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In this project we created a very clean, modern, neutral yet fun and interesting living room and dining room for a fantastic young family in Falls Church. When we had our initial consultation the clients asked for a great space to entertain during large family gatherings. They wanted plenty of seating in both the living room and the dining room. They wanted a space that was up to date, but not too wild or in your face. Subtly clean and chic is what we gave them.

My favorite part is the draperies. We used a linen blend fabric that has these great sewn in folds to it. They give the design texture while keeping it neutral. We didn’t have room for two panels next to the fireplace so we swagged back one panel per window for added interest. The fabric is sheer and we kept it unlined to allow natural light. We added simple roller shades in a soft textured off white fabric for function as well as added style.



The sofas were created by separating sectional pieces. We used the Beckham Sectional by Bassett Furniture Industries in a soft grey, easy to keep clean fabric. A round cocktail table, the Berkeley Cocktail Table, also by Bassett mimics the round wood mirror on the fireplace.

The paint scheme is simple. We added a soft taupe/grey to the walls and a lighter version of the color on the fireplace to highlight its unique shape.

In the dining room, we went a little darker with the wall color for drama. The table seats 8 comfortably. We kept the homeowner’s existing chandelier. A large china acts as additional storage and display. Some branch shaped candle sconces added softness and texture to the space. The highlight is the silk draperies with a pant leg break on the floor.



The rug is by West Elm. The table and china are part of the Redin Park Collection by Bassett. The chairs are custom upholstered, also by Bassett. The draperies are our design.

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These dramatic sheers add a whole new level of texture and warmth to the space.

Tying back draperies creates drama, the sheer, contemporary fabric keeps it from looking stuffy and over decorated.

A wall of draperies topped off with a beautiful box pleated valance. Its all in the details. Leading edges are trimmed with beaded trim.

I’m so excited about our latest window treatment install. This one is for a retired gentleman who lives in a great little condo in Stephens City (near Winchester), VA. He wanted something functional to give him privacy when necessary and to allow natural light to flow during the day. He also wanted something updated and stylish. We chose to go with wood blinds from Graber in cherry finish to match his existing furnishings. For style we added beautiful cornice boards in fabrics that are masculine in style but full of life and texture. They work amazingly with his new paint colors. In the living room we needed functional draperies to allow him privacy at night. We did a very classy blue/brown/green faux silk striped fabric that just pops against the wall color and ties his artwork and furnishings together. The rod is traversing in bronze finish to match his new ceiling fans.

Master bedroom wood blind and cornice board.

Office wood blinds and cornice board.


Living room draperies closed. Couldn't get a good picture with them open.


Part of our work with this client was helping him to hang his fantastic collection of artwork from his travels across the world. We chose to display is art in groupings to make them more substantial and to have them really attract attention. When hanging artwork, groupings tend to create a very dramatic display that calls for conversation. Check out how we did.

We had these reframed by a professional framer (Digital Recollections) to really bring out the colors and beauty of the art.

View down the hallway.

When this Gainesville, Virginia family first approached me to design their family room I didn’t know they would become one of my absolute favorite clients. Judging by their collection of beautiful items for around the world, they have great taste, there is no doubt about it. But the more I got to know them, see them interact with each other and the way they totally and completely collaborated with me on their design project was so easy going and positive, it made every moment of designing their space and implementing their design so pleasurable and easy. When we first started talking they shared with me stories of their travels and their collection of amazing furnishings and accessories from around the world. They also shared that they enjoy spending time with their tween children at home and wanted to create a family room that made them all feel great. It had to be comfortable for lounging and watching movies together, doing homework, as well as mild entertaining. It also had to feel incredibly warm and inviting. They wanted to incorporate a mildly Tuscan feel without it feeling thematic or over the top. They wanted the warmth and texture of Tuscany with the an updated feel.

