Aviva Stanoff: My latest designer crush

I recently meet a designer who’s creativity and innovative work is so inspiring I wanted to share her designs with you. Her name is Aviva Stanoff and her back  story is as interesting as her one of a kind designs. Aviva grew up in California, in a small town nestled between the beach and old growth redwoods and then spent Summers tending flowers in her grandfather’s Buddhist Temple in Japan. These two dramatically different worlds became the “best of both worlds” and developed within her a deep reverence for nature.

Below is a photo I took while at High Point market last Spring in Aviva’s showroom.

Aviva Stanoff showroom: Linda Holt Photo

Aviva works a lot with crystals and has some spectacular lighting that she created for Currey and Company, one of which is hanging above the bed. The photo below is from Aviva and shows her painting the 700 lbs of Selenite wands she hand fitted together to make that one of a kind head board. Can you imagine??? It totally blew me away.

Aviva Stanoff High Point market

Besides lighting design, Aviva’s signature is pressing real objects into fabric. Sea fans, corals, minerals, lemon leaves, and crystals are among the many objects she uses. Aviva’s fabrics celebrate nature’s imperfections and things like bug bites on the plants become a cherished component of the final product. 

Aviva Stanoff : Linda Holt Photo

Aviva Stanoff: Linda Holt Photo

Minerals and crystals are pressed into the pillow fabrics below.

Aviva Stanoff: Linda Holt Photo

 Each pillow is unique and a work of both art and science.

Aviva Stanoff:Linda Holt Photo

Aviva Stanoff Design:Linda Holt Photo

Aviva has a lot going on and just recently introduced a line of outdoor pillows using her same signature process of pressing objects into fabric. 

I am totally smitten with her and if you want to see more of her work you can check out her website Here. 

Of course one of my first questions was “how do you do this?” but her lips are sealed and I can understand why.

What do you think? Aren’t her designs amazing?







How I updated a 32 year old kitchen without replacing the cabinets

It’s been a while since I have written a before and after post but today I have a good one for you. I recently completed a kitchen make over for a lovely couple who had a challenging request. They wanted a fresh looking updated kitchen but they did not want to replace the cabinets or the appliances. When I went to see their kitchen for the first time it was indeed dated. They had designed the kitchen themselves 32 years ago when they first purchased the home. 

The kitchen was quite large and nice and bright but the white laminated cabinets, white laminate counter tops and white 4″ x 4″ back splash tiles made it feel cold and somewhat hospital like. The only color in the room were the dated red metal blinds.

Before photo dated kitchen white laminate cabinets white tile


What my client’s loved about their kitchen was the layout. They are both passionate cooks and initially designed the kitchen around their cooking and entertaining needs which they said has not really changed. Although the cabinets were old they were solid wood and of high quality and in surprisingly good shape. Their insistence to keep the cabinets was somewhat related to budget but even more of a factor was that they did not want the dust and disruption of ripping out what they felt were perfectly good cabinets. The appliances were also staying because they were less than two years old (except for the cook top and trash compactor).

BEFORE photo of dated kitchen with white laminate cabinets and counter tops


They did request a smaller tv in the kitchen because they like to watch cooking shows while they cook but their old boxy tv ate up too much space and was an unsightly black hole.

Before photo of dated white kitchen with TV in cabinets


The one area that didn’t function for them was this desk tucked into a small wall at the back of the kitchen. The deep overhanging laminate counter top became a clutter gathering zone and the clients never used it as a desk. What they did need was a recycling center as you can see by the newspapers and bags collected on the stools. Also, the cabinets below were so shallow and it was such a hassle getting into them that they were essentially useless.

BEFORE photo of non functioning desk in dated kitchen


So, my clients asked me to come up with a plan that would allow them to keep the cabinets and appliances, find a spot for a smaller TV, and create a recycling center where the desk currently was. Also on the wish list was: new counter tops, new flooring, new back splash, hardware, sink, faucet, an induction cook top and a wine cooler to replace the trash compactor.

