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Friday, January 7, 2011

Reader's Questions Answered: Part I

After more than a year of blogging, I am going to try and answer the questions that I get asked most often or happen to remember from comments on  specific posts and emails. If I didn't respond to an email, I either forgot, thought it was spam or you may have requested information that falls into the category of an online consult.  I really do try to provide as much information possible on my blog, but I can't answer specific questions about what to do with a room/space, or source out a product or item when in my "real" life I am charging others for the same service. Please send me an email and I will be happy to provide an e-decorating quote.

What color and brand is the paint in your dining room?
I use a lot of Pratt & Lambert paints because their colors just work well in our house. However, I am not exclusive to the brand because I also like/use Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams. The dining room paint on the wall color is Lambswool, the ceiling is Manchester and the trim is Seed Pearl.   

Why don't you ever show your whole dining room?
No chandelier! I took one out 3 years ago and haven't decided on a replacement....pathetic, I know. But dining by sconces and candlelight has been a lot of fun!

You normally provide all the sources of items that can be purchased and I've noticed many other blogs are starting to do this too, but sometimes you don't. Why? I have received several variations of this question on several occasion. I learned after a few months of publishing a design blog that it made sense for me to include this information at the end of certain posts. Just as a magazine does, I list the sources to satisfy reader inquires and cut down on time spent emailing answers to questions. If I don't list the source it's because the item is either an antique, from a shop no longer in business or a trade only piece. I have a really good memory, but there is the occasion I can't recall exactly where an item came from. Those items likely came from auctions, estate sales or antique shows.

Details from a pillow I designed, fabricated bya quality workroom.
  However, there may be occasions when I intentionally do not provide a source. For certain things, and I think most designers/decorators would agree, it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy sourcing items and forming vendor relationships and it's not reasonable to expect information to be provided without the opportunity to be paid a fee in certain situations. Here's an example. In 2008 I was hired to do holiday decorating for a client. In addition, was a consult to "spruce" up a few things. This meant adding new sofa pillows, accessories, restyling bookcases and moving furniture. It also included freshening up her heavily used mud room (where guest coats would be hung) and one of the things I did was to add a skirt to an unattractive mud sink.

Client's mud room from this Tuesday-Tip post
  The following year, I received a call from my client's neighbor who wanted me to give her the name of the person who did the living room sofa pillows, mud room pillow and sink skirt for my client, so she could have one made too as well as some other items.  I told her I could do a consult and she said no just needed things to be sewn, no help needed. Really!? My thoughts...well if you're calling me, then clearly help is needed and there is a fee for that. Very politely, I told her I have 2 workrooms that I use. One I have had a relationship for years and the other is newer, but either way I do not send people to drop off "projects" for them to do, without my input. She never called me back. I took it as a sign that she fit into the category of someone I would not enjoy working with. But....another woman did call me this past November and gladly paid for a consult and sourcing of items she needed for her holiday party as well as a new mirror for her foyer...from the same neighborhood! She couldn't have been nicer and indicated she would like to work together on some other projects. Knowing when to say no is an important part of keeping things fun and profitable!

Where did the items come from on your holiday table post?

I was in such a hurry to get this post done I simply forgot! Here they are:

Tablecloth: Waterford from Macy's
Napkins: Williams-Sonoma
Chargers: Macy's
Dinner plates: Home Goods
Holiday salad plates: RH (from several years ago)
Wine & Water goblets: J.G. Durand-wedding gifts!
Silverware: Mother of Pearl PB (from several years ago)
S&P Shakers: vintage, from thrifting somewhere?
Beaded Pears: gift from a friend
Christmas Crackers: Williamsburg, Va.
Votives: Isabell
Candles: Perin-Mowen
Mini Cedar Trees-Trader Joe's
Glass Candelabras: the only new items this year & you won't believe where I got them...World Market!

Where did you get your dining room chairs?
They are antique French bought at auction through a friend's sister in the 1990's. I saw very similiar in a shelter magazine not too long ago, so I think it's very possible to locate this style.

Do you know the name of the wallpaper used in this guest bedroom from  Paula Dean's house?
I do not...if anyone knows, please leave a comment or send me an email that I can post.

Where did the lion's foot planter with the pinecones come from? And, where did you get the pinecones? They were both gifts. The planter style is an antique, but I have seen these from time to on the look out at antiques fairs, etc...! The pinecones are from a friend who vacations in Lake Tahoe. I've had them for years, but  recently I've noticed stores are selling the big pinecones ....just make sure they smell like pine and not weird!

What dryer sheets do you use?
This gave me a laugh! But, I get it because I am certainly interested in what products you all like and are using. These came from Wal-Mart. I used to buy Arm & Hammer's "mountain fresh" scent from Target  and when that was discontinued and they came up with a lavender scent that smells nothing like lavender and almost knocked me out. I literally threw the entire, just opened, box in our outdoor trash can! So this has been a good substitute. I mostly use liquid fabric softener except on towels, blankets, gloves and scarves and other items that the absorbency can be compromised.

If you noticed the title, I'll do this in parts in an attempt get additional questions answered.

Have a great weekend!


