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Book review & Author Interview: Room Recipes by Tonya Olsen

Room Recipes COVER
I'm excited to share my friend Tonya's beautiful new book. 

Tonya and I were once part of an Author's Way study group and I loved her instantly. So talented...yet kind, honest, and real.  

Tell us a little about yourself. Family, education, hometown, etc. I'm originally from Minnesota but I grew up in Oklahoma, so technically I'm a midwestern girl. I grew up in a small town in western Oklahoma called Weatherford. After graduating high school, I attended St. Cloud State University and earned a degree in Public Relations. Eventually I moved to Utah (for a job) and met my husband, Jeff. I went back to school at Utah State University and earned a Master's degree in Interior Design. We have three wild and crazy boys, Spencer (23), Zach (14) and Aiden (13). I also own an interior design/furniture showroom in Bountiful called LIV Showroom and I am the lead designer for Rainey Homes. 
TonyaHeadshot768How long have you worked with interior design? I have always, always enjoyed interior design. On my blog,, I talk about my first design project, my bedroom, when I was 8. My parents always let me decorate my bedroom and eventually relied on my direction for decorating the whole house. I had second thoughts about interior design when I was in college because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make a living at it. So, I got my undergraduate degree in public relations and got a "safe" 9-5 office job with a steady paycheck, benefits and a 401K. I was miserable! After getting married, I was able to go back to school and get my Master's degree in Interior Design, and I have never looked back. It's interesting how life works out because my degree in public relations, which requires a large amount of writing, came to benefit me when I was approached by my publisher, Cedar Fort, to write a book.  

How long did it take you to create your new book Room Recipes? It took me approximately three months from start to finish! This was during Christmas, New Year's and two bouts of the flu!  

What was the biggest challenge in writing the book? The biggest challenge was finding projects for the book that were complete. I originally only wanted to include projects I'd done, but most of them were only partially finished. I even attempted an entire home renovation with a client during the time I was writing the book, hoping it would be ready and meet the deadline, but it didn't get finished in time. I also had another designer lined up for the book, but the project she worked on was a nightmare! She'd designed a gorgeous bathroom for one of my clients but it seems that everything from the paint, to the tile, to the plumbing, to the electrical had issues so her project didn't make it in the book either.

 Do you have any other writing projects in the works? I have two or three ideas that I will be proposing to Cedar Fort for my next project, but I'm so busy with my store, Rainey Homes and the book launch that it may be a few weeks (or months?) before I can officially put something together.  

What's your favorite thing to do besides your interior design work? Wow. That's a good question! Hmmmm... I love to hang out with my family, read, shop and sleep!

 How does the look and feel of an interior space affect the people who use it? Interior design affects every space whether we know it or not. We intuitively know when a space "feels" right or wrong. It comes down to the basics elements of design including balance, proportion, color, etc. Interiors, especially in our homes, is vital to our overall comfort, happiness and peace of mind. That doesn't mean our homes have to be filled with expensive, worldy items. In fact, it's the opposite. Our homes should reflect who we are, what we represent and our personal character.  

In your opinion, how have the popularity of TV shows like "Trading Spaces" changed the interior design world? There's certainly a renewed interest in interior design! But similar to how Photoshop and Instagram have affected graphic design and photography, HGTV and similar networks and shows have influenced interior design - everyone thinks they can do it themselves! Which they can, which is why I wrote my book, but it's still good to be aware when a job requires the assistance of a professional interior designer.   
In your experience, what is the most common error people make in decorating their homes? I'm not sure if there's one common error, but I do see a lot of people try really hard to match everything with the intent of making their home feel and look like a model home. Homes should be personal and eclectic. The items in a home should reflect the people who live there. Homes should include a collection of items with history, personality and uniqueness. Stuffy, matching, boring homes lack character!

 You can get Room Recipes here: Amazon. It's also available on Kindle.

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Margot is a mom of seven and pretty much crazy from it. Her first novel was published in October 2012, and the sequel comes out March 2014. Online she's known as the Damsel in Dis Dress and blogs at the Old School ( and twitters at @the_damsel. A blog about her writing adventures is found at Inklings.

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