The Beauty of Real Craftmanship in Handmade Furniture

The Unmatched Beauty of Bespoke and Handmade Furniture: A Guest Blogpost 

Here is another guest article from my friend, Jo Lee of Swedish Interior Design, in our “View From Europe” series. Handmade furniture from craftsmen who are applying timeless, painstaking techniques to make beautiful, lovingly crafted pieces, are being edged out it seems in this economy of fast, soulless, cheaper MDF-type case goods. Here Joe looks at the benefits to be gained by ordering a custom made piece of furniture.

The world of interior design is increasingly cluttered by poorly made reproduction furniture in a wide range of styles coming from China and the Far East. This is all to satisfy our unshakeable desire for something new, different or exciting in this world of transient tastes and ever changing fashions. We forget, as we spend to maintain our ‘habit’, about the attendant environmental costs of mass manufacture, carbon intensive shipping and cheap Third World labour. These become ever more important as resources become scarce and the quality of human life lessens – just remember the recent factory collapses and death tolls in India as a direct result of our need for new things.

It’s also sad too because as we hunt online for bargain after bargain, we forget about our local craftsmen. Those with time honoured skills who find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. As all of you know, there’s something very wonderful about a piece of furniture lovingly crafted from a beautiful piece of well dried timber – honed, carved and polished to perfection. Its filled with life and spirit in a way that mass produced pieces never can. Like this…


Swedish Handmade Armoire

A Handmade Bespoke Armoire

 It takes years to perfect the kind of talent that creates graceful curves and sweeping arches by hand – something a machine can replicate but never quite match. Only a human hand can create that extra mojo that you find in something made with love and attention to detail that works with the vagaries of wood to create beauty – that’s why antique pieces continue to command a strong following – from people who appreciate artistry and the feel of real wood.

Swedish handmade bespoke king bed

Handmade Bespoke Bed

Of course, economics requires the presence of the reproduction market serving customers in different price ranges. But I am continually surprised that even at the extortionate prices at the high end of the market, companies still make gaudy copies of antique furniture from veneered MDF and plywood with the lame excuse that “Chippendale would have used MDF if it had existed in his day.” Hmpf!

 I don’t think so. Yes, inert wood gives stability in our age of central heating but it’s the natural movement and vibe of real wood that we love and this creates something special that we want to hand down over generations. Here’s some real wood that we made for a client!

Swedish Bespoke Dressing Table

Handmade Swedish Dressing Table

Reproduction furniture is fine…from a distance, although at the cheaper end of the market it just doesn’t look or feel right. Look closely at the finish, the way drawers are jointed – is there hand dovetailing? Do the shelves use handcarved dog tooth racking? How are the carvings made and applied? How does it hold together as a piece overall – does it have the essential ‘unity of being’ that all great furniture has?

A great piece of furniture is so much more than the sum of its parts – it’s the way it is put together and the feeling and love that is put into it – something that cannot be hurried – and there are no short cuts for handshaping and burnishing.

 Again this jars with today’s “I want it now” mentality where no one is prepared to wait for anything and they expect to just pluck it off a shelf. That’s fine – but what you gain in instant choice, you lose in the quality of the final product.

Looking at the interior design market as a whole, there is so much ‘instant redesign’ based on looks popularised on TV. It’s become like the fashion market – disposable styles changing so fast to drive the great god of consumerism and satisfying the empty soul of mammon that today’s consumer seems to exhibit. Nothing built to last or built with care.

Didn’t the Supremes sing “You can’t hurry love”?  It’s the same with real furniture and unless we support the younger craftsmen, restorers, French polishers and the like who are all too few, we will end up in a world where ‘business’ not ‘craft’ is all important. That would be so sad.

Joe Lee is the Director of Swedish Interior Design

 Swedish Interior Design designs and hand makes one off bespoke furniture, beds and dining tables for clients all over the world to their specifications and dimensions.

