Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

When it comes to pumpkin carving and decorating for Halloween, I don't think anyone does it better than Martha! 

Have a fun Halloween!

All images from

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Going from Drab to Fab

Look at this juicy color palette I'm working with for a dining room project.  It's so fresh and colorful! We're doing a jute rug, the ikat on the chair seats, the large suzani print on the curtain panels, and some luscious wall color.  The homeowner loves color and wants a younger, fresher, vibe in her often used dining room.  She's lived overseas and has collected colorful pottery from everywhere.  I thought her dining room should reflect her love for the color and pattern that attracts her eye. Here's some of her collection.

This was the project where a dinner party started it all!

The "Before"


During a dinner at this house one night not too long particular friend, well I guess it was several friends, decided the border had been there long enough. 

One piece was saved as a memory!

  Everything is on order and will be ready for Christmas!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Backsplash Tips - Don't Do This!


One of my pet peeves with kitchen backsplashes is this side backsplash hanging way up in mid-air for no apparent reason.  This is a bad detail.  You see it in many builder homes and it's primarily the tile guy just making a decision on the job site of where to stop and start the tile.


The only reason to have a side backsplash like this is if there is a water source close by where the wall will get repeated dousing on a regular basis.  Of course the other reason is if the countertop installer was not very good and didn't scribe the counter to the wall so that a tight joint sealed with a small caulking is impossible.  Many contractors use this side backsplash to "cover" the large gap between the counter and the wall.  Even if the wall is uneven or is tight at one place and wide at another, a good countertop installer should be able to cut the counters to butt tightly to the wall. 


If you MUST have a side backsplash for any of the above reasons, make sure the tile is the color of the wall so that visually it doesn't call attention to itself and please use either a tumbled tile with a rounded edge, or get the tile guy to bullnose the edge pieces for a finished look. 

Perfect bullnosing of the tile at the unfinished edge.

Otherwise....DON'T do it!  My basic rule (which sometimes has to be broken) is to always try to die two different finishes in an inside corner. See how this works with backsplashes?

One of my "Before" kitchen remodels. See the backsplash on the left hanging in mid-air?

Close up.

"After" - See how there is no need for a backsplash on the far left and how neat and tidy it looks?

I don't have many hard and fast "rules" that I use, but this is definitely one of them.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Decorating the Niche

David Oliver - Veranda 

Could there be anything more naked looking than a niche without something in it?

Many new-ish homes have an abundance of niches, built to make the space look interesting.  Looking for somothing to fill the void? Take a cue from these examples. 

The citrus tree above fills the space and brings life, color, and dimension.

Eclectic Revisited

The wood tones lining these niches add warmth. Glass shelving suspended within allows smaller decorative items to be used to fill the space and add interest.

Electic Revisited

Overscaled containers with plants are simple and beautiful.


The single sculpture in a niche gives importance to the piece.

Meredith  Hutchison - Veranda

I love this horizontal niche, painted in a contrasting color, used for collectibles from the beach.


A master bath project of mine where we tiled the niche.  No need to put anything in it to fill the space!

Do you have a niche to fill?  What do you have in yours?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bathroom Mirrors and Lighting

Master Bath Remodel Project  - onyx mosaic tile behind mirror

I've been doing a lot of bathroom remodeling design in the last few years.  How I handle the mirrors is always a key element in the design of the space.  I like to use two different approaches now, never being particularly fond of the typical fixture posted on the wall right over the mirror and the sink.  I use sconces when I can, it provides nice lighting directly on the face. One approach I like is using a framed mirror with sconces and some kind of special wall treatment on the wall behind the mirror, tile or wallpaper, to add a custom look and luxurious feel to the space. 

Showhouse Bathroom - Spring 2011 - wallpaper behind custom framed mirror

Powder Bath Remodel - glass mosaic tile behind mirror

Powder Bath Remodel - light emperador marble tile behind custom mirror

In this powder bath above, the marble on the counter just continues up the wall and accentuates the verticality of the space.

Master Bath Remodel - dark emperador marble slab splash with inset wood framed mirror

I love the tiled wall in the image below from AD. Lighting, mirrors, cabinet all seem to float on that tile.

Shelton, Mendel, and Assoc. - Architectural Digest

Sometimes there is no room for sconces beside the mirror, clients don't want to go to the trouble to relocate j-boxes and do sheetrock work, or they just want a lot of mirror.

My Bathroom Remodel
In my bathroom above, I put the sconce on a large mirror.  I didn't want to break the vanity area up with two framed mirrors and wanted the space to feel bigger so I went wall to wall mirror.

Master Bath Remodel

In this bathroom remodel above, I left the j-boxes where they were and took the mirror higher.  It sort of doubles the lights in the room, reflecting the fixture back into the space.

More examples by other designers of fixtures on mirrors.  It really allows for a bigger mirror, makes things feel more spacious, and brings more light into the room.

Traditional Home

David Kleinberg - Architectural Digest

Donna Livingston - Architectural Digest

Kippie Leland - Schumacher website

That sconce on the mirror just got doubled!

Doing some kind of special treatment at the mirror and vanity lights creates a custom look in a bathroom.  Your eye always goes there, so why not make it special?

I've moved! Check out my new blog at Designed w/Carla Aston!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Still Loving Emerald

Peter Dunham - Veranda

I'm still loving touches of emerald green or kelly green in interiors. I've posted on this color HERE and HERE and it still keeps catching my eye.  Maybe I'm becoming obsessed??  I love the way these designers used it in their rooms in the House of Windsor.  Doesn't that green just draw your eye in to the space?

Candace Barnes - Veranda

Martin Lawrence Bullard - Veranda

Anyone who was working in design in the 70's and 80's remembers these de Sede sofas.  They're kind of like a wrinkled dog.  So ugly they're beautiful????  Definitely perfect in this media room. 

Okay, back to COLOR. Doesn't the green just give this space life?

Kate Spade ads always have such great color. Emerald green is often used.

Eye Candy!!!!

Rue Magazine

So luxurious! 

Kay Douglass - Veranda

I'm totally obsessed with this project.  The green draperies just give so much drama and color to this interior. 

I haven't had a client who would go there yet, I'm waiting for the right one!
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