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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My 2017 Spring Pillows In My Great Room


It is so fun to change things up a bit for Spring and I have done this for years. The easiest thing to change out are the pillows in a room. They can add color, design and texture. Before I ever make a change I also have a plan.

I order fabric swatches of possibilities and then I put together a combination that will work the bes tin my room. I figure out where each pillow will go, whether it will be in the front or the back, and what size I need.

Here is the mock-up I did before I placed my order for my Spring pillows....

I have written before how sometimes what looks good on paper doesn't always translate into real life.
However I will say this, it is always good to have a plan in place so you can make adjustments as needed.

The first pillows that arrived were the yellow pillows and they were just as I expected, the perfect shade of yellow and they added just the right amount of freshness to my room.

I already had the blue and white pillows. I liked this direction and couldn't wait for the next pillows arrival.

The next pillow that arrived was the white pillow with the black Greek key design. Now this pillow and I have a little history. I have wanted to add this motif to my room for a very long time, but I knew it had to be the right combination to work.

Another puzzle piece that fit perfectly. It looked like it belonged in my black bobbin chair. Uh Oh, it is suppose to go on the sofa next to the yellow pillow.

The last two pillows to arrive are the bright Spring green pillows.........

This is how they looked according to the original plan in my mock-up that you saw at the beginning of the post....

Not bad, not bad at all. However it was not quite right in my minds eye. I was missing the Greek key pillow in the bobbin chair. This looks good for a picture, but to live with it was a bit different for me.

No worries here!! Time to play musical pillows until I get the right placement. I already had a great combination, but placement is always the last key piece.

I played with them and had a lot of fun and then I came up with what I feel is a winning combination for me....

What I discovered was I put the green pillow in the bobbin chair and right next to the bobbin chair is a green pedestal. It was just too much green in that one area for my minds eye....

I prefer the Greek key pillow in the white bobbin chair. I love the way the Green fan leaf pillow pulls out the green in the plants and the green pedestal by the bobbin chair. That little pedestal is one of my favorite pieces in our home.

Here is a close up of the details, it has a Chinese scener carved into it. The top is wood and the column is plaster, it is painted a Kelly green with a gold glaze to bring out the characters  on the column.

In our previous home I used it to place guest towels on next to the tub. I am so glad it works out so well in our new home.

I am very happy with the final decision and I do plan on using the other green leafed pillow with blue for a cooler feel in the summer, using blues and greens.

I hope you all have enjoyed my little pillow journey and the explanation of my decorating process. 

Happy Spring to you all!


Monday, March 27, 2017

My Light Bulb Moment!


Details, details!! What they say about details is so true....... 

 This week we are suppose to start our entry hall project. I have written about it here

I made a mock up so I could see the lighting I have to use in there.....

 The picture above is similar to the look I have planned, except there will be a slab mirror underneath the oil painting.

While we are addressing the entry hall we are also addressing all the door openings, and crown molding in the main living area.

All of our door openings are 9ft tall with rounded edges. The rounded edges are actually quite nice and I don't mind them, however I prefer a more traditional look so we will have all the openings framed out with door frame molding.

I have one opening in particular that I wanted to look a little different than the rest, but at the same time keeping it fairly simple with just a little something extra.

The opening to our great room is about 12ft so it needs a little bit of attention.

The reason I don't want a massive frame or pediment on this opening is because of the windows that you see when you look into the great room. 

Above each window will be a pediment eventually. similar to the one above the door pictured below.  I don't want it to overwhelm the space our home is a cottage, nothing big or grande.

I have been wracking my brain to come up with something simple with a little more detail than a normal door frame molding. I want it to have some details yet not make it too massive in scale for our little cottage. Yesterday it happened....

I was looking at my fireplace wall at the mantel and there it was......

Simple, understated, classic, all the buzz words I like to use in describing my home. See the mirrors frame, that is what I want but with a straight edge on the top.

Then the research began, after all I had to have some pictures to show this look to my contractor.

