Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

The room is painted the beautiful Van Deusen Blue. The table is ready to be set for Thanksgiving.

The eggprints are hung.

The builder special chandelier has been updated with shades, instantly improving its appearance.

And now the table is set. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Red Dining Room

Today's Washington Post Home Section has an article on Red Dining Rooms for the Holidays. As the author, Anne Kinderdine, says, red is a bold statement. The vibrance of a red room is undeniable. By the way, they missed a couple of my favourite reds, Pratt and Lambert's Algerian Red and Ralph Lauren's Hunting Coat Red.

It's funny, when I began to choose paint color for our dining room, my immediate thought was to paint it red, probably. Even though my children believed that I was spending hours Contemplating Beige. I was really thinking Red.
Then I began to decide that I shouldn't paint it red because, after all, I'd always had red dining rooms. Except, I haven't had a red dining room, ever. Okay, I came close with the paper on one breakfast area wall, and I've had a near occasion of red on a living room wall that was next to the dining room, it was Drop Dead Gorgeous but other than that, I don't believe I've had a red dining room. Wait, let me think. Nope, Never. Not even in the Show Houses I've done.
In fact, not only have I not had red, I've always had wallpaper. One was a pale peach pattern on cream and the next was an Historic Natchez paper. Charming and 'afternoon tea lovely', but not bold. Try as I might, and although red is my favourite colour, I just couldn't pull the paint gun trigger on it. Maybe because I already had two rooms painted red. I guess, even though I'd never had one, I was beginning to think of it, stunning though it is, as cliche. Another red side effect, overuse. But drama was needed.
When my daughter suggested blue I thought ugh! Eeww, blue, baby blue, again eewww. Don't get me wrong, I have seen many beautiful pastel blue dining rooms, but I wanted drama. More and more I began to be drawn to the idea of blue.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Updating the WC for Thanksgiving

I am updating the WC for Thanksgiving, the Wedding China, what did you think I meant? We have a really nice China. It's called Turquoise Florentine and it is truly lovely. But can be a little boring. Or maybe I'm just in need of a change, occasionally, say every 20 minutes. So here is the china:

There are a lot of available options for updating the china. I could choose to play off the color, say by adding salad plates with complementary or analogous colors. These from Mottahedeh, available from, would satisfy a complementary scheme. But, at $175 for a single plate, Ouch! not happening.
I could use one of the colors in the center floral pattern as chargers. I have in the past added red chargers behind the china. It does create a stunning look. But this year I wanted something more comforting, something that was truly Thanksgiving. Not only that, the Carp plates are out of my budget.

So, I headed off to TJ Maxx, determined to keep this change of pace under $50, $75 max. I found salad plates made by Johnson Brothers China.
The pattern is His Majesty. Within this pattern, there are the neutral browns as well as the red that is in the center flower pattern in the Wedding China. I also found placemats with a large fall leaf pattern stitched onto the bottom right corner. All of this was under fifty-five dollars. Napkins were found at Bed Bath and Beyond lurking back in the sale aisle, $5 for four napkins, bringing the cost up another $10 to sixty-five. I would have made it under seventy five, but then I found the Monkey napkin rings and I knew they had to have a home on my table. Add the Monkey napkin rings from the previous post and I'm sliding in at around eighty-five dollars.
Still, less than half the price of one carp plate.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oh, yes I did - my bad

John, of This young house, posted today about HGTV's Twenty Five Biggest Decorating Mistakes.
Guilty of number 22, undressed cables. You know, they just wouldn't put on that lovely Laura Ashley dress that I made them. undressed cables
All kidding aside, the office is a work in progress.

I Have flying monkeys and I know how to use them

So, A few friends will be joining us at dinner on Thanksgiving. They are not quite the traditional decoration expected at Thanksgiving. Not pilgrims, not turkeys, but monkeys. Monkeys on sale at ZGallerie. Okay, they aren't really flying monkeys, more like log sitting monkeys, but I do know how to use them.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The nature of the beast

What is design? How does it differ from decoration?

Design is improving the functionality of the space or the room.

Decoration is solely improving the appearance of the room.

For example, say you have a kitchen with new cabinets, new floors, new laminate countertops, everything is current, everything looks good.

Decoration only considers the surface treatment and the looks of the place. Decoration would paint the walls and add window treatements, perhaps upgrade the countertops and the floors. Design fixes the problematic layout, tailors the kitchen to the owners, adds amenities that improves the function. Decoration would paint the cabinets and walls and maybe change the flooring. There is nothing wrong with decoration, sometimes that is all that is needed.

