Saturday, December 18, 2010

Have a Sentimental and Merry Christmas

Christmas Decorating Perfection!

I love a beautiful interior design for Christmas, I just can't seen to quite go for the "designer" look in my own home.  A friend of mine visited my home recently and commented on my Christmas decorating.  She said "Jane Ann with you being in the interior design industry, I would have thought that your Christmas decor would be over the top, instead it's very homey and charming, I love it, but it is not at all what I expected."  Well my friend is right.  I am just too sentimental to do "formal" Christmas decore.  How do I opt for a beautiful tree topper, when I have my son's paper mache sheppard with it's crooked hook and google eyes?  How do I decorate my tree in a wonderful color scheme, when I have so many hand-made ornaments, done by my children, made from the bottom of paper cups, old cd-roms, coke cans, plaster of paris handprints,  macrame, and colored paper? 

These are the items that I use to decorate my family room tree and always will.  Of course, being a lover of the eclectic, I mix in my Waterford and Oreffors crystal ornaments, and other lovely ornaments gathered over the years.  I still put out the Christmas teddy bears along with the Christmas china, and mix fresh greenery with my children's gingerbread houses, made years ago and protected as if they were museum quality sculptures!  The good news for all of us is that Christmas isn't dependant on perfectly turned out decor, but on the treasures in our lives the represent years of family and love.  It is my ferverant wish that each of you have a Christmas that rejoices in beauty, reflects love of family and friends and touches your heart with the true meaning of this lovely holiday.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2011!

PS:  Here is a photo to help you to dream White Christmas dreams...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Thankful Season

I love Thanksgiving.  I like the traditions, like the whole family dozing together in front of the football game after lunch, the food, especially grandma's recipe for stuffing, and the time spent with those that I love the most.  I enjoy the days of preparation, the laughter and fun around the table, and the opportunity to acknowledge all of the blessings of life.  It seems like today's retailers have decided that Thanksgiving is nothing more than the kick off to the Holiday shopping season!  It is because I am seeing stockings and tinsel in the stores, that I am more determined than ever to celebrate this great holiday with some festive decor in my home.  I have also had a couple of clients ask for my help in preparing their holiday table.  It has been fun to find inspiration on the web and I thought I would share some of my favorite, easy-to-do ideas with you.  Don't let the Christmas push deny you the opportunity to celebrate the decor of Autumn when these simple projects can add so much to your own Thanksgiving table.
Simple, right?  A small baking pumpkin with leaves, berries and a candled added.  Do a group of these in a row down the center of the table and you have a lovely centerpiece.  No muss.  No fuss!

This entry is so welcoming.  I love the topiaries, particularly, and they aren't that hard to create.  Hammer a long dowel down through the three pumpkins to hold them together.  Hot glue, or wire, leaves, nuts, pine cones and berries between the pumpkins - and you're done!

Raffia wrapped Indian corn looks gorgeous around this large hurricane globe and candle.

Talk about simple...  corn husks and a pumpkin!  Watch that you choose a really great vase for maximum impact.

This one takes a little bit of pre-planning... but so pretty.  Slice a variety of fruits very thin and allow time for them to dry.  Hot glue the slices to the base of your candle and tuck bittersweet berries in and around them for extra color.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back from the High Point Market... Trends in Textiles

Much of what we do at Maxwell House of Design involves textiles.  We do window treatments, bedding, upholstery, slipcovers, pillows, throws, rugs, you name a textile and we have probably used it or come close!  At the recent High Point Market, I noticed that the trends reported to us in March by Jackie Von Tobel, were showing up all over the fall market.  Jackie shared that embellished linens, sheers, and pillows were a big trend in Paris at the Maison de Objet show held in January.  Sure enough Emdee International, Lili Allesandra and others had some wonderful items in their showrooms!

This lovely orchid embellishment was on a linen window panel.

Even plain chairs can become spectacular in this slipcover!
Delicate petals add a romantic touch

 In the world of upholstery, we are seeing quite a spectrum.  From bold color and whimsical patters, to tartan plaids and hounds tooth, the options in upholstery have never been better.  In my humble opinion, it seems like the world of home furnishing is answering the public response to the economic crisis in one of two main ways.  On the one hand you have a return to very traditional rooms, think British hunt club with worn leather chairs, wool plaids, antlers and animal skins.  This style evokes comfort, stability and a restful cocoon that provides a safe haven from the harsh realities of the world outside the home.

