When Bad Decorating Happens to Good People

As an Interior Designer people are always asking me if I mentally redesign homes I visit, even when I am not working.  Of course, the answer is yes.  I just can’t help it. There is always great potential in all the homes I visit, and many frankly are just perfect.  However, when things aren’t working it is because of one of these common mistakes:

  1.  Furniture pushed up to the walls.  Better to arrange furniture in conversational groupings.


2.  Rugs too small.  Better to have large scale rugs that anchor conversation.


3.  Lamps too small. Lighting should be layered, with the ability to dim and brighten, but attention to scale is a must.


Lamp heights too different. Ideally the base of the shade should be at eye level for reading.  Do layer your lighting. Every room should have more than one light source. Dimmers are an easy install and give a lot of flexibility. Have several lamps providing task and ambient lighting.


4.  Art work and mirrors too high. The ideal center of an art piece or painting should be 54 inches from the floor.  If you are hanging a grouping the center of the group should be at the 54″ mark.


5.  Seat heights too different. Best is to keep the range of seating to a difference of two to three inches.


6.  Occasional tables too high or too low in relation to height of chairs, sofas, and beds. A practical consideration. Similar heights allow for easy access with cups and glasses.


7.  Window treatments too long/short.   Just like pants, they need to be the correct length.


8.  Absence of focal point. Essential for drawing the eye into space.


9.  Lack of visual flow from room to room. Ideally the room colors should compliment one another. Some think of this as a cross pollination type idea. For example, red room with green accents and a green room with red accents.


Congratulations!  Follow these guidelines and your rooms will be perfect!

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Branching Out

I am so glad February is a short month.  No offense to all the February birthdays, the only redeeming aspects of this dark and cold month actually, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for having your birthday in February.  Aside from the birthdays I have little to look forward to and just do a countdown to March 1st.  Really, I wish I could just hibernate.  Maybe Florida next year!

February is also the month I miss my garden the most!  I start dreaming of tulips and daffodils.  While waiting impatiently for this glorious event, I like using branches and twigs in lieu of flowers to bring the outdoors in.   You can collect them on your nature walks or purchase them at a craft store.  Branches can be interesting, they add a sculpture like quality to any lonely corner patiently waiting for summer’s gladioli or peonies.

Here are some of my favorite arrangements:




And if your want to really “branch out” and take it to the the next level here are some great branch ideas:




Hope you have fun “Branching Out”  and remember, spring is just around the corner!



My New Favorite


Recently I was in NYC for the weekend.  Each time I visit I like to stay in a different part of town and explore.  This time, a somewhat new hotel came up on my search called The Edition.  Located near Madison Square Park, it is the original Met life building, which was once the tallest building in NYC.  I love historic buildings that have respect for the past, but also incorporate a modern vibe.  The perfect mix of past and present, if you will.  The building is distinctive with its clock tower and gold dome.  I was so happy with this hotel, I can’t wait to go back!

This hotel hit all my interior design boxes and then some!  I especially like the play of dark and light woods through all of the hotel.  Much the same way the mix of metals like silver and gold can make fashion more modern and approachable, this mix of woods presents a very modern vibe.

lets start with the lobby:


So simple, so elegant!

Across from the lobby, is a lounge and bar.  It is mostly candlelit in the evening and the sound system and music selection are amazing!


At the end of the lounge is a cozy sitting area and a curved staircase leading to the second floor:


Once upstairs, many wonderful choices:






Dinner – amazing dinner!

And last but not least:


A room with a view!  Also, these wonderful curved ceilings.  Beautiful to look at and designed to absorb sound.  Very beneficial as all the flooring is a light wood, not carpeting.  As a germaphobe, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!

In a way it’s too bad this amazing hotel is in the city with so many fun things to do – I really didn’t want to leave.  If you are in the city, I definitely recommend it.






Care to Hygee?

Funny how you can live your whole life and never hear a certain word, then out of the blue it seems you are hearing it everywhere.  In fact you realize the bookstore has whole display tables on the subject.  How could I have missed this you may ask?  In my case the word is “Hygee”.

Here is how it started.  I was at a Christmas party last month when a friend mentioned she was visiting Copenhagen and looking forward to hygeeing.  Excuse me? I said.  She then explained it was a lovely custom of spending a relaxed time with friends and enjoying the simple pleasures of the season.  And just in case I am not the last person on the planet to know this word and/or custom, here is Wikipedia’s take on Hygee:

Hygee is a Danish and Norwegian word with a unique definition. “Hygge” as a noun includes a feeling, a social atmosphere, and an action.  The word is also used in compositions such as “Julehygge” (Christmas-hygge). “Hygge” is also a verb, e.g. “Lets hygge”; and as an adjective, e.g. “A small, hyggeligt house with grass on the roof.”  

The noun “Hygge” includes something nice, cozy, safe and known, referring to a psychological state. “Hygge” is a state where all psychological needs are in balance.

Sounds lovely right?  Interested in what it takes to have the full Hygee experience?

Here is the short list:

A fire, the bigger the better.



Candles, lots!


Friends and loved ones.


Cozy blankets and comfy chairs.



