Fabulous Fabrics

I wish I could sew. I even own a sewing machine, in fact, I own two. Still, the best I can do is hem a pair of curtains that are too long (and even then it’s sometimes just easier to use iron-on hem tape).  I can also sew a mostly square pillow. Impressive, eh?  I often wander through JoAnn fabrics looking longingly at the cozy flannel and even other fancy apparel fabrics just imagining what I could make if I really knew what all those buttons and dials on my sewing machines did.
I recently saw a real designer fabric store highlighted in the February edition of Better Homes and Gardens. I think my imagination would go wild in a place like this – oh, the things I have no skill to make!!! Studio Four in New York City has collections from small independent textile designers as well as artists who create wallpaper and rugs. In addition to their showroom, they have design spaces and even a weaving studio. I am loving some of the artists they showcase and their products. Check a few of them out here (hover over name for link).

The sisters from Aalamwaar design shop (all the way from India) create some beautiful hand dyed tie-dies and block printed fabrics.
















Caitlin McGauley’s experience as textile designer led her to craft this excellent line of wallpapers.  Can you imagine how chic that cheetah print would be in a powder room?  Yowza.  Or those sweet elephants in a little girls’ room?
















If you’re looking for something more historic and geometric, then prints from the house of the late Florence Broadhurst might be for you.  These designs have stood the test of time – over 100 years!  The geometric aqua bamboo inspired print wold be excellent in a seaside home.
















In my own designs I’m such a sucker for blue and white  graphic prints.  In the future, I may be using a few from  this design duo at Luru Home, who do indigo resist printing in both Brooklyn and the ancient home of the art, China.
















I’m now wondering if there is a place available like that near me in the DC area, I’m going to have to look and see.  Which fabrics here do you love?  How would you use them…. if, unlike me, you can sew…  or heck even if you are like me and just like to dream of the possibilities if you could sew….


10 Super Sectionals for Under $2000

I was recently faced with dilemma.  I needed to find a stylish, good looking sectional but didn’t want to kill the entire budget on one item.  Thankfully, I found that there were a ton of options out there that looked great for under $2000!    You can easily drop $2000 on a just a loveseat or armchair these days so finding a sectional with copious seating for the same price was impressive.  These are REAL sectionals… with a corner and 2 ends… not one of those sofas with a chaise at the end that retailers call a “sectional.”   The style available for sectionals has come a long way too, we don’t have to subject ourselves to overstuffed, puffy armed monstrosities with weird patchwork and tufting.  Nope, these sectionals give maximum seating to fill empty corners and look great doing it.

Under 2K for a Sectional Selection!!

sectionals under $2000


  1. Simmons Venture Smoke Fabric Sectional    $1320
  2. Kivik, Sectional, Hillared Dark Blue    $1999
  3. Ektorp, Sectional, 4-seat corner, Nordvalla Red,   $999
  4. Salonne 3-Piece Sectional,    $1999
  5. Alex 3 Piece Sectional      $999
  6. Ethan Cumulus 2-Piece Sectional        $1599
  7. Niels Danish Modern Tufted Sectional     $1650
  8. Emerald Antoinette Grey 2pc Sectional       $1682
  9. Melantha Sectional       $690
  10. Empress Sectional, Wheatgrass     $1759


Home Gyms CAN Be Stylish Spaces

I feel so wrong.  You see, part of me wishes my kids would hurry and grow up already for a very superficial and selfish reason…. I’m dying to make their playroom into a home gym.  It really is the ideal spot for a gym.  It’s an infrequently used 5th bedroom in my basement which right now contains little more than some shelves, about 5 million Lego pieces, and 2 large Lego platform tables.   I know, hoping to curtail their childhood joy all in exchange of my pursuit to be my fittest by the time I turn 40 makes me a bad mom.  So, I guess I’ll hold off on a full-scale basement playroom to gym conversion for a while and maybe just takeover a little part of it.  That wouldn’t be so wrong, would it?  When you think about it we’re really practicing sharing, right? Sharing is good mom behavior, for sure.  Meanwhile, I can scavenge Pinterest and Houzz for lots of great home gym ideas so that I can be ready to execute in a few years.  Hmmm… wonder if I could get the kids on board with making me a full-size Lego weight bench or cable machine…. anyway, check out these home gym beauties.

