Feng Shui: The Command Position

When you sit at your desk, do you face a wall or into the room? Do you feel protected or exposed? Can you concentrate or do you feel distracted? If you aren’t feeling secure or strong, chances are you are facing a wall when you sit, with your back to the room. A quick fix: flip your desk around, so that the wall is now behind you and you are facing into the room. You should feel an immediate change. Why? In feng shui you are now in a command position. You can see everything going on in front of you and nothing can “sneak up” behind you. In business this is a good thing: you are aware of all your business proceedings and you will see if anyone tries to “backstab” you. Sit facing out and as far into the room as possible, so you can see everything that is going on. If you are unable to move your desk or you sit in a cubicle, then hang a small mirror in front of you, so that you can see everything behind you. If you are aware and feel protected then your work will reflect this.

Before and After: Drapes

If you have ever wondered how drapes can transform a space then look at these photos. Nothing else was added to these rooms except for the drapes:


DSC_8392 (1) before 2

IMG_6960 after 1IMG_6955 DSC_8379IMG_6956 DSC_8377

Dining room makeover

I have a wonderful photographer that takes professional photos of all my work. But sometimes I can’t wait. So I apologize for the iphone 6 pics. I am sure AJ is cringing somewhere.

I was hired to decorate a dining room for a young family of four. They had not done anything to the space since moving in, but now that they were more settled they were ready to make some changes.  The dining room was originally painted in a moss green with white baseboards and window trim (no crown). It was a basic rectangle shape with one large window on the east side and it is open to both the kitchen and living room.

dr before

The clients wanted a family friendly dining room but also one that had some drama and sophistication to it. They wanted it to feel like its own room, not just a pass through to the kitchen or living room. I had my task set before me and got to work.

The existing table and chairs would stay but everything else could go. Though there wasn’t much more to go – just a baker’s rack in one corner, a small storage cabinet along the west wall, and a builder’s special light center ceiling fixture.

dr before 2 dr before 4

The room needed more storage. My clients have lots of dishes and cookware and already the kitchen was chock full. So along that long black wall I designed wall to wall cabinetry with glass door uppers –  to help keep the room feeling closed in –  and base cabinets with doors and a few custom pullouts. We got all the wants – glass doors, lots of shelving, under mount lighting, pullouts, wine fridge, the right color of white paint – for a fraction of the cost of true custom because we went with a plywood cabinetry company that does stock and semi custom cabinets. It was a bit tricky to wrap the end cabinet around the bump out (seen from the left): it had to be narrow to line up with the rest of the cabinets but it turned out to be a perfect closet for hanging aprons and such.

dr after 3 dr after4

The countertop is quartz and the space between the uppers and lowers is actually a very thin back board painted the same cream color as the cabinets, to keep the look of the builtins consistent. The clients are adding crown molding at a later date so we left the top of the cabinetry with a simple cornice piece that could be replicated in the future crown.

Next I took the clients out of their comfort zone a bit and suggested that we paint the walls a rich, saturated navy (if you’ve read my blogs you know I love navy dining rooms). The blue plays up the orange tones in the floor and table and chairs, and also looks great against the cream trim. The quartz countertop actually has some blue veining in it too.

dr after 5

We needed to balance both sides of the room by making the window appear as large as the cabinets so I chose a bold Osborne and Little fabric with blues, reds, and golds in a beautiful large oriental pattern. The drapery panels are a width and a half each, and I hung them close to ceiling (leaving room for the crown) and about a half inch from the floor. Once AJ posts the photos of the windows with his fancy camera you’ll really see how the drapes make the room. I added crystal ball finials on the rod to echo the crystal pulls on the cabinets.

drapery closeup

dr after2

Lastly I knew the client loved capiz so I found a chandelier that was actually rectangular in shape rather than the more known round pendant style. It fits perfectly over the shape of their table and helps soften the space.

capiz chan

The room is really starting to come together and the client is very happy, which means the world to me.

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!