Elevator Pitch for Interior Design?

When home and not hopping a plane to Bora Bora or yachting to Bermuda, I spend a good deal of my time thumbing through style magazines and outrageously expensive interior design books.  For me, there simply is nothing better than a hot bath, a silent cell phone, a few decor mags, and a Xanax to rid myself of whatever anxiety I have self-induced.   Recently I picked up a book at Calico Corners (a warm, friendly shop that I love browsing in what must be the same way junkers feel at flea show).  Named “Decorate Fearlessly; Using Whimsy, Confidence, and a Dash of Surprise to Create Deeply Personal Spaces” (title is a bit lengthy) and compiled by Susanna Salk.  Full of interiors by top designers, the photographs create a jealousy among us mere mortals as we realize that budgets and taste do matter.  Furthermore, Ms. Salk keeps her comments short and to the point.  This lovely coffee table accessory highlights the principles of color and pattern, expressing one’s personality (as controlled by the home interior designer), as well as the limitless possibilities that decor offers.  Featuring some of the greats such as Jonathan Adler and Miles Reed, I want to emphasize a few of my favorites (shall we say focal points).

The Madcap Cottage, a fairy tale of a design firm co-owned by Jason Oliver North lives by the premise that, “a room should be dynamic and never static.”  And the gentleman, using a Vegas analogy believes in a high-low philosophy and boy oh boy does he draw attention to that blackjack table.

Doug Meyer goes for show-stopping color.  He uses all 64 crayons, creating surprising and magical vignettes of space.

“Your home should be your strength in the world” (not sure what that means) states Marian McEvoy.  A believer that design should be pleasing to not only your family but to others as well, she uses detail in a way few other do while making an impact that many others are incapable of….

Steve and Brooke Giannetti find inspiration from a bold statement.  They prefer natural materials that age over time with beauty and care.


Anyone that knows me well understands my obsession with the Novogratz.  Robert and Cortney create work that defies convention and blends every well-worn decor trick into a delicious strawberry smoothie.

And lastly, the photo that dominates Pinterest, with it’s incredible mix of bold patterns and vibrant palettes.  I admit that I have copied this room in several very sophisticated teen caves (you know, the kind of teenage girls with their own glam squads).  Hats off to Kriste Michelini.


I’m Giving Tips on How To Paint Furniture…but I Oversee, Manage, Hold the Reins

I try to admit my relatively few faults.  I can be impatient, sharp-tongued, overbearing, and inevitably right…but crafty…not so much.  I prefer supervisor, more of a bigger picture kind of gal.  Believe this often creates exhaustion as much as getting on a tall ladder and hanging a 120 pound chandelier or perfectly cutting straight seems on a drapery panel.

One of my faux painters attempted to teach me how to add a few hues to a nightstand.  Words fail to do this piece of crap justice.  She even gave me pointers but I, the supervisor extradinaire, the inevitably right idea gal chose not to listen.  Please note her tips because they sure never applied to my abilities.

First, always clean the piece you intend to paint, distress, or revive.  Dust and apparently oil fails to help primer adhere.  This causes an object to peel and chip (though isn’t that distressing?).

Next, use the proper primer (which is code word for expensive).  Cheaper brands affect paint much like a t-shirt from Walmart clashes with your Louboutins.

Then fill any and all holes and cracks (hey not referring to my face the day before my liquid injections appointment).  She even suggested using a flashlight (I just found out the my iPhone can turn into a shiny object) so that eyes over the age of 40 cannot miss that 1 1/2 inch gap.

Never use an inexpensive brush (note Walmart/Louboutin comment).  Feel the bristles, caress them, rub them against your skin.  The softer the better.

Finally, find that perfect color.  Shading and underlining hues can grab a tone and turn it upside down.  Grab some chips from your preferred paint store or even buy a small jar of the color being considered.


 not my work

Remember life is living regret-free.

