February 7, 2014


Lots of things inspire me.   Inspiration can come from anywhere, a stone wall, a piece of clothing, an old scrap of wood; and it can be applied in a textural, structural, spacial, or even in a literal way.  What I find most inspirational is art and nature.  The wharf image above is inspiring to me because not only do I dearly love the place, I love the image, and I love the colors.  I love the warmth of the pattern on the sand, the strength of the pier silhouetted in black. And, because I have stayed many nights in those fishing shacks on that pier spending countless hours with some of my dearest friends, it means something to me.   It doesn’t get more powerful than that. tumblr_ltoubkovOE1qjrfh6o1_500

To execute design based on an inspirational object or image I think it best to identify a color palette first and foremost.  This doesn’t have to be completely literal, you can take only the colors you find most pleasing; you can change the amount of each color within the palette to suit your taste or the space in question and obviously you can add to a palette.

I think the photo above with its rich browns, blacks and creamy warm walls captures the colors of the pier quite well.  Overall the value of light colors and dark colors is pretty spot on.   Not only the palette of the wharf is captured but a bit of the mood too.  Strength, a bit of chaos, masculine, with a worn and weathered vibe glazed over the whole thing.  This room is wharf like to me, I think it’s a good comparison.

tumblr_mu1fy19WVt1qcgzt2o1_1280Here’s the same palette, stripped back to something much more sleek a more livable version of the messy working space above.  This room gives a vintage undercurrent, it’s strong and masculine and has the boldness and the simplicity of the wharf image.   it is the photograph refined down the essential oils of the colors, materials and strong masculine mood.   Vintage, warm, woodsy, everything is just sharpened, clearer.  To me the collection on the sideboard gives me a bit of the chaos of the wharf supports, the polished concrete is a great stand-in for the sand.

What inspires you?  Have a favorite scarf? Use it.  In love with the rolling hills of the Pennsylvania landscape in spring? Use it.  Pick your colors based on what your comfortable with, go with your gut, but what you love.  Oh, and don’t be afraid of not making a statement, sometimes a whisper is more of statement and more powerful.



November 24, 2013

tumblr_mv30oagPVe1qzec1no1_500This becomes…

tumblr_mwinssbdin1r5fwoio1_1280this becomes…

tumblr_mwb2kqYOus1r5fwoio1_500 …this becomes…


Squint (or pull off your readers) and anything, any view can become inspiration for a color palette, texture, arrangement or order.  I look at a painting and see a living room, I look at a living (without my readers) and see a painting.  I’m fascinated by color, texture, form, arrangement and balance (or imbalance) or light and dark.  And as much as I love a white room, white floors and furniture, I react positivity to color too.  But, I know my comfort zone.

Finding the right palette to decorate with can be a challenge for some people.  Unsure of their comfort zone, or looking to branch out from a safe place, often people don’t know where to go.  My first and best advice is always:




and always:


If you already follow those principals and need color inspiration… go look at your closet, color and pattern? Then you know how to decorate to make yourself happy… All grey? Go with what you know.  My closet?  See above… Khaki, Navy, Camel and dashes of other neutrals.  Or, go to your favorite museum, yes get on a plane or train if you must, and seek out your favorite painting… BAM, theres your new living room.  It’s that easy… really it is.  Don’t stand there thinking up a thousand reasons why it won’t work, because it will.  How you translate the colors, textures, weight and forms will make it adaptable to any space in and climate, anywhere.  Stuck, call a decorator.  But do them a favor and show them a picture of your favorite painting once you’ve had them over.

Ok, Ok… I spend more time on Instagram and Pinterest these days than I do writing blog posts.  I’m sorry.  In an attempt to satisfy my hunger for interior eye-candy and to share here with you I am combining in today’s post.  3de6b01cd412d7f01284c99a2816caae c1a7c22b5350eed96d02660062fa727b

Here are just some of the images I pinned, or re-pinned today on Pinterest.  I’m searching to a commonality, a theme and what stands out to me is a conscious “undesigned” vibe, as if these rooms just happened (they didn’t, btw).  And, I think they all have a masculine vintage-modern vein to them… something old something new?

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I want to label these images, most have some mid-century element but the look ranges from mid-century, 70’s loft-style, minimal, and a whole lot more.  There is a spare yet eclectic aesthetic that I think I’m  responding to.  No pattern per-say, earth tones, it’s decorating made (to look) easy.  I for one have a hard time stopping, I like to just keep adding but I have to say I aspire to less is more.  Let me tell you that all these undecorated spaces were thoughtfully stylized, edited and controlled.  Theres a big payoff if you can just say no to prints, and all the other bells and whistles available to us all via the design market place.


Let the furniture say what you want the room to say.  Invest in quality sofas, chairs and case pieces… and by that I don’t mean expensive ( although expensive is often built well, and I wouldn’t say no to it).  Buy it because it’s right, buy it because you love it.

