Lavender – I never dreamed I would like it so much!

We hosted Easter dinner for my parents and my brother and his girls (my sister-in-law had to work, boo!). I set the table with my favorite china and a little bunny vase I picked up at Goodwill. I filled it with hyacinths I got at TJ’s and then I put little blue and white covered dishes on either side of the bunny vase.

As I was eating dinner, I was struck at how great the lavender of the hyacinth looked with the blue and white. (I also love blue and purple hydrangeas in a blue and white vase.) I’ve never been a huge fan of purple in decor, but I am warming up to the idea of a soft grayed down lavender. It looks especially pretty with a dark blue like in this London apartment:




I’m so looking forward to hydrangea season – I hope we have a better year than we did last year! My hydrangeas barely bloomed at all and the blooms I got were green and purple! Here are some pretty blue and purple hydrangeas in the same London home. I like how the designer mixed blues and purples in this chair. Do you think nature was an inspiration?




Here’s an edgier mixing of blue and lavender by Ruthie Sommers. The purple walls are so dark they are almost black. I love the acid green against it!




Isn’t this lavender paper by de Gournay gorgeous?


De Gournay lavendar


Here is a lavender dining room. It’s so pretty and feminine. I like how the overall feel is a creamy white with pops of lavender. The color is an accent here and not overwhelming.




LOVE the blue and white mixed with pops of purple here. This makes me want to like straight up purple, which I’m usually not a fan of in decor. This is so pretty!




Here’s a NYC living room by one of my favorite designers, Ashley Whittaker. I love how she mixed different tones of lavender. Notice how the wallpaper in the entry reads as purple even though it is a pattern. Ashley Whittaker is so great with color.


ashley wittaker lavendar


And a living room in the Hampton’s home of my favorite tastemaker, Aerin Lauder. LOVE the lavender walls with the blue and white. Spot on – so elegant and fresh. Yum!


Aerin Lauder Lavendar Living Room


So what do you think about lavender, could you use it in your home?


6 timeless design elements in the kitchen


There are certain elements in a kitchen that will never go out of style. I tell my clients that you should think about the cabinets, tile and counters the way you think about buying a sofa that you will keep for 20 years. Keep it neutral. With a sofa, you can change it up with pillows and throws when you get bored with a pattern. Much less expensive than reupholstering!


With a kitchen, except for contemporary kitchens, I think it is best to stick to timeless finishes for the tile, counters and cabinets. You can have more fun with the faucets and lighting, since they are easy to change out.


Here are six kitchen design elements that are timeless:


White cabinets:






Shaker style doors:








White subway tile:





Wood floors:





Marble counters:






A slide-in range:





What are your thoughts on these design elements – timeless or boring?












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?



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.  😉


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 .


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!


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


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.


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.


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



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!!


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?


Kaufmann Mercantile

Hello!  I hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend! We had a both busy and lazy weekend. Fridays are full with high school football this time of year. Our oldest plays in the marching band, and we like to go to his home games to see him perform. Saturday, my parents were in town, so we had dinner at my brother’s house. Parker smoked some pork to make pulled pork bbq, which was off the chiz-ain! We had leftovers tonight and they were delicious!

Sunday we celebrated my middle son’s birthday and Monday we did absolutely nothing other than going to the pool for a bit. It was lovely. I have a tendency to keep doing things during my time off, whether it’s social events or home repair/upkeep and I can wear myself out. Parker was noticing that I was starting to do that Monday, and insisted that I take it easy. I’m glad I listened!

Right now, we are working on planning a getaway to NYC this fall. We haven’t been there since I was pregnant with #3. My aunt and uncle lived in Times Square at the time and had (and still have) a house in the Berkshires. We stayed in the city for a few days and then stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house. The Berkshires were awesome – we went to the Norman Rockwell Museum and Edith Wharton’s house, The Mount (which has a room designed by Bunny Williams, one of my favorite designers!). An extra special treat was that we woke up to snow on Thanksgiving, which is a huge novelty to us folks living south of the Mason Dixon.

