Pantones color of the year……..

is Living Coral!

As with last years choice of “greenery” I applaud the use of bright cheery colors that are meant to bring joy and fun into our sometimes dreary worlds.  BUT, and you knew there would be a BUT, this color is hard to incorporate into many homes.  In fact I was reading an article on said color, and the in the pictures they chose to accompany the article I could hardly find the coral at all!  It was displayed in a couple knick knacks or diluted down to a pale peach (blah)

So if you hate “living Coral” then this post is not for you, but if you love the color and would like to try incorporating it into your home, don’t be afraid to go for it. As in the picture below, draperies make a bold statement but they are easily changed if you decide you can’t take that much color.

And now for the trends of 2019……

Much like the trends that are going away, the trends making their way into your living rooms this year are all just opinions in the end.  Yes many of the designers “in the know” are in agreement on a few things, (curvier sofas for one) but these are trends and should be taken with a grain of salt.  If you love MCM and have collected pieces over the years you DO NOT have to start over because someone said it is being replaced by “Frasian?”. Is that even a word?  No, of course not, someone coined that to give a client their own style nom and now it’s a new trend.

This article is from Sothebys and besides being a bit stuffy and over the top for my taste, it does give you a sense of what is going on in the interior design world, if you’re into that sort of thing which I am.

Ask A Designer: What Is Hot In 2019?

A couple take-aways on this article:  curvier sofa styles may be coming around again but they do not work in most homes because they require a large room.  Fret not! you can incorporate curves in other ways; round tables, softer lines in accessories etc.   Is minimalism really being replaced by maximalism????  Who cares, most of us do not subscribe to one or the other but fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.  Even if you do like a minimalistic room you should layer in pieces to give it interest and presence.  If you like maximalism (again, not even sure this is a word) then make sure you do not stray into the cluttered end of the scale as you may tip right into hoarder status.

But seriously, knowing what is going on and what trends are out there is great but making your home comfortable and uniquely suited to you should always be the primary goal.


Design trends that should go bye bye in 2019

I love this time of year, the time of year when the “powers that be” decide what trends are done.  Most of the time you can see it coming a mile away, it seems like they should have been gone a long time ago, but this year there might be a little shock when reading a couple on the list.  Particularly numbers 5  and 7.  I’ll let you in on a little secret…..I am currently writing about #5 right now.  The post is not finished because the kitchen I am working on is not finished but it’s coming and I can proudly say I was ahead of it!

The link to the article is below and is a short read so take 5 minutes and read about what changes you should be making but please keep in mind, this is just an opinion.  If you love your industrial kitchen and it makes you happy you do not need to tear it out because someone said the trend is dead.  Remember your home is your safe place, you should feel comfortable and relaxed there and if that means you want to hang macrame and gallery walls then go ahead and don’t let anyone tell you not to.

A little more on Christmas decorations…..

I promise I am done with Christmas decorations after this.  And quite honestly this is probably too late in the game for anyone to change their front door decor, so no tutorial to go with this just a few pictures from Southern Livings Holiday Edition to show that there are all kinds of ways to decorate a front door.  Most of these are regionally driven, which means that the location of these homes dictates the kind of decorations used.  But,  so what?  You can do whatever you want, it’s your house!  I am partial to the coral pink door.

Are you tired of traditional Christmas decor?

I found this article on and with the Christmas season now well under way (it really started right after Halloween but now is really picking up steam since Black Friday) I thought I would take a quick poll.  Are you over red and green or are you a staunch traditionalist?  I myself would like to change things up a bit so I am going for a white tree.  If you are also contemplating a change here is the aforementioned article to give you some ideas.

6 Colors You Should Use in Your Holiday Decor (Because Red and Green Are Ho-Ho-Hum)




I recently was sent a video of the designer Ingrid Fetell Lee  talking about Joy and how it can be achieved in design.  It’s only 13 minutes long so I am posting it here, please take the time and watch, you won’t regret it.