Vintage Ralph Lauren

C. R. Laine's take on traditional

  On the flip side, bold clear color, riotous mixes of pattern and whimsy address the doldrums of daily life. This attitude is much like those folks that hole up in the Caribbean to have Hurricane parties, refusing to stop having fun, when Mother Nature is threatening.  Bright, happy and optimistic these rooms allow the homeowner to retreat to their "happy place".  
C.R. Laine does Moroccan

Century Furniture

Most of us fall into one of these two categories.  Which one appeals to you?  Traditionalist comfort?  Bold Optimistic Bubble?  Whichever category that appeals to you, the High Point Market served up plenty of both!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Use Fall Fashion Trends to Re-fresh Your Room.

I must admit, I am not a big fan of most television design shows.  The quality of the work is often shoddy and they don't show the months of work that it takes to produce a completed room.  That being said, HGTV has lots of fans and especially popular is their reality series, Design Star.  Last Sunday night HGTV crowned its newest Design Star, Emily Henderson. Emily wants to host a show that takes cues from her client’s fashion sense and turn it into a style statement for the home.
Emily Henderson, HGTV's new Design Star
 Thom Filicia, formerly of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, had a show on the Style network called Dress My Nest which is also based on creating a space from a clients fashion style.

Thom Filicia
This is a timely concept, as more and more, the design industry is following the lead of the fashion industry. Each year the furniture market offers pieces in color stories, textures, embellishments that can be seen on the runways in New York, Paris and Milan.

In this blog post, I thought it would be fun to look at what is going on in the fashion industry for Autumn 2010 and talk about ways to incorporate those ideas to refresh our own homes as we anticipate cooler weather. One of the most talked about fashion must –haves for fall is a camel hair coat. This classic material never goes out of style.

Max Mara's take on the camel hair trench coat

One way to incorporate this look into your home is by adding a camel hair blanket to your bed, or

as I plan to do, add a camel hair pillow or two to my sofa.

Another fall fashion trend is embellished sheer materials. Peek-a-boo clothing has been with us for ages, but now, the more embellished the better.

True to form, the for-the-home market is offering its take on  embellished sheers for your windows, a quite beautiful version, don’t you think?  In the summer, I love my windows open to the sun, in the winter, layering in a sheer under window panels adds warmth, visually and literally.

The final fall fashion trend that we will explore in this post, is the ever popular animal print.

Thanks Chic Chocolate for the image.
I am of the opinion that every home should have a little animal print somewhere, even if its in a rug

Ballard Design

or a throw.  (I plan to add this throw in my family room when the weather grows cooler.)  How fun to snuggle under something soft and beautiful!

Williams Sonoma throw

That’s it for today. Next time, we will address metallic’s, leathers, and men’s suiting. Until then, what fall fashion trend are you going to incorporate into your home this autumn?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box...

A recent client wanted her dining room to reflect her love of bold color, tropical dreams, and flights of fancy. This is a really great kind of client for a designer to have. We had a lot of fun along the way but the room presented several challenges. The first one was the narrowness of the space. The room was 16+ feet long but only 11 feet wide. The client already owned a narrow dining table and Paris flea market chairs. The chairs are adorable but low. They needed a cushion to bring the seat up to the proper height to dine. Custom cushions in a hot pink fabric were just the thing, both functionally and in a fun decorative sense. The window provided our next issue. At the end of the room was an asymmetrical bay window with not three windows, but a fourth, on the next wall that demanded to be included in the treatment of the bay. Helser Brothers French Poles took care of that issue beautifully, thank goodness.

Helser Brothers saved the day with their French poles.  Custom pink cushions bring the chairs to a proper height.
The next challenge was the area rug. The homeowner owned the area rug and liked it, but the colors were dull and muddy. This homeowner really prefers clean, clear color and yet refused to abandon the area rug. We chose a clear color pattern on the window treatment bringing in the pinks and greens that she loved while adding a gold colored linen leading edge band to the panels. These bands helped tone down the playful fabric and helped tie in the area rug to the design.

