what I do

what I do

Monday, April 30, 2012

A sneak preview

One of my favorite color combinations right now is navy blue and white. With a lot of shiny silver and a touch of gold. So how fun is it that a new client's house is just that.

As a designer, sometimes we are asked to start from scratch and other times all a client needs are just the finishing touches.  Finishing touches are all this already beautiful home needed. We are not done, but I thought I would show you a few before photos and a little of the progress we have made so far. This is where I started:

The mirror, albeit gorgeous was overwhelming the fireplace and I wanted to bring in a little more blue with the accessories. I 'shopped' the client's house, moved the the bar cart in from another room, and shifted a few things around:

We talked about painting the mirror silver but it turned out that the client had another mirror that we were able to replace it with (you can't get any easier than that!). 

The carpet is going to be replaced with a beautiful creamy white wool and layered with a white cowhide.

This beautiful bench from the Postobello Home Collection by Drexel Heritage will sit on top. It is one of my favorite benches. It also works beautifully at the foot of a bed!


I can't wait to see the living room finished with the new carpet and the hide but I have to say, it is stunning even just as it is.  

The client had already painted the walls (gray - thank you!) and the woodwork on the stairs a perfect charcoal color but she needed new carpet on the stairs. I love how the new pinstripe carpet turned out.

Here are the back stairs before:

We cleaned up the bottom stair by exposing the wood ...

And here is what it looks like now.  

We did a few other projects in her dining room and powder room and I can't wait to show you that. 

Powder room - Antonina Vella Trellis Wallpaper 

We wallpapered a secret little room off the front entrance - it will be a piano room with white marble flooring. If you look close, you can see a glimpse of the new wallpaper ...

We are also working on re-upholstering her beautiful outdoor furniture. The main fabric is backordered until June but it is worth waiting for ... in the meantime, here is part of what we did:

I will source all the fabrics and wallpaper when I post the final reveal. It is just so pretty I couldn't wait for it to be done to show you what we have accomplished so far.

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, April 29, 2012


('re-no-vate) to make new, to restore to life.

Some time ago, a few ladies met in a certain city to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse:
"And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3)
One lady proposed to visit a silversmith, and report to them on what he said about the subject. She went accordingly, and without telling the object of her errand, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver.

After he had fully described it to her, she asked, "But sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?"

"Oh, yes madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."

The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us.

Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.

Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "When do you know the process is complete?"

"Why, that is quite simple," replied the silversmith, "When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished."

"But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years."
Malachi 3:2-4

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A colorful art wall

I installed the art wall in the new dining room I am working on today. Remember the project where I am moving the dining room into the living room and turning the dining room into a sitting room?

To remind you, the inspiration for the new dining room colors started with a stunning painting that my clients acquired on a trip to Cannes. The plan was to hang the painting above the new sideboard.

But after having it framed it was decided that it would look better in the new sitting room.

They have a lovely eclectic mix of art that we have had framed over the years and so with the new sideboard in place, I was able to put together a collection to hang above it. I started by measuring the width of the sideboard and then laying out the different pieces of art on the floor until I got the look I wanted.

I photographed it with my iPad so I would have a reference if I forgot my "plan".

I love that it is colorful and unique. What pleases me the most is that the clients love every single piece of art and each one has a special meaning to them. Bringing their art together in one place not only gives a huge visual impact, but makes this new dining room a special place for their family to gather. 

Happy Saturday everyone! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two handy ideas

Okay, this first idea is genius.

Recessed outlets! Furniture can be placed against the wall. Who knew?

And for me, one of the most important tools when designing, building, installing or hanging artwork is using a LEVEL. I can't tell you how many times I have had to ask builders to make changes because things were not straight and level. When you are hanging art walls if the frames are not level it is not going to have the same impact.

So how happy am I that I have this handy little tool?  Did you know your iPhone could be a level?
It is a free app called iHandy Level. Now I will never leave home without a level!

Do you love my pretty new office artwork?  Anne Harwell's chairs look great with my Jen Ramos painting and the newest watercolor print by Kerri Shipp.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Summer-izing & some Thank You's

We have had some beautiful sunny days lately but today was overcast and cold again. Just when it seems that summer is right around the corner it decides to back off. I thought I would "summer-ize" the living room anyway - why not make it look brighter inside even when it is not outside, right?

I decided to be a little unconventional and move the coffee table under the console table. I gives the room a more open and less cluttered look. I also moved out the cowhide rug - it was feeling heavy and the seagrass rug is perfect for the summer.  

And a couple of thank you's are in order ... Lisa Mende, a blogger and designer in Charlotte, North Carolina shared her Liebster Award with me - thank you so much Lisa! And a while ago, Heather from Setting for Four a master at DIY projects tagged me in a little questionnaire - oops I didn't do it (I fail at these things) but I am very grateful for her generosity in choosing me.

Help me thank them, will you? Take a few minutes and pop on over to check out their lovely blogs. And thank you all for reading mine!

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

No more paper napkins & Happy Earth Day

One of the great things about having adult children is how much you can learn from them. Having one daughter in college who is very environmentally conscious and another with a new baby who also likes all things natural, brings all kinds of new information and thoughts my way. One, that hits home today, as it is Earth Day, is about reducing our waste, specifically in the form of paper waste from napkins and paper towels to diapers.

According to Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen, authors of The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet (2007, Random House), each American uses an average of 2,200 two-ply napkins a year. The National Resources Defense Council states that if every household in the United States replaced just one package of 250-count virgin-fiber napkins with 100 percent recycled ones, 1 million trees would be spared.