Design considers questions: how many cooks will be using the kitchen? How will the household be using this room? Is universal design an immediate or long term need? Design considers the maximum length of the triangle and the length of the shortest and longest legs. Is the lighting adequate, both ambient and task?

This is the reason we are so often disappointed with home decoration shows on television. These shows never consider much beyond "how does it look?". They leave a poorly functioning room poorly functioning and throw a lot of things at it that don't help even one bit or confuse you as to the rooms function. Does a household with a seven year old boy need a killer entryway? With expensive Stueben glass on a pricey table? Wouldn't a room with toy and coat storage nearby be more appropriate? It can be drop dead gorgeous, but it had better function and be tough.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Top Design

If Top Design is still trapped in your DVR, I won't spoil it by disclosing the winner, but, if you want to be surprised their rooms, stopped reading now!

Who would you hire? I know whom I would hire. And, whom I wouldn't.

Overall her town house was very scattered, First we are in an art museum, then a disco lounge, then a must be quiet library with a study table, then the circus came to town, first this look and then the other. However, despite the bounce from one color scheme to another, the upstairs had personal livable rooms.

Favorite Things:Mirrored Headboard!!! I am sweatin’ that! Made with mirrors laid on blocks of wood at different angles, it was stunning. Loved the damask wallpaper, maybe the paint color worked better live than on camera.
In the Family Room, I Loved the Fuchsia sofa but, sorry three dimensional wall sculpture is too granny for me.
Ahh, the Study, I adore the Route- 66 motel picture which is perfect! Hmm, I think that my own double exposure Burger Chef neon sign Photo, will finish out my black and white bedroom perfectly. But what is up with that window treatment.
She really overstretched her carpenter for the time and could have done an effective built in bed with stock cabinetry or not at all.
I like the upholstery fabric in the living room, the one she thought was too drab. The walls were too drab, not the upholstery. A midtone neutral is perfect, maybe she should have rethought the “black and white” theme. She didn’t stick to it everywhere so why here? Plus, that T’ang horse was so overused in the eighties, if I see it one more time, I’ll scream. Made me wonder why she forgot that vase of Calla Lilies oh, and The View.

Overall, his look was very drab nearly funeral parlor drab.
Favorite Things:
Blue Grass cloth Cut in diamonds, what can I say-but very cool.
Color inside the lamp shade very interesting.
Study was very well executed with yellow played well against the grey.

Wow talk about Granny wallpaper, the foil up the stairs smacks of 1978.
Favorite things: Painting that he created with dripped paint I had a friend in school who wanted to do something very much like that, Bet she wishes she had now.
The paper plate on chicken wire, copyright it? Um, yeah no, but I’m sure he will.
The study with the shelves was very well executed and worked well together.
Wall of pictures, sorry I thought that looked like a great idea for how to deal with the ancestor pictures, not the wall of ex-boyfriends, but I really liked it. Really, Nathan, you've dated men that old?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pesky Gnomes

I understand that there is a new European pest invading American gardens that, until now, had no native predators. Garden Gnomes first popped up in city gardens. As I understand it, they were first seen in small plots near churches, where they were first introduced by unsuspecting gardeners, perhaps to ward off the gargoyles. They have established their own town and are spreading, like cudzu, to the 'burbs. We must stop this onslaught now! Using these gnome-bearers they can be carried off in an aggressive fashion, the only effective solution for permanent removal! If your garden gnome situation is not yet large enough to warrant the large garden gnome-bearers, mini-gnome-bearers may also be employed. If you have no sitings, yet, of these pests, a single scary gnome-be-gone should do the trick.

And, for those of you experiencing the explosion of flamingos migrating out of Florida, finding a home in your yard, there is the flamingo-be-gone.

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bunny Bixler

Seeing this, I couldn't help but think of my favourite quote by "little Glori" in Auntie Mame. I just love books, they're so decorative. Save the ping pong ball!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Faux Toile - NYT

I am a BIG fan of toile. So I was curious to know how the faux toile, mentioned in this article in the NY Times, As Housing Slows, What of Décor-Speak? was created. Since most faux is done by hand with paint or other medium, then how does one execute a faux toile? With a sharpie? That would take mad skills.

Question is, would it look like this?