Banding on the leading edge
Finally, the client needed some way to fill the long wall behind the table. We needed an affordable solution and again, she wanted something really different. At the Spring 2010 High Point Furniture market, Holly Blaylock of C. R. Laine furniture had used birdcages on the walls in the company's showroom. When I saw this long wall in my client's home, her tropical leanings and the dining chairs, I knew what needed to be done.

Mike Barclift, master installer and "fix anything" guy.
I contacted Holly and found her source for birdcages. I had my installer, and fixer of anything, Mike, to cut down the largest birdcages for them to fit in depth. We arranged them on the wall and filled them with flameless candles to provide a soft, safe, candlelight during evening meals. The result is an out of the box dining room that embraces it's narrow proportions, offers up a tropical setting and provides whimsical flights of fancy for a delightful and happy homeowner.

The completed room

Monday, August 2, 2010

Decorating Dorm Rooms...

There is a funny back to school commercial that starts with a recording of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year".  That ad has made parents all over the country smile in recognition of the fact that the end of summer marks a return to schedules and some semblence of order.  If you have a college bound kid, you are probably singing a different tune, like how do I make a small dorm space function for my child?  Dorms act as sleeping spaces, study halls, social lounges, multi- media centers, and storage facilities all in a very small space.  Fortunately, many retailers are offering color co-ordinated storage solutions that work with a young adults sense of style.

In addition to co-ordinated and creative storage, don't forget to make use of vertical space.  Wall hooks or tack strips provide lots of options.

One of the problems with dorm rooms are blank, boring walls.  That can change now that there are wall tatoos.  These stickers come in a wide variety of designs and colors and can instantly add color and personality without being permanent.

Dorm rooms can be comfortable and fun if you help your student maximize storage, go vertical with your design and add personality with color and focal points like wall stickers or your favorite art or art posters.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Blowing Rock Tour of Homes

For the past 52 years, St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Parish, in Blowing Rock, NC has hosted a tour of homes. This event has progressed from a local fund raiser to one that draws visitors from as far away as Florida. There were over 1700 folks that enjoyed the tour this past Friday, July 23, and I was one of them. There were four amazing homes on the tour and each one was either recently renovated or brand new. The 4th home, Katydid, was my favorite. The home was a study in exquisite materials. There wasn’t a polyester thread in the entire home. Each room was lovely, understated, but luxurious, just the kind of interior that I love to do. Wool carpets, Brunschwig and Fil fabrics, imported hardware, exquisite antiques and art, custom appliqué on the bedding, all done in with a sense of homey comfort. The cottage style home and interior was perched on the side of a mountain that overlooked a spectacular mountain vista with two lovely decks to enjoy the view. The master closet was an organizer’s dream and was accessorized with about two dozen pairs of drool worthy shoes, most of them Manolo Blahnik’s. Truly, every aspect of this home was fabulous!

The view from the decks of Katydid.

My favorite home, Katydid.  Interior photos were not allowed.

The first home, Stonehenge, was a study in using reclaimed materials. Wormy Chestnut, Mushroom Cypress and reclaimed Hemlock were incorporated into the interior, while old stone steps and other stones found on the property were used in the landscaping.


The 2nd home, Golden Hill, was the home, of Charlotte interior designers, Ed Springs and Bo Henderson. This home has the charm and warmth of an old English Manor House. The couple’s amazing and various collections took the main stage in this home, while the butterfly gardens commanded the attention outside. When we walked out onto the deck, the entire garden looked like it fluttered from all the butterflies. Each area was planted in different plants and each plant attracted a unique type of butterfly. It was just gorgeous.
Golden Hill
The 3rd home, Green Gates, was warm and inviting with a sense of history, yet all of the modern conveniences. This home had a lovely guest cottage and the most amazing floral arrangements incorporating local wildflowers like Queen Anne’s lace and hydrangeas.
Green Gates
If you have the chance to go, I highly recommend it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Autumn Color Trends...

As a parent of school-aged children, I start getting things in the mail about this time of year reminding me that summer is rapidly coming to a close. This is bittersweet because it has been such funning spending time with my kids, and yet, I must admit that I relish the idea of a predictable schedule. As I ponder the fast approaching autumn with an eye towards interior design, it is always fun check out the Pantone color trends.