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1 Comment | Posted in interior design, View from Europe

The E-Guide to Choosing Colors for Your Home…It’s Almost Finished

I Just Need to Know Your Color Struggles and Problems…so I Can Answer Them!

ornage, blue and green color scheme for a room

How to create a split complementary color scheme

I am in the midst of writing an e-guide on How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Rooms” that I will be giving away to my readers. In general, it will cover some secrets on how I use color (and some common mistakes that you should avoid) but the main point of the guide will be to give you some tools that will make choosing color easier…and less fear-inducing!

creating an analogous color scheme with cool colors

How to create an analogous color scheme

But, I need some help from you, my wonderful readers and followers. I need to know what you are struggling with when it comes to making color choices in your home. In the comments below, just jot down some things that made you crazy, made you cry…maybe even made you laugh when you saw how a color came out on your wall. I think I know most of the problems that people have – but I want to hear from you. Tell me your issues and struggles and I will put solutions to them in the e-guide.

The guide will cover topics such as…

  • How to use the color wheel successfully in developing beautiful color schemes
  • Why and how light changes paint colors: Becoming aware of this can make color decisions easier
  • Creating the mood and emotion you want to feel in a room
  • How to eliminate a lot of colors from the vast number of choices on the market today: Why the fixed elements in your room are the keys to your color choices
  • Best colors for north, south, east and west facing rooms
  • How paint colors can help a tall room look cozier…a short room look taller…a long room look shorter

If any of those topics resonate with you, please sign up and subscribe to this blog, so you will be the first to know when it will be available. It should be ready within a week or two. Until then…please write down some problems and concerns that you are having. That will help me so much in putting this guide together.

Thanks…hope to hear from you soon!

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Leave a comment | Posted in Color Roundup, interior design, Paint

Painting and Decorating Architectural Fragments

Chalk painted and antiqued ornamental board

Creating something from nothing

I was coming back from a decorative painting job out in the Hamptons and I came across this wonderful old antique shop named Lloyds in Eastport, New York. I had passed this store many times before and finally – I had a little bit of time to go in and take a look. The store is a lot larger than it appears from the outside – and there are two large floors full of antiques. Just what I needed – a ton of stuff to choose from! Anyway, I fell in love with a couple of things that I just had to pick them up (I only had about 20 minutes to peruse because I had another appointment to go to).

I picked up these two boards that were very ornamental, They may have been parts of other pieces of furniture…but they were so beautiful I just had to pick them up. $90 in total for the two – not too bad.

two decorative wood boards before painting

I had a plan for each one…so maybe I am finally getting a little smarter with my purchases! I knew my husband was going to groan about bringing more stuff into the house, but he thought they were really lovely pieces. The next day – which is amazing for me because I usually let things linger in my studio for months…even years before I tackle them! – I got some paint supplies out and started painting,

 antique ornamental board before

First. I gave the base of the board a bit of lightening with French linen from Annie Sloan Chalk Paints. Then I dry brushed and highlighted a lot of the raised ornamentation in Annie Sloan Old White.

Old White chalk paint drybrush on a decorative board

Paris Gray and Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint on a Decorative Piece

Adding some Paris Gray and Duck Egg Blue

Then I took a little bit of Paris Gray and some Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint and highlighted some of the raised areas that were more floral (the leaves and the fleur de lis parts). It needed a little extra “oomph” so I used some Verdi Gris colors from Faux Effects – their mid tone and lightest blue green colors. This added a little more life to the piece.

adding verdi gris coloring to a decorative wooden piece

Adding some Verdi Gris



adding verdi gris coloring to a decorative piece

To finish it off, I took some dark brown faux crème color (from Faux Effects – or you could use a dark brown acrylic paint) and added some age and darkness in the recessed parts of the piece – and a bit on some of the leaves as well.

decorative chalk painted fragment in a home setting

I am not sure where it will go exactly – perhaps in my Master Bedroom or bath…but here it is temporarily in my kitchen.

closeup of decorative board with Annie Sloan chalk paints

I love doing these ornamental fragments – they can be placed in narrow areas of your home…above doorways, which is what I will be doing with that other board (so stay tuned!). These lovely architectural elements seem to be plentiful in antique shops because they have been parted from their original sources. They add some history and heritage to your home.

What have you painted lately?  Have you picked up any architectural fragments like these?  Let me know!

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10 Comments | Posted in Annie Sloan's chalk paint, Decorative Finishes, interior design, Makeovers, Paint, Tutorials

Help! I’m Having a Problem Picking Paint Colors


What’s Involved in a Paint Color Consultation?


