Cheap date night with tapas and tile!

 

Last Thursday, Porcelanosa had a grand opening party for their new showroom. One of the perks of my job is that my vendors have events from time to time – there is always good food, music and drinks. We get a babysitter and have a cheap date night out! It’s always fun! Porcelanosa is a Spanish company, so the party served tapas and had Spanish music and dancers for entertainment.

 

This grand opening party had more guests than any other vendor event I’ve been to. Guest were very chic, too! I tell you, designers are some stylish people – there was fashion inspiration everywhere! I learned a new thing or two!

 

I really like Porcelanosa tile – I haven’t used it yet, but I’m going to get more familiar with it. The store manager made me a sample kit a few weeks ago with a bunch of pretty gray and white tiles. Porcelanosa has a more contemporary European feel, which is just gorgeous in the right situation.  Here’s a pretty gray and white bathroom with Porcelanosa tile. That’s an impressive shower, isn’t it?

 

 

I like the texture of this tile running vertically. It’s a nice way to add interest while still keeping with white tile (you know how I love a white backsplash!)
Here’s another gray and white bathroom. I like the soft variation of grays in the wall tile.

 

 

Here’s another bath with this textured tile. It’s pretty obvious I like this tile, isn’t it? Do you think you could use textured tile in your home?

 

 

 

Lobster tacos and pillows…

The weather’s been just incredible lately – flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and best of all, I wore short sleeves yesterday! Not only has the weather been perfect, I’ve had lots of fun things to do. On Wednesday night, Ferguson had a party celebrating the opening of their new showroom. Their old showroom was nice, but the new one is really pretty. It’s about twice the size of their old one and everything is sparkly and new. I don’t always meet my clients there, but it’s really fun when I do. Their showroom is above Hermes in the fancy shopping district, so even though I will probably never shop in the designer stores, it’s fun feeling fancy when I go there. The party was in the Ferguson showroom – they had chefs preparing lobster tacos, salmon and sushi in their working kitchen. The girls from the showroom were there, too – it was fun to chat with them in a non-work situation.

 

Yesterday, I had a lunch and learn at Century Furniture sponsored by Sherwin-Williams. They had yummy salad and little sandwiches and water in a glass pitcher that was filled with sliced citrus. Before we ate, there was a talk on metamerism. What in the heck is metamerism? It’s just a fancy way of saying that colors look different in different lights. Like, you know how those lovely florescent lights in the store dressing room just make everyone look green? That red shirt you try on in the changing room probably will look different when you get it home and look at it under your incandescent light, which is warm.

 

The main message from the class was that if you love a paint color at your friends house down the street don’t just go buy it and throw it up on your wall. It will look different in your house – your room may be facing a different way, or you may have different lighting. Test your colors before you paint!

 

Last night, I went to a neighbors house to celebrate our friend’s new job. She went from a family unfriendly school administrator job that had a horrible commute and long hours and no summers off to a teaching position at a high school a few minutes away. After having stayed home and worked from home for my husband for so long I have to say it is really challenging to work full time and never have any time off and also raise a family. I am really happy for my friend – I’m so glad she found something that works better for her family!

 

We gathered in my neighbor’s sunroom last night and the first thing I noticed were her fabulous new blue pillows piled up on her sofa. I asked her OOOhhh are these new? And she said yes, they were her Christmas present. I like that idea – I’m might just have to ask Santa for pillows this year! She said she found them on etsy – the company is called Pill-o-matic.  The owner, who is in L.A., started her shop when the sofa she bought came with ugly pillows. Here’s one of the pillows you can choose from. (Click on the photos go to the  site.)

 

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Look what you can get! Weren’t we just talking about fabulous leaf prints?

 

I like this navy pillow. I like how it’s graphic without being over the top graphic-y.

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This is one of the blue pillows at my neighbor’s house. Pretty!

 

pagoda pillow

 

Here’s the coral color way. Pretty!!!! I love the colors in this one!

 

coral pagoda pillow

 

Here’s a fun spotty print. It kind of reminds me of a dalmatian and kind of like this print.

 

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This would be cute in a coastal cottage.

 

coral navy pillow

 

And my classic favorite – cheetah. Lurves this!

 

velvet cheetah pillow

 

Updating pillows is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to refresh your decor. Which pillow is your favorite?

The 3 most popular counter materials for 2016

 

 

Don’t you just love a gorgeous marble countertop? In my experience everyone loves marble. They just don’t always want to deal with the temperamental nature of marble. Marble will etch.  You just have to accept it. I always encourage my clients to get honed marble and not polished because etching shows up much more on polished. Honed marble is basically already etched and a new etched spot will blend in. And, it will chip – you have to baby it and be careful not to bang a pot on the edge. Staining has become less of an issue in the last few years as the sealer technology has gotten better. I always recommend a 15 year sealer for marble. You have to pay extra, but it’s worth it.