Pantone's Fall Color Trends

These color trends tell us a lot about what is going to be available to us as designers. These colors were actually selected several years ago by the industry folks that forecast what will work in the coming market. Manufacturers then take these projections and incorporate them into the goods that they produce. If you have ever looked for a color that wasn’t currently popular, you will know what I mean. Two years ago, I needed a deep coral color to accent a dining room. I, literally, had to make my own fabric because we could not find coral color anywhere! Now it is all over the place, as one of Pantone’s hot colors for fall.

A lovely room in Oyster and Coral

This fall we are see an earthy side of the spectrum with oyster gray, rose dust, woodbine, endive and chocolate truffle. .

An example of Woodbine and Endive

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the jewel-like colors of golden glow, purple orchid, lipstick red, living coral and lagoon.

Martha Stewart does Lipstick Red

Lagoon is the newest variation on Pantone’s color of the year; Turquoise. This version has added a touch of grey and green to tone it down a little. It is still quite vibrant and works well with the other versions of turquoise that Pantone has offered in their spring, summer, and, no doubt, winter offering.

Lagoon mixed with Woodbine

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Southern Porches...

Thanks to Chic Home Blog for the image

What is it about porches in the South? Are porches as popular in other parts of the country, or, am I right in believing that the South without porches is like a Southern breakfast without grits! In the summers of my youth, we gathered on my grandma’s front porch whenever we visited. My aunties would shuck corn or peel apples, the men would talk sports and news, while watching all the grandkids play. We caught lightening bugs, hung from trees, had sandlot baseball games, and made mud pies… all under the vigilant watch of the porch sitters. Time seemed to slow down on the porch. Mine was the rural version, my good friend Jean grew up in town. Her family took to the front porch each evening to say hello to passing neighbors, have family jam sessions, watch the kid’s bike-ride and play hopscotch. Her porch sitting was neighborly; our visits were about family, yet, whether country or city, we all gravitated to the porch. Porches aren’t as popular now with television viewing, internet surfing, and our dependence on air conditioning. Folks rarely sit on their front porches any more. There is hope; however, more and more “village” concept sub-divisions are springing up and along with it, the return of the porch. We have one near us called Baxter Village. Then there are the decorating magazines that show us how to decorate our porches. The photographs make them look so inviting that we have to take a second look at our porches.

Thanks to Carolina Panache blog for the image.

We have a board and batten cabin, complete with a tin roof, in the mountains of West Virginia. Recently, I got to enjoy an early morning quite time on the porch swing while overlooking a gorgeous view. The ceiling fan flapped overhead to keep things pleasant and the birds were in full chorus. I felt like I had woken up in a little slice of heaven. As you enjoy these summer months, I hope that the friendly nature of the porch calls you. I hope that you slow down to the pace of a porch swing, that you listen to the chorus of the birds and that you find that Zen –like state of Southern porch.

This is the porch view from our family cabin

Sunday, June 6, 2010

How to Hire an Interior Designer

Over the weekend a friend visited me from out of town and asked me what she should look for in hiring design help.  She recently purchased a foreclosure and it needs major renovation.  She had spoken with a decorator in her new town, but was worried that this person didn't seem have all the answers to the questions she posed.  Her question to me was simple,  "who do I look for to help me with this renovation?" That is a question that many clients need to have answered.  I began with a bit of an overview of the differences between a decorator and an interior designer.  I gave her questions that she should ask the folks that she interviews and the questions that she should ask of their references.

First, the difference between a decorator and an interior designer is usually education and approach.  An interior designer usually has the education in design that teaches them to look at the whole of a project.  Interior Designer's consider the spaces that they will be affecting from the blueprint to the final accessory and how everything relates to the whole.  An interior designer reads blueprints, understands basic electrical plans, plumbing, and kitchen and bath design.  An interior designer understands space planning and traffic flow, furniture placement and the importance of layering in the rest of the details that will complete the space.  A decorator will help pick colors, and help with adding decorative elements to a space.  Decorator's have their place, but if you want help in managing a project, an interior designer can save you stress and money. 

The following guide should help:

 Simple Steps for Selecting an Interior Design Professional

1. Be sure to look for someone who is easy to talk to. Regardless of the magnitude of your project, you’ll want to know that your designer is approachable.

2. Ask prospective designers to show you samples of their work. A portfolio, a Web site, a studio and client referrals often work in concert to illustrate a designer’s personal style.

