Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kitchen vignette

Awhile back I promised to post the Bob Narod photos of my kitchen vignette at Kleppinger's so here they are!
Here's one more that I took.

And here's the little cherub as he resides safely back at my home. He's got a little fireworks going on behind him.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A testimonial to detergent

I'm not sure how inspiring a tale about laundry detergent can be, but it was pretty inspiring to me, let me tell you.
This summer when I was thinking about my Fall wardrobe - yes, I think like that, must be the training in Fashion Design - I decided that I was ready to add more classics to my wardrobe. Pieces I could just pull out and throw together and they would always look right. So began the quest for the perfect white shirt. I found it at Brooks Brothers. Actually I found two. And they gave me a deal for buying 2 so I didn't feel all that guilty. Not that I EVER feel all that guilty when I shop.
I wore the button down version a total of two times, but since I only had it on about an hour each time, it still looked so fresh I just hung it back up. I took it out to wear this weekend and thus began the crying and the gnashing of teeth!
There were 5 small blood stains on the back. How did you get blood on the back of your shirt you may ask. Were you involved in a street fight? Is the DC sniper back? (No, he's safely in jail.)Here is the embarassing part of this story. I have had a rash on my arms and back for 5 weeks. Yes, you read that right. FIVE WEEKS! I usually tell people I have hives (this is on a need to know basis) because that seems more socially acceptable. I am so itchy that it is unbearable. And I have scratched my arms so badly they have bled but I didn't know I had done it to my back!
Have you every tried to get a (dried) blood stain out in the laundry? It is not easy. I have 3 kids who all played sports, so I have had a lot of experience. I sprayed the shirt with some kind of Oxy pretreat, then washed it in cold water in Arm & Hammer with Oxy Clean. Boo hoo, stains were still there.
Not one to be outdone by a Brooks Brothers shirt, I took the damp shirt, poured some more of the detergent directly on the stains and left it on top of the washer, where I promptly forgot about it for about 12 hours!
And here is the happy ending: when I washed the shirt the second time, all the stains came out. Not even a ghost of a stain. Not a hint or a whisper. It's a Christmas miracle! I am going to wear my shirt to the dentist today for good luck!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just in time for a long winter's nap

To say that this bedroom was a continuous work in progress would be a slight understatement. It was more like a journey. My client is very thoughtful about her design decisions, not like me - I like to shoot first, ask questions later. But I have to admit that her approach lends itself to fewer mistakes.
First she had the room painted a neutral color, with the little surprise of a pale blue ceiling. Then we added the Lee Jofa wallpaper with it's subtle shimmer of metallic, behind the bed. It stayed like that for several months. Next came the fabulous headboard with it's polished nickel nailheads, upholstered in a Kravet sueded fabric (you'd call it Ultrasuede; I don't know if Kravet brands it that way). My client found the sumptuous bedding out there in retail land. But she didn't buy the matching bedskirt, which was smart since we opted to make a custom bedskirt out of the Kravet fabric to match the headboard. So far, so fabulous
Along the way, she had an old lingerie chest refinished in a silver blue. It almost has a lacquer finish. I believe she changed the hardware (handles) on the chest.
During this time - which you are realizing by now, was AWHILE, we went back and forth about the window treatments. Did we want minimal? - full blown out? - super chic? - super subtle? - what? We decided that this room was starting to go in the direction of Hollywood Glam, but was much more zen-y. My client loves her bling, but she was doing a good job of controlling herself. She opted to err on the zen side, making this a cozy retreat with some glamorous touches. We ended up with a wall-to-wall drapery treatment hung from a simple brushed nickel rod. Since the spaces between the walls and the windows are all different, these panels are hand drawn, with the help of some hidden batons. They are also blackout lined for complete decompression!
There are a couple more additions to be made in the way of a new dresser, new TV and reupholstering a chair, but for now, this room is ready for a much needed nap. Go ahead - SNOW!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Memory of Toby

One of my best little friends, Toby died yesterday. He would have been 14 next week.

