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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.

Check out our latest design project. We’ve just about completed this family room for a nice couple and their four legged children in Alexandria. When we started the room had a nice collection of traditional furnishings that had been lent to them by her mother. The pieces were of excellent quality and quite attractive but just didn’t reflect their style and personality. This is the room in the house where they spend the majority of their time and they were ready for a space that they could lounge in and relax, entertain in and really get a lot of use of.
We started with an incredibly large and deep, comfy sectional. The sectional is in a deep chocolate fabric. We contrasted the chocolate a woven fabric with shades of reds and golds for the accent pillows. The coffee table, by Stanley Furniture, is perfect for hiding remotes, blankets and games. The metal side tables with glass tops ensure the kitties will not scratch them. The swivel arm lamps allow for perfect reading light.
The large entertainment center provides plenty of storage for the dvd player, WII and games. It allows gives plenty of display space for collections of vases, glassware and books.
We chose front fold roman shades to avoid kitties and doggies from destroying draperies and to give a more casual, family room feel. They also block light for tv watching. The deep green/grey color adds contrast to the neutral walls. Finally the details, like the two sets of wall plaques in varying shades of green, red, yellows and browns adds texture and color to the neutral backdrop. All thats missing now is a couple of great pieces of art on the walls near the entertainment center and recliner that is on order from Ethan Allen for the corner.
Check it out. We’d love to hear comments…

Family Room Before Picture

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.

A while back I talked about creative ideas for what to do with tray ceilings.  I wasn’t sure which way I would go in my dining room.  Well, it done.  I chose a beautiful metallic damask wallpaper from Thibaut called Symphony Damask.  Go to http://www.thibaut.com and look at the Damask Resource book for details on this beautiful paper.

It was difficult to paper the tray (yes, I did it myself).  The most difficult aspect was getting the paper to go up straight by myself.  I drew a reference line to get my first piece up.  I had to do one piece at a time, I couldn’t paste ahead, to be sure I could put them up as straight as I could.  It took me about 4 hours total to get everything up straight.  I recommend that if you are papering for the first time, you don’t start with the tray.

Close up of my newly papered tray ceiling.

The dining area.

Here are some other creative ideas for tray ceilings:

Choose a paint color that is three or four step darker than the wall color. Choose a color that is two to three steps lighter than the paint color for the lower ceiling and walls of the tray.

Faux finish, like this sky painting:

http://www.primalcolors.com/gallery/murals/fullsize/02Ceiling_sky_fs.jpg

Check out thumbnail 8 out of 9.

http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/update-brick-ceilings-and-woodwork-with-paint/pictures/index.html?i=8

I often have clients ask me for creative solutions for storage in smaller bathrooms and powder rooms.  It seems that more and more builders and homeowners are moving away from under sink storage, particularly in smaller bathroom and powder rooms.  So what then do you do with all the necessary “bathroom” stuff that needs to be stored and that you may not want everyone looking at.  Here are few creative solutions.

From my own home:

For my powder room I found a cute, funky open wall cabinet at one of my favorite places in the whole world, “The Very Thing” in Haymarket.  The cabinet had no enclosed storage so I got creative with a glue gun and some striped cotton fabric and created a small curtain to hide the not so pretty bathroom necessities like toilet paper.  The open shelves serve to display nice objects (yes, you can and should decorate your bathroom spaces too).  I have placed a Moroccan vase that matches the other colors in the space.  The idea is to one day paint the cabinet a fun color but these days I don’t have much time for painting.  I may even wallpaper the back of the cabinet with some fun wallpaper to coordinate with the colors and fabrics.  Take a look:

Small cabinet purchased at The Very Thing, a local consignment shop in Haymarket. I made a small curtain with some fabric, fabric glue and a tension rod to hide all of the not so pretty bathroom stuff.

Another creative solution is to add a decorative skirt to your pedestal sink.  This is particularly useful in really tight spaces where storage in general is limited.  You can use baskets or small shelves to hidden underneath the curtain.  You don’t even need to sew.  Use fabric glue and velcro to create a custom look.

Open shelving can also be useful, even for the not so pretty bathroom necessities.  Use baskets and containers to hide the not so pretty and use the open shelving and hanging racks for the pretty stuff.

Baskets and bins can serve to hold toilet paper, towels, magazines, etc.  Tuck them in a corner or under the sink to keep them out of the way.  Be sure to place the items inside neatly so that they look decorative.

Floor cabinets can also be useful if you have the space.  There are some beautiful, off the rack floor cabinets that can serve to hide the clutter.  Check out this one from Bed, Bath and Beyond: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?sku=16643980

Use old barn ladders and plant trellises to hang things like towels, and to sit a roll of toilet paper and decorative soaps.  This can be a creative and fun way to create storage.  You can nail hooks into them and hang them from the wall or simply sit them on the floor and lean them against the wall.  One piece of advice, tie the ladder into the wall so that it doesn’t fall on people as they are trying to remove towels or other items.

Check out more creative bathroom storage photos at http://www.hgtv.com/bathrooms/10-stylish-bathroom-storage-solutions/pictures/index.html

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.

This past Sunday the Washington Examiner highlighted one of our client projects (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/economy/real-estate/98860724.html) .  The article focused specifically on using family photos in your interior design.  The client had an amazing collection of family photos done by a local photographer, Virginia Pixton Payne  of Virginia Payne Photography (http://www.virginiapaynephotography.com/).  We created some amazing collages on her basement office and stair walls.