3. Ask if they are involved in a professional interior design association. Ask what appellation they carry. This will help you determine where they stand within their industry.

4. Don’t automatically assume an interior designer is out of your price range. Many industry professionals offer reasonably priced services, and their experience and knowledge can often save you money in the end.

5. Trust your designer to guide you through the design process. With numerous projects under his or her belt, it’s often in your best interest to rely on your interior designer’s firsthand experience and knowledge.

Communication Counts

Inviting someone into your home can be rather personal. To make sure the process of working with an interior design professional is a pleasant one, take the time to do a little homework beforehand.

Among the most important considerations is communication. Ideally, you will choose someone with whom you are comfortable; someone who feels like a friend. If you find you’re not on the “same page” when you first meet a prospective designer, it is unlikely things will change down the road.

To avoid communication snafus, make sure you partner with someone who understands your specific wishes and can use his or her knowledge and experience to create a space that is reflective of your interests and lifestyle.

Ask to See Samples and Credentials

Before choosing an interior design professional, ask about his or her credentials and request samples of previous work. A portfolio with photos of other projects can shed plenty of light on a designer’s particular style. In some cases, you may even be able to see a firsthand example of the designer’s work in a studio or some other public location.

It’s also a good idea to find out if the designer is a part of a design organization. Ask about their appellation, are they an associate member, allied member or professional member of their group? This will help you understand their standing within the industry.

Another way to learn more about an interior design professional is to ask for the names of some existing clients. Contact a few and see what they have to say about the process. Having the opportunity to ask questions of someone who has been down the same road with that designer can prove invaluable.

Ask for some trade references, the folks that work with designers tend to know how they work and can often provide insight client's won't have.

Focus on Long-Term Savings

A lot of people are hesitant to enlist the aid of an interior design professional because they are afraid it will cost too much. In many cases, however, that is a misconception. Many designers offer reasonable rates, and when you consider the knowledge and expertise they’re able to provide, they may even save you money in the long run.

Industry professionals are well versed in what works and what doesn’t, and they can suggest plenty of ways to be efficient and economical throughout the design process. Do-it-yourselfers, on the other hand, may choose products that are less reputable than those with a proven track record, wasting unnecessary time and money

Think Big

An interior design professional has the ability to visualize a room in its finished state more easily than an amateur decorator can. Because of this, he or she likely will have a pretty good idea of how everything will fit together before it is finished. The designer will know how big the furniture needs to be, and he or she will have a plan for where various pieces of furniture will be placed. They will have an accessory plan and they will have thought through your lighting needs. Many interior designers today will help clients visualize the room by using technology, sketches, or sample boards.

Thanks to Hotel Depot for the image of the presentation board

The process in choosing an interior designer is an important one, because you will work intimately with them.  Designer's get to know your lifestyle, your marriage and family life, and to some extent your finances.  Many of my designer friends and I agree that helping couples reach agreement on what they want in their homes is often like marriage counseling!  Finding the right fit is important, but once you make the connection, it usually leads to long term friendship, at least that has been my experience.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

DIY’ers and the Painful Truth- Anne Lubner's blog post

Every now and then, I read a blog post that mirrors my own thinking and philosophy so well, that I just have to share it with my readers.  Such is the case with the talented Anne Lubner.  Her post, this week, is so spot on, I think it should be required reading for anyone considering doing their own interior design.  Enjoy!

This painting is Time Saving Truth From Falsehood and Envy by Francois Lemoyne. There are many things that make it difficult to tell the truth. Who among us hasn’t been in this position: We’ve been asked for our opinion by someone who doesn’t really want the truth. The person asks for our opinion, but we know that to be 100% truthful would create hurt feelings, disappointment, and maybe even jeopardize the relationship. The problem is that when people ask us for our opinion, often what they really want is our validation. They want us to like whatever they did.

As Guylaine Rondeau, a graphic designer at Guylaine Rondeau Design wrote, “In a world becoming quickly and obsessively a do-it-yourself-everything, someone will inevitably one day come and ask you the painful question. The most difficult time for being honest is when someone designed something on their own and asks a professional designer for their opinion on the final result.”