The Design
Together we landed on a warm, golden yellow that just brightens up the space and invites you in. I then brought in a lot of texture and contrast with the olive colored draperies. I embellished them with red, green and gold fringe trim on the leading edge. A simple french pleat header adds to the traditional feel. We hung them from vintage gold wood traversing rods to finish off the look. On the sofas we went more bold with the red and gold stripe on the chair and a half and a textured red with gold undertones on the sofa. The accent pillows tie the fabrics together. The piece de la resistance is a gorgeous accent chair which I upholstered in a red fabric with grey/black medallions. A small accent table and floor lamp creates a comfy reading nook for early Sunday morning paper reading. Here are the results:

Sofa, chair and chair and a half are from Bassett Furniture. Draperies are Creative Elegance Interiors. Fireplace arched accent is from Uttermost and fireplace screen is from Willow House.

We tied the breakfast area and kitchen to the family room by adding short box pleated valances in a decorative, embroidered fabric in a slightly lighter green color. We kept the breakfast room treatments short so as not block out any great natural light.

The master bedroom is the most important room in the house, in my opinion.  It is also the most often overlooked.  In my last home I left the master bedroom design for last.  In this one, not so much.  Although I’ve moved quite ahead on the kid’s bedrooms and the main level of the home is getting there, I refuse to put the master bedroom last.  Its ahead of the basement family room, the guest room and the office, at least.

The Plan

In the next two months I plan to overhaul the room completely.  The plan is to

-paint the walls

-complete the window treatments by adding cornice boards (which I plan to make myself, I really want to learn how to make them).

-Purchase and install a new custom fabric headboard

-Purchase a new custom made shirred bedskirt

-Add two swing arm wall sconces for task lighting

-Add a new chandelier for overall lighting

-Mount the flat screen on the wall

-Move the furniture to its ideal location

-Create a cozy reading nook with a chair, side table and lamp

-Paint the master bathroom- change the light fixtures and towel bars and add art and accessories

What I’ve done so far… Not much.  Purchased the flat screen and wall mount in November, yes, its still uninstalled (honey d0 isn’t doing).  Purchased the reverse fold roman shades in a green.  I pulled the color from my inspiration fabric which is what will eventually go on a breakfront bench at the foot of the bed.  I also purchased cafe length relax pleated curtains installed inside the window frame.  They allow plenty of light into the room while providing privacy.   In September we upgraded from a queen to a king size bed, we bought a sleep number and I gotta say its every bit as good as they claim!

Not much else, the existing furniture I’ve had and plant to keep the two dressers and nightstands.  Here are the BEFORE pictures.  Embarrasing, I know.  But not for long… 🙂

Sorry about the lighting. Currently we have one little lamp lighting the entire room.

The bedding is remnants from our Queen size bed. Believe it or not it was actually quite beautiful on it. Now its just WAY too small.

The master bathr. The chip on the wall is called Tranquility #AF-490 from Benjamin Moore.

Check out the window treatments!

The other side of the bathroom.

By next week the goal is to have the bedroom painted, the tv mounted and the existing furniture in its new location.  After that, I plan to paint and accessorize the bathroom (before New YEars).  The new light fixtures, headboard and bedskirt should come after the Holidays and then its time to pull it all together with accessories and artwork.  Wish me luck and stay tuned.

Check out our latest installation of beautiful custom window treatments.  The clients purchased a  beautiful bungalow style home in Alexandria.  The house has a lot of charm and they love the mission style.  We worked to create window treatments that give off a casual yet romantic flare and that are clean lined and elegant.  For function we purchased some beautiful wood blinds in a medium tone and added a decorative gold leaf pattern banding.  We then used a beautiful linen as our foundation throughout but changed up a bit with our banding.  In the living room, dining room and library (all open to each other) we did a vertical and horizontal banding in a golden textured fabric.  In the family room, we used the same linen but used a blue, gold, green and brown fabric for our vertical on both edges and horizontal banding below.

On the stairs we used the same golden fabric from the living room/dining room treatments to create some grand empire valances to accentuate the height of the ceilings and the size of the windows.  The treatments do a great job of drawing the eyes up and continue the casual yet romantic feel.

In the master bedroom we changed things up a bit.  We used the same wrought iron rods but changed up the finials.  We did a very romantic, bunchy tab top drapery in a greenish/brown linen over a simple roman shade in green linen.  Over the bed we trick the eye by using a shade wider than the window and put a simple tab top valance in the same style as the draperies to frame the bed.  Check out the results.

Family room panels with horizontal and vertical banding.Dining room head on.

The living room, dining room and study drapery panels.

Stairs from below.