 Here is the dining room designed by Williams:
Love the modern art and rug mixed with the french chairs and elaborate plaster work.
Gorgeous plaster work.
There is a little gift shop in the lower level where I purchased a copy of “The Decoration of Houses.” It’s been awhile since I’ve read it, I think it’s time to give it a look again!
Charlotte Moss also did a room at the mount. Here is the drawing room Moss designed:
 I love how it feels so fresh and light.
Again, notice the intricate plasterwork.

I love the broken pediment over the door.

Thinking back on our trip seven years ago, and our upcoming trip to NYC, I’ve been coveting a cute weekend bag. I really don’t have a good duffel bag for weekend trips. I have a small suitcase, but it can be annoying because it is not squishable. For most weekend trips, Parker and I share a duffle that my dad got for free when he was managing the marketing for a major company’s presence at the Nagano Olympics, so it’s a freebee with the Nagano logo. Not terribly stylish.

I love the duffels at Kaufmann Mercantile.

I think my favorite is this canvas and leather one in Mustard. The dark brown is pretty cute too!

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 9.40.13 PM

They definitely have a bit of masculine edge, but not too much.

I LOVE the Palm Carryall.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 9.39.16 PM

This really is the perfect summer bag. The longer handle would work well for me. I’m not a forearm bag carrier – I really need it to be able to be carried on the shoulder. It’s just more practical for me.

Kaufmann Mercantile also has beautiful home accessories – they are thoughtfully designed and gorgeous. Everything they carry is well designed. Maybe I’ll get a new duffel for Christmas? 😉



Kitchen and Bath Finishes by Design Style

If you look at long enough, you start to see distinct styles in kitchens and baths.  I’ve looked a lots of kitchens and baths, and here are the elements that I see come up again and again for each style:


Stacked subway tile, no upper cabinets (kitchen), contemporary range hoods, Ikea or stainless farmhouse sink, lacquer cabinets,  full overlay slab door cabinets, quartz, solid surface or concrete counters, black, white, or dark wood cabinets, industrial look, waterfall counters on island, colored appliances, concealed storage (wall of cabinets), pops of bright color, linear or no hardware, simple pendants, strong grain lines on cabinets, natural wood, straight lines in fixtures, stone slab on wall, wall faucets, chrome plumbing fixtures, oversize tile (esp. subway), frameless shower, frameless mirror

Arts & Crafts

Dark stained cabinets, wood with a strong grain, dark hardware, Mission woodwork style, repeated rectangles, square knobs, glass upper cabinets, dark counters (soapstone, black granite), green (connection to outdoors), oil rubbed bronze plumbing fixtures


Farmhouse sink, white cabinets – Shaker or raised panel, schoolhouse lighting, collections (white dishes), industrial stools, chrome plumbing fixtures, rustic beams, pretty, farmhouse table, chrome knobs and pulls, white or light walls, wood floors, bead board, bridge faucets


Suzanne Kasler
Suzanne Kasler

White, light or grey/taupe cabinets, furniture legs on lower cabinets, shaker doors, subway tile backsplash, accent tile behind range, wood floors, quartz, marble, limestone, simple knobs and pulls (chrome, nickel or stainless), stainless, nickel or chrome plumbing fixtures,chandelier or pendants over island, sconces around sink


Wood or painted cabinets, raised panel doors, granite counters, tile backsplash, stainless appliances, stainless, Chrome or Oil rubbed bronze plumbing fixtures, tile or wood floors

I have to say that my ultimate favorite style is classic.  I am loving a kitchen I am working on right now that is white shaker cabinets, marble counters and gorgeous slate floors.  My second favorite, which is kind of crazy, is modern.  If I didn’t have a traditional home, I’d go straight towards modern!  In my house I love having a traditional style, but I add something in that is modern.  I think it’s more interesting to have a mix rather than just one style in your home.