Look What I Got!!!

What could be more exciting for a color geek like me than receiving this fresh off the press (paint press that is) new Color Stories Fan Deck from Benjamin Moore. I had blogged about the new Color Stories paint earlier and showed you my hallway I painted in tandoori in this post here.  Being a Benjamin Moore Color Expert,  I was lucky to score one of the very first decks and here is what it looks like.

Benjamin Moore Color Stories Fan Deck


The colors are SO beautiful and I can’t wait to share them with clients. Check out these beautiful, rich, complex neutrals.

Color Stories neutrals


I have been thinking of repainting my entrance and hallway for months (okay, 2 years)  and these neutrals might just push me to finally do it.

Before the colors were released I was able to get a few colors from one of the test stores that was carrying the paint and not only did I paint an accent wall but I also tried it out on wood. I had just purchased some new dining room curtains at West Elm in pear green and found the perfect match in a Color Story color called Turkish Bay leaf. At first I was hesitant to paint the chairs as they were my grandmother’s (brought over from England way long ago). The fact is though, I never really liked them as they were not my style and very “grandmother looking”. I decided to just take a risk and painted them Turkish Bay Leaf . I also recovered  the original worn blah beige seats in a graphic black and white print and now I love them.  In thinking about it, I think my Grandmother would be happy to know I made them my own.

Chair painted in Turkish Bay Leaf from Color Stories


     I loved the color so much that I also painted the inside of my side board which houses my Droll Designs pottery collection.


Here is the room as it looks now.


I’m planing on buying a rug (sea grass or sisal) but for the time being I like the wood floor.  I just love the paint and I would love to hear what you think.


If you want to try one of the new Color Stories colors in your home and would like help finding the perfect one, give me a call.








Thankful For You

This Thanksgiving as we go around the table and say what we are thankful for one thing I am very thankful for is all of you. Thank you for reading my blog, thank you for commenting on my blog, and for those of you who write a blog; thank you for inspiring me, educating me, and sharing your thoughts and wisdom with me.





Happy Thanksgiving!

Lessons from Arkansas a.k.a Tobi Fairley’s Design Camp (part 2)

Today in part two of ” Lessons from AR” I have 3 more tips to share from designer extraordinaire,  Tobi Fairley.  If you missed my first three Tobi Tips you can read them here.

 #4. Don’t try and make something work that you don’t love. I think we have all experienced this at one time or another. Say you have a dated sofa. You don’t love it but to make it work you find a wall color to go with the sofa, then window treatments that have the same colors, then you find a rug that also “goes with the sofa” then you work in your accessories.  What you end up with is a room designed around something you never really liked in the first place so you never really love the room. Better to start from scratch than to try and make something work you don’t love.

#5. Beware of living only with “decorator art“. When Tobi said this, I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about. I call it ” staging art” and I use it all the time when I Stage a home for sale. It is generic art that doesn’t offend,  or make too much of a statement. You know the kind; mass produced and sold at your local Home Store.

Something like this:


"Decorator art" a.k.a Staging art


A small amount of decorator art is fine to add some color or to fill in where needed but original art that has meaning and speaks to you is what will stand the test of time and enrich your life.

Original art does not have to be pricey fine art. Your kids drawings, photo enlargements taken by a loved one, or the $6.00 etching you bought 15 years ago from that colorful street vendor while on your honeymoon will all have meaning for you and give your room some soul.

Here is a hallway in my home where I have a collection of small water colors my son did in high school. They cost zero dollars and I found the frames on sale at the Crate and Barrel Outlet for $5.99 each. I never tire of looking at these and they are a great topic of conversation when friends visit.

art work by Ben Holt

#6. Carefully consider the architecture of a home BEFORE you build or buy. What looks interesting, different, cool, or unusual  is usually NOT easy to decorate. Super tall ceilings, large arched windows, or big open floor plans might seem like a good idea at the time until you actually try and arrange your furniture, hang your art work or put up window treatments.


I am not sure what is going on with this room but I bet it looked great on the blue prints.

And although these windows are gorgeous; it would be a challenge if you needed window treatments for privacy.


So going back to Tobi’s very first lesson #1:  always think about Function Driven Design. If  it makes sense to how you live on a day to day basis then you will always feel comfortable, and decorating your home will be a lot more enjoyable.


I hope you enjoyed my 6 Tips from Tobi, and as always, I love reading your comments and feedback!

If you would like help with choosing the perfect Color, Staging your home for sale or Redesigning a room, give me a call.