 

 

It’s so pretty, and I really think it’s the one countertop material that won’t go out of style. It truly is a classic. In ten years, are you going to be tired of white cabinets, white backsplash and marble counters? I don’t think so. You may tire of your pulls or your faucet or your pendants, but those are easily changed.

 

 

I’m finding that very few people are doing granite counters. If they do, it’s a leathered black like here.  But notice in that kitchen, she still used some marble in the island – it’s a really pretty Danby marble. Some people say Danby is harder than other marbles, but no fabricator or slab yard will tell you that.

 

 

Generally, if people don’t select marble, they go with quartz. Quartz is a manmade material – it is made from real quartz that is ground up and mixed with a resin. It is very durable and won’t etch or stain like marble. It is also non-porous, so it won’t absorb liquids and germs.

I like quartz – but I like to stick with the simpler ones. I’m not a huge fan of the ones with big chunks of quartz in them. They look kind of 90s to me. We use Caesarstone a lot and I really like their simple colors like Pure White and Concrete. I recently used Organic White in a kitchen and it is gorgeous.

 

 

I think quartz looks best when it’s only trying to be quartz and not trying to be another stone. Cambria recently hosted me for a lunch and learn at their new Atlanta show room. It was really interesting – they showed us how quartz is made, and, of course, why Cambria is better than all of the other manufacturers. They do have a nice product. One thing they said that I didn’t know about is that apparently there are a bunch of cheap knock off quartzes coming in from China that are not manufactured like all of the big brand names and they do not perform well. Good to know!

 

I’ve tried to like the faux marble quartzes. They had some that were stunning in the Cambria showroom. But, they still always look a little fake to me. I wouldn’t be surprised with the technology they have if they get a realistic quartz “marble” in a few years, but I just don’t think they are there yet. I think quartz should just be itself – it can look so pretty like in this kitchen:

 

Another stone trend is quartzite. If people don’t go with marble or quartz and they don’t mind spending the big bucks, they go with quartzite.

 

 

Quartzite is a beautiful stone – many quartzites have an even color without much movement (veining). I think people are attracted to it because they are over the busyness of granite. Quartzite also is harder than granite, but still can etch.

 

 

I recently used quartzite in a bar. It is so pretty. I like how is has soft veining and a pretty even allover color.

 

 

For people who can afford it, I think quartzite is going to continue to be a top choice in counter materials. It’s got a lot going for it – nice even color, not a lot of movement and it’s hard. And it’s so pretty.

 

 

In my ideal world, I’d still pick marble. It’s so pretty, and I don’t mind a bit of patina. I’ll take the temperamental stone and live with it’s quirks for the sake of beauty! What’s your favorite counter material?

Designing a colorful home

Last week, I attended a panel discussion about color at the Taylor Burke Home Showroom at ADAC (Atlanta Decorative Arts Center). The panelists included the owner of Taylor Burke, Julianne Taylor, lively design blogger Paige of The Pink Clutch and designers Lance Jackson and David Ecton of Parker Kennedy Living.

Let me start by saying, I was in heaven in Taylor Burke Home. It was all preppy, leopard print, brass, crystal and bright pink and green. Check out the crystals in this lamp – isn’t it gorgeous?

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The showroom was filled with gorgeous huge pillows trimmed out in fun tape. The green ones are so pretty and preppy – I tried to stuff them in my purse, but they didn’t fit.  😉

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Big chunks of crystal were everywhere. The lamps were just amazing. Crystal must be a trend – there was tons of it at RH Modern in NYC .

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I could just close my eyes, spin around and point at something and buy it and be happy. Let’s just say, though, you pay for the pretty – it’s out of my personal Target-level budget, but I could see sourcing here for a client. Julianne did say she will soon be launching a lower end line that will be more accessible. I know I will love all of it!

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Isn’t the lacquer pretty? I love the chinoiserie feel of it.

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The panel discussion was about color – what all the panelists have in common is a love of bright color. Jackson and Ecton are particularly known for their fearless use of bright colors. I first encountered their work at the Cathedral Tour of Homes show house three years ago. They did the living room in hot pink and deep blue.

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Isn’t that pink ceiling a showstopper? Believe it or not, the decision to paint the ceiling pink was a decision made on the fly. They were not allowed to paint the paneled wood  walls, so after designing the room, they decided the room needed something, and Jackson came up with the idea to paint the ceiling pink with a blue accent. This caught the eye of Clinton Smith, former editor of Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, and now editor of Veranda. That pink ceiling launched their career into another level and got them lots of attention – their work has been featured in Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles and Southern Living. To see the difference the ceiling makes, cover the pink with your hand and look at the room. Then look at it with the pink – it makes a big difference, doesn’t it?