Here is the new updated kitchen.

Gray subway tile back splash white cabinets , open shelves in kitchen

AFTER Emily O’Brien Photography

To give the kitchen a little more visual interest and to break up three full walls of cabinets we removed the upper cabinets on the sink wall and used budget friendly subway tiles on the entire wall. Two sturdy open shelves hold their everyday dishes and new blue and tan roman shades pick up the colors in the adjoining sun room.

white cabinets, open shelving, subway tiles, cork floor white kitchen

AFTER-Emily O’Brien Photography

Now I know it’s hard to believe these are the same cabinets but they are. My contractor kept all the cabinet boxes but replaced the existing laminate doors and drawers with new shaker style wood doors and drawers. On the sides of the cabinets that were exposed he applied a thin sheet of plywood over the laminate and it was painted to match.

The floor decision actually ended up being the most challenging. The homeowners were on totally opposite pages about what they wanted. One wanted tile, the other wanted wood and neither wanted vinyl. After weeks of weighing multiple options we ended up choosing a solid warm gray colored cork. The floor has the appearance of a wood floor but is soft and there are no worries about water spills. It was easy to install as it came in planks that snapped together just like engineered wood floors. Both clients got what they wanted. 

The new induction cook top is Bosch .

gray subway tiles, open shelving, Beale pull down faucet, quartz counter tops


The faucet is the new Beale pull down touchless faucet by American Standard.  We chose Top Knobs for the hardware and the new counter tops are Silestone Blanco Orion quartz.  Quartz was a great option because my clients loved the look of marble counters but wanted something that would wear like iron. We also eliminated the curved counters and corner cabinets and squared it off for a cleaner and more modern look.

Silestone Blanco Orion

This is what I came up with for the TV. We replaced that origional open box with a full length new door which added extra hidden storage and the TV is now mounted on the side cabinet and can be flipped out or pushed flat as desired.

white cabinets, roman shade, tv in kitchen, white refrigerator

To fix that non functioning desk area, we replaced the existing shallow cabinets with brand new deep cabinets that house smooth gliding, pull out recycling bins. These are the only cabinets that are new.

white kitchen cabinets quartz counter tops


They now use that area as the coffee station with recycling below. We also replaced the flat trim with something more traditional and truer to the style of the house. 

Here is the before one more time


and the after


Once again the before:


And the after:


I want to go on record and say I would not recommend keeping thirty year old cabinets when doing a kitchen make over but in this particular case it worked and my client’s have absolutely no regrets. The final addition will be a new 15″ wine cooler just to the right of the sink where the trash compactor is now. They don’t plan to make the purchase until this Summer though and I didn’t want to wait that long to get photos.

Lastly, I know the limitations of my iPhone so a huge thanks to architectural photographer Emily O’Brien for the AFTER photos.

Please let me know in the comments below what you think.


My lucky red Feng Shui closet

After I mentioned our red closet in last week’s post and explained how it has brought me so much luck after following Feng Shui recommendations, I received multiple requests asking to please show the closet.

In case you missed last weeks post, here is a quick recap. I hired a Feng Shui consultant to come and do a walk through of our house shortly after we purchased it (12 years ago). It turned out our “wealth area” on the Feng Shui bagua map was our master closet. At the time of purchase, the walls were never painted, just primed matte white and they were all scuffed up. The closet had cheap wire shelving along one wall and as soon as we moved in, it became an unorganized mess. I wish I had a before photo but I will tell you it was bad. 

Here is our closet today.

My side of the closet

Now, just to remind you, the closet is staged for putting the house on the market. It’s usually clean with very little clutter but not this clean nor this uncluttered. My shoes are stored in those hat boxes because they looked too messy on the shelves.