(damn, needs some hardware)






(last pic courtesy of Chip & Joanna Gaines, Magnolia House, Fixer Upper, HGTV)


It Girls or 11 Ways to Feel Very Very French

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  So whether decor, couture, wine or pastries, we Americans seem endlessly fascinated with all things French.  Aside from learning the language or relocating to the 7th Arrondissement in Paris, we must settle for a few simple form of theft. 


Obey the rules of femininity.  Flouncy, free form dresses with a pair of heels, a well-fitted suit with signature

Chanel pearls, or a pair of designer shorts with multiple gold chains hanging at the waistline.

Wear black, the color of midnight, romance, and the every slimming hue that takes off the illusion of at least ten pounds.

Have your glam squad on-call at all times to add that subtle make-up and miraculously wind-blown hair that so makes so many green with envy.

Discover your signature perfume prior to the age of 30 and then wear it for the next 40 years (my choice Opium, though later in life, I mix with Angel).

Wear a black brassiere under a white shirt.  Shock value.

Age gracefully (ignore because I have no desire to become Bridget Bardot).

Arrive late with the excuse that your life is so busy that it makes time fleeting (and apparently free from good manners).

Enjoy you face now because unless you are an America, it will not remain the same long (hence Bridget Bardot).

Good lingerie and high count thread sheets (my cat Grace enjoys my fashion shows).

Take time for yourself.  Forget to pick-up the kids, order a pizza, or call your mother.  You deserve a 3 hour bath.

Live a well cured life (preferably with a wealthy, potentially titled man).

Oh La La Cheri



Window Dressed to Kill or 8 Easy Tricks to Drapery Heaven

I am a cutter (and I don’t mean emotional).  I obsessively collect swatches of fabric, trim, and cord.  Some might classify me as a hoarder except that my OCD keeps everything attractively labeled and boxed neatly.  No longer able to fit in my office space, car, or guest room closets, storage space has become the viable solution.

In the last five or six years, I have noticed that most clients tend to go for a cleaner, simplified look especially when it comes to window treatments.  Gone are the elaborate chintzes and mix of prints made famous by Hadley Parish or Mario Buatta.

Instead shutters, roman shade, and fabric panels on decorative rods add a quiet enhancement instead of creating a focal point.  I am a firm proponent of curtains in certain rooms (living, master, kitchen, and always the dining).  I prefer the less is more philosophy but I do miss the swags, cascades, and jabots over a puddled floral print that dominated interior design for so many years.

If attempting a DIY project (though I think this is an area where the professionals excel), here are a few tricks of the trade to give your draperies that appropriate POP instead of that STORE BOUGHT CRAP you see at every Joann’s, Home Goods, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  (Nothing makes a decorator or home stylist more queasy than cheap curtains, fake plants, or wall prints hung too high).


1.     If choosing simple panels for your room, decide on a header such as a French pleat, goblet, grommet, or inverted.  These are usually gathered about 4″ from the top of the window treatments.

2.    Use at least 1 &1/2 widths of fabric for each side of the windows (store bought are often a width and seem incomplete especially when dealing with larger panes of glass.

3.    Make sure to add a 4 to 6″ self line to the drape.  That prevent one from seeing the white/off white of normal lining.

4.    Most fabrics are 54″ in width but don’t forget the pattern repeat.

5.    Hang them high, as close to the ceiling as possible.  This creates a more substantial look as well as the illusion of height.

6.    If putting curtains over blinds, make sure to allow for the additional depth.

7.    Don’t forget your return (whether an inside or outside horizontal blind or drape).  It completes the look by addressing the sides.

8.   Valances and cornices tend to look terrific in kitchen/breakfast areas as well as kid’s rooms.  Add cording, welting, or fringe for a finished shape. 