I just love this color scheme. For me personally, I don’t think I’d use it in a main room, but I think it would be great in a bedroom or bathroom. Or in a laundry room like this. Sorry the picture is not great, but I had a hard time finding this picture. This designer does not have an active website, so there aren’t many pictures out there.

I’d love to do a similar look in my sad, sad laundry room, but I’d like to bring in the Parker Kennedy pink instead of this red.

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Here’s another (better) picture of the other side of the room. Love!

 

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What I find interesting about the Parker Kennedy boys is that Jackson has a degree in design and Ecton does not. At the end of the talk, they opened up the floor to questions. One woman asked about work life balance – how do they balance having a family and running a design business (all of the panelists have young children). They all said you have to make it a priority. Julianne purposely located her office close to home, Paige stops working in the afternoon and focuses entirely on family and Lance has a flexible schedule so he can bring and pick up his son from school.

The woman asking the question also said that she has been a designer for a couple of years and is self-taught. She asked Ecton and Jackson if she should go back to school and study interior design. I found their answer encouraging – they said that if she were in her 20s they might say yes, go back to school, because at that point, you really don’t have a portfolio, and the only way you can get a job is with your degree. They said, at this point, with where she is in her life, and the fact that she has young children and is a working designer with a portfolio, she doesn’t need to go to school. They said that all that really matters is if you have style – either you have it or you don’t! I liked hearing this as I am self-taught – I’ve got a degree in business and one in art, and there ain’t no way I’d go back to school at this point!!

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I think there is value in an Interior Design degree for sure – I’ve come to the realization that I should’ve studied Interior Design rather than Drawing and Painting, but oh well, that ship’s sailed! Of course, you can hang up your shingle and call yourself an Interior Designer (not in all states) and learn as you go; however, there are some things that are more difficult to learn on your own like building code and knowing if the things you design are actually build-able. Rather than figuring it out on your own, learning on the job is probably the best and fastest way to learn design if you did not study it in school. Vincente Wolf writes about it here.

There is so much information out there that we can all learn from – we can all improve our interior design knowledge so that we can put it to use in our own home. All we really want is a comfortable, pretty home, right?

 

Mark and Graham

 

 

I recently discovered Mark and Graham – somehow I started getting their emails – I have no idea how. The stuff they featured in the email was cute, so I checked them out, to find out they are an on-line retailer from the Williams Sonoma family. Pretty much everything they sell can be monogrammed. Down here in the South, we loves us a monogram! People here even monogram their cars with decals that go on the rear window! Seriously.

I don’t go too crazy with monograms, but I do love them. I have my bedding monogrammed, which I love.  I found a bunch of things I really like at Mark and Graham. I pretty much have my Valentine’s wish list covered! 😉

 

Here’s some cute stationery – would this be perfect for all of your holiday thank you notes? I love the bright orange and fun print of this notecard and envelope.

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We like to take short trips to the mountains or Savannah. Right now, Parker and I share a duffle bag that is big enough to hold a 90 pound black lab. My dad got it when he was in Japan doing marketing for the Nagano Olympics – it’s got a giant Olympics logo on it. Not terribly stylish. This is much cuter.

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I need a new everyday bag. Mine is starting to look a little “well-loved.” I have a camel leather bag from J. Crew that I’ve had for years, but the leather is starting to darken in a way that doesn’t look so good. I really like this tote bag – I could just throw everything in it and go.

 

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I about died when I saw this purse. Do you remember Bermuda bags? I got mine when I was about nine – It was by Pappagallo – I loved it – I had several covers so I could match my outfit. Well, look what Mark and Graham has! This would be so cute with Jack Rogers shoes, right? I think this would bug me a bit because I like to hold my bag on my shoulder rather than in my hand, but I guess we need to suffer a bit to look fabulous sometimes, right?

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I love these tassel keychains. This M&G pink one would make a nice Valentine’s present (for me!).

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Ok, now we are getting into some serious monogram territory. Here are some monogram necklaces for the girl who loves monograms – the is perfect for the girl who has the monogram sticker on the back of her car!

 

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These are my favorite – I’d get three discs with my boys’ initial. I like the clean lines and how they are so simple.

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This necklace is cute too. Doesn’t it look like a sorority disc?

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Have to have these cuffs! They are so my style! Love!!!! Might have to get them for myself and wrap them up with a note from Parker for Valentine’s Day! Hey – I’ve done it before – he doesn’t have to read my mind, and I get the perfect gift! 😉

 

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There are cute things for guys, too. This golfball opener would be good for the guy who likes to have a beer and watch golf on Sundays.

