Sunday, February 28, 2010

Closet Organization: Sneak Peek

Earlier today, my client stopped by on her way to another destination.  She dropped off both a fabric sample and the name of an online website for an eyeshadow color that she didn't plan to wear, but wanted me to use as a reference for the paint that is being considered for interiors of the closets we are working on.  I loved that!!!  It's an example of how inspiration can come from anywhere, anytime.   And, the best part of this brief visit...she gave me an idea for this weeks Tuesday Tip!


Sneak peek into our progress last week:
She did the first sweep.  We did the second one together, which is what you see below.  And over the weekend, she has been doing what I like to call "The Brutal Fashion Show".  Try on every item.  Clothes, belts, shoes, scarves, etc...and strike a pose in a full length mirror!  Be brutally honest about what fits, what makes you feel and look good and what you are actually wearing. This exercise usually weeds out the last few remaining items you were unsure should stay or go. I should mention there are two other closets that also contain her clothes!  In addition, we are working on the linen and coat closets.  Shown above is what, so far, will be donated.

 The goal is to get them all to fit here:

To be continued...

Friday, February 26, 2010

What's Your Color Quota?

In each of these three homes the amount of colors used would easily have some running for the door.  While others would revel in the vibrant combinations.  I personally do not live with this much color, but have saved each of these fabulous images in my favorites! 

There are elements and combinations that make each one work beautifully, even if this is not your taste.  However, there is a very specific component in these spaces that typically is the main attraction of any  room.  Some of you may detect it right away.   But for many, the joy of taking in all the colors will likely require it to play a secondary role.

Traditional Home-April 2008
Interior designer: Betty Murdock
The colors in this home were inspired by this family's love of the circus!

Better Homes&Gardens-October 2006
Interior design: Kendall Wilkinson
A love of yellow was the starting point for this color scheme.

Southern Living-March 2003
Interior designers: Anita Montgomery&Robert Rentz
A favorite children's book, Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin, was the inspiration for this cheerful home.  Including the black demilune foyer table painted with images from the book!

Are you still wondering?  It is the presence of classic architectural details.  Color is actually a great and compatible compliment.  It may seem counter intuitive, but the addition of bold and vibrant colors make these features and details stand out. So if you really crave color, take a cue from these rooms and embrace it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Tip

Life saver! This little piece of plastic is going to make your life so much easier.  Specifically, it will shave at least 10 minutes off your surface cleaning chores and more if your the type of person who is constantly misplacing your electronic power chargers.  If you are making the little crazy circle with your index finger next to your temple, keep reading!

This cute little gizmo is actually a special miniature shelf.  It was designed to hold a cell phone while charging.  But, as I've discovered it will also hold Nintendo DS or a small digital camera!  This means next time you are cleaning the tops of counters, tables or dressers you will not waste time moving these items or cords first.  My preference is to keep them out of sight in the first place, so we tend to keep ours plugged in low on the wall.

I first purchased these over a year ago at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $6 each and put them in everyone's Christmas stocking.  Now I suggest them to friends and clients when I see issues with cord clutter.  Kids love them because they come in colors. Adults love anything that keeps them organized.  They are also available at for $6-$8 and for $1.19 if you're not picky about the color!

My daughter's room:

My son's room:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

House Tour: French-Inspired

We all peruse magazines with great excitement and anticipation with the turn of evey page. The deep inhale caused by an image that stops us for a long stare, then has us frantically flipping through several pages and then back to the original spot, is quite simply euphoric!   We become so giddy with ideas and inspiration from this encounter of glossy images, we almost forget to exhale!  And so begins the process of careful reading, thorough examination of each detail, checking sources and just blissful admiration.

Such was the experience when I first laid eyes on the French-style townhome of antiques dealer Donna Temple Brown. Owner of Gray Door Antiques in Houston, Texas.  She has been featured in both Country Home in 2004 and Veranda in 2009.  One thing in particular that I noticed between the five year span is that there are only subtle changes to the interiors.  I attribute this as an indication that she is confident of her style and a very capable designer.  Fellow Houston designer Pamela Pierce is credited with design consultation. Photography is by Casey and Anne Sills.  All courtsey of Veranda.  I regret I do not have any of the information from Country Home.

Welcome to the tour! 

                                            Veranda Jan/Feb 2009

The entry courtyard is peaceful and beautiful with it's ivy covered walls and welcoming furnishings. It is also  an enticing prelude to the palette of the interiors. 


Country Home November 2004   

Living Room:

   Country Home November 2004

Veranda Jan/Feb 2009

Country Home 2004

Veranda Jan/Feb 2009

Veranda Jan/Feb 2009

The living room has two conversation areas.  One is centered around the fireplace and skirted table, the other in a corner opposite the front door along the staircase.  The addition of the sheer fabric along the stair rail acts as a very subtle wall and adds softness and intimacy to the corner.   Behind one set of  shutters is a a beautiful storage cabinet with a wood countertop.  Although there is no mention, I am wondering if there is a television consealed behind the other pair. 

Kitchen/Sitting area:

Veranda Jan/Feb 2009

This enchanted space must clearly be the heart of the home.  The French influences provoke thoughts of leisurely dinners, conversations with dear friends and the perfect glass of wine.  The refrigerator and stove are barely noticable. The sink was incorporated into a 19th-c French store counter.

Master Bedroom:

Veranda Jan/Feb 2009

Guest Bedroom:

Veranda Jan/Feb 2009

I hope you enjoyed a peak into this unique home.  I'd love to hear what you think and if you had a favorite room or element?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Tip

Book lust.  I love books.  All kinds. They are my weakness, much like designer shoes are for many.  Yesterday I went to my neighborhood bookstore for a visit.  I am a regular.  The minute I set foot in any bookstore, I relax.  I love the smell of books and bookstores.  I wish there was a room spray called "Library", it would be my homes signature scent!

