Favorite Color of the Week: Benjamin Moore’s 2016 Color of the Year

Simply White is one of my all time favorites. Nice color selection for 2016!


10 Easy Ways To Update Your Front Door

The front door gets a lot of use in the fall: you got your trick o’ treaters, your Thanksgiving visitors, your cookie exchangers, your wine (er) book clubbers….so make sure you’re giving your visitors a nice view as they pause at your bell. Here are some simple ways to update your front door:

  1. Upgrade your lighting. Find a style that fits your home and make sure you use a high enough wattage for night time visitors- at least 60w for a single bulb. If you already have a nice fixture, give it a good cleaning and again pay attention to the type of light bulb you use. I use Lumens for cost effective outdoor light fixtures.


2. Update your house numbers. I do a lot of new client consults in the fall, which often means searching for house numbers in the dark. Do your friends and your local designers a favor and make sure your numbers can be seen from the street! House of Antique Hardware has some wonderful styles.

3. Replace your mailbox. If your mailbox came with the house, it might be time for a change. I purchased a large one for our home because I get so many magazines.



4. Paint your steps. Many people paint their steps in springtime, but I like to give them a fresh coat in fall for all the additional foot traffic.

5. Add mums to your steps. They are so inexpensive right now that you can get a pot for every step or every other. Try to coordinate the colors with your home. You can add pumpkins too – the squirrels will love you for feeding them.

6. Change your door bell. Again, your home probably came with one. A builder’s grade special. You can upgrade the bell without having to get a whole new kit. Or if yours is busted and you don’t want to go through the hassle of installing a new one then get a knocker. Or this sign.

7. Add shutters. But only if your house calls for them! Make sure that shutters fit the style of the home and that they fit the windows! Even though you’ll never close them, make sure they fit as if you will.


8. Add decorative treads. They serve a dual purpose. First, they provide traction on slippery surfaces. Second, they help hide steps that are in less than pristine condition. Ballard Designs has some great inexpensive ones.

9. Add festive string lights. Super easy to hang and the best part is that they aren’t meant to look perfect, so if your hanging skills are the best, no worries! Tell everyone it’s meant to look “organic.”

10. And finally – put out a new welcome mat! There are tons of lovely versions available through Ballard, through Home Decorators, through Target. But this one will always be my fav:




What color should you paint your ceiling?

This is an old post but I got asked this a few times recently so thought I would repost for today.

The short answer? It always depends. Some decorators use the 8 foot rule: If your ceiling is less than 8 ft high, then paint it 2 tints lighter than the wall color. (Tint just means the color has more white in it and is therefore lighter. If it had more black in it, you’d say it was a shade darker).

If your ceiling height is more than 8 feet, paint it 2 shades darker than the walls.

Other decorators feel that painting a ceiling white always makes it feel lower than it is. I disagree with this. It’s true that when you break up the color  –  when the wall color is different from the ceiling color – your eye notices the change. But if the ceiling is lighter than the walls, and especially if it has a semi gloss finish to it, it actually looks more expansive and higher.  But you may need to play with this a bit,  because if your walls are really dark, then the change from dark (walls) to light (ceiling) is much more noticeable and therefore the ceiling appears closer.

Another trick to make that ceiling appear higher is to bring the ceiling color down the walls a bit: paint the same color on the ceiling a foot or so down onto the wall. This makes the ceiling appear taller than it is.

Painting a ceiling is definitely a personal choice. There really is no wrong answer. Just decide the effect you want and go from there.  As I always say, if you don’t like it, you can always paint it over!


How To Update A Sofa

I saw this recently on Elle Decor and I thought it was a great visual for showing simple ways to update a sofa. I’m not wild about the color selections or the giant tree but it does show nicely how to play with the proportions and scale.

Click on this link for the complete before to after makeover.

Mudroom floor is complete

The floor is complete. It came out great.



It’s a ceramic tile that will be easy to clean in the winter.



