High Point Market

For those who love French designs and soft colors, this piece by Eloquence is quite the eye catcher.

For those who love French designs and soft colors, this piece by Eloquence is quite the eye catcher.

Every April and October, the design community looks forward with great anticipation to attend the largest home furnishings market in High Point, NC. We see the latest designs and creations from all over the world. Fine period pieces from Kindall & Karges, who have added southern company Councill to their Grand Rapids location, to imported Italian sleek lacquered pieces as well as rustic Chinese Antiques. There is something for every client in every style and budget. An added bonus is seeing new trends in the showroom decor where designers create their magic using the latest fabrics and paint colors to transform the showrooms every market. You can attend amazing seminars given by world renowned designers or learn the latest technology to make your business run more smoothly.

This piece of antique marble was spotted at market used as a backsplash in the kitchen of the fabulous new showroom, Eloquence, located on Wrenn Street. I'm in love with this carved design!

This piece of antique marble was spotted at market used as a backsplash in the kitchen of the fabulous new showroom, Eloquence, located on Wrenn Street. I'm in love with this carved design!

The world is your oyster as you excitement builds with each dramatic display of gorgeous new pieces crafted by the best of the best. While your feet may ache as you traverse up and down block after block of showrooms the venues keep you going by offering liberal libations and scrumptious small plates to keep you moving.

For those with boundless energy there are many after hour parties where you can continue to admire the furnishings, meet up with new ones or catch a glimpse of one of the many celebrity designers at the show.

I refuse to admit how many years I've attended market. My stamina has decreased, but my spirit is just as vital as ever and my favorite adventure is taking a "newbie" so I can relive my first market through their eyes.

I'll be back tomorrow for the third day with a fresh, young face who will probably wish I would shut up as I elaborate on memories from long ago, how I cut my teeth on mid century designs (why do they call the 70's and 80's designs "mid century") which have been rejuvenated by almost every vendor.

I wish I could spend every open day exploring new spaces work with ongoing projects prevents that indulgence. Besides, I'd need a spa week after market just to recover!

Featured Project: Mountain Retreat

This rustic hilltop mountain home overlooking the smokey mountains is a true example of the old camps found in upstate New York. Executed in authentic Adirondack style, the home is grand and serves as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.


The red windows, stained cedar entrance and the subtle green siding blend effortlessly with the mountain top vista at 4000 feet. Snow falls early at this altitude and the building of the home took over two years to complete due to lack of accessibility. It was worth the wait as the time was taken to plan every detail of the home in the true spirit of the great camps built in the late 1800's.

The gated community boasts the multiple compounds that were prevalent in upstate New York and provides fishing, boating, hiking, and a lodge for large events. The home is built for entertaining and was designed to sleep 12 comfortably. Perhaps not as grand as the camps that were eventually owned by the Vanderbuilts' and Rockefellers' the home nonetheless is luxuriously appointed while still providing the homeyness of a rustic retreat. Antiques, custom made furniture from New York artisans as well as fine crafted new furnishings compliment the style .

Featured Project: Luxurious Master Bathroom

This spacious bath provides the ultimate in luxury with separate spaces for him and her.

The floors are white marble and the marble is brought up to wainscot height in the water closet with a heavy chair rail in a matching white marble. Above the chair rail is a gorgeous tone on tone damask wallpaper. The freestanding tub sits in front of a custom designed floor length mirror. White marble chair rail pieces were used to craft the outer portion of the frame and mother of pearl mosaics were used for the inner frame and then completed with a small piece of chair ail. The mosaic tile is repeated behind the vanities in lieu of the standard 4” marble backsplash and topped with a pencil rail out of marble. The double cabinets on each end of the vanities allow for plentiful storage and offer the opportunity to create a valance connecting the two. The depth allows for recessed lighting to be tucked out of site and just a sliver of trim finishes off the edges of the mirror. 

Schonbek crystal chandeliers and sconces adorn the bath and quality of the crystal is noted by the colors created by the prisms dancing so gloriously around the room. The barrel tray is magically transformed into a soft pearlized finish with just a hint of color swirled magically, reflecting beautifully with the enhancement of rope lighting hidden by the cove molding. Architectural designer, Nicole Delaney worked her magic again as always. 

Behind the mirror are double entrances into a steam shower. Laser-cut listello and custom designed wall panel from Renaissance Tile adorn the walls and niches of which there are several at various heights. The silk rug is from Stark and the ottoman was brought from their previous home and is from the Baker furniture line. A beautiful inlay tray from BoJay designs holds multiple bath products. Rohl towel hooks, tissue holders and robe hooks are tipped with Swarovski crystal ends. 

