Interior Design: Three Family Friendly Tips on Fireplaces

I have had several requests for an update on my Living Room and fireplace project. As of today, the chimney is built, the glass doors and design have been selected and ordered. The mason will be starting on the interior design of the fireplace later this week. Now, we need to track down some great sconces to finish off the look.

With the cool weather and holidays around the corner, here are my three tips for family friendly fireplace design.

1: Keep the architecture of the home top of mind for the design.

We started with the look of the home and the taste of the clients. Their home is older and in a sophisticated farmhouse style. Fortunately, they wanted the fireplace to fit the existing architecture of the house. In fact so much so, that the brick on the chimney is recycled in keeping with the older look of the exterior.

2: Safety is the priority and code must be followed.

The room is cozy and so required a smaller scale fireplace. We had to keep in mind that the couple has two young children, so there is no raised hearth to trip over.

Stoll, fireplace, glass doors, safety, interior design

I also advised the clients to add glass doors. Be sure to leave the glass doors open when the fire is burning. Our version from Stoll has an interior safety screen. Not only will the glass doors keep the children out but the late night embers and heat in.

The hearth must be at least 16″ deep if the fireplace is less than 6′ wide, 20″ deep if more than 6′ wide. Following code and getting inspections can be a complicated process. We always bring in a qualified mason and/or general contractor to ensure a seamless and safe installation.

3. Finally, have a certified chimney sweep check your fireplace once a year.

When I started designing the fireplace for my clients, I gave them 5 black and white sketches of options. The clients knew that they wanted an arch but were not sure if they preferred the stone or brick so I went back to my drawing board to color render both.

fireplace, brick, interior design, library, farmhouse style, connecticut, color renderingThis was drawn at a smaller scale and provides a more formal white surround and mantel, as well as the glass doors inset in a burnished bronze frame. You can see the size of the fireplace compared to the wall in this drawing.

stacked stone, fireplace, interior design, color rendering

Because of the variation in color in the stacked stone, I drew this in a larger scale. This is the fireplace design that the couple selected. Later this week, the mason will start building it. It will have a custom mantel and burnished bronze glass door insert.

stacked stone, O&G, fireplace, interior design, connecticut

This afternoon, I am heading back to O and G to look at more stone options for the hearth. We had thought we would go with bluestone, but after some consideration the clients don’t love it. I am looking forward to searching through slabs for just the right thing. I will let you know what it is!

Since a fireplace is a feature they are going to live with for a long time, I want to be sure it is exactly what they want.

I love to hear from you. Do you have an architectural feature you would like to add to your home?

Does it all sound just too overwhelming? Please feel free to contact me at averydesigninteriors for a consultation.


Wordless Wednesday: Design Inspiration from Mother Nature

All week, my daughter has been reminding me that I wanted to take photos of the trees near the local golf course. They are a profusion of red and yellow. Monday, I drove around our neighborhood with my camera and snapped some photos. We are enveloped in a canopy of bright fall color and it seems to color everything around it. Nature is design at its best.

Interior Design: SKETCH Console Table

Console, table, furniture, color, interior design, red, John Reeves

Love, love, love this table from John Reeves – the sinuous lines and the bright color. Frankly, I love everything made by John Reeves.

I can envision this table in a sleek monotone Foyer, where the console is the unexpected pop of color.

John Reeves on SKETCH: “Each piece has a synthesis with another and all are similarly reminiscent of organic form found in cave formations and nature, rather like a species, the new product has formed almost through random chance, albeit with a designer’s watchful eye.”

You might best remember John Reeves for his Louis line.

Many of Reeves’ furnishings are made from recycled aluminum in Vietnam where he lives – a great eco-friendly message.

Here is his take on design.

“Living in a world that seems to be focused more and more on “the moment”, I believe designing with a respect and reverence for what has gone before keeps us mindful of where we’ve come from and what we really need. Ensuring that design evolves not only through materials and production processes but also under the direction of culture.”

I love to hear from you. Which furniture designer are you crazy about now?

What’s Cooking in our Kitchen: Chili Con Carne

kitchen, interior design, kids, family friendly, cooking, fallWith Fall in the air and the leaves at their peak here in Fairfield County, our stove is bubbling over with those great family dishes that warm you up down to your toes after pumpkin picking.

Here’s a family recipe that is sure to please the kids. Don’t forget that they can help you cook too. And then they will announce proudly at the dinner table that they cooked dinner. It’s a great cure for a picky eater.

From the Avery Family’s Kitchen

Perfect for these fall days, afternoon tailgate parties and the slow home movement:
my mom’s awesome chili.

Chili Con Carne

2 lbs. lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 oz. can chili powder
1 medium onion, chopped
3 14 to 16 oz. cans red kidney beans
2 35 oz, cans tomatoes
3 to 4 bay leaves
10 whole cloves
dash of red pepper to taste (optional)

Brown the ground beef in minimal amount of butter or in a stick proof skillet. Salt and pepper beef to taste.
Add the onions and chili powder and stir well.
Transfer to a soup pot.

Slightly mash the tomatoes and add these with their juice.
Add the kidney beans and add some water by rinsing out their cans.
Add bay leaves and cloves. (My mom taught me to put the cloves and bay leaves in a tea strainer and hang it over the side of the pot).
Add red pepper to taste if you like.

Simmer on low heat for at least two hours to all day, stirring occasionally.
Remove tea strainer of cloves and bay leaves.