Color Today

November 13, 2013


Color today is not about the red room or the multicolored wallpaper of yesterday.  Todays color is bold, bright and fresh, but it is given room to breathe.  It’s surrounded by neutrality, it’s an accent not a wash of pigment.  Again, rules can and should be broken but this general rule of thumb is about whats current, how color is being used today.  Wanna get the look.  Strive for and all neutral room and buy the big pieces (or most of them in whites, tans, greys, and/or soft earth tones.


Embellish with 5 to 10% color in the form of a pillow, a lamp shade or ottoman, hell go crazy and get all three.  Add a lamp or two with color and you’re about done… Once life creeps in – books, guests, stuff, there will be more than enough color.  Thats it.  it sounds easy but restraint is more difficult than exuberance.

Second-Home Dreaming…

October 6, 2013


If I am ever lucky enough to have a second home near the ocean, I promise myself to not overdecorate it.
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 I swear I will do my best to keep the furnishings simple and clean, understated and comfortable.  I’ll keep the finishes low sheen and matte, the fabrics soft, light and easy. I won’t insist on trendy patterns, I won’t use strong trendy colors and I won’t make so perfect that it’s not easy to relax in.


I vow to keep interesting books on hand for guests and renters, and firewood near the fireplace to cut the chill on cold nights. I will honor the bones of the structure, and celebrate the quirky oddities.  I won’t remodel with the latest and greatest, I won’t insist on marble countertops and stainless steel appliances.    pure-and-simple-guest-bedroom-0213-xln

7190d0f3717549338442a4e207f1d25aI gladly bear the burden of a single basin in the only bathroom, 
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and…I’ll paint everything white (Simply White – Ben Moore).

Pretty in Pink

September 29, 2013

DTIpalepinkwallsclivetompsett_sknahem_sofa-960x646I don’t have a pink room in my house, or much pink at all to be honest and when I work with pink it tends to be more of a fuchsia not the soft tones in these images.  Truthfully, I don’t know why that is.  Pink is such a pretty color, it’s warm, soft and people of all skin tones look good surrounded it.  Of course there is the obvious, it is synonymous with feminine gender.  Guys don’t tend toward pink (a pocket square or dress shirt, sure… but not a master bedroom or living room).  The above image is pink perfection in my book.  The decor has an unstudied look, it’s not prissy or careful in its execution.  That alone allows the pink to just be a color and not a style, if that makes sense.  The mix-matched pillows (purples and orange) take the value of the pink to a “is it coral?” or “verging on violet” tipping point and layers the overall aesthetic with a loose easy vibe.


So, this fireplace shot is what i imagine or what i see in my mind when i think of decorating with pink.  Lots of white trim, white furniture and maybe a dark grey to cut the sweetness.  That fretwork display case is pretty isn’t it?  Anyway… I also like the hotter pink pillow on the sofa to further “punch up” the palette.  Both of the above rooms also tweak the expected formula by introducing (left) Scandinavian elements, traditional and contemporary elements or (right) mid-century, vintage modern and a subtle 70’s vibe all of which are unexpected styles to accompany pink walls.


And then there’s just plain pretty.  Who wouldn’t want to wake up in this room?  It really would feel like waking up on a cloud.  I wouldn’t choose to own this particular look (ok, maybe in a guest room) but if I booked a room for a long weekend and opened the door to my suite and saw this set up, I’d be a happy Glam-camper.

Afraid of pink? Try an accent wall or just the interior of a cabinet or bookcase.  Better yet mix it with stronger colors like Black, grey or chocolate-brown… all good companions.  I think I’ll try it at the beach.  white trim, bedding, maybe even white floors and a soft pale peony-pink wall… like sleeping inside a seashell.  I’m already there.

Rough & Tumble

September 15, 2013

I am loving this abandoned stable turned family dwelling in Cáceres, Spain designed by architecture firm ÁBATON. There is something very modern, mixed with the rustic stone and the traditional twist of the clay tile roof that sounds like a hot mess but looks like a dream come true.  I would love to design the interiors for a structure like this one for a client (or myself).  You know me, it’s all about the juxtaposition of light and dark, modern and rustic or hard and soft.  I love the idea of linen slip-covered sofas, floor pillows and a flokati rug in the living room of this house.  I would do my decorators best to keep the accessories to a minimum – I am a self-confessed packrat – and the colors should be those found in the stone that makes up the pool, walls and architecture.


I don’t really have a reason for wanting to show beds with this structure, but I do think these bedroom shots exemplify the vibe of the house.  Relaxed, tonal, clean.  Who wouldn’t want to tumble into one of these beds…

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If it was up to me I’d make the pattern, texture and visual interest the beauty of natural stone.  This would make an amazing shower surround for a bathroom.  Maybe open to the sky and a teak floor slatted to allow the water to be caught in a cistern and recycled into the landscape.  Add in some big gnarly olive trees and you have one rough yet beautiful modern mediterranean compound.  I’m ready, are you?



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