Upgrade Your Bedroom - The Bed

Upgrade your bedroom into a luxurious retreat that is uniquely yours.

January has come and gone but "white sales" still abound. While I am not a "budget designer", I do practice value oriented design. With a little imagination, anyone can create a dreamy bedroom.

Start with a faux down comforter. I prefer a king size for a queen bed and the biggest, oversized king I can find for king beds. I've switched from down to down alternative because I'm tired of losing tons of down in the dryer and I like to wash mine frequently. I don't have to constantly fluff anymore and the warmth and feel is amazingly similar. Buy the highest quality you can afford but don't sweat it if you need to go to Homegoods.

Your next purchase needs to be real all-down sleeping pillows. I like at least 6, 2 king and 4 standard, so you can provide a cloud on which to prop yourself while reading, sipping coffee or tea in the morning or snuggling with hubby .

Purchase a duvet cover and a pair of king shams for the comforter and pillows you have purchased. I like to use white as a basis for my color scheme as it will allow me to add any other colors with it. Do not be concerned that the duvet cover isn’t long enough to cover the sides of your mattress if you have a big fat one! Rarely, can you find a duvet cover that will be big enough because ready made products have not caught up to the size of mattresses (even after all these many years)!

The next purchase you make will be the largest oversized King coverlet you can find. Again, I prefer white in a tone-on-tone design. Preferably a diamond shame.  This is the piece that is necessary to cover the mattress.  If you have an exposed boxspring and your bed does not have decorative side rails that cover it, you will need to purchase a bedskirt or use a box spring cover that you can’t see through (much like a white mattress pad) and buy a sheet closest to the depth of the boxspring that you can. Otherwise, custom is the only way you can go.

Buy a great set of sheets that fit your bed and purchase an extra set of pillowcases. These will be used for the standard pillows you purchased and you will use these to sleep on and not have to worry with removing shams. I store these behind the shams that match the coverlet when I make the bed.


What is Art, and Can Anyone Create Art?

A few years ago, I spent fifteen days in Italy, a city of striking architecture. The city is home to world-renowned works of art like Michelangelo's David, The Vatican, The Sistine Chapel, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

The beauty of the culture is evident in the vast museums in Florence, handcrafted inlay wood music boxes in Sorrento, and the quaint hillsides of Tuscany with the idealistic al fresco dining and house-made wines flowing bountifully.

This staggeringly beautiful country is so stimulating that it is almost too much for the eye to comprehend. Of course, Europe is filled with dazzling cities and incredible works of art and architecture. So how does one dare to contemplate picking up a paint brush or a piece of clay?

I believe that art flows from the soul. I believe that it so encapsulates your spirit that you can't catch your breath without creating. Art expresses raw emotion and while we may tremble in fear of even attempting to create, because we are in such awe of the talented artisans and the natural, breathtaking beauty of the world, we have many artists to inspire us to step outside of the lines of convention and do whatever we feel.

One needs to look at the childish etchings of Picasso, the splattered paint of Jackson Pollock or the black strokes of Motherwell to see that art is in the eye of the beholder.

Head of a Woman in a Hat, 1962 by Pablo Picasso

Head of a Woman in a Hat, 1962 by Pablo Picasso

Certainly, techniques can be honed and studied, but you'll never know the thrill of creating if you don't give it a try. So yes, I believe an artist exists inside everyone. Fear holds us back. But, if you watch a child hold a brush, grab and mold Play-Doh, and you see how boldly they embrace coloring outside the lines, painting a purple cow or moulding the dough into an unidentifiable object, you see the creation of art in its most unhindered state. This is art. Pure, innocent art.

Play-Doh art created by my granddaughter.

Play-Doh art created by my granddaughter.

My First Home

At the ridiculously young age of 24, I purchased my first home when rates finally fell to 13.5%. My loan was for 15 years with 20% down! At this time, I had worked in a retail furniture store (now the largest in the US) for over a year.

Artwork by Jackson Pollock.

Artwork by Jackson Pollock.

While I had studied business and psychology in school, I had taken all of my electives in art history. I studied ancient civilizations and how art was expressed throughout the ages, and even took an art class in which we were instructed to draw with our eyes shut while listening to everything from Mozart to ACDC to see which emotions were transformed into the blindfolded “art.”  I sure wish I had saved some- I bet that they would be priceless now. I might have become a Jackson Pollock or a Robert Motherwell. I mean seriously, who decides what is brilliant in the world of art?

For all of my right brain/left brain tendencies, I had a God-given talent for design. My confessions regarding my first home are dating myself, but I’m actually proud that I am young at heart, in spirit and with my style.

