Denver Designer Show House: Foyer

In 2011, I was thrilled to participate in the Denver Designer Show House, a project to support The Children’s Hospital. Twenty-eight Colorado designers pitched in to give this century-old, historic Tudor in Denver’s Country Club neighborhood a fresh look before it went on the market for the first time ever!






Thank you to: Ann Benson ReidyArtisan Rug GalleryVisions West GalleryWilliam Havu Gallery and Emily Minton Redfield!




An Entry Fit for a Queen

This entry had classic good looks but needed a design boost. We started by removing the hunter green runner (which I have seen in more than a few homes over the years. Someone must have made a killing on hunter green carpet!)

We expanded the doorway to the right of the stairs to add airiness and echoed the arches over the doorways to the living and dining rooms. Using similar forms, such as arches, throughout a home gives some design cohesion.

We painted the wood work around the stairs the trim color- the raisers and the molding near the top of the staircase.  This gives the space a crisp clean feel. 

We found the handsome new runner from Synergy Floor Covering at the Denver Design District, with a lot of beautiful colors, so we could pull from them for other elements in the space, such as that gorgeous rug and the buttery, yellow walls.

And finally, we crowned a demi-lune table (a design classic!) with the clients’ own collection of prints and paints.

The result? A fresh new look to a classic entry!





New Look, Same Layout

During the renovatio of this home, we decided to update the powder room. We kept the same layout, but the client wanted a new, elegant look.

Where we started: a wonderful Cowtan & Tout black wallpaper with a pink-flowered vine. The vine has green undertones with iridescent gold over the green, which adds such a great depth to the paper. TIP: Often people think they have to choose light colors in small spaces, but don't be shy about choosing a darker color for your small study or powder room. Dark colors (with appropriate light) can make a space feel sophisticated or intimate.

What we added: a small piece of molding 8 inches below the ceiling. Then we painted the ceiling and molding a black base coat and gold wash as a second coat. This trick adds the kind of depth we love in the wallpaper's vine pattern.

What we kept: the mirror and antique sconces, but we added new red shades to the sconces. 










It's Easy Being Green

Want an easy and inexpensive decorative item? Pick a plant.

I love including plants in a room's plan. They're an integral part of a room's design because they add an organic element you can’t get from furnishings and fabric.

Here's how to add a little greenery to your design:

The plant needs to create a shape and add color to the room the same way a fabric, paint color, or a piece of furniture would. So maybe skip the ferns and go for something a little more…interesting.

I always suggest a plant with a defined shape for the leaf, such as a fig tree or white bird of paradise.


Elle Decor: Hip Houseplants


Look how the colors are used in this room!  Also Elle Decor Cover


And I love the look of succulents grouped in a pot on a side table- who doesn't!


Above Picture

Simple = Sophisticated

This new home needed a fresh look for the master bedroom, and we selected a few beautiful elements to make the space feel grown-up and inviting.

We started with the furniture plan. In this case, we were lucky: There was clearly a wall meant for the bed. Then, to make the scale of the room feel more intimate, we chose a gray-brown for the walls. 

My clients had the side tables, which we covered in tone on tone seersucker. We topped the tables with my favorite small gourd lamps from Visual Comfort.

Simple white linen curtains soften the look of the windows and shutters--perfect for a bedroom. And we added a pop of color with the great rug at the foot of the bed. 

We're working on adding a few more accessories and a throw. I have a few ideas. What would you choose? 




Friday Favorite: Grasscloth

I love grasscloth!  It adds a wonderful warmth to any room. Before selecting, make sure you think about how the room is used. (I would not suggest grasscloth for a powder room or bathroom that is busy with little hands that may splash water on it!)

We used this navy grasscloth in a study to add texture and interest to the room:


 Here are a few great photos from Lonny Magazine


Lucky for me, I'm not the only one in love with grasscloth, so there are a lot of beautiful choices out there. A few of my favorites:

KFG-301 Grasscloth Wallcovering in Tea from Kneedler Fauchere 


Great earthy colors by Phillip Jeffries Grass House Grass line:



And fabulous, bright colors from Phillip Jeffries' Juicy Jute Grasscloth line. Would you ever dream of putting them in your home? I think they'd be great in a guest bedroom, home office, or powder room (away from the kiddos) to add a pop of color on the walls:

          4814   4823   4803   4829

Phillip Jeffries can be found at Town in Denver.


And finally, a handsome Basketweave Grasscloth from Thybony. This would be perfect in a gentleman's study:


You can find Thybony at Kravet Lee Jofa at the Denver Design District.

Quick Tour: Master Bath Redo

People often ask me for a few of my favorite sources, when they get tired of looking at the same stuff from the run-of-the-mill stores. Here's a round-up of places I found the elements for this master bath remodel:

Tile: Thassos and Ming Green tile from Decorative Materials at the Denver Design Center.

Fixtures: Rohl

Vanity: Aspen Leaf

Sconces: Visual Comfort

Mirror: Horchow

Rug: Dash and Albert

Stool: Wisteria

And the cool poster over the tub of Jacqueline Kennedy's Dresses. Add a frame and ta-da!