I have to say, I am obsessed with pretty paper napkins. I have a hard time resisting them, especially when they are on sale, and I love to use them when guests come over. But for everyday use, I have committed to stop using paper napkins.


I saw these lovely linen lunch napkins on Patricia's blog and thought they were just the perfect way for me to make the switch. Aren't they fabulous? I have had them in my cart several times. But each time I could not justify spending the money.

Then my daughter with the new baby found these less expensive reusable napkins on Kara's Love for Earth Etsy Shop and I almost bought them too. It was tempting - they are well priced and they have free shipping today in honor of Earth Day.

Kara gives even more compelling information about the use of paper napkins on her website:

Did you know 

42% of the industrial wood harvest is used to make paper?

The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and contributes 9% of the manufacturing sector's carbon emissions.

Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste (and one third of municipal landfill waste).

Municipal landfills account for one third of human-related methane emissions (and methane is 23-times more potent a greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide).
Are you ready to make the switch?

But then, I realized I have drawers of cloth napkins already. Some are just too nice to use everyday, but there are some that I have not used for a long time and are fun and casual enough to put in a new drawer in my kitchen to replace my paper napkins. And isn't that part of being wise with both our resources and our budgets - using what we have?

Done! A simple solution without spending any money.

Another idea my daughter with the new baby found were these reusable paper towels. They are a very cute way of replacing paper towels.  We went as far as commissioning my mom who is a fabulous seamstress to make them for us. But then I found some simple microfiber towels in the automotive section of Target that I thought would work just fine.

Can I just say that I love using paper towels. They are convenient and are sanitary and yet I have felt guilty for a long time for using them. Using a regular dish towel didn't feel the same to me but these microfiber ones are fantastic. They are super absorbent and dry very quickly so I do not feel I am having to replace them often. I like that they are specifically used for hand drying (what I used paper towels for primarily) and will not get mixed up with my dish towels or cleaning cloths. Yes, my laundry load just got a little bigger but I think it is worth extra work.

Happy Earth Day everyone!

"Heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the LORD your God, the earth with all that is in it."
                               -Deuteronomy 10:14

Monday, April 9, 2012

Art studio mood board

Quite a few years ago I helped my sister (the one who is the illustrator) with her studio and I blogged about it here.

So when Patricia van Essche, a very talented artist and illustrator and author of the wonderful PVE design blog asked me to help her out with her new art studio it took me about 2 seconds to say, "Yes!".  It turned out she didn't need all that much help really - mostly a little encouragement. She had a good idea of what she wanted; a lot of white (yes!), clean, sleek, and organized. Right up my alley. 

We worked over the phone and via emails and I compiled it all in these mood boards. You can read about the details on her post here

I can't wait to see her big reveal when everything is installed and complete ... It is coming along very well! 

If you are not familiar with Patricia's work, you will definitely want to check out her custom hand drawn illustrations on her blog or in her Etsy shop here. They are suburb - her subjects range from pets, to homes, your favorite vacation spot, and even your special event. She has done some wonderful logos and even a few blog headers. Her blog is filled with inspiring posts that reflect her positive outlook and desire to capture the beauty of everyday life. 

PVE design

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I am posting late as I just got back in town myself after a very fun weekend with my family.  :D

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New life

"... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - Jesus (John 10:10)

I heard this story for the first time this week. I had to share it. I hope it blesses you on this Easter Sunday. xo

The Day Philip Joined the Group
By Paul Harvey

He was 9-in a Sunday school class of 8-year-olds. Eight-year-olds can be cruel. The third-graders did not welcome Philip to their group. Not just because he was older. He was "different." He suffered from Down's syndrome and its obvious manifesta­tions: facial characteristics, slow responses, symptoms of retardation.

One Sunday after Easter the Sunday school teacher gathered some of those plastic eggs that pull apart in the middle-the kind in which some ladies' pantyhose are packaged. The Sunday school teacher gave one of these plastic eggs to each child.

On that beautiful spring day each child was to go outdoors and discover for himself some symbol of "new life" and place that sym­bolic seed or leaf or whatever inside his egg. They would then open their eggs one by one, and each young­ster would explain how his find was a symbol of "new life." So...

The youngsters gathered 'round on the appointed day and put their eggs on a table, and the teacher began to open them. One child had found a flower. All the children "oohed" and "aahed" at the lovely symbol of new life.  In another was  butterfly. "Beautiful," the girls said. And it's not easy for an 8-year-old to say "beautiful."

Another egg was opened to reveal a rock. Some of the children laughed. "That's crazy!" one said. "How's a rock supposed to be like a 'new life'?" Immediately a little boy spoke up and said, "That's mine. I knew everybody would get flowers and leaves and butterflies and all that stuff, so I got a rock to be different." Everyone laughed.

The teacher opened the last one, and there was nothing inside.
"That's not fair," someone said. "That's stupid," said another.

Teacher felt a tug on his shirt. It was Philip. Looking up he said, "It's mine. I did do it. It's empty. I have new life because the tomb is empty." The class fell silent. From that day on Philip became part of the group. They wel­comed him.

Whatever had made him different was never mentioned again. Philip's family had known he would not live a long life; just too many things wrong with the tiny body. That summer, overcome with infection, Philip died.

On the day of his funeral nine 8-year-old boys and girls con­fronted the reality of death and marched up to the altar-not with flowers. Nine children with their Sunday school teacher placed on the casket of their friend their gift of love-an empty egg.

Martha Stewart (of course, right?)!

Hope you are all having a wonderful Easter!