The Train to Tiny Town

The older I become, my need to downsize my life seems retractable, so much so that I sometimes feel like a scene from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”  The train to tiny town, popularized by HGTV, feels cool, hip, trendy, inevitable.  Could I live in a converted school bus or become a member of container city?  Perhaps.  It looks inviting until you realize that a dishwasher takes up a lot of valuable floor space.  My other issue, of course, is my chosen line of work.  The passion I feel for accessories far outweighs whatever agony (I mean devotion) that I ever grappled with for my ex-husband.  (A reoccurring theme, think soap opera).   Truth be told, I own a whole bunch of crap.  Most stylists, decorators, and stagers do.  A curse but a pretty one.

Few residential interior designers reinvent a living space, they simply improve on the perception.  And most home experts give similar advice on how to make things appear larger (mirrors, mirrors, mirrors).  Why?  Because it works.

The overly talented Orlando Soria, the Creative Director of Homepolish recommends the use of neutral rugs like sisal or jute.  Another way to make a small space appear larger; lighting.  A beautiful fixture can add a world or WOW to any room including those that “rest.”

Symmetry creates balance so consider not using angles especially when surfaces feel tight.  Create a focal point, if one such as a fireplace is missing, by adding a large piece of art, an architectural piece, or an accent wall using paint or paper.

Going dark transforms a space by amplifing  sophistication.  It also reflects light, adds depth, and just a touch of mystery (it’s where the monsters hang out in case the kids get out of hand).

For a small office, one not made from a converted closet (though adore that idea), tweak the accessories.  I converted a couple of old doors into memory board which I use for magazine tears of my latest and favorite designs.  Some might call it stealing, I refer to it as inspiring.  Sample photo from Pinterest that I intend to compliment very soon.

I Am A Good Girl With Lots of Bad Habits; A Personal Tale

Tattoos are a form of art, affection, beliefs, gang affiliations, military service.  They further express the beauty of design.   At least that’s what I told myself when at the age of forty-five, I threw my wrist at some stranger, and whispered “do it.”  A mistake you say, hell yes!  Had I chosen a lovely cross gently grazing my ankle like Nicole Richie or a small heart, initial, lock & key on my ring finger signifying my lousy marriage or some guy named Ed Hardy who branded his work into a small empire.

But no.  Me, the interior designer extraordinaire, the arbiter of good taste, the one whose style rivals that of Givenchy (just go with it).

With all badly timed and foolish endeavors, mine accompanied the cliché mid-life crisis.  Men buy cars or have affairs, women get tattoos or boobs. Thinking about the similarities between tattooing and interior design give me some kind of clarity with the mistake I now live with.  Inking your body represents you, your love, your inspiration.  It’s also a way to be noticed, accepted, on simply on point (trendy).  Tattoos like, interior design, can symbolize cultural associations.  Forms of modification, both body and space, can be a rite of passage, a mark of status, a symbol of religious or political beliefs, devotion to patriotism, feelings about family.  Home décor reflects those same universal convictions.

About a half hour later, permanent black ink scared my wrist and revealed a much hidden secret; the actual dates of my children’s births (no more lying about their ages or mine).   Disgusted with my own stupidity, I hid my sore limb under my Gap jean jacket.  Ridicule, thy name is children.  Opening the door to our suite, I was greeted by a tribe of merry eaters.  With great care, I removed my denim cover.  The word shock would best sum up their facial expressions.  After what seemed like an eternity of silence, my older son asked to be excused (I can only assume to contain his laughter).   About twenty minutes later, he returned with package in hand.  Reaching into the black bag, I found a supply of gauze, tape, and adhesive bandages.  He pointed to my arm and then burst back into hysterics.

Yep tattoos are a lot like home interior design but hopefully with a lot less giggles.  Bless you Antonio Ballatore.

Best Laid Plans or Did I Over-Decorate?

I need some sage advice.  I shop, pretty much every day, goes with the job.  My current obsessions are Home Goods and World Market.  No don’t get me wrong, I have no qualms about spending substantial money on a leather sectional that will last through the years but I believe in balance.  And to be perfectly honest, Home Goods has great stuff, terrific prices, and fairly decent displays.