Serve as is or with any of the following toppings:
shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream, hot sauce, cilantro

Add corn bread and a tossed salad and you are done.

This is at least as good the next day!

I love to hear from you. What’s cooking in your kitchen?

Wordless Wednesday in Interior Design: Pretty in Pink 4 Life at Irwin Feld Gallery

Susan Komen, thinkpink, Irwin Feld Design, gallery, mid century modern, furniture, interior design

When I was growing up, I remember visiting my grandmother’s home and being so inspired by all of her beautiful art and furnishings. She had lovely taste – no surprise as she was a student of fashion design and then worked in a millinery in the late 1920s. I often think my passion for all  things design, and particularly interiors, runs through my veins in a direct transfusion from my grandmother.

My grandmother was the inspiration for the interior design board above – a glamorous dressing room for the lady of the house. All of the mid century furnishings, art and accessories come from the Irwin Feld Gallery in Stamford, CT.

 Irwin Feld Design, Susan G Komen, thinkpink, breast cancer awareness, furniture, mid century

Marcy Feld (social media and now real life friend) of Irwin Feld Design/Mid Century Antiques, has been posting about the Pretty in Pink 4 Life bench, in the center of the inspiration board. All proceeds from its sale, $1,800, will go to Komen CT. This is an amazing opportunity to own a gorgeous bench for a great cause!

Can’t you just envision this bench in your home? Let’s go shopping!

I love to hear from you. Who inspires you?

5 Pink Interior Design Surfaces: My Guest Post at

It’s been a busy weekend. We were deep in the heart of Pennsylvania’s mushroom country celebrating my niece’s tenth birthday with friends and family. It was a windy but sunny fall day. The kids had a blast as they ran around the yard, jumped in the bounce house and busted open the pinata. Meanwhile, the adults mingled and feasted on a smorgasbord of Oktoberfest fare. I think the grown-ups were outnumbered nearly 2 to 1, but don’t tell the kids that!

That is why I have been completely off the social media grid. I have several client projects to attend to this morning, but I don’t want to forget my focus on Breast Cancer Awareness or my readers. So for today, please enjoy my recent guest post at

Rob Jones of and I have become friends via social media. I was honored when he asked me to write a guest post for his company’s blog. I thought right away of Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a perfect topic.

An excerpt follows below.

Today’s guest post is from our friend Catherine Avery of Avery Design Interiors, a Fairfield County based interior design firm specializing in relaxed yet elegant family friendly interiors. In this post, Catherine talks about building materials that can add flair to your space, and can stand symbolically for a good cause too; Breast Cancer Awareness Month. How will she do that exactly? Read on!


My grandmother had breast cancer. Three of my girl friends are breast cancer survivors. The month of October for me is not the oranges and yellows of fall as much as it is the pink of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I thought nothing could be more challenging than to ‘think pink’ here at BuildDirect, but I was wrong. Below are five ways to incorporate pink into your home without going over the top and oh so girly. After all we don’t want to alienate the men in our lives.

Read more: 5 Pink Interior Design Surfaces For Breast Cancer Awareness

Please be sure to check out the BuildDirect website for all of your flooring, decking, roofing, kitchen and bath needs.

I love to hear from you! How would you incorporate pink in to the surfaces of your home?

Interior Design in the Limelight Marketplace

During my time in the city a few weeks ago I had the privilege to walk through Chelsea with the ever lovely Amy Dragoo of ABCD Designs during our interior design social media extravaganza. She and I stumbled upon the recently renovated Limelight Marketplace. For those of you old enough to remember, the Limelight was a dance club – a bit worn for the wear but very fun place to go dancing with friends. The irony of a dance club in a renovated church was not lost on many. By the way, just in case you get nostalgic for the old Limelight when you see these photos, Amy and I can attest to the fact that there still is only one unisex bathroom and we are pretty sure it did not receive the fancy renovation…

butterflies, display, retail, interior design, nyc

Who can get enough of bugs, butterflies and flowered jewels?

interior design, architecture, retail

ceiling, architecture, black, interior design, retail, nyc

interior design, upside down, architecture, retail, nyc

The upside down window boxes made me laugh – very clever.

upside down, architecture, interior design, retail, nyc

Not to be outdone the upside down staircase. Check out the ceiling molding on the floor…

interior design, retail, nyc, architecture

In the back corner is a lovely gourmet food area a la Parisienne. Can’t get to Paris this year? Whet your appetite here… Love the black iron railings.

retail, nyc, gelato, ice cream, interior design

If sweets are more your fancy, there’s gelato available.

bakery, retail, interior design, nyc

Red velvet or hostess cupcake – decisions…

candy, retail, interior design, nyc

Couldn’t get enough of Sugar. Need I say more? How do you walk away from a candy arch?

candy, sweets, retail, interior design, nyc

Pink, pink, pink…I have to take my daughter here on our next trip to the Big Apple. She loves going to the city. All of these mini wedding cakes – she would be over the moon.

church, renovation, retail, stained glass, interior design, nyc

Just in case you forgot you were shopping in a renovated church.

detail, architecture, retail, interior design, church, renovation

Hunter boots. Classical church architecture. Dichotomy in details? Or good cheeky fun? You decide.

architecture, detail, retail, interior design, nyc

Likewise the arch.

I love to hear from you. Have an unusual spot you love to shop for inspiration?


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