Top 5 Design Trends That Need To Go

Some of them are just overdone. Others are just plain silly. Here’s to seeing these trends go out with the new year:

 1. Vintage bulbs (also known as Edison bulbs).  I like my light bulbs to perform their duty. I like them to light a room. Vintage bulbs emit an extremely poor light. Plus staring at an exposed bulb makes my eyes cross. I want to insist that any restaurant that has these also equip their diners with readers. And for anyone who is interested in saving the environment, here’s a tip: these bulbs suck up three times the energy of a regular incandescent bulb. Not cool for a farm to table restaurant or any space touting eco friendliness.



2. Having every chair at the dining table mismatched. I understand this trend came from the accessibility of shabby chic design, and if you live in a log cabin or lovely seaside cottage, I like it: it looks as if you suddenly found out you had four extra people coming for dinner and you had an hour to run to the local roadside market to pick up a few chairs for $20 a piece.  Dining chairs are expensive, averaging $200-$400 a chair, and most tables call for at least 4 to 6 of them. The math adds up fast. But with all that said, there is something to be said for symmetry. Four chairs that match and that fit the style of a dining room table add warmth and believability. Do an arm chair for the heads of the table if you need them to differ, but they should still relate to the rest of the setting.

3. Barn wood and concrete.  Don’t get me wrong. It is a lovely combination: the warmth of reclaimed woods juxtaposed with harsh concrete. But can we please get back to creative design? I don’t want every restaurant I frequent to look the same. I eat at different restaurants for different food sensations. I would love the decor to be as fresh and original as the food.



4.  Dark finishes on hardwood floors. I know a lot of folks are going to challenge me on this one. But I never heard so many people complain about dirt and dust showing against dark floors, much more so than when floors were a medium tone. I think the dark floor finish people and the Roomba© folks colluded on this: Hey Roombs! We’re gonna push dark finishes, cause they look super modern. They’ll show every speck of dust, but that’s where you’ll come in and work your magic! Bonus if you get a video of a cat sitting on you while you, well, clean up the cat litter speckled all over the dark floor!

5. And I’ll leave you with this. 


What I’m Loving Now: Beautiful Fans

When renovating my home recently I had to decide whether to keep the ceiling fans in the upstairs bedrooms. I have a love/hate relationship with fans. They circulate air – helping to cool rooms in the summer and keep rooms warm in the winter – which is a good thing in feng shui and for good health. But the majority of the fans out there are so, so ugly. For a long time it seemed the choices were

  1. The Boob Light 

2. The Exposed Bulb/Blinding Retina Light

3. The No Light Clunky Looking Fan

I told myself I would install new fans for their air circulation quality if only I could find a fan that would complement the decor and the new light fixtures that I was installing. I discovered the Matthews Fan Company through my favorite local lighting source and fell in love with the Irene fan:

It’s a beautiful fan, with or without the light. It doesn’t make a sound, regardless of  speed. It goes with any decor. It comes in a variety of finishes and styles. I have my air flow and my style. I’m happy. 

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:




5 simple measurements for hanging light fixtures



Here are some common measurements to use when hanging light fixtures in your home. Happy hanging!

1. How high to hang a light fixture above a dining room table. Hang the fixture so that its bottom is between 30-34 inches above the top of the table. Have someone sit down across the table from you and make sure that you can see the person completely – your chandelier should not impede any visual or conversation.

2. How wide a light fixture to get for a dining room.  Add the width and length of the dining room: this number IN INCHES is the best diameter size for a chandelier in the room.

3. How high should a reading lamp be. Position the lampshade so that the bottom is just below eye level. If you are a reader in bed, make sure that the bottom of the lampshade sits about 16-18 above the mattress.

4. How high should you mount sconces on a wall. For a standard 8-9 foot ceiling sconces should sit about 5 to 5 1/2 feet above the floor.

5. How many interior designers does it take to change a lightbulb? Does it have to be a lightbulb? nyuk nyuk.

Beautiful custom lamp shades

It’s been awhile since I posted, but that’s good, because I’ve been busy! I’ve got lots of cool things to share during my hunt for items, but for now I’ll start with these beautiful lighting options from Stacy Garcia, available through

Stacy is know as a surface pattern designer, and her beautiful designs are actually custom prints, done through a specialized ink jet printing process. I’ve been looking for some floral lamp shades and she’s got lots of nature inspired designs with great pops of color.

Plus, the price points can’t be beat. Really affordable, cute lighting options. Go shop!


Paint and Lighting

This week I attended a great discussion given by Benjamin Moore on lighting and paint. As you may already know, color looks different under different lighting sources –  incandescent, flourescent, halogen. From a design perspective, incandescent lighting –  the old school light bulb – is the best in terms of color rendition. But from an energy perspective, it is the worst lighting option. So much so that it is going away. Completely. Beginning next year, you will no longer be able to buy the 100 watt light bulb. And in 2013, you can say goodbye to the 75 watt. Following that, no more 40 and 60 watts.

Many people have already switched their bulbs to compact fluorescents (CFLs) – those squiggly bulbs that often don’t fit in your lamp properly, sticking out like a sore thumb so you can actually see the bulb.  CFLs are great on energy efficiency but terrible on color rendition. To see what I mean, take a paint swatch and hold it under an incandescent bulb, then do the same under a CFL. Notice how your paint color looks flatter, duller?

So incandescents are going away and CFLs make color look dull. So what is the best option? If you have the choice, go with halogen. Halogen light offers the same type of color rendition as incandescents, but much more energy efficient. If you don’t have the option for halogen, then try to look at your paint color under CFL bulbs before selection.

My new favorite find

I went looking for a chaise lounge for a client today and came across Treasure Hunt. This place is amazing. The website doesn’t do it justice: visiting the 10,000 square foot space is a must. I found a fabulous tufted chaise

Isn't this lovely?

and other beautifully kept vintage items, but nothing broke the bank.  Schaumburg isn’t someplace I normally shop because it’s a bit of a haul for me, but at these pieces and at this price, I don’t care. I’ll brave the traffic. That is if I ever get up from this chaise again.

Light, fantastic!

One of my favorite discoveries is the CFL dimmable floodlight. I am probably one of the last people to know about this fantastic bulb.  I already knew that compact fluorescent lightbulbs were great for the enviroment because they last for a million hours. No, I’m kidding, it’s more like 8,000 hours. But seriously, this bulb could quite possibly live in your house longer than you. What I didn’t know is that I could replace my dimmable pot lights with CFL floods. Yes, they cost a million dollars. No, I’m kidding, they are more like $10 but you shouldn’t have to replace them for several years.

Plus they emit a soft white light, and who doesn’t look better in that?

Hello, gorgeous!

I have a large mirror hanging on one of the walls in our living room. Every morning when I bring my 16 month old downstairs for breakfast, we pause by the mirror so she can wave at herself and say “Hi!” This wasn’t the reason I hung the mirror, but it’s super cute and I love it.

The real reason I hung the mirror was for light. We only have windows on one wall in our living room, and the natural light doesn’t reach into all the corners of the room. But by hanging a mirror on the wall opposite the windows I am able to reflect some more of that natural light into the room , brightening the space. It also helps the room to appear larger.

Of course a huge smile from my little peanut always helps to brighten my day, no matter the light.