One of my current client’s, whose previous home interior design choice was French Country (via Charles Faudree).  Lots of patterns, prints, flouncy draperies, an overwhelming amount of accessories; it actually looked quite fabulous.  Now dated, Cherie and her husband decided they are at a point where its time to redo, repurpose, reorganize, or basically spend a great deal of the green stuff.  He wants mid-century modern, she desires a contemporary farmhouse style.  Even with tear sheets and a rather lengthy Pinterest page, does little to relinquish my confusion.  I’m thinking Coachella meets Laura Petrie from the Dick Van Dyke show (see look how giddy that complete stranger feels in her living room).

For some 25 years, Cherie and I have maintained an almost spousal relationship (non-sexual).  We trust one another as long as she understands that my opinion remains sacrosanct.  After much thought, Kathryn Ireland’s no hold bars designs came to mind.  Problem solved.

 But my question, the one that requires help, is as John Steinbeck once pondered, “Do you only want advice if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway?

Pins & Needles While Dating Your Furniture

You learn about yourself with every purchase and I don’t mean La Perla.  At the start of the relationship, you might just give a quick glance, a soft caress.  A quick stroll at another beautifully laid out area gives you some time to think.  Those Brick n’ Mortar stores keep getting harder and harder to find.  While rummaging through some pillows, you look at what grabbed your attention.

The lines reflect that of a shutter, the chalk pain perfectly lined but oh that price.

You picture your room.  Would either of these pieces even fit?  This armoire has a bit less distress but possibly could hold more of junk I intend to purchase?  Maybe this could become a memory, one to be inherited by one of my future daughter-in-laws who I positive I will hate.  Not because my two sons are such great catches but having met many of the girls they have dated, I do question their taste and morality.

The twin peaks.  Interesting.  Great color, chippy in just the right way, horrendous accessories.  Might this cross my line of décor happiness?  My endorphins started to release and my perfume (an intoxicating mix of Opium and Angel, very popular on elevators) seemed a bit stronger.  Emotion took over.  The cost might defeat any grocery shopping for the week but the mutual attraction was palpable.  Should we just date or go all the way?  But it might be The Bachelor’s last rose…


Can’t Fix Crazy or the Art of Design When Bored

Obsession, thy name is ironstone or perfume from Calvin Klein.  First manufactured in Staffordshire, England in the early 1800s, these gorgeous white piece of sheer beauty rock my world as much as my awesome but totally unexceptional life.  Usually, many stylists and home interior designers (including myself) combine these creamy concoctions with other patterns.  I personally chose a hunt scene pattern in chocolate browns.  Now my life tends to revolve around Chicago P.D., my 16 year old cat, and my attempts to be a world famous beautifier (so much so that Starbucks seems like a chore), that this desire to collect plates may seem a tad silly.  I prefer displaying in armoires or open shelving but how easily it may duplicated by looking at any magazine tear.

Now I am a fan of minimal clutter (yes, I know, an oxymoron) but I do tend to gravitate to cleaner lines in furniture, with perhaps a bit of the chippy, distressed thing but wildly unexpected accessories add that needed punch that separates the girls from the women. 

No I know I appear all hip and wise (yes, yes I do) but in reality, HGTV as covered most of my incredibly self-perceptive issues.  When my nails are not drying (still can’t figure out the home gel), I sit at a keyboard (wishing it was a typewriter) and think of cute but totally irrelevant titles.  HEY THEN THE FUN BEGINS!

Now since I assume you all are dying to know about those little items that magically forces my ATM card to fall out of my wallet, I will list and list and list.  Cowhide rugs (can’t resist them), French pillows, antique iron tools (never use them but…), knotty pine tables, gorgeous and outrageously priced lamps, solid bedding, signage (or from Hobby Lobby, who the hell can tell the difference), stacks of design and decorating books, and my children visiting their own homes.