 I did not have a name for it. I knew my mirror was a Dutch Cushion mirror, but that did not give me the technical term I needed for the treatment I wanted around the door way.

I have to admit. I had so much fun searching to find the perfect picture, description and history of this frame work.

It had to be historical because some of the door frames in the White House look like this......

I kept googling White House Doors. I just hope I don't get a knock on my door from special agents wanting to know why I kept googling the White House!

I kept searching and I finally came up with a post  that told me the name of what I wanted....


Boy I would have never figured that one out on my own.

My mirror is actually a earred shoulder architrave because of the way it dips in the middle, making shoulders.

This look comes from the Georgian, or Greek revival era in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Now how about that!

Scale is going to be so important in all of my architectural additions because our home is small and nothing grande  or large.

Now I have a plan to show the contractor and I am so excited about this light bulb moment I had yesterday. I will keep you posted on what he says when I tell him what I want.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lighting Choice For The Small Hall In Our New Home


When I last wrote about the lighting in my home I was looking for the right combination of lighting for my Great room. 

As I wrote in my last post I had to think of all the lighting in the main part of the house because you can see it all together as you enter into our home.

Here is a picture of all existing lighting in the room.......

As you can see I have carried out a black and white theme with a touch of antique brass.

I also have to keep in mind the lighting you will see as you enter our home since you can see all the way to the back wall from our entry hall.

In the entry I chose to use the aged brass since I have a piece of art in there that looks best with gold tones. Below is a mock up I did of the entry.


I chose the aged hand rubbed finish because it feels richer to me, and it also has a darkened finish in the crevices which mimic the black that I am using. I also am getting a new picture light in the same finish.

REMEMBER: When using more than one light in the same area and in the same finish try to get it from the same manufacture. All manufacturer's finishes are different so aged brass in one company might be totally different from another company. Both of my fixtures are from Hudson Valley.

Now for the new kid on the block, and where he will reside.....

See that little hall on the left of the TV? 

It is a blank slate, and it needed some attention so I decided I would add a molding frame on the entire back wall and have a hanging fixture hang down low enough to be seen.

I wanted something simple that was blackish and possibly had an addition of the aged brass. It needed to be a certain size, and of course budget was also a concern.

I had several picks to choose from, and narrowed it down to five, here are some of the fixtures I was contemplating in the bottom left corner.

First I picked out what I liked, then reviewed pricing and sizes. The reason I choose what I like first without considering anything else is to make sure I am not swayed at the beginning of my decision.

I will get practical and down to nitty-gritty after I line up my choices.









So there you have the lineup! 

Just for fun which one do you like?  I have my favorites and have it narrowed down to two choices. I will share by final decision in another post.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Effortlessly Styled vs. Contrived Room Designs

 You are about to embark on a study with me in order to determine what is your own comfort zone in a rooms design. 

Does everything have to match, or do you feel more comfortable with a surprise element in the mix?


Obviously planned or calculated; not spontaneous or natural; labored:

In the past I have used the word, “CONTRIVED!” many times when I was consulting with my clients. 

I did not want their rooms to look, too planned, too obvious, too matchy, or  as I like to say, “SMATCHY!!” (definition: where the room matches so much it smacks you in the face!!)

What I did want was a well designed room.  A room that looked like it took time, a process that evolved, easy on the eye, a room with a good visual flow. 

There has to be nothing that is jarring to the eye in a room, but one that will create a smooth flow that the eye will gently move across the room to view it in it’s entirety.

Opposite words for contrived :

This subject opened up to me again as I was in the middle of planning the addition of some new Spring pillows, and an addition of yellow in my  family room.

Since I am a planner I have to go to great efforts in order to make my rooms not look too contrived. I realize there is a level of effortlessness that we all have, and it will vary from person to person.

We all need to find our comfort zone. Some people require symmetry, and everything to match in order to be comfortable in their home. 

However, an effortlessly styled room can be much more interesting  to others.

In my researching of rooms that mixed patterns, and colors beautifully I began to notice there was a definite line that marked an effortlessly styled room vs. a very contrived room.