I have received a few questions about how I go about doing a color consultation for my clients. Instead of answering separately, I thought it best to do a blogpost about it…so here goes!


paint brushes with paint


Q: I am having trouble picking some colors for the first floor of my home. Can you tell me how I should prepare for a color consult with you and what should I expect – what’s your process?

Hi – this is a great question. I do things a little differently than some color consultants, so I am glad to tell you a little about my process.

First we’ll start with how you can prepare for it. I will have a phone conversation with you before I come over. I want to know which rooms you are having the most trouble with and I ask you why you think you are finding them difficult. I then ask questions like these…


  • What are the functions of the rooms…who uses them (ages, gender) and at what time of day?
  • What mood would you like to create in these spaces? Peacefulness…romance…happiness?
  • What colors are you most drawn to and what colors are in your wardrobe? Are you more partial to light colors? Do dark colors frighten you?
  • How much (or little) light is there in these rooms? Natural light…incandescent etc?
  • What’s the style of the room – are you happy with that or would you rather an updated look?
  • What are your feelings about the spaces you need help with – does the room feel cramped…too boring…too huge…too long…too short?
  • What flooring (and other items in the room) are staying?


relaxed sage wall in great room

Start pulling images of rooms you love

I then ask you to start pulling some images of rooms that you are really drawn to.  You can pin them to a Pinterest board (best if you share it with me online!) or else you can gather images from magazines and we can go over these rooms when I come for the appointment.

Places you've travelled to and loved can also give you inspiration

Places you’ve travelled to and loved can also give you inspiration

If possible, prior to our meeting, I ask you to send me pictures of the actual rooms you would like my help with.

a before picture of a kitchen before a color consultation

Send me a picture of the room(s) you are having trouble picking a color for

 All of this gives me a great background so I can help you fully.  I need to know as much as I can about your likes and dislikes…what flooring, fabrics are staying and exactly how these rooms are being used, by who and when.

When I arrive for our meeting, I take a walk through the rooms you want me to help you with. I usually will start with the most problematic room (most times it’s the kitchen because it has several finishes and costly items that can’t be changed and need to be considered). I look at the adjacent spaces and jot down ideas about creating flow from one room to the other. I take note of all the flooring and fabrics of items that are staying – and then we sit down to talk.

beautiful wood flooring in a home

Expensive items, like flooring that won’t be changed, needs to be a big consideration in choice of color


If you’ve shared your Pinterest boards with me, I have a really good idea of what you love and what you are going for before I arrive. If not, I look over your inspiration photos and we talk about your dreams for the spaces you want to change in your home. I bring actual samples of painted boards to the meeting and together we examine them to see if they work in your room(s) and if they resonate with you.


I find that a color consultation is best when the outcome is a blend of what the client loves and what works best in the space. I always educate the client in terms of cool colors vs. warm colors…the importance of understanding undertones and the importance of knowing what elements in the room support or negate a particular color choice etc. So I feel that when the client is fully engaged – and understands why some colors work and others don’t – then there’s no problem bringing the color consultation results to fruition in the home. Sometimes (well…a lot of times) a client may love a particular color (let’s say, blue) but the flooring and fabrics and finishes in the room fight with that color. But once the client sees and understands the reasons behind some color choices – they are in full agreement and they are so excited for things to happen!


beuatiful neutral colors in an elegant bedroom

Neutral paint colors in a lovely Master Bedroom


A More Creative Color Consultation Process


Many times I find and specify a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams color that is perfect for the client. Sometimes, I need to create a custom color – so I take a paint color and add several tints to it to get to the “right color” for the space. A yellow paint that you picked and loved in the paint store (but it’s too primary and bright in your room) may need some tweaking with a violet tint to tone it down a bit. I use my artist’s knowledge to customize a color that is perfect for you and your space.

And then, there are times when I need to create a custom faux finish for a client in order to bring together several disparate items in the room (that’s a topic for another blogpost – which I will do in detail very soon!). When there are several elements in a room that have varying or jarring undertones (many kitchens have this issue), a static paint color will not do. So I create a glaze or a plaster that blends two or three hues together to solve the problem. Decorative finishes (while beautiful in and of themselves) are problem solvers – especially when you have competing undertones (a warm cabinet color and a cool marble or granite) in a space.


custom pearl metallic plaster

A custom pearl plaster was used in this bath because all the static paint colors looked wrong or too boring

custom wall finish in a beautiful guest bath

The antique mirror in this guest bath was the inspiration for the custom wall finish created by The Colorful Bee