Stairs from above.

Master bedroom.

More master bedroom.

We would love to hear your thoughts…

When Joanne and Rod Willis came to me for help with the windows in their amazing new home, I was excited and nervous by the challenge.  They wanted to start in their family room, breakfast area and kitchen.  They have a open floor plan space so that all of the spaces spill into one another, creative a big, airy, comfortable feel.  They had selected their paint colors and furnishings which are all very warm and inviting.  My challenge was to bring those humongous windows in their family room down to scale and to integrate the gorgeous view of their wooded backyard.  Check out the tremendous results:

View from below of the Willis' family room windows. I chose to do floor to ceiling panels to accentuate the height and size of the windows but also to soften the space with fabric.

View of one panel with their existing furniture. The blue green was pulled from the blue green sofa. The red banding ties the other colors in the room together.

One window in the breakfast area. We did the same blue green silk look without the banding.

Another view of the breakfast room.

In the kitchen we added the banding into the swags and bottoms of cascades.

View of kitchen and breakfast area together.

One of my favorite parts of my job is combining and coordinating fabrics and textiles.  When you see a perfectly designed room in a magazine, you often fine combinations of fabrics, patterns, textures and colors that you probably wouldn’t have thought to put together yourself, yet they look so perfectly executed within the design.  There is an art to combining fabrics and textiles to get a beautiful, cohesive, well-designed look.  But it doesn’t have to be so difficult.  Here are a few simple rules I use to help me perfectly combine fabric and textiles in my designs.

* Find a unifying color – you can easily combine different patterns of fabrics and textiles if you choose one unifying color among all of them to tie them together.  For example, in my family room I have chosen blue-green as my unifying color.  I have successfully been able to combine a small Ikat print in small accent pillows, with a slightly larger geometric in the draperies, a solid silk accent pillow and a floral metallic wallpaper in the back of the built-in, using the blue green as the unifier.  The sofa is a darker blue and the rich dark woods around the room help to ground it all.

*Choose one fabric and pull your other colors from that one fabric.  It should be a bolder fabric and should be the used as the highlight or centerpiece of your design.  For my master bedroom I have selected several beautiful fabrics from Thibaut for my upcoming redo.  In this case, I fell in love with the bold floral print.  I pulled the blue out again in the fabric for the soft shades.  The green Ikat will either be cornices above the shades or accent pillows and the solid blue will likely be the custom uphosltered headboard.  The large print floral that I fell in love with will be the new upholstery on a new pair of chairs I have yet to find.

Fabric selections for my upcoming master bedroom redo.

*Don’t forget about texture.  Varying your texture can help to add depth to your design.  Even if you are using the same color or a more monochromatic color scheme, varying the textures can help give life and depth to the design of the room.  Consider combining a chenille with a woven with a wool and add a bit of silk for glamour.

*Use textured solids or tone on tone, large scaled patterns on the large pieces and add punches of busier pattern and textures in your smaller pieces.  By using textured solids or tone on tone on your larger pieces you are keeping them more neutral, making it easy to change out your accents later on.  If you put a large, heavy or busy print on a larger piece (such as a sofa), it can limit you if you choose to change your decor down the road.

My living room sofa with a tone on tone damask fabric.

A textured neutral on the sofa and tone on tone modern metallic fabric on the chairs allows us to play with other patterns throughout the room in this Alexandria home.

Selecting fabric patterns and textures can be a lot of fun and can really help to pull together the design of your room.  Don’t be afraid to try unique and unusual combinations of fabric patters and colors.  You just might surprise yourself at the cool new look you might create.

As I said in my last post, reupholstering old pieces is a great way to give them new life and to recycle.  It can save the piece from being tossed and in some cases can save you money from having to buy a new piece all together (depending on the fabric you choose, if you embellish, etc.)  So how do you know if a piece is worthy or reupholstery?  There are few tips that I can provide to help you decide.

*How is it holding up?  Are the cushions deflated, flattened or lumpy?  Has it basically retained its shape over the years?  How are the cushions constructed?  There are many materials from which your cushions could be constructed, including: down (most expensive), down lined with Decron Polyester fibers or Blendown (still expensive), and polyurethane wrapped in cotton or other fibers (most reasonable) are among the most common fillings.  If your cushions are made of high density, good quality foam they will not have broken down (or would have broken down less) over time.  Even your cushions are not holding up, however, there are other factors to consider in the construction of your sofa so don’t let this be the only deciding factor.  A good upholsterer can always provide you with new cushions to replace poor quality ones (of course, this will add to your overall price).