All kinds of people can change your life, but sometimes a dog can do it too.
I was never much of a "doggie person" and neither was anyone in my family. But Toby was the pet of one of my clients, a client who's been around since about 1997 - so I have gotten to know this client as a friend, and Toby as a faithful assistant. (I realized as I wrote that date, that I guess I have know Toby almost from the beginning.)

My daughter really started pushing for a dog when she was 12 or 13. Toby's owner helped me see what a wonderful pet a Westie can be. She even told me about a store where her friend had found Westie puppies (which can be very hard to come by). Off we went for a look, and the rest is history.

Toby was the kind of Westie you see in TV commercials: well behaved, clean shaven, adorable and practically human. He liked to cuddle up with his owner and watch Oprah in the afternoon. He apparently also liked to sleep on her head. He was more of an indoor dog, whereas, my Westie, Clarence thinks he is a Black Lab. He's always a bit dusty around the edges and is always barking at people and animals outside and telling them to behave. Everyone in my family is a "doggie person" now. We can't imagine what we did before Clarence.

I just saw Toby last week, when I was installing his owner's bedroom curtains. I'll show pictures of that later. Here he is posing with the new living room drapes we put in a couple of years ago. Perfect as usual - Toby, I mean.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just a Taste

Apparently, I am a deadline kind of girl. I get a whole lot more done when I'm under the gun. Two weeks ago I was offered the challenge to decorate one of the kitchen vignettes at a local cabinet showroom, Kleppinger Design Group in Fairfax, VA. They were going to invite the public to an open house. Now, I don't know about you, but I barely have time to get my own holiday decorating done, much less someone else's. But this was fun! I chose a vignette with black cabinetry just to see what I could do with it. I didn't have to choose a theme but I did, just for myself, to keep me on track. My theme was "The Humble and the Holy" which I thought was pretty appropriate for Christmas, which is the holiday I chose (so did everyone else, but Bonnie, who did Thanksgiving). A lot of designers use the term "High/Low" to mean they are using the plain with the fancy. I have always called it "The Humble and the Holy". Humble would be the rough linen napkins, or the rustic tree wrapped in burlap. Holy would be the $150/yard silk I used for the table runner.
OK so my camera misbehaved and I only have a couple of pictures today to tempt you. I will take more when I go back to clean it up. Plus, a professional photographer was going to photograph it yesterday. His shots will definitely put mine to shame anyway. Here's a taste of the beautiful (though MAD looking!) cherub I used, plus some of the treats at the reception.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Window Treats

Can you stand one more post about Homearama? I promise lots of fun things are coming up, because I have been busy on so many fun projects. So sit back and get inspired by some interesting window treatment ideas.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Homearama Video

Here are a few ideas to get your creative home decorating juices flowing! See if you can make one small change or update in your home today.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Homearama 10/10

For the past few years I have been a judge at the Homearama put on by the Tidewater Builders Association. This Fall's Homearama was at East Beach in Norfolk,VA which is just down the street from Ocean View, if you are familiar with the area.
These were smaller homes than in some previous years, but as full of inspiration as ever. My areas to judge were Best Interior Design, Best Home Furnishings and Best Family Room. (Other catagories included such things as Best Landscaping, Best Master Bedroom, Best Closet, Best Use of Technology - you get the idea).
It is always fascinating to me to see the wealth of innovative ideas that Homearama is full of. This year's 10 homes were all on the same street, so you just walk from one to the other. As good on the outside as they are on the inside. I took 200 pictures this time! I'm giving you just a taste.
Homearama runs from Oct 16-31. Sunday - Thursday the hours are noon to 9:00pm. Fridays and Saturdays it is noon to 10:00pm. Admission is $10.00. For more info go to

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Contemporary Window Treatment

Here's a fun little video showcasing a window treatment I recently completed for a client with a very contemporary dining room.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Pink Room

I wish I could give credit to whomever photographed, published or designed this space. It has been floating around in my idea file for quite awhile. I love everything about this; the pink walls, the lamps, the moss filled container, but mostly I love the wall treatment. It looks like twill tape and upholstery tacks. Seems like it would be easy enough to do if you had miles of twill tape and were pretty good at math. (sigh) It's interesting how the design changes down near the floor, almost like it had to be done that way.
The second picture is a variation on the twill & tack idea, only this time using ribbon. I saw this last year in a powder room at Homearama. It looks much easier to do yourself, but those bows would take awhile!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Those Clever French!

