Clever Idea # 5 ~ Semi Homemade


Like Sandra Lee in the kitchen with her semi-homemade recipes saving you time and money, the people at Semi Homemade are doing the same thing, but with cabinetry:  Ikea Cabinetry.  You purchase the cabinetry you want, and they will make custom doors to fit any Ikea furniture.
The theory applies:  half the time, half the money.  Honestly, sometimes decorating is smoke and mirrors.

Cabinets can be a very costly proposition.  Saving money on (well built) frames that nobody will see, while spending a little more on doors that make a statement in the kitchen can make the added investment well worth it in my book.

An awesome way to save money while getting a top-notch look.  I call that SPAVING, and I believe I coined that term more than a decade ago!

ph: via Semi Homemade

Million Dollar Discount Decorating

I love Million Dollar Decorators on Bravo TV.  There is so much satisfaction in seeing some of the biggest names in design go thru the same trials and tribulations that a little decorator does in Philly. The scale may be different but the drama is the same.  I always say, if you have an eye, you can shop anywhere and apparently the LA Times put our  friends, Kathryn Ireland, Mary McDonald, Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Jeffrey Alan Marks to the test.

Armed with nothing but a credit card and good taste,  it's interesting to see what this creative group came away with and how it was going to be used.

This $17.00 pillow is in keeping with Kathryn's country manor aesthetic.  The crewel work gives added texture.  Mixed in with her own textiles, it will look like a million bucks.

She marveled at the French Provincial bench. She said it could go in her showroom just the way it is and she can sell it for 3 times the price.  " Shopping at Marshalls, she says, tongue firmly in cheek, "makes me realize that I am overpriced and overrated."  Say What??

Who ever made those towels that Martin spotted must have had him in mind.  That pattern is one he uses often in his richly layered, ethnic style.  "Some of the most expensive design houses are using this print."  They are versatile, instant updaters and reversible.  What more can you ask  for from towels ranging in price from 5.99 to 7.99?

Martin spies classically shaped drum stools in wicker.  They can be used as side tables or seating. An added layer of texture is design deliciousness!  For 39.99, take two Marty.

These glasses look like the Ralph Lauren lead crystal ones for more than 4 times the price. What a great way to get a little color on the table, especially around the holidays.  At 7.99 each  ~ load up.

Jeffery is feeling festive at K Mart.  He is thinking 2 of these 39.99 pre lit trees on either side of an entrance or in multiples on a lawn.  The trees clean lines would look terrific in a contemporary setting.

The frames look good on a gallery wall either on their own or mixed with other frames.  What ever you do, group them for more bang for the buck!  They also make a great personalized gift, especially with a picture of the receiver in it.

Monogrammed anything instantly makes it look more expensive.  A quick update for a powder room in a pinch.  As a gift, it looks like you gave it a little more thought.  How thoughtful, at 7.99 you can throw in a candle.

The outdoor rug mimicking sisal already bound with tape was a no brainer for Mary.  The rug for 79.99 used alone, side by side or coordinated with another rug works because of its simplicity.

Sandra Dee's plastic hobnob tumblers for 3.99 each would make a great addition to an outdoor table, or party.  Coincidentially, Mary has the real thing and uses them all the time.  I would buy these in a heartbeat.

I find the secret to discount shopping is taking a good look at the weight of something.  How is it made, are the seams straight and do they meet?   Is the color deep and saturated, does it remind you of something you've seen at a higher price point?  Mixing your bargains in with more expensive pieces you may already own elevates them and makes everything seem that much more interesting.

ph: Al Seib for LA Times

Following The Dream: A Creative Mind

I subscribe to Oprah's Thought for Today Newsletter.  If you haven't seen it, you should. There are always interesting stories, inspirational quotes, motivational essays. I read these quotes geared toward the creative mind (but apply to anyone) and wholly agree.  I wanted to pass them on...


I am thankful that I am able to make a career out of doing something that I am passionate about.   Creating beautiful  interiors for my clients fills me with a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction.  Sharing my musings with you is icing on the cake.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Holiday House 2012 ~ Part 2

Suzanne  Eason happened to be sitting in her room when I was there.  It's really nice when you are able to speak with the designers, because often times there are subtle references or nuances you may miss by taking a look around and walking out.  In this case the theme was "Origins of life," a birthday study.  The small space was richly layered in my new favorite color combination.  A beautiful place to work and reflect.

