X Marks the Spot or the Beauty of Living with White

My long journey in interior design (to be specific; my own personal journey) has increasingly become smaller as the brood leaves home.   How much damage could one big hairy dog and an 18 year old (very petite) cat cause?  Factoring in these facts, I decided to reflect my true decor need of WHITE!  Like a laboratory, the thought of creams, ivories, and varying shades of white made me feel tranquil (and with my combo of Shabby Chic hording and OCD) sounded like a match seen only on The Bachelor after taking a Xanax.  So for my latest downsize, I purchased gorgeous slip-covered furniture, distressed armoires, chippy columns, beat-up ladders to hold fetching blankets.  The look was STUNNING.  And then my children started visiting.  Please eat at the table, I muttered thousands of times (much like I uttered, “if you put your shoes away, you would know where to find them,” for some 25 plus years.  But the allure of my cozy, meticulously cared for sofas became the only possible seat they could plant their adult asses.  After awhile I began covering up spots with pillows (that my golden retriever would promptly chew), throws (that my golden retriever would promptly chew, and professionally cleaners (which my 18 year old cat would cough and choke up bile).  So I decided to get creative.  Keeping the white, as never one to give in too quickly, but adding hints of color to take the eye away from marks that even the staff at Windsor Castle would protest.

The first purchase was this spectacular metallic mirror (thank you Hobby Lobby).  Hung on the wall, it reflected the light in a slightly different way.  Then, I bought a leather ottoman, an over sized cowhide rug in this glorious gray (though jute or sisal could work as easily).  My wide-planked distressed hardwoods helped but I asked one of my faux artists to paint the manufactured material in a black and white checkerboard (not a great idea) so lucky I still love wood.  I bought numerous suitcases and iron buckets from a well-known flea market in Kansas City and filled them with books, old logs, and various accessories.  Fortunate enough to have beams in my hearth room, I again enlisted the talents of Bob and Rick to create a barn wood feel (I know; so Joanna Gaines of me).  Though in protest, I performed this miraculous task (or Bob & Rick did) 15 years ago before anyone heard of Fixer Upper.  I threw up some bulletin boards to give a vintage vibe and redid my draperies.  Popped some glass knobs on a pretty sofa table and VOILA; all is well in the house of Buhrer.





10 Tips for Mixing Fabrics

The secret to adding interest to any room; colors never need to match but simply coordinate. Here are a few tips I learned over the 25 years that interior design has swallowed up my life (but in a delicious way).


1.    Work in odd numbers of patterns (the rule of 3 as applied to most things styled)

2.    Use different scales of fabric such as large, medium, and small or floral, geometric, and classic (think Ralph Lauren)

 3.     Use larger patterns on bigger pieces (example; sofa or drapery).  Use smaller fabrics on pillows or footstools.

4.     Use a rug to incorporate all the colors used in the room.

5.     Even in a monochromatic room, use scales and patterns that vary in size.


6.     Here’s a novel idea, add a solid…

7.     Group patterns together (traditional with traditional, cottage with cottage)

8.     Balance fabrics in the space making sure the room is surrounded by comfort.

9.     Stick with a consistent look.  If you love farmhouse fabulous, then bring it on baby.

10.    Break ever rule I just gave you.

Give Those Windows a Double-Take


I Candy

Forget what your mother told you about staring.

Get interiors that you can’t take your eyes off of.  Designs that are drop-dead gorgeous.  From furniture and accessories, wall coverings to window treatments.  Laura Buhrer Interiors can help you create rooms that promise a double-take. (Jill Bagby)




Mixologist or How to Design a Bookshelf

 Decorating bookshelves often prove to be one of the more difficult tasks in homeaccessorizing.  With a few quick tips, your experience with this dastardly dead will keep your hair in place and your lipstick on.

Mix old with new, vintage with modern.

Sum up the room’s style by using accessories that enhance the décor.

Add functionality with a wall-mounted television or baskets full of needed controls, movies, and CD’s.

Keep scale in mind as larger objects tend to work better than smaller in terms of impact.

Wallpaper of paint the back of the bookshelf or bookshelves.  A great added feature often overlooked.

Think outside the proverbial box by overlapping items, popping in the unexpected, or duplicating both sides to perfection.

Use vignettes (or grouping within a grouping).

Combine similar items of different size, shape, or texture.

Honor your home’s location if by water, mountains, or sunflowers.

Showcase collectibles, vintage finds, art, and family photos.

Less can be more so edit, edit, edit.






Baby It’s Cold Outside So Use the Following Tricks to Make Your Home More Inviting


Pretty urns filled with a steady bloom of begonias, a beautifully engraved welcome mat (reminding guests the correct way to spell your last name), an iron bench placed blissfully next to a streaming koi pond.  But what about the interior?  Granted a pot brimming with a sweet-smelling marinara sauce, an open bottle of chilled Pinot Gris (or in my case, an iced Diet Dr. Pepper), or the password to the home WiFi contribute in making visitors feel comfortable but there exists a few design tricks that achieve the same effect.

