Dining By Design 2015 room vignettes part 1

Last week I was in New York City to join in the celebration of Modenus’s (Veronika Miller) fifth anniversary as well as to attend the Architectural Digest Home Show. I saw so many new products and met some amazing new artisans and over the next few posts I will be sharing lot’s of inspiring photos and design ideas. Beside’s the Modenus bash (Veronika really knows how to throw a party) a highlight of my trip was attending a very special event called DINING BY DESIGN.

Each year Dining By Design brings together internationally celebrated designers as well as local talent to create dining installations that the public can view to help raise money for DIFFA (Design Industries Fighting Aids). Each dining room is so different and the creativity is off the charts. Some are whimsical while others are elegant and over the top luxurious and some are simply outrageous and fun.

I have already posted a few of my favorite rooms on Instagram but for those of you who don’t follow me or are not on Instagram here are a few more of the rooms. I will reveal more in my following post part two.

Sunbrella fabric sponsored this colorful happy room. I loved all the mix of different colored glasses and the rainbow of fabric swatches tied to the chairs.

Dining By Design Sunbrella :Linda Holt Photo

Dining By Design Sunbrella :Linda Holt Photo

If you are a D.I.Y.’er you could achieve a similar look with colorful ribbon tied to the back of your dining chairs. Mismatched colorful glasses can usually be picked up for a few dollars each at a consignment shop or flea market. I couldn’t get close enough to the “wall paper” but it appeared to be made out of buttons on fabric.

This next dining room is by Corey Damen Jenkins who paired up with Beacon Hill Fabrics. This vignette was one of my favorites. Who says you need a chandelier when two fabulous statement lamps will do the job?

Dining by design table

Corey Damen Jenkins: Linda Holt Photo

I especially loved Corey’s elegant place settings of gold detailed glass plates accented with agate “jewelry” and topped by a single succulent.


Linda Holt Photo

Of course how can you not love Hermes. They could simply put their china on a beat up picnic table and it would be a show stopping table.


Hermes for Dining By Design: Linda Holt Photo

At $350+ for a single plate I tried to do the math in my head of what this elaborate table with place settings for twenty might cost. I stopped adding when I remembered the old saying, “if you have to ask you can’t afford it”. Trust me, it would be a lot!


Hermes IKAT china: Linda Holt Photo

For those of you familiar with the artist Hunt Slonem this will surely delight you. Wouldn’t you just love to be invited to a Spring brunch in a dining room like this?


Hunt Slonem: Linda Holt Photo

Slonem did two tables for dining by design and I could not decide which one I liked better. They both were so colorful, fresh and fun.

Hunt Slonen: Linda Holt Photo

Hunt Slonen: Linda Holt Photo

Take note of the bullion fringe on both tables. I have been seeing this trend a lot lately and although I am not a big fan of it for furniture I love it used here on the table topper.

This last one was titled “getting lost in print”….get it? It was done by Echo and the viewers were encouraged to get in on the party.


My traveling buddy designer Kim Macumber and I were more than willing to get in on the fun.

Echo vignette red

That’s it for part one. Be sure to check out my next post part two for others, some of which were quite outrageous!

Trend Alert: Mad about plaid

Being of half Scottish heritage, I think I have plaid in my DNA. My maiden name is MacFarlane and as a kid I remember my dad wearing a bright orange and green tie that was “The MacFarlane Plaid”. My mother joked she thought it was one of the ugliest plaids and that she should have married a Campbell because she much preferred that clan’s dark green and navy plaid.

Plaid, or Tartan actually goes back as far as 100 BC, created by ancient Celtic populations. As early as the Roman conquest of Britain in Julius Caesar’s day, the Celts of Scotland and Ireland wore primitive tartans. Each clan or tribe wore their own unique plaid which was associated with their specific region or district of the country. Your clan’s plaid colors and pattern would quickly identify you as friend or foe. Actually, not unlike the Bloods (red) and Crips (Blue) of today.

I’ve always associated plaid with European country homes, Ralph Lauren, rustic cabins and Christmas like in these images below.






Technically, plaid is really not a trend since it’s been around for centuries but what I have started to see is a new interpretation of plaid. A fresh spin so to speak with updated colors like on this chair I spotted last week at the Boston Design Center.

Fushia plaid chair at Boston Design center

Fushia plaid chair at Boston Design center

I wonder if any of  my clansmen ancestors would have worn fushia plaid even if the dyes were available at the time.

Plaid rugs are becoming very on trend. This is the latest window display at Stark carpet at the Boston Design center.

Stark Carpet

Stark Carpet

Plaids are also on full display at Kravet Fabric with at least a dozen panels displaying plaids in almost every color and size.

Kravet Plaid Fabrics

Kravet Plaid Fabrics

Plaid is one of those prints that has a lot of personality so if you really love it take a look at this room done by Anthony Baratta.

Anthony Baratta

Anthony Baratta

A more subtle way to bring in plaid is to use it on the floor like in this fresh and airy beach house designed by Victoria Hagan.

issa Cullman

Victoria Hagan

Using plaid on a piece of furniture is also a fun way to bring in plaid without too much of a commitment.

