Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ceiling or 5th Wall?

Nowadays, the ceiling treatment of a room is considered to be the 5th wall! It's not to be ignored or just painted "ceiling white".

Create interest. Criss cross beams on a high ceiling to create a coffered effect. Paint a darker color than the walls to create height inside the beams. Another idea is to add moulding at different intervals toward the middle of the ceiling and create depth with paint. Paint the lightest color at the outside portion near walls. Then inside the first moulding paint a darker color. Add moulding again and in center paint the darkest color. This will give the appearance that the center is the highest portion of the ceiling. You can use shades of the same color, or different ones ie, pale gold on outside, medium sage inside first moulding, then burgundy red in middle.

Don't forget about fabric treatments. Create a tent in a child's room by tacking fabric at the edges near walls. Pull the fabric toward the center and create a knotted effect or nail a medallion in center to cover the ends of the fabric. Another one is to tack a long panel of fabric at edge of ceiling and wall, loop fabric, tack, loop fabric, tack. Strips of moulding can be added to cover tacks. Several of these over a bed creates a dramatic and romantic effect similar to a canopy. Don't forget that an added benefit of adding fabric to a ceiling is sound insulation.

Grab your staple gun and go forth!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Complete Your Home’s Décor with Accessories

Ladies, have you noticed when dressing in the morning, your ensemble is incomplete without that special necklace, earrings, handbag and shoes? Gentlemen, when you add a tie with pizzazz, wristwatch and polished shoes to your suit do you feel like you’ve already closed that business deal? Likewise, to make a room in your home work successfully, it needs the right accessories and they need to be placed strategically.

Let’s look at your sofa and chairs. To create a finished look, add pillows with coordinating or accenting colors. Vary the sizes, shapes and patterns. If the sofa is straight and rectangular, add pillows that are rounded with a fun fringe or button décor. If it is overstuffed and curvy, try square and rectangular simple solids in the right scale and proper balance. Two smaller pillows on one end of a sofa work well with a larger pillow at the other end. There’s nothing like a beautifully patterned soft afghan thrown on a comfortable leather reading chair.

When arranging accessories on an end table, consider the table’s size, shape and what’s around it. Is there a lamp on it? Be careful that you’re not filling the rest of the table with meaningless knick knacks. Add a couple of photographs in the same or similar frames next to it. Place the larger in back and the smaller in front overlapping a bit. Consider adding another small element with these or on the other side of the lamp. The idea is to add items that are special to you and that you want to share with others.

Many times people think that bookshelves are only for books. If you have books lined up vertically to one side, consider a special piece of pottery next to them. Add draping greenery into bookshelves to soften the hard edges. Include a grouping of smaller items together on a tray to create weight and presence. Group themed collections together such as Hummels, Lladro or crystal accessories. Vary heights of items. Candles are still the rage. Group candlesticks of varying heights on a mantle or knee wall. Keep one element in common, the color of the candles or the style of candlesticks. Consider shapes and sizes of accessories to create an interesting focus such as a tall clock with a lower textured decorative box and a colorful small dish. Lastly, select accessories here that coordinate with color as well as a formal or informal room.

Regardless of where you are displaying your treasures, keep rearranging them until they look cohesive. Keep space between groups of items at a minimum so they relate to each other. Don’t overdo because shelves, table tops etc will appear cluttered. The old saying “less is more” holds true when it comes to accessorizing.

Relax and have fun with your home’s accessories. Keep a box or closet to hold extras and rotate them. Remember, just because something you have has been put away, bringing it back out and placing it somewhere fresh makes it new again.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Princess Diane and the Lavender Castle

I was flipping through the local newspaper yesterday, The Loudoun Independent, when I spotted a photo that made me smile! There it was, a house on Farmwell Road near Bloom Supermarket in Ashburn, VA that reminded me of the beautiful colorfully adorned row houses in Charleston, SC. Actually, the owner Diane, was inspired by houses in Georgetown. After moving in, she decided to paint the siding lavender and the trim around the windows purple.

If I was a child looking at the house from the sidewalk, I would expect a princess to live there. Inside this castle, I guessed, would be a rainbow of funky furnishings and decor that would make anyone exude happiness and creativity. I laughed outloud thinking about Dorothy and the yellow brick road colliding with Alice in Wonderland!