Favorite Color of the Week: White

Most designers have a favorite paint line they like to use, and mine is Benjamin Moore. Out of their hundreds of white hues, here are some of my favorites:

OC-117 Simply-White image

Simply white OC-117. I love this color because it doesn’t break blue or green, meaning the undertone is a pretty pure white. I use it for millwork and for ceilings. It goes with everything.

Entry-with-White-Dove-OC-17 OC-17

White Dove OC-17: this one is also pretty neutral. You can pair it with just about any wall color.

cloud white image OC-130

Cloud white OC-130: This is a warm white, meaning it has a red undertone. So be careful when using it with green hues because it could start to read a little pink. But I love it with warm neutrals and dark colors.

Tuttle Residence PM-1

Super white PM-1: When I’m looking for a really crisp, bright white, I’ll use super white on my millwork.

As always, paint a test swatch in your area before selecting!

Update to mudroom: 2.1

As I mentioned before, I do enjoy the archaeological aspect to remodeling. The subfloor was in such bad shape that we had to take it down to the joists:

IMG_6558IMG_6572Unfortunately no bags of money were found. No Jimmy Hoffa either (several of you asked).

What was discovered (fortunately, though now I am thinking about what the hell is under the rest of the floors in my house) was that several joists were not attached. To anything. Certainly not the house. The only thing holding them up was sheer luck. Or bubble gum, as my seven year old suggested.

IMG_6579So with that little issue exposed we had to sister a bunch of new joists. Now my mudroom/dog’s room will have the nicest, sturdiest floor in the house. Somehow this doesn’t seem quite right, but there you are.

So now we’re up to a sturdy, safe, level floor. And insulation! Did I mention that it gets a bit chilly here in Chicago in the winter? Having floors insulated is very much appreciated.


Tomorrow cement board, and then the tile!

Update To mudroom 2.0

It has finally (re)begun! See, this is the problem with having a fabulous contractor. I put him on all my client jobs, then he has no time for me. But I have waited this long, so I can wait a little longer. But today is finally the day! There’s a lot of hammering and sawing going on back there and that is music to my ears. Today’s discovery was of a harlequin style vinyl tile probably laid down in the 50’s or 60’s sitting beneath the plywood:

mudroom floor

Discovery #2: the original porch was much smaller! I always wondered why the joist was off center in the ceiling:


Once the floor was pulled up it was obvious that the porch used to end right there:

original end of house 2

At some point – probably very early on – the porch was extended another four feet or so and more windows were added, plus the bathroom later on:


So cool. I love the archaeological aspects of remodeling. Because of the unevenness of the floor – there is quite a bit of a slope – we are taking it down to the studs to lay a new subfloor. That way we’ll have a nice even surface to lay our new tile.

Earlier post: 

Today we ripped out all the old brick linoleum tile. Already the floor is looking better. Next up is prepping the plywood for the new tile.

IMG_5743 FullSizeRender IMG_5742 FullSizeRender_1

Update to mudroom

Today we ripped out all the old brick linoleum tile. Already the floor is looking better. Next up is prepping the plywood for the new tile.

IMG_5743 FullSizeRender IMG_5742 FullSizeRender_1

ANI Blog Spotlight: Current Projects

All my current projects involve window treatments on some level. And that makes me happy. Here’s a sneak peak why:

In one dining room project I will be installing full length operating drapes. We started off with just a cherry wood table and then we were off! We’re painting the walls a deep, saturated navy blue (there are two navy chips in the photo we’re deciding between). The thought is either to do the drapes in a beautiful print with blues, reds and golds, or lose the blue and do the drapes in red and cream. Then we’ll continue to add the red in the chair seat cushions. The trim and custom butler’s pantry will be painted in cream.



I am so excited for this project – a little girl’s room! I haven’t done one in awhile so I am thrilled. The walls will be painted a soft lilac and on the two windows in the room we’re doing a fabric wrapped cornice (flower print), a roman shade (spotted fabric) and fully operating drapes with a blackout liner (naps rule). The fabrics are sweet but the construction sophisticated so they still continue to work beautifully in the room as she gets older.


Final photos will be posted when they are installed!