But all clients of mine will get a few large samples of the proposed colors – the actual painted versions. You can only make a qualified decision with the real thing – not a small, postage stamp sized photocopy of the color (as in the fan deck).  I advise the client to put these samples in the corners and next to their windows…beside their chairs, sofas, artwork …next to their moldings and flooring etc. I want the client to “love” the color – morning, noon and night. I want my clients to notice how paint colors change from break of day until they go to bed at night. Most clients will be able to tell if these samples are or not “working” in their spaces.

painted samples of paint colors

I always do a follow up with the client to make sure that everything blends and goes with all the elements in their spaces. I recommend qualified and insured painters that I have worked with for many years to do the work. Most clients go with “my guys,” but some have their own painters that they trust to do the painting.

metallic plaster on walls and ceiling

The painters I recommend are neat and they do a perfect job every time. Here we are doing a beautiful metallic plaster in an entryway ceiling and walls

I hope that this helps you. Let me know if this has answered your questions. If you have any other thoughts or questions, please let me know.

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2 Comments | Posted in Benjamin Moore, Business, Color Roundup, Decorative Finishes, interior design, Paint

A Winter Mantel and an Online Class in Photography


adding books to a winter mantel

I was so late in taking down my Christmas decorations…and I finally decided that today I was going to de-Christmas my mantel as well. I’m still loving the wintery look, so I used some greenery, pinecones, candles and mercury votive holders but I added some books to the mix this time. Winter is a time when I read a lot more than I do the rest of the year, so the decoration fits my personality in the great room.

mantel decorated with antique books

 Putting my favorite $12 sunburst mirror in the center, I filled out the rest of the mantel with a collection of antique books and some “new” antique books, candles and evergreen sprigs from my backyard.

winter mantel with sunburst mirror candles and books

 winter mantel with books and candlesI am taking an online class in Photography now and specifically for the camera that I have – the Nikon D3100. As I was going through the class, the instructor was teaching how to change the White Balance, ISO and many other settings on the camera. He made some suggestions on settings to change also. So, now I am not so happy with most of my shots. I had been pretty happy – although I knew that I needed to learn a lot more about photography (which is why I decided to take the class!). Shooting in Manual Mode has its challenges…but I hope to one day conquer it!

fireplace mantel with candles, books and mirror

These are nighttime images, so the glow of the candles warmed up the shots a lot, which I do kind of like because it’s closer to what it actually looks like in the room. I had to also change the ISO setting (I had it 100, so I upped to 400). – the higher the ISO, the more sensitive the camera will be to low light situations. You don’t want to use a high ISO number because the picture will get too grainy then.

candle covered with faux tin ceiling paper and twine

 But I had so much trouble with the White Balance – I kept getting cooler “green” shots and that was so wrong. I realized I had to fiddle with (notice my grand photography lingo here!)…or rather “adjust” the colors on the White Balance setting. I had had it on auto – but that wasn’t working. I finally changed it to shooting in “incandescent” because I did have some lights on…and then there were the candles! I warmed up the shots by adjusting the temperature setting that comes up.  

mantel with pinecones, books and candles

I have a long way to go but hopefully you will learn some things along with me. Let me know if some of my photography issues (and how I figure out what to do!) is useful to you. I know there are bloggers out there still using Iphones and point and shoot cameras…who do want to venture into the DSLR world. Let me hear from you – I will post what I learn!

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6 Comments | Posted in Holiday Decorating, interior design, Makeovers, Tutorials

Putting Christmas Away

Packing Up My Favorite Christmas Decorations


Christmas decorations on a console in the living room

Even the lamps got into the Christmas spirit!