Diane bought the house in the 1970's as the article states, and I suspect there were no neighborhood homeowners special ordinances about house colors especially since it was the only house on this farmland. According to Diane, the house was a fixer upper and in terrible need of paint. Needless to say, she had a great time making the color selections.

So what I'm trying to say is not to be afraid of having fun and be daring when selecting your house colors, at least the inside ones. If you're a fire engine red, blazing orange or bubble gum pink "person" it! It's only paint and you can change it to beige, pale gold or sage before you sell.

I suspect that "Princess Diane" is not selling her house anytime soon. She has gotten used to motorists screeching to a halt to get a closer look. What will Diane's magic wand touch next?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It's the Old Story...

...You Get What You Pay For...this is especially true about paint. I'm a color consultant for the Link program with Benjamin Moore. In all honesty, I could not recommend something that I do not use...and I ONLY use Benjamin Moore paint. Starting next weekend on Saturday, 6/12, I will be helping people choose paint colors for rooms in their homes in the Sterling/Ashburn VA Benjamin Moore store. This service at the store is complimentary!

The "Regal" BM paint used to be the creme d'la creme of their paint line. That is until "Aura" came along. Aura is the premium line of BM. Yes it will cost about $60 a gallon, but in the long run it will save money! This paint has the primer built into it. You don't need to buy the separate primer (costs money) and paint it on first (costs time). I saw a demonstration that showed a shade of Aura white being painted over deep dark red. Question: How many coats did it take to cover? Answer: 1, one, uno. Amazing!!

But there are other terrific qualities of the Aura line. It has a very low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) rating or in other words, the base hardly has an odor. The colorant to create the desired hue is also very low VOC. The old technology's colorant was very smelly, it contained glycol and solvent which emitted the odor... but not Aura. When it dries in an hour the VOC goes down to zero. And if you want to, you can go ahead and do a quickie second coat at this time. You don't have to worry about "feathering" in wet into dry paint. You don't have to worry that the second coat is going to peel off the first coat either.

In future months and years, if you need to make a touch up, the new paint has a seamless touch up quality. It will blend in exactly. Also, it is not only washable but SCRUBBABLE. After you scrub, paint will not rub off and will not burnish (shine). I hate that with other paints, you look at the wall from the side, and you can see exactly where the touch up went on. This will not happen with BM Aura. The Aura paints are also water resistant and fade resistant. That is another reason why touch ups don't show.

So bring in your fabric samples, carpet pieces, photos of rugs and anything you want to coordinate, I'll help you choose the perfect paint color. You can now have a pint mixed to make sure how it will look in several locations in the room. In addition, you can order large samples online at no charge. That way you can double check that the perfect shade of beige that we selected is not too yellow, pink, gray or green, too dark or too pale.

See you on Saturdays, beginning 6/12, between 10 and 2 or Wednesdays, beginning 6/16, between 11 and 3. Always call first because sometimes my schedule changes.

By the way...don't forget the drop cloths. (Yes, the store has them too)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summertime Table Talk

Our yards are the extension of our interior spaces. Open your drapes and pull up your window blinds. Suddenly the line separating these two spaces is blurred. It's time to have fun and enjoy entertaining outside in this new "room".

Whether you're having friends over for a pot luck or having a formal buffet this summer, prepare a 6'-8' long table(s) to say "wow"! Be inspired by the season and use hot Carribean colors. Lay a tablecloth of hot pink or turquoise to cover the plastic or aluminum table top. Then over this ruche a print, check or striped cloth that has a hint of the color used underneath. Let the solid colored edges of the undercloth show.

Think about the principles of good design...balance, color, rhythm, scale and texture. How can you accomplish a beautiful tablescape and incorporate the importance of each of the principles.

Be inspired by the dramatic colors of tablecloth's pattern to match plates, cups, utensils and accessories. Make it easy and purchase solid colored paper napkins to match or contrast with the tablecloths. Mix up the colors and "spin" the napkins bartender style and distribute piles on the tabletop. Add to the texture of the tablecloth ruching by assembling a summer inspired centerpiece...lemons in a clear glass containers, branches of cleaned greenery from the garden in a vase or bright potted geraniums set inside a hat! Be careful to use the right scaled centerpiece in relation to the size of the table. Use brightly colored different sized upside down bowls to set your platters on. This will create an interesting rhythm.