As interior designers, we get DIY’ers who show us their do-it-yourself projects and wait expectantly for our response or ask us outright for our opinion. It’s awkward because we know what they really want to hear is that they did a good job and it looks beautiful. It’s awkward because 9 times out of 10, we see the mistakes and how we would’ve made the project better.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. We all hire experts all the time to get the best results. The tailor, the plumber, the caterer, to name a few. Few of us dare risk ruining our expensive suit. Hardly anybody feels competent enough to fix their hot water heater. The very idea of preparing a gourmet meal for our daughter’s engagement party has us calling our friends for help–to find a good caterer, that is. Oh and let’s not forget the hair stylist. I don’t know a single person over the age of 5 who doesn’t get their hair cut by a professional. Who’d want to risk having to wear a hat for 6 weeks?

So why do people feel they can be their own expert when it comes to interior design?

HGTV has fueled an explosion of interest in interior design and decorating. Decorating shows appeal to people who have a genuine interest in making their homes beautiful and I’m all in favor of that! Unfortunately, viewers often infer that interior design and decorating are not difficult, that anybody can do it, that it can be reduced to a formula. This can lead to the totally unrealistic expectation that everyone “should” be able to decorate their homes beautifully. People need to realize that decorating shows are entertainment, not education. Sure you can pick up tips, but don’t be surprised if your results don’t look professional, because there is a lot that goes into designing interiors. The shows do not tell the whole truth about what good interior design involves, nor can they in 30 or 60 minutes. Most of the real work is done off camera, somehow labor costs are usually not included in the budget, and beautiful furniture can be picked up for a song. Watching a design show in order to learn how to design and decorate your home is like trying to learn what giving birth is like by watching a woman having a baby on a sitcom. You can see what’s going on but still not know what the experience is really like – and the baby sure appears a lot faster than in real life. Not that there isn’t a wealth of design talent to learn from. It’s always inspiring to see good design; one show I’ve always enjoyed is Candice Olson’s “Divine Design”.

You can learn a lot about what you like and don’t like by looking at pictures in shelter magazines and reading the articles. My favorites are House Beautiful, Veranda, Elle Decor, and Traditional Home. There are always good tips and beautiful rooms you can study to help train your eye. That’s still not enough to make anybody an interior designer though.

While I believe we are all born with creativity and an appreciation for beauty, that doesn’t mean everyone has the talent to create interior beauty in their home. People can learn the elements of good design, and which steps to follow, but good interior design goes beyond following a formula. Anyone can take an art class and learn to paint a landscape, but that doesn’t make them an artist. Good design involves more than education, there’s artistic talent involved, and while appreciation can be taught, some talents are just inborn. This applies to anything creative: writing, painting, music, cooking, dancing, singing, anything design related. Expressing beauty is harder than it looks.

Interior design is a marriage of right brain and left brain, of creativity and art with analytical and project management skills. And we may have talent but not enough, like Salieri in the movie “Amadeus.” I have clients who have an eye for beautiful furniture, but not how to combine colors; who know how to arrange accessories but not pull the room together. I sing well enough to get compliments in church, but believe me, nobody would ever compare my singing with Celine Dion or Lady Gaga.

And this leads to my next theory on why people feel the desire to be their own interior designer. I suspect they think if they hire an interior designer, they can’t take any credit for how good their house looks. That can be true with some designers who are more concerned with “The Look” than with the client, but they are in the minority. That’s certainly not how I work.

What I absolutely love-love-love about interior design is the creative design process, the happy satisfaction I get from helping people discover their own style, their inner creativity. It’s the joy that springs from the synergism of collaborating together to create a space that perfectly reflects who they are and how they want to live in their home. It’s a partnership not a dictatorship.

Maybe people think hiring an interior designer is expensive. Consider that it can easily cost a few hundred dollars to have the plumber come fix your water heater, to have your carpets cleaned, your trees trimmed, etc. Anytime you have a professional come to your home to perform a service, it costs but it’s worth it because in the long run, it actually saves us money. Surely spending that much to make sure your DIY project isn’t heading for mediocrity or disaster is a worthwhile investment too. Nobody ever thinks their DIY project will come out anything but great, but there are a lot of not so great DIY projects out there. It’s a shame to spend your budget on furnishing and decorating a room, or remodeling a bathroom, only to have it turn out just okay, or worse. If you’re going to work that hard, you want it to turn out great!