I suppose my space sharing problems would be non-existent if I had a WHOLE FREAKING BARN to turn into a gym, like these.  Whoa.




















Or maybe a modest pool house / casita that could host my gym. Of course I’d spend more time by the pool than working out.  My willpower is pitiful.  Thankfully my will power IS strong enough to not be tempted to play with Legos, another reason I should be grateful that I will mix my workout space with kid play space.


































Home gyms are a great place to introduce some BOLD color and a way to have your workout feeling energized before you even break a sweat. I love how they used some inexpensive Ikea chunky framed mirrors in the blue gym instead of the ubiquitous full wall mirror.



































For those of you named The Rock or John Cena and want a gym more than a living room, these are for you.





















High style doesn’t have to elude a small gym.  Patterned walls and stylish accessories can soften the look of uber-industrial equipment for a welcoming home gym experience.





















Real hardwood floors are not the best option for home gyms because they can get nicked or dented from a dropped dumbell, but these wood-look foam tiles will ensure the gym floor looks fantastic and withstands the rigors of pumping iron.









What elements are a must have in your home gym?  Go get your workout on!


Stylish End Tables Under $150

Sometimes I have the most trouble decorating my own home.  Revamping my living room has been a several months long work-in-progress.  Is it because we’re doing something dramatic? New flooring? Something special with the ceiling? Nope, absolutely not a hard thing about this room, and yet it it is still taking me forever…. but the end is in sight… I think.  I need an end table to go next to my lovely Blake Chair from Crate and Barrel.    I’m looking for something that won’t break the bank, like maybe under $150 bucks.  I am in luck because there are a plethora of great options out there, many even under $100 from easily accessible retailers like World Market, Ikea and good ‘ol Target!  Between you and me I’m leaning toward #1 one since I’ve worked some copper accents into the room but I need to go check it out in person.  There’s one here for every style, which would you choose?

occasional tables, accent tables, tables under $150


  1. Antique Copper Alini Accent Drum Table  $78
  2. Monarch Oval Accent Table   $75
  3. Lovbacken Side Table   $60
  4. Kvistbro Storage table     $50
  5. Cole and Grey End Table   $93
  6. Asmara Side Table    $88
  7. Cement Grey Side Table   $149
  8. White Marble and Metal Round Accent Table   $130
  9. Stilwell End Table   $101
  10. Avenue Glass Top Accent Table   $100


HGTV Dream Home: Inspiration for 2017

One thing I look forward to every New Year’s Day is the unveiling of the HGTV Dream Home.  I like to watch to get attainable (they use materials from every-man retailers like Lumber Liquidators, Wayfair and Cabinets to Go) design ideas to implement in my home or to inspire new designs for clients.  I really like that over the past few years HGTV remodeled existing homes vice building anew as they always used to.  This year’s home was a stunning remodel converting a Contemporary-Spanish-ish home on St. Simons Island, GA into a Modern-Low Country beauty.

They did away with a previous yellow stucco in favor of a white cedar shake siding and bold black trim and shutters.  The entry way and several other access points were converted from dated archways to expansive double doors.  Finally, the brown architectural shingle roof was changed to a lovely metal roof complete with an adorable cupola to give it an authentic Low Country look.  The conversion looks great, and close up shots reveal gorgeously finished wood front doors, but from a distance I’d maybe like to see a front door with a fun color maybe a vibrant mango or coral, especially since this is a seaside community.

HGTV Dream Home Before (Photo: Joe Loehle)
HGTV Dream Home Exterior, After (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)


The interior designer, Brian Patrick Flynn, wasn’t afraid to take a few risks in the interior and achieved bold looks without looking totally whacko.   This large scale bust portrait at first glance has an air of traditional to it, when in reality, with her bandana and earrings, she’s a bit irreverent and lets you know her owner has a sense of humor.

HGTV Dream Home Entry with Quirky Art (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)



















This living room is a great mix of styles, Southern, Rustic, Glam, Cottage…. which could easily have gone awry, but instead looks relaxed and collected.

HGTV Dream Home Living Room mixes styles without looking chaotic (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)


Ok, I’m a bit conflicted on the kitchen selections.  I really like the drab khaki-grey toned shaker cabinets as they remind me of the early 2000’s Martha Stewart drabware everything.  Totally a great fit for a Low-country home and a great alternative to the bright white cabinet of 2016.  But oh, the green subway tile AND green counters AND green hardware?  I get the earthy vibe it’s trying to elicit to keep in touch with the swampy, Spanish moss covered setting…. but it’s a bit much for me.