I know I’m a bit late in doing this, but I am only getting to put away my Christmas decorations. I put them up so late – Christmas Eve (trees and everything…and even some decorating Christmas morning before my family came over for dinner that afternoon) – so I just had to leave them up a little longer. It’s a sad time for me because I love these silly little trinkets (oh grow up, Linda)…but it’s true.

fauc poinsettia and tassel on a lamp

So, as I am getting ready to pack everything away, I thought I’d take some shots of my favorite things before I say goodbye to them until next year. This will also be a reminder for my husband who stows the boxes in our attic and swears that he has taken down every one each Christmas – yet I know which ornaments are still missing!

monkey play bongos Christmas ornament

But with everything put away, I’ll have a clean slate to begin some new projects in our house. I have a lot of ideas running around in my head – but with all the Christmas stuff still up it’s hard to plan! So goodbye Hula Christmas monkey…

horse Christmas ornament in tree

See you next year old horse…you’re off til next year…

Racoon ornament in Christmas tree

Well Rocky Raccoon is going back in his room…maybe he’ll find Gideon’s Bible!

florals and faux poinsettias in Christmas tree

Packing up the florals, ribbons and faux poinsettias…

 scrolled acanthus ornaments with Christmas tree and lights in background

Goodbye Christmas…til next year!

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4 Comments | Posted in Holiday Decorating, interior design, My Life

Color Roundup: Using Radiant Orchid in Interior Design

My Take on Radiant Orchid

 Radiant Orchid

I have always been a fan of this color – whether a more or less intense or more red or violet versions. Color experts say it’s an artistic color (I would agree!) and that it symbolizes innovation, creativity and originality. Yup – in total agreement. This girl loved it so much that she dyed her communion dress orchid! A few days after the ceremony, I had my mother buy some Rit Dye to make a beautiful princess dress in that color. I was in color heaven!

What I don’t agree on is some of the statements I see in many articles on how to use it. I read today a comment from an expert who said to just use it in small doses – like adding toss pillows in the color. That’s fine if you have a mostly neutral room with a white or off white sofa or perhaps taupe walls with a chocolate sofa…but there are many instances that this toss pillow idea just won’t work! The colors in your room have to blend, at least, with this very brilliant hue.

Here are some great ways to use this color in interior design…

 using Radiant Orchid in interior design

It works in small doses – with grays and other neutrals. Above, Holly Kidwell used it to punch up the color in this lovely bedroom.

Jamie Drake's us of Radiant Orchid

Designer Jamie Drake used varying shades and tints of the color in this vibrant living room. Notice how he used the color to have your eye flow from one spot to another in the room.

Radiant Orchid as an accent color by Jamie Drake

It works as an accent color. Here’s Jamie Drake again using it in a closet – a very elegant closet.

Radiant orchid in a living room

Designer Wendi Young used a slightly more violet version of the color in this lovely living room. I love the walls – a dusty pink faux finish. The mix of golds and creams and the punch of deep purple in the accessories works beautifully.

one spot of radiant orchid in a room

Anna Antunes shows us how just a few touches of radiant orchid can take a neutral room from nice to beautiful.

Radiant Orchid artwork in a neutral room

You’d like to be more bold with the color but you don’t want the commitment on your walls? Look for a beautiful piece of art that contains the color of the year!

Radiant orchid in a home office

If you want to be more daring, think about using it as a wall color. Here designer and color expert, Lisa Teague, uses it in her home office. A creative person can really benefit from a big dose of this inspiring color. On your bedroom walls – maybe not. You might have trouble sleeping. But in a space you use to dream up ideas and designs – for sure! I love the hue with those bright touches of orange – so vibrant.

Lisa Teague in a more violet version of radiant orchid

Designer, Lisa Teague

You see, no shy violet here.  Lisa practices what she preaches – in a sweater that’s a more violet version of Radiant Orchid!

I still wear the color (mostly since I became a blonde – it seems to go with my hair color and complexion). Since I have a fair complexion and my hair is blonde – so hardly any contrast going on – a soft version of the color suits me the best.

radiant orchid sweater and learning screenprinting

Me, learning silk screening  from Lucretia Moroni of Fatto a Mano in NYC

a radiant orchid sweater

Wearing the same sweater, here I am teaching a class on Color and Design

Here I am wearing a light tint of the color. I wore this sweater a lot – until my husband put it in the dryer and shrunk it! It has been nearly impossible to find this color anywhere in the stores. Now – I guess it will become easier. What I love about it is that it is a warmer color – not cool as in a totally lilac hue. Once I wore the sweater to a cocktail reception in Floral Park NY for Melanie Royals of Royal Design Studio. She came up to me and told me it was the perfect color for my complexion. Thanks Melanie…I agree!


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Happy New Year’s to All and a Little Table Decoration!

