Thursday Treasure of Interior Design: Another from the Look Book

A month ago, I was asked to guest post a Look Book on the Decorating Diva’s blog.  I had more fun putting it together.  But what you don’t see in a typical presentation is all of the great things the interior designer didn’t choose to complete a room.   After all, one of my primary jobs is to help you put together the best look from a vast array of choices.

As promised, here are some more pieces that did not make the cut for Look Book, but would look great in your home.

This Harris Rubin console has unbelievable lines.  I love how it looks like the contrast of the black with the silver base.  And aren’t the shapes fun being off-center?  This is a signature piece.

Another by Harris Rubin, the Mondrian Table is spectacular for dining.  I would suggest this for a city apartment – an entertaining couple with no children.  Couple with Philippe Stark’s Louis Ghost Chair from Design within Reach for a contemporary twist on these classics!

Last but not least this amazing red bookcase (you do know how I love red!) also by Harris Rubin.

What could be more fun than classic Chinese red with a hint of fretwork design and oh so modern stainless steel…

Which is your favorite?  I would love to hear from you.


Wednesday Word on Interior Design: Home Improvement FAQs from

I could not imagine letting another Wednesday go by without posting (see why in yesterday’s post), so I have asked my social media friend Rob of if he would be willing to share his great post about Home Improvement on my blog.  I had planned to write something similar but liked his post so much that I am passing it on.  My favorite is number 10, of course.

I plan to follow up with a Wednesday Word on Spring Maintenance next week, which will be a checklist of everything you need to think of for maintenance of your home from servicing the water softener to changing the batteries in your fire alarm.

OK, the time change has already occurred so if you forgot, go change those batteries now and come back for’s Home Improvements.  It’s okay, we’ll wait for you…

10 Most Common Home Improvement FAQs and Answers

1. How Much Insulation Should I Use in My Attic?
Proper insulation is an important factor when it comes to managing the climate of your home in an efficient manner. Experts recommend, for most regions, that you insulate with about 12 to 15 inches (R-38). R-Value refers to the insulation’s ability to defend against heat flow – the higher the R-Value, the more effective the insulation. If you live in more extreme climates, you can insulate with an R-Value that suits your liking.

Installing Home Insulation

2. How Frequently Should a Roof Be Replaced?
Your roof is the final barrier between you and the sky’s droppings so you’ll want to make sure it is structurally sound and impermeable to the elements. Of course, there are many types of roofs with varying life spans so pick your poison:

Rock Roofs: 12-15 years
Composition Shingles: 12-20 years
Shake/Wood Shingles: 20-25 years
Metal Roofs: 50-75 years
Clay Roofs: 50-100 years


3. What Should I look for When Replacing My Furnace?
The household furnace is a staple of comfort but also a cornerstone of your monthly bill. If you’re looking to upgrade in the near future, there are a few things to consider to make the transition safe and efficient.
• Get a furnace with a smart motor; this will help with overall efficiency.
• Pay attention to the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE); make sure it’s at least 90% or higher.
• Make sure you’re buying the right size furnace for your home. Newer furnaces are more powerful and more efficient so don’t simply buy the same size as your old furnace; evaluate your needs and ask the experts.
• Your furnace is only as good as its surroundings. A brand new furnace can’t do its job if the rest of your home is inefficient; therefore, make sure your home is sealed so that any heat produced will stay indoors.

New Gas Furnace

4. What is the Best Way to Remove Old Wall Paper?
Getting rid of dated wallpaper is a cheap and easy way to refresh your home; however, you may find that breaking that stubborn bond can be an arduous task. If you’re having trouble, try these methods:

• If your budget isn’t an issue, buy a steam wallpaper stripper that projects a concentrated stream of steam through a specialized nozzle. It’s a machine made for the job and will save you some grunt-work.
• If you’re on a DIY budget, fill a spray bottle with ½ fabric softener and ½ hot water and saturate the paper. Let it sit for a couple minutes and peel away with a putty knife.

Old Wallpaper

5. What is the Proper Placement for the Toilet Paper Holder?
When performing somewhat mundane upgrades in your home, it’s important to act by certain industry standards so that your home maintains a certain universal comfort. A common question in DIY forums is regarding the height of the toilet paper holder and hand towel rings by your sink. The toilet paper holder should be installed 20-24 inches from the ground and the towel ring 24 inches so that the ring hangs at about 18 inches from the counter’s surface.

toilet paper dispenser

6. Where are the biggest air leaks in my home?
By sealing any air leaks in your home, you’ll increase your efficiency and lower your monthly bills as a result. Most of the major air leaks are easy to feel and can be found around windows, doors, electrical outlets, etc. Though these are the obvious and significant culprits, they aren’t the only ones. Check for more obscure leaks in your attic, your basement and around your chimney.

7. Can My Home Be Too Airtight?
Many energy efficiency experts lecture openly about tightening your homes “Thermal Envelope.” Any area where air can escape is troublesome to your home’s heating/cooling efforts and can unnecessarily inflate your utility bill. While it is difficult to achieve a home that is too airtight, it is still possible. In the end, it is important to maintain a certain amount of fresh air in your home to keep your indoor air quality at a comfortable, livable level.

