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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.

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Don’t look at the bedding. Do instead look at the headboard and lights. We finally got our amazing upholstered bonnet style headboard in from Bassett last week. We also had our sconces installed. We purchased the Chelsea Sconces from Pottery Barn. They come as plug ins but a very good friend who’s an electrician helped us to hard wire them. They are fabulous. Now we can control them from the light switch or from the sconces. They are two way so we can have both mood lighting and task lighting. The headboard was made by Bassett Furniture. However I did COM (customer’s own material) on the fabric. I used the same linen fabric that I used for my master bathroom cafe style draperies. Its soft, textural and easy. Its hard to see in the pictures for the color is lighter than the walls so it does stand out without being overwhelming.

So what’s next. I’m headed out to buy the materials for the cornice boards. Those should be the next portion. The duvet is being made, can’t wait to show that off. Then its the bedskirt and light fixture. Finally I hope to purchase a comfy chair and ottoman and bench for the end of the bed. A few mirrors and some well placed accessories and the room will be complete. Stay tuned!!!

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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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 am sometimes overwhelmed at the thought of going green.  I know I have to do it, I know how important it is but I also know that it can be challenging.  There is so much to think about, and research and learn and do to go green.  I often find myself frustrated that I am not doing more.  Then I take a step back and realize that every little bit that I do helps and that it is becoming much easier to do more and more, its becoming a lifestyle, a gradual change that, because it is important to me, is naturally occurring in my life.  I wanted to break down a few simple steps that I have taken to be more green in my own personal decorating.  I hope that you can take a few these ideas and incorporate them into your lifestyle so that you too can contribute to preserving mother nature.

*Recycle – don’t just throw out that old piece of furniture or accent pillow or accessory – think about a new way that you could reuse it in your design.  Perhaps reupholster it (in an organic fabric would be best, or in a great remnant that you find at your local fabric store).  Perhaps just moving to another room can give it a new life.  Maybe it needs refinishing, at the same time helping a small local business by providing them work.  Try to think outside of the box and give the old piece new life.

If it simply won’t work with your decor, think about consigning it.  You can make a little money while letting someone else give the old piece a new life.  Check out this sofa that I purchased at an estate sale and had reupholstered and some other treasures found at antique shops…

Reupholstered sofa bed from mid-century modern estate sale. It currently resides in our office space for additional guest sleeping.

Old wagon wheel found at antique shop in West Virginia. It will be hung on the wall as cool modern art piece.

Antique mold also found at antique shop in west Virginia. It will either become a table or a wall mounted art piece.

*Buy from local consignment stores and antique shops – give those old pieces a new lease on life.  I am a consignment store junkie.  If you read my blog you know how often I find fantastic treasures at STUFF and The Very Thing in Haymarket.  I love treasure hunting and finding unique pieces that you won’t fine anywhere else.  Paint, reupholstery, refinishing can all go a long way and can bring out your creativity.  Craigslist is also a good place to find quality home furnishings and other items at great prices.  I have found the most amazing chairs on Craigslist.  Check them out…

Aren't they amazing? I got so lucky with these. The seller had just purchased them and then changed her decor. There were many people after these...

*Buy local – find furniture and other household items that are made locally.  I am a Bassett Furniture dealer partly because Bassett manufactures much of it furniture right here in Virginia.  I give local, small companies business as often as I can and I try to make sure my fabrics and furnishings are made in the USA as much as possible.  We live in a global economy where its often hard to tell where things are coming from.  Simply asking the question and doing a little research can go a long way.  Check out my Bassett Furniture chairs and dining table…

Chandler chairs upholstered in Raffia with Chocolate accent pillows from Bassett Furniture. The lamp base without a shade is STUFF find. I am waiting on the new shade.

Louis Phillipe pedestal dining table from Bassett Furniture. The chairs came with the other two blue chairs as a package from a Craigslist seller. Aren't they gorgeous?

*Using Low and No VOC Paints – We hear a lot about VOCs these days.  VOCs are volatile organic compounds and they are hazardous to the environment and to our health.  Luckily, most paint manufacturers are responding to the demand for more environmental and health conscious products by creating paints that have low and no VOCs.  Not all are successful at making a product that is still of quality and easy to handle.  Some, however, have the technology down to a science.  I am a huge fan of Benjamin Moore paints.  I have used both the Aura and the Natura paints and love, love, love the way they paint.  They are more expensive than big box store brand paints but I feel its worth the extra cost in the health of my family and the health of the environment.  Plus, I have found that both of these paints go on easier than most other paints that I have tried.   My entire house so far has been painted in either Aura or Natura paints from Ben Moore.  Aura is a low VOC paint and Natura is a no VOC paint.  Check out a few pictures…

The only finished room in my house so far. The color is Ivoire from Sherwin Williams color-matched by Vienna Paint of Gainesville in Aura paint.

Another view of the finished family room in Ivoire. It really gives it a nice brightness without being in your face. The finish is Matte.

A recent view of the dining room which is coming along. Its painted in Ben Moore's Annapolis Green in Aura with a matte finish. I still haven't painted or done anything with the tray. There should be more hours in the day!

Decorating green does not have to be overwhelming or difficult.  Try out a few of these tips and ideas and you will be on your way to helping the environment and your family breathe a little easier.

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 am a sucker for a beautiful vase, or candle holder, or accent pillow.  But I am also a low fuss person.  I find my accent pillows strewn about the floor constantly.  I feel like every single time I walk into my family room I am picking up accent pillows.  If I had as many accent pillows as I would like to have, I don’t think I’d ever be able to leave my family room because I’d be in there constantly picking up.  A perfectly placed accessory can be the difference between a completely finished room and one that feels like its just missing something.  I have a few tips for perfect accessorizing that I’d like to share…  Always try to create groupings of accessory items. Whether its artwork, vases, candleholders, whatever.  Typically accessories look best in odd numbers.  Things like collections of vases and figurines look best when you group them in groups of three or five, etc.  With artwork its a little more complicated.  If you have three pieces of artwork you want to display, typically they will look best lined up horizontally.  If you have four pieces of artwork, you can do two rows of two for a dramatic grouping.    If you are looking to achieve a more formal look, try placing your artwork and accessories symmetrically to each other.  If you want a more informal look, be more creative and place those items asymmetrically.

Why am I talking about accessories today?  Well, this weekend I had small get together at my home.  My neighbors were coming to my home for the first time.  It gave the perfect excuse to go out and find some much needed accessories to try and finish off my family room.  I found the most beautiful candleholders (which I’ve had my eye on for a while and luckily they had the number I needed) for the fireplace.  I already had the mirror above the mantle that I love but have always wanted something tall on either side to make it more dramatic.  I purchased two taller candle pillars and two shorter ones.  They are mercury glass so they have the most interesting patina.  I bought vanilla scented candles in two sizes as well.  Not only does my fireplace look finished, it also smells good.

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