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Domino Feature & Diversity in Design

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Black and white temporary wallpaper in a small dining room space with glam and eclectic decor.

I don’t even quite know how to start this blog post, so I’ll start with a personal anecdote.

Sometime last week I kind of had a rough day mentally, and I simply let it all out on Instagram. My crazy just came out of my fingertips and into an Instagram caption. I felt like no one reads my blog, my blog isn’t good enough, no one pins my projects (except for that espresso one…) why am I doing this…should I stop? Sort of like the analogy “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Does my blog make a sound? Is anyone hearing what I am saying?

The outpouring of love and support I got was so overwhelming on Instagram that I legitimately cried in my car reading the responses, and it was just nice to know I was being seen. Being heard. Do you ever feel like you just want someone to SEE you? To see your work? To feel acknowledged?

I saw a lot of bloggers getting these huge opportunities during the holiday season that I only dream of, and I felt less than. I hate rejection, but in trying to grow and get out of my comfort zone, I had reached out to a Christmas tree brand I really wanted to work with and they stated they would keep me in mind. Eventually when Thanksgiving rolled around and they hadn’t contacted me, I got the hint. I bought my own Christmas tree from a competitor, because that’s my level of petty somedays, and I haven’t reached out to a brand since.

BUT. When I saw their annual blogger tour of homes for their brand, I did notice one thing.

A lack of diversity– I don’t look like the bloggers they chose.

It’s something I’ve noticed for many years, but it’s not a fun thing to talk about. I told myself I was crazy, and it’s simply that apparently they wanted houses that are all farmhouse, which is not me.

But still, it was uncomfortable. Like when you gain five pounds and your jeans are too tight kind of uncomfortable and eventually you do something about it.

Domino Diversify Your Instagram

Then yesterday, I woke up to news that I was featured in a Domino online article about 47 designers of color (ethnic designers) to follow, and I was truly speechless for a moment. That is rare for me, I always have something to say as a Latina.

What struck me first was that someone finally spoke up about needing diversity in this field, and for that, I’ll always be grateful to Shavonda at SG Style. It is a brave thing to do. This interior design/decor field does need a bit more diversity to include some unique styles and voices.

Shavonda said what I want to get across a heck of a lot more eloquently than I could, so I will quote her:

“There are so many amazing and talented creatives in this space who are incredibly inspiring, producing great original content, sharing fresh ideas and fresh perspectives, and they aren’t getting the same exposure, partnership opportunities, reposts, shares, etc. Most of the time their content doesn’t even get SEEN. It’s frustrating and deflating.”

And also, this: “It was and IS about the celebration of diversity of style, aesthetic, and point of view.”

The other thing that struck me about the Domino feature is that they called us designers. I don’t think I’ve ever been called that officially, and it made my heart sing. I am so passionate about what I do on here, you guys.

Black interior doors with white walls and a chrome and gold hallway sconce under an archway.

During the last two weeks of 2017, I took time away to really delve into what I wanted to do with the blog. I want to show you all attainable interior decorating ideas. I want to inspire you. I want to connect with you. I want to partner with brands that are true to my blog, its audience and its mission.

When I thought about shutting down the blog, I cried. It hurt to think about just walking away from this, but I was also hurting because I felt so alone and like no one was reading.

However, I thought about the emails I get every so often that state things such as, “because of you I now have a beautiful kitchen”, “my bathroom looks amazing now, thank you!”, “how are your knees? I hope you’re doing well! have you tried this glucosamine supplement?” and “you inspire me to decorate my home and have fun with it.” I also love the comments about my unique/eclectic style or take on things, or how you all think my tutorials are easy to follow.

And I can’t leave you all hanging if I am still truly enjoying what I am doing, and at the end of the day, I am. So I need to keep on putting on my big girl jeans and showing up for you all.

I guess what I truly want to say is that I hope brands begin to think a little outside the box and be more inclusive, on so many levels.

White shaker cabinet kitchen with lucite acrylic handles and a black pantry door.

I also want to thank Domino from the bottom of my heart for including me in the list. It’s so major for someone like me, especially given the emotional head space I’ve been in lately. It’s an honor to be listed with such amazing women of color, who are so talented and inspire me everyday.

But most importantly…I want to thank you, my dear readers, for following along. There are so many blogs out there, thousands more than when I started back in 2009, and I’m blessed you spend a portion of your day reading mine. You’re at the forefront of everything I write…I think of how the post can help you, can give you ideas or can help you snag a great deal on a decor piece or DIY something to save a ton of money.

If you want to diversify your Instagram feed, or read why you should, you can read the Domino feature here and follow me on Instagram along with the other 46 amazing designers.

Love one another. Decorate fearlessly. xo.


Lisa @ Shine Your Light

Wednesday 31st of January 2018

Congratulations on your feature Monica! You have a beautiful blog and style and it would be a crime to stop sharing your gifts on this blog or in some other creative capacity! I'm so glad the Domino article came out just when you needed it the most!

Karen Christian

Sunday 21st of January 2018

Stay encouraged. I only discovered your blog about a year ago, but I definitely enjoy it and your style. In fact, I read your post about your tile selections for the new house countless times in trying to select tile for my master bathroom renovation. Ultimately, I selected a floor tile that was very similar to yours for my bathroom, and the images of your floors gave me comfort that it would be beautiful. I can honestly say I wouldn't have selected it without having seen it on your blog. Thank you, and please continue doing what you're doing. P.S. I am African American and greatly appreciate seeing a woman of color behind such a gorgeous and informative blog.


Saturday 20th of January 2018

Monica, yes, say it! I found your blog because I was seeking interior design blogs by women of color. I am an African American woman who loves interior design. While I like to look at all kinds of home design, there is no getting around the fact that many do not speak to me. I enjoy following you, Nicole Gibbons, Domicile 37, and others, because there IS an element of soul (I'll say it for you!) that is either present, or not, in many homes. We know design is not specific to race and ethnicity. But I do think that the sound, sun, color, texture, spice, and life that makes up many,many homes is not represented in the often crisp aesthetic of MCM, subway tile, and farmhouse sinks. And I KNOW that those things are not just trends, but a choice by the outlets to push a certain aesthetic as valuable and desirable. Please know that I am here for the layers, the prints, the colors, the glamour and shine that you share. You will find your design "tribe", and I look forward to your creating one for others. Perhaps kicking off your own challenge in 2018 to showcase like minded and diverse designers is a place to start. Whatever you do, know that I will be following and supporting. You are doing an amazing job!

Jamala Wallace

Saturday 20th of January 2018

First I'd like to say congrats to you and all the fellow designers who were featured. You all are super talented and long over due.. Now, for the life of me I couldn't imagine you going through the meltdown.. You've always been an inspiration to me.. Keep doing what you're doing and even bigger things will happen


Saturday 20th of January 2018

monica,i have been filling out a lot of end of the year surveys lately and when i am ask to name swome of my favorites yours is always the first one i list. i love your style. i am so not farmhouse fixerupper. which everyone else seems to be. i take a lot of inspiration from you and can't wqit to see your take on the latest trends. as far as color goes i don't care if a person is green if they are talented. but you are right about one thing there are alot of talented ethnic women. and i hope they all get the credit they deserve. btw how ARE those knees?angela bradleywhite female 53 yo

Monica Benavidez

Saturday 20th of January 2018

Amen! Very well said, Angela! I always love your comments.My knees... well, I was doing better and then this terrible cold front hit and my joints are achey. I am slowly starting to feel better, so I'm hoping as it warms up I'll get the pep back in my step. Thanks for asking- you're a sweetheart!

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