Hubby’s side of closet

The first change our Feng Shui consultant told us to make to increase the good vibes of our home’s wealth area was to paint the walls red. He then suggested cabinetry to keep it clean and organized. Finally, he advised us to keep symbols of wealth in plain view such as jewelry, a glass jar filled with coins, and vacation photos. We did every single thing he suggested and for the past twelve years I have won more contests and have had better luck than I ever had before. 

So there you have it. Our lucky red closet. 

Several of you also asked where the “wealth area” is located. I am not a Feng Shui expert by any means but from what I understand, the wealth area is the farthest left corner of the house (as you are facing the front door) and that is where our closet is located.

I’m going to miss several things about our current house but I think I will miss my closet the most.



The new Domino book and a GIVEAWAY!

Back in 2005-2007 I was huge Domino junkie. Domino magazine came out about the same time I was starting to get serious about interior design. I was taking design classes at a local college and devouring every shelter magazine and design book I came across. I remember how excited I was when the first Domino book came out. I read it cover to cover and studied it like a text book. Remember this was before Pinterest, Houzz and design blogs so it wasn’t all the easy to get pertinent design information.

Domino schooled me in design basics and explained with illustrations the difference between a chesterfield, a tuxedo and a camel back sofa. I learned how high to hang a chandelier and the names of all the different design styles such a Mid Century, Boho and Hollywood glam.

Now Domino has come out with their second book, Domino, Your Guide to a Stylish Home. Whereas the first book was a guide to make a home complete, this new book is a guide to make a home your own, decorating in your own unique style.


Domino’s new editor Jessica Romm Perez was in Boston with her team last week on a book tour and I had an opportunity to chat with Jessica about Domino and want to share with you part of our conversation.

Linda: How has Domino evolved since 2005 and who is your target reader?

Jessica: What was once just a print magazine has today evolved into three divisions. We have the magazine, the website and e-commerce. We are very fortunate in that our readers span all ages from early 20’s and up. We have our original loyal Domino readers who are now somewhat older as well as a new younger generation who mainly interact with Domino online, through social media and especially through our curated e-commerce site.

Linda: What do you think attributes to Domino’s huge success as a brand?

Jessica: I think one key to Domino’s success is that we are what I like to call “elevated approachable”. Unlike the other shelter magazines that feature somewhat unattainable rooms (for the average person), we feature homes that are livable and showcase how people really live. They are not perfect “show house” spaces but instead highlight the people who live there and reflect their unique personalities and show how they really live.

Linda: What is inspiring you today in design?

Jessica: Wallpaper, especially removable wallpaper, has really caught my eye. It is such a great way to add color and pattern as well as personalize a space. I am also loving the mixed metallics, the return of leather, painted cabinets and smokey colors with depth.

Linda: Speaking of color, what is your take on Pantone’s color of the year Greenery?

Jessica: I love it. So fresh and uplifting!

Linda: Where do you see Domino in 3-5 years?

Jessica: I envision more digital content, and evolving into more of a life style brand and not strictly a decorating brand. I see more content relating to food, entertaining, health and wellness.

Linda: Lastly, what three things should someone spurge on in their home?

Jessica: A good sofa, the best light bulbs you can afford, and good sheets and towels.

I really enjoyed speaking with Jessica and now the best part! I have a signed autographed copy of Domino’s brand new book to give away. Just comment on this post and you will be entered to win. (US only please). For extra chances to win follow me on Instagram and tag two friends in the comment section under the domino book photo.

Winner will be announced this Sunday the 18th just in time for Christmas!

Four fabric trends from the London design shows

As a decorator one of the things I like most about design is choosing fabric. I think most designers do because it’s one of the fun parts of design. Fabrics can be the inspiration and starting point for the whole project.

While I was in London with DesignHounds we attended four different design shows and invariably it was the fabrics that caught my eye. Some of it was really unique, some of it was traditional but with fresh colors and some of it was just plain “out there”.

Here is a sampling of four trends I saw at the London design shows.

