Monday, November 23, 2009

When I was about 10 years old, I remember attending a family event at a local historic inn in my hometown on Long Island. There were about twelve of us there for a sit-down dinner, and we had a private room off the main restaurant. At one time, the room must have been a library because there were floor-to-12'ceiling bookshelves overstuffed with leather bound books! I remember dining by candle light in that room and feeling sooooo royal. I had never seen anything like it.

Fast forward a couple of decades (okay...three), and here we are maximizing functionality of rooms in our own (often less regal) homes. So much so, that it is not uncommon for people to utilize what is typically the most under used room in the house, the dining room, as a library/study space (when the table is not functioning as a pedestal base for a turkey platter).

Part of loving your space is USING it, and finding ways to maximize every inch of it. I started seeing examples of dual-purposing dining rooms a few years ago. It's much more common now, and we are enjoying these spaces on a daily basis instead of just once or twice a year. Makes sense since we tend to spend a lot of money to furnish it well.

Also, try not to lock yourself in to the room names indicated on your home's blueprints! One of the best things I ever did for a client was flip-flop the locations of their family room and dining room. The "family room" became a cozy, intimate space for TV viewing, and the "dining room" became the main living area of the home...complete with oval table, settee, oversized upholstered chairs...fireplace, bookshelves and French doors to a beautiful covered flagstone patio. It's definitely the most used room of the house now.

As you're gathered around the dining table this Thursday, as most of us will be, think about how you use your dining room...and what you can do to this space to enjoy it on a more regular basis!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heather Paper and High Point Recap

Last Friday on Love Your Space, I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Paper, Senior Managing Editor of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine. Heather brilliantly combined her loves of interior design and writing (she obtained degrees in both) to forge an enviable career in design journalism. She not only writes for the Homes & Lifestyles magazines but had a long career with Better Homes and Gardens.

She has also created two of her own books: Decorating Ideas Book and Decorating Ideas That Work: Creative Solutions for Your Home. Both are wonderful decorating resources from The Taunton Press, each page filled with beautiful photography that further emphasizes Heather’s thoughts and ideas about how to create your best home environment. I will be introducing these titles to my students, and suggest you pick up copies for your own design libraries!

Heather and I also had the chance to recap the October, 2009 market in High Point, NC. For those of you not familiar with High Point market, it is our industry’s “Fashion Week”…but instead of taking place in the pounding heart of NYC, the biggest and brightest interior design stars and manufacturers converge on a small NC town, literally taking over every building, hotel, restaurant and house in a twenty mile radius! It’s fun, electrifying, and enormously overwhelming. Comfortable shoes are a must because there are miles and miles of showrooms to visit…No one wants to miss a bit of what’s coming in the world of design!

(Speaking of comfortable shoes, Last year I worked with Jaclyn Smith’s team in High Point, launching her new home furnishings permanent showroom in the IHFC building. I watched that woman teeter on 5 inch heels each day, but she did it without wincing…only that gorgeous smile on her face! … That’s show biz training for you. We all watched with envy)!

As is being widely reported, Heather saw lots of purple this October…in all tints and shades from the wispiest lavender to the heartiest aubergine. And in everything from accents, to tiles, to wall coverings, to upholstery to case goods. I’m happy to see so much of it, as it’s one of my favorite colors. I, personally, don’t use it often in my wardrobe or interiors, but every time I see it…it moves me. Hmm…Perhaps a sign to insert more of it into my life?

Paring with purple, which is normally considered cool on the spectrum, are warmer hues like umber, gold, and pumpkin. Bridging the two temps is grey… as in charcoal wool upholstery and/or intermittent doses of pewter metallics. Textures are HUGE right now. Juxtaposing shimmer with matte is key. This adds a layering effect that can be as subtle or as in your face as you want it to be.

I love subtle plays of texture… Similar hues contrasted by levels of sheen (like the example above of the charcoal matte upholstery accented with a similar hued metallic such as pewter). This creates a depth without too much energy. It creates interest while maintaining a calming effect. Since I prefer my environments to be calm, this is how I create a sense of peace without boredom. In order to amp things up a bit, energy wise, contrast your sheens and contrast your colors. You will immediately incite a stronger, more electrifying energy into your space. The eye has more to digest, and that takes more work physiologically. Your body will feel it… in a good way!