What I was struck by was not the connection of color, shape, multiplicity to the feeling of joy, but that it has taken designers, architects and builders so long to get on board with this idea and apply it to our housing, institutions, medical facilities and such.  When she shows photos of our  cities and the architecture that most are comprised of, it is appalling how devoid of color it is.  How did this go unrecognized for so long by so many?

Now as a former retailer I’ll tell you that the people who are in the game of selling you stuff, whether it’s food, clothing, tech or anything else, really know how to use color.  Those venues are often filled with color and texture to make us “feel” a certain way.  Restaurants, particularly fast food, use color schemes that actually make you hungry!  Fashion retailers use color, light and texture to lead you to expensive items.  (That may be why we have a sense of joy when buying the $100 jeans and buyers remorse when we leave the store.  We get to the gray parking lot lined with white stripes and feel a letdown, or at least some of us do)

So why can’t we apply the same color risks to the places she talks about in the video? Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, housing projects are all so drab compared to the well lit, colorful mall.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good shopping trip as much as the next person but I would also like to see more color and texture in the places we live and work so that we get that sense of joy on a daily basis.  As Ingrid  shows in the video, there are some pioneers changing the landscape and and adding color to these places, but we need so much more.  Color is about life!  It is vibrant and well…….joyful.  And as designers we should not shy away from it.  Push the limits!  Create joy.  Imagine the world more joyful…….pretty cool right?


Spare bedroom done! Sort of….

Let me start this post by saying the only way I get my husband to finish anything is to invite guests and tell him he has a deadline.  Otherwise my projects would go on forever.

With out of town friends coming the race was on to get the spare room done asap.  When last I left you the room looked a lot like this:

Studs were up for the new closet and linen closet and we were awaiting drywall installation.

The drywall went up pretty quickly, (remarkably), and taping was not as bad as I thought.  I did manage to injure myself twice but Shawn moved like he was on fire, so I’ll take the hit for the team.

Drywall and trim is the most boring part of the process for me.  I love the initial designing, I even enjoy laying out the studs in the construction phase but once we get to drywall I usually prefer to run the other way, my husband feels the same way so that is why this takes so long.  Once this is done it’s back to the fun stuff: paint, wallpaper, lighting and furniture installation.  I had a general idea of what I wanted and then that changed about 100 times.  My plans are fluid and the ability to be flexible when going through a remodel process is really important, but do not give your contractor too many change orders, even if he is your husband because those changes can be costly.

Now the “after” pictures in this case are not necessarily the completed project.  They are pictures of a room that is complete enough to house our guests.  The baseboards are not painted (although I may leave them like this) Neither is the ceiling trim.  The attic access is not trimmed out, the floors are not carpeted and the windows will eventually get replaced but that is a much bigger project that I’ll get to down the road.  This is the “after” we have done the heavy lifting and made it livable.

Heavy lifting: As told in past pictures, we tore out walls, added the attic pull-down and reconfigured the space which meant moving walls and replacing studs as well as adding new drywall over the beaverboard.  Beaverboard is what was used in this house in place of plaster or drywall.  It is about 1/8 of an inch thick, wavy in most places and just inadequate.  Instead of pulling it down we decided to go right over it.  We updated the electrical while we had the walls open and now this room has more outlets than the rest of the 2nd floor combined.  We also decided to blow in insulation into the walls since there is absolutely no insulation anyplace in this house except the attic.  Blowing in insulation was cumbersome but not that expensive and it is eco-friendly.  You buy the recycled insulation for about $10 a bag and then the machine rental is free for the first day.  You load the insulation into a hopper and it is then “blown” into the holes that have been drilled in your wall in each bay between studs.  It took us about 6 hours for the entire room but my husband did blow it all the way down to the first floor and the result is amazing.  This room feels completely different now, soundproofed and cozy.

