Williamsburg Color- Unstuffed

May 23, 2013



I was very pleased to get this news!  The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has partnered with Benjamin Moore on a collection of 144 new colors– ” Based on original pigments developed more than 250 years ago, Colonial Williamsburg’s curators have re-created this rich, authentic palette.”  TREND MEETS TRADITION.

Take a look at a few of these colors, used in really fresh new settings not your mother’s (or grandmother’s house)!



Washington Blue and Cornwallis Red


Spotswood Teal, Everard Blue and Damask Yellow



Green Umber and Hardwood Putty

Damask Yellow



Carter Gray and Capitol White


Bracken Cream and Williamsburg Wythe Blue


Raleigh Peach



Gunsmith Gray and Mopboard Black 


Ewing Blue and Market Square Shell


Bone Black and Lamp Black

Carter Plum


Williamsburg Stone and Hardwood Putty


Williamsburg Wythe Blue, Palace Pearl and Claret

Tyler Gray and Palace Pearl

Tyler Gray and Palace Pearl



Greenhow Blue



So, I’m seeing some old favorites here but the palette has most definitely been “refreshed”.  I’m loving it!





The color I’m “dying to try”?   Definitely “Greenhow Vermillion”.





There are some great reds in the collection!


Am looking forward to getting some of these colors up soon…stay tuned!  For more background on the Collection..watch here:





all images via Benjamin Moore




Good Bones… Great Staging

May 8, 2013



Got a call a few weeks ago from my talented friend, Jane. Jane is a real estate agent but also a design maven with an incredible eye and has  done her fair share of residential home staging. She had a new listing but decided to outsource the paint color selection and staging to professionals.




This house, built in 1937, had been lived in and loved. It had exceptional light, views and great bones. But it definitely needed a major interior facelift (and some exterior tweaking) before going on the market.










Grrr.. forgot to snap the “before” photos. Suffice to say that the palette was dated and involved pastel pink and blue. The pastels had worked with the previous owner’s furnishings and rugs but those wall colors had to go. In the living room, the elaborate moldings had been “picked out” in white– the effect– like icing on a wedding cake. We decided to temper the formalilty of the room by “painting out” the frame moldings and chair rail in the same color as the walls. I wanted the eye to be drawn up to the crown molding, so painted the ceiling a subtle color to highlight that and the height of the room.




The floors, a combination of original pine and oak, were refinished but left in their natural warm gold-orange tones. I used 5 different pale grays and off-whites on walls, ceilings and trim throughout the first floor to knock back the warmth of the floors and take advantage of the beautiful natural light.



Red House Staging did a fabulous job with clean contemporary furnishings and artwork… maintaining a neutral palette with lively pops of orange throughout the first floor.





The result is a subtle shift in light throughout the whole house. The shift creates just a bit of movement from the sight lines throughout  and makes the rooms flow seamlessly.




The stairway leading to the second floor was also layered in whites above and below the chair rail, stair risers were painted white and the handrail black.









The old pine floors give character to the new kitchen, wrapped in a warm white to match the cabinetry.




The walk-out basement got an uplift with a warm camel color–cozy and warm for watching TV in the evenings.





The master bedroom was painted in a pale green… dreamy and atmospheric with leafy views from all windows.





This was indeed, a transformation– with wall color highlighting the strengths of this classic Virginia home.  The result?  In one day….





I often talk about the paint colors I use on projects but have decided not to include them here. Why?  When using nuanced  “off-whites” it is essential to test– pale colors and whites look very different depending on the light source and flooring.  Attempting to replicate a look by simply using the same paint colors is often fraught with disappointment .  My advice?  The perfect white, especially when making a choice for interior or exterior trims,  can make or break a color scheme. Hire a professional and get it right the first time!








Take Me… to the Kasbah

April 24, 2013



I love clients who really GO FOR  IT.  Just returned from a visit with a client– her renovation has progressed slowly over the last year. The living room, filled with yummy art, antiques, rugs and textiles, was the last room to be painted… and what a difference it made!  We had done the adjacent rooms in saturated hues and the living room was just hanging out there in an anemic pale shade of lemon yellow. This rich butternut squash color,  C2Paint ‘Delicata’  (a champion color btw) did the trick.





The  vibrant colors in this rug hold their own and anchor the room (love the pink).





Now, fabulous sculptures and paintings practically pop off the walls. And the rich brown ‘walnut’ stain on the floors tames the vibrancy of the “orange”.





The tiny hallway above was the perfect place to get a dash of red–   Benjamin Moore’s ‘Caliente’.   This is an exceptional red– I specify it in the Aura line, with the recommended primer and 2 coats.  Only after my client added a light fixture to wash the wall and artwork, did  the color come to life.





The ‘Kasbah’ reference?  Well, that would be the from Benjamin Moore ‘Affinity Collection’.   The small entrance hall got a shot of that burnished purple ‘Kasbah’.  It balanced the yellow- orange tones of the kitchen cabinetry (in sight lines from the entry).




This kitchen, in place when I arrived on the scene, informed the palette for the house. It was redesigned by Phoenix Home Remodeling company a while ago.  It is “heavy” in a good way– lots of warm wood which I balanced with a medium toned gray-green on the walls–  ‘Jojoba’, also from the Affinity Collection.   The client has a gorgeous verdant garden, visible from the french doors and windows– the green wall color invites the outdoors in.  Stainless steel appliances and these fabulous ‘industrial’ metal chairs also temper the warmth. Isn’t the assymetrical table a surprise? Custom made by the talented Alexandria craftsman, Ian Lowrie.