Decorate with a mood enhancing color palette.  An added pop of yellow or green not only create a cheery feel but work well with the ever-popular gray or grain tones (bow to Joanna Gaines).

Give your home a pleasant smell.  No one, not even a pet lover, want to take a whiff of an uncleaned litter box or enjoy the aroma of socks worn by your son during a  recent basketball game that he carelessly threw on the floor.  So purchase your favorite freshner and spray as needed.

Live plants or cleverly bagged herbs bring the outside into your dwelling and generate a feeling of being one with Nature.  Personally; fresh peonies, tulips, and roses fulfill my needs and don’t require me to use the latest over-the-counter allergy pill.

Mood lighting; whether a pretty chandelier or a few well-placed lamps (remember the shade often makes the beacon) not only add style to a room but creates a softer environment.  No disco balls please as Studio 54 closed in the early 80s.

Pillows, blankets, and rugs (oh my).  A little texture adds warmth, vibrancy, and sometimes extra seating.

11 Way to Little House on the Prairie Style

Prairie Style is a bit rustic, a bit shabby, a bit mod, a bit vintage, a bit organic, and a whole lot of gorgeous.  To achieve this design aesthetic, one must incorporate the fusion of elements and textural accents that blend into a comfy and livable home.  Effortless and timeless, always emphasize those items that make you feel harmonious.


Meaningful objects whether from family or a thrift store.  Something that tells a story about you and your family.

Stick with a color scheme that defines rooms or areas but blends hues that compliment one another.

“Feather your nest” or simply purchase accessories that create a feeling of warmth and comfort that highlight the structure and style of your dwelling.

Paint, the secret weapon of most interior designers, adds the base for all creative impulses.

Reclaimed wood used as open shelving for a kitchen, a much needed bookcase, or a surprising accent wall unifies spaces and brings a sense of history to a house.

Repetition can be useful in decorating a room.  Collections often represents prized possessions that truly infuse your personality.

Throwing in a twist, whether a vintage item, a boho rug, or a collection of guitars add variation and contrast.

Always start with one large statement piece, an armoire, a sofa, an architectural buffet.  Then build around.

Limit the number of bric n’ brac instead favoring old-fashioned scales, antique clocks, farmhouse wares.

Emphasize lighting by making it a focal point in the primary rooms.

Utilize inexpensive wall treatments such as tongue and groove boards, shiplap, weathered beams, or galvanized pieces.



Round Top, Texas???

A few years back, several of my girlfriends and I created a bucket list of faraway places and magical lands we wished to visit (prior that is to the arthritis and senility that was sure to invade our lives in short order ).  As you might imagine; Paris, Amsterdam, Rio, Sydney, and Hong Kong occupied the top spots.  But recently, a tiny little town in Texas, no bigger than a couple of football fields and located somewhere between Austin and San Antonio,  captured our hearts as well as those of every design loving  devotee.  ROUND TOP, TEXAS, with a population of 90 and bragging rights for the oldest Lutheran Church in these United States, has not only turned into a destination vacation but the town is climbing the charts with a bullet on Expedia.

ROUND TOP’S bi-annual antique fairs draw enormous crowds from all over the country with each and every square foot filled to with humans clamoring for that one incredible find.  This rather microscopic piece of land has even attracted the attention of the media glitterati including features in Homes & Gardens, Romantic Country, and Modern Farmhouse Style.   Who knew that 640 acres could create such a buzz storm and beckon throngs of decorators and stylists to beg vendors to take their money.

And because of this national attention there now exists some lovely boutiques and charming B&B’s.  The Round Top Vintage Market, Lizzie Lou’s, and Bill Moore’s Antiques offer a fine selection of wares and collectibles. But the real gem, the one that makes others pale in comparison, exists in an 8,000 square foot laboratory of the infamous JUNK GYPSIES.  These purveyors of the finest junk managed to capture the imagination of television audiences with their show on HGTV and have translated that success into a wonderful retail experience.  Their PRETTY meets GRITTY style of combining leather with pearls or linen and turquoise made created a sensation long past those 15 minutes of fame.

Now, if your need a place to stay, RachelAshwell (yes THE RACHEL ASHWELL) has opened the Prairie, a converted farmhouse that has become a trademark of her design empire.  Each and every room demonstrates her commitment to the shabby and the chic.  Her signature mini chandeliers, cabbage rose linens, distressed furnishing, and well-appointed accessories make for a very enjoyable stay.   Other renovated buildings include the Round Top Inn and the Vintage Round Top.  But not to be outdone, The Wander Inn intends to open its driftwood doors as the JUNK GYPSIES add another component or feather to the already proverbial and repurposed hat.



Show & Tell

So you live in a place that’s short on space.  Not uncommon for college grads, big city dwellers, or idiots (like me) that had to pay their ex-husband alimony.  You want high ceilings, intricate crown molding, iron fireplaces, weathered floors, open shelving, essentially a Parisian apartment in the 50s.  But let’s face it, you live in Des Moines in a mass produced, overpriced 1 bedroom, 1 bath that leaks every time it rains.  What’s you going do???