I recognized the Trove wallpaper right away, but did not put 2 and 2 together that it was the double helix pattern, as in DNA.  The Roubini rug features a snake with an apple in its mouth:  to tempt Adam and Eve?  The sculptures depicting Adam and Eve were created by master sculptor Daniel Williams for the room.

When a designer pays a lot of attention to detail, I tend to take notice!  Lee Robinson, who you may remember from my coverage of the Hamptons' show house is one of those designers.  The Chinese New Year celebration was apparent in his small space, but Lee made the most of it.  With its black textured ceiling meeting a decorative tape delineating the malachite papered walls, there was a lot to look at.  The decorative chinoiserie transom above the door delighted and surprised.

The trellis motif was carried around the room, and the beautiful bar was as decorative as it was practical

Walking up the steps to the third floor was a nice surprise.  I felt like I was in the hall of mirrors, and apparently, I was.  Jon Call, with the help of Robyn of J. Pocker, did a great custom and stock mirror lined hallway with a geometric ceiling.  Robyn told me it was a striped wallpaper that was cut and put back together in this dynamic way.  That idea is a keeper!  Inspired by the idea of charity, the reflective surfaces reinforce the desire of the designers to exhibit the "brave" and "reflective" concept.  That's so existential.

AH, here's a theme I could detect ~ birthday, in this case ~sweet sixteen.  What 16 year old wouldn't want such a happy place?  I know this because it says so on the door (in crystals).  Done in luscious lilac with sophisticated art and great textiles, Robyn Karp created a dream bedroom for any young girl.  A touch of coral helps keep it young and punchy.

Vincente Wolf created a Swedish Winter Dream Room.  Is that a holiday?  It is classic Vincente Wolf and it is dreamy but...

I miss the days of old where you understood and were aware of the holiday being portrayed.  As I said, the subtle reference in which to design these holiday rooms is so much more interesting than the obvious holiday themed room.  It would be interesting to see how each designer over the years put their own spin on the holidays we know, love, and celebrate ~ otherwise, isn't it just another showhouse?

Holiday House 2012 ~ Part 1

I was a tad late getting to the party, but I made it to the 5th annual Holiday House benefitting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  It was founded by Evelyn Lauder.  The portrait in the foyer was a fitting tribute to Evelyn, who lost her life last year due to ovarian cancer.

I was having a déjà vu moment upon entering the house.  I realized it has been held in the same upper east side mansion each year.  Designers are given a holiday, or choose a theme with which to base their designs.

Geoffrey Bradfield was inspired by Marcel Proust's Rememberences of Things Past.  The past and the present co exist in the kind of room Geoffrey does best.  His interiors are airy, functional spaces with a  sculptural quality.  It was opulence in black and while.

I like a designer with a sense of humor.  You'd better have one in this business!  This bust was in the fireplace and appeared to have had a pie thrown in its face.

Ally Coulter's Father's Day den is a dream for any testosterone filled man about town.  Ralph Lauren would be proud.  You could move right in; everything was picture perfect and slightly sparkly.

The house has such strong architectural lines, and the dining room with its decorative barrel ceiling is a showstopper.  It was appropriate that Inson Dubois Wood created a Venice carnavale like feeling with it's riotous mixture of art and high/low layering.

Ironically, I did detect a gun theme.  I liked the unexpected placement of the light fixture on the table.  Dramatic?  Yes!   Practical?  No!  Who says show houses have to be practical?  I think lighting these rooms was an issue.

Upstairs, Dineen Architecture and Design had the task of creating a room based on Mother's Day.  I found it interesting that they chose to do it in a slightly masculine or non-gender specific way.  It was just clean lined and well curated.  Each detail was exacting.  A space where any woman could relax and rejuvenate.

Dyfari Interiors gave a tiny room impact, suggesting it was an ode to her father.  A master tailor with a penchant for the feminine?  I could picture him down on the lower east side toiling away.  I like that a frame corralled the different colored threads and it became more than the sum of its parts.  You were suppose to feel enveloped in a men's suit with the Phillip Jeffries herringbone fabric wall covering.

Stay tuned for part 2.
I apologize for the less than ideal lighting.  It was a challenge for the designers and the amatuer photographers.