Another view (above)  of ‘Jojoba’  on the kitchen walls with warm wood trim and a slice of the hall wall color- ‘Kasbah’ .





The “before”  version of the  paneled dining room (the original) had loads of white window trim, which, aside from being high-contrast, did nothing to enhance the wood. I switched the white trim out with a warmer mid-toned green — Benjamin Moore  ‘Aventurine’, also from the Affinity Collection.  It is  actually much warmer — not as minty as shown in the rendering above (still learning Photoshop..sorry), and paired with warm woven-wood blinds, it softens the room considerably.




We rearranged artwork (fab purple tones) which relate to the hall color (visible from the room) and added buffet lamps to add ambient lighting for evenings.





Another lesson in balance– wood tones of cabinetry, furniture and especially floors are integral to a successful color scheme.



Happy colors… happy client…. happy me!


Thanks for stopping by~






Color Riot (in the Kitchen) at Pier 94

March 22, 2013


Trade Day at the Architectural Digest Home Show 2013!   Took the 6 am train up to NYC yesterday, a bit annoyed with the weather (gray skies, flurries, etc.) but once off the street and inside the doors of the warehouse at Pier 94, my eyes needed a bit of adjustment– kind of like Dorothy landing in OZ when everything turns from black and white to technicolor~


via manhatin.blogspot


There were hits of vibrant color everywhere.  But, making a beeline to the “Marys and Mimosas” event sponsored by Modenus, eager to meet up with old design friends and fellow bloggers,  I passed through “kitchen land” — where I returned for a good part of the day.





The big surprise for me was color everywhere in the kitchen– especially in appliances.  This little orange beauty is from Bertazonni .





Smeg  has been “out there” in color world for years but there are a few new hues in the range.  Their  50s -style refrigerator could be the single playful color touch for a small space.





And there are the ranges from Blue Star —  check out the “color configurator” online.  It states that the ranges are available in 190 colors.  And I now have their color deck in my hands to prove it!  Actually they can match any RAL color out there.





And there is another retro frig– the  “Big Chill” .  This little beauty can also be ordered in one of over 200 custom colors.  The company  will open a division in France later this year to meet the demand  in Europe for vintage American appliances.








Head swimming with color?  Moving on,  there were even more colorful offerings from American Range.  The colors above are your choices for range KNOBS only!



American Range


And there is nothing that rivals the depth of color found in Pyro Lave, the glazed Volvic lava stone  for countertops.







Finally… you can rest your eyes.  The display of La Cornue ranges was on the stately side… in soft whites and black.





I had to include the tabletop offerings from Wud.  I loved the subtle hint of color on these martini glasses and plates, hand-crafted of black walnut and powder-coated aluminum.








It’s 2 am and time to wrap up this post, but I had to include another shout out to Modenus for hosting a lively and yummy gathering that is “Marys and Mimosas” as part of Blog Tour New York 2013.  I had a nice chat with Warren Bobrow,  who runs the blog “The Cocktail Whisperer”.  And he confided the secret behind his Bloody Marys– no wonder why this Maryland-raised girl loved them so!





A shake of a little elixer called “Chesapeake Bay Bitters” — which distills the taste of Old Bay Seasoning into a bottle!





I must end with this photo … for what is the AD Home Show without a bit of people watching?   From Italy, of course!





Color didn’t stop in the kitchen…  Architectural Digest Home Show 2013 (Part 2)  next time!  The show opens to the public today and runs through Sunday.  Worth the trip… but pack your gloves!




March 20, 2013



‘Tis the first day of spring but feeling downright freezing here in Virginia.  I’m heading up to the Architectural Digest Home Show tomorrow where the high in NYC will be a balmy 37 degrees!  Will hopefully be the last day I have to pull on my black boots and wool–  so ready for winter  to be OVER.


So I was going through my archives last night and came across these photos from a summer trip across the Bay Bridge to one of my favorite little towns on the Maryland Upper Eastern Shore–  Chestertown.   Just made me miss the color and warmth of the summer season even more.  So thought  I would share!



via New York Times



According to Adam Goodheart, a scholar at Washington College, the small liberal arts school in Chestertown ,  “Chestertown is one of those places where American history is just palpable everywhere, like Nantucket or Savannah.”  The New York Times did a great little piece about it which you can read here.




The grandest of its colonial houses date from the 18th century and were built by wealthy merchants. Many have been restored to their original grandeur.




The ordered little townhouses always catch my eye– with just a pop of color on shutters and doors.







Little alleyways lead to lush gardens beyond…













There are also  Victorian-era clapboard houses in the mix with fanciful painted trim.












There are plenty of interesting furniture, antiques and art galleries along the main street (you can’t miss it)…






  and sweet little teahouses and cafes.




I usually combine a trip to Chestertown with a visit to the beautiful farm of a family friend.  And a chair awaits me in either Clemson orange or Tarheel Blue.  Can’t wait to get back!





So, aside from the chilly NYC forecast, I’m super excited to catch up with fellow bloggers and design friends tomorrow at AD Home Show 2013.

Always terrific inspiration at Pier 94…  next post!




via manhatin.blogspot