Angela Todd Interior Designs
The Design Angle, Angela Todd

{ Yes, I Sing too. }

We are all connected.  To the Hillsboro National Guard and their spouses, parents, children and friends. Know you are loved and supported by your community.  Be safe boys.

Last night I sang the National Anthem for the Hillsboro National Guard unit 11B who are being deployed to Afghanistan for the fourth time.

A few weeks ago I received a phone call from Steve Frazier at Contract Furnishings Mart.  Steve explained several contractors and his warehouse manager at the Tigard store were connected to the unit.  He was planning a send off event for the boys and their families.  He was providing a steak dinner for these boys with dessert compliments of Beaverton Bakery.  The local boy scout troop would be doing a color guard ceremony. Jerry Willey, the Hillsboro mayor, would be saying a few words.  (Jerry is also a retired from the Navy and is a Vietnam Veteran.)  Eddie Villegas, a friend and local flooring contractor, also coaches the the Hillsboro Ladyhawks, a local roller derby team.  These girls were also coming, as well as the local Hillsboro Fire Department and some members from the local police department.  Would I sing the National Anthem a cappella?

Here is Steve Frazier on the right at a Professional Remodeling Organization event with Bob Wilcox.


Steve Frazier is one of my favorite people.  He is charismatic. always the life of the party, yet still has a deep, deep love and compassion for people.  I was honored and immediately said yes.  Besides, what happens when roller derby gals merge with the fire department, service men and police officers?  There is cake?  This sounded like an interesting experience!

roller skates

It might surprise a few of you to know that I sing. I find creative endeavors have always been a part of me whether it is music, art or writing.  The last few years singing has taken a back seat to my design business and my need to spend more time with those I loved. When I first started Angela Todd Designs, I was also a wedding and event singer working between 55 and 70 events a year.  Launching my own interior design business, booking, rehearsing and performing in the band  - proved to be too much for me to have life balance.  I had to pick one passion and let the other not be as prominent.  It was never a sad moment. It felt right.  The season of my life called for focusing on my interior design dream.

I didn’t need my range much, so I didn’t commit to keeping conditioned. Your vocal chords respond like muscles. When I was working in the music scene I warmed up my voice once or twice everyday.  I could probably count the few times I have warmed up my voice in the last 5+ years. My higher range as thinner and less full bodied than it once was and I would be out of breath easy singing.  Sometimes I would go see friends who are musicians and they would call me up for a song or two.  In those cases I would pick easier songs that I can sing well.  During these last few years I have also tried a few harder songs via Karaoke –  knowing it isn’t on stage with my well-respected friends – I would stretch and try more vocally challenging songs.  It was frustrating sometimes moving out of key at high pitches because I didn’t have vocal control anymore.  I also sang once a year annually at the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland for the Divine 9 Chili Cook-off  with my old fun standards of Aretha Franklin, Patty LaBelle and Tina Turner.  Oh Gosh.  I pulled these songs off barely.  All these things reminded me how out of shape my voice was.

Here I am a few years ago when I was signing professionally at an event in Portland.


The National Anthem isn’t really a song that plays it safe, and I wanted to do well for these boys!  So I committed myself to some vocal exercises the weeks leading up to the National Anthem.  For those of you who may know a little about vocal work, I used to see Thomas Blaylock weekly for vocal work and I followed his method.  I used his technique and the old CD’s he gave me for when we weren’t working together one on one.

Despite doing the vocal exercises once to twice a day, I only ran through singing the National Anthem one time about a week ago.  That may sound really strange, but I know the song and I have sang it many, many times before.  And I didn’t need to practice the song, I needed to condition my voice.

I got nervous yesterday afternoon. I was doubting my ability. I was afraid I wouldn’t hit notes I thought I could – or afraid I would do something embarrassing in general. Then my mind took a different point of view.  By the time I drove up and parked, I realized what I was doing was giving a piece of myself to these young, impressionable boys and to their parents and families.  The reason for the event was so much bigger than my shallow fears.  These boys would be risking life and limb in Afghanistan.  As I was standing a few steps away from the microphone, and the color guard placed the flags I felt fear distracting me again.  As the color guard ended, I dropped my fear like an overcoat thinking again of the bigger purpose.  As I stepped up to the microphone, I intentionally tried to bring joy and pride to everyone in the room.