HGTV Kitchen with 2017 trend in cabinets (Photo:Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

























I’d change out the counters for something like this and the hardware for something in black, like this one below.

River White Granite as a more neutral alternative


Almost black oil rubbed bronze might be hardware with more style longevity























This Master Suite design is spot on.  The blue shade is calming but rich and vibrant and I think taking it onto the ceiling was the right decision (maybe without the bright white can lights, though).  I think we’ll see a resurgence of the traditional heavy drape in 2017 too, and Brian Patrick Flynn does them perfectly here, keeping the color light and style classic.

HGTV Dream Home Master Bedroom mixes calming blues (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)


Usually home gyms are utilitarian and stark.  Why not exercise in a space that has a bit of style so that even if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing you can at least enjoy where you are?  Cork floors are a smart choice for the occasional dropped weight and are forgiving on the joints, not to mention looking classy.  The mullioned antiqued mirrors are also a great choice that make this look more like a real thoughtful room in the home than just an industrial utilitarian space.

HGTV Dream Home Gym to workout in style (Photo: Tomas Espinosa)


I wanted to be sure to share this guest bathroom from the HGTV Dream Home.  Is it the most spectacular bath in the home? Nope, not at all, BUT I think the setup of this bathroom is very similar to bathrooms in many American homes – it’s small, has room for just a single vanity, and has a standard tub – yet it still looks fantastic.  Some takeaways for what you could copy, rather than a regular shower curtain, use real drapes and take them from ceiling to floor.  Remove that frameless contractor grade mirror and replace it with a uniquely framed mirror and don’t be afraid of a bold color, especially if your fixtures (sink, tub, tile etc.) is white.  You could do those 3 things for under $200 and totally give a new 2017 look to your bathroom.

HGTV Dream Home small bathroom with big style (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

























Finally, one of my favorite spaces in this home is actually not in the home at all, it’s the backyard and pool area.  Much of the style isn’t because of any intentional styling at all but rather due to the landscape designers decision to leave lots of foliage, including that lovely dripping Spanish Moss.

HGTV Dream Home pool and arbor (Photo: Cristina Wedge)


HGTV Dream Home backyard lush with mature trees and Spanish moss (Photo: Tomas Espinosa)


Set a Tasteful Thanksgiving Table

The FOOD is where it’s at on Thanksgiving… oh and the family togetherness, sure…. so, with all of that there’s not a lot of Thanksgiving specific decorating going on.  Hell, my neighbors already had Christmas decorations up the day after Halloween.  One easy way to make your home a bit more festive for Thanksgiving in advance of the holiday is to set the table.  If your home is anything like mine your dining room table ends up holding mail, homework, backpacks and maybe a jacket or two slung over the chairs.  Why not make it look pretty, even if just for a week?  You can put out a creative centerpiece, the dishes, napkins, some candles, etc.  Below are some really fantastic Thanksgiving tablescapes that I’ve seen, many with super easy and cheap DIY elements.  Try one out yourself!

This bare wood table gets rustically regal with eggplant napkins, bright orange persimmons, and shiny magnolia leaves.  I love that they mix and matched the black plates with other random dishes for a casual and modern look, so you don’t have to grandma’s full set of china set out, work with what you have.


















Navy, white, cornflower blue and orange mini pumpkins crammed down the center of a rustic wood table with more modern looking flatware and plates has informal appeal.  With a bit of craft or spray paint this Country Living look could be accomplished in no time!













Joann, the fabric and crafts company, has a tutorial on how to create this one on their website.  It mixes my fave hot metallic, copper, with gold.  The faux moss mat provides needed contrast for DIY spray painted artichokes and mini gourds.















Leave it to Southern Living to provide a more traditional tablescape, but with the alfresco twist of setting it on the gorgeous front porch.  Complete with formal meets whimsical pumpkin floral centerpieces, amazing tortoiseshell utensils, and quintessentially southern mint julep cups.



















If you aren’t hosting Thanksgiving I can see your hesitation for setting an entire table, instead maybe just clear off the junk and place a centerpiece like some of these beauties.

First up are a few flowers-in-pumpkins ideas.