Wanna see something cool? Check out this window treatment we just installed in a client's home. Can't take credit for any of it, except the cool rod, getting it hemmed and installing it just right.
My client bought these panels while vacationing in Paris. She was mostly attracted to the cool style, but also thought the price was excellent. Turns out the price was so good because you have to hem them yourself, and they are unlined. They came with a separate piece of neutral fabric that you would attach to the back of the front piece. A free floating liner, if you will. We decided not to use the liner. The really interesting design element is the tabs at the top, which were purchased separately. Basically, we pulled some strings on the back of the panel to form the pencil pleats. Then we placed the tabs where we wanted them and secured them with some little brads (the part that looks like a small metal ball) through the curtain. The tabs came complete with the grommets for the brad to fit through and the small white tassel at the pointed end.
Though these panels are ready-mades, the fabric was so much chic-er than what we have available for ready-mades in this country. It had both gold and silver threads running throught it and even a piece of wire running through some of the threads. Because of the wire, we couldn't machine stitch the hem, so it is done by hand. But the wire also gave the fabric body. We were lucky enough to get a custom made curtain rod that came in a combination gold AND silver finish!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A little summer inspiration

"Look at that sea, girls-all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more than if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds."
--Lucy Maud Montgomery

Monday, August 16, 2010

A little help with chairs...

In my previous post on chairs, it would help if I could have edited it the way I wanted, but I am still on a huge learning curve. So the pictures are shown in reverse order. Start at the bottom and work your way up.
As soon as I learn how to insert the pictures WHERE I want them, all will be right with my world!

Chairs, chairs & more chairs

This has been the summer of chairs....reupholstery and new upholstery. It's always interesting to see how behaves when it is covering a 3-dimensional object. The first photo is not technically a chair; it's a loveseat. It is a custom made piece to go into a room with a somewhat nautical theme. Love the contrasting paisley pillows!

In the same room, we reupholstered 2 chairs in a medium blue. These have an English arm and were on a swivel base.

In an adjoining room, we used the same window treatments for continuity. We had a custom made chair to copy the existing blue chairs - same English arm (although they are covered up by the arm protectors), same swivel base, but this time in a yellow fabric, with a contrast band at the hem in navy blue.

On to another beautiful home! In this case the homeowner REALLY disliked her sofa. She said she didn't know why she had spent so much money on something that now she found so boring. I said I didn't think the sofa was so boring, but the other chairs in the room were equally as unassuming. I thought we could jazz up the chairs and let the sofa take a supporting role and everyone would be happier. One chair got the star treatment in a blue & green velvet damask. It was crazy cool fabric & one that I have been dying to use on something.

The other chair is exactly the same chair but it doesn't look it, dressed in this mini print with it's matching ottoman.

We eventually decided to add window treatments (coming soon!) and make brand new cushions (the insides, not the covers) for the sofa for a little more structure.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hoboken - Who Knew?