Or is this more what you had in mind?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Little Black Dress

This little stunner is by Martin Grant. And I'd wear this with it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Washington Design Center Idea House

The Fall 2008 Washington Idea House has been open for two weeks now. Alas, a crazily delayed metro ride left us but one minute to snap, gasp! Therefore, I have to apologize for the quality of the photo of this picture, not nearly up to the standards of the picture I snapped yesterday of the gerbera daisies. Tilt your head a little and let's discuss the bedroom by Michelle Miller of Jenkins Baer Associates. I adore the sense of calm, though I am not a strictly neutrals person, being from the land of a thousand Algerian Red Dining Rooms. But, I'm just going to flat out say it, I like the mirrors and the bedside tables the best. I completed something like this when I redid my own Master Bedroom a couple of years ago. The mirror was an inexpensive door mirror, not the really cheesy thin framed ones, but ones with an nice frame, to simulate windows. When we eked into our Builder Basic house ten years ago, we couldn't afford the extra windows for this wall, turns out that was a good thing as windows would have impeded the closet redesign and expansion. The mirrors do open up the space and are a great, frankly better, stand-in for windows. What do you think? Do you have an unconventional place for a mirror?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gerbera Juleps

Mint Julep cups are so versatile. They breathe fresh air into spring, they sparkle at Christmas, not even fall escapes their charms. Halloween and Thanksgiving alike benefit from their beauty. This simple arrangement of Gerbera Daisies and Candy Corn is simple and festive.

Friday, October 3, 2008


We awoke to a crisp-apple fall day with the temperatures in the 40's. It's a perfect day to stay in bed snuggled under the fluffiest eider-down comforter. Then rise later to flaky-hot apple pastries and rich Sumatran coffee sipped by the crackle of an outdoor fire.
This moment was brought to you by an Elizabeth Lane wanna-be. Ahh, Christmas in Connecticut, what a wonderful slow-down truly feel-good movie!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Think Pink!

Mrs. Blandings has issued a call to "Post Pink" today. Gladly, for my friends who have faced down this disease, I am posting pink. Maison 21's posting, directed me to Target where I searched for "Breast Cancer Awareness" and found many things. As I am a Crafter, I specifically like this tote bag . Stone Creek donates two dollars of the purchase price to "Breast Cancer Awareness".

To donate more and spend less money, you may buy the "Breast Cancer Awareness Semi-Postal". This is a first class stamp which costs fifty-five cents, thirteen cents more than the current first class postage rate. That thirteen cents is donated to breast cancer research. For a sheet of twenty, you pay $11 dollars and you donate, let me do the math,... $2.60 cents. Even better!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Daisies in a Mint Julep Cup

Is there anything more refreshing than the look of a nosegay in a mint julep cup? It just whispers spring, graduations, Maypoles, the Kentucky Derby, okay, for that they'd need to be roses. But,... you get what I mean. This is the cake my daughter and I made for her Graduation party. Red velvet cake, white icing and a white fondant with black and white ribbons for that special touch. This was our first attempt at fondant and it was much easier than was expected. It was so easy, I wish I had gone ahead with the fondant two years earlier for her sister's graduation. (Sorry 'bout the smurf cake, sweetie -I'll make it up to you. I promise!) In front are two of the mint julep cups, found at the wedding section of Michael's, we filled with Daisies and used as flowers on this and the buffet table.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Eddie Ross

There is someone new to blog-land, Eddie Ross. His post has inspired me to Flea! No, not flee, FLEA! I have always want to prowl the flea markets, but I don't have friends with the same inclination. Although I am a veteran e-bayer, scoring the awesome vintage egg prints in the photo, I have been reluctant to attend a flea market. So now I am inspired to seek out the Washington DC area flea markets, grab someone and go. Perhaps I can twist one someone's arm.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pajama Time

Dolce and Gabbana Spring 2009 was all about the silk pj's. I predict lots of silk campshirts for next spring.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Arts and Crafts bungalows are a favorite style of mine. As I am more Beaux Arts than Craftsman, even better are the turn of the century four squares. Alas, I am married to a suburban kinda guy, so I dream from afar. There is hope, he does appreciated this interior from Architectural Digest's 1910 Photo exhibit.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Art Deco Office

The basement office has been a collection of mismatched move downs, not hand me downs, as most of the furniture started out "new". So, though they are not hand me downs, no plan was created or used. Okay, 15 plans were considered and nothing could be agreed upon by all. I wanted country french, my husband wanted something more masculine - go figure! I wanted mid-century modern, at least for at least 10 minutes, the rest of the family wanted art deco. We kept on like this, pondering neoclassical, art deco, modern, around and around with no decision. We have a plan and it is deco. The desk is from, the lamp in the foreground is from Target. The computer table will get a laminated wood and metal treatment. An accent wall will be painted Iris with Khaki on two other walls.

Check your oil ma'am?

Yes, for a mere $920, you, too can wear this!

One question is, with it, do you get a star? Something in green and red?

Are those pockets on the front of the knees for holding padding, so you can check the tire pressure?

