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 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~






“Skiff Waiting”

February 7, 2013



Had a late afternoon visit recently with a favorite client. Over a cup of tea, we had a little ‘catch up’ on the progress (almost finis) of her historic bungalow renovation.  I would say that any major design project is rarely a neat process– there are almost always surprises, delays, disappointments, and indecision. Spaces we inhabit are wrapped up with emotion– a messy business, for sure. But I must say that this project actually was (after MANY months) sort of “wrapped up” with a pretty little bow–and just in time for the holidays.



Skiff Waiting


The dust had settled, furniture returned and wreaths hung. And on Christmas Eve my client’s husband presented her with this sweet little watercolor. It shows their beloved dog, Skiff, waiting (for someone to come home) at the window of their newly painted front library. Skiff is certainly the star of this show but C2Paint ‘Savannah’  most definitely plays a supporting role!








The library is the center ‘cocoon’ space in this house with the new addition (open family room, dining room and kitchen)wrapping around it. We felt pretty strongly that this little space (original to the house) needed a strong + warm color to make it inviting and cozy. It was christened ‘The Savannah Room”.





A light neutral, Benjamin Moore’s Misty Air,  was chosen for the entry and staircase walls. The color is repeated on the ceiling of the library (above).





Benjamin Moore’s White Dove was used on all trim and casework throughout.











The real challenge was to choose a wall color for the main open space (kitchen, dining room, family room). Fixed elements were the soft white cabinetry and trim, the red oak+pine floors and exposed brick.  We needed a warm /versatile neutral and found the answer in the C2 Paint range:



I absolutely LOVE this color– a complex khaki whose undertones change with the light throughout the day.  Designer Whitney Stewart is also pretty crazy about it. She gushes, “This is it, a soft camel that has red and green and yellow in it. That’s why it goes with everything… When a color transcends itself to coordinate with so many different colors and still retains warmth, it jumps to that ethereal level. It’s a color you just love to be around. You would feel like a million dollars in a family room, a living room, a kitchen painted this color.”






On opposite sides of the main room are two small spaces (zen den and office). We chose greenish neutrals (Benjamin Moore Nantucket Gray and Dry Sage) to create a subtle shift from the more golden Enoki.








And a sweet little powder room gets a shot of Benjamin Moore “Tropical Dusk”— a beautiful complement to the greens and golds outside the door.





And as for Skiff?





He sat very patiently for this shot.  I’m know he’s happy that pesky hammering has stopped. And, perched high upon his throne in ‘The Savannah Room’,  he enjoys a  great “room with a view”– outside and in.





Looking for C2 Paint in the DC metro area ?  You can find this gorgeous collection of hand-crafted color  (and large samples) at Potomac Paint.



~Delightful~ Disorder in the Bedroom

January 18, 2013



Years ago, as an architect was walking through the second floor hallway of my house, she remarked “You know what  you do with these kids’ rooms, right?”  And she slammed the doors shut.



the desk



With the holiday stuff finally hauled back to the attic and my daughter returned to college, I’ve turned my ~tepid~ attention to her bedroom. We’re packing the whole thing up in preparation for refinishing the oak floors.  To be honest, I’ve paid scant attention to her room over the past few years (like never go in there) but got a little nostalgic today looking around. Got me thinking about kids rooms in general and the reality of what they look like most of the time.



shoe pile #2



If you have a teenager (unless they have an oddly minimalistic bent), their rooms are usually a mess, right?  Lots of stuff laying in lots of piles– most of it important and not to be touched by anyone but themselves. Ever.





But in fairness to my daughter, she’s just a little messy some of the time. There are also some very pretty little vignettes to be snapped– her room is quite nice and filled with the things she loves.  She chose the deep peacock wall color–  “Bluebeard ”  from C2 Paint.





An antique headboard covered in brown toile is certainly “grown-up”  but whimsical enough to feel right with the room’s “bohemian” vibe.





Floaty, embroidered floor to ceiling drapery panels are from World Market.





Art that she loves:



pop art



Warhol. And more Warhol.






Pretty, yes?  But for kids, especially teenagers, it’s only a matter of time before the “Hello Kitty” stickers, posters, ticket stubs and swim team photos start going up on that nice new coat of paint– with bad, sticky tape or worse.  So…. back to the real reason I started this post– to talk about one little (actually kinda big) thing that can help corral some of this stuff in one place and “save” your walls.







It’s called Homosote. Probably never heard of it.  But it is sold at your local Home Depot and can be cut and covered with fabric to create a large bulletin board. There is a fabulous link on all about how to do this here.  For teenagers’ rooms, I love to use the entire 4×8 panel– floor to ceiling. This is my daughter’s accumulation of 4 years of “stuff”  (don’t look too closely).






When it comes to kids’ rooms– you gotta relax.  It’s their space… they’ll find a way to express themselves there one way or another, but you can actually help them do that.

Shut the door if you must.






And always say YES to cats and dogs, but NO to guinea pigs and chipmunks (in the bedroom that is).