8. How Can You Add Color to Concrete?
There are multiple ways to color and treat the concrete around your home that will give it an all new look and presence. Muratic acid is one option but experts find it to be a bit messy, erosive and detrimental to the concrete’s long-term weatherability. In the end, they suggest painting the surface of your concrete with a stain or paint that’s approved by your local Home Depot or Lowe’s. There are even some products that both stain and stabilize concrete surfaces in about a dozen different shades that will help you color and waterproof all in one step.

Stained Concrete

9. How Do You Square Frame Walls?
If you’re adding walls to your home, it’s vital that they are square and plum. You can make all the proper measurements but it’s still important to know the basic insights of structural integrity. An easy way to guarantee that your framing walls are truly square is by laying them flat and measuring diagonally from corner to corner in both positions. When both diagonal measurements are exactly equal, your frame is technically square. Hint: run a piece of lumber the length of the diagonal and tack it in place to avoid any shifting.

Wood Wall Framing

10. When Should I Bring in an Expert and Whom Should I Call?
When you’re looking to make some home improvements, your best bet is to always consult with an expert. For the bigger, more complicated projects, a certified technician will make sure things are done right the first time and typically be able to guarantee their services. If you attempt to repair things on your own, you risk user error, property damage and most importantly, your personal safety.

A “consultant” will come into your home and make an educated evaluation of your systems or energy efficiency through a series of tests. Once they’ve crunched the numbers they can offer expert advise and point you in the right direction; however, they will not be able to perform the work themselves. On the other hand, a contractor will be able to do most of the evaluations that the consultant can but they will then be able to perform the work with an expert’s touch.

Always heed the expert’s advice and make an educated decision if you’ll be able to perform the task yourself or if you’ll need the assistance of a licensed contractor.

The original article can be found at: 10 Most Common Home Improvement FAQs and Answers | BuildDirect Blog

My own Interior Design Projects (and other excuses for not posting)

You may have noticed my absence from the blogosphere this past week.  I have been working overtime on a big presentation and nursing a hand injury simultaneously.  I see a chiropractor tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

We also have been in the midst of a family furniture shift and returning our finished basement to normal post major Northeast storm.  We moved the basement to the living room due to flooding hmmm… Two long nights moving it up in the dark, one long month plus moving it back down.  Perhaps, best if I just don’t go there.  Let’s just say I walk past my living room with my eyes averted.

At any rate, my in-laws are moving into a smaller space, so we needed to swap beds.  At last, I will be able to use the pair of beautiful family twin bed frames that have been residing in, you guessed it, my basement.  And soon I will be posting about transf0rming my guest room – just as soon as I finish transforming it.   Little did I realize that moving the furniture would necessitate finding the right bedding, moving the art etc.  Well, I am an interior designer, so I did know, but I was in denial…

So all this busyness leaves me with a conundrum – do I post someone else’s excellent work or just take another week off?

I chose the former.  Tomorrow’s Wednesday Word is brought to you by Rob of  Stay tuned…

Thursday Treasure Interior Design Lighting

Sputnik Chandeliers – love them, love them, love them!

Between this week’s lighting kick and the sweet memory of five rides on Space Mountain with my daring (5 year old) daughter just a few weeks ago in Disney, it just seems fitting to post photos of Sputnik Chandeliers.  These are all from the Irwin Feld Design Gallery in nearby Stamford, CT.  I sent a quick tweet to Marcy @irwinfelddesign and she suggested the following headline!

Guided by the universe: Sputnik Chandeliers are a favorite in the gallery

1950s – Space Age Reminds me of something right out of the Jetsons.  I tend to prefer silver finishes to brass, but on this fixture the contrast works.

A glass sputnik from the 1960s.  It has the mid-century vibe but doesn’t scream space because of the glass.  I love its sparkle.

Space age meets space monster in this multi-armed Sputnik from 1960.

Love this Italian Sputnik because I have never seen one like it before.  Not in the typical brass, but in that bright shining chrome – right up my alley!

(all photos chosen by author from Irwin Feld Design.  Avery Design Interiors does not receive any kind of compensation for the products chosen by the author.  However, Marcy of Irwin Feld Design is my Twitter friend and a blogger as well.  Marcy’s blog can be found at

Wednesday Word on Interior Design Lighting

Tamarai Restaurant Lighting by PSLab

I am so revved up about lighting after posting about Snog on Monday that this whole week is going to be about lighting.

I could never cover it all in one week of posts but here are some basic pointers.

First think about what you plan to do in a room. Will you be watching TV, playing games, reading a book, sleeping, working at a computer, shaving or applying make-up?  Each task dictates what type of lighting you need.  Also, keep in mind – sorry folks – as you get older you need more light to see.

The time to think about lighting is right at the beginning of building a home, addition or renovating a room.  Most lighting requires opening up walls and my electrician at least is loathe to open up a wall that is newly wallpapered or painted.  So make sure to think about your lighting needs and the amount of money you would like to invest in great lighting for your home.  It is a great investment!  Think of all the beautiful things in your home – don’t you want everyone to be able to see and enjoy them?