Here are some examples of current designs using purple…
This shot is from Anne Coyle's portfolio of uber-chic designs...Check it out:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Preserve Communities near Asheville, NC

I just had an awesome weekend up in the mountains of North Carolina in The Preserve at Little Pine, an 1800 acre mountain community just north of Asheville, NC. It's part of The Preserve Communities...check it out at Not only did I enjoy great friends and I were graciously hosted by Jack Fisher, the developer... but I was able to watch filming of 2009 DIY Network's Blog Cabin which is being shot on Jack's site over the next few months. Blog Cabin is a really cool concept!...It's an interactive television series that invites viewers to log on and "vote" on your choices for different materials and design features happening on the construction of a VERY cool mountain retreat! It's going to air in August on DIY, and one lucky viewer will win the home! Here are some pictures of Jack's house (which was also a Southern Accent's show house in 2005), the incredible view and some scenery around the 1800 acres!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Show House Pics

As I mentioned in a previous blog, Karran Gloer of Simply Stylish Life ( did the carriage house kitchen and keeping area of the home featured at the Roswell Woman's Show House. Here are a couple of pictures. Check out the eco-friendly fabric she designed for the window treatment in the dining area. I love that pattern. Karran also re-designed the wing chairs (once destined for a land-fill) with a "green" linen fabric and big nail-head trim. Love it! Just shows you can breathe really beautiful new life into your furniture with just a little imagination!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

ECO-Living is not only's a necessity!

On yesterday's segment of "Love Your Space" we talked about Green (not the color...the eco!) Design in honor of Earth Hour which is next Saturday! I hope you will all participate and sign up to do so at . The object is to turn off all non-essential lights and electronics in a show of solidarity for saving our planet. Over 1000 cities all over the world will be doing the same thing at the same time... 8:30 to 9:30 on Saturday, March 28th.

Everyone talks about "Green Design" and "Eco-Living" as if they are cool/hip buzzwords. The fact is, we are decades behind other countries when it comes to living Green. Let's get with it people!! There is no reason to decorate your spaces with toxic products and/or objects that were made by gouging the world's natural resources. You can even be conscious of where your products are coming from. If it takes planes, trains and automobiles excessive amounts of fuel to deliver an "eco-freindly" product to you, is it still eco friendly?? If you forego using a rare variety of stone for your countertops but opt for a synthetic hard surface that throws toxins into the atmosphere while being manufactured, is your countertop still eco friendly?

The point is to start making your decorating and design decisions with careful thought.

One of the BEST things you can do is to re-use existing materials and furnishings in new way. This is one of my favorite things to do because it allows me to be totally creative on a project. I can't stand when everything in a room is brand spankin' new! It smells like a department store and it lacks soul. You can't have character and soul in a room if there isn't anything in there with a history...something that has been used or laid on or touched before.

When re-inventing existing pieces, be sure to use eco-friendly fabrics and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints and stains. Oh...and do it by candle light during Earth Hour on Saturday the 28th!... 8:30-9:30pm.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Children's Spaces

I had the pleasure of interviewing Katharine Miller of Doodle Bug Designs on Love Your Space yesterday. I've known Katharine for a couple of years...She attended Vanguard, but was already well on her way before she started taking design classes with us. She had been doing murals and interiors for a while before deciding to take things to the next level professionally. Since then, she's been published a few times and an interior project of hers is going to be featured in an upcoming Southern Living!...Yay Katharine! She had some great tips for children's rooms on the show. They included:
1. Listening to your children's ideas and trying to incorporate them! If your child loves his/her room, they are more apt to stay in it at night instead of in YOUR room! ;-)

2. Avoid children's themes... cartoon characters, rainbows, etc. will grow tiresome quickly. Instead, graphic patterns and/or slightly more sophisticated color schemes than the typical will have more longevity and you won't find yourself redoing the room every two-three years!

3. The trend is toward "hip, edgey, more modern" designs. Take a typical pink and white color scheme and throw in an unexpected jolt of orange or acid green.

You can check out Katharine's work at and hear the archive of her March 6th interview starting next week at or on iTunes.

In the mean time, here are a few examples of her fun, colorful work!

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Soul's Inspiration

Today on my radio show, "Love Your Space", I answered design questions from listeners across the country. Lots of people ask me about current, hot design trends. It amazes me that there are still many people out there who think that they "should" be decorating based on what other people deem fashionable.

I totally disagree!... Instead we should look at what we find emotionally fulfilling and inspiring and draw our design sense from that inspiration. Wanna see mine?? It's pretty simple, actually, and there are many of you who are inspired by the same thing... The ocean!

From my life experiences growing up on Long Island, I find total comfort by the sea and seeing/touching seaside imagery. From my memories and visions, I am able to draw upon colors, textures, shapes (even sounds and scents) that nurture my spirit and keep me feeling ALIVE! I am sure to surround myself with these elements when I decorate. So???... What is YOUR inspiration? I'd love to know!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


So, here I am...Jumping on the bandwith band-wagon. I'm FINALLY getting my blog up and running. I hope to inspire you just as much as I am inspired by all the wonderful talent and beauty out there. While I'll focus mainly on designing interiors, I want to use this format to share other inspirations as well... travel, clothes, philosophies, etc. That's all a part of living...right? No one knows that better than Karran Gloer at . Her site focuses on everything that encompasses the art of successful living! She has a room design coming up at the Roswell Womans Showhouse this March. I can't wait to see the flirty, simply stylish, eco-conscious room she designed!!