Add a focal wall (paper, paint, mural)?  Use nesting tables instead of one big bulky coffee console that overfills the room?  Buy poufs, benches, ottomans, even folding chairs for more versatile seating?  Throw in a fabulous chandelier or a stunning floor lamp?  Contrast colors to give the idea of defined space?  Place a mirror behind a loveseat to reflect light and create the illusion of something more grand?  Hide your technology?  Use corners for bar carts or architectural oddities?  Layer rugs to define and separate?  Mix textures, metals, and fabrics?  Use different design styles like mid-century modern and boho with a touch of industrial farmhouse?  Spend high and save low?  Accept that garage sales and flea markets occasionally let lose that little slice of heaven in what seems a pile of junk?  YES, YES, & YES!  Because show and tell requires creativity not size (at least not in design).


Cocktails and a LayZboy

I receive a great many questions about the types of chairs available at the interior design markets in Atlanta, Dallas. and Las Vegas.  I think, largely due to magazines as well as the incredible popularity of Pinterest.  Style enthusiasts through sheer access to so much material have become more experimental in their visions.  Gone are the matching sofa and club chairs (in the blue and white checks) and the heavy oak tables.  Seeing the mixing of styles and fabrics via the vast array of media, inspire the many who like to do-it-themselves (as they configure their inspiration or mood boards), to give themselves permission to make an adventurous, perhaps even startling choice.  An overabundance of chairs exist online, at furniture stores, and in décor boutiques.  Whether it’s Nebraska Furniture Mart, Wayfair, Antique Marts, or Home Goods, the plethora almost bleeds confusion for the unseasoned traveler.

A new-old product known now as the transparent ghost chair (those made of polycarbonate) not only provide function and finesse but their used by such well-known designers as Kelly Wearstler, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, and Jean Louis Denoit, all of whom have transported acrylic into a must-have in every home study.  But then who of us doesn’t like a bit of mod funk and occasionally wish we were Patty Boyd or Lulu with the beehive hair, the heavily lined eyes, and those short, short skirts (thank you Mary Quant).

Woodmakers freshen traditional shapes by using different colors of stain, wash, and faux finishing. One no longer needs to matchy match their bottom to their tabletop.

Benches make a nice addition to a cottage, boho, shabby, farmhouse, blah, blah, blah kitchen table as it creates a warmth (especially when cradled near a cozy fireplace in sunny California).  It further extends the living space by complimenting the flow of the home and presses that color scheme.  Fabric covered settees also serve as the perfect place to sneak a nap for that cheeky little child still stuck at the dictate of reckoning until he finishes his peas.  

Chippendale designs, based on an 18th Century British look, provide elaborate elegance with their ball and claw feet.  Larger estates, manor houses, small castles (much like the Trumps dwellings) pay homage to this look (pray though with less gold adornments; God help the White House).  Others that follow suit include the Parsons, a fully upholstered seat offers a similar feel with its straight back and fabric skirts.  Queen Anne, recognized by the shaped crest rail at the back of chair, also works well in formal rooms (excuse me; salons) as do the Regency with their lovely scrolled arms, the Windsor, and the Duncan Phyfe’s and their oh so delicate curved lines.

Ladder-back, sometimes referred to as Shaker, show off the Red, White, and Blue, by enhancing Americana charm or cottage style comfort.  Rattan or wicker offer a relaxed look and work well in any number of décor styles.  And let us not forget the incomparable Eames (ah mid-century modern) but really when it comes right down to it, at Cocktail Hour, you just need a place to plant your ass.  Thank you LayZboy.



The More Shabby, The More Chic


Her real talents flourished after the typical messy life we all go through and she needed to find a way to make a few dollars while supporting her young children.  Turning to her own memories as a young British girl, Ms. Ashwell used her skills and began spending her time at some of the famous flea markets in California. 

Purchasing old furniture, broken light fixtures, odd pieces of teacups, she restored, refurbished, and repurposed (long before those words became fashionable).  And with limited inventory, she opened her first shop.

She followed her own road map, clarified her vision, and began an industry whose influence can be seen daily on HGTV.  Many fell in love with her creativity, her unperfected perfection, the way she mixed and the way she matched.  She made COUNTY/COTTAGE cool again, she introduced flea market swank (with a nod to the Junkyard Gals), created a surge in BOHO, and her biggest impact; the MODERN FARMHOUSE fever as seen in every magazine.  With two little words, she changed an industry.

Her use of delicate roses with crystal chandeliers worked beautifully with the time-worn elegance of salvaged screens and architectural columns.  The distressed tables she filled with old baskets, christening clothes, French soaps, and petite accessories created a balance almost impossible to conceive.  For me,

Rachel Ashwell and the way she reinvented slip covers and tucked old photos into worn shutters deserves a STANDING OVATION as it not only appealed to my aesthetic but saved several of my loveseats from two active boys.  Who knew women across the country would be deciding between the Bahamas and Round Top, Texas.  So on behalf of myself (and women everywhere) the MORE SHABBY, THE MORE CHIC!