So, my ex and I embarked upon house hunting, and found an adorable 2500-square-foot colonial style home in Jamestown, NC.  The framing was underway, so I was able to make some changes here and there, select color schemes, etc.

(FYI:  This is the only home in which I have made money and I only lived there for 18 months).

Needless to say, we were on a very strict budget (non-existent actually), and I ordered and installed (with the help of a friend) those ghastly plastic mini blinds for privacy. Unfortunately, to save money I neglected to hang any on the windows in the closets on the back the house, which cost me dearly when I discovered that the sun had bleached out all of the sleeves exposed to the light. I lost every piece of clothing made of natural fabric fibers that I owned.  Lesson learned!

Laura Ashley wallpaper.

Laura Ashley wallpaper.

With every dime I could scrape together through work, and being a bar maid/hostess at the High Point Furniture Market for extra money, I saved up enough money to wallpaper my entrance, the stairwell, and upstairs hallway in - WAIT FOR IT - Laura Ashley paper as shown.  The fireplace wall of the family room had a burgundy, navy, and camel stripe wallpaper and my upstairs master bedroom was done in grey and mauve.  I was about two years ahead of my time with my color scheme, as I have continued to be my entire life.

Dorothy's Orignials Single Ruffle Curtain.

Dorothy's Orignials Single Ruffle Curtain.

I absolutely HAD to have those Dorothy's Originals for my breakfast room and kitchen.  Oh, how I feel when I think of all those ruffles trimmed in a Williamsburg blue and tied back, looking like petticoats from Gone with the Wind.

I didn’t have one, but a bay of three windows with these curtains. And of course, another over the kitchen sink window.

I designed, and then and had my father-in-law build, an entertainment center, a bar, etc. that were nonexistent at the time.  (Another missed opportunity for fame and fortune). The people who purchased the house loved my décor and furniture and I was able to leave all that horrible stuff with the house! My daughter, however, to this day is still using the unfinished pine furniture I purchased and had pickled (yes, you did read correctly… pickled). It has been painted numerous times from lime green to black and is still in excellent shape.

Unfortunately, I have recently parted ways with the gorgeous parson’s table by Drexel, finished in a tortoise finish that is back in style again (midcentury fans be careful what you throw out). I have just given it to my dear friend and professional drapery producer, and I’m already saddened by the loss.  I held on to that gorgeous piece from that house until last year and, low and behold, the same design has now been pulled from the archives of Drexel and is now reproduced for Thomas and Gray, a division of Hancock and Moore and produced in the Councill Craftsman factory.

A few lessons to learn from my first homeownership experience:

1.       You can refinish good wood pieces easily.

2.      Don’t argue over drapes when selling a house.

3.      Some styles from the past should never be repeated!

4.    Put blinds or better yet, plantation shutters on closet windows!

5.  Hire an experienced designer to assist you from making major mistakes.

How to Keep Your Home Fresh and Alive with a Few Simple Designer Tricks

Would you enjoy being the trendsetter among all your family and friends regardless of your budget and never get bored with your house? I'm going to show you a few simple tricks that can bolster your home's appeal for yourself and be the envy of the block.

1. Set aside an amount you can easily spend on home decor and stick with it. It doesn't matter if it is $10.00 or $500.00 a week or month. If your budget is low, save some until you can purchase one good item at a time.

2. Remove all of your throw pillows, candles, picture frames, hand-me-downs, pictures, etc. that you have collected over the years. Go through your pieces, and consider if you really love each piece, or if you are using it simply because you have it. Select one picture you just love. If you don't love any of them, don't rehang! It is best to leave a wall blank than hang something that doesn't make you happy. If they are in frames you love, keep the frames. If the frames are dull and uninspiring, put them to the side and keep the photographs for future use.

3. Remove and dust candles that has never been used.  Clean them thoroughly and set the new grime-free candles to the side.

4. Remove lumpy pillows and those that have been stained or soiled.

HSN - Harbor House Miramar Pillow

5. Head out for your nearest Homegoods or Large TJ Maxx and run to the clearance section first. If your sofa is a solid color, don't worry about the colors or designs of the throw pillows, but buy a pair that is bound together with a ribbon. Those are almost always filled with a blend down. Buy several pairs to instantly brighten you room and to create an inviting sofa. Stick with a good color theme and it is so easy! If they are on clearance, and none of the patterns immediately strike you, buy for the forms. This is cheaper and you can easily change the cover! Don't be afraid to use multiple patterns. 

