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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.

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.

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

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 love accent chairs.  If it were up to me, the whole house would be full of beautiful accent chairs in all sorts of fun and funky fabrics.  I guess it is up to me, however, having a home full of fun and funky accent chairs would not be very practical for my growing family.  So I’ve settled a few beautiful accent chairs in interesting design styles and textures to finish off my living room and family room and am excited because I have found the perfect fabric for some accent chairs that I will one day have in my master bedroom.  Accent chairs are a great way to add additional, movable seating to a space and to add pops of color, texture and/or interest to as space.  Because they are usually a bit smaller, they can easily withstand a bolder fabric that really reflects you style.  Because they are smaller they are also easier and less expensive to reupholster if you happen to get sick of that bolder fabric. There are many incredibly beautiful chair design styles you can use in your decor.  The slipper chair has become quite popular in recent years as a great accent chair choice.  Here is a picture of a pair of slipper chairs I have used in my family room.  If you read my blog this is not the first time you’ve seen these.  Recently we purchased the second chair to match and finish off the seating in the living room.  It is the Bassett Furniture Chandler Chair in Raffia. You’ve also seen the beautiful, t-back exposed wood chairs upholstered in a blue knit fabric.  These finish off my family room so nicely.  The fabric is actually quite soft and the chairs are really comfortable.   Yes, I said I was done in there but honestly, my work is never done.  We switched the wood coffee table we had in the family room to the living room and bought the Peekaboo Coffee Table (www.cb2.com) CB2 last week.  We love how it opens up the space and allows a full, clear view to the fireplace. Here are other beautiful accent chairs from other projects we’ve worked on:

5248 Chair from DR Kincaid for a client in Alexandria.  The black chair in the
background is the 8196 Chair also by DR Kincaid.
Traditional wing-back chair in office of client in Alexandria.
Flychair from BoConcepts for bachelor pad in Arlington, VA.

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.

I have these fantastic chairs that I actually got for free from a neighbor at my old house.  I drove by them in the morning and fell in love and they were still there when I came back in the afternoon.  They were with a circular dining table (which I regret not getting) and I asked him if he would sell the chairs alone.  He told me to take them.  He mentioned that they were 30 years old.  They have seen better days but are in good condition.  I loved the detailing on the backs.  The fabric on the seats was atrocious but I was able to look past that at their potential.  When I first got them I reupholstered them in a more traditional paisley fabric.  But when we moved here I decided I wanted to do something more fun and contemporary with them.  My solution, I had Andrew at Vienna Paint of Gainesville help me to paint them in a metallic blue color.  Vienna Paints sells a great metallic product that can be used for walls, furniture and other things.  On the walls you typically want to use a sprayer as painting this product with a brush will leave streak marks.  It is a glaze so you have to give whatever you are painting a base coat of regular paint and then go over that with your metallic glaze product.  I love the way it looks.

So I painted two of the chairs.  It took Andrew a while to get these two painted because it seemed like every time he started to paint, someone came into the store and needed help.  This product dries quickly and will leave streak marks if you are not careful so starting and stopping was not a good idea.  He finally got two of the four chairs completed.  Now I’m trying to decide if I want to do the other two in the same color or if I want to be creative and do them in a brown metallic, or a regular brown paint color.    I would love to hear thoughts if anyone has an opinion on this either way.  I am leaning towards doing all four in blue but I’m not so sure…

I changed the fabric on the two chairs that I had painted once more to a more contemporary circular pattern design in a brown that matches more closely with the rug that the chairs sit on.  Take a look at the before and afters..

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Another view of the chair newly painted and reupholstered.

I love finding beautiful old pieces and giving them a new life.  You would be surprised how unique and updated an antique piece can look when you place it among more contemporary furnishings.  I have acquired this beautiful antique sofa that was made for my great, great grandmother in the Dominican Republic.  It is a beautiful sofa that has more traditional lines.  However, I have decided that it will have a home among my more contemporary and updated traditional furnishings.  I have happily placed it in my living room.  It patiently awaits a new coffee table which I have yet to find.  I am having some beautiful accent pillows made to compliment the damask fabric that my aunt reupholstered it in.  It is a piece of my past, that has been handed down from family member to family member and I so honored to have it my home.  I personally think it looks fantastic here.  Check it out.

Here is a photo of my great, great grandmother's antique sofa in my living room.

I love the traditional lines and the detailing on the arms and legs.

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