  1. COLOR: Rich saturated color was on display at many of the booths and I noted Orange is still going strong.
Backhausen: Linda Holt Photo

Backhausen: Linda Holt Photo

Bluebellgray (show below) displayed brightly colored water color fabric and you can purchase their bedding through Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.

Bluebell Gray


2. Graffiti inspired fabric has been trending for awhile now as I wrote about here  and I saw plenty of it at the London shows. One of the largest displays was Blackpop.


Blackpop is a UK company that creates “fabric and furniture that punk up the rich tapestry of the past to create opulent richly figured patterns”.

Blackpop: Linda Holt Photo

Blackpop: Linda Holt Photo

Although the designs are contemporary the fabrics are traditional opulent velvet.

This settee from Dare studio reminded me of an artist’s drop cloth.

Dare studio: Linda Holt Photo

Dare studio: Linda Holt Photo

Below is one more example from Arley House of digitally printed graffiti inspired  fabrics.

Arley House: Linda Holt Photo

Arley House: Linda Holt Photo

3. Kaleidoscope inspired. Besides graffiti inspired fabrics I saw a several booths with kaleidoscope inspired fabrics. Printed on soft velvet the colorful fabric below is from up and coming textile designer Ewelina Mlynarek for Designers Atelier.

I have memories of owning a kaleidoscope as a kid and this fabric drew me right in.


The designer told me the fabric was indeed based on a Victorian kaleidoscope.  Here it is below shown on a chair.


Linda Holt Photo

More kaleidoscope inspired fabric was spotted at Ana Romero. This one almost has a kaleidoscope meets snake skin vibe.

Ana Romero: Linda Holt Photo

Ana Romero

4. Traditional fabrics in updated colorways. After seeing all the wild statement fabrics it was refreshing to come upon the fabric company Moon. Established in 1837, their traditional Scottish wool plaids and tartans were displayed in updated and fresh colorways.

Moon: Linda Holt Photo

Moon: Linda Holt Photo

Moon: Linda Holt Photo

Moon: Linda Holt Photo

4. Technology. At the London shows I spoke with several designers who use the computer to aid in the creation their fabric designs. One designer has taken computer aid a step farther and has the computer determine the design!

BeatWoven is a fabric company that creates fabric based on a computer program that translates and then weaves musical notes directly into the fabric.

BeatWoven fabrics :Linda Holt Photo

BeatWoven fabrics :Linda Holt Photo

Each of the fabrics is woven from a different symphony or song. The fabric below is Tchaikovsky’s composed works from The Royal Ballet’s  “Sleeping Beauty”.


and this one below was created by translating Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.2


Pretty cool…right? Imagine how perfect this fabric would be for a musician or music lover.

No matter what your taste in fabrics, there really was something for everyone at the shows. Which one is your favorite?









What were those designers thinking? The Hampton Designer Show House

Before I was in the design business I would visit show houses and look at the rooms simply from a personal perspective. If the room happened to be decorated according to my taste and done up with colors I liked I would declare it a hit. If it was anything else, I would immediately dismiss it as ugly. I was quite the critic!

Now that I am educated to the design process and I have friends who participate in show houses, I look at the rooms with a totally different perspective. Such was the case at last weeks Hampton Designer Showhouse. Some of the rooms were simply beautiful and appealed to the masses. They were decorated in soft soothing colors with tasteful accessories that were appropriate to the Hampton location.

Design by Kate Singer, Linda Holt Photo

Design by Kate Singer, Linda Holt Photo

Some of the other rooms were very well done they just happen not to be my taste. Ironically it is those rooms that I give the most thought and attention to. I try to guess what the designer was thinking. I want to know what their inspiration was for the room. There are so many moving parts and decisions that go into creating a show house and sometimes the designer has to use what is available even if it’s not their first choice. I learned this when I participated in the One Room Challenge which was a virtual type of show house.

So no matter if I was a fan or not, I studied the rooms and here are a few of the common threads I observed within all the rooms of the Hampton Show House.