Monday, August 25, 2008


Mrs. Blandings posted several gray rooms on her blog. I adore gray, and, over the years, I have had several gray rooms. In our first home, I decided I loved the beautiful grey rooms of Paulina Rothschild, so, in our third bedroom / office I painted it grey and put up moulding. Even though I didn't own a miter box, I mitered the corners of the moulding by hand. It can be done, but I don't recommend it! I'll post pictures later, but it will take me a few to find them. The living room and hallway of that house were later painted a wonderful shade of grey-brown called ET-69, under Benjamin Moore's old color system. This heralded the start of my love of Benjamin Moore paints. In our second house, which was extremely beige when we moved in, I painted the master bathroom Mozelle, again from Benjamin Moore, as a base to a beautiful and subtle faux finish.
Oddly, in showcase homes, I have painted lamswool, from Pratt and Lambert, but I have never found a place for it in my own home. By the way, I love Pratt and Lambert, too.
It took me a while to find the next gray love, this one is very subtle. When we were applying it, it appeared nearly as off-white as the builder off-white we were covering. But then, as it dried and our furniture came back in, it took on it's own subtle luminosity. This color, in the picture above, is Ashwood. Did I mention I love Benjamin Moore paint?
I have added a picture, the one with the lamp off shows the gray in its true tone. The lamp on shows the paint as more camel.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Small town living

We really don't have to look very far to see why we Americans are so overweight. When I was young I was thin, very thin. Scaring my mama thin. Scaring the doctor thin. But I ate, in fact I don't eat much differently now than I did then. Now I am overweight, worrying me overweight, worrying the doctors overweight. Mostly, I chalk it up to having quit smoking and long ago having quit ballet. Then I started to think about how I am having more trouble walking at my age than my mother did at this same age. My mother, having been raised on a farm with limited access to automobiles, walked a great deal during her youth. Then I thought about when I was young. I walked to the local shopping center and even to downtown. I walked up to the nearby Texaco and back. Most of these trips were two or three miles round trip - thank you google maps! But, still, I am certain that I walked less than my mother did at a comparable age. Now I am worried about my children. the roads around here are all State numbered highways; it isn't particularly safe to walk anywhere, thanks to the impatient jerks who cannot slow down to the speed limit and simply must pass a left turning vehicle on the shoulder. So, they haven't been able to walk to a friends house, to the craft shop, even to school. Will they be able to walk at all at my age?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

design blogger's challenge again

Maison 21's Design Blogger challenge, is, well challenging. The chandelier has the onion domes of old Russia, reminiscent of the film Dr. Zhivago.

So many things impressed me from the David Lean film, not the least of which is the scenes of Zhivago and Lara living at Varykino. Instead of living in the workers cabin, they break into the Summer House. The rooms were covered in snow and dropcloths and were all white. Those rooms and that era were my inspiration for the Edwardian Drawing Room.

Drawing inspiration from the film, John Singer Sargent's portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, at, and the Londan Radisson Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel at I created a warm and inviting Edwardian Drawing Room. Beginning with the walls, I choose Monterey White from Benjamin Moore; for the floors, I chose French Limestone, from The fireplace is the Chelsea from Mantels Direct,
I chose the James chair from Williams Sonoma Home,, in sueded Chino, Espresso, to flank the fireplace. Between them, I have placed The Trophy Room's beautiful zebra rug, Finally, because Edwardian Gentlemen need a table on which to set their brandys, I chose the Genoa coffee table from Target.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A love of toile

I'm not really toile obsessed, I only have one toile curtain in my house. Really. Only one. But, who doesn't love a good toile done very well. Reading about Horchows upholstered headboards on Mrs. Blanding's post,because I need one of those, too, drove me to the Horchow site and thence to this delightful headboard.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

And then there were three

I know, Clive said it, but I was thinking it. All night long, I'd be thinking it, they'd be saying it.

Jennifer took on her sister's living room. When I saw what Jennifer was planning for the walls, it was 'like deja vu all over again'. Hmm, organic vining leaves painted on the walls haven't we seen this? Then Vern cautioned, she has to be careful to avoid being labeled a one trick pony. The graphic was really great looking.
Matt did his parents basement craft room and convert it to a combination craft room and game room. The craft tables are awesome, the roll away wall, everywhere form followed function. The black leather chairs were incredible. Martha McCulley, awesome necklace by the way, didn't care for them.They were designed to be easy to clean and comfortable. Had the chairs made a bigger graphic statement there would have been no negative comments. Those were big, bold graphic chairs, they needed to be the big bold graphic statement. I think the traditional sofa and the curtains damped down the statement they were crying to make. I think he was trying to balance his mother's definite wishes against his vision of the room. Why didn't anyone notice that to play those games, one has to stand, ack!
Trish had the most traditional room. She had the most traditional space and clients. Formulaic? Well, traditional follows a formula. The two chairs and a tall thing is part of the style. The fireplace was truly transformed and lifted the height of ceiling. She needed to remember to add that one discordant note. A bold contemporary piece of art would have done a lot to lift the traditional to esoteric.
Alas, someone had to go home, and the judges seemed clearly torn.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A calm sense of awe