 Happy New Year’s to All My Readers and Friends

Happy New Year Christmas ornaments and candle on table

I hope you are all planning a wonderful celebration.  I am having a little pre-dinner celebration and then my husband and I are meeting my brother and sister-in-law (a yearly tradition) and having a wonderful Italian dinner – and we’ll be ringing in the New Year at the restaurant. I am looking forward to it!

 table set for New Years celebrationOn the table I put about 4 or 5 clocks. A great idea is to set them at different times (New York, San Francisco, Paris etc) and then you’ll have an excuse to have a drink or a kiss whenever it’s midnight somewhere!!

clocks on table set for New Year's celebration

Pre-celebration we will be having a little bubbly and some snacks because our dinner reservation is not until 9PM. If it’s not too late, we may go to my nephew’s house after midnight because that’s his birthday – January 1.

 New Years table setting

For New Year’s morning, the table will already be set for a wonderful breakfast…we’ll just add some orange juice to the champagne for a Mimosa.

 Hershey's kisses in a champagne flute

So for tonight – don’t deny yourself some chocolate and bubbly. You’ll start a new leaf tomorrow!

Are you making any resolutions? I have a few – but if I can stick to just one or two (losing weight…is the biggest one), I will be happy.

table setting for New Years

So, please be safe and have a wonderful and healthy New Year. Let me know about your resolutions and how you celebrated in the comments below. Thank you for coming by!

Happy New Year's top hat on a decorated table

 Happy 2014! I still can’t believe that that’s the year it is now. Unbelievable…where does the time go?

Linking with…A Stroll Thru Life, Between Naps on the Porch

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10 Comments | Posted in Holiday Decorating, interior design, My Life

Why a New Ring Setting is Like Interior Design

 A New Engagement Ring Setting is Like Interior Decorating? Yes!

A week before Christmas, I received an early present from my husband – a new setting for my engagement ring. I wanted this for such a long time but I always felt that it might be too expensive and that I should be happy with the actual ring that my husband gave me. It’s the memory thing, you know.  I wanted to preserve the beautiful memory of my engagement and my wedding day.


wedding picture, outdoor wedding ceremony

My husband Richard and I on our wedding day


wedding party with lavendar bridesmaid gowns

From left to right, my daughter Jessica, me, daughter Krista, stepdaughter Megan and granddaughter, Meghan

That was a blessed time in my life and I will never forget how I felt and how I still feel.

a new setting for an engagement ring

Trying on my rings and the new setting before resizing

But the reality of my rings were…

  •  My fingers had gotten fatter and I was lucky to be able to wrestle my engagement ring off my finger – not so lucky with my wedding band.  That had to be removed by my jeweler professionally. They had to resize it for me.
  • I was in danger of losing my diamond because the prongs holding it were crooked. Might have been my years of troweling plaster and maybe that time when I had to run home to get something from my garage while on a job – and in closing the garage door, it slammed shut suddenly on my left hand, nearly breaking my fingers.  I was really in pain after that and I was in the middle of a large Venetian Plaster job, so I had to keep going. Thank goodness it was my left hand that got hurt…and not my right (right-handed, you know!)

troweling with rings on

And speaking of troweling, you wouldn’t believe how many times I cleaned and soaked my rings. But that stuff got trapped in some of the teeniest crevices.  So – because of daily use and the extra wear and tear that I put my rings through, they no longer looked good, at all.

How much did the new setting cost?  $805. Not too bad. And now this really clear and nearly perfect ¾ carat diamond, sits higher up with the new setting (so it looks bigger and more important than it really is) and 6 new baguette diamonds flank it on either side – plus 2 baguettes from my original ring.  The setting still resembled the original setting – but much better. My jeweler also informed us that two of the original baguettes were made of broken diamonds, which some in the industry use to repurpose their diamonds that have broken. The settings get sold as whole diamonds – but, in reality, they are not. So, when my husband bought the ring for me, he understood that the total carat count, with the baguettes, was a full carat. That was not true.

So, the reason why I bring this little story up is because I can relate it to how many people might feel about hiring an interior decorator or other design professional. Silly, you say? No, not at all. There are so many people who would like to redesign one or more of their rooms but maybe they lack the talent or energy to do it…and they think that hiring a professional would cost too much money (just like I thought about the cost of a new setting!) So – they do nothing. Even though they have outgrown the current design and it no longer suits their taste or the function of the room. Or maybe they tried to do a few things on their own – and they failed…so they stopped.