BHS design

BHS design


Also, don’t forget about pillows and accessories as a way to add a bit of plaid.


Since this post is about plaid I want to share with you one of my most coveted possessions. This tiny book entitled Scottish Clans and Their Tartans has been passed down the generations and has ended up with me. It is so old that there is no publish date on it. My great grandfather’s name is written on the inside in pencil but it might go back even farther.

clan book 3

The book gives a brief history of all the Scottish clans with their corresponding plaid. Here is my ancestral plaid on the left and my late mother’s favorite, the Campbell plaid on the right.


I agree that the MacFarlane plaid isn’t for everyone but at least it makes a statement!

How about you? What do you think of the return of plaid?


Decorating: A Small Change with a BIG impact

If you are anything like me, you have a “wish list” or a “to do” list of things that you need (or want) to do in your home. The big things like a new kitchen or new furniture will have a huge impact but are also a huge expense. Sometimes though even a small change can have a big impact. Changing out throw pillows, bringing in fresh flowers or something as simple as washing the windows can add happiness to your home and life.

This past weekend I made a small change that has made me so happy that I want to share it with you. I have (had) dated and ugly wall switch plates throughout the entire house.  When we moved in my husband switched most of them out but we had one room he never got to. I know this sounds silly but everyday I walked into that room and made a mental note of those ugly plate covers. Changing them out has been on our “to do” list for years..crazy right??

So image how interested I was when I received an email from  Legrand asking me if I would like to sample a few of their Adorne wall switches and plate covers. Umm…YES please!

It was so hard to decide which ones I wanted to sample because the options as far as colors and style are so numerous. What I really needed though was the most basic of things…plain white wall plate switches and covers. I chose white because although the walls are currently green they are being painted a soft white within the next couple of months. Had I wanted green though, Adorne has it, as well as 34 other colors and metals. Like I said, it was really difficult to choose.


My husband actually did the work but it took him only minutes. He joked that it took him longer to shut of the main breaker and get the packages open than it did to change out the switches. (He used his hiking head lamp for light since we had no power). The results?  I think the photo below says it all!

what a difference!

dated and ugly to new and beautiful!

My original ugly outlet on the left and my brand new Adorne outlet on the right.  I love the clean sleek contemporary design of the Adorne and also the fact that the two plug outlets are off register. It is such a simple change but makes it so much easier with two different cords.

An even bigger change was my dated (and yes ugly) light switch for my office. I chose to try out the Adorne Wave switch to replace it. Talk about convenience, I simply wave my hand in front of the black dot and voila! the light turns on and off.

old switch vs. new Wave

old switch vs. new Wave

I feel like my home’s electrical system has entered the modern age. I really am so happy with my new switches and wall plates. Who knew that something as simple as banishing those ugly yellowed plastic wall plates would make such a difference but it has. Thank you Legrand and Adorne..now on to the rest of the house.





Friday’s Photo: watercolor walls

Watercolor walls is a very big trend in interior design right now and this ethereal bedroom from the Holiday House Hampton is one of my favorites. Designed by Jen Going it was inspired by an abstract water color given to her by a friend.

Jen Going-Linda Holt Photo

Jen Going Interiors-Linda Holt Photo

Such a beautiful and unique way to treat an accent wall don’t you think?

Have a great weekend everyone.

Five decorating ideas for tall ceilings

I have noticed a trend lately among new builds in my area; especially in over 55 housing communities. It seems the rooms sizes are smaller but the ceilings are really high to give the illusion of more space. This may seem great at first glance but figuring out what to do with all this vertical space can be very challenging for my clients. The problem with really tall ceilings is that if you don’t address them then your room can feel cavernous and cold.

Last week while at the Hampton Show Houses I took notice of what the pros did as they were presented with very tall ceilings in both the Hampton Show House and the Holiday House Hampton. Here are five decorating ideas if you have tall ceilings.

1. Hang em high. When it comes to window treatments the higher the better. Designer Tobi Fairley took her window treatments right to the ceiling in the master bedroom of her show house room. Even though that head board was quite tall, it was dwarfed by the soaring ceiling height. The window treatments visually filled the space and kept the room feeling balanced.  It’s not inexpensive to do this but it really is the best solution. Hanging the window treatments lower would simply draw more attention to the tall ceiling and could make the room look “top heavy”.

Tobi Fairley Design/Linda Holt Photo

Tobi Fairley Design/Linda Holt Photo

2. Use tall art work to fill the space. Art work should always relate to the shape of the wall you are placing it on and a tall wall begs for tall art work. Designer Gil Walsh used what appeared to originally be a screen to fill her soaring wall space.

Gil Walsh Interiors/Linda Holt Photo

Gil Walsh Interiors/Linda Holt Photo

3. Add a hanging light. Using a hanging light in a room with a tall ceiling is a great way to not only add more light but also bring the eye down to a more comfortable level. Notice too that designer Katie Leeds hung her window treatments right up to the ceiling.