Many designers, including myself, do consulting work for a reasonable fee as well as offer complete design services that are well within budgets much more modest than those seen in Architectural Digest and other shelter magazines. It doesn’t matter how big our homes are, we all deserve to feel our home is our castle!

Which means that before you buy that furniture, hire an interior designer to design a space plan for you. That way you will know before you go shopping what the focal point will be, which pieces will work best for how you’ll use the room, which pieces it’s worth spending a little extra on, and what pieces you can spend less on, and you’ll know the furnishings will be in appropriate scale to the room. You’ll know that your investment of time and money will pay off in a beautiful room that’s just right for you.

You may not be able to afford Mario Buatta’s designs, but most designers don’t charge his fees either.

And certainly before you go painting your living room, hire an interior designer to help you select the right color, one that won’t have you gasping in dismay when you see the painted room. This is a very reasonable fee, one that can save you hours of back-breaking re-painting. [Don't even think of trying to duplicate the above wall finish on your own, this is a project that needs to be specified by an expert and accomplished by an artisan!]

But what if you didn’t hire a professional and you chose to do it all by yourself, should you ask a designer their opinion? And if you’re the interior designer being asked, should you be honest?
I think if the selections haven’t been ordered yet, and there’s still time for a designer’s input to be implemented, and one makes it clear that one really is looking for guidance, then it makes sense to ask a designer for their opinion.

But if someone has just spent thousands of dollars on new furniture or a basement remodel, would that person really want to hear how the project would’ve been improved if XYZ had been done instead?

Let me put it this way: If you’re at a party where the appetizers are just okay, and the hostess who’d made them asks you what you think of the hors d’oeuvres, how would you feel? What do most people say? Right. Good manners trumps Truth.

When I’ve been put in this awkward position, I say what I like and hope that’s enough. I’ve toyed with the idea of saying what I would’ve done differently, if only to demonstrate that I really do know what I’m doing, but I don’t. I don’t want to jeopardize the relationship.

So I say that if you really want an honest opinion, ask an interior design professional, but ask them at the beginning of the project, not the end. If what you really want is validation, ask your friends. But please don’t ask an interior designer for their opinion when what you really want to hear is how good a job you did. As Guylaine says, “if you can help it, please don’t ask, we love you and we just don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Calgon Take Me Away...

Calgon Take Me Away...
soak your troubles away in this stone beauty

Bathtub becomes fountain... fabulous!

cottage charm!

perfect for your mountain retreat!

Where I belong...

The AIDP Charlotte Chapter Board Members

The AIDP Charlotte Chapter Board Members
Seated from left, Davetta Moore, National Board Member, Wanda Horton, Vice President of Communication, Jane Ann Maxwell, President, standing from left to right, Nancy Martin, Vice President of Membership, Mary Santini, Secretary/Treasurer, and Marianne Parker, National Board Member

Emily's New Room

Emily's New Room

This desk was the inspiration for the room

Decorating for Christmas in Adult and Kid Zones...

Decorating for Christmas in Adult and Kid Zones...
Adults will love the beauty of the luxe mantle

This bright, bold mantle is kid friendly

This lovely arrangement is sophisicated and elegant

Kids tables need centerpieces too and these serve as favors to take home afterwards!

The Holiday Table...

The Holiday Table...
This table setting would make a beautiful Thanksgiving breakfast table

Greenery - simple and elegant

These pictures illustrate the idea of using what you love...

These pictures illustrate the idea of using what you love...
One home owner loves classic traditional decore, the other mid century modern. Look at what they created using the things they both loved!!!

Grouping beloved collections create impact

Two collections united by color

Pictures from the Coastal Vibe Project

Pictures from the Coastal Vibe Project
The chair fabric was designed just for this client and then made into yardage just for these chairs!

The living room seating area. The client wanted it elegant and yet relaxed, with the idea of being at a house on the beach.

We added the built-ins and had the paint changed before the homeowner moved in. A cozy seating arrangement and momentos from world travels warm the space.

another view

These pictures illustrate "staging" principles

These pictures illustrate "staging" principles
This beautiful room was designed to be cozy and full. This room is an example of NOT staging to maximize the square footage. Thanks to House Beautiful for the image

This serene room is designed for maximum spaciousness! Notice that you see lots of floor through the legs of the coffee table. Lots of breathing room in this space. Thanks to House Beautiful for the image.