  1. I love that you
    mix sources and
    aren't high-brow
    about what they
    are. I get tired
    of reading design
    blogs that are
    pretentious about
    brand labels. I've
    enjoyed following
    and learning from
    you over the last
    year, R!
    xx Suzanne

  2. I love this post. I really should E-mail you rather than comment because I have so much to say. First I am sooo much like you, I constantly tell people where I found things how they were made etc. On the other hand we spend a lot of time resourcing and developing relationships and even getting our workrooms up to speed because of our ideas. We are doing this for a living, and there is really a fine line. I love the way you handles this. Have a great weekend. Mona

  3. Wow this is a great post and it is also great advice on how to handle question about FREE advice when you are a professional. You handled it perfectly and diplomatically,Bravo.

    I have the source for the Paul Deen room, I think.
    It is a Thibault paper
    go here to see it:

    I was looking there just today for my entry hall, I found a good possibility, kind of excited about that. I love Thibault papers. Hope this helps, let me know???

  4. P&H,
    Thank You! Occasionally, I think for someone in the biz I don't talk about the high end items/sources/shops enough, but the bottom line is I don't use them that often in my own home or projects I've done.

    I know...I do it all the time too, especially with friends. I think if you love design and want to help people with their spaces it's so hard not to make suggestions and provide information. I am really trying to make it a goal to do this less by trusting that what I do has real value.

    I thank you for this and I am sure the reader will too! Another fellow designer has emailed to confirm the source! Talk about being all are fantastic!!!

  5. Just finished reading your post and I too, have many times encountered friends of friends who are trying to copy the result of months of design work and not willing to invest in design services. there is a such a fine line between free and billable advise.

  6. Loved your post and I agree 100% about the pillows. While I don't practice design - I do have a degree I have done projects for people and they are using your services and your resources. I would be happy to have pillows done for someone without using my services however, they would have to order them through me and I would order them from my source. That's why your the designer and those pillows are not in the retail store :)

  7. I think the planter with the big pine cones that you received as a gift MAY be the bottom of a fondue pot holder. I have one very similar and I have placed into it an old yellow ware pie dish. It fits perfectly. I use it for my dogs dish.
    Seeing your use gives me another choice!

  8. I have been reading your blog for awhile and think you are more than generous with revealing sources. It's nice to have, but I get enough from each post without them. And, most magazines I read don't list everything. Many only list the very basics such as the designer, builder and name brands like Kholer. I think it's absurd for anyone to expect that on a blog or in "real" life.

    Also, I don't think the planter is a fondue pot-it looks too big and my grandmother had one just like it with those style handles and feet-she used to fill with geraniums!

  9. The weathered and brass(I believe) stand appears to be a European find, to me. Love the gigantic pine cones and greenery. I just took boughs of evergreens and stuffed down in my pots by the front door. Then, I took a hot glue gun and glued on small pine cones on the branches. Looks wintery, but not Christmas-y.

  10. i found your blog afew weeks ago and i am loving it. i live in northern virginia and frequent some of the places you mention. lucketts is by far my favorite,i never walk away empty handed. i look forward to following your posts.

  11. I too get requests for "who's your painter, electrician, carpenter...etc". I'm happy to share paint colors, retail sources and all, but I think the bigger issue is that the general public still doesn't understand how designers work and make a living. I know we're not all going to standardize how and what we charge, but I think people really are confused. If they understood what kind of time we spend sourcing and developing relationships, I think they might "get it". I guess most people want to get the most they can for the least amount of money and effort. It's an issue that we professionals need to do a better job of explaining, I guess.

  12. Sally,
    Well said!!!

    Anon 8:08pm,
    Thank you and I love that you share Luckett's love...I can't imagine not having them around the area...I have been a regular since Suzanne and Amy's early first days.

    Judith & Teaorwine,
    This made me laugh! If it once had a life as a fondue pot, my only regret would be that I wasn't invited to the party! It is really quite large and the bottom interior has a verdigris finish, no doubt from it's life as a planter,that can not be cleaned. The gift was from my sister who did purchase it from a reputable dealer. But like both of you anything that can be reinterpreted to serve another function is a fantastic find...thank you so much for sharing your ideas!

    Anon 11:49,
    Thank you!

    Agree, you need to get paid for providing a service no matter who's requesting what!

    I know...I've experienced that scenario in my own neighborhood! I find it not only frustrating, but also sad when people don't want to spend a little bit of money seeking advice to find their own style.

  13. First I would like to thank you for your visit at my blog:) welcome back :)
    thanks for all your generous tips and beautiful pictures . have a great day /Marie

  14. Great post, loved reading all the answers! And, those dryer sheets actually have me quite intriqued...need to hunt those down...its the little things!:)

  15. Such an informative and diplomatic post. And how generous of you to source all that you do - I think it is so tacky and insensitive of people to ask for that type of information for free, knowing what you do for a living. When my house was on the market the real estate office had posted shots online. I had recently done a massive renovation and an acquaintance (not a friend) called to ask if she could come and look through because she was renovating her house as well and wanted to copy things I had done. This was at a point when I was considering doing some architectural design consulting, told her so and of course she never called back.

  16. I enjoyed reading all your answers and agree with you on many points! Loved your holiday table!

  17. LOVE THAT POST! Here is to many more question and answers!!!
    Thanks for the insight!

  18. Thanks for opening up your little black book of decorating! So fun to see what others are curious about, too!

  19. Great post...and as always, thanks for your inspiration!!


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