigious design firm of Frank K. Pennino & Associates, where as senior designer he managed high-profile projects, and earned a reputation for refined classical design that succinctly reflected his clients’ lives. In 1999, Swan opened his own firm in Beverly Hills.
Swan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology and music from Southwestern College in Waxahachie, Texas, and studied in Arizona State University's Architecture and Design master's degree program.
Swan is a past member of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, serving on its Executive Board of Directors. His other commitments include PAWS/LA, which assists with the care of pets for people living with disabilities, and KidSmart, an art education foundation for inner-city youth. In his free time, Swan may be found furthering his passion for skiing and traveling. Currently he lives and works from his home on the Maine coast.