Lessons From Arkansas- aka Tobi Fairley’s Design Camp (part one)

This past week I had the wonderful privilege of attending Tobi Fairley’s Design Camp in Little Rock, AR. What an incredible experience to not only learn from Tobi but to share the experience with such a wonderful group of talented Designers. Not only did I come home with my brain over flowing with ideas but made many new friends as well.

The tone was set for a great week on the first morning of  Camp when 2 stretch limos arrived at the Hotel to chauffeur all 34 campers to Tobi’s offices.

Hot Pink Stretch Hummer


Tobi Fairley is just amazing. Not only does she run a very successful Interior Design business,  she teaches, coaches, blogs, and has recently launched her own home furnishings line. I have no doubt that Tobi will be as well known as Martha Stewart in a just few short years.

I learned SO many things in camp; not only about good design, but about the business of design.  Since there were  so many things I want to share with you I was not sure where to start. After some thought though, I decided in this first blog, I would explain how Tobi approaches designing a room.

#1. When Tobi designs a room she always starts with the floor plan. She doesn’t even think about color or fabric or any other elements in the room until she has created a workable floor plan. She believes in function driven design and asks the clients lots of questions so that the floor plan fits their particular life style. Also, contrary to what we often see in magazines Tobi is NOT a fan of floating the major pieces of furniture in a room. She believes you should use ALL the floor space and that you are wasting valuable square footage if you float your sofa or other big pieces. What Tobi does float are the lighter movable pieces ( small chairs, benches, garden seats, tables, etc). Here is an example of a floor plan with “floating furniture”.


"Floating" furniture

See all the unused floor space? Really not much more than seating for 4.

And here is the same space AFTER with seating for 8-10.

Floor plan AFTER


A side note: Tobi NEVER puts the sofa on an angle. (Redesigners and Stagers are often taught to do this in school but Tobi says NO, it almost never works and eats too much square footage.)

#2. Always design the room as a whole. In other words, don’t buy the sofa, then look for some curtain fabric to go with the sofa, then spend months hunting for a rug that goes with the fabric…no!…The room MUST be designed as a whole. Tobi always starts this process with an inspiration board. She pulls fabrics, then looks at trims, and plays around with different finishes. Every choice is intentional and “speaks” in some way to everything else. Nothing is piece meal and even if the client can’t implement everything at once they know exactly what to buy when budget allows. When Tobi designs an entire house she creates a different board for each room and makes sure there is some continuing element (usually color) that creates a cohesive flow room to room. Again, think about each room “speaking” in some way to each other room.

One of Tobi's inspiration boards


#3. DO NOT use what Tobi likes to call “Filler” in a room. She believes we function best and live happier lives without all the clutter or what she calls “filler” that so many of us surround ourselves with. She sees so many homes where once the room is “done” the home owner runs to Homegoods or Pier One and fills a cart with a bunch of meaningless dust collecting “stuff”. Filler is just like junk food…it fills the space but adds no value and does nothing for the room or your soul. Better to save up and purchase one beautiful item that you cherish and which has meaning than fill a whole room with meaningless stuff.

I hope you enjoyed learning a few things from Arkansas. I have so many more tips and ideas to share so look for part two later in the week.


As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you design a room beginning with the floor plan? Do you make inspiration boards for all your rooms?  Are you guilty of using filler?


If you would like help designing your room or choosing color, give me a call.



Before and After Photos and Lessons Learned From My First Show House

This past Saturday I participated in decorating a kitchen, Great Room, and Mud Room for a FALL Holiday Home Tour. Although exhausting, it was a great experience and I learned so much about the whole process. This tour was challenging because as I wrote about here, the homes on the tour were all occupied by families who only vacated minutes before the tour started. Two valuable lessons I learned were:

#1. No matter how small the decorating job seems, it will take WAY LONGER than anticipated. It took over 7 hours to set up, even though I thought it would take only a couple of hours.

#2. Things will not go as planned. We assumed our occupied home would be empty the few hours before the tour started but when we arrived with fresh flowers and last minute details to do, the Mom was cooking breakfast, Dad was vacuming and 3 young kids were under foot asking all sorts of questions. I had also planed to take good quality “After” photos but there was absolutely no time so the photos that follow are quick snap shots from my point and shoot camera.


Kitchen Before



Kitchen After


My color inspiration was a Lavender, Blue and Orange Pashmina used as a table runner. Three pieces of original art work by my friend  Susan Siefer of MadPatter Art Design  were hung above the table with the same colors.