After: Vanity


Before: Shower Area (Beautiful, right?)

After: Shower Area

Beautiful Bath


On one of Denver's prettiest historic streets, this home had four large bedrooms, so we stole one to create a master suite, complete with a pretty master bathroom. Here's the skinny:

We started with the tile and slab. We wanted slab without dark veins to have a lighter look throughout, and we found Valley Gold Vein to be the best option. TIP: Select slab a few weeks before installation to make sure you have a great selection from the slab yard because at times, the slab yard may be out of what you are looking for. On the floors, we used Calcutta Gold marble in 12-by-12-inch squares set in a diamond pattern with accents of Mosaic Black marble. Glam!

The fixtures come from Rohl and the sparkly sconces are from Waterworks. Our crowning achievement? Rosslyn paper from Farrow & Ball for the water closet. What do you think?




Retail Therapy: West Elm

Oh West Elm, how I love thee!

I could walk into West Elm every week and find something I love and need! This week, I found a few diamond- and chevron-inspired design items that made my heart go pitter-pat.

What's your favorite national retailer? Where do you go for a little therapy?


Knock Knock: Selecting Hardware for your Front Door

Hardware for your front door is like jewelry for your outfit: It makes a statement, a first impression.

First, find a local store to visit; that way you will be able to touch and feel the weight of the hardware in person. If something feels too light (or cheap), you probably want to skip it.

To select a style, consider the style of your home. Is it traditional? Contemporary? Ask an associate at the store for help identifying hardware that might compliment your space.

Then you have to pick a finish. Consider the color of your front door. You probably don't want brass if your front door is bright yellow, for example, and you should be careful about choosing an antique bronze on a dark brown door.  A good trick is to match the finish to the finishes of light fixtures by the door.

I would also change the hinges on the door to match the finish you are selecting. 

Here are a few examples from Ultra Design Center in Denver: They have great finish options and a wonderful feel!

Split Entrance Set M250 DBM Dead Bolt w/DK Knob

Privacy Set M2580b w/DK Knob

M3019/M3019 EG Grip/EG Grip

All of the above are Nobilus Luxury


Hometown Love: The Lark

Every city and town has a few retail treasures, places where residents know they'll find just what they're looking for (or just what they never knew they always wanted). One of my most favorite places in Denver is The Lark, a wonderful store in the Country Club area at 4th and Downing.

I popped in this week and found a treasure trove of geometric patterns!

What about you? Do you have a favorite hometown shop? 

How to Remodel Your Master Bedroom

I loved this project because we touched every inch of the house, and the master bedroom is one of my favorite spaces. We started with a blank slate, which is always a lot of fun. Here are a few tips from this project you can use to refresh your own bedroom.

Open up the doorways. We increased the width of the opening to the left of the bed because it was a very narrow space going into the now sun room.

Plan your space. When we changed the opening, we also claimed some of the space from a secondary bedroom for a sitting area and master bathroom. The space for the sitting room was originally a sleeping porch when the house was built. It was then converted into a closet, which covered the windows. Our change exposed the windows again. Cheers for natural light!

Build on one thing you love. Our inspiration was the window treatment fabric from Brunschwig & Fils. Pulling a very subtle color from a leaf in the pattern, we decided on the wall color: Benjamin Moore's Woodland White. Then we found this gorgeous Scalamandre geometric pattern in a red-cut velvet for the side chair--so divine!

Layer your bed. We used a light-aqua gingham from Schumacher on the ruffled bed skirt and an upholstery-weight Kravet fabric on the headboard, with contrast welt in the gingham. Bed linens are from Restoration Hardware. I love starting with a fabric with multiple colors so we can pull colors from it to find the next fabric or paint color.

Check back in a few weeks to see new lamps for the bedside tables! I am looking for either a dark blue or a crisp ivory glazed base.


AFTER: Ahhh...

Pretty Powder Room

Often clients ask me to make their spaces do more--help small rooms appear bigger, improve the "flow" of a room, maximize closet space--but in this case, the client had a full bathroom where she only wanted a powder room. 

We began by figuring out the proper size and style for the vanity. Standard height is about 34-36 inches for counters right now. (It always seems to be changing and I hope soon it won't be taller than me!) We placed the toilet with plenty of room around it, and then looked at the space left over. We came in from the opposite wall about 12-14 inches to give the space a sense of airiness. We wanted a traditional vanity and polished nickel fixtures because it fits perfectly with the rest of her house.

Then we found the Bianco Antico countertop at Decorative Materials at the Denver Design District. If you live somewhere with a design center, it's absolutely worth your time to walk through the showrooms before you get too far into your project. Most showrooms will sell only to the trade (meaning designers, architects, and builders), but you can get great ideas. Plus, designer centers can often pair homeowners with designers who will help make the purchases and shape up the design!

We pulled a color from the slab to select the paint- Benjamin Moore Aegean Teal for the vanity. We wanted wallpaper from the start and finally settled on The Ringwold Papers from Farrow and Ball. (Their stuff is so delicious, I could just eat it!) And the sconces--jewelry for any bathroom--are from the client's previous home. Voila!