Take some off-white spray paint to those leftover Halloween pumpkins and lay them out with antlers (available at craft stores) and some tealights.



















The blog at 724Southhouse has a tutorial to make this cute centerpiece.  Most of the work is in building the box, but once you have it, think if the possibilities, change it up for each season.


Seasonal, Easy Bedroom Refresh

Do you change out your bedding for winter? I don’t mean adding flannel sheets instead of cotton. I’m talking about totally changing out the look of your bed with a winter comforter or duvet, different pillows, etc. Yeah, I don’t either. But seeing all of the very cozy options that arrive in the holiday catalogs and magazines, got me thinking that changing out the bedding is a pretty easy thing that anyone could do for a quick and cozy update to their bedroom décor. Here’s a bedroom from my portfolio and an option for restyling it for winter.

Nautical Bedroom with colonial furnishings; Fairfax County, VA


This particular bedroom has a coastal sort of feel, so how would I change small things to make it look wintery and warm?  Primary colors in the room are light blue/ aqua, deep warm brown and a sandy tan color.  I’d add a solid, warm tan comforter and shams that have a stitched pattern that reminds me of a cable knit look. Accompany it with some buffalo check plaid and cable pillows, a touch of birch bark in the candles and an accent pillow along with a luxe faux fur throw.  Complete the wintery look with a framed stag print.  Light the fireplace and get cozy (but don’t leave it lit while you sleep because that’s a fire hazard and could potentially set your gorgeous new bedroom ablaze… but you knew that already).



  1.  Hanna Quilt & Sham in Simply Taupe   $179
  2. Pouty Sprouts Etsy Buffalo Check Pillow  $13
  3. Home-organizer Tech Cotton Knitted Pillow Cover   $18
  4. Birch Trees Throw Pillow   $31
  5. Buck and Bird, 2006, framed and matted   $160
  6. Limited Edition Series Throw Blanket by Fabulous Furs    $180
  7. Birch Votive Candle   $20 -$35
  8. LL Bean Wicked Good Moccasins  $70



Knock Knock Knockin’ on My Front Door

A home’s entryway can make or break its curb appeal.  I was in a home recently that had such unique hardware that it made the whole house very likeable… a fox doorknocker, lions head knobs and other little touches made it totally charming.  Seeing this unique hardware got me intrigued about what was available out there – turns out, you can get just about anything as a doorknocker.  I think that whale tail will be finding its way to my beach home in the Outer Banks and maybe the koi will take up residence here in Virginia.  Here’s some great ones I found:



Michael Healy MH1101 Bumblebee Door Knocker, Brass $125

Twisted Ring Iron Door Knocker – Rust  $34

Mayer Mill Brass NCBK-C New Crab Door Knocker, Chrome $93

Signature Hardware Squirrel Door Knocker $60

Foo Dog Door Knocker  $38

Sly Fox Knocker $24

Michael Healy MH105 Whale Tail Door Knocker $115

Gary Kerby Indian Chief Door Knocker  $350

Koi Fish Doorknocker  $22

Claddagh Brass Door Knocker  $33

And an idea for styling a perfectly inviting front porch:


















Koi Fish Doorknocker  $22

Dunn-Edwards Evershield Citron DE5473

Jeld Wen Craftsman 6-Lite Primed Steel Prehung Front Door with Brickmould  $237

2.5 Qt Japanese Boxwood (will take some work to shape it) $19

Hampton Bay 180-Degree Oil-Rubbed Bronze Motion-Sensing Outdoor Wall Lantern  $50

Home Decorators Collection  Ella 11 in. Square Black Resin Planter  $59

Monogrammed Coco Border Door Mat  $29 -$129



Dining in Style: Everyday Dinnerware

With Thanksgiving just a few weeks ahead, I’m sure lots of people are getting out their fine china and polishing the silver. I don’t know who these people are. I don’t have fine china. We had a set at one point that we inherited but the fact that you couldn’t throw it in the dishwasher or put it in the microwave (not to mention the granny blue floral print), it just didn’t fit us. Ultimately, we donated it to a charity auction so somebody else could make use of it. I just can’t get my brain owning something so expensive, that takes up so much space, and not using it more than twice a year. As you might imagine, my family eats off of what retailers term as “everyday” dinnerware (um, that is, when we’re not using paper plates). I currently have 2 sets of everyday dinnerware, one a clear, scratched, crazed set (5 of 8 large plates remaining) that I have had since we got married almost 18 years ago. The other is an inexpensive matte black set from Ikea that’s probably about 15 years old. I sorta have the feeling that I should be a grown-up and get some good plates… but not too grown up… I’m still not wanting granny’s china… just maybe a nicer set or two of everyday plates. Here’s a few 16 piece sets I’ve spied ranging from $25 to $340. And between you and me, though the $340 one is cute, but we’re a clumsy crew so I won’t be investing in anything even that pricey, but I just had to include those birds because they made me happy.  Which would you pick?