Lots of warm sweaters and soft flannel.



Delicious comfort food.


Enthuastic cooks.


And wine, lots of wine.

So there you have it.  A simple plan to make it through a cold February.

BTW Hygee parties are becoming all the rage.  Any ideas for a good play list?


Paint Magic

Yes, I know I said I would stop painting furniture, and I did mean it at the time. However, the days are long and paint is cheap.

Here is my latest project’s before:


I have had this curio forever.  I like its slim profile and mirrored back. What I didn’t t like was the way it blended right in with the wall. So of course my happy color “black” to the rescue:

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The hardest part was remembering how to put the hinges back on. I recommmend taking close up photos before disassembly. Also, having a partner helps when rehanging the doors. Trust me, it’s difficult, but not impossible (quite hilarious actually) hanging the doors by yourself.



Good luck with your next project!

Colors for 2017

Benjamin Moore and Pantone both recently announced their picks for color of the year.  Benjamin Moore’s pick is “Shadow”: deep and moody from the purple family.  Pantone’s pick is “Greenery”: lively and rich from the green (duh) family.  How can this be you may ask? Two colors of the year?   Well, while different, they do have some similarities.   Both are beautiful jewel tones.  Just think of amethyst and emerald! They work beautifully together.

Let’s look at Shadow:

Amethyst, aubergine, shadow,  all beautiful soft muted colors! I love to use them all on interior walls and accents.  As a matter of fact I used a very similar aubergine for a historic show house a few years back:


It is a timeless color that can be historic or contemporary.  From a design perspective it’s a great backdrop for furniture and accessories.  Much the same way jewelery stores will use dark backdrops to display gems to their best advantage, this wonderful jewel tone does the same for your interiors.

Let’s look at “Greenery”.  Fresh as newly cut grass, full of promise.  Here is what Pantone has to say:


“Greenery”, also a beautiful jewel tone, is reminiscent of emerald, peridot, and tourmaline.  A timeless and elegant look:


These 2017 colors are absolutely wonderful and will go the design distance.  Use them boldly and with confidence!







Wallpaper – the Thin Line Between Love and Hate

When we moved into our home this lovely wallpaper was on the living room walls.  Initially I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not.  Seven years later I still can’t decide. I love the gilt flecks especially on a sunny day –  they seem to dance around the room.   I recognized the pattern it as a popular Arts an Crafts motif.  After doing a little research I discovered its official name is “Persis Wall”.  It was purchased from a company called “J.R. Burrows and Company in Rockland Massachusetts.  Here is its description:

“Persis Wall”: An anonymous English design representative of the Aesthetic Movement and early Arts & Crafts Movement. The figure appears as a random spray of eucalyptus leaves, interspersed with gilt blossoms that appear and fade across the wall. It is a particularly effective pattern on which to hang artwork, or in hallways and rooms with walls cut up by many doors and windows. The original was found under woodwork in the old shop of Burrows & Co. in Boston, and historic photographs show the same design in a villa near Sidney, Australia, where it had been installed around 1880. Offered in shades of sage green (the document colorway), terra cotta, pale gold on cream, and celadon green.

The preservationist in me loves how appropriate it is for my circa 1865 home.  However, here are the two things I really don’t love:

  1.  It absorbs the light and makes photographing this room really    difficult.

2.  Not every color works as far as upholstery and fabrics are concerned. I sometimes dream of a creamy white that would bounce the light around and not limit any choices.

I supose if it has lasted this long it most likely will stay until it starts to fade.  Then it will most likely be replaced with a beautiful and light bouncing white.

I would love to hear about your designing “love-hate relationships”.




Rules and Tools

img_2862Of course rules are made to be broken, but it’s important to know them before you can break them.  I teach a class called Rules and Tools of Interior Design at the Regional Art Center, in Troy, NY:


It is a class that discusses elements and principles of Interior Design. It truly is a class for analytical types as it breaks down why some rooms work and other fail. It is a fairly interactive class, but what people always want to know first are some very basic questions about measurements. How far should my coffee table be from the sofa? (18″ to 20″) How high should my chandelier be hung over a dining table (36″).   Etc. etc.  The following are guidelines to the most often asked questions:

Coffee tables.  The ideal space from the sofa is between eighteen and twenty inches.  The size of the table should be two-thirds the length of the sofa.  The height should be a couple inches lower than the height of the sofa.


End tables and nightstands. These should be similar to the arm height of your chairs or the height of your mattress.  A good average is twenty four to twenty eight inches.


Rugs.  Go big, if the rug just fits under the coffee table it is too small.  Strive for about sixty percent coverage of the floor, with at least twelve inches of floor exposed around the edge of the room.


Artwork.  The center of the art should always be approximately sixty inches from the floor.  Two inches between art pieces is a good guide  to follow when hanging groupings.



Lamps.  The bottom of the shade should always be at eye level.  For floor lamps sixty eight inches is ideal.  This keeps the bulb concealed when sitting or standing.  Sconces should be mounted sixty inches from floor.  If the sconces are flanking a mirror or an art piece, leave at least three inches from the mirror or art piece.


I hope these guidelines help with your space planning!