BEFORE: Down to the studs



 AFTER: A good-looking, traditional powder room with just the right amount of sparkle.


Family Room Furnishings + Some of My Favorite Sources

This great room-kitchen space belongs to a family with young kids, and we knew they would spend the majority of their time here. So when the time came to buy furniture, we paid close attention to how they live and how they wanted to use the space.

We started with a custom-size jute area rug from Synergy Floor Covering at the Denver Design District to create our "furniture area." Using rugs to designate intimate spaces within a large room is an easy and effective design trick. I like to start with where the furniture goes, place the coffee table and measure 18 inches to the sofa and/or chairs; this will give you plenty of room to walk around and sit down/get up. From the backs of the sofa and chairs, add about 6-12 inches (depending on how much space you have in the room) to see how large your rug should be. People tend to choose rugs that are too small, which makes the furniture feel like it is "floating" and not anchored to the floor.

Then we teamed up with a local upholsterer to design a pair of sofas, which we upholstered in fabric from Zoffany and Lee Jofa. The Zoffany fabric is an indoor/outdoor fabric made of Teflon; we wanted something that would be indestructible! The pillow fabric is the pop in the room. (Every room needs pop!) The chairs (from McGuire) are from the clients' former house.

I love the French bistro counter stools, which we chose because we knew they'd be great for a family with young children. 

The coffee table was the last element we needed. In design, some things come together really quickly, and other things take a while--and the coffee table falls into that latter category. We tried to find one "off the floor," but nothing quite worked, so we turned to a local woodworker who built this piece to the perfect proportion for the space.





Bookshelf Redux

A bit of good news: You don't have to revamp a whole room to add visual interest to your space. One of my favorite design tricks is to change up the backs of bookshelves with a bold paint color. Take a look at these spaces:


BEFORE: These are handsome bookshelves, but they don't exactly serve as a strong design element in the room. And I bet you couldn't care less what's on those shelves because you can't actually see what's on them.

AFTER: I used dark navy paint, Benjamin Moore Hale Navy, to draw a viewer's eye in and give enough contrast to make the obects on the shelves interesting.

And here's another example:


BEFORE: Lovely but a bit dull.

 AFTER: We used a finishing technique by a local finisher, using a base coat of Benjamin Moore, Chili Pepper, and a glaze applied with a tint of Rasberry Pudding.  The living room in this house is long; painting the backs of the bookshelves helps the human eye find an easy and interesting place to rest.


Get Cozy: Master Bedroom Redo

People often ask designers where to start when they're remodeling or redesigning a room. Sometimes I use a piece of art or a fabric that a client loves, but in the case of this master bedroom, we started with the soft powder blue walls. Blue tends to be a calming color, so a bedroom is the perfect place to use it!

With the help of a local upholsterer, we selected a classic shape for the headboard and then had it covered in two fabrics from Calvin, one for the main body and one for the contrast piping. (TIP: Contrast piping is a great way to add a little interest and tailoring to an upholstered piece. I love it!) 

Custom pieces are the perfect way to get exactly what you want (and they're not as expensive as you might assume). But the challenge is that you and your designer have to decide all of the details. In this case, we thought long and hard about how high to make the headboard. We had plenty of ceiling height and could do just about anything we wanted. The headboard is 66 inches from the floor, a little higher than I normally do them, to move your eye up the bed and be a little more dramatic!

We found great-looking sidetables from Restoration Hardware that followed the classic look, and polished it off with clean ivory-glazed lamps from Visual Comfort. The clients found the rug on a trip to Santa Fe--it was the perfect piece to the design puzzle!




Design Secret: How to Fix a Big, Blank Wall

Before my clients moved into their new home, I snapped these photos of the family room. The wall where the TV hung was so stark and needed much more interest.

The solution? A built-in, which holds the TV, books, photos, accessories, and media equipment. By using a similar finish to the finish on the nearby kitchen cabinets (the kitchen and family room are actually one big space), we made the built-ins feel like they have been there all along! 

We used a carpenter provided by our contractor. If you're looking for a great finisher in your area, ask around: A furniture store that has high-quality pieces you really like should always have a few recommendations.

Notice the cabinets below the windows. We're in the process of changing those slightly to fit more with the built-ins. Stay in touch to see the new lower cabinets in the next few weeks! 



Inspiration Objects

Beginning a room's design with a piece of art or object you love is a great source of inspiration. I've found that many clients have a treasured piece they want to be sure to include. As a designer I try to take inspiration from those special pieces. Finding fabrics or furniture that falls in line with what they already like is a sure win.

In this room, the client owned an antique Suzani and a pair of antique Argentinean chairs that she wanted to incorporate into the home.  We used a local upholsterer to center the design on the seat and back of the chairs. We made a contrast welt choosing one of the colors from the Suzani.



Here the client owned a piece of art from a local denver artist, Duke Beardsley .  We included darker piece of furniture to balance the art work and move ones eye around the room.