  1. Williams Sonoma Pacifica Dinnerware 16-Piece Place Setting  $108
  2. Threshold™ Camden 16 Piece Dinnerware Set  $60
  3. Lenox Simply Fine Dinnerware, Chirp Square 4 Piece Place Setting $85 ($340 for 16 pieces)
  4. Pfaltzgraff Expressions 16 Piece Dinnerware Set Pandora Blue  $70
  5. Crate and Barrel Welcome 16-Piece Dinnerware Set  $114
  6. Pfaltzgraff Expressions Savannah Gray Dinnerware Set 16-Piece. Stoneware $70
  7. Crate and Barrel Marin Dinnerware $94
  8. Royal Doulton® 1815 16-Piece Dinnerware Set in White  $138
  9. FÄRGRIK 18-piece dinnerware set, green, stoneware  $25
  10. Baum Brothers 16-Piece Dinnerware Set in Blue/White   $70
  11. Pfaltzgraff Grayson 16-Piece Dinnerware Set  $50

Problem to Perfect Ceilings

The ceiling.  Yup probably the most boring part of the room, right?  Well boring, that is, unless you live in a house with super high ceilings adorned with fancy beams, rustic paneling, or ornate posts.  Alas we can’t all live in a home with ceilings as perfect as these.















My husband and I have been lamenting over our lack of an awesome ceiling for several years.  It’s not even it’s absence of awesomeness that  bothers us so much as the readily apparent absence of competent craftsmanship that went into it’s flat drywalled simplicity.  In the expanse that covers our open living room and kitchen area you can see every drywall seam.  Now, the house is about 10 years old and you can not only see the seams, but there is some cracking along them as well.  This problem makes the whole room look shoddy.  The big question is, what to do to fix this dilemna?  We’re serial DIYers, but drywall is one of those things that is sooooo hard to do correctly and quite frankly doing it on the ceiling is even harder than the wall (and a mess)!  So I could pay someone to come in and just fix the drywall seam problem, but that’s about as exciting as buying a washer and dryer…. ya know…. you spend all this money on a necessary thing and after shelling out all that cash… yay…. you’ve got …. laundry.   So if we’re going to spend some cash to fix it then I’d like it to look spectacular.

While we don’t have soaring vaulted or cathedral ceilings, we are fortunate enough to have 10 foot tall ceilings.  So there are a number of options out there that we could try and we’ve each spent too many hours on Pinterest and Houzz trying to decide which idea is best for fixing our wonky ceiling.  Here’s some of the ideas we’re considering (note: our house is a modern colonial so we’re looking for an idea that doesn’t stray too far from the style of the house.

First up, this coffered ceiling, would be something that we think we could DIY right over the drywall seams, the only challenge would be the existing recessed can lights would need to be moved because they wouldn’t be centered (so, ultimately, more drywall patching necessary).












Or maybe even this more simplistic version of square panels?  You can see here in this photo below that they also had to even out all the ceiling mounted lights.















This picture is intriguing to me because my kitchen cabinets are the same grey as these, but I worry that the rustic beam and shiplap is a little too farmhousey for my colonial?






















I think this option might be the way my husband would want to go, cover the ceiling in wood, but I fear that if you picked a wood that is similar to the wood floor (a medium gloss Brazilian Koa), it’ll look too much like a church, and if we pick a wood that is too different from the floor it’ll just clash.






















A tin or faux tin in a simple pattern might work, provided it was painted white or a distressed white, otherwise I think it’d be a tad busy.  This pattern below is too ornate for my taste.













We could achieve a similar look with an embossed wallpaper applied to the ceiling.  Undoubtedly a real neck breaker, so I can’t say I’m looking forward to applying any of these finishes myself.













I’d love to hear other unique ideas for hiding ceiling seam problems.  What do you think?