There are three types of lighting – ambient, task, and accent. Interior Designers, or if it’s a tricky home Lighting Designers, layer these three forms of light to wonderful effect.  Light should not be even so that the eye knows where to land.  Light should be used to highlight what is important and to create mood and drama.  Lighting can be used to change the way we see a space.  For example, it can draw the eye down and  emphasize the horizontal in a room – think table lamps.

  • Ambient lighting is your general or overall lighting – think overhead or recessed lights in a hallway, office or bathroom or the most obvious one (easy to forget) natural light.  Also, wall washers can be used to great effect to brighten a room and make it look larger.
  • Task lights are specific to illuminating work spaces, such as a lamp on your desk, a floor lamp next to your favorite chair for reading, a chandelier over your dining table, undercabinet lighting for your counters in your kitchen or lights on your steps so you can see where you are walking.  I have an Ott-Light at my drawing board – crisp full spectrum light – wonderful for clarity when drawing.
  • Accent lighting is used for highlighting art or objets – for example, the lighting in a glass cabinet to highlight your collection, an art lamp or recessed swivel lights turned to highlight art on a wall, a piece of sculpture.  This can also be used to great effect to highlight architectural details such as a beautiful stone fireplace – you can just imagine the shadows cast by the varying surface of the stone.

Lighting Moods

There are so many options out on the market now if you want to have a variety of moods in a room.  The easiest is to add a dimmer.  I always specify dimmers in bathrooms – do you really want a full flourescent glaring on you in the middle of the night?

Kitchens require all three layers of light.  They can tend to be the most complicated with a variety of overhead lighting, task lighting under the upper cabinets and above the sink and stove, as well as accent lighting for any beautiful dishes on display.

Dining Rooms should be soft and elegant.  Again, accent lighting for beautiful crystal or china is so important.  There are great LED strips out now that can be discretely hidden in the cabinetry to great effect.  Of course, a chandelier or pendants on a dimmer create wonderful ambience for your soiree.  I even add sconces above a console table or a pair of gorgeous table lamps directly on it.

For Bedrooms, I always suggest soft lighting, emphasizing the ceiling by using cove lighting or torcheres.  Either provide great ambient lighting without glare.  Dimmers are great in the bedroom too.  Make sure to get an opaque shade for a reading lamp so as not to disturb your partner too much when you are reading.  Bedrooms are a great place for wall mount reading lamps or  hanging pendants above each nightstand.

Finally, Lutron has a great light control system that allows you to set different moods in a room.  So imagine you want to read books in your living room by day and have a small cocktail party at night – two different moods, two different switches all at the touch of your fingertip.

Lighting can warm up cold spaces and make your home so much more inviting.

All sound baffling?  Feel free to post your questions right here on my blog.  I would love to hear from you.

Magical Monday: Interior Design

Ready, say it with me….ohhh…ahhh….

I read about Snog (slang for kiss) in the UK today in the latest copy of Metropolis Magazine and I just have to share.  This is magical, oh so magical, lighting.  And you know how I love lighting!

Tell me you don’t want to go in.  You’re not dying to know what it’s all about?  What is this place? Hmmm…frozen yogurt.  Really?  In London, can you imagine?  This is so not how I remember London, well except for Soho, which is of course where Snog is.  No you London bashers so not fair, I adore London.  It’s just always seemed to me a little more historical and a lot less hip.

So tempted?  Want to go in?

In a word, yum.  And I haven’t even tried the yogurt yet.  Cinimod is responsible for the out of this world LED lighting.  Note to self, must post about latest developments in lighting.  Mmmm…other note to self, must attempt to understand the fast changing world of LED lighting.  OK, so let’s just hire a really good lighting designer.  We, interior designers, know how to help you with that.

I did say the lighting was really cool right?  So here’s the magic of LED…changing colors.  Kind of looking like the fireworks at Disney last month.  Which reminds me that I have yet to post some of the amazing lighting from our trip!

Just in case I didn’t make my point with the last photo, check this one out.  Mood lighting – fab.  If you’re going to London, please do check out Snog and let me know if the frozen yogurt is as fantastic as the interior design.

Pure magic…  Wish every Monday, I would stumble upon a design like this one!

Enough said.

Thursday Treasure of Interior Design

What do beautiful fabric, Italy and sushi have in common?

The gorgeous Edward Van Vliet Sushi chairs available from Moroso of Italy…

Last month, I promised I would show some of the amazing pieces that did not make the final cut for The Decorating Diva’s Look Book.  Now this is a great piece, so you’re probably wondering why I didn’t use it.  But while one of the easiest jobs for an interior designer is to shop (you have to love shopping), one of the hardest is editing.  There are a lot of great things out there.  And you don’t want to have all of them in one room.

So back to Sushi.  Ok, what’s not to love?  Dreamy Moroccan style fabrics – don’t you just want to touch them?  Their cheeky layering – like a piece of sushi.  Hey, I want my furniture to sound fun! And it’s got that great shape – more than an ottoman, not quite a chair.

Check out the whole line of Sushi…  Here’s a chaise from the same collection.

And an ottoman

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