This visit I went specifically to check on the arrival of a new book from a favorite author.  But in a flash I was distracted by pattern, color, amazing texture and beautiful design.  There in Literature were a series of tiny spectacular works of art on display!!!

I could not help myself, within mere minutes I purchased all five that were available!  Classics.  Beloved occupants of many of our own home libraries and bookshelves.  The cover designs and illustrations are by Coralie Bickford-Smith.  I did a Google search for both her and Penquin Classics (the publisher for these) and found out you can also buy them on Amazon.  Along with several other selections!  Each one is truly stunning.  I will definately be placing an order to include "Wuthering Heights", one of my all time favorites.

Each book was $20.00.  I also had a coupon from Borders for 33% off bringing the cost to a mere $13.40  each.  Many were similary priced on Amazon.  20/10 rule:  A quick visit to the bookstore or your computer will net you a classic piece of literary art to read and admire!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Memory

Valentine's Day has always been a favorite.  One of my most vivid memories of this holiday of hearts, romance and  endless expressions of love goes back to the third grade.  I can still hear the the grinding of the pencil sharpener and the smell of glue as excited classmates talked about their design ideas for the festive mailboxes we were all about to make.  Our boxes were so important to the enticement of the card giver.  I was confident my box would lure the prized "Be Mine" from the one.  The one boy that is who I did not find to be offensive or annoying, but rather fun and likeable.  Glitter would be my secret weapon! I labored over the box and felt so proud.  As soon as the boxes were complete, there was a flurry of moving bodies accompanied by huge amounts of giggling while we shoved our folded messages into the tops of each pink and red heart plastered shoebox.  When it came time to open our boxes there was a big problem.  A very big problem.  It seems that there was indeed such a thing as too much glitter and glue!  When I was finally able to pry my box open and tear off the cards stuck to the top...I found the one, from the one!  Only it was ripped.  He saw this and said "you're stupid".

Of course, I have no recollection of what I said back.  I would like to think it was something clever.  I only know I did not cry over it.  I also know it did not dampen my spirit in even the smallest way to impact my affection for this holiday.  It was always a highlight my when children were younger and went through the same rituals of box making and card giving.  I have shared my story with them and of course they laughed!  I still enjoy the sparkle of glitter and the act of giving the perfect card.  These are my favorites.  I hope just the right one is here for you! 


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Enough is Enough!

Just in case you haven't heard...we have endured record setting snowfalls in our area!

The totals:
                 Washington, D.C. 59 inches
                  Virginia 72 inches
                  Maryland 75 inches

The weather forcast next week: SNOW!!!

You know things are bad when you see this...

My sister sent this fantastic image to me.  Please enjoy it in the humorous way it is intended.  From a design perspective, I really appreciate the high level of detailed styling that went into this photo shoot!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Tip

Fabric alternative.  Can't find the perfect fabric at a price you can live with?  Or maybe you simply don't have time to search for it.  The solution: head to the bath section of your favorite retailer and pick out a shower curtain.  Seriously.  I have found some fantastic 100% cotton shower curtains everywhere from Target, to Restoration Hardware, to Macy's.  Over the years, I have scouted them out and treat them like any fabric remnant that can do a small job.  I have recovered the seat of a vanity stool and a child's small chair.  I have used them to make tablecloths, sink skirts, pillows, cafe curtains, etc...

Last year, a client embarked on a project that involved moving her main floor laundry room to a more convenient location upstairs.  The existing space was then then turned into a mud room where her husband and two teenage boys, all ice hockey players, could be free to move about with all of their hockey gear.  She already owned the the black cabinet and storage bench and did not want to allocate any significant portion of her renovation budget to this room, but still wanted to give it an update.  The new additions included a Pottery Barn sisal rug and a skirt for the unattractive utility sink. I had the skirt made from a Target shower curtain.  I had my workroom add a simple pleat to the front and then double sided velcro so it could be attached to the mud sink and removed easily to wash.  The large pillows on the bench belonged to the client and serve to cover up the plate where the washer/dryer connections once were. I had the small pillow made with the leftover curtain pieces. 

This pillow assortment below occupies a basement media room...mine!  Can you guess which one is made from a shower curtain?  It's the large pillow with the fantastic, trendy paisley!!!   I purchased it  in December on sale for $15.99 due a damaged package.  The other two fabrics are from Calico Corner.  I wanted lots of pillows in different sizes and could not find another that fit my criteria of low cost and easy cleaning.  This space is used primarily by my teenage son and daughter and their friends.  The goal was to give it a modern, cool, lounge-like feel for guys and gals! 

20/10 rule: Next time you are shopping in your favorite stores, spend 10 minutes browsing the bath section for a shower curtain for less than $20 in a fun fabric!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Maybe it's the snow that blankets my property, the forcast of more to come, or the deer that made it's way across my yard just before dawn this morning, but I have been thinking about antlers.  Specifically, the role they have played in design over the years.  Once reserved only for boastful trophy rooms or proud displays in masculine libraries complete with tales told around a crackling fire of hunting trips, they have now made their way into every room of our homes.  And to great effect.  They add sculpture and dimension to walls, rustic ambience to tables and mantles and a cozy lodge feeling when combined with plaids.  I think this is one trend that is here to stay for quite awhile.

In the entry:

In living rooms & libraries:

In dining rooms:

In the kitchen:

In the bedroom:

Even here! 

In my house:

Images courtesy of:  Canadian House & Home, Country French, Country Living, Decor, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living, Southern Accents, Traditional Home, Veranda and A&A.