They didn’t realize that a designer would do a small project or be available on a consulting basis.

a kitchen revamp before

First we added crown molding and started to paint the soffits and crown

how to alter kitchen soffits with faux woodgraining

The finished project

closeup of the stenciled soffit

They would love to hire a designer but feel their budgets would be too small…that designers are just too expensive. They don’t realize that a designer’s creativity could save them a lot of money. The kitchen that I helped a client revamp, took 3 days to do. We added crown molding and then faux oak grained them and the soffits to match the cabinetry – plus we added a faux inlaid marquetry design that added a little punch to the kitchen. This was a much less expensive way to update a kitchen than to gut and buy new cabinetry…and less stressful as well.

Not realizing that a designer can take the best and most beautiful things you have (your diamonds) and allow them to shine in a new setting (pun intended!), people shortchange themselves by not using the trained eye of a professional. A designer will use things that you already have, repurpose them and create a new and improved look – without busting the budget. Just like my jeweler took my small but nearly perfect diamond and made it look more important and impressive – a talented designer can do that with your room.

corner of a room before

Chinoiserie hand painted on a living room wall

After, a lonely corner becomes a focal point

 Designers think about things that you overlook. Just living your life – kids, work, stress, every day chaos etc impedes your keeping your home picture perfect. Do you now have too many things in your rooms – too much furniture? (Did your room get fat…just like my fingers??) Has your furniture, pillows, wall colors dulled with age (too much plastering with your rings on??) Most times the fix is simpler than you think.

custom finish on a custom wrought iron staircase

Making an entryway more grand


Helping clients make an impact in their homes

Helping clients make an impact in their homes

A designer can help you achieve a unique and collected over the years look. With resources not available to the general public and with specialized training, a designer can assess the real value of what you have (crushed diamonds passing as full ones), repurpose your best things in a unique way (creating a unique setting that’s you and not cookie cutter).

before picture of a powder room

Before: A powder bath that my client was unhappy with


powder room after

After: Since she never used the shower, we created a beautiful silk treatment to make this room more elegant

A designer can enhance the quality of your life in the space. Just like when I no longer received any joy from looking at my worn out engagement ring, the skill and knowledge a designer has can make living and entertaining in your room so much more pleasurable. In the above room, we added a beautiful teal and pearl stried wall finish and antiqued wainscoting and a silk treatment for the shower – to update and add elegance to this little powder room.

So, as I was admiring my new setting and feeling so good and proud of it, I saw that my husband was truly enjoying it also. Maybe it’s a little bit of “Happy wife, happy life,” but he feels that the ring just looks so beautiful now – in its new setting.

If you have been putting off doing something with your home, think about my little story. With the right person guiding you, your home can look and serve you better. It doesn’t cost as much as you think it does…and it’s an investment in your future happiness.

If you would like to feel happiness and joy when entering a room you no longer love – contact me.

Linking to: Between Naps on the Porch


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6 Comments | Posted in Decorative Finishes, interior design, Makeovers, My Life

A Fun Quiz for Christmas

The other night I played a fun game with my family. The object of the game was to figure out the first lines of famous songs based on a set of initials. We had 13 people – so one was the judge (to determine how many answers were right and to count up who got the most answers correct) and the rest of us split up into 4 teams of 3. Team members should go to different parts of the house, so they can’t hear answers being talked about by other members.

I am pretty good at knowing the words of Christmas songs (and my team won the game!) but this was a tricky but fun game. Print out copies of the game that I came up with below – or create your own.  The answers to the first lines are below the quiz. You can set different time limits for the quiz – but we did 15 minutes.

 first lines of Christmas songs quiz

Have fun and Merry Christmas to all!

Answers… O come, all ye faithful joyful and triumphant; Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly fa la la la la la la la la; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear that glorious song of old; We Three Kings of Orient are bearing gifts they travel afar; Silent night holy night all is calm all is bright; Away in a Manger no crib for a bed; Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose; Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul; I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night; Oh the weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful; Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose; I’m dreaming of a White Christmas just like the ones I used to know; Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, in the lane snow is glistening; Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen; Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock; On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree; You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why; City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style; Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree for me; It’s the most wonderful time of the year.



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Leave a comment | Posted in Holiday Decorating, My Life