TEXTURE: This was my number one observation. Rich luxurious textures were a major theme within the house. I keep hearing opulence in interior design is making a comeback and many of the show rooms proved this to be true.

Melanie Turner Design, Linda Holt Photo

Melanie Turner Design, Linda Holt Photo

Giant over scale chunky throws were in many of the rooms adding luxurious layered texture as well as thick textured carpets, fur, grass cloth covered walls and sumptuous fabrics. This room, designed by Melanie Turner, was my favorite room in the house. The fabric she chose for the window treatments was riddled with holes which added even more texture to her all white room.

Melanie Turner Design, Linda Holt Photo

Melanie Turner Design, Linda Holt Photo


Get out your giant knitting needles and get to work!

How cool are those giant cable knit pillows against the faux bois wallpaper?

Mabley Handler Design, Linda Holt Photo

Mabley Handler Design, Linda Holt Photo

The master bedroom designed by Mabley Handler was a sumptuous retreat filled with luxurious textiles as well as a shiny silver dresser, sleek leather chairs and textural grass cloth clad walls. Notice too the statement chandelier which looked like a wedding cake. The layers hanging down are fabric. I loved this room and had to use restraint because I wanted to touch everything, lay on the bed and roll around on the rug.

The black and white bedroom below designed by Elsa R. Soyars was interesting. Not only was it filled with lot’s of different textures like the sculpted rug, a velvet bench with a fur throw, linen and silks, it also featured a black macrame hammock directly next to the bed. This was one of those instances where I would have loved to ask the designer her thought process on the hammock (as well as her placement of a life size deer on the opposite side of the room).

Elsa R. Soyars

Elsa R. Soyars

STATEMENT LIGHTING:Big statement lighting is nothing new but this show house had some very unusual pieces.

Notice the big chunky macrame table skirt adding even more texture to the mostly all white room. Speaking of white rooms…the majority of the walls in the show house were either painted white or covered with grass cloth.

Marie-Christine Design, Linda Holt Photo

Marie-Christine Design, Linda Holt Photo

Another primarily white room with a chunky throw, pillows, a thick textured carpet and a geometric statement chandelier.

Statement lighting was in every single room including a powder room so small I couldn’t get a photo of much more than the light and a tiny glimpse of the ceiling and wallpaper.

Steven Stolman design, Linda Holt Photo

Steven Stolman design, Linda Holt Photo

LACK OF BRIGHT COLOR AND PATTERNS: With the exception of the powder room above and the master bathroom (below) there was very little color or pattern in the house. I would say the master bathroom though had plenty of both color and pattern for the whole house!

Tilton Fenwick, Linda Holt Photo

Tilton Fenwick, Linda Holt Photo

I will leave you with my final image of the kitchen. Just like the proverbial wedding gown at the end of the fashion show, the kitchen is the room that set the tone for the whole house. White, bright, beautiful and a wonderful mixture of textures.

Bakes and Kropp Design, Linda Holt Photo

Bakes and Kropp Design, Linda Holt Photo

Bakes and Kropp, Linda Holt Photo

Bakes and Kropp, Linda Holt Photo

So there you have it. My take on the 2016 Hampton Designer Show House. I hope you enjoyed my virtual tour.







Friday’s Photo: Sleeping with the family

One of my favorite things about going to High Point Market and visiting the different show rooms is seeing how the rooms are styled. The designers are so creative and I always see something unexpected and unique. Continuing last Friday’s Photo theme of wall murals I spotted this idea at Universal Furniture.

wallpaper family portraits

portrait wallpaper at Universal Furniture

I know it’s not for everyone but I thought it was a cute idea for a child’s room. It would be hard to feel lonely when the family is watching over while you sleep. Having the actual wallpaper made would be a huge commitment but another idea would be to cover the wall with either cork board or foam core. Then using adhesive spray (for the foam core) or pins (for the cork board) attach the images. When the fun had run it’s course just remove the foam core or cork board and the walls are back to the origional state.

Have a good weekend!

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