Client's reupholstered antique settee.

Here is another picture of the 50’s sleeper sofa I purchased and had reupholstered in a linen blend fabric…

1950's Sleeper Sofa reupholstered in linen blend. It was in excellent condition and is an incredible quality piece. The cushions needed to be remade and we replaced the mattress. We are very happy with it.

*Does it have good, solid bones?  If the piece is sturdy, strong and well constructed, you should definitely consider giving it a facelift. One of the tell tales signs of a quality piece of furniture is the joint system.  Good quality pieces have mitered joint systems or are dovetailed or tongue and grooved, and the frames are often glued and screwed together.  If the piece is made of particle board or plywood and the frame is held together with staples, it is probably not worth investing in reupholstery for the piece.

*Quality of exposed wood – if your piece has any exposed wood (dining chairs, sofas with wood legs, etc.) what kind of shape is the wood in?  If it has a few knicks and scratches it can probably be repaired fairly easily or these can add to the charm of the piece.  If the wood is rotted or broken or falling apart, you may want to reconsider as it may be costly to repair the piece.  Painting or restaining exposed wood is also an option but you may have to do some heavy sanding to remove any top coat that has been added so that the piece will take new paint or stain.  Here are pictures, before and after of my breakfast room chairs which I got from an old neighbor when I fell in love with the back design and I repainted and reupholstered them to be more interesting and updated.

Unpainted, pre-reupholstered dining room chairs I got from a neighbor. They are over 30 years old and were in great shape except for some scrapes and scratches. I had reupholstered them when I first got them in a paisley fabric.

My chairs now, painted in a blue metallic paint and reupholstered in brown polka-dotted fabric.

*Does it, or can it work with your existing or new decor?  It is important to consider if refacing a piece will allow it to fit more nicely into your decor.  There are some very creative things that can be done with old pieces to bring them up to date and give them updated style.  You can get creative with your fabric choice.  I love seeing traditional wingback chairs in very contemporary or graphic fabric patterns and colors, for example.  Don’t discount a piece because it simply looks dated.  Think about how you could make it into a contemporary piece that is perhaps fun and funky, or unique, or almost art like.  Paint can take furniture a long way these days.  Take a look at these pictures…

Traditional chairs in contemporary silk fabric from a project I completed in Alexandria.

I recently gave a talk about the services that I offer to my clients.  Within the talk I spoke about custom window treatments and why you should choose them over store bought treatments.  Of course there are the basic reasons:

*The treatments are made specifically for your windows so they will fit your windows and your decor perfectly

*The craftsmanship should be substantially better than what you get at the store, giving your investment longevity and durability

*They are made specifically for you, for your taste and your decor.  You do not have to try to retro-fit something that may not work perfectly.

*Your choices are not limited by what is at the store in terms of design, style, fabric, etc.

*Better quality lining will protect your investment, your other furnishings and can even help conserve energy.

*Etc, etc., etc…

During my research for the talk, however, I found some interesting bits of information that I didn’t know before.  Did you know that on average people who buy store bought window treatments are replacing them yearly, while people who are buying custom window treatments are not changing them out for seven years on average.  That is so substantial to me because it really does help to justify the financial investment that you make when you purchase custom window treatments.  If you add the amount you paid per window for the store bought treatments over seven years, you can bet that you are probably pretty close to the amount you would have paid if you purchased custom window treatments from the beginning, and you wouldn’t have had to go through all that hassle.

Check out some pictures of beautiful custom window treatments we’ve designed.  Wait till you see what I have in store for my master bedroom and bathroom, and what I’m currently working on with other clients.  I have to say I am feeling creative with window treatments these days…  You can also check out our website to see more beautiful room photos at http://www.creativeeleganceinteriors.com.

Custom-made pole mounted swag valance for bay window.

Pair of pinch pleated stria (three color) draperies.

Custom-made flat roman shades with attached valance and contrast banding.

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