The New York Times has an article on Chris Travis of Roundtop, Texas. The houses are not only breathtakingly beautiful but, are constructed with his clients’ needs and lives in mind. One Tuscan exterior belies the old barn interior. The wrought iron railings on the staircase, the beautiful sandy colored stone and the arched windows elicit a deep calming breath. But wait, there’s more! This isn’t just another pretty space. This architect did his homework, he created a space based on the way his clients saw themselves using the space.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Handywipe gone wrong

Did the right person go home?

I am not so sure. Yes, the total look of the outfit was just wrong. But, it was a well crafted garment. And, I'd wear that over the diaper contraption anyday.

A Handywipe gone wrong, brought the house down with laughter!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Project Runway, Season 5 Begins tonight

Excitement! Project Runway begins a new season tonight. Another season of "You're out" and "Make it work" await us. Speaking of which, don't you wish HGTV's DesignStar had a Tim Gunn? Michael Kors, one of my favourite designers, is returning. I have long admired his clean lines and tailored sensibilties, even though I do have to troll TJ Maxx to afford his style!

If you are looking to create some of the Project Runway inspiration for yourself, I suggest Fashion Design Drawing Course from Amazon. More than a drawing course, it has lots of projects to help you expand your creativity.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Design Star

Now we are down to five.
This week, Tracee took the team lead for this project, a kitchen makeover to be done in two and one half days. On the big screen, that is, our basement "home theater" aka the wall, the kitchen translated to a reasonably nice kitchen. But in the still shots, the kitchen shows the lack of attention to detail. If this were a house staged to sell, with a limited amount of budget and time to accomplish, it would sell the house. Yes there are limitations when there is no time to wait on special orders, but more could have been done. Given ample time and the right conditions, i.e., no contracting surprises, the double ovens could have been relocated, the pennisula removed and an island installed.
Oh, did I neglect to mention that you might need a serious contractor on site to relocate those ovens? Really, two and one half days, actually two days and two hours is barely time to do anything more than cosmetic. Seriously, the only way to redo that kitchen in two days with any serious design is to have had advance knowledge of your site and the ability to order items that would be waiting on the truck when you pulled up to start. But this isn't Trading Spaces, blush.
The wood floors were stunning, the paint selections beautiful. However, the backsplash was missing, the kitchen lighting was lackluster and the molding was still stained wood around the doors and perimeter. Tracee demonstrated her time management skills were insufficient to the task. She shopped for tile, found a beautiful instock green glass and tumbled marble combination and had ample time available to return the tile to the house to be installed. Instead, she shopped on for a total of seven hours. Trust me, leave your contractors for seven hours with no tile and you either pay for them to sit for seven hours or they will go to another job. Frankly, just thirty minutes of delay can make for some uncomfortable gaps in the clients job.
The kitchen had no unfinished elements, it was coherent in its colour scheme and attractive. But, it needed a little more, such as a backsplash, to complete the look.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Concept Board and Me

Lately, I have been jumping from one great design inspiration to another. Yes, this led to endlessly contemplating beige. I decided to create a 'mood' or 'concept' board to jumpstart my creativity. Plus, I'd gotten stuck on the 'fit the picture' syndrome, rather than being inspired by good design, I'd become trapped by it.

Pretty much, nothing was happening.

Although I had always used color boards after a floorplan was developed, I needed to take this to a new level, taking inspiration from various sources, not just the fabrics and catalogues on hand. An art print, a designer outfit, a fantastic shoe, a sea shell, all could be and should be inspiring.

The concept board needed to be permanent so that the objects could be changed for each project. I had a plan, what could be more simple than applying cork to a frame backing? I bought a frame and two packages of cork tiles. First, I removed the glass from the frame. I applied the cork to the backing using the included double stick 'tape' from the package. I put this back into the frame and struggled to get it fitted back into the frame. The cork was too thick. Flip down the frame. Cut the edges of the cork tile. Put them back in the frame. Stood up the frame and corks began to fall! Flip down the frame, get out hot glue gun. Put them back in the frame. Finally, success and playtime!
With this created, I could shop for items to redo my guest room.