My son recently moved to Hoboken, NJ. He has the greatest apartment on the main drag several blocks down from Carlo's know,The Cake Boss? There is always a line in front of that place. I mean they have signs that say "the line starts here", walkie-talkies, the works. It is likely that I will never make it in there to buy anything, which is really, really sad considering my fondness for all bakeries.
Hoboken appears to be the hip place to live and much less expensive than Manhattan, which is a stone's throw away. We walked three blocks and there was the Hudson River. We ate dinner looking at this great view. I can't wait to explore all the shops and parks. I have been up there 3 times in the last 6 weeks, but it is always a working visit, either to help move in or to decorate.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Little Exploring in VA

What a great day. Lunch at my favorite restaurant, Can Can, in Richmond. Then we arrived early in Suffolk, VA, too early to head out for dinner so we did a little exploring. We came upon a sign that said "Southern Living Idea House", and of course you have to follow a sign like that. We found the house, but it was closed, and had a For Sale sign out front. But we could tell it was still decorated so we got out to take a look. A detached garage out front formed a courtyard on the front of the house that opened to the driveway on one side and to the covered entryway and the foyer on the other. What a great idea! (It was an Idea House after all!)There were so many things to look at out there. An outdoor fireplace. A copper rainchain. Candeliers - if that is how you spell it. Lots of seating. The only thing missing was a little color, but if you lived there you could put lots of flowers in planters or add some decorative outdoor cushions.
Tomorrow - it's off to be a judge for the Tidewater Builders Assoc. Spring Homearama Critics Choice Awards. Sure to be pictures to share.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I Can Have My Cake

I am a little sad about the demise of so many of my beloved shelter magazines. But I recently ordered a new subscription that has become a bit of an obsession. It is a magazine called "Celebrate" that offers ideas for parties, decorations, themes and recipes based on real and imagined holidays during particular seasons of the year. It is published by the same people who brought back Victoria magazine. (love that one, too.) Anyway, a particular cake appeared in the Spring issue that I could not get out of my mind so I made it the other day. For no particular occasion. Now the rest of the family is obsessed. We are not cake people. On birthdays I will make a cake but after one slice each, it sits around for days. I have never figured out why. But not this glorious cake. We ooohhed and aaahhed over the sheer awesomeness of it's size but I have to tell you, it tastes about a million times better than it looks. Three layers of heaven. It is call Almond Strawberry Cake (strawberry filling between the almond flavored layers). Go to to check out the magazine. It's a party girl's dream.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Well, the snow has done more than enough to derail my Field Trip Fridays! Last week, we weren't quite plowed out, so I stayed put and got ready for a little Valentine party I was putting together. I was looking for some kind of martini to make. I remembered that my friend Greg had served me a delicious "Flirtini" once at his restaurant Yellowfin in Cheshire, CT. So I did a little search of Flirtini (found several variations), doctored it up a bit and it was a big hit. Be careful with this one! It made shy people extremely talkative and maybe even the blind man see.
Valentinis - - -
1 1/2 oz. lemon flavored vodka
1/2 oz. orange flavored liqueur
1 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
Shake it up in a cocktail shaker with some ice. Strain into a martini glass. Top with a splash of champagne and start TALKIN'!!
Of course, to make it for a crowd, I changed the ounces to cups!
Remember, do not even THINK about drinking and driving!! And you better be 21 if you are making this.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine Puppies

As my favorite holiday fast approaches I keep finding new ways to create fun foods and decorations. And thanks to being snowbound for days now, I have had more time on my hands. Pictured here is the reason I was looking for little edible heart decorations the other day. I have only been out once since last Friday, but I found some hearts mixed in with some sprinkles I had in my baking supplies.
My dog, Clarence, is a Westie and at Christmas I make little Westie spritz cookies, covered in white sugar with silver French Dragees for the eyes. Then my daughter & I found this Westie cookie cutter at Sur La Table and I used that for cutout sugar cookies. I added his cute little heart, practically glowing with love. I feel a theme coming on! I'm sure I can parlay this thing for any holiday. Green sugar for St. Patrick's Day, eggs or jelly beans for Easter, little flags for Fourth of July. You get the picture. When I bought the cookie cutter, I noticed a couple of other doggie cutters, so go looking for your breed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Field Trip Friday - uh oh

