About the Author
Nicolette is an architectural illustrator, writer and designer who lives near Aspen, Colorado. She also spends considerable time in San Francisco, where she owns several flats that she and her husband remodeled, and where she has design clients.
Growing up in Colorado, Nicolette Toussaint had hands-on experience in building two homes from scratch. Her parents saw nothing wrong with a four-year-old helping to install shingles on the roof, with a twelve-year-old laying flagstone and stapling up insulation, or with a sixteen-year-old running planks through a dado saw and nailing up siding! She learned sewing and upholstery crafts from her mother and was taught woodworking and basic home repair skills by her father.
During her grade school years, one of Nicolette’s favorite hobbies was moving the furniture in a bedroom that she shared with her brother Gene. The goal of this exercise — an early exploration of what architects and designers call “space planning” — was to create a space that walled out her pesky younger brother.
Nicolette’s first career was in advertising and PR. She worked as a graphic designer and writer for several national ad agencies, and then for environmental, health and educational nonprofits. But she always retained an interest in building and interior design.
Nicolette’s interior design philosophy was informed not just by her formal education, but also by what she learned in “the school of hard knocks.” (She survived the remodeling shown at left; the contractor quit the business.) Nicolette’s devotion to ergonomic and universal design principles was influenced by her work for environmental and health nonprofits, by direct experience with disability and by the process of remodeling multiple flats in San Francisco, where space is at a premium.
Because all good home design should result in comfort and delight (at least after the shocks that come with remodeling), Nicolette has called her interior design consulting business “Comfort and Joy Design”. The shell logo she uses represents a chambered nautilus. As described in a poem by the same name, the nautilus adds a new chamber to his shell each year as he outgrows the old one, building a shining, iridescent home in the process.
Nicolette earned an MS in Design from the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, a school founded by famed architect Mies Van Der Rohe.
Van der Rohe was one of the pioneers of the International Style of architecture. His design school, which now calls itself the “new Bauhaus,” descended from the German institution that married modern technology with the Arts and Craft Movement to create modern, human-centered design and the mid-century modern style.
Nicolette’s training at IIT emphasized Van der Rohe’s dictum “form follows function” and included a strong emphasis on ergonomics.
Nicolette holds that among the functions of homes are the need to be sustainable in both a human and an environmental sense. Accordingly, she is a certified green building professional, trained by the California nonprofit Build It Green. She is also skilled in applying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and multiply experienced in designing for various physical challenges. She earned a BA in journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and more than 50 units of continuing education in interior design and sustainability studies from the University of California at Berkeley’s San Francisco campus.
Exploring “Sustainable Style”
Writing in this popular Living in Comfort and Joy blog, and also for the National Association of Realtors’ HouseLogic blog, and for the San Francisco Examiner, Nicolette often explores the overlap of ergonomic and eco-friendly design, referring to it as”sustainable style”.
To meet Nicolette’s definition of sustainable style, a design needs to care for:
- Residents’ physical health (avoiding toxics, providing good light and access, and including adaptations for aging in place)
- Residents’ emotional health (providing visual appeal and an affirming color palette and including the niceties of layout that are sometimes called “feng shui” )
- Social interactions (providing appropriate space and furnishings for family activities and rituals, as well as privacy)
- Economic needs (remain cost-effective over time and within budget during building)
- Green/sustainability criteria (Using green materials, recycling furnishings and materials and reducing the carbon footprint)
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.