Your outdoor party buffet table in its new "room" is ready for the fiesta to start!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ronald McDonald Needed My Help

Interior Design services are sometimes needed in the least expected places. I'm at A.I. Dupont Hospital for Children visiting my grandson, Ethan. He was admitted this week with viral symptoms and loss of critical weight. Body weight is needed to help him grow inside as well as outside. Ethan needs another heart surgery but it's best if it's scheduled when his vessels are larger than his 6 months size presents.

I'm spending a lot of quality time with his big sister, Julianna, (almost 4 years old) and trying to be a help and support for my children. During my stay, Julianna and I have been staying overnight at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Wilmington, DE. It's just down the street from the hospital. I can't begin to say how wonderful this facility is...a clean private room with bathroom, help yourself breakfast and lunch and a home cooked dinner made by volunteers every day. Today, Sunday, there was a hot buffet for breakfast set up in addition to the variety of hot and cold cereals. There was scrambled eggs, French toast, fresh fruit salad, bacon and sausage. Of course, delicious McDonald's coffee was hot and fresh as it is all day long. There are tons of toys, books and play equipment for the siblings of the children in the hospital. To keep the adults distracted when they're not at the hospital, there are televisions, computer hook ups and rooms upon rooms of comfortable sofas to lounge on. There's always a smiling face from the volunteers and staff that are eager to help you with your particular situation. All this plus much more for a donation of $15 a day! I know that they must have a huge support system in place within the community and local pharmaceutical companies that contribute too. But I tip my hat to the caring and sharing staff and volunteers. Thank you Ronald McDonald House of Wilmington DE for making life a little easier for out of town grandparents!

Sunday morning there was a lot of activity at RMH. A breakfast and craft party was in progress to raise money. And at breakfast I noticed a salesman showing a woman several catalogs. I heard some catch words from the distance...colors, pattern, laminate. So in my usual way I walked over and introduced myself and the design services that I provide to clients in the DC metro area. About a half a minute passed before I was helping to select just the perfect new upholstery for the dining room chairs and new laminate with contrast edging for the dining room table tops. At least I felt I was giving back to this special community. Before we left to visit Ethan, Julianna played for a while in the room with the huge pirate ship. She busily changed the furniture and the "deck" plan on board. She became an emerging redesigner in training!

If you'd like more info about this and other Ronald McDonald Houses and how you can contribute, click on this link:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Gray"zing Through the Design House 2010

May 5th was a sunny and most exceptional spring day in the DC area. So it was interesting visiting the Design House located in Chevy Chase that day with my interior design and redesign colleagues. Interesting...why?...the colors (or lack thereof).

We walked into the impressively mammoth house decorated by interior designers with great credentials. There were high ceilings and wonderful original moldings. And then there was the "interesting" part...the sea of gray. Gray everywhere, paint, wall paper, molding, ceilings, rugs etc etc. Now don't get me wrong, I believe in a common thread to pull the rooms together. Many of them paired yellow accents with the gray. Other rooms had a black and white checkerboard floor, coral chairs, red walls, very pale lavender headboard, but still...too much gray. For me, it was hard to see beyond that tint to appreciate the furniture, floor plans and talents of the designers.

Another great part of the Design House tour beyond the weather was that the proceeds of the ticket sales were being donated to the Children's National Medical Center, better known as Children's Hospital. People come from all over to seek help and care for their youngsters. The research and special care given at this hospital is amazing. At $20 a ticket for the house tour, I'm sure that substantial funds were raised.

Enough neutral and cool...enough "gray"zing in the house. I hope the 2011 Design House offers more vibrancy!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Visit Thomas Somerville in Falls Church VA today (4/29/10). There's an AIDP (Association of Design Professionals) sponsored show. There will be the latest and greatest of everything related to Interior Design/Decorating profession available. Elise from Loudoun Design Center will be there showing the fabrics and furniture she enjoyed at Market this year. I expect to meet dozens of new people and products.I hope there is someone showing the "Panels" line from the new window coverings available through your favorite retailer...mine is Budget Blinds...fabulous products and above all SERVICE!!