James Swan

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Are You Afraid of Decorating?

Live and Decorate

Are you afraid of decorating?

There are different types of fear.

Some are rational. They keep us alert to the possibility of danger and help us navigate what can be (at times) a scary world.

Those are the fears we pay attention too and adjust our lives accordingly.

No walking into dark alleys, big empty buildings or unfamiliar neighborhoods alone.  Pretty straight-forward stuff.

But where we (I) often get tripped up is with the irrational fears that rise like monsters from the most innocent of situations.

Like the one that visits my head when I think about inviting friends over to see my latest project around the house.

I call it the “not enough” fear.  Its message is consistent. It never wavers from telling me that no matter how hard I’ve worked, no matter how beautiful the creation (new paint color, curtains, area rug…etc.) that I’m just not good enough and that my home (yep, I still get this after all these years in the profession) isn’t worth sharing with my friends or family.

When this monster rears its head, it seems so real; so solid and concrete.  But the truth is that these are only ideas in my head.

There is no concrete monster…just a vapor of thought.

And I’ve learned a trick in dealing with these faux-monsters.  When you turn and face them directly; really stare them in the face…that’s when they waft away on the wind.  That’s when they are shown to be the frauds they are.

When I do the thing that scares me most, that’s when the monster vanishes.

Let’s live and decorate fearlessly.

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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.