Katie Leeds/Linda Holt Photo

Katie Leeds/Linda Holt Photo

4. Paint horizontal stripes. Designer Michelle Smith of Studio MRS used the age old trick of painting wide horizontal stripes to “fool the eye” into thinking the room is not as tall as it really is. She too hung her window treatments to the ceiling and used the same horizontal stripe so that they seamlessly blended with the wall.

Elsa Soyars design/Linda Holt Photo

Michelle Smith studios/Linda Holt Photo

Melanie Roy also used horizontal stripes in her show house bathroom to make the super tall yet small bathroom seem less imposing.


Melanie Roy Designs/Linda Holt Photo

5. Create a lower wall height with molding. Elsa Soyars chose to create her own wall height by adding clearly defined molding at the top of wallpapered walls. She cleverly created what she wants you to see as wall vs. ceiling. The large sputnik shaped chandelier also fills in some of void between the ceiling and walls as well as adds visual interest.


Elsa Soyars

Do you have tall ceilings? If so, what’s your favorite way to decorate?

Five ways to bring show house style into your own home

I’ve always loved to visit designer show houses. Even though the rooms may be completely out of reach financially to copy, show houses are still a great place to get ideas that you can incorporate in your own home. You may be inspired by a color palette or by a window treatment or even in how the designer accessorized the room. There are always lessons to be learned if you look closely. Last week I was fortunate enough to tour two very different show houses; the Hampton Show House and the Holiday Hampton Show House. As different as each house was, I spotted several things the designers did over and over that are easily duplicated decorating ideas that you can do in your own home. Most of them are at little or no cost but will add that designer flair. Here are my top five tips to bring show house style into your own home.

1. Use a chair to display books and objects. I saw this done over and over again in almost every designer’s room. Chairs were used as little display tables and were stacked with books, art and decorative objects.

Gil Walsh Interiors/Linda Holt Photo

Gil Walsh Interiors/Linda Holt Photo

I think the image below shows a great way to display a small piece of art work that you just can’t find the right spot for on your wall.


2. Add an orchid. I assume the designers used orchids because they require little care and will last for at least as long as the show house is open to the public but I would have say, just about every show room had a beautiful (usually white) orchid. Orchids are affordable and add life and beauty to any room.


Elsa Soyars Interiors

Gil Walsh Interiors/Linda Holt Photo

Gil Walsh Interiors/Linda Holt Photo


3. Add a geode. Gems are trending big time in interior design and geodes were spotted all over at the two show houses. I saw geodes on stands, geodes in book cases and geodes on top of stacked books. Not only are they beautiful but geodes add sparkle and color.




4. Add something gold. Gold was THE metal of choice at both Hampton show houses. Gold for light fixtures, gold for hardware, and gold for accessories. Tobi Fairley used beautiful gold accessories on an orange dresser with gold hardware from Lexington Furniture. Notice too the white orchid and look at the chair just to the left of the dresser.


Tobi Fairley

Lillian August used lots of gold in her room but I especially loved the two matching gold bookcases.


Lillian August

5. Add photography. As a photographer, I have to say I was most happy to see so much photography used. There was quite a mixture between black and white, color, vintage prints and modern.


Phoebe Howard design

With Instagram we all seem to be photographers these days so why not pick a favorite image and hang it in your own home? My tip to get a professional look is to blow it up big and have it professionally framed. It will look just like the ones the designers used.


Patrik Lonn chose a statement photo over the fireplace of bright blue butterflies on a back ground of crumpled tin foil. (notice too the geode lamp and white orchid in the background).


Above is a colorful Gray Malin photo. I feel like he is following me this Summer as his work was all over our Nantucket house rental this past Summer as well.

I’m sure you want to see more of each of these beautiful rooms and I will be sharing lot’s more in the next few blogs…including the room that most inspired me. In the meantime, I would love to hear which of these design elements is your favorite? Mine is the use of photography.



Las Vegas here I come

After the huge amount of fun and inspiration I had visiting Market in High Point this past Spring I have decided to do it all over again in Las Vegas! This coming week I will be traveling with my good friend and fellow designer Kim Macumber to the Las Vegas Market. While there, we will also be spending two full days with Lori Dennis and Kelli Ellis at their now famous Design Camp.

The last time I was in Las Vegas was exactly ten years ago on a girl’s weekend getaway and I always wanted to go back.  Even though I hear it is over 115 degrees in Vegas I am packed and ready and could not be more excited.

I invite you to follow along virtually and see what I see and hear what I hear by following me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I will be posting images daily of colors, trends and fun. Plus I am sure there will be plenty of great quotes from one of the many A-list designers who are lined up to speak at Design Camp.

Barry Dixon

Barry Dixon at Design Camp Atlanta

Like this quote from designer Barry Dixon at Design Camp Atlanta. “No matter what the client’s budget, spend only at the very top and the very bottom. Never spend in the middle or you will have mediocre design.”

I loved that quote and it honestly changed the way I worked with clients.

So off I go!



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