I was happy with the way I sounded.  I was a portal feeling the sound come out of my body and moving through the room and rafters.  I savored the moments. I felt the room’s mood change with each note.  Afterwards, more than one grown man in uniform told me my a cappella version of our anthem made him misty eyed. Mothers and wives stopped me to say thanks. I heard the compliment without ego. I was honored to be the portal for increasing the vibration in the room – and I was honored to be asked. Any kind of art is like that. It transforms people.

When I stopped making the experience about my fear, it allowed me to experience the experience. This is a metaphor for many things in life. Be present and get out of your own fears. What is your art to offer the world?

Here are a few of the Hillsboro National Guard members represented in the photo with me. Aren’t they babies? My friend Jeff Church ‘s finger is in the photo on the left side. Whoops!

national guard



{ Interior Designers = A Better Project }

Sometimes people feel that with the Internet and our world wide marketplace that the work of an interior designer may be in less demand. This really isn’t the case.  We are busy and thriving. Projects that have an interior designer on the team simply net a better design.  Shanz Razik designs interiors in Belgium and abroad.  She recently wrote in her blog why designing for yourself without the assistance of an interior designer may not give you the best finished project when building, remodeling or decorating.  Here are some excellent points from her post I wanted to share.

Do you bake your own bread or do you go to the bakery?

Anyone can do anyone’s job. I can bake my own bread, demolish a wall and do my own accounting. If I want to I am sure I can diagnose my illness and get some medication specially these days on the internet! But just because I can, does it mean I should? Or can I do it as well as someone who is qualified to do his job with education and/or experience? Just because I can put some ingredients together and bake bread doesn’t mean it will be as good or as well put together as the one from the bakery? As a colleague interior designer Rona Spiegel told me “Anyone can buy furniture and put it in a room but only a designer can design that space”

Time, time and time …

Even if you can do someone else’s job does it mean that you have the time to do it? Or can you do it as fast as someone who is trained to do it on a daily basis? I recently had a client who after spending several weekends looking for an original sculpture with his wife, asked me to source it for him. He told me that although it might sound ridiculous to ask me to source a sculpture, ultimately a small job, he was sure that I could do it in less time than he could. I didn’t disappoint him. I was able to provide him with several sources within 30 minutes. What is 30 minutes compared to their two lost weekends? What is 30 minutes of my time compared to their time taken off, not working, away from their children? Everybody has a speciality. There is usually a very good reason for it!

Why hire an interior designer in Portland

What do you need knowledge and experience for?

Let’s imagine that you have plenty of time and you do manage to put a space together. Imagine you are convinced that you have a great design, after all “les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas” taste nor colour cannot be discussed. Do you still have the knowledge or the experience to deliver a project?

A job of an interior designer as glamorous as it may sound has many practical aspects to it.

Yes, we design, we come up with amazing ideas and get to play with colours and textures and call it a job, we shop for furniture and accessories, we come up with these amazing 3Ds and plans …


Did you also know that we need to be knowledgeable of the technical aspects of a renovation? Know the detailing of all the work involved? Which fabric can be used where in which width? How do you finish off a wall seamlessly without cracks?

We should be able to follow up on the work of an electrician, plumber, painter and general contractor? Be able to manage different types of personalities? Starting from the client to the general contractor to the manufacture in Italy who is making your chair? We should be able to get all these trades in sync to deliver your project on time and on budget!

That brings me to the next thing we should be able to do: manage your budget. We have to make sure that the thousands of euros or dollars you are pumping into the project is put to the maximum use and you get the best quality, best service that is possible for the money you are investing?

Can everyone do the job of an interior designer?

So can anybody still do the job of an interior designer? At the end of the tennis match my opponent certainly didn’t think so. One person educated, many more to go. Was I able to convince you? Or maybe I should provide you with my last argument. Do you think I could do your job as well as you do?