I too have started my own family collage on my stairs to my basement family room and wanted to share some additional tips as well as photos on how to use family photos in your interior design.

The start of my family collage. A friend of mine, Rick Reinsch of Digital Recollections (http://www.digitalrecollections.net/Home.html) made the custom mats for me so that I could use these inexpensive frames I already had. I am going to have him do the two larger ones next, just need to pick the photos.

*Make sure the photos are well done.  You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take good photos.  Here are some simple rules and you will see that your photos will begin to look like perhaps a professional took them.

–  Close ups are better than far away.  If you are photographing a person, a close up of the person is much more please than a full body shot.

– Get creative with your point of view.  Taking a photo of a child from above, or from below can be more artsy looking and creative than taking a photo straight on.  Change up your point of view and you will see how creative your photos become.

– Change your focus.  Try close-ups with everything blurry in the background, or focus on one child in front and get the second child in the background.  Get creative with your focus and you will see how interesting your photos become.

– Think about the lighting.  In photography, lighting makes all the difference.  Outdoors, try taking photos in the early to mid-morning when the sun is bright but not blaring.  Indoors, make sure you have a good flash and play around with your                     ambient lighting to get the perfect mix.

I took these of my son one night when he was playing with a blanket. I just got creative with the angles and played along with him. They are going on my collage wall ASAP.

Another creative angle.

*Find one unifying element.  Choose one element that will be constant throughout your photo display.  It can be as simple as using the same frame, or even the same color frame.  Or perhaps all of your pictures will be in black and white, or in color.  Or maybe all of your frame sizes are the same.  Find one thing that unifies the overall design and get creative with everything else.In one of Alison's collages, the unifying element was the beautiful antique gold frames.  We were able to mix color and black and white photos in different sizes together and they all look beautiful in these frames.

*Put multiple pictures together for a more dramatic affect.  Creating wall collages turns your photos into art.  Get creative with your layouts.  Use different size frames to create a less formal, more creative display or use the same size frame for a more dramatic, formal affect.

*It is okay to go overboard.  My client Alison had hundreds of photos of her family.   They were all beautiful and worthy of display.  She also knew she would be getting more as her children grew.  We displayed as many as we possibly could and created a rotating gallery for her so that she could easily update them as she pleased.   Its your home and your family, using them as your artwork is the most meaningful way to display art.  Don’t be afraid to go overboard.

At Alison's this collage continues all the way up the stairs. Its incredibly dramatic.

I’ve been very busy these days putting together my son’s birthday party and working so I haven’t had too much opportunity to work on my own place.  I did finalize the family room and still want to share how my living room has ended up.  I also chose the wallpaper that I’m going to be installing in my dining room tray ceiling.  I have also decided on window treatments for my master bedroom and bathroom which I haven’t even touched yet as a discussion topic.  I will regroup and share more of the work done on my home in my next post but for now I did want to share some great information about theme decorating.

You may think its cool to have a room that looks like you stepped off the plane and into a Hawaiian lu au or like a bomb of West Virginia football parafanilia exploded in your man cave but the reality is, hardcore theme decorating is simply outdated (sorry honey, I know you love your WVU football).  The new face of theme decorating requires much more restraint, a bit of creativity and leaving something to the imagination.  If you want to have a beach themed home (like my client in the photos in this post) you can do so without making everyone who enters there feel like they should put on sun block.  Here are five simple rules to follow when you want to have a themed decor in your home, without over doing it:

1.  Leave a little to the imagination – a themed room is a little like good abstract art.  You want people to contemplate it without its meaning being slam blam in their face.  For example, in my client’s living room we used an accent table made of carved wood.  This table serves the function of an accent table where a lamp can sit but it also is reminiscent of a piece of driftwood washed up on the shore.  The sofa is the color of sand.  The artwork could be waves, or maybe not.  Depends on who’s looking at it.  The lamp is made of turquoise, it acts like artwork without screaming beach.

Subtle touches of the beach make this city row house feel like a comfy vacation at home.

If you are doing a man cave, perhaps some abstract photos of the stadium nicely framed and hung in a collage could provide interesting artwork and a conversation piece.  If your theme is Asian, simple using grasscloth wallpaper on a couple of walls for texture and adding a red accent wall with black and red accessories can get the point across.  You get the idea.  Subtle and abstract is much more powerful than in your face and obvious.

2.  Don’t over do the accessories – a few themed pieces can be thrown in to the accessories, such as the black and white photos of the beach we put on my client’s walls.  We mixed that in with some simple white vases and some white accent pillows with what appears to be pussy willow on them.  Some stones simply placed on a turquoise plate offer a bit of texture and interest.  No where do you see a bunch of sea shells or sand or seaweed.  Go subtle with your accessories, but try to use things considered reminiscent of your theme.

Subtle accessories get the point across without overdoing it.

3.  Paint can go a long way – that man cave can represent WVU, or North Carolina or whatever your flavor is, with its paint colors.  You don’t need to actually paint the big WVU logo on the wall, use the blue as your wall color and use the yellow as your accent color in fabrics, or artwork, or other accessories.

The yellow of the dining room pops against the blue and white stripes.

The moral of the story is that themed rooms can be fun and interesting if they are done with care.  Gone are the days of the basement tikki bar.  Today’s themed rooms are much more subtle and abstract than ever.  So enjoy your theme room decorating but do so with caution and restraint.

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