6. Get rid of cheap looking lamps. Replace each as you can with one that uses a three-way bulb and has a new style. Gold is back, but don't be afraid to mix with silver. Have a dull bronze wrought-iron lamp? Spray paint it in a shocking new color to add spark to the room. Add a tray, pillow, candles or piece of deco glass. Even a paper weight can add so much pizazz!

Neiman Marcus - Sofia Cashmere Throw

Neiman Marcus - Sofia Cashmere Throw

7. Throws are important, so don't forget those! I personally favor cashmere because they also double duty as wraps I can wear, but they are expensive so watch for sales. If you can't splurge or find one in a generous length, and be sure to go for one that doesn't create needless fuzz.

8.  Collect something you like en masse, but DO NOT scatter around the house. Place all of the items in one place so that the eye sees a great collection that looks expensive and collected while traveling, rather than clutter.

9.  Always add something unexpected. First, consider your decorating style - are you traditional, shabby chic or contemporary? Add one piece to the room opposite of your basic style. Hair-on-hide rugs add a lot of flair. A worn gold French chair or bench will catch the eye. 

Dick Blick - Liquitex Basics Acrylic Colors

Dick Blick - Liquitex Basics Acrylic Colors

10. Can't afford artwork for your spaces? You can paint your own modern art! Head to Michael's and buy a blank art canvas, brushes, and acrylic paint. Have a glass or two of wine, play your favorite music really loud, set your mind free and simply enjoy. DON'T think. Abandon your thoughts and free you mind. Let your brush or trowel be free in your hand. Let your strokes be guided by what you feel. Art is subjective, and if you've ever looked at a painting and thought, gee whiz, my kid could do that, the pressure for perfection should dissipate. Sign your name unreadable and all of a sudden, you've a masterpiece that all will admire.

Pottery Barn - Faux Magnolia Branch

Pottery Barn - Faux Magnolia Branch

11. While I normally do not do artificial flowers, places like Pottery Barn have great fronds of cherry blossoms, forsythia, pussy willows that you can buy and change out seasonally. They look fabulous year after year, and no one will be the wiser if you also purchase real moss from Michael's to put in the base of the container. This also applies to the new latex orchids and succulents that are easily located.





Image sources can be viewed by clicking on the image.

Featured Project: Romantic Guest Suite

A romantic en suite guest room is charmingly created by utilizing several pieces from the client's former nursery. A painted, Hickory Chair bed is combined with linens from Ann Gish which adds sophistication to Habersham Plantations' night stand (formerly used as the changing table in the nursery), along with the armoire which used to house the baby's clothes. Lovely cream silk taffeta fabrics adorn the windows of the bedroom. The style is created by rushing the top in a fine fold-over manner and creating the feminine poofs while still operable. The J F hardware is adorned with crystal finials completing the elegance to the room.

The bath is charming with the bowed vanity with vanilla marble and handmade and glazed tile in cream and beige, utilizing a number of trim pieces to build the back splash and the tub listello from Walker Zanger and Renaissance Tile. The faucet is simple in polished nickel complimenting the very simple sconces by Baker Furniture's lighting division.

Holiday Hospitality

The holiday season is upon us, which for you may mean that loved ones will come from across the miles to be with you in your home for holiday parties, New Year's Eve and the Super Bowl. Hosting is no simple task, but with a few key considerations, your home will be the perfect place to welcome guests.

Bars are all the rage now, including carts with bars or using a chest as table top. Whether it's alcoholic or nonalcoholic, it is important to have a set up so that when people enter your home they can automatically feel comfortable helping themselves with something to drink. Complete your bar display with a crystal bucket filled with ice, a decanter set with the special punch ready to serve. 

The use of metallic pieces within your decor, like gold and silver, will glimmer and glisten in the light. Never worry about mixing metals - silver and gold have been used together ever since watches came out. If Rolex or Breitling can mix the metallic colors to create a luxury item, we can certainly use them in our homes to evoke the same feeling.

If children are invited to a holiday function in your home, be sure to have a corner set aside for them with a small table and chairs, and any special dinnerware, such as sippy cups or smaller utensils. Consider making holiday treats available to them, or providing an activity like decorating cookies.

When setting your holiday or special occasion table, regardless of whether it's casual or formal, a simple way to make it festive is to add decorative napkin rings. I've always enjoyed taking a Christmas tree ornament and using that to tie around the napkin. For a more earthy look, spray paint pinecones with gold paint and use burlap twine to tie them over the napkin. Of course, there is always the option to go to a greater expense and buy a glittering object from Neiman Marcus.

Remember, filling your home with holiday cheer does not mean that you have to spend a fortune - it can be as simple as making people feel at home and comfortable.

Keep in mind that these tips can be used throughout the year, and are not exclusive to the holiday season!