This is an example of Benjamin Moore Aura paints to go with the About Paint post

This is an example of Benjamin Moore Aura paints to go with the About Paint post
One of the many beautiful colors in the Aura collection

Aura paints have low VOC's which means it's healthier for everybody!

To illustrate the post "Art For Your Walls"

The following pictures are artwork from some of my favorite local artists. The fabulous thing about these folks is that they will do commissioned pieces especially for you! Enjoy...

Local Artists...

Local Artists...
Richard Anderson

Celia Flock

Sany Seipert, an older work, her newer stuff is better, this was the only image I had...

The following pictures are from the October High Point Furniture Market.

These are some of the showrooms and displays that I thought were terrific.

Bella Luna was one of my favorite showrooms!

Bella Luna was one of my favorite showrooms!
everything on display was quirky and elegant

One of my favorite finds, this mirror is a piece of art!

These sassy stools help tell the Bella Luna story

Cyan design always has unusual and neat things

Hot Color Trend shown at the Spring Market in Highpoint!

Hot Color Trend shown at the Spring Market in Highpoint!
black and white and malachite!

Luxury Lighting!

Luxury Lighting!

Favorite New Accessoires...

Favorite New Accessoires...
Contact us for more information or to place an order...

love this!

simply elegant!

fabulous silver platters that are even better in person

These make such a great centerpiece for a dining room table


New color combo that was everywhere, butter and pewter, so pretty, soft and fresh!

Gorgeous Global Views - always my favorite venue

Gorgeous Global Views - always my favorite venue
soft butter and pewter

"GREEN" in both color and sustainablity is a beautiful choice...

"GREEN" in both color and sustainablity is a beautiful choice...
These pillows made from abaca leaves and coconut beads are eco-friendly and good for the workers of the developing country in which they are made.

Old favorites are still in play...

Old favorites are still in play...
aqua, teal, peacock are still popular-- note the laquered mirror!

Before and After pictures are always fun!

Before and After pictures are always fun!
This is a "before" picture of a recent project.

After #2!

After #2!

Before #2

Before #2
same room, different view


new carpet, upholstery, paint, window treatments...

More from the High Point Spring Market My Favorite Overall Venue - Global Views

More from the High Point Spring Market My Favorite Overall Venue - Global Views
terrific accessories, uniquely displayed

black, white, red, silver punch!

note the male figures at the bottom of the ropes climbing out of the vases!

Favorite Find at the High Point Spring Market

Favorite Find at the High Point Spring Market
Pablo Mekis Artisan Pillows

the hand stiching is fabulous!

more Pablo Mekis

A designer is as good as her team...

Every designer relies on a team of people to help execute her design vision. I have worked very hard to assemble a top notch team of craftsmen and professionals to rely on for excellence in execution and customer service. I have nick named them "The "A" Team". This name is so appropriate because this group brings their best effort to each task. There are many folks out there that will give you adequate, we strive for exceptional.

The following pictures will introduce you to some of the work done by these guys...


Marilyn Croteau - the BEST window treatment workroom on the East Coast


Heavin Woodworks - beautiful trims and built-ins


G.Richard Anderson Faux Finisher. He does fabulous work!

Oeco Textiles

Oeco Textiles
all natural and all green

A staged breakfast room

A staged breakfast room
We recovered the chairs to co-ordinate with the area rug and added a fresh bunch of flower from the grocery store!

This week...

This week, I am working on two interiors that are either on or are near Lake Wylie, SC. Both homeowners are interested in incorporating a coastal "vibe" into the design for their homes. Working on two homes with the same design direction has never happened in my business before. It will be fun to see just how differently we approach each home. They will be as different and unique as their homeowners and we will be sure to include some after pictures in about 3 or 4 months!

Something's Gotta Give

Something's Gotta Give
from the movie "Something's Gotta Give" the set design for the Nantucket living room is inspiration for a coastal interior that I'm working on right now...

Coastal Inspiration

Coastal Inspiration
another coastal inspiration

this rug from Aspen Carpet Designs is very close to the one in the movie!

BVI's Virgin Gorda - beautiful!

great garden bench