Decorating: As we are always on a budget, the decorating funds for this kept shrinking with every item that was added on the front half, like insulation and additional studding and drywall for closets.  So here we go……it only took a gallon of paint for the ceiling and a gallon of paint for the walls so about $70 total.  I could not afford wall to wall carpeting installation so I bought the biggest rug I could fit in the room (9X12) and covered most of the floor for about $200.  I already owned the dresser, chest, light fixture, lamp, artwork, shelf, bed and linens as well as the curtains so the only other splurge besides the rug was the wallpaper.  (Queue the angels singing!)  Let me now sing the praises of wallpaper, specifically peel and stick wallpaper.  I bought 4 rolls of peel and stick wallpaper for a 9ft wall.  At about $1.37sq/ft it came out to roughly $150, my other big splurge!  The rolls were 16″ wide which made it much easier to manage than what I had previously experienced and it went up like a dream!  Seriously!  I would recommend this all day long.  It comes in hundreds of patterns, is relatively inexpensive and easy to install.  What more could you want.  I will not say there aren’t a few mistakes on my wall but they are nearly impossible to see.  I absolutely love the effect and it is already getting rave reviews.  See for yourself:

This bedroom is about print on print.  Staying within the same color family and choosing a more neutral palette allows the eye to move around the room from pattern to pattern without it feeling too busy.  Breaking it up with subtle color tones on the wall and larger furniture pieces help keep it grounded.  I chose a light to medium grayish blue for walls (Sherwin Williams Fresh Idea), simple white bed linens and a soft mint green tone for the dresser.

Total cost for this simple reno was around $970 most of that was eaten up by drywall, lumber and insulation.  My learning here is that spending more on the hidden items really pays off in the end, I’m talking about the insulation.  I had to be talked into this but it was worth every penny.  And on the pretty side, wallpaper is fabulous and I will be using it in almost every room upstairs!



Progress continues….though slowly during the aftermath of hurricane Florence

So where was I before Flo hit town?????  Oh yes, I was remodeling a spare room.

In the midst of my remodel project we had a devastating hurricane hit our little city.  Florence came in with ferocious force and left horrific damage in her wake.  We evacuated for 2 days to wait for her to pass and came home to a flooded city with friends and neighbors displaced by the storm of the year, maybe even decade (time will tell)  We were one of the fortunate ones and our house was relatively unscathed but that was not the case for many.  We have been helping this week where we can and it is not easy work.  Aside from the physical part, it is an emotional nightmare to watch your community struggle to cleanup damage and debris everywhere.  Whole households are at the curb for the garbage pickup and many objects that hold memories have been lost among trash and river water.  But the rebuilding has already begun in some areas and that is what we are focused on.  The strength and stamina of this community is inspiring and although there is a long road ahead I am certain there is a light at the end of the tunnel because there is still light in everyones eyes, and more smiles than tears.  There are churches handing out meals twice a day (95,000 at last count) there are groups of volunteers in houses helping total strangers and there is a city determined to rise up.

Just last night I was at a “porch party” in our own little neighborhood with friends and neighbors that want to get back to normal, or at least try to put on a brave face while still acknowledging that there is work to be done.

So my little remodel project remains.  We are working on it when we can, in between cleaning up garages, pulling off wet drywall, cutting up fallen trees and raking up debris.  I’ll get back to it, just as many get back to a “normal” pre-hurricane life in the near future.  Stay tuned……

PS-My kid has made me proud, she has dug in, rolled up her sleeves (or she would if she had long sleeves) put her boots on and helped out.  No whining or complaining.


after a short break I am back at it……

I never really take a break but after the kitchen trials I decided  to leave Shawn alone for awhile and just tackle small projects that I can finish myself. This stairway project was one of them.   It’s just a little paint but it makes a big impact:

But now I am ready to start on the upstairs.  I would have liked to have started with the bathroom but that project was just too much for right now so alas my clawfoot tub will stay in the garage for a bit longer.

Now I will be starting with the spare bedroom.  Sounds pretty easy, right?  Wrong!  The 3rd bedroom in our house is really just a glorified closet.  I’m pretty sure it was a nursery in its day because there is an extra entryway to this room from a bedroom, presumably for easy access to the baby, and there is no actual closet in this room (I guess babies did not need closets).

If I am losing you at this point suffice it to say that the room is tiny and not suited for a bedroom in this day and age.  Right next to this room is our attic access.  Another tiny, and I mean TINY, room with a stairway to the attic.  It is miserably hot and serves no purpose except to get to the even hotter attic.