 

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This acrylic tray is great. This would make a nice housewarming gift. Actually, this is a great gift for that person who has everything. My mother needs nothing, but I know she would like this. Hmm….I need to keep this in mind for Mother’s Day for my mom…

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Love this ice bucket. This is going on my want list!!!

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I love these seersucker napkins. They are so fresh and cheerful! This is another perfect gift – so charming. What is your favorite?

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Hot Child in the City….

 

We were blessed with balmy temperatures in NYC – it got up to the mid 60s each day. I only had to wear a light coat at most. The last time we were in New York, I was seven months pregnant with my youngest and my older boys were 4 and 7. Needless to say, we didn’t cover too much territory, and mainly stuck to FAO Schwartz and a playground in Central Park.

This trip, the boys stayed with my parents so we got out and did as much as we could. Mostly, we WALKED!!!! We covered so much ground – it was so much fun! We got to see the touristy areas and the areas where we were the only tourists.  We walked 5th Avenue from the top of Central Park to Washington Square – I had to stop in when I saw the RH Modern store. Everything in there was HOT!

 

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Restoration Hardware has the best lighting. I use them quite a bit in different projects. Their smaller fixtures are actually quite affordable. Larger pendants are more expensive, but not horrible. Lighting can get expensive really fast! Isn’t this chandelier gorgeous? I also love the crystals on the coffee table. There were several spectacular crystals sprinkled throughout the showroom.

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I’d need a bigger house to have this sofa. My boys could lounge out on this one and not get in each other’s way!

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Aren’t these sconces pretty? These are on sale for $239 each.

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These sconces are very elegant – I think they’d look good in a powder room.

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I like the big scale of this chandelier.

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This chandelier is a showstopper! I imagine this in the foyer of an elegant Manhattan apartment on the Upper West Side. I can’t find it anywhere on their website – maybe it’s discontinued?

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Another awesome hunk of crystal!

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Now this is a chair! Snuggly and sleek at the same time! Do you think Aerin Lauder has this in one of her many homes?

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I get to window shop so infrequently – I really enjoyed it. We had been walking all day when we stumbled upon RH Modern, so Parker took the opportunity to hang out on a sofa while I walked around imagining my fabulous RH Modern Manhattan apartment. A girl can dream, right?

Ben vs. Sherwin 2.0

Fall has arrived in the ATL – over the last week or so, mornings have been chilly. I’ve finally retired my sandals, and I have brought out the ballet flats. Today, I wore a light jacket almost the whole day – but it still gets warm mid-afternoon. I’m on the cusp of bringing out my boots and cashmere from storage, but I’m not quite ready to put my flip flops away for the season!

So, Here is Ben vs. Sherwin part deux. I definitely still have a bias towards Ben Moore at this point, but as I use it more often, I’m softening up to Sherwin Williams. I think Sherwin Williams has great colors – the biggest challenge to me has been to get familiar with their fan deck. Here are some more Sherwin Williams versions of my favorite Benjamin Moore colors.

BM Litchfield Gray – SW Realist Beige 6078, Grecian Ivory 7541, Simplify Beige 6085

Simplify Beige walls:

 

BM Manchester Tan – SW Wool Skein 6148, Rice Grain 6155, Stucco 7569

Exterior siding paint – Wool Skein:

 

 

BM Abingdon Putty – SW Softer Tan 6141, Netsuke 6134

 

Wall color – Netsuke:

 

 

BM Palladian Blue – SW Waterscape 6470, Rainwashed 6211, Copen Blue 0068

Walls – Copen Blue

 

 

BM Stonington Gray – SW Front Porch 7651, Passive 7064, Lattice 7654

Walls – Front Porch

 

 

BM Edgecomb Gray – SW Natural Tan 7567, Kestrel White 7516, Canvas Tan 7531

Cabinets – Canvas Tan

 

 

BM China White – SW Pearly White 7009, Heron Plume 6070, Ivory Lace 7013

Walls – Heron Plume:

 

 

BM Gray Mist – SW Oyster White 7637, Natural Choice 7011, Shoji White 7042

Walls – Shoji White:

 

 

BM French Canvas – SW Nacre 6145, Ivory Lace 7013, Pearly White 7009

Nacre walls:

 

BM Swiss Coffee – SW Alabaster 7008, Greek Villa 7551, Westhighland White 7566

Alabaster walls:

 

BM Gray Owl – SW Crushed Ice 7647, Sea Salt 6204, Silver Pointe 7653

 

Wall color – Crushed Ice

I’m kind of thinking I may need to get one of these –

 

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Hopefully, my arms won’t look so hairy in it! What team are you on?