Here are a few more views of the table.

Table Setting


I made the flowered pumpkins from a photo I had seen on Pinterest (it took 6 Mum plants to cover the two pumpkins). I found the bird’s nest in my back yard, and all the colorful vegetable dishes I own. (My challenge to myself was to spend under $100  on this  project). Although you can’t really see in the photo, the “eggs” in the bird’s nest are tiny pumpkins. I also painted some pumpkins in the same colors as the art work and you can just see a peak of  two of them on the window sill.



I also added a few natural elements to the chandelier.

Purple, and Orange Seed Pods with Bittersweat


The kitchen also had a bar area that needed a little something.

Bar Area Before



I added a pumpkin ice bucket…an idea I saw in Country Home and some more decorative plates and napkins.

Bar Area After


The Great Room Before.


Great Room Before


The home owners asked that I not touch the book shelves or candles on the mantel which are actually electric and wired in. I placed  a wicker tray and a few gourds and books on the Ottoman and used more of  Susan’s art work above the mantle and added a tall vase of fresh pumpkin flowers. I also added some sprigs of Red leaves in test tube vases under the TV.

Family Room After


During the tour there was a fire burning in the fireplace but of course I didn’t get a photo of that but the room really did feel cozy.


Change of View Art Work

The 4  paintings by  Susan are from her Change of View series. The paintings themselves peal right off the  canvases and can be changed out with any number of different colors or designs. I think it is brilliant and you should check out her Etsy Store if you want to see more.

The tour visitors exited through the Mud Room and this was the room that took the most time and work. Susan and I have started a side business of  hand painting furniture using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Our business is called Chalk It Up! and the mud room is where we displayed some of our pieces.

(We are in the process of setting up a Face Book Business page where we will be offering items for sale.)

Here is how the mud room looked before.

Mud Room


And this is how we styled it up for the tour.

Chalk It Up! hand Painted Pieces



Now that it is all over I have a whole new appreciation for how much work and time goes into organizing and participating in a show house.  I would love to hear your comments and feed back.



If you would like help with choosing Color, Staging or Interior decorating, please give me a call.

Holiday Home Tour sneak peak

This coming Saturday I will be participating in my very first Designer House Tour. Ten beautiful homes in my town will open their doors to the public for the day in order to raise money for the schools. Since most  (if not all) of the homes on the tour, have already been professional decorated the participating designers were simply asked to add a layer of holiday entertaining decor. The Tour is called “Entertaining in Style” and each designer was assigned a room (or two) and asked to decorate in either a Fall, Thanksgiving or Christmas theme.

The challenge in decorating for this Holiday Tour is that all the homes are occupied. The home I was asked to decorate is home to a very active family with 3 young kids and a dog. The designers were asked to go in early Saturday morning, set up everything and then be done by 11am when the tour starts…..okay, this made me a little nervous. I kept imagining the tour organizer standing outside with a big bull horn yelling “designers you have 15 minutes…5 minutes…1 minute…designers…STOP decorating. Lucky for me, my homeowner has graciously offered to let us come in on Friday to drop things off.

So, back to my rooms.  I  decided to do a little twist on the traditional Red, Yellow, and Orange  Fall color scheme and instead I am using Lavender, Blue and Orange. I took my color inspiration from a beautiful Pashmina that was a gift from a friend who’s brother brought it back after a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Here is a photo of it.


Lavender, Blue and Orange Pashmina


And here is a sneak peak of some of the things I will be using to decorate the kitchen table.


See all that color?  I know it looks like a huge mess right now but this is just the initial stage as I pull things together and decide what works and what doesn’t.

Lucky for me, I also talked my Artist friend Susan of Mad Patter Art Design into  doing the art work  for both the kitchen and great room. Here is a photo of 3 of Susan’s pieces that will be in the kitchen. They are almost a perfect match to the colors in the Pashmina.


Susan's Art work


Lastly, Susan and I have been painting up some furniture in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint that will also be showcased in the home. I know my husband will be very glad when the House Tour is over because our dinning room is a mess but the hallway is even worse. Here is how it looked yesterday while we were finishing up painting the final pieces.


A few of the Chalk Painted furniture pieces


If you live in the area I hope you’ll  stop by and say hello.  If not, I’ll post photos from the house next week.


If you would like help with choosing the perfect color, Staging or Design, give me a call.

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