Well ‘m sure you have guessed it by now, my easy spare bedroom re-do will include tearing out the old attic access, replacing it with a pull-down stair and then tearing out the wall between the rooms to enlarge it to one fully functioning spare bedroom/office.  While we are at it we are replacing all the drywall and insulating this old house room by room.

Here is a picture of the new attic pull-down installed by my husband yesterday: *note the wall with the big stripe where the stairway was*


This morning he says “do you have anything going on today?”  I resisted the urge to tell him I actually do work every day and just asked “why?”  He hands over this tiny saw-like tool no bigger than a screw gun and says “you could try and take down the wall”  Oh no you didn’t!  You did not just issue that challenge!  Because …………..

Yep, done and done.  Now you can start to see what will be a decent size bedroom.   You will have to stay tuned for progress reports!  Let the fun and games begin!




sometimes you just need a different perspective…..

I recently received a request from a client to come take a look at her livingroom and provide some direction.

Now I tend to walk into every space with a discerning eye, taking in the layout, color, furniture etc. and then figuring out how it can be changed for the better.  That is not to say I share this opinion every time.  In fact I rarely share unless asked.  And it’s not to say that I find fault with every space because many times it is just perfect (or close to it)

But when a client asks for help I have to mentally prepare to both provide good design advise while ensuring they are comfortable with my suggestions.  This is their home, their safe place and there are a lot of emotions attached to it.

Mary asked for advice and it seemed to me this was the first time she had ever consulted a designer so there was that also.  Upon walking in it seemed like they really didn’t need much help but after really assessing and speaking to them about their concerns I quickly came up with a plan.  It was not too involved and her husband is very handy so they did not require any help from me other than fresh eyes and a design plan to implement.  I won’t get into all the details in the plan but here is a brief recap of what they wanted:

1-new wall paint color, 2-new door color, 3-more light in the room, 4-possibly a new furniture arrangement, 5-cohesiveness to the kitchen

What I saw was:

1-a tight space, 2-TV that was way too high on the wall, 3-a fireplace that needed upgrading, 4-windows through out the space with blinds, 5-perfectly good furniture

It may seem like what I saw and what they wanted were a bit different but in the end the plan I gave them addressed their issues, just not in the way they originally thought:

1-new paint color throughout will bring the cohesiveness they desire, 2-new door color that worked as well outside as it did inside, 3-a plan to reduce the overpowering fireplace so that the TV was lowered and the old vent hole was covered with the extra brick instead of a metal cover plate, 4-reduce the hearth that seemed to end in the middle of the room thus increasing floor space and allowing the furniture arrangement they have to breathe and feel more open (which also allowed for a much larger colorful rug) and 5-lifting the blinds to allow more light (I kid you not)

The point is that sometimes you just need a fresh perspective, sometimes you walk into your space day after day and can no longer see the forest for the trees.  Its okay, we all do it, we get comfortable and immune to the space around us.  Also, sometimes you know what you need but just cannot figure out the best way to get there.

Here is the before:


Nothing glaringly wrong here but despite all the windows, the room is dark and you can’t help but notice what looks like a paper plate covering the hole in the fireplace where the old stove was vented, not to mention the odd TV placement, it seems to be almost on the ceiling


Again nothing too bad but they instinctively knew the door color was not helping out the room or the outside facade.

And after:


Door color updated to contrast with beautiful siding outside and match the new rug inside


Hearth reduced, fireplace lowered.  No more paper plate and the TV is at a more acceptable viewing height


The room feels larger just by reducing the hearth and adding the larger rug.  (they are waiting on new coffee table)

And here is the learning:   For those of you not entirely comfortable with handing over the reins to a stranger but just want a little direction, or “fresh eyes”, there is an answer.  You can get as little or as much help as you want from a designer or decorator, especially one not attached to a furniture store or big design firm.  Many of us are happy to work up a design plan that you can implement yourself, no strings attached.   I have even done a few design plans just from pictures emailed to me.  It doesn’t need to complicated or intimidating.  Give it a try!