Today I am going to share with you some of my discoveries. These will be my own observations and opinions on how the rooms made me feel.

I will try to dissect them for you in order for you to understand why I feel they are effortlessly styled, or contrived. However, try to be your own judge, since all of us will have varying opinions.

The object of this lesson is to teach all of you to be more observing about the designs you see and love, or dis-like and to know why.


As lovely as this room is it feels contrived to me. Let me tell you why. 

All of the pillows are repeats, same patterns and same colors, there is no surprise here. 

The rug matches the gray in the pillows, the side table matches the turquoise in the pillows. This is a room that really matches.

To make this more effortless in style I would switch out the turquoise table for a nice big  round log table. 

The rug would be switched to a patterned rug that would introduce one of the main colors, which happens to be blue. 

I would add a large scale pattern pillow to replace one of the striped pillows.

For some this room would be perfect and it is perfect, but that is part of it’s contrived personality, it is too perfect.

.not contrived


You will notice right out of the gate, the patterns in this room are quite varied. 

What is making them all work together well is there common ground in the color of indigo/navy. Not one single pattern is the same, and yet this room has a gentle flow to the eye. You do not jolt from one element to the other.

I will admit there is some thought, planning, and talent that takes place in making a room look effortless in it's styling, but with research, and studying of what you like and don’t like, anyone can do it.
I absolutely love the colors that are being used here, but this is contrived because of the use of the same two colors repeatedly.

The artwork matching the turquoise, and green color scheme is making it look too, “SMATCHY!” 

Something with a scene that had a fresh look to it would have been more interesting.

The window treatment is picking up on the same color as seen in the pillow and the artwork, again a bit too matchy. 

A nice natural light wood tone, matchstick blind would have tied in the armoire, and added some much needed texture, and warmth to this room.
.Not contrived
I wanted to show you this next image because it is only using the same two colors over, and over, navy and turquoise, and yet this room looks effortlessly styled to me. 

So what is the difference between this room, and the last room that I pictured?

The varied patterns in the pillows, the textures in the room. The rough painted beams, beaded chandelier, various sea shells and a touch of shine with the mercury glass, bottles and glass top tables.

All of these varied textures keep this room in the interesting category.
CONTRIVED remove the yellow pillows and only have the yellow in the chairs and one flip flop picture
Another home at the beach! I absolutely LOVE the pattern on the chairs, and the bright cheery yellow fabric on what appears to be a distressed wooden chair. The nail-head trim adds another bit of interest and texture to the room.

This room has a yellow rug, yellow chairs, yellow trim on banquette, yellow pillow, and then another pop of yellow in the flip-flop art.

My eye is jumping from one yellow piece to the other.

Now picture the room without that yellow pillow, and in its place another indigo/navy pillow in a different pattern but still in keeping with the blue and white.

I would take away the yellow napkins, and blue dishes, and use white dishes and a soft linen napkin in a blue and white tiny stripe. In my opinion these changes would make the room look less contrived and more effortlessly styled.
I would imagine by now you recognize this room as feeling contrived to me. Again, love the colors, but my eye is jolting around the room to pick up the yellow and cobalt elements.

The wood accents are a great choice because they give a nice warmth and texture to this room. 

The other smart choice was to vary the blue in the base of the little breakfast bar area. 

If they had not put the yellow dishes in the glass front cupboard, but kept them in the blue and white family this room would have had much more of a smooth visual flow. The yellow plates in the cupboard make my eye jolt over there instead of going around the room easily.

When using a bright, dark or contrasting colors in your room designs make sure that they are placed in strategic areas in the room in order to make a nice visual flow. 

If you find your eye hopping from one colorful element to the next you then will know you do not have an effortlessly styled room, but one that just might feel a bit contrived.

This post was not a post to be critical of any one person’s design or their choices, but rather a lesson in observation.

Design is an ever changing, vast subject, and one that we can always learn something new from. 

I hope that this post opens your eyes to new possibilities and you start viewing your home or any new projects with an open mind.