With the impending Snowpocalypse, as they call it, I had to change my plans for field trip Friday. I only ventured about a mile away to the craft store, which in my case was a Michael's. It was just as crowded as the grocery store, next door!! I don't know if people were picking up craft projects to do when they couldn't go anywhere for the next 3 days, or if they were getting ready for Valentine's Day. I saw a lot of moms and kids together, since school was cancelled.
I was there looking in the cake decorating section, trying to find some little heart shaped, edible decorations. No luck with that but I found all KINDS of cute stuff in the clearance isle. As soon as I can shovel out of here I will try to find some of those cinnamon hearts. Then I'll show you what I needed them for.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Admire it All You Want

Here's my tray, the prize from the last Field Trip Friday.
By the way, here is the contact info for Bella Villa:
39478 John Mosby Hwy
Aldie, VA 20105
Any suggestions for my next Field Trip Friday??

Friday, January 29, 2010

Field Trip Friday!

I headed west today for Field Trip Friday. FTF is when I go looking for a new design resource, a new experience, a new restaurant or whatever after I have finished my work for the day. I found the most lovely antiquey store today called Bella Villa in Aldie, VA. It is right on Rt. 50 before Middleburg. The shop is full of antiques, furniture, chandeliers, wall sconces, pictures and right now, holiday decorations at deep discounts. It goes on and on in room after room.
When I last visited Bella Villa, they were in a smaller location across the street and down the block. I happened to find a large beautiful silver tray that I had been on the hunt for for a couple years.I had to dig it out from under a table. Alas, it had a "hold" sign on it. Truly a sad moment. So, being a girl who likes a good dig, I was at it again today and there under another table was what looked like a similar tray. I turned it over and there was the "hold" sign again. I held it up and asked Rosanna, the woman behind the register, "Is this tray really on hold? Because I think it was on hold 4 months ago!" She said that no, it was probably just never picked up. So the tray is now mine. See, it pays to ask - and to keep digging.
One other wierd thing that happened at Bella Villa. Check out the photo: there were some large metal letters for sale sort of tossed under a table. You could hang them on the wall or use one initial as a paperweight. Anyway, look at what they spell. I couldn't believe it! I made everyone who was standing around take a look. There is an extra letter "I" there but take it away and it says "Toni K". That's me!! I guess I was really meant to shop in Aldie and find my tray. Great Field Trip Friday!

Monday, January 25, 2010

If I Were in Paris

I entered a contest recently to go to Paris for a week and attend Maison & Objet, which is the international home furnishings trade show. It is huge. The company giving away the trip manufactures drapery hardware and they were looking for someone to blog for them every day and in return they would pay ALL the expenses. I was so excited to enter and even received an email from one of the company owners saying mine was the "best entry so far!" I was already brushing up on my French - which is to say, practicing the 20 words I know. Then reality took hold and I was told that due to the fact that they had received several good entries so far, they were going to take them and put them in a hat and draw one name. You may have already guessed that I did not win. But if I had, I would just be finishing my fabulous, all expenses paid trip to Paris.
So.....if I were in Paris today I would have gotten up early and walked over to my favorite (my only!) spot for breakfast, the cafe Le Flore en L'ile, on the Ile St. Louis. If you sit in the back booth you can look across a short bridge at Notre Dame. I would have had my usual cafe au lait and a chocolate croissant. Then I suppose I would have raced back to the hotel and joined my group heading off to Maison & Objet. Supposedly, the displays there are very avant garde with a fascinating array of all kinds of products for the home. Of course I would be especially taken with the fabrics, my favorite component of interior design. No doubt the show would take all day, with just a short break for lunch. But if there was still time, I would hop on the Metro up to Montmartre to take in the view of the Eiffel Tower way down across the Seine. We would all need to stop to catch our breath with a little red wine and perhaps some bread and cheese. After posting my blog, (which was the reason for the trip after all!) I think I would finally be able to talk someone into going to dinner at that beautiful little restaurant around the corner from Notre Dame - the one with the sparkling lights and all the plants around the outside. Then off to bed - or perhaps, a ride on the Bateaux Mouches first for old times sake.