+  have a great weekend! 






Respect the Architecture

December 4, 2012



I think for just about every designer, there is that queasy wait after a new paint color goes up– for the panicked phone call from the client. It happens often, with lots of reassurance and hand-holding needed until furniture is moved back into place, art work hung, and heart rates returned to normal.


via Tackorama


But there are also those calls from clients instantly ecstatic over the transformation– ” The house looks great… you have to come over to see. We love it!”


via Tackorama


I got one of those calls yesterday (the nice kind) and just returned from the project… no tweaking needed, every single color (10 rooms) pretty much spot on.  #happydance.

Now on to the more serious “respect the architecture” bit.




I loved this house– a cozy, traditional Cape Cod with great bones. It had been remodeled by the previous owners with care.They had preserved the cozy scale and original pine flooring but had updated the space with clean lines, good lighting, a streamlined white galley kitchen and ordered, contemporary maple built-ins. The owners had lived with the existing colors for several years but were ready to make a change. The challenge was to transform the space to reflect the clients’ tastes without compromising the strong architectural elements already in place.


There was a slice of  free-standing wall off the main hallway (visible from the dining room) that was the very first thing that caught my eye (potential color plane). There was a central hallway running through the middle with the stair case just inside the front entry (above).


Dining Room BEFORE:







Two rooms, the living room and dining room, flanked the entry. The living room had little natural light and both rooms had been painted an anemic pale green and grayed white. I settled on one of my favorite Benjamin Moore warm neutrals for both rooms- ‘Honeymoon’ from the Affinity Collection. It is the perfect mid-tone camel/gold and washes a room with warmth– a cozy and happy color, perfect for this active, young family. The slice of  wall, visible from the dining room, was painted a saturated  blue, ‘Cambridge’ from C2 Paint and is a great backdrop for a bold black and white print.




The bright white contemporary kitchen informed the color choice (Benjamin Moore Super White ) for the center hall walls and all trim throughout the house.  It was visually important to balance the “weight” of that kitchen’s white throughout the rest of the first floor.




Along with the clean contemporary lines of the interior, the white kitchen and warm wood floors,  I was working with other fixed design elements.  The owner had lovely chocolate brown linen window treatments in both living and dining rooms and rugs, pottery and textiles with accents of brown, blue, lime green and orange.







Living Room AFTER:





Accents of brown, burnt orange and blue.





This is the view from the entrance.  The stair risers were painted out in white to create graphic interest and movement.  Glimpses of strong color planes of white, gold and blue draw the eye through the white hallway.



Above, the owner’s favorite “color vignette”.




Benjamin Moore’s Metropolitan, a cool mid-tone complex gray (with a blue undertone) was the perfect choice for the family room (flooded with natural light) to balance the warm tones of the maple built-ins and floors.




A lively large-scale brown and white print and lime green accents enliven the white kitchen.





The finishing touch:  a powder room in a deep saturated burnt orange– C2 Roasted Tomato.






Let me know what you think!









Anthropologie, Shoes and HonorJane

April 8, 2011



Three of my favorite things.  Favorite thing #1)   Anthropologie Hard to ignore those dreamy catalogs that appear in my mailbox regularly. And nothing better for inspiration than wandering  through their stores with the feel of some romantic foreign land, chock full of color and dusty bohemian chicness.




Favorite thing #2)  Shoes……..enough said.





Which brings me to favorite thing #3)  Honor and Jane, two longtime friends and uber- talented  home-staging and real estate pros.  I recently helped them tweak some wall colors in  a sweet little house that they were readying for the spring market.  The wall colors were the easy part.  Full credit goes to that duo for packing up two truckloads of furniture and leaving behind a perfectly edited collection of just a few choice antiques, rugs and colorful abstract artwork.   Look at the gorgeous palette in this sweet little rug from Anthropologie– smoky lavender grays, acid greens and touches of pink and red, which inspired the wall color choices for bedrooms and baths.







C2Paint Inuvik Ice, Chameleon, Hydrangea, Puck, Bombay

C2Paint Inuvik Ice, Chameleon, Hydrangea, Puck, Bombay








Don’t  you feel like you’re walking through that store again?  Take me to the…..kasbah.




What do you think? Amazing how much color was packed into that fabulous little Anthropologie rug.




On the main floor of the house, the palette is more subdued, with neutrals playing a supporting role to the owner’s collection of vibrant paintings.  This one is a stunner- by local artist,  Sheep Jones.




More Sheep Jones.



C2 Paint Thatch, Muddy Waters, Turkish Market, Kasbah

C2 Paint Thatch, Muddy Waters, Turkish Market, Kasbah




Kitchen cabinetry was painted out in another C2Paint neutral, similar to the wall color- visually expanding the space.





Sooo, my gift to you for the weekend. A tiny lesson on the power of color in real estate staging (no, you don’t have to paint everything Shell White) and some more images of beautiful rooms to gorge on.  A simple little ode to  Anthropologie, my two very talented friends Honor and Jane and ………shoes.







Enough said.